I know what you’re thinking. Is this really coming from the same person who pleaded with us to vote for our favourites?
It seems I was naive. Consider this a lesson learned.
At the time of writing the previous post, I truly believed it would be fair. It looked good on paper, and I was optimistic. When I was nominated, I was ecstatic. Upon discovering I was through to the voting stages, I was emotional. It was something I was eager to see come to fruition.
Then I read this post by The Bloglancer and some concerns started creeping in. I considered things from a new perspective, and approached with caution.
Then, since the voting process began, everything has gone downhill.
Let’s preface this.
This isn’t on the basis of being bitter. This was my first year of blogging. I didn’t expect to be nominated, or reach the finals. I’m not going to say I didn’t want to, because I did. Despite how things have turned out, I remain grateful for the opportunity, and the support I received.
Then things started happening, and my confidence in the UK Blog Awards started to dwindle. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, because I respected them. Time and time again, though, they fell short of expectations.
No system is perfect. You can’t please everyone. But to get it so badly wrong? That’s something else entirely.
This post is on the back of how things have been handled, the mess that it’s been since November, and the shameful lack of communication.
I’m also willing to admit that, yes, I am a little angsty about some of the other bloggers who have been overlooked. My opinion isn’t the be all and end all, but these are individuals I was confident would be there because they are admired throughout the community, and because they’re fantastic at what they do.
I’m not going to rehash every mistake.
Most of you will already know, and the rest probably aren’t interested. If this was their first year, then I would have been more understanding. After six years, though, I feel they should know better.
I wrote a thread on Twitter, and plenty of people echoed my sentiments, but there was no response. There was opportunity to go some way in redeeming themselves, and they chose to bury their head in the sand.
Bear in mind, this is a big deal to a lot of people, especially newer bloggers. It was new to them, and there were new elements to the process for seasoned bloggers, too. We were anxious, we were excited and, understandably, perhaps a bit restless. A lack of communication meant this quickly transcended into confusion, and, in turn, frustration.
Now, it’s easy to say “it shouldn’t matter, what’s the big deal – awards don’t define your content”, and I do agree with that. Yet, during the process, you get swept up in it. There’s a chance to receive recognition for your work, and that should be a good thing.
I appreciate they experimented with new systems, and new procedures.
I know technology is unpredictable. This is all well and good, but when things failed, it seemed increasingly more difficult to get hold of anyone to find out information. People were left in the dark.
I know they have since released the judging criteria which may have been helpful to some. But it’s a struggle for me to have respect for an organisation that claims to be in favour of bloggers, yet messes them around, and doesn’t offer so much as an apology for their conduct.
The feedback I gave them was well-intentioned, and I did my best to make that clear. I am of the opinion that feedback is helpful to learn, and to grow, and wanted them to acknowledge it for next year.
Of course, they didn’t. They were happy enough to retweet and like tweets which sang their praises, or anything in their defence. To respond to justifiably unhappy individuals? Nope.
And the thing is, is that they won’t do that while people passively accept or, worst yet, blindly praise them regardless of their actions. It’s a case of if they can get away with it, they will. I don’t really care who you are – if you mess up repeatedly, you should be held accountable. Especially when you fail a community you represent.
I can’t agree with an organisation that claims to celebrate the diversity in the blogging community, yet…
1) The majority of the finalists are white.
2) Almost all have self-hosted blogs.
3) The fashion finalists are all female, and there’s not a single plus size girl amongst them.
4) Several of the finalists are “big names”, who have several opportunities under their belt.
5) In some categories, the finalists’ blogs all look exactly the same.
With the first three points, it is possible that that reflects who entered. Without access to that information, it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions, but it is a point of interest for me. The last two points, though, are a little more dubious.
Does that really represent the broad talent across the community? I don’t think so. Then again, it’s tricky when the marks are based on 3 blog posts, and 3 bits of criteria. A year’s worth of work for most people came down to their three most recent posts at the time of marking.
