Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In dubious battle


Participating as a contestant in BlogExplosion's "Battle of the Blogs" is only half the fun. The other half is voting on duels between other bloggers. Being a systematic guy, I've been trying to formulate a set of standards to govern my voting. So far, all I've come up with are a few anecdotal pointers. FWIW, here's the guide to "how to get Tom's vote."

- Since I vote frequently, and since many of the blogs are perennial contestants, I'm always looking to see if there's something new. If you haven't actually posted anything to your blog in more than a week, that's a ding. After all, if you have time to play "Battle of the Blogs," you have time to, uh, blog, right?

- English: Learn it, live it., write it. Typos drive me insane (and yes, I know, I occasionally inflict some of my own on the rest of you). I have a small victory to report on that front: Presumably pursuant to a side note in a support ticket I sent recently, BlogExplosion now notes that claiming Mystery Credits is "mandatory" instead of the enraging "manditory" which kept me up nights, scratching my fingernails across a chalkboard.

- When it comes to design, I look for "the middle way." If you just pick a standard template and forget about it, the content is going to have to be really strong to get my vote. On the other hand, if your page is so festooned with doodads, geegaws, gizmos, gimcracks, glittery little icons, "I am this kind of blogger" quiz result buttons and cutesy animated cartoon characters spouting messages of love that it takes half an hour to load over my dialup connection, you're screwed from the start. I don't vote for pages I can't see ... and I vote within a minute or two of clicking on the "view this blog" link.

- A second note on design: Yes, I like the spare, sparse ones, but there are also a number of blogs I'm seeing with attractive, engaging visual schemes that don't take four years to load. At the risk of being seen as singling people out, I offer this one as an example of same. In order to keep my cards close to my vest, I won't comment on its content, but note that the blog is visually striking yet readable, attractive yet a reasonably fast load. If I ever get past my cheapskate nature and pay someone to design a template for me, I'll almost certainly go to the designer Zazzafooky works with.

- I've nurtured a long-held prejudice against "Mommy Blogs" that I am just now overcoming. I still don't want to know what color your child's stool is each morning or anything like that, but "Battle of the Blogs" seems to attract a somewhat classier "Mommy Blog" clientele, who post things about their families that are actually, um, interesting. I haven't kept statistics, but well-done "Mommy Blogs" seem to be competing for my votes with something resembling parity now.

- Political blogs are a difficult one. Naturally, I'll usually vote for one which I consider ideologically simpatico with my own views versus one that isn't, but beyond that I try to look at quality of writing and design as opposed to just knee-jerking against the evil, anti-American political blogger who dares disagree with me. I had a hard time getting to that position, though, including a long string of votes against this guy's blog for no better reason than that a post of his just pissed me off. But hey ... disagreement is the spice of life, and a good blog is a good blog. It's not like he's a klansman or anything; he's just a guy with an opinion, and I've since started voting for his blog when I thought that it was better than his opponent's.

- Every male has a little area of his brain that's entirely focused on getting laid. Really. And that part of his brain is focused on getting laid even when fact, logic and reality decree that it's never going to happen and even when he doesn't know that that part of his brain is driving his decisions. In "Battle of the Blogs," this translates to a slight advantage for blogs that are clearly authored by women. After all, they're women and I'm a heterosexual man. There are only six billion people in this world, so it is not outside the realm of possibility that I might someday meet one of these women. And get laid. Even if they're married. Even if they're happily married. Even if they're happily married to another woman. And even if they live in, say, Borneo. If, of course, they aren't pissed off that I cost them a challenge. I work hard to shut this part of my brain down cold when voting on "Battle of the Blogs." Working hard and getting the job done are, however, two altogether different things. But I'm trying.

- When I see two good blogs up against each other and just can't decide, I do one of two things: I either try to remember the last time I voted for each of them, and vote for the one that's gone the longest without a little appreciation from me, or I cold-heartedly decide which one is most likely to win and vote for that one so I get a share of the voter credits.

The above obviously doesn't work out to an easily implemented "checklist." But so far, it's the best I can do. How do you decide which blogs to vote for?

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