So, this is probably going to either go one of three ways, this post. Either it will sit here without much notice, it will cause an interesting exchange of opinions, or it will be taken out of context and cause screaming angst in certain parties and I'll scamper away to cover less incendiary topics again, such as Katie Price and the X Factor.
The word for the day, readers is "Awards" and what they do to usually pretty sane and intelligent people. Or bloggers, in this case.
I've been here (not here at this site with this name but here in the blogging sense) before the Bratlings came along, since 2006. I've gone from "UK rants blogger" with a lacking in UK readers following, to a Mummy Blogger (dusts self down) to being simply me again. The opinionated blogger and writer. Its a comfy fit which allows me the freedom to express a myriad of opinions, not just struggle to find something, anything, which will entertain my readers (that's you. Hello you) from the day to day antics of the Brats (which was getting non-existent as they got older. Sorry Brats).
Since 2006, things have changed rapidly in blogging. There were few of us UK lot back then, it was very much the hobby of the Martha Stewart Mom from the USA. Now, there are thousands of us from diverse backgrounds and all of whom cover a list of topics which engage and entertain.
In 2009, when I first got the "Mummy Blogger" tag (by the Independent newspaper), I was kind of shrugged shoulders about it. To me, it meant a Mum who blogged in her spare time. Which was me. There was a good little group of us doing what we did, posting our links at polite intervals on Twitter and British Mummy Bloggers, and generally having a chinwag.
Then came memes, and with those came little blogger made awards. These were passed around the whole circle of us, it was all in fun and never really meant anything other than a fellow blogger giving you a pat on the back.
Cut to now, and there are flipping thousands of us, and those badges from bloggers have moved on to become "awards" from companies and stat counter sites and anyone else who has the know how to make a badge and email a few of us when they like.
Now, not all awards are like this. The Brilliance in Blogging awards I feel has the right mix- its done in fun, you vote once, and then, at Britmums Live you get a trophy. Its not marketed to be anything its not. It will not make you famous. You will not end up an Editor of a Daily Broadsheet from it. Its just the old school pat on the back, with a bit more pzazz.
However, for every BiB award there are others which make me feel, as one blogger put it this morning during a discussion of one such award currently running, dirty and ikky.
I'm not going to single out one of these awards but there are lots. Simply stupid amounts. They range from being held by UK parent consumer sites, to stat sites, to parenting sites in the US. They have different names, different ranges of prizes, and different badges. Some are based on what number you are in a list and go on every month, some are yearly.
They all have things in common that lend to the ikky nature though.
For starters, someone, somewhere has started them for a reason, and its probably not because they get gooey every time they read another potty story from another blogger. Its money that motivates them in the long run.
Whether that's asking bloggers to place a "brag badge" on their site month after month to asking you to get your readers and anyone who hasn't muted you from their Twitter and Facebook feeds to vote for you, these are all motivated by traffic. And, as any seasoned, PR friendly blogger knows, traffic means ad revenue, freebies, events the lot.
How many of us love to advertise and gain revenue from it (puts hand up)? Well, by having a brag badge, some of which even have a secondary "sponsor" label on it- you are giving a free advert on your blog, for however long it is there to a site. How much revenue would you have got for that badge if you'd negotiated with a company yourself?
That means that some bright spark who is clever at marketing has found a few email addresses (not hard, Google UK bloggers), used a Paintshop badge maker, and added a "You're the best" or "Vote for Me" or random number based on statistics that Brian Cox would find baffling to it, and then have emailed you. You then post that on your site, blog about it and link to the company or site which gave you it, meaning more hits for said site.
And what do you get from it? A Badge. Hmm.
I also hate that you get an email from a site you'd never heard of, explaining how you've been nominated. You kind of expect virtual confetti to fall from the screen to your lap, and a dancing girl and a guy in spangly jacket to knock on your door. That feeling of "they like me, they really, really like me" enters your head and then you obediently go and promote the fact you are nominated everywhere. And drive others mental probably in the process (there are some who hate awards season with a passion). However, who nominated you is not made clear.
If you refuse and you've been nominated by a nice reader, you run the risk of causing offence. If you say yes, and it turns out you've been nominated by a site who are hoping your readers will become their readers as they look to increase their hit rate on the back of you being on their list to be voted for, you get suckered in. Its why most of these awards and lists will not tell you who has chosen you.
I say this as someone who was completely taken in, hook line and sinker by a company who are still hosting "awards" every year. They got a years worth of ads from me, I put it on my business card, I blogged about it, and tweeted too. Did I get sod all out of it? Nope. I got a Selfridges Voucher for £50, which, to this day is in my cupboard (seriously what can you buy from Selfridges that's £50?). It never increased my hits, it caused me nothing but grief at the time, and that was, to my mind at the least, when blogging started to head towards the dark side.
Its the spats and angst it causes too- voice an opinion questioning why a blog has been chosen or what the site gets out of it, and you will get a verbal flaming across as many sites as the offended party can manage. Trust me, I had the same last year and ended up, from one comment, being chucked off a Facebook group. God help me when this blog gets out there, but, hell, I want the old style of blogging together to make a return.
Is it time to turn our back on most of these awards and lists? My opinion is yes it is.
Don't get suckered into free advertising.
Just say no!
I am not a number. I'm a writer.
And that's all there is to it.
*Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net