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Blogging awards: breaking the chain

Blogging awards usually involve sharing guidance for other bloggers. This is the case for one I was nominated for recently: the rules stated I’d need to give Later Levels’ origin story along with five pieces of advice before nominating five to 12 other bloggers to take a turn.

I was totally stumped and had no idea what to write. Drafting a response post to a separate award nomination just the week before meant I was all out of new advice and I’d already explained how the blog came to life in previous posts. Hoping it might give me some inspiration, I decided to stop staring at the blank screen on my laptop and instead figure out where this current award had originally come from because it wasn’t one I’d ever heard of in my seven years of blogging.

blogging, laptop, hands, keyboard

Tracing back through the chain didn’t take long at all because it had only been in existence for several weeks. In their originating post, the author explained how the award had been created to build links within the community and collate a pool of useful tips that everybody here could benefit from. I struggled to see how it was different from the other honours doing the rounds though; its rules sounded awfully like several other existing awards and I wasn’t sure what this new one added.

I then noticed that the creator had given their own guidance for new bloggers and had mentioned search engine optimisation (SEO) in one of their tips. Anyone who’s ever read a website or book about the subject will be familiar with the practice of improving your search rankings by getting a link back to your blog on as many good sites as possible. A blogging award where nominees are required to give up to 12 nominees of their own along with a link to this original post seemed very convenient right about now.

I realise just how cynical I sound. My negativity is in part brought on by what we’ve experienced over the past eight months because the ever-present risk of COVID-19 has done a wonderful job of sucking the motivation out of me. Combine this with recently looking at how blogging had changed over the years and the disappointing realisation that it’s far less community-orientated than it used to be, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this award had an almost chain-letter smell about it.

I realise that such recognitions are meant to be a sincere way of celebrating our blogging efforts and I really am honoured each time Later Levels is included. But let’s be honest with ourselves: it’s time to finally admit that they’re a pain in the butt. As mentioned above, it can be difficult to give advice you haven’t already shared, provide different answers to questions you’ve been asked several times or tell your origin story in words you haven’t used before.

blog, award, awesome, epic, trophies

There’s also the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to nominate someone who hasn’t already been recognised because we all have friends in the same blogging circles. And once you’ve finally managed to choose your people, it’s impossible not to put them under any pressure to accept an award no matter how much you try. Nominees usually feel obliged to publish a witty response post because they don’t want to be considered ungrateful, unfriendly, or unwilling to get involved.

I’m not sure I’m ready to do what others have done and put a badge up on the site declaring that it’s an award-free zone though. The truth is that it’s always nice to be recognised – everyone likes to receive a compliment occasionally and hear that their content is appreciated. I’ve also found that the more creative questions asked as part of some awards make for great writing prompts, like this one about explaining horror game storylines to children in a way that doesn’t scare them.

I just think that there’s got to be a better way of showing your admiration for your blogger-friends than giving them the Blogger Appreciation, Blogger Recognition, Liebster, Mystery Blogger, One Lovely Blog, Real Neat Blog, Sunshine Blogger, Unique Blogger, Versatile Blogger or any of the other awards out there. (I took up almost half a paragraph there just listing those I could remember off the top of my head, and I’m sure there are hundreds more out there.)

The best thing you can do to show your appreciation for someone’s content is to share it. If there’s a post you particularly enjoyed, don’t keep it to yourself: leave a comment to further the conversation and share the link with others. Write a post about the same subject if you’re feeling inspired to do so and get in touch with the author directly if you’d like to talk to them about it. There’s no need to wait until the next round of blog awards to give a deserving blogger a pat on the back for their hard work.

make kindness the norm, World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day is coming up again on Friday and drafting this post has given me an idea for a celebration: a way to give a shout-out to the bloggers we admire and the posts we’ve enjoyed. It’s just a small thing considering everything else going on in the world right now, but maybe a little bit of positivity may be just the thing we need to give ourselves a boost in time for the weekend. Check back later this week to find out what I’ve got planned and how you can get involved.

And I promise: you won’t need to give your origin story, several pieces of advice or nominate 20 bloggers.

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

30 thoughts on “Blogging awards: breaking the chain Leave a comment

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have in mind to celebrate! I’m a relatively new follower of yours, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read so far. Keep up the good work!

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    • Hey there! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. It’s only something small on Friday, but hopefully it will put a smile on everyone’s faces in time for the weekend. 😀

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  2. I completely agree! But I’m also slightly embarrassed to say that, whilst it’s nice to see your name on that list of other blogs, I’ve never reciprocated and posted on my own with any of these awards. I’ve always thought they were exactly for the purpose of SEO and building back links, which is great, but suddenly makes everything sound insincere.

