Some thoughts on Blog Awards

blog awards

I remember when I first started noticing award buttons on blogs. Sprinkled down the right side of the page, proclaiming everything from Sunshine to Versatility to Beauty. Huh, I wondered. A Liebster Award? What does that entail? And more importantly, how can I get one?

It wasn’t too long after I started blogging regularly that I started getting nominated for things. I’m not saying that to brag; I think it’s just an integral part of blogging on WordPress. Do it long enough, be engaged enough, read a large enough pool of other blogs, and sooner or later, you’ll have accrued several “Congratulations!” comments on your About page.

As you can imagine, I was really excited the first time I was nominated for an award. I spent hours (literally) devising clever answers and coming up with the list of blogs that I, in turn, would honor with a nomination.

But then I paused.

Instead of publishing the post, I let it languish in draft state over the weekend. Come Monday, I had decided not to post it.

Why?

At their best, Blog Awards are a community-driven form of recognition. They’re low-impact, entertaining, and help you to get to know your blogger a bit better. It’s a way for bloggers to share links to other blogs they admire, a way to build cohesion and a mini-community within the mind-boggling 75 MILLION WordPress sites in the world. I also genuinely enjoy reading them; they’re sort of like virtual icebreakers, and the questions that people come up with are often quirky and clever.

On the other hand, blog awards are, in an almost ironic way, the opposite of inclusive. Like I said, I always read blog award posts because they’re light & easy. But the whole time, I’m thinking nervously to myself, Will MY blog be included on the list? Have I gotten tagged this time, or did I get passed over in favor of someone more popular/eloquent/entertaining?

Perhaps that’s part of the reason why the term “award” confuses me. After all, they’re not really awards in the traditional sense, are they? And by “award,” I’ll defer to the Oxford Dictionary’s definition: “a prize or other mark of recognition given in honor of an achievement.” But if any blogger can “win” an award (and very, very easily, I might add), then I think that’s a diminishment of the original term. Instead, I see them as occupying a space somewhere in between field-day ribbons, those strange MySpace chain letters from years ago, and the factually suspicious articles my dear, confused aunt is always posting on Facebook.

Let me be clear: I’m not advocating the abolishment of blog awards. Heck, I’m going to continue to read them the same way I’m going to keeping looking at the weekly “What were they thinking?!” photo gallery over on Yahoo celebrity, because dammit, it’s FUN.

But maybe, instead of calling them “awards,” we should admit what they really are: A spotlight of sorts, an impermanent Blogroll where suggestions and pathways to other parts of WordPress are fleetingly posted and quickly forgotten.  I also think that for people who aren’t on WordPress, blog awards can be not only confusing, but alienating. A lot of my readership comes from Facebook, because people who I’ve known for years have come to respect my opinions, and I wouldn’t want to thrust something that seems like an inside joke in their face in return.

If the point of blog awards is to humanize bloggers by prompting them to share little-known facts about themselves, then I question the validity of that, too. After all, isn’t that the point of regular posts? I would hope that by sharing my interpretations of books and movies and by reflecting on the difficulties and joys in my life, that those who read my blog are able to get a sense of who I am. I always feel deeply rewarded, for example, when I read a work of fiction like The Inheritance of Loss or Cloud Atlas and think afterwards that I managed to get a sense of the author’s personal psychology.

But, if you’d like to know more about me, some pure, cold, hard facts, then consider the following:

Every day I wake up reluctantly and usually hit the snooze button a minimum of three times. I despise being late but I am always late to everything. My heart bursts whenever I think of my little sister, of whom I am so proud and protective, and I have a latent sense of guilt that I went to college so far away and left her alone to slog through high school. I think the worst feeling is the sense that your dignity has been (temporarily) removed. I unconsciously count steps when I’m climbing stairs, but it’s been 4 1/2 years since I took a math class and I can’t remember how to calculate slope. I’ve lived through 21 summers and 25 winters. Sometimes I think about all the crazy people who were in high school with me and it scares me to think that now they can vote and drive cars and buy houses and make big decisions. And sometimes I worry that I was a little too influenced by The Fountainhead.

Now, the verdict: Was that paragraph interesting to read? Perhaps. But I’d like to think that you could learn more about me from reading about how much I hated The Wolf of Wall Street and how much I loved The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Saying “I am, I am, I am” is a very direct and superficial way of introducing yourself, and I find that the most interesting people, and books, and movies, and yes–BLOGGERS–reveal themselves little by little.

So go ahead. Keep writing, bloggers. Because I’ll be getting to know you through every single sentence you share.

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20 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Blog Awards

  1. Very Interesting. Now you make us all look like fools! Ha!!
    Nah!! just kiddin’, I know, I was getting tired of getting awards, and you might recall I specifically asked people not to nominate me.
    Speaking on your query of ‘if anyone can win a blog award…..’, I suppose that’s why, nobody really wins an award, they just gets nominated 🙂 Like Leonardo DiCaprio.
    And Blog award or not, you did get o write a load about yourself in the end 😉
    But I do agree, one can get a vague insight into a persons personality through his/her writings.

