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Do Blog and New Media Awards Mean Anything?


The end/beginning of every year is bombarded with awards and lists to recognized the best of the best in an industry. Blogging and new media is no different. For example, Social Media Examiner just announced the 23 finalists for their list of the Top 10 Social Media Blogs of 2010 and everyone on Twitter has been tweeting their nominations for the Shorty Awards, which recognize the best tweeters of the year. But do all these various awards actually mean anything?

I think they do…even to people who don’t make the list and even to people who weren’t even nominated. BUT we perhaps put too much emphasis on awards of any kind because we forget that they are an average opinion.

I don’t mean “average” in terms of average quality. I mean average in the sense that the “best” is chosen by the consensus of the masses. Usually, there are teams of people who judge these types of awards, and their scores are averaged together. Things like traffic, number of comments, and scores (such as Alexa) also come into play. Again, this is an indication that a site is loved by the masses.

That typically does mean that it is an awesome site (or Twitter account or Facebook page or video or whatever). But it doesn’t necesarily mean it is the very best out there for you. In fact, it probably isn’t.

To illustrate this better, let’s say that I ask three different groups of ten people each to rate my website between 1 an 10, with 1 being worst and 10 being best. Here are the results:

Pretend group number one is fairly impressed with my website. All of them agree that the site should be rated a 7, giving it a total score of 70 out of 100. Not bad.

Pretend group number two had a more mixed reaction. Seven of those people absolutely loved my website and rated it 10 out of 10. However, three of the people really hated my website and scored it 0 – worse than even a score of 1! The result, a score of…erm…70. Hm.

Group three probably represents what is most common with sites that score fairly well. Most of the probably like the blog, with some LOVING the blog, but some people disliking the blog. The score? You guessed it. 70. Although the average score for this group would be 7 out of 10, only two people, 20%, actually gave the site that score.

Think on a biggest scale. When you go to a website you “vote” for it essentially, increasing it’s traffic numbers and maybe even having effect on it’s Google rankings for certain keywords, it’s Alexa score, and so forth. But just because you go to a website doesn’t mean that you LOVE it. So these metrics can be misleading. Sure, it’s a good place to start if you’re a reader looking for some new sites to read. If something won an award, that means a lot of people probably like it, at least like it more than average. Some people probably love it. But that doesn’t mean you will.

I want to challenge you to only use “best of” lists as a starting point. Go outside of what that awards program named best to find the site you think is best. And when you do, go back to the post and leave a comment with your opinion – respectful, of course, but telling others about a site that you personally love (other than your own) that is related to the best of list the author posted.

And if you’re a blogger who posts “best of” lists? Keep doing it! Just because any system is flawed, at least a little, doesn’t mean that they don’t have any value. Make your process clear, use multiple judges if you can, and open up the comments section to links like I just mentioned, from people who’ve found sites they would rank a 10 out of 10, even if not everyone agrees.And if you’re on a list or nominated for an award? Be proud! It means you’re doing something right.

The world is a big place. Get out there and explore. We already know that *insert your favorite famous blogger here* is good at what he/she does – but realize there may be something even better out there for your specific needs and interests.

Note: I was inspired to write this post after reading an interesting post about dating preferences at OKCupid. The topic is totally unrelated, but the graphics/stats they use are similar to the concept I’ve shown here and definitely inspired me, so I wanted to give that blog a hat tip!

Creative Commons 101: Using Images on Your Blog


… by Aaron Hockley

It’s widely accepted that including images with blog posts is a great way to draw and retain attention; finding relevant images that can be used while respecting the artist’s copyright can sometimes be a challenge. One good source for images are the millions of images licensed under Creative Commons licenses.

What is Creative Commons

In many countries (including the United States), copyright laws automatically protect a piece of work at the time it is created. You own the copyright to your photos as soon as you press the shutter button. With some limited exceptions, using a photograph or other material requires permission from the copyright holder. Creative Commons consists of a set of content licenses in which the creator retains some rights to the material but makes the material available for a given set of usages without requiring specific permission for each use.

A Creative Commons license can be interpreted as “This photo (or other material) can be used for _____ and in exchange I ask for _____.”

Common Creative Commons Terms

Most Creative Commons licenses require Attribution, which means that credit needs to be given to the creator of the work. While the license technically says the creator can specify the form of attribution, the convention online is to include a line of text that says something like “Photo by Steve Stevenson” with the text being a link back to the photographer (either their main website or the location where they posted the photo).

Some Creative Commons licenses specify No Derivatives which means that the photo may be used as-is but cannot be “remixed”, edited, or used as part of another work. Some licenses specify that the image is Share Alike which means that it can be remixed/edited but that the resulting work must also be licensed under the same Creative Commons license.

The other term to be aware of is that some licenses specify the image may only be used for Non Commercial usage. This can be a bit of a gray area for bloggers – is it commercial use if you accept advertising and make money from your blog? I generally play it safe and if I’m going to use Creative Commons images I only use ones licensed for commercial use. After all, my blog is a business.