Having one judge per category is bound to cause issues. No matter how impartial someone aspires to be, they have their tastes and will naturally be drawn to certain things more than others. This is nothing against the judges as people, it’s simply how humans are. I’d be just as guilty as it of anyone else.
This was pitched as a level playing field; it was presented as an opportunity for all, but it’s difficult to believe that.
As for numbers not being a contributing factor, I’d like to give you some figures to mull over.
The average Instagram following in lifestyle was 5800. In fashion, 7000. Beauty was 9800. Culinary was way up there with 13,500. Oh, and in Parenting and Baby, there was a finalist with 811,000. Yep, you read that right. Though that one is extreme, there were several others in that category beyond the 10k mark.
I’m not saying those individuals don’t deserve their follower numbers. But, at some stage, you have to admit that popularity comes into it somewhere, and it’s harder for new talent to emerge amongst established names.
The vote, supposedly, counted for very little, with a 40% role in the total, and 60% from the judges. Why have it at all? Any voting system is open to abuse and puts anyone with low numbers at a disadvantage. It instantly becomes a popularity contest. (In the interest of fairness, I will say that this isn’t the case in every category. Some are better balanced than others.)
It is questionable to me, though, that these votes can’t be revealed because it’s “too much work.” I would have thought these statistics would be readily available in a voting system? I don’t know – that argument just doesn’t sit right with me. Once again, it demonstrates a lack of transparency.
Throw into that the fact that, as it turns out, there’s not one big event, but a few smaller ones, a dinner for the winners, and just an Instagram live ceremony? While this may work out better for the people involved (and I hope it does), I’m confused as to why this wasn’t made clear previously. This information only came to light in emails to the finalists.
It’s unfair to use this as a basis to tell bloggers to “work harder.”
On the one hand, we have people saying it doesn’t matter. Be proud of your content regardless. On another, we have people saying “let it motivate you to work harder” or “improve your content for next year” and I take issue with this.
This feeds into the idea that, somehow, an individual wasn’t doing enough, or that their content wasn’t up to standard. Perhaps, in fact, the truth is that the odds were stacked against them.
There are bloggers I have connected with this year who have outstanding content. They nail it every time – their writing, their images, their tone. It’s all fantastic. It’s a struggle to pinpoint how they could improve.
Yet, they didn’t make the cut.
I know the community is packed with talent, and not everyone can win. But the individuals I have in mind… well, to be frank, I’m baffled how someone could look at them and not see them as fit for recognition. Even having seen the criteria they were judged on, I can’t find any logic in it.
In some instances, maybe I’m biased, but in other cases, I know I won’t be the only one who was completely stunned to not see some deserving names in there.
Maybe it was simply a case of bad luck, but please, don’t come out with the nonsense that it should drive them forward. It’s insulting. If you’re going to attempt to console people, maybe stick with “your content is awesome, keep it up.” (I did see a lot of that as well so kudos to you, cuties.)
I am aware there are humans behind this, but there are also humans behind these blogs, too.
We deserve more respect than has been demonstrated throughout this entire process.
This isn’t a personal attack against any one individual. Having worked on a website in a previous job, I am painfully aware of how unreliable technology is sometimes. Things go wrong. This understanding is probably the reason I wasn’t as quick to jump on tweets or direct messages as others. I didn’t want to bombard anyone when I could imagine how stressed they were.
In these situations, though, communicating makes such a big difference – especially when people are eagerly waiting on you with bated breath. It may not be viable to respond to everyone individually, but intermittent updates along the way wouldn’t have gone amiss.
It’s hard to be criticised and not take it personally, or feel like you’re being attacked. But a lot of what I saw on Twitter was legitimate feedback. Though, nobody knows what could have been said in direct messages, and I don’t think there’s ever any excuse to be unpleasant.
Believe it or not, I have let a lot of things slide.
I’ve been patient and polite (correct me if I’m wrong) and I’m not content to sit and keep my mouth shut. I imagine this looks like I’ve gone off on a random one-woman crusade, but this is the culmination of a lot of frustration – both on my end, and for others who have been involved.
Maybe you’ve reached this point and you think I’m taking it all too seriously. Does any of it even matter? Well, yes, I think it does because, as a community, we are responsible for each other, and responsible for the standards we set. In my opinion, they failed to meet the mark, on numerous occasions, so it’s up to us to say that. We deserve better.
Having written and re-written this more times than I can count, I know it’s hard to talk about it without 1) sounding like you’re spitting the dummy out because you didn’t get through and 2) trying to take glory away from the finalists, but it’s not about that. It’s about how everything has been handled, which has ultimately caused me to lose any respect I had for them.
Would I still be writing this if I were through to the finals?
The tone may have been different, but I still would have had similar things to say. I would have discussed the highs and lows of the process overall. The number of hiccups along the way were beginning to replace any excitement with frustration. This was growing and it no longer felt as fun as it should. Whether or not you trust me on that is your choice.
The lack of organisation and the poor communication left a bitter taste in my mouth, which wouldn’t have been washed away just because I progressed.
I don’t think any less of anyone who is excited to be in the final. I hope it lives up to their expectations. As well as that, I hope the process is a lot smoother going forward, because this should be a big moment for you – once which isn’t overshadowed by anything else.
In the context of the category I was in – mental health – I maintain that I’m happy to see it there. It was a category of wonderfully talented individuals, and I stand by the fact I felt proud to be amongst them.
Nothing can be done now, and I will be letting it lie from here on out. But I’m disappointed, and think the community deserves more. I’ll stand by that.
I’m not the only one who feels this way.
I’m not going to name names because those individuals chose to message me privately for a reason. But I am aware that several people feel let down by the way the whole thing has been executed.
Now, before you write us off as haters, you should probably know that a couple of the people who have messaged me have been finalists. Grateful as they are to be moving forward, they admit the entire thing could have been handled much better. I think that should set some alarm bells ringing.
There were also finalists from previous years who popped up to say they were disappointed in the conduct this year. So, the feelings aren’t exclusive to me.
Needless to say, I have absolutely no intention of being involved next year.
Though I hope the UK Blog Awards learn from their mistakes and the whole thing is much better co-ordinated in 2020, I would prefer not to have a part in it.
For those who think I’m just upset right now and will feel differently next year, I can tell you from knowing myself as well as I do that it’s highly unlikely. The way I work is that I give people multiple chances, but when they mess up the last one, that’s it. It’s very hard to rebuild my trust from there.
This was my first time being involved with the UK Blog Awards, and they’ve made sure it will be my last. What anyone else does is their choice.
My choice to not be involved in the future will likely be of little consequence to anyone or anything, but the reason I’m writing this is so you all know and appreciate where I stand on the matter. And so that anyone who may be feeling the same way – even if they don’t want to express it openly – knows they’re not alone.
In summary, it’s just not worth the price.
Following the announcements, I imagine a lot of us went through a similar series of emotions. Sadness, disappointment, self-doubt. I’m not going to pin that on the UK Blog Awards because this is a sad side effect of these kind of things, and not created intentionally.
But what I realised was that anything that makes me question my content and my ability isn’t worth signing up for again. Given the cruel way my mind works at times, it may not have been the best idea to try in the first place. I was just so moved by the encouragement I’d had from others that I felt motivated to give it a go.
I held off on saying anything in the immediate aftermath, because I knew I wasn’t in the right headspace to be reasonable. Yet, after those feelings subsided, there was still an underlying sense of anger at the whole situation – not only on behalf of myself, but of many others, too.
Am I shooting myself in the foot by making such a decision? I’m sure some people will think so. As far as I’m concerned, I’m staying true to who I am and the morals I adamantly believe in. So, no, not really.
As I said way back at the beginning of this post (congratulations on making it this far, by the way), it’s a lesson learned, in more ways than one.
My blog, my platforms, and my “brand” if you will, are built on positivity, and I know this doesn’t necessarily showcase that. But, I do also have a deep respect and admiration for members of this community. If you think I’m being over the top, keep in mind it’s because I care.