    1. Oh dear, that wasn’t my intention! I just felt bad for ignoring all my nominations. I do remember you asking people to please stop nominating you for things…that was pretty funny 🙂
      You are right, that big paragraph toward the end was quite indulgent on my part, but I think it’s ok just this once.

  2. A bit late to the party, but I understand – I’ve been nominated quite a bit through the years but have stopped doing them/responding to them because as much as I’m flattered, I also don’t like people feeling left out, and I also think it’s a little pointless (to be very blunt), especially to people who have been blogging for a while. It is a lot like chain emails circa the 90s/early 2000s! I occasionally do blog posts highlighting what I’ve been reading around the blogosphere too, so would rather highlight things in that more organic way 🙂 Your post definitely gets to the core of something that’s been bothering me recently.

    1. I’m usually several days behind on reading blogs, so no worries 🙂

      They are quite similar to chain emails, though not quite as bad. I much prefer “Blogger Love” type posts, where you’re required to write something meaningful about the blogs you admire, so I’m glad to hear that’s what you do! It doesn’t help that the graphics for the Blog Awards are usually really poorly designed & pixelated.

  3. You are dead on. This is why I do Featured Blogs on my blogs. That way it is more personal. I stopped responding to blog awards. Instead, I highlight blogs from time to time in a different way, the way I know how. However, there is this tight competition right now that I actually want to get a good shot at. Please vote for me — > http://munchow.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/best-photo-blogs-round-5/ It is a shameless plug ’cause I need reinforcements. 😆 You know how I highlight other blogs on my blog.

  4. It’s always nice to be recognized by other bloggers, but I can definitely understand your sentiments. I’m curious about how you were influenced possibly too much by The Fountainhead… hmmm…. see it totally works, now I want to know more…

    1. haha yeah, I sort of wrote that paragraph in one go and then looked back and thought hmm, should I put in more mundane stuff? Like that my favorite color is blue? Glad you enjoyed it nonetheless. 🙂 (Oh, and I read The Fountainhead in my high school libertarian phase, and now I look back and am slightly disturbed by how much I identified with it haha). Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. I agree entirely. But heh, I won’t turn them down anyway! I like it that they make my blog look really successful to outsiders, even though wordpress people know other wise!

    1. haha I think they’re the mark of a successful blog both outside of and on WordPress!! I’ve always liked your Friday Shout-Outs series, btw. I think that’s another good way to promote/share other blogs. I might steal that idea sometime.

  6. I agree with you! While it’s so lovely to be given so-called ‘awards’, I worry about excluding people when it comes to passing them along. They seem a bit ‘Hotmail chain letter circa 2001’ sometimes. I’ve decided that I won’t really do them anymore, because I prefer to interact with people via the comments rather than on a congratulatory basis… even though they are a bit of fun! Unless I win the Nobel Peace Prize or something, then I’ll totally post about it. Love your paragraph by the way. 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’ve been on the verge of putting up a blog award post several times, simply because I am always really, really happy & flattered whenever I get nominated. But yes, I do think it’s better to engage with your readers/other blogs via the comment section. And I’m happy that there’s already such a strong precedent of responding to comments on WordPress (unlike on some other blogging platforms like Blogger and Bloglovin, as I’ve noticed).

  7. Thanks for talking about this. I’ve felt exactly the same way, and the most awkward part for me is when it’s my turn to choose my list of 5 or 10 bloggers to pass the award along to. That alone has stopped me from participating, even though I enjoy the recognition and the chance to do the little meme post when I receive the award. I don’t like the idea of singling out a group of bloggers. Of course, then it becomes awkward to not properly “receive” the award as well, but I just realized that if and when I receive an award again, I’ll just let the giver know why I’m not passing it on.

    1. Thanks for your comment, and yes, it is quite awkward, isn’t it? The best response I’ve seen to blog award nominations is “Thank you XX. Your nomination is reward enough for me 🙂 “. I might deploy that sentiment from now on.

    1. Thanks 🙂 And glad you feel the same way. I was 1/2 afraid that some people might get offended by this post, but everyone has been really understanding! I guess it’s something that everyone has to make a decision about sooner or later.

  8. Beautifully put! I have to agree. These awards are kind of patting ourselves on the back, and now that I think of it they are a bit alienating, even for WordPress readers in some cases. What I like about them however is promoting other blogs.
    That paragraph was awesome btw, you didn’t really prove your point, by writing it so well 🙂
    To me the best (or maybe favorite) way to get to know people is the comments section and like you say the blog posts. Hell, even what you blog about is indicative of who you are to some extent.

    1. Aww thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I tried to keep it pretty tame so that I didn’t offend anyone. Because as you pointed out, they are a good way of promoting other blogs and getting to know people. I just prefer a permanent Blogroll feature where I can showcase the blogs I really, really enjoy and am willing to read every day. And comments, of course!!

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