Last night I received an email telling me I'm up for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Mental Wellness Blogs. You'd think that would make me happy, but it didn't really. In fact, I immediately felt sad once I understood what was involved.
I've been blogging for seven years now (Postpartum Progress' 7th anniversary is in July – wahoo!), and to be honest I'm completely over contests in which you get named the best in some area of social media because you were able to get the most people to vote for you. Websites create contests like these for one reason: to drive traffic. They tell you that you're up for some award, and that the way to win is to send everyone you know to their site — not yours — to vote for you. What's more, they want you to send people to their site to vote EVERY DAY. Not just once, but over and over and over. I guess this must increase their traffic enough that they become more attractive to advertisers.
I'm announcing publicly that I'm not going to do that. Just not going to. It's silly. No. More. I quit.
What good does it do for me to drive friends and family and people I hardly know up the wall so that some other website can get a lot of traffic? What are we doing?! Everyone I know who has to beg for votes is uncomfortable the entire time they are doing it. So why do we do it?
While I think the other Top Mental Wellness nominees are very deserving and I support them being recognized 100%, I really wish that organizations would just recognize them for their work PERIOD, without requiring them or me to hustle ourselves for votes. Why not just point out what great work people are doing and leave it at that? And I'm not calling out Circle of Moms for doing this, because they are just doing what EVERYONE else is doing.
While I'm at it, I also refuse to drive everyone crazy trying to get more "clout" at places like Klout. While I appreciate the fact that Klout recognizes I have some influence with my particular audience, I have ZERO plans to spend every day all day tweeting just so that I can increase my clout. That doesn't help me help women with PPD, which is my mission. To get more social media clout, I'd need to tweet nonstop, get as many people as possible to follow me on Twitter regardless of whether they care about postpartum depression or what I write about, get them to talk to me as much as possible, etc. That's not what Twitter is about to me. It's about being able to have authentic conversations and engage with people in a very easy way, and I love it. I want it to stay that way.
Sorry, but I'm not going to stay up all night blogging. I'm not going to take my phone to bed with me so that I can continue tweeting into the night. In fact, my smartphone has never entered my bedroom. Ever. That's where I sleep, not where I try to conquer the world by staying up past what is a healthy bedtime for me so that I can ratchet up higher numbers. Honestly, I cannot let myself be tricked into thinking that if I give up rest, or down time, or time when I'm not social media-ing myself to death I'll somehow become rich and famous. I just want to talk to you, the person reading this right now. I like you and want to know you and am so glad you are here. That's what matters to me.
I love blogging. I love bloggers. I love social media people. I love the internet. I love what we are able to do, that our words can stretch across thousands of miles to make someone else feel understood and supported. I love that we are able to use our voices, and that no one can take that away from us. That's amazing.
I also love when the work I do is recognized based on merit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. It would be no fun to sit at your computer hour after hour, day after day, and never hear from a single soul that what you are doing is having some impact with at least somebody. I was so proud to become a WebMD Health Hero in 2008, and to be recognized as among the top ten depression sites by Psych Central, and to win the Bloganthropy Award last year, because those things were based on merit. It meant a group of people who knew my work, and knew intimately the arena in which I do that work, felt it was good enough to be recognized in some way. This makes me proud, often gives me an opportunity to talk to new people about the cause of women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and makes me eager to strive towards becoming way way way better at what I do.
I rarely feel good when the work I do is recognized based on the number of votes I am able to gin up. I don't want to have to beg you to "Pick me! Pick me! Have you voted for me yet? Huh?! Have you?!" I don't want to have to outmaneuver fellow women bloggers I respect and care about.
So, I say thank you, truly, to Circle of Moms for recognizing that I am a decent Mental Wellness blogger. I say to my fellow 24 nominees that you are all wonderful, and different, and special in your own right and it doesn't matter whether you are #1 or #25 or #50 because you are helping people and being courageous. I honor you for it and I wish others would honor you for the work alone, and not for which of you has the best get out the vote campaign. You deserve better than that. And finally, I say this: don't vote for me.
You will no longer see me asking for votes for these various contests. I can't do it anymore. It tires me. It's soul sucking. I'm not going to do it. If someone recognizes what we do here for the impact it has on mothers and families, or for innovative ideas, or for the writing, or for positively affecting mental health or reducing stigma, I will share it with you FOR SURE, but as for the rest of it … I quit.
best post ever, thank you! I too am so sick of the "vote for me here" campaigns.
I did ask for votes. I'll do one post to recognize the nomination and I'll add the button to my sidebar but I will not badger my readers/friends for votes over and over day after day. I even said that in my post.
And I won't bring it up over and over for the same reasons that you've so eloquently described here.
I give the nomination a nod because I do feel honored to be on anyone's radar at all and I do hope that because of it, even just one more person comes to the EO and finds something that resonates with them.
I realize (even last night I realized) that recognizing the nod does make me look like a sucker in some ways…but my philosophy is a simple "give it a nod and move on" one. I honestly don't care at all about klout (I had no idea there were ways to increase it-heh.) or what number I end up being in any kind of top blogs thingy. So yeah, hat tip and done. I totally hear you and think this whole thing will change with time…maybe…I hope. (The lists and contests)
You do such good work here, my friend.
Needed to see this today. Thanks, Katharine.
I am SO not commenting, I hope you know, on what other people do. I love you and respect you a million tons. And I understand that we do it, we all do it, because we want to spread the word and have more people see the work we are doing and have access to it. I just find that I've come to that point where I can't do it anymore. Like you, I don't have a problem saying "Hey, this happened and it's nice to be recognized." I'm glad Circle of Moms would even put me in the mix of the 25 to begin with, for sure. For that, I'm grateful. I just don't want to do the voting thing anymore. I just can't. It makes me tired. It doesn't mean I'm making judgments about anyone else and what they do. This is purely a personal decision just for me.
I know, lady. I didn't take it personally AT ALL. I really didn't. I was just explaining my point of view because it's something that does bring new people to my blog. That makes me acknowledge it…but we're on the same page with campaigning. I do not want to campaign for votes, no thank you.