    Although I believe some people participating have no idea that’s what they’re doing!

    I love the idea of doing something for Kindness Day though!

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    • Awards can be great for getting to know other people within the community and feeling involved, and one of the best things about blogging is the new friends you make along the way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this and it’s a positive thing! But I do question the meaning behind the awards when you’re required to nominate a whole bunch of other people and link back to the creator… as you said, it seems slightly insincere.

      Hopefully we can do something nice for World Kindness Day and get everyone smiling. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope all is ok. For all the crappy side effects of this pandemic, dragging people into despair has gotta be one of the worst. Social peer pressure or feeling obligated to post and nominate is pretty draining, I stopped about six months ago and felt terrible when I got name dropped by someone and didn’t feel motivated to put up a reply post.

    Looking forward in a non obligatory way to seeing what you put up later 👍🏻

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    • I know what you mean; I think the lockdown has sucked the motivation out of many bloggers, and it’s hard to work up the enthusiasm to draft a post on a subject you’ve covered several times already. But that’s not to say there aren’t people and content here worth celebrating though! I just think there’s got to be a better way to do it, that’s all.

      Roll on 02 December… I hope…

      Liked by 2 people

      • Me to. My partner is already getting jittery Christmas at kew will be cancelled. Fingers toes and every other appendage is crossed for 2nd December…

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  4. I can definitely agree with this. I always felt honoured being tagged by my fellow bloggers and definitely tried my best answering them, but it indeed became much harder over time to tag people, and I’ve also always had the feeling in the back of my mind these awards were nothing much more than chain-letters because they always ”forced” you to credit the creator of the award (something that I purposely avoided doing, even if it makes me a bad human). I eventually just stopped nominating other people, one reason being that I pretty much already tagged everyone at least once before, and also to try and break the chain myself. I’m glad to see there are more people who have also come to the same conclusion, and I will definitely keep promoting the people I care about through other blog articles!

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    • When drafting this post, I was worried that my opinion of the blogging awards would come across as very negative. I didn’t want it to seem as though I wasn’t grateful for any nominations, because that’s not the case; I just question some of the initial motives behind the awards and feel that there’s got to be a better way to celebrate the community.

      I’m therefore rather relieved to hear that there are other people out there who feel the same, and it’s lovely to know they want to promote the blogs they enjoy for sincere reasons! I think we could all do with more positivity like this right now. 😀

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  5. Very well put. The first few blogger awards I encountered, quite a few years ago, seemed genuinely local, hand-made and small-scale. It was exciting to get a nomination for one of those because it was an unusual event. After a while, though, there seemed to be more and more of them. Some weeks, half the blogs in my feed seemed to be posting responses and by now many of them seem to have have had most of the same awards. After a while it started to feel like a catch-22; I kind of wanted to get nominated so as not to feel ignored but I also kind of dreaded it because then I’d have to nominate a bunch more people and it was hard to think of people who hadn’t been nominated umpteen times already.

    The SEO thing explains so much, though. I really don’t pay any attention to those kind of stats or have any ambitions or even interest in how well-ranked my blog is or how high it appears in search results. I’m theoretically aware that those are things people care about but it had never occured to me until I read your post that SEO-stroking might be the primary reason some of these awards exist. I did certainly wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea to ask people to nominate a dozen or fifteen other blogs – that always seemed like a huge ask and more often than not respondents don’t do it, choosing to pick just a handful instead. Makes far more sense when you think about the SEO implications.

    Like you, I think that cross-linking and referring to blogs you read and like or find useful as a normal part of our own posting practice is far more organic and genuine. It’s also something that’s been part of the mmorpg blogging community, my own particular subset of the blogosphere, for as long as I can remember. For years there always used to be one or two bloggers who posted regular compilations of links to what was going on in the community and being linked in those felt more like genuine recognition than any of the awards. I wish someone was still doing that now, although I can see why they’re not. It must be a lot of work and if you do it well people expect you to keep it up! I know I wouldn’t want to take it on. Sporadic and possibly self-serving rewards don’t go any distance to taking the place of that kind of genuine community responsibility, though.

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    • I love the point you made here about not paying any attention to stats. I’ve always blogged because I enjoy it and when that stops, it’ll be time to finish – regardless of what the numbers are. I don’t look at blog statistics because they can’t give you a complete picture of how you’re doing; if you’re enjoying what you’re writing, meeting other people with similar interests and building friendships, then it doesn’t matter if those figures show a one or 1-million.

