To ask questions?
I guess it is. And if it is, I guess I'll be negative. But then, I never thought criticism = negative.
One part of the BBAW was the Best Awards. Only one part, but the part that got a lot of ink; both on the BBAW website itself, because of the length of time from nominations to the last award, but also on publishers tweets and newsletters and library tweets and newsletters, directing people to find out about the best blogs via BBAW.
Both Colleen at Chasing Ray and Jen at Jen Robinson's Book Page asked serious questions about blogging, popularity, and best following the Award portion of BBAW.
I had my own questions. From the start, I wanted to know how "best" was defined. The brief definitions at the BBAW website didn't show the criteria, which was published after the time nominated blogs had to respond. Now, we can see that for BBAW, a blog can have less than 30% of its posts be about one genre yet be the shortlist and winner for the Best Genre award. That's neither good nor bad; it just is, and its helpful to know when evaluating both your own blog for submissions as well as knowing to what degree to participate in and report on the BBAW's best blogs.
There was also the problem of multiple submissions; I, along with others, read it to mean that the better path was to self-select out and only submit for one. Later, I found out that others decided the smarter route was to submit for all and see where the panelists gave you the highest points. Very smart! But, not something everyone would have thought of doing. Those with more familiarity in the process had a better grasp at the way to best submit. And it means that those of us who self selected out never heard back our scores.
When the last award was announced, the judging panelists were shared. I'm not sure if the actual BBAW committee itself, outside of founder My Friend Amy, was ever shared. But of the blogs thanked for being panelists (or otherwise involved), over one half won awards. Including Amy, who won three awards. And of those connected to BBAW, they won about two thirds of the "bests" out there. This despite over 1000 blogs submitting.
Some comments said "that just shows that those involved are the best!" While others, like me, wondered if it more reflected a club. Not a club that deliberately gamed the system; rather, a club that has their own definitions and ideas of what is "best" that wasn't always clear to the others who were asked to participate and post and blog about "best." So we asked the questions, what does it mean when 2/3 of the awards are won by those involved in BBAW?
And were told it was negative to ask. That it was elitist to ask. That while panelists couldn't be shared before hand because of possible favoritism (were the panelists open to being swayed? Or bloggers not to be trusted?) we had to trust in BBAW, despite not knowing organizers, standards, who knew about standards, etc. And had to just go "yay" and be happy that places like the ALA said, this is a place to go to cheer the best. We had to be nice bloggers, be quiet, don't ask questions. Don't snipe. Don't complain. Don't be a hater.
I wasn't going to post about this, but then Babbling About Books raised the question of critiques of BBAW. Including whether there would have been critiques if a place like SLJ had run these awards. Are you kidding? Hell to the yes. Look at the responses to the Newbery, run by ALA! The critiques of that are legendary. Go, google Newbery and popularity and check out the articles and posts at SLJ and Horn Book.
And if its elitist to know standards? To understand the process to appreciate what is being done? To question? To ask? I'll gladly be elitist.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy