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Australia’s Best Blog Announced

Congratulations to Singing Bridges Travel Diary for winning the $10,000 prize in the Australia’s Best Blog Competition. The winning blog is a travel diary that records the sounds of bridges from around the world (now there’s a niche I’d never thought of blogging about!) I guess it takes all types….

Singing Bridges edged out 10 other finalists. The final standings were:

1. http://www.singingbridges.net/diary
2. http://www.loobylu.com
3. http://www.ausculture.com/blog
4. http://www.karencheng.com.au/
5. http://www.problogger.net
6. http://www.trollhattansaab.net
7. http://www.thepodcastnetwork.com/tpn
8. http://www.hearye.org
9. http://www.browncardigan.com
10. http://antonyloewenstein.blogspot.com/
11. http://www.camwheeler.com/wine/

There are some great blogs there so congrats to Singing Bridges for taking it out.

Congratulations to SmartyHost for taking the initiative for hosting the awards. It’s nice to see a company willing to throw some money and effort behind the Aussie blogosphere. A few hints however for next year (they’ve talked about it being an annual event) that they might want to take onboard.

  • Make the links on the competition’s blog live links – it’s what blogging is all about
  • Perhaps some categories for different awards would be good
  • Stick to the dates and times you set for announcements (this award was supposed to be announced yesterday)
  • Consider a more interactive award – ie let people vote in a category or two (people’s choice award). This would enter more into the spirit of the blogosphere. Perhaps also they could take nominations not only from bloggers themselves but others?
  • Make the judging panel a little more blogging focused. While I know some of the judging panel blog they could be accused of being a bit more mainstream media focused than new media focused. Of course having MSM on the panel does have some advantages in getting the competition covered more widely in the media but maybe to have some other bloggers would add some credibility to the competition.

As I say – it was a fair effort for the first year and I’m sure SmartyHost has benefited from it and will do so in the coming days with some extra media attention – but I’d love to see this go to the next level and become a bit more ‘blog like’.

Update – reactions to the winner of the award have been mixed to say the least around the Aussie blogosphere. Tim Blair has cracked it (to say the least). LoobyLu was a little more supportive of the winner.

update II – Judge Charles Wright is obviously not too happy with the result either. He’s just written on the Age blog about the process and actually reveals how he voted and what the voting process was like.

Judges only saw the 11 ‘top blogs’ and the voting system was out of 40 points per blog. Each blog gave a very different weight to their voting (ie some gave extreme votes) and some more moderate. Charles writes:

‘In fact, only two members of the judging panel voted it No. 1. It took the prize only because one of the judges gave it a total of 40 points – by far the most generous award by any judge – and the other 35 points. And both those judges marked between six and seven of the final 11 sites much lower than the other judges. Their spread was from 15 to 40, and from 10 to 35.

One of those judges awarded between 10 and 15 points to seven of the entries – which in our view indicates an entirely different frame of reference from the rest of the panel – and the other awarded 15 to 18 for six of them.

The other three judges marked in roughly the same band. Razor’s top vote got 31.5 points, and the bottom 19. The two judges whose votes were roughly in line with us, awarded from 33 to 22, and from 34 to 22.

In our opinion, there should have been some effort to standardise the points. If that had happened, the probable winner would have been Looby Lu or Trollhattansaab. ‘

Sounds like a bit of a bizaare way to run the voting. Perhaps a system where each judge had to rank blogs in order of preference would have been a better way to score blogs.

Update III: And if you havn’t had enough of Australian Blog Awards – check out Kek’s Australian Blog Awards which has just opened up for nominations. Keks has run this awards for at least a couple of years – it’s got categories, it’s voted on by the people and it seems to grow in popularlity every year. No big prizes but much more ‘bloglike’.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Trevor Cook says:

    Seems to me the judges still push the idea that blogging is about keeping a personal diary online. Yawn, sooo 2003

  2. Darren Rowse says:

    yeah true – although one of the main criteria that they seemed to look at was creativity and uniqueness – something that I have to say the blogs mentioned seem to have. I mean how much more unique can you get to have a travel blog about the sounds that bridges make – pretty uniqe and creative I guess.

    I guess this is what was behind my suggestion that they have categories next year – difficult to compare a blog about saabs with personal blogs with business blogs.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the story gets picked up in the media – I’ve only seen it in the Age and SMH so far. Having a winner that seems to be overseas might make it a little hard to get the attention.

  3. Martin (HOV) says:

    Yeah, with Trevor here – I had a feeling that they’d pick a winner with a personal-type diary (as you say, Yawn) – I think they haven’t realised that blogging has really moved on from the personal diary thing.

    A few tweaks to it for next year and SmartyHost are onto a good thing here – and good on them for taking the inititiave.

  4. Congratulations to you, Darren – the Number 5 blog in all of Austrailia is still a pretty impressive feat.

  5. ChrisH says:

    Pink Eyed Jim – I’d be saying congrats to anyone who could beat ProBlogger in a best Aussie blog contest!!! That’s a mighty effort of those four.

  6. Ray says:

    I’m sorry but isn’t anyone going to ask how the hell that blog won?

    The more I read it the more I wonder what drugs the judges of this competition are on? I mean seriously – the woman is travelling around the world on tax payer money recording bridges!

    Her blog is barely readable, her writing skills debateable, she doesn’t have comments so there is no interaction with readers, her post about winning doesn’t even say what she’s talking about.

    If this is the best blog in Australia I think we as Australian bloggers should all give up because it’s completely ridiculous.

    That ‘blog’ is the kind of site that should end up on those bizarre link websites – it’s an embarressment, seriously it’s a complete f$#king embarressment. What a crock of shit.

  7. Gotta say, I was feeling pretty good about finishing a creditable 6th but having read the winner’s work, I’m very confused about what the judges might have been imbibing.

    The only thing I usually agree with Tim Blair about is the date at the top of his posts, but I think it’s almost a unanimous “what the…?” in this case.

    I’m still pleased to have had some sort of appreciation, which was very unexpected, but it’s all looking a little wierd now.

  8. Vic says:

    I’m glad someone else said something becaues I thought I was going crazy.

    What worries me is that this is being published in newspapers around Australian and the general public is getting a very quirky and not very good idea of the richness of Aussie blogging by a blog about bridge sounds being named as the ultimate example of blogging.

    Charles Wright and his colleages on the judging panel must have lost it – what in the world were they thinking???

    I thought Smartyhost were onto something with this competition but it’s shown they know nothing about blogging at all – not even able to make links live on their blog. It’s a farce.

  9. I just don’t get it. The winning blog’s site doesn’t work for me. No noise (I assumed a singing blog would make noise). No interaction. Nothing works. What gives? This is one of the worst sites I’ve been on. The links don’t work. There’s no intelligence on this blog. Am I missing something? This is worse than modern art!!!

    Pierre Cutler
    The Sacramento Executive.

  10. ChrisH says:

    For anyone who’s confused about the results you should (or maybe not!) read, Charles Wright, one of the judges comments at http://blogs.theage.com.au/razor/archives/blogging/001462.html who seems less than impressed with the result as well.

    Reading that, seems the most important thing for next year is to get a better judging methodology.

  11. Martin (HOV) says:

    I was trying to be diplomatic in my previous comment (#3), but taking a second look you are right. what the …?

    No titles to posts, no comments … seems the biggest mistake was not having categories – how can you have ProB and the winner in the same list.

    Gotta to check out the judging panel – see the culprits.

  12. Robert says:

    I have to agree with the last few comments. This is not a good move for Australian Blogging at all. SmartyHost might just have made a very stupid move.

    ‘smart’ if they want to attract obscure, arty bloggers, but dumb if they are looking to attract the mainstream or business blogger. I was considering starting an account with them to move my blogspot blog over to them, but I think I’ll find someone else.

  13. ChrisH says:

    For those who haven’t read Charles’ comments there’s two key points:

    1) The result was too easily influenced by having one judge favor the winning site too heavily.

    2) The final judging panel only got to see 11 of the 530 blogs submitted as a different panel did the shortlisting.

    Charles says:

    “In our opinion, there should have been some effort to standardise the points. If that had happened, the probable winner would have been Looby Lu or Trollhattansaab.”

  14. Darren Rowse says:

    thanks ChrisH – that sheds a different light on things doesn’t it. I’ve added a quote from Charles on the main post above as an update. Sounds like it wasn’t very well thought through as a judging process which is a pity.

    Charles certainly told it like it was – all but naming names of who voted for who! Wonder what SmartyHost thinks of that!

  15. ChrisH says:

    lol. We were on the same wavelength, Darren. :)

  16. Pip says:

    when I heard the winner I seriously thought this was a hoax. I kept waiting for someone to announce the ‘real’ winner.

    I wonder whether the two smartyhost reps judges were the same ones who shortlisted the 530 down to 11 and if these two were the same ones that voted in the extreme ways? Seems silly to have two judges from one company – maybe they influenced each other.

    It seems to me that having ‘experts’ judge blogs is a very unbloglike thing to do. Shows that this hosting company don’t really understand blogging, although you just have to look at their blog to realise that.

    Maybe it’s time someone ran a people’s choice Australian blog awards?

  17. Tom Simpson says:

    Ha!

    Darren you’re always on about how Main stream media in Australia needs to pay more attention to blogs. I think you’ll be swallowing those words today! If that blog (in fact most of the top 11 list) is the cream of Australian blogs the industry there is screwed.

    No offense but I’m not sure I’d have even admitted to being on the list

  18. Troy says:

    what a hoot, laughable stuff really. That blog deserves to be on boingboing not a ‘best blog’ award.

    Problem with this award is that it will confirm what many already think about blogs. Remember what Tracy Grimshaw described blogs as when she interviewed you on the Today Show Darren? Stream of Consciousness stuff. This is exactly what she was bumbling on about and unfortunately an award going to this blog just confirms all the stereo types of them being obscure.

    While I love Problogger I’d never have voted it as the best in Aus – you’re pretty obscure too in topic, but surely there is a better example out there of blogging in our country.

    I’m disappointed, such a wasted opportunity.

  19. Darren Rowse says:

    Troy – I agree with you regarding ProBlogger. While I’m grateful for the support of some on this blog who say it’s an award winner – I’m very aware that this blog isn’t really representative of Aussie blogging, it’s a narrow niche.

    I guess the problem is that ‘what is representative?’

    If I can attempt to steer this blog back onto a more positive ground – what characteristics would you look for in Australia’s best blog? While I’m a bit puzzled by the results myself I’m not jealous of the position that the judges were in. How does one judge such an award?

    Interested to hear how people would define a good blog. Perhaps in doing so we can give the SmartyHost gang some hints for next time.

  20. ChrisH says:

    That’s the truth Darren! How can you judge a best blog? I didn’t enter because I don’t think either of my blogs deserved to win, even though I do think they are useful and make a valuable contribution.

    The best blog? It’s personal. Which blog makes a difference to my day? My life? What I do? As Australian blogs go, that’s ProBlogger.

    For each person that would be different. Someone shopping for a portable MP3, DVD, video or game players might think my Go Play AV site is the best thing since sliced bread.

    So it’s too subjective to pick one best blog. Categories as you suggested earlier, are the best solution.

  21. There are a number of blog awards out there already. They’re mainly dominated by political-themed humorists and the like. One of the things I liked about the finalists in this field were that they were diverse and the judging should have been about how well the blogger sets up the site and go about his/her work. Mine’s a narrow audience too but I work hard at it and it was nice to gonged for that.

    I’m scratching my head about 1st place too but I’m still pleased to have made the list. It was unexected pleasure on what was otherwise an ordinary day.

  22. That would be “goES about his/her work” and “nice to BE gonged”. Need caffiene.

  23. Laura says:

    I have to disagree with the very negative comments I’ve read here. Singing Bridges seems to me just about a perfect choice – short on tinsel and long on imagination and persistence.

    I wrote more about it on Larvatus Prodeo this morning, should anybody care.

    The Ozblogosphere has in fact held its own no-cash-prize awards for the last two years running – google up Australian Blog Awards + Keks for a squiz – I’m pretty surprised people reading here don’t know about them already.

  24. Roseanne van Langenberg says:

    An “oh so blue” blog which has no traffic, no loyal readers, no opinion nor commentary, defies every law of marketing and publishing, and what’s more is already funded with a Government Grant! – is unique? Please!

    I’d like to remind hero worshippers like Chris H, that we have a wealth of talent in this country.. which has been insulted by the final choice.

    Nor is Blogging about persistence – a decent weblog fills a void, a need, a niche! It educates and entertains. And what the heck does “larvatusprodeo.redrag” mean anyway! (their home page takes about 3 minutes to load) – forget it – I don’t really care.

    Good on you Ray – a crock of sh… it is mate!

  25. Laura says:

    Roseanne,
    it’s interesting that you mention the “wealth of talent” out in blogland yet hold such a very definite view of what comprises a “decent weblog”, and not much curiosity about what lies outside your own network.

    I can help you out with one thing: Larvatus Prodeo is a phrase coined by Rene Descartes – it means “Like an actor wearing a mask, I come forward, masked, on the stage of the world.” Red Rag is the domain name. Larvatus Prodeo is a left wing group blog with over twenty contributors and upwards of three thousand daily visitors. I hope this answers your question.

  26. Evil Pundit says:

    Professor Bunyip — a respected blogger of long standing — thinks some of the judges may have been less than objective.

    I think this award is an insult to all serious bloggers.

  27. Chris Howard says:

    Roseanne, yes Darren is a hero. And why not? In any endeavour it helps to have a hero, someone you want to emulate.

    That said, Darren is not the reason ProBlogger is my favourite Aussie blog. It’s the content. With it’s value to other bloggers, that’s why I say any blog that beats it out of #1 spot is doing well – and should be particularly proud of that effort.

    Personally, I don’t agree with these types of competitons though, because they are so subjective. And just looking at the international one, reinforces my feelings on that. And the response here and elsewhere proves it too.

    I read heaps of blogs and feeds (92 in all), but only two are not somehow related to my own blogging efforts. So even though I’ve looked at all 11 finalists, I haven’t added any to my RSS reader, because they don’t serve my purposes. But I bet plenty of other people have made some on that list a must a read.

  28. Peter says:

    This “competition” was doomed the moment it had anything to do with Smartyhost.

  29. Roseanne says:

    Laura
    If my life had been unbearable without an explanation, I would have sought it – but thank you for your gracious time to explain what “left of centre” means to me. The obscurity of the title was a touch trifling. I’ll take the barbed comment about your assumption of the limitations of my network – and politely remind you, that you know nothing about me… so let’s keep it at that. I sit comfortably with what I have accomplished in my life. You might like to add me to your team of writers, you can double your daily stats instantly :-). (I’m only trifling Laura… if you see any Passion in the winner’s work – or anything remotely related to art or education, for which a tax payer should be happy about, then you have me confused ?) I am certain Google nor Overture has ever had the keyphrase “singing bridges” searched on.

    Chris – I find the proverbial “suck” type attitude a trifle boring… if I offended, then I owe you an apology. And God bless Darren for his work, but you insult our entire nation, if you measure Aussie internet entrepreneurs, only by Darren’s accomplishments as a Blogger for 3 years.

    I was initially slightly annoyed with the choice of winner, but it was after reading Tim Blair’s Blog and the clever research on the topic of judging, and the grant this upstart took from our Government, and then spat right back in their face, when I exploded? His excellent post, leaves you with no doubt as to which judge was solely responsible for awarding the struggling young artist the prize (and BTW young Jodie is currently buying herself a pair of pink gloves in Moscow, compliments of taxpayers’ money – ah! such fine work should be rewarded should it not – she can now get a pair of pink boots in Athens to go with it – I hear leather is quite economical in Greece.)

    And mate if you can only make some lame comment as to “well done to anyone who beat Darren” – then I’m afraid you leave yourself open to critique.

    BTW. One who genuinely helps is called a “mentor”.

