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.