Best web-logs of the year, 2001? December 17, 2001 10:25 AM   Subscribe

"These are the best weblogs this year in my humble opinion. Who will win? That's up to you!"

No it's not, it's up to you Dave, because you picked them (and they were of course, heavy on the Manila/Frontier-based blogs).

Here's my question: what's the point of doing this? To bring attention to Manila and Radio? To sell a few copies of Frontier based on the press? He asks if he should call his personal awards "the bloggies" but if he tried google he would see the first return is the Bloggies, which were nominated in a more democratic way and voted on in the same way.
posted by mathowie to General Weblog-Related at 10:25 AM (106 comments total)

Yep, I was just about to say that it looks like Dave lifted an idea or two from Nikolai. Not to mention Nikolai's intentions last year were a bit more noble.
posted by tomorama at 10:29 AM on December 17, 2001


Now, I'm not saying any of this because I wasn't nominated or some such nonsense, I'm honestly wondering what the point of the exercise is. Why do it under the guise of anything but Dave's personal favorites? Why is there voting by others? Why create a new site for it and make it seem democratic when it's one person's choices as the nominees? It is appropriately called the "scripting news awards for 2001" but it's the tone of everything surrounding them, that it is somehow a democratic process and it represents something more than it actually is, just one guy's favorite weblogs.

It doesn't seem to serve any purpose, and if Dave makes a big deal out of them, my guess is he's trying to score free press for userland and nothing more.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:30 AM on December 17, 2001


I forgot to include one URL: Medley's medals were given in 1999 and 2000 and are quite plainly, one person's favorite weblogs, without any guise of representing anything more than that. You didn't vote on her picks, she just picked them and wrote nice reviews of her picks.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2001


I thought the exact same thing, Matt. "Here are 5 blogs I like, pick one and I will deem it to be the best. Remember this site uses USERLAND MANILA!!!!".
posted by owillis at 10:33 AM on December 17, 2001


Exactly. I've always said that a good rule of thumb for whenever Dave makes any kind of noise about anything is to ask yourself "how does this benefit Dave?" I can't remember anything he's ever said on MetaFilter that wasn't a self-link, borderline comment or something that eventually led back to him or Userland.

And Suck was a weblog? I'd have never known!
posted by tomorama at 10:33 AM on December 17, 2001


Like all weblog "awards", it's all a stupid popularity contest, so who really cares anyway?

Let's here it for runaway self-importance and titanic egos run amok!

No one has ever heard of most of the weblogs that I read on a regular basis. Truth be told, most people ain't heard of your (or mine) weblog and they don't give much of a damn about it either.
posted by zeb vance at 10:36 AM on December 17, 2001 [1 favorite]


it seems that it is for popularity, matt. which is fine. i'm sure lots of projects on the web are endeavoured with the hope that they may bring popularity; it's not a problem if you haven't much to begin with, as long as your effort also seems sincere. of course, winer's got as much as you could ask for i think. (and, given the large number of manila/frontier sites which are on the lists, i would have to say the effort is if not insincere than at least biased.)

i won't blame him. he needs to make money, and perhaps this could lead to some increased cash flow. i will make fun of the effort, though.
posted by moz at 10:40 AM on December 17, 2001


As long as Dave keeps calling it the Scripting News awards, it doesn't seem any cheesier than those site of the day award sites [self-link, natch].

Picking all the nominees himself is less than ideal, but the last item on the ballot is a great chance to throw Rafe Colburn some well-deserved adulation. So I'm in favor of the whole thing.
posted by rcade at 11:00 AM on December 17, 2001


Since when was his opinion humble?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2001


I honestly thought it was a decent list-- not in the mainstream "blogger" style of usual suspects, but a decent list nonetheless. Not really worth getting upset about.
posted by cell divide at 11:38 AM on December 17, 2001


Three words: write in vote. Where are they? Merely because if I were to vote on Dave's awards (which I have no inclination of doing anyway), the choice for blog of the year doesn't include any of the blogs I read regularly.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2001


Adam Curry made it into the running for "[his] top award" but Jason Levine's Q Daily News, which also runs on Manila, and offers up all sorts of cool Manila tools is not in the running for anything. [As of 2:59 PM Eastern Time, lest Dave 'edits' his list (as he is prone to do with things he writes) later.]

I don't want to compare any one on the list with those that didn't make it, but sometimes I wonder if his personal feelings gets the better of him when judging 'worthiness' and clouds his objectivity. He clearly states that the list is of "[his] favorite weblogs, by category." But when he brings his readers into the process saying, "Who wins? You decide!" is he implying that he himself is incapable of deciding which one he himself likes best? And how can we "particip[ate], and for support[] excellence in weblogging" if some of the excellence is missing from his list?
posted by tamim at 12:01 PM on December 17, 2001


but Jason Levine's Q Daily News, which also runs on Manila, and offers up all sorts of cool Manila tools is not in the running for anything.

This is a shame. Back before I started updating my weblog by hand, it was hosted by a company running Frontier and I spent an inordinate amount of time lobbying for access to Jason's tools.


posted by iceberg273 at 12:10 PM on December 17, 2001


I'm opposed to any weblog awards. it's like voting on "best model railroad". I believe that you reward the webloggers you admire by reading them and linking to them. I don't like the whole competitive aspect of awards at all, whether they be picked by one person, voted on by the community, or some variation thereof.

it at once cheapens and aggrandizes something that people presumably do for sheer enjoyment. it seems to me that there are more constructive ways to reward the ones that you think are doing good work.
posted by rebeccablood at 12:25 PM on December 17, 2001 [1 favorite]


I certainly think that Jason Levine and Q Daily News deserve a nomination somewhere in Dave's awards, since he's one of the first (if not the first) Frontier webloggers.

However, Dave opened up a can of whup-ass on Jason over a bug fix, so his omission isn't much of a surprise.
posted by rcade at 12:32 PM on December 17, 2001


FYI, I didn't nominate Jason Levine because he hasn't been updating a lot lately, presumably with other things going on in his life. I read his site when it updates, and have been following with interest. He definitely has one of the sites that makes my mouse finger sweat. (That's how I found this thread, btw.)

