It has been announced that the Blogisattva awards are being re-initiated and nominations are being sought.  (on Twitter @Blogisattva ) These are awards for Buddhist blogging.

I am rather ambivalent about these kinds of things as I somewhat snarked back in 2008 in the post The Buddhist Contest. The lip is still slightly curled at the resurgence but am setting that aside for the most part and considering who to nominate.

It is not possible with such things to recognize all who strive to communicate their experiences, knowledge, understanding, passions, interests and practices via the Buddhoblogosphere. That anyone strives at all in this medium, despite the various hazards, is accomplishment enough in my view. All practice is hard, and adding this public exposure to it notches it up. It is certainly not for everyone but for those who adopt and adapt to it, I feel some connection. (Hey, they’re like me-sort of)

Some folks do not understand why we do this blogging thing. And some have denied and will continue to deny it has any utility in practice, or even in life. “Who cares about all these reams of autobiography pouring out on the Interwebs?”, “What do these amateurs have to offer?”, “They’re all just a bunch of nasty bullies trying to beat each other up.”, “Self-indulgent tripe.”, “There’s no value ($) to it.”.  I’ve had all those thoughts myself upon occasion. And if I had to come up with a definitive answer as to why I keep doing it, in spite of those kinds of thoughts, it would not be possible.

The closest thing would be “I just feel like writing something somewhere.”  This has probably saved me quite a lot of money and time since repainting my apartment walls every couple of weeks, after writing all this stuff there, would be both financially and temporally prohibitive.  [Hey I used to live in a punk squat back in the day. We wrote on the walls all the time! Even cut a door in one with a chainsaw.] And I have yet to come up with a definitive reason not to do it.

So the ethos of “Why not?” prevails.

In considering the categories available there is plenty of writing worth consideration.

I’ve decided to make up a bookmark folder to just note what comes along. Once I’ve gotten a selection then I’ll make my own little nomination contest. It’s tempting to just put them all up as they come along but being a perpetual organizer I’d rather categorize and select. These kinds of popularity contests don’t often have much by way of criteria other than being “friends” with someone or a lot of blog stats for whatever reason. The content, care and time taken to do the work is pretty irrelevant. (Yes I am feeling a bit cynical today) This is exactly why I want to at least give my nomination process that kind of consideration.

All the blogs I’d choose are by individuals for a number of reasons which I’ll outline as I go along here.

So for the blogs I nominate the following criteria will be used:

  • consistency and originality-Was there an original “voice”? Percentage of cross-posts/guest posts/reposting of other material versus original content.
  • frequency-Fairly regular posts-at least 4-5 per month
  • impact-Did I say Hmmm or even Wow more than a few times?
  • knowledge-Could they support their viewpoints? Did they even try?
  • interaction-Were comments allowed and responded to? If so in what manner?
  • writing care and quality-meaning few spelling mistakes etc. so readability was good. Some thought and time put in to posts rather than just posting random stuff to keep the blog frequent
  • usefulness-Does the material connect with practice somehow?

Maybe I’ll think of a few more as I go along.  But this is my line of thought in terms of what I personally enjoy in blogs of a Buddhist nature. I’ve already got about a dozen in mind that fulfil those criteria so this is going to be quite an exercise. And I have about 300 more links to put in my blogroll that I’ve collected over the past few months so that’ll be a further expansion of my lists. Did I mention I like lists? Probably about a hundred times.

There are a couple of things that came to mind when this incarnation of awards was announced. Since the last time there has been an explosion of blogs that related to Buddhism. I sent some of my questions to the awards administrators but I’ll put them here as well.

What comprises a Buddhist blog? What about hybrid blogs? There are lots of blogs that are yoga/Buddhism, New Age/Buddhism, Pagan/Buddhism, techno/Buddhism, business/Buddhism, lifestyle/Buddhism, corporate/Buddhism, professional/Buddhism, self-help/Buddhism, politics/Buddhism, parenting/Buddhism, writing/Buddhism, etc.  Is the mere mention of something Buddhist enough? Does the blogger have to identify as Buddhist?

What about corporate and/or foundation blogs? I mean Buddhist blogs for professional, retail or commercial purposes? I’m talking about Tricycle, Shambhala, Wisdom Pubs,  and similar blogs. Their purposes are often to enhance their commercial enterprises. With the reach these blogs have it is pointless to nominate anyone else.

Who are the judges or at least what is the judging criteria, aside from the People’s Choice awards? How will the short list be determined? If it is simply by the most nomination votes then it’s just a popularity contest for those who are the best campaigners or with the most connections. Very few bloggers have the time to spend hours per day developing their network in addition to blogging.  If the judges are not named, which I think is the best idea, then at least their ideas as to what constitutes good content might be of interest. I also wonder about the experience of the judges. Are they fairly diverse? Is there at least one woman? Are they all American (as in U. S. of A. and not in the Che Guevara sense of “The Americas” American)? Are they all white? Are they all straight? Are they all converts? Are they all employed? (Might as well let Tricycle run the thing then. Still cynical.)

Do group blogs have advantages over individual blogs? I think so. It is much easier to contribute to a group blog occasionally than to keep an individual blog going regularly. And it is more high profile just because of the combined number of contacts the group has.

I don’t know about any of this. I’ll just do my own little thing in my own little corner, make my nominations when I’ve gathered enough relevant information, write my little post about my noms when the time comes and let all the rest of it be whatever it will be.

In the interim there are some beautiful rose finches to watch out my window so I’ll do that rather than continue with the cynicism.



