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When Did Popularity Become Quality?

When Did Popularity Become Quality?

by Tim Elliott on March 21, 2008

Tom Wark of FERMENTATION has announced the nominations for this year’s American Wine Blog Awards. My work here didn’t rate a nomination this year which didn’t surprise me as my output over the past year has been substandard for such accolades, to be quite honest. So I think that puts me in the position to be somewhat objective and comment on blogging awards in general and these in particular.

American Wine Blog Awards logoMy main concern with the American Wine Blog Awards is not the name, although I’d prefer something more international, no it’s the voting process. If the Oscars used the same system as these awards, ‘Spider-Man 3’ or ‘Shrek the Third’ would likely win Best Picture as they were the most popular movies last year from their box office receipts. Both are well crafted films but they are not in the same league as ‘No Country for Old Men’ which finished 36th in 2007 ticket sales but took the top Oscar this year.

Why this discrepancy? Because only those in the film industry vote on the nominations and final awards.

So I propose that wine bloggers consider an association that creates an independent awards program modeled after the Motion Picture Academy Awards. As a placeholder, let’s call it the “Wine Bloggers Guild” but we’ll change the name if the discussion warrants. I’ve started a new thread over at Open Wine Consortium for wine bloggers and podcasters to discuss this idea and see if there is consensus for my proposal.

My intention is not to criticize the American Blog Awards, just create an analog to the Oscars to Tom’s People’s Choice Awards. I think there’s room for both. What do you think?

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  • Voting by readers (for any type of blog awards) is bound to skew the results – hence my dislike of the American Wine Blog Awards. It would have been much better if he had also restricted the entries to American blogs…

  • Hmmm … Tim. I’m not sure. I was, frankly, surprised by the nominations. I don’t think it’s based on popularity at all.

    No Dr. Vino anywhere. By my review he has the most RSS feed readers of any wine blog. AND — he won best blog last year.

    Secondarily, several of the categories had your “No Country for Old Men” final nominees. Les Garagistes? Blame it on Rioja? On the Wine Trail in Italy? Hardly populace-oriented blogs.

    Just my two cents. I think, at the end of the day, good blogs are left out. No Lenndevours and no Winecast, which is a shame. But, I don’t think it’s a function of bad organization on Tom’s part.


  • Tim

    Jeff: I don’t mean to begrudge Tom’s awards at all. They are well organized and executed. I agree with you that the nominations are well chosen for the most part. Where I differ is making the final voting a popularity contest.

    Andrew: Sounds like we agree on both English Breakfast and American Wine Blog Awards πŸ˜‰

  • Last couple of years I have blown off the idea of ever being “cool” enough to even be a finalists, let alone a nomination unless I have a pack of friends and family visit Tom’s site.

    First of all, I know a lot of winebloggers do not take me seriously. I am from Walla2 and only write about Walla2 wines. “Hmmm…where the hell is that?” Also, something tells me this is all about butt kissing, too. Sorry, but that kind of activity smudges my lipstick.

    So, I keep on blogging because I love it and the only thought I had this year about the AWBA is that Jill of Domaine547 definitely should have received a nomination for her graphics. And when I found out she didn’t? Now I know that something just aint right.

  • Ah, but if the public doesn’t vote… then who would vote?

    If we’re blogging for the public, why not trust that public.

    Easy for me to say – I wasn’t eligible to be a finalist this time around anyway ;-).

  • Tim

    Dude: the public can vote over at the American Wine Blog Awards… think of it as the “People’s Choice.”

    What I’m proposing here is like the Oscars where only wine bloggers would nominate and vote on the awards to recognize excellence not who’s the most popular.

  • Gotcha – different and complimentary.

    I’ll jump on over to OWC and join in the discussion.

  • Tim: “only wine bloggers would nominate and vote”?
    Don’t you think that would just lead to the same old “in group club”? You nominate me and I nominate you and we’ll all vote for each other.It’ll be pretty much the same blogs that would win every year. There are so many good blogs out there and I look at a lot of them. Hey, I’ll vote for yours, Tim.

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  • Tim

    Wilf: No, I would hope that voting by peers would actually make such awards less prone to cronyism but it all really depends on the community being involved. Right now, I don’t see that happening as bloggers seem to be divided down somewhat party lines. Those nominated for AWBA are negative to my proposal, those not tend to be more positive.

    Join the discussion over at the OpenWine Consortium if you are interested in the outcome.

  • Tim – that sounds like a division from sour grapes? I didn’t win, so I support a different award system? I don’t actually think it is that simple, but it read that way.

    I didn’t win any nominations (which is good, because I would question any award system in which my blog was nominated), but I really question the benefit of more awards. Doesn’t this just segment our community into “haves” and “have nots”?

    Why not just let traffic dictate the best? If you really like a blog, link to it. This, to me, is the best award system. Reward sites that you enjoy by linking to it – think of it as an Award System of One.

  • Catie,

    How do you think I fare? My vinofictions was nominated, but I knew the chances for me were close to zip.