Rogers, if you think that I didn't nominate people who I find prickly, have another look at the list. Jason is very sensitive when it comes to me (as is Matt, clearly) -- but so are some of the people I nominated. No matter, if I thought they were doing a good job of blogging, I nominated them.

As I've said elsewhere the whole thing is entirely subjective. Dan Lyke has says he may do his own award nominations, and I think that's a great idea. The process of thinking through what sites you value and why and then saying so publicly is a good one to go through. I learned a lot doing this, this year. Hey why not stick your neck out and put up your favorites and honor them.
posted by davewiner at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2001


I know we (obviously) disagree on this Rebecca, but I fail to see how any competitive aspect comes into my little Medley medals at all. No one has bought me anything off my wishlist in order to get on the list. No wads of cash have shown up in my snailmail box (more's the pity). I don't think anyone's having any competitive conniptions about whether I like their site or not.

I actually learn things at the end of the year when I think about which have been my favorite personal sites (or which sites I think are particularly noteworthy... not so sure about the term "favorite") that year. Last year, I didn't think I'd be able to come up with new sites to highlight this year, because I wasn't finding many new weblogs/journals and the ones I did find weren't doing much for me. But in fact, when I started making a list a month or so ago, I realized that I had found a bunch of good, quality sites yet again this year. It gives me hope for the medium.

And, while I got flamed royally in 1999 (described on the 2000 Medley medals page), no one said "boo" last year, so that made me ponder how the community has changed. We'll see what happens this year.

I'm just not convinced that me saying "Me like these sites. Very good. Go look." cheapens or aggrandizes anything.

I confess to not understanding Winer's approach, but, as I say on my own site... it's a big web.
posted by Medley at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2001


rcade:

i'm a little shocked at the unprofessional attitude of dave in the email sequence you point out, but i have been witness to (what i consider to be) fairly poor attitudes in some other programmers over time. some people, i guess.

re: sweaty mouse finger: ew.
posted by moz at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2001


Dave: The only one I can spot is CamWorld -- a lot of your favorite EditThisPage bloggers are new to me. Glad to hear you like Queso. Is he the first Frontier weblogger who wasn't at Userland?
posted by rcade at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2001


medley: I think it's the word "award" that makes me uncomfortable. when someone wins, someone implicitly loses. lots of people put their heart on the page every day, but they haven't made it onto many people's radar. it's frustrating to be in that position.

I do like that you don't give an award to the same weblog twice. (and of course I was flattered to be chosen myself.)

but as the kid who was always picked last for any team, anything sort of "popularity driven" makes me uncomfortable. I suppose you could look at awards as being community building, but I sort of see it in the opposite light, balkanizing the community into the good (popular/well-known/friends with the proprietor) weblogs and the not-so-good ones.
posted by rebeccablood at 1:30 PM on December 17, 2001


Awards have only as much value as the winners and losers ascribe to the person or group handing them out. If you think someone is an ass, and yet they give you an award - what does that prove? If you need approval, do a daily affirmation and quit with the whining.

I continue to be floored by the controversy awards for web sites stir up. My god, people - if you enjoy what you do on your site, why would anything else matter to you?
posted by gsh at 1:37 PM on December 17, 2001


If I can't cram the ballot box with Wil Wheaton entries, what good is it?
posted by machaus at 1:43 PM on December 17, 2001


Rogers, the first non-UserLand Manila users were Dan Gillmor, my uncle and Jamis MacNiven at Buck's.
posted by davewiner at 1:54 PM on December 17, 2001

If I can't cram the ballot box with Wil Wheaton entries, what good is it?
Splendid!

posted by holloway at 2:28 PM on December 17, 2001


For you, rcade and moz, and to bring this whole thing full-circle:

The argument that Dave and I had (that rcade points to above) was related to a bug that I found wherein Manila munged relative URLs in links when it compiled the XML that it served up to syndicators. I asked for a fix, and was told to change the way I did things; I then posted a fix, and got ripped for doing so. In so ripping, Dave exclaimed that I'm the only one who puts relative URLs in my links (in image links, in this case).

Now, the full-circle part: in today's Scripting News, Dave himself uses a relative link (see the linked word "fragile" in the third paragraph of the section). And.... his own RSS XML is screwed up as a result; when rendered into a viewable format, the linked word fragile doesn't send you to the intended link, but instead is a self-referential link back into the XML renderer.

Precious.

(Oh, and thank you for saying that Q was worthy... I appreciate that a lot!)
posted by delfuego at 4:10 PM on December 17, 2001


I note with interest that Joel Spolsky is nominated for Blogger of the Year.

Joel's company just released CityDesk, a product which at least partially competes with Winer's products. Joel used to use Manila, but "Joel on Software" is now managed using CityDesk.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:52 PM on December 17, 2001


OK, I could not let this go unchecked. I have responded publicly to this whole gross display of self-importance.
posted by camworld at 6:41 PM on December 17, 2001


My only beef is this: say these are my five personal favorite foods:

1. sushi
2. eggplant
3. pasta dishes
4. pizza
5. chocolate desserts

Now, I'll open the voting up so you can tell me what my personal favorite of my five top favorites should be.

I'm just wondering what the point of the whole thing is.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:02 PM on December 17, 2001


Matt, you like 4. pizza:



And what, no pancakes?
posted by anildash at 7:05 PM on December 17, 2001


I suppose you could look at awards as being community building, but I sort of see it in the opposite light, balkanizing the community into the good (popular/well-known/friends with the proprietor) weblogs and the not-so-good ones.

Well, this is a whole 'nother philosophical can of worms. There are good sites and there are not-so-good sites. That's the way of things. I'm not sure why pointing out those that one finds to be particularly good is a bad thing. Now, I could see if someone said "these 10 are great sites, these 10 are horrible sites." But that doesn't seem to happen.