Finding Creative Commons Images

You can use Flickr’s Advanced Search to find images for free use on your blog. Head over there, put in the term you’d like to search for, then scroll down and check the box to indicate you want to find only Creative Commons-licensed content. As I mentioned above, I also tick the box for content to be used commercially.

Creative Commons images can be a great way to add interesting images to your blog at no cost. As long as you respect the license (commercial vs. non-commercial) and include a link back with attribution you shouldn’t run into any hassles.

What experiences have you had with Creative Commons images? Do you find them to be helpful?

Aaron Hockley is a Portland-area photographer who also blogs about the photography industry and speaks about the intersection of social media and photography. Follow Aaron on Twitter.

Go Where The Geeks Are: Why Tech Events Matter for Tourism And Travel


Panel: Tourism Currents workshop on social media for tourism
Speakers: Sheila Scarborough and Becky McCray
Date/Time: October 14, 09:45 – 5:00

Those who want to connect with visitors online need to speak their language, understand their communication tools and appreciate their culture and etiquette. Your CVB (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) cannot make smart decisions about destination marketing in a digital environment unless youíre smart about how your visitors function in that environment.

To really comprehend how wired people use social media and technology – particularly mobile devices, in ways you probably don’t expect – you have to be immersed in their world. Saying hi to your teenager on Facebook (IF she’ll friend you back!) only gives a partial picture.

You need to do what networking expert Thom Singer calls, “Run With the Herd of the Nerd.”

Tech events are one giant market research opportunity. Watch how people use Twitter, see how they shoot photos and send them immediately to Facebook from their phone, note how they conduct quick hallway interviews with handheld video cameras and how they look for ideas on where to eat and party (hint: it’s probably Yelp/UrbanSpoon or Gowalla/Foursquare, not a brochure from a hotel lobby rack.)

This is why we’re excited to bring tourism organizations to BlogWorld; it gives them the chance to connect with some of the thousands of bloggers, podcasters and other online content creators who can help spread the word about a town, city, heritage highway, state park or downtown cultural district.

We’re designing a hands-on, no-fear social media seminar that will introduce tourism folks to our “geek world” and show them how it can upgrade their communications work. Rather than have people come to this huge tech event and be rather overwhelmed, we will take the time to give them the lay of the land, and show them how to listen online and how to connect with the people who will want to talk about their town and help tell its stories.

There is no other event that gives tourism professionals both an in-depth educational session plus the opportunity to meet thousands of online publishers, in one economical package in one place.

(And pssst: you can get 20% off of a BlogWorld pass with the code TC20. Jussayin’.)

The flip side is that many bloggers have no idea that there are organizations that exist solely to promote tourism and travel to wonderful places.

Are you a travel blogger? There are CVBs that would love to meet you.

Are you a food blogger? Plenty of CVBs would be happy to tell you about their wine trails, restaurants and agritourism opportunities on local farms.

Are you a parenting blogger? There are tourist boards who are full of ideas for family-friendly fun in their town.

Are you a craft or quilting blogger? There are tourism folks who can show you amazing craft shows and quilt trails.

Tech and social media stuff moves fast, and organizations need to keep up in order to make intelligent decisions about whether to incorporate the latest whiz-bang thing into their marketing efforts. Don’t feel intimidated, though; we feel strongly that technology is for everyone, not just wired geeky types.

At events like BlogWorld, you will be surrounded by the future of communications….right now….today.

Sheila Scarborough is a writer specializing in travel, tourism and social media. Along with Becky McCray, she is the co-founder of Tourism Currents, an online community focused on social media and technology training for tourism professionals. She thinks everyone ought to have a passport and experience jet lag. You can follow her on Tourism Currents and Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff. Sheila is also on Twitter @SheilaS and @TourismCurrents

Blogs & Social Media Sites Land in Top 1000 Sites List


Google came out with their Top 1000 Sites list this week, and I have to admit that I’m not surprised Facebook landed at #1! There were some other blogging and social networking sites that made it into the top 20 – including WordPress, BlogSpot, and Twitter. And of course there are a variety of blogs that make it onto the list, albeit somewhat further down. Take a look at the list and see if you rank within!

Other news and tips across the blogosphere this week (May 28th):

Copyblogger: How to Monetize Your Site Without Causing an Audience Revolt
There are so many bloggers out there with very large audiences who find themselves incapable or unwilling to monetize by launching a product. Learn how to avoid this issue, prepare your audience for your prices, and learn how to charge higher prices for your products.

Daily Blogging Tips: 10 Ways to Convert Your Blog Visitors Into Dedicated Readers
Do you want your blog to grow, increase your readership and subscriber numbers, have your content constantly spread, and make more money? Then you need to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers.

ProBlogger: How to Pitch Bloggers – Make it a Win/Win/Win Situation
Tips for companies or individuals pitching to bloggers to link to their products, services, events, sites

ReadWriteWeb: Facebook Rolls Back Some Key Privacy Changes
Facebook has rolled back some of the biggest and most controversial changes to the site’s privacy settings made since December.