      There’s someone here who deserves a mention: Pete from MoeGamer. He does a weekly round-up called ‘Around the Network’ where he includes some links to posts by other bloggers that he found interesting. It’s a great way for getting a feel for what’s going on. 🙂

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  6. Looking forward to seeing what you’ve come up with for World Kindness Day 😀 I’ve always found blog awards a bit weird and have very rarely responded to them, however I am always really grateful if anyone thinks to mention me, and a lot of the posts you see are genuine and interesting reads in their own right no matter why the award was originally created. But yeah I’d rather be spreading the word about blogs I love reading than continuing to drive search engines to blogs I’ve never interacted with.

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    • Yes! It’s not the awards or their meaning which is the problem but the reason why they were created in the first place and the requirement to link to so many other blogs. If you find a post you like, then share it – you don’t need an award to be able to do that. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. *puts on tinfoil hat* Perhaps all the “awards” have originated from one single entity using various bloggers as pawns in some twisted game. Maybe it’s the corrupt and evil God of SEO! 😱

    Sorry. I’ve clearly played too many JRPGs… or maybe not enough 🤔

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  8. I like the awards for some of the questions or prompts, which is really why I still do them as they can make me consider some topics I wouldn’t normally post about. When it is a blogging advice one sometimes I redo that as things do change or ideas come to mind as blogging changes and things become more or less common. However I now don’t really pass them on or add any new questions. If people want to carry on from me then they can but I’m not adding tags. Partially because I don’t want to annoy people now and partially because its “pressure” to get people to do it and I’m not wanting to add to the links. I get the SEO side (though if anyone thinks I’m useful in relation to that then good luck to them), it is likely to be that reason they exist but same with other tag posts (so gamer tag, book tag, have you ever etc) but these can be interesting prompts.

    Though I am still interested in seeing Pete doing one in 10 words!

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    • “If anyone thinks I’m useful in relation to that then good luck to them.” Aw! 😆

      It becomes really hard to nominate people, doesn’t it? We’ve all got friends in the same circles so it eventually starts being difficult to find bloggers who haven’t already received a certain award, and on the flipside, you also feel guilty about not nominating someone because you only have a certain number of nominations to give out. I’m just going to start a campaign to make sure that Pete receives all the awards now so he’s forced to cover them all in blogz0rz fashion.

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  9. Honestly, I use the awards more so as a “get your butt writing” prompt now. It’s nice to be recognized for the work I do, but I’m under no illusion that they help with SEO. But, having a list of simple questions to answer is nice sometimes when you’re in a bit of a writing slump, you know?

    Still not a huge fan of the awards where the original creator demands having their site linked back to though. That is…very on the nose for the intention of the award.

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    • The same as a few people who have commented, I don’t link back to the original creator. I know that might make me seem cold but it doesn’t seem in the spirit of the award; why celebrate its creator if the intention is to recognise the efforts of bloggers and content they’re producing?

      The writing slump has been real for many of us during the lockdown. I’m hoping there might be some Christmas collaborations coming up to kickstart the motivation again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think the majority of people in our circles put these out with genuine intentions, regardless of the origin of the various tags. I suspect the vast majority of these started as SEO exercises, as there are indeed people out there who prioritise SEO over actually writing interesting, engaging posts, but in my experience, the intent has always morphed into an excuse to connect with others and give them a “poke” by the time it actually gets to me.

    I’m under no illusions as to the meaninglessness of them all and don’t often engage with them, but I often find they provide nice writing prompts, as you say. I tend to keep my posts focused on the main subject, but it’s nice to occasionally bring in the wider circle in community-centric posts such as my weekly roundups.

    That said, some people do get a bit carried away with all these. I’ve seen some blogs that ended up being nothing but “awards” for weeks at a time!

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    • It’s kind of funny when you see an award start another round, and then the stream of response posts from all the blogs you follow over the next couple of weeks! But it also proves what a great community it is and how much we like to promote each others’ work. I totally agree that the intentions behind the nominations are genuine and sincere; I just don’t like the linking-back aspect of the original creation because it detracts from what the awards should actually be about.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I started blogging mid-2000s, then went on a long hiatus. In the past decade, the blogging landscape has become really different from what I recognize. Back then, a “blog/blogger” award was actually an award where people get a prize like domain name, free hosting or a “badge” for the prize. It kind of surprises me that what we used to call “tags” or “surveys” are now called “awards”.

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    • That’s really interesting to hear. I think the terms ‘tag’ and ‘survey’ are definitely better descriptions for these awards. That’s not to say they’re not appreciated because it’s always lovely when your content is recognised by fellow bloggers; but some of the requirements of a nomination, such as linking back to the creator and to a certain number of other blogs, leave me a bit cold.

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      • They can be fun if there aren’t these link back requirements. I remember before, if we can’t think of people to tag on these surveys, we just say “anyone who wants to do it”.

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