The deeper question, I suppose, is whether we should ever acknowledge that some sites/books/movies/etc. are better than others. It seems to me to relate to the whole "be careful of kids' self esteem in school" issue. To an extent, the good liberal in me agrees, but then the elitist in me says "but there are kids who are smarter than others, there are books that are better than others,.." and so on. Refusing to acknowledge that just seems inappropriately, willfully uncritical. But, as I said.. that's a whole 'nother philosophical question. (And I had a long spew on my journal site recently about the need for critical, evaluative, and analytical thinking... so I know I have these elitist tendencies..) Drifting off topic now, so happy to take this to email or to let it lie.

posted by Medley at 7:09 PM on December 17, 2001


Anyone who has ever read my site probably realizes that I, like Rebecca, was also that last-picked kid. So it shouldn't come as a major surprise that not being picked for things (no matter if I even cared to be included) hits that elementary-school raw nerve.

"But why not me?"

I'm sure a lot of people feel that way even if they realize that they're not visible enough nor are the "type" of bloggers who would actually be nominated. And personally, I don't see what's the point of making people feel that way.

Awards just suck, I guess.

But of course, this comes from a career loser.

I guess we should just be happy that 99.9% of the real world doesn't care who's blogger of the year.

And remember when we all made our secret pledges not to be so trivial after September 11th? Oh well.
posted by mgtrott at 7:56 PM on December 17, 2001


you know what dave loves? this conversation. as far as I can tell he thrives on attention (almost as much as parading around as something other than a software salesman) and we hand it to him on a hotplate.

god bless cam (not in general, mind you, just this once) but unfortunately:

I am confident that people will see past this blatant attempt at self-aggrandizing and ignore these awards for what they are

I don't share quite the same level of confidence.
posted by victors at 8:17 PM on December 17, 2001


I guess we should just be happy that 99.9% of the real world doesn't care who's blogger of the year.

Im afraid 99.9% of the world couldn't tell a blog from a hole in the wall.
posted by Voyageman at 8:40 PM on December 17, 2001


That was my point -- though I would probably amend it to 99.999%
posted by mgtrott at 8:47 PM on December 17, 2001


Im afraid 99.9% of the world couldn't tell a blog from a hole in the wall

they're not missing too much, eh?
posted by victors at 8:58 PM on December 17, 2001


victors:

you know what dave loves? this conversation. as far as I can tell he thrives on attention (almost as much as parading around as something other than a software salesman) and we hand it to him on a hotplate.

yah, it's attention; it's not positive attention. winer certainly won't set himself up as your source for content mgmt software with this particular thread, and since i don't think winer's desire for attention is kaufmanesque, i'd say it's not a win for him.

i'm not sure if attention overall will be positive or not. i haven't been around for long enough to know how well winer is received by people in general. but i don't think he'll be ignored.
posted by moz at 8:59 PM on December 17, 2001


My only comment on this is that every single post at rc3.org over the past year was aimed exclusively at curring the favor of the grantor of Medley medals.
posted by rafeco at 9:36 PM on December 17, 2001


Devil's Advocate: But for the addition of a voting process (utterly non-scientific and meaningless), how does this practice of Dave Winer selecting a few of his favorite and/or considered notable weblogs differ significantly from, say, Blogger's Blogs of Note (which are all powered by Blogger) or the Movable Type Spotlight (which are, presumably, all powered by Movable Type)?

As means of aggrandizement of their respective tools or as a way to spotlight clever uses thereof, there really doesn't seem to be that much difference.
posted by bradlands at 9:39 PM on December 17, 2001


(You may recall, of course, that I care naught for awards or accolades, secure in the knowledge that I am and ever shall be The Most Popular Weblogger Aliveā„¢.)
posted by bradlands at 9:40 PM on December 17, 2001


or the Movable Type Spotlight (which are, presumably, all powered by Movable Type)?

I think the difference is that we don't try to disguise the selection as anything more than someone using MT in an interesting way.

Believe me, as my earlier posted comments indicate I don't even like picking spotlight sites for fear that I'm offending someone else who wasn't selected. :)
posted by mgtrott at 10:11 PM on December 17, 2001


bradlands: how does this practice of Dave Winer selecting a few of his favorite and/or considered notable weblogs differ significantly from, say, Blogger's Blogs of Note

it doesn't. it's all trivial self-promoting, self-justifying hype. but mgtrott has a very valid point -- there is just a little more posing going on in scriptville.

moz: i don't think winer's desire for attention is kaufmanesque

maybe you're right: it feels more kafka-esque. but trust me, he fucking loves it.

ps: I was a "blog of note" -- that (and the blog-as-cause posing) convinced me that blogging was not for me. the price was too high.

posted by victors at 10:22 PM on December 17, 2001


If there are 10000 users on MetaFilter and approximately 6 billion people in the world, then .00167% of the world's population knows about this blog. So rounding off, approximately 99.998% of the world maximum couldn't tell a blog from a hole in the wall.
posted by dness2 at 11:53 PM on December 17, 2001


dness2 - as of 12/10/01, there were 337,536 users registered with blogger. So that makes ~99.994% of the world, maximum, who couldn't tell a blog from a hole in the wall, assuming all users at blogger are separate individuals.

(Sorry, I'm being pedantic, and posting something really useless. I just felt that .004% of the world's population really did matter.)
posted by eoz at 3:23 AM on December 18, 2001


My only comment on this is that every single post at rc3.org over the past year was aimed exclusively at curring the favor of the grantor of Medley medals.

HA!

Pity, though! You're not eligible in 2001, having "won" er.. been recognized er... whatever you want to call it.. in 2000. Heh.
posted by Medley at 4:54 AM on December 18, 2001


"These are my favorite weblogs, by category."

What exactly is wrong with that? I don't think I've ever seen such vitriol directed against someone on MeFi. I mean who is this Dave bloke - does he eat babies or something?
posted by dlewis at 5:27 AM on December 18, 2001


If Dave Winer, or anyone else for that matter, wants to put up a poll on his site with a list of his favorite blogs and ask the people who read his site to pick the ones they like, that's fine with me.

