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News & Views

Announcing: the Big Blogger Awards
By Terry Freedman
Created on Wed, 3 Jan 2007, 00:45

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Big Blogger WinnerIt seems that someone has created a top 100 edublog list, and some people are rather upset about it. My question is: what is their problem? My solution is: the creation of the Big Blogger Awards.


I've picked up on this slightly late in the day because I've been too busy to read much in the way of blogs recently. However, from reading Stephen Downes' post and following his links, I've been able to get a pretty good overview of the issues, I think, which are that:

1. Jimmy Atkinson posted a list of top 100 bloggers.
2. He emailed the people on the list.
3. He told them they could display a badge on their website.
4. A whole load of people jumped up and down screaming "rank commercialism".
5. A few other people have said to the people in #4, "What's your problem?"
6. In this debate issues about ethics, publicity, driving traffic to your blog and other issues have been raised.
7. Stephen Downes doesn't see any problem with it and, I have to say, neither do I (although it may be for different reasons because I don't understand his comment, "So what, may I ask, is Jimmy Atkinson's misdeed? Nothing, really - no ads, no commercialism, no payment-based linking. Is it just because he's not one of them?" One of whom? I didn't even know there WAS a them and us.).

Here are my thoughts on the matter, in no particular order.

1. I don't have a problem with someone trying to generate traffic to their website in this sort of way if they are performing a service, which Jimmy Atkinson is. How? By providing us with a list of blogs that we might otherwise not have come across.

2. If he did do it just to generate traffic, I think he needs lessons in marketing. To do it (a) just after the Edublog Awards and (b) when loads of people have wound down for the Christmas holiday period seems to me to be a master stroke of mis-timing.

3. Who is Jimmy Atkinson anyway? I mean, why should I care whether he thinks my blog is in the top 100, or not? When someone whose work I admire says s/he admires mine, that means a lot more. This is linked to...

4...It seems strange that a list of educational blogs is pretty light on the criteria used to decide whether someone was included or not. As far as I can tell, it was based on a combination of Technorati rankings and personal preferences. So, if I, for example, wanted to get on the list next time (if there is a next time), I suppose the only way to go about it is to increase my Technorati rankings. That brings me on to another question...

5... Someone called Stephanie has written about the issue, and given some links to blogs about how to raise the volume of traffic to ones blog. My question is this: why would you want to raise the volume of traffic to your blog per se? The important thing is to raise the volume of traffic of the right kind of people. If, for example, you write a blog about how to teach children about Shakespeare, surely what you want is to attract people who want to know how they can improve their teaching of Shakespeare, not English teachers in general? I suppose what I'm saying is that you have to decide whether you're the equivalent of Woolworth's or the equivalent of the specialist shop on the corner.

6. Going back to #3, this reminds me of the time, about 20 years ago, when someone I knew was immensely proud of the fact that she'd done a course in massage and been awarded a certificate.

"By whom?", I asked.

"By the person who ran the course".

"But who is he?"

"A teacher of massage courses".

"But who accredits his courses?"

"He does."

"So what does his certificate signify?"

"That I passed the course".

Well, I gave up at that point, but it seems to me that without criteria and without having to do something to earn a badge it's not worth getting upset about if you were included against your will or being disappointed about if you weren't. And if it makes some people feel good about what they're doing, what harm has been done?

Elaine adds the following comments:

1. If nobody bothered to blog about it, it wouldn't gain any publicity.

2. There's nothing to stop any of us setting up our own blog awards.

With that in mind, I have decided to do just that. Only my blog awards are completely(-ish) randomised and therefore totally fair. Download the spreadsheet and follow the instructions in order to create your very own "Big Blogger" awards!

Go here if you want to be the biggest blogger in the blogosphere!

What do you think? Please leave a comment.