You did not offend. I love your face off.
awesome perspective! totally gonna share this link w/ my blogging e-course students – blogging and social media can so easily start to feel like junior high, with all kinds of ego stroking and popularity contests. i have elicited votes for this stuff, too, and in the end it feels sorta worthless. thanks, katherine!
This is wonderful! Just… wonderful. Thank you so much for saying it. Retweet! Retweet!
Awesome post! Thank you as always for your honesty and and care!
AMEN, girlfriend! I'm so turned off by the bloggy rat race. It used to be such a friendlier place when there weren't all of these popularity awards (and don't even get me started on the whole monetizing aspect of it). Keep doing what you're doing, Katherine. You're wonderful! xo
You know what? I totally agree. My first response was to be excited, and I did let people know and encourage them to vote for me. But at the same time, I looked at the list and thought there's no one way to choose the "best" of blogs like this. They're all important. And they're all different. What will help someone won't help another and vice versa. And I really don't want to get into a vote-fight with some women I really respect and consider friends.
I was complaining about this method to my husband last night. If they want to showcase something, I wish sites would do a list and allow people to vote once. Not once a day – ONCE. And leave it at that. Because otherwise it's just a popularity contest and I had quite enough of that in high school.
So like Heather, I will acknowledge it but will not harass people for votes for 3 weeks and, frankly, I won't even care if I "win". Like you, I'd rather spend my time writing and connecting with others and doing things that are good for me.
Yes I get it. I truly understand your perspective and agree in a lot of ways. But for those of us newbies who genuinely just want to reach more and help more women, I think this can bring mental health issues more into the mainstream. I was glad to be recognized along side all of you who I respect greatly and will vote for you and others again, as I already have. I know it's a popularity contest but maybe someone who really loves your blog and admires your work nominated you. I'm new to blogging and am blogging for mental health in honor of a friend who died by suicide in Dec 2010, so anything that helps me reach more people and help them, help bring mental health into the mainstream, help other moms realize they're not alone. I'm for it.
Agree, agree, agree. If youre blog is good (and I'm sure it is) they should have a panel which votes on the finalists, not use it as an advertising campaign.
I made this same decision myself a couple of years ago. All of these contests and lists are just link bait, and while it is an honor to be on the "radar" as Heather says, the scrabbling for votes is nuts. A couple years back Meghan of Velveteen Mind and I had a friendly competition after the Babble list came out (and we weren't on it) and that was my last jaunt into the "vote for me" game. Cause, you know, GAH. And unlike a few years ago where we all did what Heather does, now it's constant on twitter and facebook and it can be EXHAUSTING to get message after message begging for votes.
A hearty hear, hear from me.
"this" is why we read and always will, your generous pearls of wisdom. it really comes down to YOU! i never tire of giving pp progress as a "firstline-go-to-reference" when i meet a suffering mom and her family. i bet that you have a trillion gillion votes (in that way) from the many, other devoted readers, too.
Amen! I don't care how "prestigious" the "award" but if it involves me needing to annoy/beg/plead for votes, I'm not participating–end of story.
What you are doing for moms and families dealing with postpartum mental health issues goes FAR beyond what any popularity contest can measure.
Thank you for this post Katherine. I agree that I hate the "vote for me" thing. It reminds me way too much of high school.
I do like blog awards with juries that judge blogs based on clear criteria. Being given an award based on your merit means so much more than being given an award because you had more friends and family who were willing to click, click, click.
I have participated in a few of the "vote for me" contests in the past and do regret it now. I made the decision a while ago too that I won't be doing that anymore.
That said, I do understand the desire for recognition, especially as a blogger who is starting out. Having more established bloggers who have already received recognition in many ways criticizing these awards may sound like the pretty girl saying that looks don't matter or the straight A student saying that grades don't matter. From that perspective, I think each person should do what they are comfortable with, but I would prefer to support and recognize new bloggers in a different way.
So, here's some food for thought. When I got the notice for the nomination for Top Political Blogger, my reaction was the same as yours. Ugh. Stupid. Blah. Who cares. I've been nominated for numerous contests (many Babble things) that I won't repost simply because I'm not interested in sending Babble any more traffic for their formula-pushing ads.
But I posted a link to this "contest" on my Facebook page, and asked my readers to vote for ALL the feminist blogs listed, and you know what happened? I had a lot of comments from people telling me that they found a lot of other great blogs to read from that contest. So, if you post the link, and your followers find a bunch of other mental health resources from it, isn't that helping the cause? Isn't that helping women? Isn't the possibility of helping women find all these other blogs worth posting the link and participating? Sure, I could suggest all those other sites to my readers without the contest, but the contest just gives one more interesting platform for people to do some stumbling of their own. I cannot see that as a bad thing.
I might not have realized that this could be a positive thing at first, but now when I look at that Top 25 Political Moms page, I see a lot of great blogs that I can help my readers discover. And that's pretty cool.
That's what I did yesterday with this list too. I read and lOve many of the mental health blogs on the list and told my FB followers to vote for them too. I completely agree with the capacity for such a contest to introduce a new audience to much needed content & well deserving bloggers. I've already discovered new blogs to follow!
Saw this when my wife retweeted it. You've hit the nail on the head as to why I tend to rebel against the entire thing. It's a loathsome pastime and I unfollowed people who endlessly beg for votes. In fact I can think of one especially egregious individual I won't name whose blog is fairly well known who may be the absolute worst example of this.
I wish more people would see these contests (and really they're not contests at all) for what they are and make the stand you have so the entire concept dies.
Couldn't they have put up that list and couldn't you have shared it without it being about "votes" though? I wish that happened more often.
I'm sure they could have, but it wouldn't have had the same draw. Anytime you ask people to play a game, they're more likely to show up. The game really gives people a reason to click on the link, whereas they may not if you're just telling them about a page with links on it. And, by asking people to vote every day (yes, egregious and annoying) it keeps it top of mind and puts it in front of people who may have missed it the other few times it was tweeted about. I hate spamming people, but I find that sometimes people really do just miss things. There are still regular followers of mine who ask me if I've had my (5 week old) baby yet. We get busy – things get lost in the shuffle. So, while I can see why the entire concept is totally annoying to some people, I do also understand why it works when they've set it up the way they have.