Dave may be a bit (ok, more then a bit) full of himself, but so what? If you don't believe in what he's doing, don't participate. Don't promote it. But don't tear it down.
posted by Calebos at 5:44 AM on December 18, 2001


I like what Dave's doing with the Scripting News Awards. He has been upfront from the beginning that he selected the nominees, and the name of the awards also makes it doubly clear.

It's a little unorthodox to ask voters to pick a site from among one nominator's favorites, but awards often have idiosyncratic ways of doing things. The Golden Globes are nominated by 80 people in the little-known (and little-read) Hollywood Foreign Press Association -- one year Pia Zadora's rich husband got her a "newcomer of the year" nomination by inviting all of them to a Vegas party complete with lavish food and gifts.

Though it's being perceived as an effort to get publicity for Scripting News and Userland, Dave's already got the top spot on Google for the term "weblogs" and publishes the third most-linked technology weblog behind Slashdot and Kuro5hin, according to Google. The net gain for him in this is small, especially when you consider the time and effort required to set up the voting app.

The net gain for his nominees -- many of which have never been nominated for a weblogging award -- could be considerable. That, to me, is the bottom line for any awards effort. He's calling attention to good work that might otherwise be overlooked. Why is that bad?
posted by rcade at 5:47 AM on December 18, 2001


brad: ...how does this practice of Dave Winer selecting a few of his favorite and/or considered notable weblogs differ significantly from, say, Blogger's Blogs of Note....

I think a suitable analogy (stop groaning!) would be if Ev chose a peckle of blogs as the "best", and then put them over on evhead.com for people to vote, calling them the best of the year - and asking for votes. They'd be Ev's favorites, which is fine, but not a truly popular sample... which is a cloak the SNA2001s are going under.

It's nice to be recognized. But winning an award is a whole other matter.
posted by hijinx at 5:53 AM on December 18, 2001


The most disturbing posts are the ones that point out that by honoring (picking, spotlighting, whatever) a few, others might be missed.

So, we should not point out what we think is the best. Everyone should receive the same attention, the Gallant Gallstone deserves as much shelf space, sales, and attention as The Great Gatsby?


posted by Mick at 6:02 AM on December 18, 2001


Honestly, I don't see what the big deal is here. Sure, the whole contest is a farce and just about anyone who has read Dave knows that this is yet another Manilla PR binge. But I took one list at the nominees, saw the ridiculousness of it and moved on. And I suspect that others who frequent the site will do the same. This seems to me another case of people quibbling over the trivial: namely, who gets on a list, who gets linked, etc. Jesus, why bother? I don't. Sure, I've never been Blog of Note and there are some people who, by associative guilt will never link me. But if I honestly cared about that, then what would be the point of writing or blogging? The so-called public perception is moot. After all, Skyy Vodka isn't sponsoring this. This contest is only as important as you make it.
posted by ed at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2001


It doesn't sound to me like anyone objects to DW picking his favorites and saying so; it's the way he's making it come off -- as if the community is picking the best.

(Re)read his comment in this thread. The one question seriously posed here is, Why have a vote? But he doesn't address it; instead, he says: The process of thinking through what sites you value and why and then saying so publicly is a good one to go through.

No one disputes that. However, on his site (at least right now) he describes voting in his awards thingie as a way of supporting excellence in weblogging. He doesn't say, for instance, "Thank you for sharing your own opinion," or "Thanks for helping me pick my favorite favorite."

So it sounds like he's make a much broader claim than just, "These are my favorites" -- sounds like he's saying, "These are the best." It seems two-faced.
posted by mattpfeff at 7:53 AM on December 18, 2001


The Bloggies were great.

If someone wants to create a more democratic or better popularity contest, they're welcomed to do so. Get a few high-profile sites to sign on as "co-sponsors" of the event (such as the obvious-- Blogger, Metafilter, etc.), and you'd have the best (and most fair, as fair as these things can be) blogging awards possible.

One additional suggestion for such an event would be that there be categories called, "Weblogs you're not reading but you should" and "Tiny, well-done personal blogs." I mean, really, the folks who've been plugging away at blogging for years with nothing to show for it (*not that they wanted anything in the first place) should get at least a chance in something like this.

posted by docjohn at 7:55 AM on December 18, 2001


He asks if he should call his personal awards "the bloggies"

How about the Davies? Or even better, the Winies ...
posted by walrus at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2001


Actually, since they're the Scripting News Awards, I suggested calling 'em The Screwies. ;-)
posted by bradlands at 8:39 AM on December 18, 2001


It saddens me to see this many people taking one of Dave!!!'s little side projects so seriously.
posted by harmful at 9:48 AM on December 18, 2001


i'm in complete agreement with rebecca and i've said it many times. all awards, all "sites i read" lists cheapen what people are doing and create a feeling of "why am i not good enough to be included?"

there is very little difference between the bloggies and the scripting news awards. dave says 'here are my favorite weblogs. tell me which ones you think are best'. the bloggies says 'here are the favorite weblogs of 15% of the people who submitted nominations. tell us which ones you think are best'.

the bloggies were certainly skewed. otherwise blogger wouldn't have won "best weblog resource" even tho it clearly didn't qualify for the category.

truly the only differences i see are that people love to hate dave but no one hates nikolai and people's favorite weblogs aren't in the list so it's suddenly "not fair".
posted by brig at 10:26 AM on December 18, 2001


I've been emailing with Matt off this thread, and just realized that he asked some questions in his initial post that deserve a formal response.

The purpose of the awards was to:

1. Go through the exercise of choosing my favorites, being formal about it,
and giving some weight to the choices.

2. Give my readers, who are familiar with many of these weblogs, a chance to
say which ones they like best.

3. To gain exposure for the ones they don't know. To point people clearly to
blogs that I stake my reputation on -- these are good weblogs, if you read
them you'll understand what weblogging means, in 2001, to me.
posted by davewiner at 10:31 AM on December 18, 2001


why am i not good enough to be included?

