Friday, January 27, 2006

The Spirit of the JIBs

Here's my take on the Jewish-Israeli Blog awards: It's fun to run, and it's fun to win, but ultimately there are many, many much more important things in life. So, whether I win or lose, it was fun to play, and it's nice to be introduced to new blogs and maybe get some more readers myself. That's it. So, when I post about the JIBs, it's with the same light-heartedness with which I post about Hoops and Yoyo: it's fun, I enjoy it, and I enjoy sharing about it on the blog. But it's not a big deal.

But in a post about "the spirit of the JIBs," my personal "take" is irrelevant, because it is Dave who invented the JIBs, Dave who runs them, and Dave who sets the tone for them. So, in light of the comments left here lately by a troll, and similar unpleasantness happening at other blogs, I'd like to share Dave's own words about the spirit of the awards. First, an email I sent to him yesterday (snipped parts do not affect the meaning of the email one iota):

. . . . I've been talking to other bloggers about the JIBs. Most accept the JIBs for what they are- a fun, harmless way to bring attention to a wide range of blogs. My own view of the JIBs is that sure, it hurts to lose, but winning a JIB is not a statement of literary quality, and losing is not a statement of lack of quality. It is, indeed, mostly a popularity contest, with the blogs who have the most readers getting the most votes. Still, in the process of voting, a lot of people check out a variety of nominees. And certainly many of the nominees (like me, for example), post links to the competition. If this were a contest of literary quality, there would be an independent panel of judges. In some ways, having an independent panel would be better . . . but then again, it wouldn't be the JIBs. It would be something more "high-falutin'," and surely the composition of the judging panel, and their criteria for bestowing awards, would open up a whole new can of worms! So, personally, I enjoy getting votes, but in categories where I'm not -- such as in Best Series-- I shrug and say "oh, well, my career doesn't ride on the JIBs" and go on with my day . . . .

However, I've gotten comments on my blog to the effect that telling my readers I've been nominated and "hinting" that I want votes is an evil, horrible, no-good, very bad thing to do. I even got this to my post a week or two ago, which included LINKS AND KUDOS TO MY OWN COMPETITION! And just now I checked my last post, in which I told my readers which categories I'm still in the running for -- AND ASKING THEM TO VOTE FOR WHOMEVER THEY THINK IS BEST -- and got the following comment:

"You should be disqualified from the competition for the above post. You are an embarrassment to the blogging community. Could you be any less shameless?"

So my question is: Is, in fact, telling one's readers that one is up for a JIB, and asking for votes in a light-hearted manner, while also reminding readers that the point is to read new blogs, and urging them to do so,against the spirit of the JIBs?

Here is the response which Dave sent to me personally (posted here in full with his permission):

I am sorry you have had to endure such snarkiness, and I fully agree with you. I have been saying all along (check out my JIBS posts) that the awards MEAN NOTHING! That is coming from me! :)

The whole point of the JIBs is the exposure, and from that point of view it has been really successful. Actually, the "fun" of it is also a part, and I am sorry you and others have to suffer from fools.

There is nothing wrong with getting into the spirit of competition. I would draw the line at putting down other competitors (as one overzealous competitor did last year).

So to answer your question: you have done nothing against the spirit, and in fact, have acted entirely in the spirit. It is the commenter who is acting contrary to the purpose.

I hope this addresses your comment/question.

Dave has also addressed the issue of what kind of behavior is or is not in the spirit of the JIB awards on his blog, here. This is what he has to say:

For the second year in a row, I find myself having to write a JIB-related post that I wish was not necessary.
You see, it seems that there are plenty of people out there who take the competition aspect too far. There are blog readers who leave snarky comments at blogs who have been requesting votes in the JIBs (and even those not really requesting votes). And there are bloggers who have seen it necessary to either disparage other competing blogs, or send their readers to skew the results by voting for selected blogs that conform to their ideology.
Of course, there have also been those who have tried to taint the entire awards with their baseless accusation and petty jealousies, but I have already devoted wasted enough time on them.
Well I'll be damned if these ninkenpoops are going to spoil the months of hard work the Jerusalem Post and I have invested in this endeavour.
The JIB awards were conceived as a fun way to bring attention to the plethora of Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel blogs out there, which I consider absolutely necessary in light of the mainstream media bias against Israel (and, to some extent, Jews). The voting aspect is a means to an end, the end being to attract readers to the web pages listing the participating blogs, clicking on the links, and visiting them. This is why the voting is left to the readers, and not a panel of judges as some people (who have entirely missed the point) have suggested.
Now pay attention to what I am saying. The results themselves are irrelevant. They may not necessarily be indicative of the quality or worth of the blog. They may very well only be indicative of the blogger's readership, or their ability to garner support.
I have been asked for my opinion on the tactics of some bloggers who have been very competitive. As far as I am concerned, it is not against the spirit of the awards to ask for votes, even when it involves emailing your family, friends, and acquaintances. What I ask though, is that you encourage them to not just visit the site and vote for you, but to visit the site, look at the wide range of blogs in all categories, visit the ones that seem appealing - and then vote for you. This is a great way to bring more readership to the blogs. Think about it. If most of the participant blogs sent such an email to only 10 of their friends, then this could result in thousands more visitors to the site, and potentially increase the traffic of many participating blogs.
This is also the reason why many of you need to be rejoicing at the inclusion of certain "big name" blogs, rather than lamenting this fact. When they promote the JIBs on their sites, they are sending thousands of readers to the voting pages. I won't pretend that in many - if not most - cases, their readers are merely voting for them and leaving immediately, but I am sure, in some cases, there are readers taking the time to check out the other participating blogs.
Some of you have to think outside the box and see that you can all be winners in this competition. And that has absolutely nothing to do with receiving one of the logos for top three placegetter.
You can quote me on that.

So, to all you trolls who think I'm a jerk for directing people to the JIBs; posting links to my own competition - even competition with very different opinions and lifestyles from my own; asking people to vote - and especially if they will vote for me; and otherwise acting in the spirit of the awards:

Go away!

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