You tell me: Here's your ballot. This morning, the online polls opened in the annual BOBs-Best of the Blogs competition. As I wrote in September, I'm on the jury that had the unenviable task of narrowing this list of 2,500+ blogs nominated to this short list of 100+. So you tell me: Of these blogs, which are the world's...
- Best blog overall?
- Best podcast?
- Best multimedia blog?
- Best journalistic blog in each of these languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian?
- Blog that deserves a special award for their free speech efforts?
Vote by Nov. 20. I've received a few questions about the BOBs, user votes and my role as a judge, so I typed up this Q&A. Note: This is Lisa Stone's view of the BOBs world--not an official perspective. I welcome your comments or emails if you have other questions. Here goes:
1. How does a blog win?
2. What does a blogger win?
3. Who’s on the jury?
4. How many blogs are there in the world?
5. Who are you to say who’s best?
6. Any predictions on who will win? Who do you want to win?
7. Tell me a little something about the blogs nominated for the BOBs?
About the sponsor: What is Deutsche Welle?
Short answer: By getting the most votes, either from users or the jury or both.
Long answer: There are two ways to win. A blog can win by getting a User Prize, which is decided by popular vote by visitors to the BOBs site. A blog can also win by getting a Jury Award, which is decided by a hand-picked jury of bloggers, journalists, and media specialists. There’s a User Prize and a Jury Award given in each of 13 categories for 26 total prizes. You can read more about the categories here. Winners will be announced on Nov. 21.
The world's best Weblog gets an iBook from Apple. The top Jury Awards in the other categories get an iPod Shuffle. And anyone who wins a User Prize can tell the world that thousands of people voted them the best in their category. Last year, nearly 100,000 votes were cast in an online voting process. You can read more about the prizes here.
The jury is made up of bloggers, journalists, and media specialists. You can read our bios here. There’s at least one person per language category. Many of these bloggers blog in more than one language, unlike me.
That is a question of much debate! The Blog Herald, a blog that tracks blogs by country and by blog technology provider, puts the number at 100 million worldwide. That number includes blogs that people start and then stop, such as travel blogs or one-time event blogs. (And according to the comments on that post, there are a few countries missing from the Herald’s tally too.)
Here's how I put the number into context: In an October 2005 post, The Blog Herald estimated Americans have started 30-50 million blogs. That’s high. In a survey published in January 2005, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 8 million Americans say they have started blogs. That’s low. I think it's very safe to estimate the total number of blogs in the United States at somewhere between the two numbers—I’m comfortable with the number of 20 million blogs that have been active in the past six months. For every country, I think it’s important to consider a range.
Given the massive scope of global blogging, perhaps you can see why I blogged an extensive answer to this question, who are we (the jury) to say who’s best?,in September. The ballooning number of blogs in the world is one reason I'm so glad the BOBs open the nomination process to Internet users (those of you who participated suggested 2,500+ blogs) and also asks readers to award User Prizes in each category. The jury worked up the short list. Now it’s up to you to vote the User Prizes—and give us your feedback in the comments. I look forward to reading your thoughts.
As a judge in this competition, and as someone who has competed for editorial prizes before (and that’s what I consider a BOB, an award for editorial quality) I think it's extremely important that I see and read and experience all the evidence first. I don't read or understand seven of these languages - that's why I need to work with the rest of the jury before I vote on the Jury Awards.
The reason I agreed to participate is the value the BOBs puts on the User Prize, on asking readers what they think is best (see my September post for more on this topic). You tell us who’s best: The URL is http://thebobs.com -- I urge everyone to go online, to read the list of blogs up for awards and help make this competition smarter.
As the judge selected to represent the English-blogging world, I can talk about some of the English-language blogs nominated for anyone who’s interested. I'm also looking forward to meeting the rest of the jury in November, where I can get a translation of some of the other blogs!
My overall opinion of the English-language blogs, podcasts and multimedia blogs on the short list is that these are a cross-section of blogs with rich commentary, diverse perspectives and deep information – blogs with important voices that have earned their place alongside official news sites. I learned a lot from reading them -- hope you do too.
The BOBs were created by Deutsche Welle. Directly translated into English, Deutsche Welle means German Wave. Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcast service. DW produces and broadcasts news about Germany and the rest of Europe in 30 languages for radio, internet and television. If we were to take an English-language-biased perspective I think it would be fair to compare it with England’s BBC.