Maybe because they're not, not everyone has to be the best at everything they do, it cheapens those that truly have a gift.


posted by Mick at 10:34 AM on December 18, 2001


all awards, all "sites i read" lists cheapen what people are doing and create a feeling of "why am i not good enough to be included?"

i don't think there's anything wrong with lists of favorite sites to be read. weblogs are supported by the culture it has perpetuated; you find out about the sites of people through the sites of others. maybe grabbing at mass popularity is disdainful, but i don't feel bad admitting that i like to be appreciated by some.

the problem with the scripting news awards is that they have a pretense of passing judgement; after a voting process, your weblog may be deigned "the best of breed." favorite site lists may have the same pretense, but not necessarily so.

for example, of the sites i read, very few are of the dear-diary sort where people truly spill their guts. that isn't because i don't care at all to read those sites, but rather because i don't know most of you, and i don't feel comfortable reading something so directly personal produced by people i don't know. that's an opinion, but not a judging one.

likewise some people produce narrative sites. i like those and i read a lot of those. i don't judge, and say "you don't write narratives, so your website must not be interesting" -- i'm simply being honest in showing what i do tend to prefer.
posted by moz at 10:41 AM on December 18, 2001


Maybe because they're not, not everyone has to be the best at everything they do, it cheapens those that truly have a gift.

so suddenly all those obscure, little-known weblogs are bad and don't 'truly have a gift', while all the oft-linked to sites do? after blogger became popular, there was a huge increase in the popularity of ev, meg, matt and jack's weblogs. i find it hard to believe that this occurred because of the 'true gift' that they had and not because of their high exposure due to working at pyra.
posted by brig at 10:56 AM on December 18, 2001


Wow. So not only is it uncouth to give out 'awards,' it's also a bad thing to be public about what sites one reads? Good grief.

When did we start striving for a cultural of mediocrity?

Why can't we try to honor excellence (however defined -- just make your definition clear)? I know I'm an elitist (I think it's ok to state preferences, for example), but I didn't think things hadn't gotten so bad that trying to find and point out quality (be it movies, books, albums, wine, chocolate, or weblogs) is now considered a bad thing.


posted by Medley at 11:05 AM on December 18, 2001


Fix all those typos. cultural = culture. Hadn't = had. I've been editing and writing all day. I clearly need a break.
posted by Medley at 11:08 AM on December 18, 2001


After reading Cameron's post, there's only one thing I can say: "everybody vote for Camworld".
posted by kchristidis at 11:23 AM on December 18, 2001


I didn't think things hadn't gotten so bad that trying to find and point out quality is now considered a bad thing.

sadly, 90% of these lists don't do this. they didn't two years ago and they don't today. the best acknowledgement of quality is still a link directly in a weblog's post.

as rebecca said, they are balkanizing the community into the good (popular/well-known/friends with the proprietor) weblogs and the not-so-good ones.
posted by brig at 11:31 AM on December 18, 2001


It saddens me to see this many people taking one of Dave!!!'s little side projects so seriously

Of course: telling people what you like is the point of blogs, selling software is the point of capitalism, running a contest to promote your views and software is the American way (hell, if we shut him down then the terrorists would win, right?).

If he was a nice guy then most people would be more than happy to overlook the triviality of it all -- even if you principally object to those ideals -- instead of bandwagoning on an "issue" like this and piling on.

But by being the Rush Limbaugh of the web he has pissed off a lot of people (including me -- although I blame myself for falling for his silliness). No one should be surprised or see a backlash as anything but the consequences of his own actions. Seriously.
posted by victors at 11:56 AM on December 18, 2001


the best acknowledgement of quality is still a link directly in a weblog's post.

But doesn't that create a feeling, among all the people you didn't link to, of "why am i not good enough to be included?" I don't mean to pick on you, but I just don't get the notion that linking to your favorite weblogs is now considered harmful.
posted by rcade at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2001


iceberg273 talks with the MetaGuru about the effects of recognizing excellence on the internet.

Q. Anyone can write a story or an article and make it publically available on the internet. Does that cheapen the ability to write a coherent sentence fragment?

A. No. People will find the best pages and sites on the internet and link to them. They will update daily (or at least every so often), so that the world knows where the best and freshest links are. They will even create original content of their own. They will call their creations "weblog" and there will be a general atmosphere of rejoicing.

Q. If anyone can make a hyperlink, does this cheapen the formation of hyperlinks, and anchor tags in general.

A. No. Those who make the best hyperlinks and surround them with pithy, witty, and salient text will be highlighted by weblog awards ceremonies. Thus, the masses will be able to find all that is good with the world hyperlink-wise, and will get original content as a bonus.

Q. Soem people might not agree with some of the weblog awards ceremonies' decisions, and might want to create their own. If everyone had their own weblog awards ceremony, would that cheapen weblog awards ceremonies, and the awarding of awards in general?

A. No. There will be weblog awards ceremony ceremonies in order to celebrate excellence in weblog awards ceremonies. This is beneficial, as every awards ceremony is a chance to dress daringly and increase name recognition by being seen with people who are being seen with people.

Q. They don't call you the MetaGuru for nothing, do they?

A. That wouldn't be a rhetorical question, would it?
posted by iceberg273 at 12:21 PM on December 18, 2001


After scrolling through all of this I realized that I actually cared less about the criticism of Dave's projekt than I did Dave's projekt in the first place - and that my friends is a feat since I could really care less about top anything lists.

If you don't care for the idea, show it by moving on to the next thing you have to peruse and let those who do enjoy those sorts of thing have their day. No matter what the excuse is it all seems to come down to "sour grapes" and personal conflicts which have nothing to do with the act itself. Hell, before this thread I had no idea who Dave was or why I should care about that either - I checked out Manila some time ago and wasn't impressed but this senseless bashing of the guy is a bit specious.
posted by RevGreg at 10:50 PM on December 18, 2001


Why doesn't someone do this, but do it properly? Done well it would be interesting, done in that form it is close to pointless.
posted by RobertLoch at 11:42 PM on December 18, 2001


And by properly; I don't think that the 'Bloggies' has got it right either. The categories need to be expanded greatly to give the awards any true relevance.
posted by RobertLoch at 11:48 PM on December 18, 2001


The only reason lists/awards are interesting to me is that I often find pages I haven't seen before. I'd love to see a contest of "the best weblogs you've never heard of," cause I know there's a ton out there.
posted by Ned at 6:21 AM on December 19, 2001


Ned: That's exactly why I like them, too. As I said on my little Medley medals page last year: "I would love it if other people did the same. I want to know what some of my favorite writers' favorite sites are. I want to know what other people like and why they like them. So, in the spirit of: "if you want something done, do it yourself" I present this year's Medley Medals."