Mashable: Google Buzz Adds Reshare Option
Google Buzz is releasing the “Reshare” option update to the social aggregation platform.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

Not a Mommy (Blogger That Is)


I’m not a mommy (blogger that is ’cause I do actually have kids).

Guest Blogger: Amy Phillips

I have accepted that labels are unavoidable. I accept that they are a part of life, that they are how people file you in their head. Some of the labels that are stuck to me include: Mom, daughter, sister, divorcee, geek, nerd, Ruler of All, and badass. Ok, the last two are wishful thinking, but you get the idea. But there is one label that vehemently, absolutely, reject: MommyBlogger.

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t an article to bash MommyBloggers, there are sites out there totally devoted to doing that and I think that’s just plain mean and uncalled for. No, this about women getting a pat on the head and stuck in a category that (for some) can feel like their contributions are cheapened. When I started my blog a couple of months ago, I was struck by how supportive and awesome other online (women) bloggers were. The other men bloggers out there could learn a lesson from this. But I started getting the feeling that it was assumed that because I was a mother and blogger- I was instantly a MommyBlogger. I disavowed everyone of that notion through a couple of controversial posts, posts that probably cost me quite a few followers, but I stand by every word.

Why does this label bother me?

Continue Reading

If You Are A Blogger I Am Watching You


I was looking over the list of the bloggers to watch that was put together over at Darren Rowse’s blog at Problogger by Jade Craven.  The list is put together as a resource for bloggers to watch that can help others become better bloggers.  The list is great and I know of most of the bloggers there and will bookmark the remaining people that I am not familiar with for reading more in 2010.  I would love to have each of these bloggers provide a guest post here at BlogWorld & New Media Expo’s blog and I hope I get to meet them at the show this October.  After all, we are here to provide the best of the best of information about blogging.  The invitation is open to all of them to give us a post and provide our readers with their wisdom.

I read a large number of blogs.  I have more than a 1000 unread feeds that I keep track of in Google Reader, BlogLines and other places like FriendFeed, Twitter and Facebook to name only a few.  I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the blogosphere, but posts like these are great to keep me apprised of who is blogging and what they are writing about.  I think I have been a subscriber of Darren’s blog now since Problogger was just beginning.  I knew then he was a great blogger and one to watch.  I am keeping my eye out and ear to the ground.

What bloggers do you feel were left off the list that I need to watch?  Is your name on a list? Perhaps you could let me know what your blog URL is and I can read yours too!

Social Networks & Blogs Jump to 4th Most Popular Online Activity


Remember the days when all you ever used your computer and internet connection for was to check your email?  Yeah, me too, and those days are officially over.  Move over email, make way for social networking and blogs because they’ve 100% entered the limelight.

New reports are showing that social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online activity, and that is ahead of email.  According to a new report by the Nielsen Company, titled “Global Faces and Networked Places:”

“Now visited by over two-thirds (67 percent) of the global* online population, “Member Communities,” which includes both social networks and blogs, has become the fourth most popular online category – ahead of personal email. It is growing twice as fast as any of the other four largest sectors (search, portals, PC software and email)…”

The report was actually filled with some interesting little tidbits, many of which were quite surprising.  You probably knew that Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking site, visited by 3 out of every 10 people across the 9 markets Nielsen studied, but as far as largest domestic use, it’s not the winner.  For the highest percentage of “domestic online reach” Orkut, out of Brazil, takes home the top prize with an impressive 70% reach.  Wow.

Check out some of the other findings:

–     ” One in every 11 minutes online globally is accounted for by social network and blogging sites.
–      The social network and blogging audience is becoming more diverse in terms of age: the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 to “Member Community” Web sites globally came from the 35-49 year old age group (+11.3 million).
–      Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in social networking. Nielsen found UK mobile Web users have the greatest propensity to visit a social network through their handset, with 23 percent (2 million people) doing so, compared to 19 percent in the US (10.6 million people). These numbers are a big increase over last year – up 249 percent in the UK and 156 percent in the US.”

Still have doubts that social networking and blogs have hit the big time?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  You’re probably not surprised though, as Jane mentioned Friday, bloggers just Know.

When Will Old Media Learn?


To listen to good advice from people like Scott Karp,

Why publish in reverse chronological order on the web? Because news is 24×7, breaking throughout the day. Which means that news consumers come to a news site more than once a day — checking the homepage is just a click away, and news consumers on the web click often.

When someone visits a news site on the web, what’s the first thing they want to know?

What’s NEW.

Organizing news by importance as the default makes sense when you’re only delivering the news once a day (and the “default” is all you get). But when news publishing is continuous, it’s not the best way to server frequent news consumers.

and Dave Winer?

I think every newspaper on the web should at least offer the reader a choice of a reverse-chronological view of the news. I think they would find most readers would use this view, most editors would too.

The sooner they do, they sooner they will be able to compete in this new media era.

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