    I write about what goes on in the wine world. Except for an experiment in January, I don’t do wine reviews–many have told me that I should, and that because I don’t it holds back the appeal of my blog. But I tenaciously (and likely stupidly) cling to the notion that the public needs less hype and more information.

  • Tim

    Steve: Unfortunately, that’s what most people are thinking, but for me it’s not the case.

    I haven’t made it to the final voting in the AWBA both years because what I do here is not good enough; I can deal with that. What I was trying to point out was that winners are chosen mostly by popularity and not some sort of a panel of experts assessing quality.

    And if it was just traffic, then these would be your winners.

  • Catie, there is no butt kissing i know of. Considering last year I called Tom ignorant(or rather a post he wrote i said was silly). I’m not in any inner circle that I know of. I agree lot’s of blogs were not included that might have been. In catavino’s category(single subject) where is LENNDEVOURS???? Probably the best single subject wine blog out there? He was nominated, just not included. Odd…

    I do on the other hand think there is some merit to the AWBA’s in the sense you do get a lot of people talking.

    When you are very narrowly focused it’s even harder.

  • Tim: Don’t you know that if lots of people love something it MUST be the best?! And there really is NO way to objectively assess the quality of a blog. I mean, we are all just so unique! Our perceptions and opinions are unique! Bringing in a bunch of insider blogger bullies who think they know what I might like to dictate my preferences to me is just insulting!
    I prefer to cast a vote for each nominee who sends me a request for their vote because I have a mystical connection with their content and styling of their site that transcends any stuffy standards.


  • Tim

    Maybe you are correct, Arthur… we are chasing windmills here or worse πŸ˜‰

  • Actually, I was engaging in heavy-handed sarcasm. Of course there are objective standards in assessing any publication! There are objective standards to assessing any product or service. The resistance we see to this is not because we are chasing windmills but because we are attempting to herd cats (or trying to give them a bath).

  • I have to admit, I wanted in but I forgot to send an e-mail to my staff to nominate me and act like they were just some anonymous person, but being my employees, they were out reviewing Pinot in the Willamette Valley which is understandable especially because they are getting paid to do so. I was at home changing diapers and sober as a judge. Anyhow, I didn’t get one nomination, not even a faked one so I will prouldy bear the Budo-Kun standard as I feel I earned it honestly. My wife is getting it tattood on her backside too! You might wonder why I would admit this, it’s because confession is good for the soul and if you knew how much I spent this year chasing wealthy vitners who don’t care about internet advertising, you’d shake your heads in pity, or nod them in approval. Go to domaine547 to get your Budo-Kun logo and wear it proudly. I will.

  • Catie: Agree with re. Jill at Domaine547’s graphics. They are awesome, and doubly so as our own surfer-dude’s artist is no longer available to us, otherwise we’d have given everyone a run for their money πŸ˜‰

    Awards like this are always going to stir up debate; personally, I don’t think there is any right or wrong re. awards (especially if we are included πŸ˜‰ ), and if it gets everyone talking and looking more blogs, well then it has served a useful purpose whatever the outcome

  • Reading you is still a pleasure even if you put less effort into it this past year.
    This award event shows as though it was mainly a tool for promoting a few. Many long-standing US wine blogs are not nominated. Craig Camp’s is notably missing.
    A few blogs that get very high readership are not nominated in any category. Here are some examples:
    7200 people/month at Dr Vino’s
    5400 people/month for Winecast
    4000 people/month at Boxwines
    (The amounts are approximative and come from public figures.)
    Your academy idea is good but difficult. For what it’s worth I attempt an easier competion with an objective ranking of wine websites.

  • Estelle, Where are these numbers from?
    How do websites get added to this list?
    How are these statistics collected?

  • Tim

    Estelle: Very interesting list you have… I’m with Arthur, what are your sources?

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  • Arthur, Tim,
    Thank you for your interest.

    Where are these numbers from? They are from public sources. I attempt to explain that here. Please comment there if a point is not clear.

    How do websites get added to this list? I need to know that they exist. Websites are eligible if they talk about wine except if they emanate from producing estates or wine sellers. You have to draw a line. (How to participate) I have about 90 sites to check for the next ranking in a month or so. 20 of them are new to this competition.
    Arthur — your site is on this addition list. Only 50 of the 90 will appear.

    How are these statistics collected? I consult the figures shown as metrics and copy them into my spreadsheet!

  • Joe

    We have the Oscars, Peoples Choice, Cannes, Sundance – there will be other blog awards with a different focus. It is what it is, and until there are competing Awards ceremonies it’s the best we got. My only gripe is four per category is a bit tight – the massive growth in the blogosphere over the past year six per category IMHO. Hey Andrew – how about the Commonwealth Wine Blog Awards? πŸ™‚

  • Estelle

    One more question: Does the site’s infrastructure/platform affect statistics?

    Right now I am in the process of changing form static pages (I know..) to an active CMS and PHP platform.

  • >Does the siteΓƒΒ’Γ’β€šΒ¬Γ’β€žΒ’s infrastructure/platform affect statistics?
    It does not.
    You will be much better once you have changed to a proper CMS. Be sure to back up everything before migrating.

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