If I can't go to people's whose opinions I generally trust and see their recommendations/favorites (Brig's preferred world), then it's just scattershot and random. There are too many sites out there for me to find the stuff I'll like all on my own. I look for book reviews and movie reviews -- why shouldn't I look for weblog reviews? Oh, and I write book and movie reviews on my site once in awhile, too. I guess that's bad, too. *sigh*
posted by Medley at 6:37 AM on December 19, 2001


Mostly this thread has been people complaining, but I've been getting private mail from people who are reading it who think the complaints are unfair, so perhaps it would be a good idea to try to shift this in a positive direction.

There have been a few attempts at getting a sorting process in place to find the good writing on the Web, and there probably should be a way of finding the good design and programming too (what else?)

I'm a software developer and a writer, so my opinion is valuable to some in those areas. But I'd love to facilitate a similar process for other areas, or at least be able to browse the results.

I can't recommend this process more highly. I've learned a lot from it. Stick your neck out -- say what you like and don't like, and don't worry about the heat the stinkers generate. They make a lot of noise but they're pretty harmless. You should be so lucky that they point to your site, you get a lot of good traffic that way. ;->

PS: To Anil, you're a dooshbag too. So there!
posted by davewiner at 11:26 AM on December 19, 2001


This is the greatest MetaTalk thread I have ever read!

PS: Isn't it spelled "douche-bag"?
posted by TacoConsumer at 1:07 PM on December 19, 2001


Oh come on. What about 1142?
posted by rodii at 2:10 PM on December 19, 2001


Schweeeet! Hey Dave, our plan to drive traffic to your Awards site worked. But that still doesn't mean I have to like the idea.
posted by camworld at 4:03 PM on December 19, 2001


I think what it come down to is this: there are folks that love awards, love the whole concept of categorizing and selecting and trumpeting and winners; there are those who are offended by the whole process in the first place and "what about so-and-so" and "this is all so subjective, how dare you!"; and there are those who could really care less.

Now I'm not saying any of these are right OR wrong... but just like the folks who despise the Oscars, and the Emmys, and the Golden Globes, and the Webbies, and the MTV Video Awards, and every other categorizing, selective, highly subjective award out there.

As someone else here has already said: it's a big Web. If you don't like it, change the channel. It's Dave's site, and whether or not you think he's an egotistical, self-serving bastard or a brilliant, forward-thinking genius... if you don't like it you can ignore it.

Hey, and you don't have to read about it in the paper the next day, and listen to people at work talk on, and on, and on about what Ev was wearing, and how Zeldman was a total no-show, and wasn't Derek smashing in that boa?

posted by theNonsuch at 4:31 PM on December 19, 2001


Thanks Cam, I knew you were a sweet guy underneath that irascible user interface. Kind of like the Wizard of Oz. Or Jack Nicholson.


posted by davewiner at 5:01 PM on December 19, 2001


I love it, Dave, responding to Anil here for something said on another site. Classy.
posted by delfuego at 9:29 PM on December 19, 2001


I'm glad Dave has the sense of humor that I knew he did. Major cool points for you. And, for the record, you can do or say whatever the hell you want to on your own site, I've always believed that.

Awards are still lame, though. Unless they give you money.
posted by anildash at 9:30 PM on December 19, 2001


Anil, I'm glad you have a sense of humor too. Your point about money is well-taken. I wish I had thought of that. Maybe next year!
posted by davewiner at 8:05 AM on December 20, 2001


I have a feature on Scripting News that links to this day in 2000, 1999, 1998 and 1997. Going back to 1999 today, I found a link to this fantastic article on Jason's site with tips on how to move a Manila site.

It's well worth reading. Jason loves our software, and we respect the hell out of Jason. For every time he's not satisified with our service, there are 10 times he gushes praise about how we turn on a dime to give him what he wants.

But he's part of a clique that demands that he not be seen as a Dave ass-kisser. I understand this. So every once in a while he goes on a campaign against me. This thread contains a bit of irreverent Jason-ness. It's OK, I understand.

But we're just a software vendor, he uses our stuff, very nicely, and is very generous with his ideas and his code. Our product is better for that. I don't take these outbursts very seriously, and I don't think any of you should either. Most of the time Jason says we're doing a good job. We are. We're not perfect, by any means, sometimes like everyone else I have a bad day, and I can learn too.

Today I would have said to Jason, please post that on your site. But in my own defense, at that time my company was in serious financial trouble, and we had just endured a devastating flamewar on on our users mail list, and I didn't want to get embroiled at a personal level with Jason, it can be a very tiring and exhausing thing for an old fart like me.
posted by davewiner at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2001


Now I want to pop the stack one more level.

I want peace in the Land of Bloggers.

There's a simple statement. I want peace. I want people to be supportive of each other. I don't want unity, I don't want to be the leader, I just want to have fun, and be appreciated for what I do, and to appreciate what others do.

A lot of people read this thread. I got a lot of questions offlist. I tried to answer them as well as I can. Net-net after all the discussion, I did something that stimulated people's minds, and I'd like to see something positive come from all the stimulation.

Think about it this way. There are two sorts of approaches you can take take to something new that sparks some controversy. You can:

1. Try to stop it or undermine it or

2. Compete.

Given a choice, I think everyone is better off if we go down path #2. Mail lists have this problem, there's huge "Stop Energy" -- so that things have a way of never getting done. You can see this at the W3C, and you can see it in the blogging community.

But..

Weblogs are different. Because each of us stands alone, and we don't have to endure endless rebuttal and second-guessing, it's possible to move, even over the objections of others.