    A “mentor” takes the time to reply to emails when a valuable subscriber asks. A recent email to Robin Good (a well known Italian blogger) had a reply within literal minutes, and my esteemed Aussie “hero” has still to reply to his neighbour in Melbourne some 6 weeks later…. about a very legitimate issue surrounding the murder of a young blogger in New York.

    Darren… I apologize for causing dissention amongst your troops.

    My best to you, always
    Roseanne

  30. Philip Gomes says:

    This is fascinating, enjoying the discussion. I’m quite taken by how many of the pro blogging marketing types now suddenly appear to be driven by Blairs hobgoblin on Govt subsidies of the Arts which is not an issue as far as this prize is concerned. And I hope that when the time comes we see an as vehement reaction to the many instances of corporate welfare.

    Still, I do agree with all that Trevor says, this was a poor choice, and as for the work in Singing Bridges? Well this kind of thing was done when the artist was in nappies, hardly original.

    BTW, remind me if the time ever comes to never use Roseannes services. And yes I also write for Larvatus Prodeo, and yes our server difficulties are being solved as we speak.

  31. Chris Howard says:

    This contest raises another controversy – where are all the .au domains? Only one of the final 11 is a .au

    My experience of .au domains is they are difficult to register, more costly plus hosting is expensive. This result should send a message to hosts charging excessive fees, that they are driving dollars out of this country. Ditto to whoever makes the rules about .com.au domains

    If anyone knows Australian hosts providing reasonably priced and reliable services, please promote them.

  32. Martin (HOV) says:

    Chris – .au names are way too pricey in comparison to .com names puchased overeas (heck, I buy all my .com domains for US $8.95 from GoDaddy) – it’s a joke and a scam.

    What I believe, peple are showing their distaste by going straight for the .com domain – Have you tried to get a .com.au? Heck, you gotta jump through too many hoops for my liking.

    I would love to support Australian hosting and registrars but the bottom line speaks and I have been hosting and buying my domains from the US for years now – there’s no GST and there’s simply more competition.

  33. Chris Howard says:

    Martin, yeah, I have had to register Australian domains a few times. Thanks for reminding me – I must remember to mention that to my psychologist, that could be a clue… :)

  34. Martin (HOV) says:

    Chris,
    Ahh… now we’re getting down to root cause ;-)

  35. Darren Rowse says:

    no need to apologies for dissention Roseanne – a bit of robust discussion hurts no one

  36. Raj says:

    Why does the American government support the illegal occupation of Australia by people of British origin?

    I would think that Indonesia, India, China and the like have a better claim to that continent.

    Is this based on religion or racial bias?

    Are the American people picking a fight with more than one group?

    Middle East, Indonesia, Central Asia and other parts of the world.

  37. Kai says:

    Hey guys, I’m new to the Australian blogosphere and appreciate this post. It helps me find some of the big players in blogs in Australia. However, could someone recommend to me the top 5 tech blogs in Australia? I’m looking for the 5 biggest blogs that write about new _Australian_ start-ups, new _Australian websites and everything related to web 2.0 in Australia.
    Thanks for your help! :-)
    Kai
    PS: I’m originally from Germany and there the web 2.0 blogosphere is booming – hard to filter out the few good blogs that keep you up to date :-)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Smarty Blog has announced the winner of their Australia’s Best Blog award. See Darren’s post and the ensuing comments. There is a bit of general annoyance over the winner, Singing Bridges. It would be hard to judge 530 blogs, because your personal opinion would no doubt play a big role. I guess have criteria would break down most of the problems, and you will never please everyone. [...]

  2. [...] But the dogs are barking mad (see ProBlogger: Australia’s Best Blog Announced) and many are scratching their heads with the verdict. [...]

  3. Australia’s ‘Best Blog’ is a real barry crocker

    Read the outrage: Australia’s Best Blog Announced: Blog Tips at ProBlogger.

  4. [...] As part of a competition I featured in the top 10 of a couple of months ago I’ve won 12 months free hosting and a domain name from an Aussie hosting company. I’ve been pondering what to do with it and while I have ideas on the type of blog I want to run I’m struggling for a domain name. [...]