13 comments on “Blogisattvas

  1. Great minds don’t exactly think alike, but I was intrigued by this post.

    Makes me wonder…wouldn’t it be interesting (appropriate? a bad prank?) if all the Best Buddhist blogs and posts were about the blogging and the Blogisattva awards.


  2. I nominated the blogs I read that I felt best represented the categories available. I also nominated one blog that I don’t really like but felt probably deserved it anyway. There are a few out there that I know get tons of hits/readers that I rarely ever read like Barbara’s Buddhism Blog and Brad’s Warners. It’s not that I have anything against either of them (though Barb’s comment moderation can get annoying at times) it’s just that they aren’t my cup of tea. Some people like chocolate, others vanilla. Oh well.

    I read the blogs I read because they are good, but also because I usually gain something from reading them. I tend not to read bad blogs (though I might be accusted of writing one!) and I don’t go out of my way to include diversity critera based by author. Instead, I try and look for diverstiy via ideas/writing style/schools of Buddhism.

    I also do worry that the voting could turn into a bit of a “who has the biggest social media following/influence”, but then really, I remember that the Blogisattva awards were reseruected all in fun, and I’ll probably be able to find some more blogs because of the whole thing.

    • I look forward to finding some new blogs as well. There are a lot of criteria one could use to select. Each of us has our own tastes. I like your idea of diversity of ideas etc. And I’m probably going to nominate a blog I don’t particularly like or agree with on those grounds as well. They just say it so damn well! It’s good to be challenged. Makes one stop and really consider their own perspective.

  3. Had to laugh at Mumon’s comment (dreaming up blog post about Blogisattva’s now). I also like the idea that judges’ backgrounds – location, gender, race, etc – would be nice to have available even though the names should be private. Having 5 white guys in the US decide would obviously and for good reasons raise eyebrows.

  4. I personally never blogged for social media gain, desire for a book deal, movie or financial rewards but come from a social media/ advertising background so I can see how some can get ‘hooked’ by the allure of the opportunities that come from being in the bloggy-spotlight.

    I choose to believe that Nate and Kyle’s motivations come from pure origins as they are pretty grounded dudes.

    I do very much like your idea of doing your own buddhablogger awards and think that might be a cool project that I might undertake on my end as well. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I agree T. about Nate. I’m glad its being done. Over all it’s good for everyone and I appreciate that. We get to widen our perspectives.

  5. @Justin and Nella – So far, 80% of the people we have asked to join have declined due to no time. I’m sorry that so far all of the panelists are American (I’m not sure what you have against people from the United States though), though we did ask three Canadians, the forth being Nella (still waiting for an answer), but they said no. Scott who also wrote a piece about his concerns also has said no to helping. Though we have not released the panelists names yet, sorry you need to give us time as we do this in our spare time, I can tell you we have one gay man, one woman and two straight white guys. Again, we will ask if anyone is willing to volunteer either people who you all feel are more diverse, then we are all ears.

    If you have this many concerns, why not help? We are all volunteering our own free time.

    This thing is for the everyday blogger, not for the big magazines or professional blogs.

    • Hello Blogisattva

      I don’t have anything against Americans from the United States. (this sounds familiar). They are just not the only people or hold the only viewpoint in the world. That’s all. I am not advocating to crush the US or whatever. Only to broaden horizons.

      I’ve not received any email or message so it’s hard to answer something not there. I would volunteer in some small way. Let me know how I can be of use.

      Glad to get the clarification regarding magazines etc.

      Had discussions yesterday on twitter with @ZenDustZenDirt and @Blogisattva (Nate) about some of these topics as well.

      Actually when a thing is getting buzz like this there are going to be a whole spectrum of reactions. It would be unrealistic to suppose everyone is immediately going to get on board without some thinking about it. It’s publicity of a kind I suppose. Equanimity helps.

      As for volunteering there are a couple of things. I do think that well thought out criticism/commentary is something of a contribution as it can help keep a project on track and give some new ideas and perspectives. So I like to read what everyone has to say about something in order to get the broadest possible picture. Sort of stepping back off my own soapbox for a bit to get bearings on what’s really happening aka reality check.

      All volunteer things tend to be in everyone’s spare time. There aren’t many full time volunteers-who could afford to be? I do appreciate that Nate is taking point on this project and those who are panelists have agreed to do so. Those are big jobs. If there are some jobs that are smaller or if some big job can be broken down into tasks there may be more volunteers available.

      So let me know what I could do. As of tomorrow I’m going to be away for about a week but will get back to you after that-or during that if possible but that’s not likely.

    • I can second NellaLou that I have nothing against people from the US (being one of them). But the concern over diversity is important. Of course if you’ve made a good-faith effort to bring in various people and could not, then you’ve done your best and should move forward with those who can help out. Sounds like you’re on the right track to me.

  6. I feel cautious to acknowledge an award that could serve to inspire “contest mind” within the online Buddhist-blogger community. As much as it may serve to express the spirit of the times, inasmuch, I’m still skeptical about the nature and purpose of awards.

    Once receiving an award and feeling it was actually not for me but, rather, for who was giving the award and staging the presentation ceremony – something I did in theater, when I was in high school – it was awkward, and seemed non-genuine. Maybe there’s something to be said about being a “good sport”, but what about sporting in what’s actually not a sport?

    I’ll award myself the being-non-being award of non-awardness, and call it mud. Thank you for this opportunity.

    • I agree about contest mind. It’s always lurking and one never knows when it will bite. Sort of like a snake in the grass.
      Snakes aren’t very sporting.

  7. Pingback: So, What are Buddhist Moral Codes for, Anyway? A Monkey Mind Ramble… | Monkey Mind

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