Even the SXSW awards weren't open. My site wasn't nominated. I wasn't invited to speak. So why so much surprise when I take path #2?

As Scoop Nisker says, "If you don't like the news go out and make some of your own."

Imh opinion, that could be the motto that unites us. That's what blogging is all about.
posted by davewiner at 9:18 AM on December 20, 2001


When there is something new that sparks some controversy. You can also:

3. ignore it or accept it for what it is.

which is what I would guess most people are doing about this (maybe not the people here). Not everyone hated the Scripting News awards or wants to start their own, most people that emailed me said it wasn't on their radar or something they cared about. That's not a stop or undermine reaction, it's a non-reaction.

Not every controversy needs to result in reaction or competition, you have to pick your battles. I want peace in the land of bloggers too, and towards that end, I don't see everything as a battle to be fought or a competition to be won. Most things bloggers do don't create controversy, but when they do, they might get those two reactions, but I think the bulk of the audience chooses the third path.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2001


Hey Matt, what a crock. Scroll to the top of the page and see who started this shitstorm.
posted by davewiner at 10:53 AM on December 20, 2001


Hey Matt, what a crock. Scroll to the top of the page and see who started this shitstorm

Dave, I said not all controversy needs to be met with reaction or competition because after seeing how this thread turned out, I can see the folly of the "stop" reaction. Like I tried to tell you over personal email, I apologize for starting this thread.

I like the Medly awards, I like people having link lists on the side of their blogs. Actually, I love link lists more than anything, because it's the only crude collaborative filtering that exists currently. I find more great blogs linked from people I like than any other way. There are over 100,000 blogs online now, and it's impossible to find the good ones. I like what Cameron at the media lab is trying to do, by building something that suggests similar blogs you probably haven't seen before. I hope Cameron's thing gets better, currently it suggests blogs in another langauge near mine. I wish there were someone reading all of the 100k blogs, pointing me to the hidden gems.

Awards are always going to be dicey and create controversy because they put some ahead of others. Among awards, the popularity contests aren't that interesting because I've usually heard of everything nominated. What I'd like to see is an awards list consisting of nothing but great blogs I'd like to read, but haven't ever seen before or heard of. Without a human going through every blog, I don't know how anyone could do that, but for now I'll continue enjoying everyone's sidebar link list.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2001


I thought we'd popped the abstraction stack a level or two. Just because Matt can articulate a third option doesn't mean that's the one he'd choose at any given point.

Part of my frustration with this whole conversation is that some of us want to talk abstractly about the issues, and others just want to complain about particular instances. I'm much more interested in understanding exactly why commenting (favorably) on weblogs is so frowned upon by some, whereas no one complains about book or movie reviews. I'm less interested in particular instantiations than in the general resistance to any sort of quality-measures at all.

Can we pop the stack a bit more?
posted by Medley at 11:24 AM on December 20, 2001


The question of awards or other honors, does raise some interesting philosophical questions.

It seems that it comes down to the issues of self and others. How do you view your self and how do you view others.

My view is that it is proper and correct to honor others with compliments, awards or whatever. They should be sincere, but it is not too hard to find positive characters of other people or their web sites if we give it a little effort.

In terms of self, it is probably healthy to run away from honor. If you truly deserve credit, then why do you need anybody to tell you. If you don't deserve credit, what does it matter if somebody else gives it to you.

So it is a little bit of a paradox, honor others, but run away from being honored. Of course this is much easier said than done since that old bugaboo of ego is somewhat ingrained in the human psyche.

posted by MikeSanders at 11:44 AM on December 20, 2001


Ripping Dave a new asshole is part of my job. I didn't want to write that rant about Dave's awards, but somebody had to. He has clearly shown in the past that trying to have a private, reasonable discussion with him is next to impossible. I am not the only one who has private email chains with Winer that show his true nature, and not the one he puts forth on Scripting News. To say that we kissed and made up is a gross misunderstanding. I think it's more like we have agreed to disagree. Hell, Dave even taught me that way hack in 1996 or 1997 when I was still a Scripting News groupie.

I guess my only word of warning to those people Dave tries to suck up to by talking about them on Scripting News: be careful. Make sure you know who you are dealing with.

What it boils down for me is that I absolutely respect Dave for his ability to write and his ability to talk about tough issues, especially in the technology industry. But I have no respect when it comes to how Dave deals with people who disgree with him, or people who have issues with his company or his software.

But I still don't have to like it.
posted by camworld at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2001


medley:

I'm much more interested in understanding exactly why commenting (favorably) on weblogs is so frowned upon by some, whereas no one complains about book or movie reviews.

the only answer i really have to that question, medley, is that books and movies for mass consumption (which by and large are those whose reviews people are likely to see and read) are intended to make money. no one thinks the authors or creators of books and movies have a right to their money, so few feel bad about giving poor reviews.

weblogs are different, as you can see; you don't have to pay to look at them (in almost every case, it seems -- ever seen a weblog which requires non-free registration?). people work on their weblogs mainly out of personal interest or creativity and often pay for them out of their own pocket; to be ignored or criticized (unfairly in your view) seems like it would hurt more than if you were trying to turn a profit. (it would hurt more to me.)

the only other issue i can think of is that i think most people have a perception that attention in the weblog community is a very scarce product. it seems to me most people pick their favorite weblogs and stick to them, rarely adding or subtracting. i don't think many people want buttloads of popularity, but we mostly do like to be appreciated, so having very little opportunity of becoming as known among people some weblogs are can easily cause jealousy and hurt feelings.

i think no matter what, any instance in which attention is given to new (or old) websites are going to cause some sore feelings among those who didn't luck out; that's just the climate in the weblog community, it seems.
posted by moz at 1:30 PM on December 20, 2001


known among people AS some weblogs are -- sorry!
posted by moz at 1:31 PM on December 20, 2001


Cam the only time we met we had a good time (at the Mozilla meeting), but even so you don't know my true nature. I've never done anything to hurt you and I never would. I'm not that kind of person. I think we've had a case of rolling misunderstandings (like rolling blackouts), and I'm optimistic about the future.

Matt, all I can say is that you like throw stones and then pretend you didn't do it. I'm absolutely sure you wouldn't want people question why you do the things you do, but I'm going to adopt your #3 philosophy which is a good one and leave you alone to figure it out.

I'm outta here now. I have to do a bit of disgusting work that I've been procrastinating about. Remember Cam, I love you man, keep on truckin and let's have fun.
posted by davewiner at 2:04 PM on December 20, 2001


I told you he loves this shit.
posted by victors at 2:07 PM on December 20, 2001


Victor, you are a true piece of work. ROTFL. I love life Victor. I think that's what confuses you.
posted by davewiner at 2:13 PM on December 20, 2001


I am new here, and I am not sure if there are any unwritten rules, so please inform me if I violate any.

I have a blog entry today that I think is relevant to this discussion and rather than post it here I figured it would be better to provide this link to it.


posted by MikeSanders at 2:20 PM on December 20, 2001


it's true I think life is stupid but I didn't realize until now that I was confused about it too. thanks.
posted by victors at 2:30 PM on December 20, 2001


Matt, all I can say is that you like throw stones and then pretend you didn't do it.

I hate to continue this, but you insist on not reading what I am saying: I threw some stones and said I was sorry for doing it. I am fully admitting guilt here. I am telling you flat out that I issued a "stop" reaction to your awards that I'd like to retract. I am not pretending anything here. I fucked up. I fuck up all the time, and this was one of them.

I'm absolutely sure you wouldn't want people question why you do the things you do

And I'm absolutely sure you don't know what you are talking about when you make an assumption like that. MetaTalk exists solely to get feedback from people on what I am doing.

Just last week, this person questioned why I deleted their posting. I explained why, and others helped steer the person in a better direction and helped the person solve their problem. People disagree with me all the time here, publicly, and I like it. When I proposed an idea for a zine, this person disagreed (most in the thread didn't). I like keeping this type of criticism public, that way I and others can learn from what has been said, people questioning me can see where I am coming from, and others can give their input. I like having a public area that people are fully open to question me in.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:11 PM on December 20, 2001


Here are the rules, Mike. Unfortunately, you broke the first one (but since you're new, I'm sure they'll let you slide this time):
Posting a link to your homepage and asking for feedback is a bad post. Self-promotion isn't what this site is about. Self promotion can be "earned." If you consistently post thought-provoking comments or links on the site, people will click on your name to know you better. On the profile page, you can put your own URL and people can check that out. There are numerous cool pages done by the members of this site, click on a few people to explore.
Hope that helps.
posted by timothompson at 4:11 PM on December 20, 2001


moz: i think no matter what, any instance in which attention is given to new (or old) websites are going to cause some sore feelings among those who didn't luck out; that's just the climate in the weblog community, it seems.

That's just the climate? That people will just whine about ridiculous things, and no one should point out the ridiculousness of it? No.

Someone giving recognition or "awards" or whatever to sites they like is NOT equivalent to saying 'everyone who is not on this list is inferior and should feel bad that I did not include them in this elite group.' Anyone who fills that part in is the one with the problem.

I love to eat at restaurant A. I may enjoy restaurant B immensely, but if I only feel like promoting A to my friends or readers, should restaurant B's owner start feeling low and hurt? Please! It might be different if I actually singled out B as bad, but I don't believe Dave or anyone else is doing anything of the sort.

And yeah, yeah, bloggers aren't paid to do what they do; tell me about it, I've been doing it for years. Does that excuse everyone from having sensible responses to external stimuli?
posted by s.e.b. at 5:04 PM on December 20, 2001


Mike, Tim:
(note: it's ok to link to your own things as comments in threads, if it adds to the discussion and/or saves space because you're written a reply elsewhere)

No harm, no foul.
posted by modofo at 5:09 PM on December 20, 2001


timothompson and MikeSanders:

Immediately below the part you quote, timothompson, it says:

(note: it's ok to link to your own things as comments in threads, if it adds to the discussion and/or saves space because you're written a reply elsewhere).

That's exactly what MikeSanders was doing. Well done, Mike. Everybody's happy.
posted by gleuschk at 5:19 PM on December 20, 2001


s.e.b.:

That's just the climate? That people will just whine about ridiculous things, and no one should point out the ridiculousness of it?

oh, no seb: you can point out what you consider to be ridiculous if you like. i am not sure that you will change much, but i suppose you won't know unless you try, right?
posted by moz at 6:02 PM on December 20, 2001


Wheeee!

No, seriously. Come on guys, lighten up a bit - let's have a drink and make up already, or ~I'll sic the camgirls on you!~
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:25 PM on December 20, 2001


I apologize. I guess I misinterpreted the rules.
posted by timothompson at 8:38 PM on December 20, 2001


Tim, modofo, gleuschk

Thanks for the clarifications. My post today about the Chopped Liver Controversy is relevant to this discussion and refers back to this thread a few times.

Cam

I did not mean to misrepresent you with my kiss and make up blog reference yesterday. I meant that at least the tone of the discussion/conversation/argument was mellowing.

The only person I always agree with is myself, and I find that I am even getting into a lot of arguments with him these days. That might be the introspection process, but I am not sure.

posted by MikeSanders at 7:28 AM on December 21, 2001


I think both the Weblogger Awards and The Bloggies to be basically flawed. The voter demographics for both awards are skewed towards specific weblog applications, really.

That is why I don't care for the idea of LiveJournal having a site-sponsored award. It's would be like deciding who the president should be based on what the voters in San Francisco thought. I'd probably like the results more, and the results could technically be called democratic, but they'd still be anything but fair.

It's actually a pretty sad state of affairs when the Webby "People's Voice" Awards are the fairest of the lot. If last year's Webbys are any indication, all these awards really mean are that site A got more people to vote than site B.

Still, if the users of LiveJournal put us into the running for more "People's Voice" awards in the future, sure... we'd go for it. It would be foolish not to. Yes, it matters... but perhaps it shouldn't matter so much.

When it comes to individual preference, 'the people' don't know best. Never have. Hopefully never will.
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:08 AM on January 30, 2002


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