The implications of "best English-language culture blogger in North America" took some time to sink in. North America encompasses bilingual Canada, multilingual (but officially English monolingual) United States, and mostly Spanish-speaking Mexico. (Mexico is a multilingual country as well; about 6% of Mexicans speak an indigenous language.) So, about 112 million Mexicans and the 23% of Canadians who are French speakers are effectively excluded - and English-language bloggers elsewhere are also excluded. So much for culture bloggers in the United Kingdom, or those blogging in English but living in Milan or Vienna.
I'm also curious whether there are conflict-of-interest rules for the judges. ArtsJournal blogs are not excluded; one of the judges is the founder and editor of ArtsJournal.
I'm going to bullet-point my objections from the original posting:
- The impossibility of choosing a "best culture blogger" from the thousands of bloggers who are out there.
- Utter lack of eligibility rules and categories, beyond "North American, English-language, culture blogger," meaning everyone from junior high school students to professional culture writers can enter and would be competing with each other. This undermines the credibility of the contest.
- The premise of the first question: zzzzzzz.
- Popularity-contest aspects: encouragement of campaigns, entries not judged anonymously.
- Concerns about what, exactly, I would get from entering. Would it make me more credible with the arts organizations I write about or review?
I own that I summarized it all as "either you take us seriously or you don't." But the more important point might be the extremely mixed signals sent by the contest.
Now, Mr. McLennan asks how you promote arts blogging and help bloggers find larger readerships. I have a few ideas!
- High-profile sites such as ArtsJournal and individual bloggers such as [boldface name here] can spotlight or link to other culture bloggers both as a regular feature and in the course of normal writing. Does ArtsJournal have a blog dedicated to finding and linking to worthwhile bloggers? This could be the equivalent of Twitter's #ff.
- Individual bloggers can write about how they promote their blogs and what they've done to increase readership.
- Make the various directories and blog lists out there better known. I'm thinking of Colin Eatlock's Big List of Classical Bloggers, for example. There must be similar directories for film, TV, jazz, rock, pop, hip-hop, soul, [music style here ad infinitum], food, art, theater, and dance bloggers.
- If you have to have a competition, consider making it fully adjudicated and a short-list, long-list sort of a competition. I suppose the rounds of 16/8/4 have some of that effect, but the popularity-contest aspects of the S4M contest make me queasy.