How I spectacularly failed to rig the Lib Dem Blog of the Year awards

by Stephen Tall on September 18, 2011

First of all, many congratulations to the winners of the sixth annual Lib Dem Blog of the Year awards. And at least as many congratulations to those short-listed finalists. [Cliche but heart-felt] You are all winners. [/Cliche but heart-felt]

I was one of the six judges for the awards in 2011, together with fellow co-editor Helen Duffett, last year’s overall winner Richard Flowers, Olly Grender, Katie Razzall, and Martin Tod.

For those imagining that we might have all gathered together over a sumptuous banquet, deliberating for many hours, arguing and dissecting, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you. In my case at least, the judging involved two evenings of solitary wrestling with multi-tabbed internet browsers and an Excel spreadsheet. No communication with any of the other judges (save our returning officer, Helen)… and no banquet, no roast swan.

For all that, I enjoyed being a judge. As the past year has seen me more disconnected from the Lib Dem blogging world that I would like owing to work commitments, it was a real pleasure to immerse myself in the work of so many talents within our party. I grazed on blogs that I had only been dimly aware of, as well as enjoying re-acquainting myself with those I have long taken pleasure in reading.

There’s been a suggestion (actually, I think accusation is the more accurate word) over at Lisa Harding’s Spiderplant Land blog* that the awards — as well as recognising the wrong winners — have been rigged, that the contest has become a LibDemVoice stitch-up.

I’ve already responded to Lisa on her blog here (and she’s replied here). But I wanted to respond more fully here for a very simple reason: the contest is a celebration of the best of blogging among Lib Dems, and I don’t want any suggestion of ‘dark arts’ to detract from the fantastic talents of either the finalists or the eventual winners.

I can only speak for myself (as I say, I had no contact with the other judges), but I have checked back to find out how my short-listed nominations compare with the actual short-lists and the winners.

The judging process was this… We ranked 5 nominations each in order of preference across the six award categories, and these votes selected both the short-list and the winners. I short-listed a total of 29 (there was one category where I thought there were only 4 potential winners). Of these 29, 16 of my choices made it into the published short-lists, a success rate of little more than half. Of the 6 winners, only one was my personal choice — though all are, and I mean this, most deserving.

If this was a LibDemVoice stitch-up, then, I can only hold up my hands and apologise for one thing: my utter and total incompetence in achieving it.

As for the overall winner of Blog of the Year, I’m delighted Nick Thornsby won it; and I would have been equally delighted if Caron Lindsay had: I short-listed both of them, along with two other blogs.

However, my pick for number one was Andrew Reeves, a passionate, funny, wonderful blogger, who died so tragically this year. I would have loved for the awards to have recognised his contribution to the Lib Dems’ blogging and social media universe. It wasn’t to be, but it’s his fantastic contribution I most want to pay tribute to here. The party lost a huge talent, and blogging lost a star. He’s much missed.

* Update 20/9/2011: Lisa Harding has posted a full apology for her original post here.