I hear you. I was nominated for a similar award this year. Little did I know this site basically makes new lists all the time as a strategy for traffic. Like Heather, I put the badge on my blog and made one mention on my facebook fan page, and then watched other contestants racking up votes by the hundreds every day. And if I followed back to their blog, it was request after request for votes.
All of these awards really lose their luster when you figure out that it's really just a "who was more willing to schill for votes" award.
This is my first visit here and I completely agree with you. And in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if some website thinks you are tops? I'm glad you are sticking with your mission. <3
This is so legit, Katherine. It's exactly how I feel. And I'm not even nominated for anything.
There are bloggers who engage these kinds of contests with tact, grace and humility (Heather of the EO and Kristen Howerton, who commented above, are great examples of how to tip your hat & walk away.)
But for the majority of the people listed in these contests (and I wonder how many of them nominate themselves?), I feel like tact, grace and humility fly out the window. No longer are we a community of adults trying to push conversations forward, bring hope, or spark creativity. Instead, we're thrown back into high school student government, when everyone campaigns for votes, we jockey to be the most popular, and in the midst of the contest, we lose sight of who we are and what we're really doing here in the first place.
Frankly, I've seen these contests bring out the worst in people lately and like you, I'm just tired of it.
What you do for moms out there doesn't need some kind of voting system to show just how much impact and reach you have out there. I never set out to blog with the goal of being popular. I set out to share my story and to try to help others. I tweeted once for votes, but don't expect many at all, and I'm not going to blog or tweet anymore about it. I know I've helped other moms out there. Just knowing that makes me feel very happy, very happy indeed.
YES. Thank you.
Amen, amen, amen. All over the place with this. I've never been nominated for a "vote for me" kind of thing, but the very thought of asking for votes makes me feel exhausted.
I do agree with what The Feminist Breeder said above – these lists have helped me find cool blogs in the past, but the voting thing, the Klout thing, the Top This List, it's all very tiresome.
First visit. And now I feel a little ashamed. Until now, I avoided these things, but this one kind of spoke to me, I guess because it hits so close to home.
First visit. And now I feel a little ashamed. Until now, I avoided these things, but this one kind of spoke to me, I guess because it hits so close to home.
Your integrity shines through in this very interesting observation of how social media can sometimes get the better of us. I admire your honesty and bravery and awareness.
that's the most refreshing freeing blog post. ever.
thanks for speaking up on one of my least favorite things in Social Media.
I love this post so very much. So glad someone sent me your way.
I had no idea that was the process. Thanks for the heads up!
I am among the top 25 mental wellness blogs listed there, too. And I am excited, because maybe new people will come to read my blog. I admit I immediately posted on my blog, asking people to vote for James & Jax. But after reading your post, I think I'll stop asking for votes and instead just direct people to take a look at all of the blogs listed there. You're right, the focus should not be on votes but rather on the list of resources people might not have otherwise known about, like Gina (The Feminist Breeder) wrote. Thanks for reminding us.
FANTASTIC POST! I run a homeschool community – and was sad to see homeschool moms jump like crazy to get the most votes – and it wasn't giving them ANY traffic !! Not to mention how bad they felt when one blog rec'd a 1K MORE votes than them and they had absolutely no chance of cracking top 10. It doesn't mean they are a bad blogger – that holds absolutely NO weight in the quality of their blog because Crazy Sue got all her friends w/ no life to vote for her day after day. And honestly I can award myself best coolest mom ever – doesn't mean I really am one offline! Just my thoughts!
Well said. I was up once for something. Mentioned it once and that was it. Thank you for speaking up about this!
I'm trying really hard not to take offense to the notion that the majority of us nominated there have done it ourselves and without tact, grace and humility. I truly am. And yet? I'm hurt.
I completely agree that in the midst of these contests we lose sight of the purpose, but I don't think that being flattered that someone (or the website itself) nominated us is wrong. It's nice to feel wanted somewhere.
A million times, YES. These popularity contests are just one part of the blogging problem. You've got to know WHY you're doing this in the first place and keep that in mind all of the time. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.
I've wavered and waffled and chewed on this all night.
At first, I felt honored, shocked even, to be listed there. It was exciting. It IS exciting to see your name on a list somewhere and to know that someone, somewhere is paying attention, especially when you haven't been doing this as long as someone else alongside whose name your own appears.
I understand that asking for votes is annoying and drives traffic their way instead of ours. And I agree completely that it's vicious and cyclical and destructive.
It seems that we're always expected to choose sides in blogging. If we promote ourselves in nearly any way, we're seen as attention-seeking. And I know that self-promotion can be done in a way that doesn't involve contests, but as Gina said, for some people the incentive is the game. If we don't? We don't last.
What is it, independent of promotion, that makes one person stand out and be successful at anything among a sea of similar voices?
I feel like I should clarify my earlier post to say that I didn't nominate myself and don't even know who did. But I hate the notion that someone who nominates herself must be lacking in tact and grace because she believes in her voice and purpose enough to stick her own neck out there.
I totally see what you are saying in terms of lists of new things to read. I love that idea. I think they could and should do that, I'm just not sure it requires the whole voting part. What if they just did a Hidden Gems list once or twice a year, so that we could all discover new bloggers, but left the voting silliness out?
I'm so glad you commented. Of course it is exciting to see your name on a list. I'm happy when I see my name on one, too.
You will last because you deserve to last. And you will last outside of these voting things. Honestly, I can't say that I've ever seen big traffic increases or huge jumps in followers when something like this has happened to me in the past. Really. In my opinion, and it's just my opinion, here's what makes you stand out: you, being you authentically, doing what you do over the LONG TERM, going to events and meeting people in person so they get to know you, coming up with new and interesting ideas for your blog, being consistent, keeping things fresh. All these other things are momentary flashes, if you ask me.
I have NO issue with people nominating themselves actually. None at all. I don't think that means someone lacks tact and grace. I think people SHOULD self-nominate themselves for things. I've done it! (not for this, I have no idea how I got on this particular list) Sometimes that's the only way to get important sites/organizations to know you exist. I don't think I mentioned anything about nominating in this post, did I?
My focus was simply about the whole voting thing. It makes me unhappy. It makes me feel like I'm back in high school. I don't want to be part of it. I think I'd prefer to do what Kristen and Heather mentioned in their comments about simply giving a hat tip, being grateful for being mentioned, but staying out of the campaigning thing.
Thanks Liz! Happy to see you here!
I like how you and Heather handle it. That seems like a gracious way of doing things.
I'm with you on the issue of sites that do this all the time, creating voting contest after voting contest. They know it works to build traffic because everyone is so eager to be recognized. I understand that. I'm eager to be recognized! I just hate being used in that way, though.
I will say that I had a conversation with the Circle of Moms people yesterday and they were very cool, so there's that. They were happy to leave me on the list and also accepting that I wouldn't be joining in on the whole voting thing. I have to give them props for that.
Glad you are here! Welcome!
I was responding to Nish in terms of the self-nominating thing. Like you, I didn't nominate myself and have no idea who did. But I think we shouldn't feel bad about nominating ourselves, because, as you said in the comment, sometimes that's the only way to get noticed. We can't expect our readers to be everywhere all the time.
And the voting thing? Totally makes me feel like one of the un-cool kids I've always been.
I sent out a tweet to let people know I was nominated, and I posted on my personal Facebook wall, and there's a link on the blog for people to click if they want to. That seems to be about enough campaigning for me.
Thanks Megan. You totally get me. It IS exhausting. I can feel it in my bones, and I realized this week how much I don't like that feeling and that I have (no pun intended) a vote. No one is making me participate in this race to wherever we are all racing to. I can opt out.
No no no no no. Please don't feel ashamed. We've all done this. I've done it. We are all in the same boat here.
Thank you SO MUCH for putting into words the inner wrestling I've experienced this week. You (and your insightful commenters) have given me a lot to chew on ~ and I am grateful!
I'm glad you were recognized. That's one of the reasons I try, though I can't always manage it, to do Warrior Moms of the Week. It's so I can introduce and link my readers to other people who are writing eloquently and courageously about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. But I don't ask them to come back to my site over and over to vote for the best post of the week. Because that would be about benefiting me, not you.
Plus, imagine how you'd feel if you really, really, really pressed for votes for this thing and you only get 25 and someone else gets 2,000. Something that was supposed to make you feel good about your work might end up making you feel bad. I really don't like that.
I wish I had read this BEFORE I found out I was nominated for top 25 baby journals. Then I saw the category mental wellness blogs and thought, well crap, I fit into that category better. But guess what? I'm tired of it. I loathe asking people to vote for me. And throughout each day I asked people to vote I felt worse and worse about it. So much so that by the last day I didn't even care what "place" I was.
If I am nominated for anything else I *might* mention it once but I'm not going to spend oodles of my time asking readers to vote for me. Yes, someone might find my blog who had never read it before and for that I'm grateful. But these contests are not for the bloggers benefit. I know that now!
See?! I feel the same way. You eventually start to feel like crap about the whole thing, and that just sucks. It's bad enough that most of us have to battle our own inner demons – not feeling good enough, negative self-talk, self-esteem issues, whatever – but then to pile this on top of it? No thank you!
I suppose I black-and-white'd a very gray issue.
It stinks that to self-promote is somehow seen as cheapening yourself. I know this isn't exactly an accolade. I understand that it promotes them more than it promotes us. But when I talk about this self-promotion, I'm speaking in larger terms across the board. The idea that someone could be looked down upon (and I know that's not what you're doing) for promoting herself when others say "Hey! You're great" and then DON'T promote her? I don't like that.
When I say what makes one person stand out, I'm not only talking about myself. Because I totally agree that being ME, or US, or YOU authentically is the best thing to do for your blog. And I believe I'm doing that.
I am with Miranda here.
When I got the email that my blog was on a list for something as honorable as wellness blogs? My heart went pitter patter and my feet started sweating. I was SOOO honored.
I have never been nominated for anything like this and I try SOOO hard to be completely honest and open on Sluiter Nation. I couldn't believe that someone was recognizing me.
I am totally asking for votes. I guess I don't see it as a popularity contest and to hear that it is is silly from people who have way more votes than me is more like high school to me than the actual asking for votes.
What ISN'T a popularity contest in this world of ours? Not just in blogging, but in life? Everything is. If you want to be successful at ANYTHING in life, you have to work for it. Sitting by and hoping to be noticed just doesn't get you promotions, special projects, extra duties, or more readers.
I am proud to be on this list. Way proud.
I don't have to be number one on the list, but I would love to be one of the Top 25. Along with all the rest of the quality blogs.
I voted for this blog because I think it deserves to be in that Top 25 too. I want THIS blog to get more readers because it's important.
Maybe this all comes from me being a high school teacher and telling kids to speak up for THEMSELVES more. To be their own advocate.
How can we advocate for others if we won't do it for ourselves?
You have to do what you feel comfortable doing. I'm all for that. I hope I didn't come off as too judgey about what you or anyone else is doing. I was just trying to put a stake in the ground for myself. I am glad you were recognized, because you deserve to be recognized. And you SHOULD be proud to be on the list. I support your right to react to it in whichever way you choose.
I'm not against advocating for oneself. In fact, I'm all for it. I just don't like the system that has been created, which in the end benefits the people CREATING the contest way more than it ever benefits the people IN the contest.
FYI, I have no idea who has what number of votes, because I haven't even gone to look. I don't plan to.
This was probably a difficult post to share, but glad that you did write it and thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts and bringing a different perspective on things.
Excellent writing that was heartfelt and capture many who feel that there is more than just "contests", but just wanting to genuinely share from the bottom of one's heart, its not about being popular but having a voice, an outlet and using a medium just for that…it's not about the numbers, but the people that we connect with.
I'm with you. Exactly. I'm happy to tell people I'm nominated. But I'm not campaigning.
I think you've got the right idea Ivy!
I've been thinking about this further as I read all of your amazing comments and points of view. I guess for me it comes down to a cost benefit analysis.
On the positive side, there is the exposure, which is definitely a good thing. On the negative side there is:
* the possibility of turning people off because I'm campaigning (which really happens — I know a lot of people have started unfollowing and not reading people who campaign)
* PLUS feeling bad about myself if I don't get very many votes
* PLUS suffering the cognitive dissonance of bothering people to vote for me constantly when I really don't want to do that and I don't feel good about it
In the end I really think one loses more than they gain from these things, while the contest holder wins hands down every time.
Liz Gumbinner of Mom 101, for example, is not successful because she's on a lot of top 10 lists, like Babble. She's successful because of her writing. It's about what she says and does, not what list she's on.
I feel that the reason this blog does fairly well is not because I work for votes, but because I work for my readers and I work for my mission. I work my ass off and I LOVE it and I'm more than willing to do it every day. I'm not willing to work my ass off for a vote. Not anymore.
It's easy to advocate for others if you're not wasting your time asking people to vote for you to be the "best" at something. Voting contests are about hounding your friends and followers, not about promoting nor advocating for yourself.
Katie said, "Sitting by and hoping to be noticed just doesn't get you promotions, special projects, extra duties, or more readers." I disagree. I have only once (very early in my blogging career, back in early 2008) asked people to vote for me for something, and I currently have more projects and partnerships and duties than I really can manage. Being authentic, helping people, and engaging with your audience will make opportunities for you.
Influence does not come from begging for votes. It comes from real, honest interactions and plain old good writing.
The point is that the top 25 should just be the top 25. It doesn't mean anything when it's about daily voting.
The sponsor of the "contest" could have solicited nominations and asked experts to chose the top sites, for example. They could have chosen the top sites themselves. There were lots of options that don't include vote begging.
Katherine – I think you should submit this post for syndication on BlogHer. I think more people should draw the same line in the sand that you have.
by “advocating” for yourself, I didn’t mean begging for votes on things.
I am not “begging” for votes. And quite honestly? I haven’t seen too many people from this list doing that.
I am promoting the LIST of bloggers. I want others to find this LIST.
And if you have more things than you can manage? You promoted yourself somehow. maybe not by asking for votes places, but somehow.
I have been blogging for 4 years. the first 3? Just my mom and bff read.
Then I learned to promote myself. Needless to say I also have more opportunities than I can say yes to.
Engaging with your audience IS promotion.
That said, I truly think people are making this out to be way more than it is.
If you don’t like it? Don’t vote. Don’t participate.
But for the people who are proud of it, don’t judge them.
I was just about to say the same about you.
You're not influential because you got the most monkeys to sit at a typewriter and hit VOTE every day. You are because you are.
Meanwhile, as nice as it is to be on a list, no one takes the winners of those contests seriously. I mean, you take one look at a category like "Funniest Blog" and pretty much know if it's someone called MommeeofSixBoyz.com and not The Bloggess, that something's up.
Just another thought Katie –
While of course we should advocate for ourselves (and I love that point!) maybe we pick and choose *what* we advocate for.
A contest that's not determined on merits but on who manages to send the most page views to the site might not be worth winning. If we all collectively stood up and said as much, maybe we could change the game.
Bravo, lady! 🙂
I had clicked over there b/c someone had tweeted out a "please vote for me" link. And while I was there, I tried to find the list of their top bloggers from previous contests- and I couldn't even find them. Sure, they must be there somewhere, but I couldn't find them. So, it's driving traffic to them to later get absolutely nothing in return anyway.
You are fabulous and don't need to be on a list to prove it!
Thanks for this post. I'm new to blogging and while I love that people are reading My 3 Little Birds, I would much rather be known as having something meaningful to say than to have a ton of traffic. But to each her own.
I love the idea of recognizing quality writers on the web. But it should be JUST THAT and not a popularity contest/linkbait. It shouldn't be about who you know who can sit and smash buttons all day long.
Again, I said in this particular "contest"? I am advocating the list they generated. it's not about me. It's about the fact that they have a list of Mental Wellness blogs. That is awesome. People should go look at that.
I got caught up in it once. Most likely because I've only ever been nominated once 😉 But in all seriousness, I love what you said about winning something based on merit and not on votes. Voting becomes about popularity and while I suppose I could use my job to drive votes, I just don't have it in me. I'd rather have one comment telling me how I helped someone than 100 votes in a popularity contest.
And YOU do phenomenal work. I hereby give you the SharonDV Phenomenal Woman Award for helping women around the world with PPD and letting them know they aren't alone.
I think you might've inadvertently just made part of my point.
You said that if you look at a list of "funniest" bloggers and DON'T see The Bloggess but DO see someone you don't recognize, there must be something wrong with the contest.
Why does there have to be something wrong with the contest because someone else, or lots of someone elses, thinks Mommeeeofsixboyz is funny? Why can't it be that Mommeeofsixboyz thinks she's funny and her following, no matter how small, appreciates her humor?
What's wrong with that?
I love your attitude, and as a fairly new blogger, this post really helped me to put the blogosphere in perspective. Thank you!
I have just spent the last hour reading through the wealth of knowledge, honesty, resources and heart from your blog.
Recently I was nominated for a contest and had the exact same feelings that you experienced. Is it ego, is it a desire to be acknowledged, recognized, being accepted – were all questions I asked myself.
What I finally came to see was similar to you and quite a few others here – gracefully receiving the nomination, feeling honored and welcoming the exposure these contests do generate – yet also creating healthy boundaries in how I would participate – bombarding my friends, family and readers with vote requests is something I choose not to do.
I agree fully with your last comment Katherine – Liz Gumbinner is successful because of her writing… It's also about integrity, honesty and meeting your readers where they are at.
Bottom line for me, if one person chooses life or takes a baby step in a positive direction today because they read a post about my journey or anything else I have written there is nothing any award or list could do to outway that feeling.
Thank you for your honesty and for everyone else – GREAT conversation!
Nice to see you here, friend!
I totally agree with you that we should promote mental health blogs. Again, I don't like the voting thing. Is the person who "wins" 1st place – is listed #1 – the best? Is the person who ends up in 25th place the worst? I just don't think so, necessarily, and that's what these things infer. That's all.
Thanks Tara. They're considering it. 😉
Really? That is concerning to me. I haven't tested that out myself, but I'll have to.
Thanks for being here and commenting!
I am honored! But seriously it's great to see your name here today Sharon.
Thanks for your input Lee!
That is all.
If I may, I don't think that's what Liz was saying. It's not that someone else can't be funny. It's the issue of ranking people, giving people slots like #1 or #10 based on votes. If someone like The Bloggess, who is universally recognized by a great majority as one of the funniest bloggers in the history of blogging, is either not on the Funniest Blog list or somewhere at the bottom, and if the people who created the list market it as one recognizing the best of the best or the top, most people won't take the list seriously. They just won't. I suppose you could argue whether that's fair, but it is the truth.
Miranda, I'm sorry if you felt offended. But, I can't apologize for something I said that was an honest observation of what I'm seeing within the blogging community when it comes to these contests. WasI referring to you specifically? No, of course not. But have I seen it out of A LOT of bloggers recently? Yep. A LOT of bloggers on those lists? Double yep.
And as far as nominating ourselves go – to each their own. It's not something I could or would ever do with my own blog and its content. And maybe my deep-seeded issues with guilt play into that, but that's just where I'm at.
And I never said it's wrong to feel flattered by being nominated for these things. That was nowhere in my comment. It's the actions taken out of that feeling of flattery that really have me rolling my eyes & getting angry.
And I suppose I should have clarified where a lot of my anger is coming from. It's certainly not in the Mental Health category, let me make that clear. As a survivor of PPD and someone living with clinical depression, I am ALL FOR this category getting as much attention as it possibly can. People need to hear these stories and know that there's help & hope.
A lot of my anger and what I referred to in my initial comment is happening in the Faith Blogs category. Yes, really. What I've witnessed over the last few days, and really, over the last year within the faith blogging community has been all of those things I described earlier – lacking tact, grace and humility – from the community that I'm a part of. I'm tired, I'm angry, and I'm just done with it… you know? When there is infighting, backbiting and general viciousness in a group of women nominated for these things, it doesn't just hurt the people who are nominated. It hurts everyone who is a part of that community at large. It's damaging to the cohesiveness of a community and it really threatens any sort of legitimacy we have as a collective voice.
You get what I'm saying?
Again, I'm sorry if you felt offended. You've taught me my lesson, friend – don't comment on a post that tackles a subject that you spent all day getting riled up about. I only ended up lashing out and leaving out important parts of the story, which led to misunderstandings and coming off offensive. My apologies. I was an ass.
you're so refreshing! I love this!
Thank you for posting this 🙂
Despite the fact that I really hated the way Adoptive Families made a list that wasn't at all inclusive of the whole triad, they did exactly what you said: Recognized people for their work. There was no big voting process. People nominated blogs. From the nominations, AF sorted through and picked the best blogs, contacted the winners to let them know and, bam, done.
THAT'S how it should be done.
I've never done well with popularity contests because I speak my mind too freely. Heh.
That's also how Parents magazine did their top blogger list last year.
It shouldn't be about providing free advertising for the company hosting. It should be about providing recognition for jobs well done.
I am so glad I know you.
I chose not to participate in anymore either which is on one hand so hard for me as I am so competitive naturally but on the other incredibly freeing .I just decided like you it simply doesn't fit MY blog.
I don't think less of anyone who does participate , we all have different goals and strategies .
I don't see one point that I'd like to toss in, and before I do, I want everyone to know that I really, really hate top anything lists that require voting.
However, if the site in question doesn't require voting, then they could be perceived as picking their friends, etc. instead of crowdsourcing.
It's a no-win situation, which is why I personally prefer a juried selection from the community for any sort of award given out for writing.
I thought about this a little more as I showered at 6 pm CT (don't judge), and I also wanted to throw in that diversity of a list should be considered. I didn't have diversity top of mind when I curated Sleep Is for the Weak, and though that anthology *was* written by a diverse group of women, I was questioned about my process and had to admit to myself I hadn't thought about it. I hadn't purposefully excluded, but I hadn't *thought* about it. It was a major turning point for me in how I approach any representative group, any list, because these faces we see on lists and on television and on the Internet do impact us whether we realize it or not.
Finally, I think there is a completely reasonable wish to be on lists, whether or not you hate the way they are generated. They're good for one's CV, they make queries and pitches easier — they have their place if you're approaching writing as a career. Kat, you made your point that a list won't help you help women suffering from PPD and I applaud you for having thought through your goals for this blog. I came to my goals way late in the game (mine is now an author site, in my mind, and my posts are examples of my writing style as I continue to pursue my writing goals) and wish I would've been more focused when the pool was much smaller.
"When there is infighting, backbiting and general viciousness in a group of women nominated for these things, it doesn't just hurt the people who are nominated. It hurts everyone who is a part of that community at large."
I couldn't agree more with that. Honest.
As for nominating one's self? That's not my style either. But I don't fault those who say "Hey, you know? I've got something to say about this!" and throw their hats into the ring.
In re-reading now that I've had some caffeine, I see what she was saying is more like what you said and less like what I said.
That's what I get for skipping coffee and not carrying cash to get a drink from a machine.
I am ALL for juried panels and judges. Merit is cool with me. And I LOVE your point about diversity, Rita, and am so glad you made it! That's a great addition to this discussion.
I was one of the top 25 inspirational mums and to be honest, the traffic it has sent has not nearly made up for the annoying my friends to vote. I'm not doing it again, regardless of how shiny the button is.
I am in the running for Top 25 Political Moms with the Feminist Breeder, who, as she stated above, directed votes and hits to my blog when she communicated about the contest with her fans (Gina, if you're reading this: THANK YOU!) Unlike you and Gina, though, I AM bugging people to vote for me, and I feel I should explain why.
I'm a writer, not a blogger, and I state that NOT to place myself on a hierarchy but to differentiate how I use my blog. To me, it's a platform to promote my work, and on the blog I hone many of the ideas that I will use in the freelance writing that I do for (very little, probably as much as other mombloggers make in ads) pay.
Last week, I received one of many rejections for a book proposal on feminist parenting that is based, in part, on the subjects I explore in my blog. This rejection was different than most, in that it included the reason why I wasn't being offered a book deal. My writing wasn't the problem–I was. The publishing business is brutal, and I'm not Gloria Steinem. How do I prove to a publisher that I'm worthy of a gamble? Well for one thing, it would sure help to be able to say that Circle of Moms (with x number of hits a day) named me the Top Political Mom Blogger of 2011. The way I see it, the site and I are both using each other to achieve our selfish ends.
….so could you all vote for me? 🙂
I agree 100% (and Mommy Niri also posted more or less the same) and yet? It is hard not to get caught up in it. I did. I made a pest of myself and I feel awful for it.
That's why we don't have public voting for Bloganthropy. We want you to use your well-earned capital for your cause, not to bug people to vote.
That said, there have been a few great points made.
It is tough to get sponsors if there isn't a voting element. The PVs are what's in it for them. We've been lucky with Bloganthropy and Deb is brilliant and persuasive…but a lit of companies want that voting element.
As Gina said, it gets people involved.
As another poster mentioned, it gives less-established bloggers a chance. The non-voting lists are often the same old…with some defunct blogs or blogs that have really fallen in quality but seem to be perpetual picks. There's something to be said for being an early adopter but eventually isn't it time to recognize some fresh, quality voices?
And the voting does allow motivated bloggers a chance to be on a list–and if they have quality, that may result in more "earned" laurels down the road.
I love the anti-list Liz once published of the 50 first bloggers who replied to my tweet with their random talent (paraphrasing). It is no more or less random than most of the lists…voting or no.
I think it makes sense to have nominees from the public and then a juried selection… but I wonder if there is a way to make that jury less biased. Part of the wonderfulthing about blogging is the connections we make…but it doesn't always make us the most objective judges of quality.
Next, let's get coffee together and talk about all the great new bloggers that more people should know about!
Shannon, I agree with you on this. I am promoting my nomination as well. Maybe I DO want to add this to the list of the things that I have been included on. It shows that I have been recognized.
That, to me, is important in any pitches I might do for my writing or for my blog with sponsors. It could also help my group blog, The Red Dress Club, to have a leader who is recognized on lists.
This is an excellent point. and I WILL vote for you!
I agree 100%. I decided a number of months ago to do the same thing. I too am tired. Tired of the noise and tired of returning favors. I want to spend time lending quality support, not use valuable time returning favors. It's an exhausting cycle.
The comments here are great.
I have such an informed perspective now.
Thank you for saying this Katie. I'm with you.
I went digging for the lists and it seems that they are very, very slow to update them once the voting ends. For example, some of the rounds of voting ended in March and the final list still hasn't been transferred which tells me that the Circle of Moms staff is likely small and overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the demands they've set for themselves. It also tells me that they maybe didn't think all the way through to what, exactly, they were trying to accomplish with this (aside from generating traffic).
With that being said, when I DID find a list or two, none of the blogs were listed as "TOP BLOG FOR AWESOMENESS" with the rest being ranked #'s 2 through 25. They were all simply listed there, without their number of votes being listed with the names. While they are numbered, and while it can be assumed that the blog in the #1 spot is the blog which received the most votes, it isn't labeled as such. In short, once the voting is over, they could eliminate the notion of ranking by listing the blogs alphabetically, which would, in my opinion improve their process.
Can you tell I've thought about this for a minute or two?
Good for you! How about I "vote for you" by coming to your site, and reading what you have to say? 🙂
Your words and the passion behind them is inspiring. I'm a blogger but just obtaining the knowledge of being truly connected in the blogsphere. I've seen these "contests" and wondered of their importance. Recognizing your experience and knowledge in this arena, the reading your words on this subject matter is helpful to us who just want to express ourselves. Hoping that we can be one of a few or provide some insight for many. Thank you for your thoughts and conviction.
I put you on the list of Top 25 Sexiest Mom Bloggers. So, yeah, you're doing everything right.
Nice try, but not falling for it. 😉
Hi friend! Long time no see! Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts.
Hey Candace! I like your last idea – the thinking behind it. Maybe there is some way to combine all of these thoughts into something that would support all sorts of bloggers getting recognition for their good writing or cool ideas or humor or courage or (fill in the blank here) without at the same time forcing us to bug people or having it be biased towards either the most well-known bloggers OR biased toward people who have the most friends willing to vote for them. Maybe the judges would need to be people from outside the blogging genre or from other industries or something, who don't know the people involved. I have no idea. Just thinking out loud.
Oh, and I love Bloganthropy and how hard y'all have worked to keep it the way it is.
I agree with you. That's sort of how I'd like to see things happen, although I can see how a magazine might be biased toward picking bloggers who are the most "famous", because that will drive more traffic to their magazine. I can see how that might bug people who have great blogs but don't get the attention because they don't have 1 million readers a day. (I'm exaggerating here, but you get the point.) Anyway, I just like seeing, as you said, people getting recognition for jobs well done without all the attached BS.
Hi Allie! I could have written what you said myself. So: Ditto. I've just decided these things don't fit how I want to be or who I want to be. For me. How other people want to participate (or not) is completely cool with me.
Made me laugh with the "shiny button" thing!
Hi Shannon. I'm glad you are here, and thanks for your comment. I see your point. As I'm in the same position as you right now with a book under consideration, I understand how important a platform is.
I want you to get the recognition you deserve, and I want that recognition to be taken seriously. To play devil's advocate, I guess I'm wondering whether, as I watch more and more contests being created, it will lead in turn to more and more people contacting the same publisher saying they are all the top _____ blogger? Will publishers or others, like people who would hire us or advertise with us, eventually stop paying attention or taking any of this seriously? In the end, I think they care about numbers. If the win gets the traffic you are looking for, then it definitely works to your benefit. I just haven't seen the people I know, myself included, get major traffic out of one of these things.
And I'm NOT arguing with you here. I really DO see your point, and I say you should go for what you know. I'm just throwing this thought out there since we are all having such an amazing discussion, which is one of the things I love about the blogosphere.
I'm sorry that you feel judged. From what I've read here, no one is judging you (including me).
What we ARE judging is the "Vote for the best!" kind of contest. They're meaningless. They're insulting. They are about driving up page views on the hosting site.
You know what would make so much more sense? Publish a list of the top 25 (or 50 or 10 or whatever!) wellness sites on YOUR blog. Link to each one and write a blurb about why they're so good. Or feature another wellness blog once a week or once a month. If you do it well, others will follow suit. Then, you can really talk about the list and publicize good blogs without sending a bunch of people to click vote.
I hate that so much of blogging has turned into a popularity contest. I’ve seen links to the contest on several other blogs and visited the lists, but to be honest, I haven’t voted for anyone. I’ve taken it as an opportunity to discover new blogs in all genres.
Through Warrior Moms of the Week and your yearly top 10, I’ve been able to find so many great blogs written by wonderfully talented women. To me, that is far better than voting in a popularity contest.
I did the Top Mommy Blogs for a while, and was able to get enough votes to stay in the top 50 for several months. I eventually got tired of asking for votes, but that was not the reason I quit, actually. I quit because I realized that the only real traffic I was getting was companies looking for bloggers to do reviews and giveaways. I am 100% content with my decision to avoid voting contests, and my blog has actually grown more rapidly since I stopped. Using that time and energy in more productive ways paid off! 🙂
I am definitely "over" voting contests, be it to win a prize or a title. I'm not part of any Circle of Moms stuff but I have seen the "vote for me!" tweets and Facebook statuses and yes some people are getting on my nerves campaigning.
I haven't voted for anyone.
I am not against the idea of people having a vote, but I don't think that should be the sole criteria, nor should people be encouraged to make a nuisance of themselves (i.e. "encourage" others to vote). That is when it loses its luster, eh?
I'm on another of the Top 25 lists. At first, I thought "I will ask people to vote for me once, then I won't but them about it." Then I got sucked in. As I moved closer and closer to the Top 25, I started asking for more and more votes. I am now officially the annoying tweeter/facebooker that I promised not to be. Thanks for writing this and hitting me with a reality reminder. I don't blog for contests, I blog for families. It's time to remember why I do what I do. And to all of you who follow me on Twitter, I apologize for the annoyance!
I agree with Liz from Mom101. Potential sponsors have asked us if we’d consider picking the Bloganthropy Award Winner based on votes. Vote-based contest generate more traffic for the sponsor since the nominated bloggers are forced to ask their readers and friends to vote for them.
We decided NOT to pick winners based on votes because we felt it would discourage bloggers from participating. Many amazing bloggers dislike the “popularity contest” feel of voting-based contests.
But even people who dislike these contest still participate. I don’t judge them for it. Winning one of these “top 25” or “top 50” contests can help a blogger gain readers, publicity and maybe even consulting jobs. There is a lot of pressure to ask for votes if you want recognition.
I hope that companies and contest sponsors read Katherine’s excellent post on this subject and consider alternative methods of selecting winners. For example, the Bloganthropy Award Winner for 2011 will be selected by the 20+ members of our blogger advisory board. Nobody is asked to beg their friends and readers for votes. The nominees are such amazing people, and I feel that they deserve this level of respect.
I absolutely loved this post (saw it from Galit’s tweet). You are so right that it’s not worth badgering our friends, family, and internet friends to drive traffic to another site that’s asking for daily votes. That whole daily vote thing is ridiculous. I kind of feel the same way about blog awards that turn into chain letter type things. (A different topic, I know.)
I love this! My love of blogging went out the window when it became more like I was pimping myself and my fans for others… I quit blogging for a while and then i decided to open a new one. I am doing everything differently now because I am blogging for me and no one else. Great post.
(I accidentally posted this comment on your "Why Mindfulness Should Matter to Moms" post. Please delete that one, thanks)
you're so right. this post is totally on point. glad i'm not the only person that feels this way!
you’re so right. this post is totally on point. glad i’m not the only person that feels this way!
I absolutely love this post. I think blogging lists and awards – specifically the ones that require votes – is exhausting. Then on the flip side, if you don't use votes, then a blogger always seems to get left out and gets upset.
I like when your peers nominate bloggers because really, they are the ones reading the blog on a regular basis. Begging for votes (to me at least) defeats the purpose of having a "list" to begin with when really all it ends up being is a popularity contest.
Thanks for this great post!
Excellent points, all of them. What a well-written, well-thought-out,well-intended post. Thank you for sharing it.
THANK YOU for putting that in perspective for me! I needed that.
My thoughts quite simply are: Way to go!!!
I know a lot of bloggers who should take this advice. Thanks!
Here's another way of looking at it: the exposure is good and helps people find you. I found you through Circle of Moms as I am looking to help a friend 🙂 There's no need to get all caught up the competition, but I am glad to have "met" you here today!
I too disliked Adoptive Family Magazine's lack of inclusivity. But indeed, at least they did the work themselves instead of making it a popularity contest.
I did submit my blog and ask other adopted friends to submit their blogs but on a matter of principle, not popularity. Adoptees are parents too and the fact that there was (before yesterday) no adoptee blogs nominated goes to show that we're still not invited to the table amongst the other adults in adoption discourse. No one considers us or realizes that parenting as an adopted person is just as relevant in adoption as the experiences of first and adoptive parents.
Having an adoption category with no adoptee blogs is like having a feminist category with no blogs written by women. I'd really like to believe the "adoptee-centered adoption" myth that people keep repeating to me, but instances like this just won't let me hop on board.
*submitted my blog to Circle of Moms, rather. I don't know who submitted me to Adoptive Families Magazine.
Your blog has been a lifesaver for me & so many others, and part of that is not being flooded with promotional fluff. Thanks for staying true to your mission – you deserve every bit of recognition you get!
I so loved this post! Though I do not have a large platform and have never been nominated for anything, I still have to constantly remind myself why I blog. I have to be very intentional about not getting caught up in the number of comments or followers. If one person is helped – that has to be enough. That has to be what it's about or it's all a waste.
awesome blog post 😀
Excellent and I think I have to agree. (I was nominated, too, and have been uncomfortable asking for votes). I'm not doing it again. Thank you for being real. 🙂
I couldn't agree more. Thank you for writing this! I'm not going to say that I haven't taken part in the begging for votes before. But you are so right, it's down right tiring and really, no one truly wants to beg for the votes.
What a great post! I commend you and your standing up to all this madness!!
Amen. Phenomenal post.