I have received an award or two in my time. In nearly all cases as part of a team effort. It felt quite good, even if I was accused by some of taking all the glory for other people’s work. I was also one of the judges on the now defunct Web Standards Awards for which I received some criticism for cronyism (though it wasn’t put that succinctly) for nominating a few quality websites I personally thought had gone unnoticed in favour of more glitzy offerings. I’ll tell you a secret too, I was also casually approached by someone asking me to consider not nominating one particular site because they thought it best if that website was, you know, kept in the background (don’t press me on it, that’s all I am telling). I nominated it anyway and it was awarded accordingly. The end results of those experiences were increased exposure, increased work and indifference to awards in general.
I do though, sit on the fence with the net Awards, on the one hand it would be nice for our business if we somehow got nominated (I don’t seek it but nor would I turn it down) and on the other hand there’s the issue of cronyism, or ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ which I feel confident is at least part of the mud that’s being slung right now.
There is, I believe, some truth in the suggestion that an ability and willingness to get your name out there in the world will help you get noticed and therefore get nominated, and that’s OK.
.Net could do more, especially in the case of individuals, to expose the accomplishments of those individuals over the course of the year, if for no other reason than summarising for the naysayers what that person has contributed and what we are supposed to be celebrating about them. The same for agencies in some way, splashing big brand names is all very well and good but what is it they have done that is truly exceptional. We need this summary if the lesser known people, things and agencies are to stand a chance of competing against the usual faces. Perhaps more radically, what about hearing from the clients, employers and users of those people, agencies and things, would that increase the credibility of the awards?
I’d also like to see more transparency on how the judging panel works. Some of the people on the panel are nominated or are part of an agency or project that’s nominated. How does that work?
As an aside it would also be nice to see some ‘unsung heroes’ articles running alongside the awards. The network effect of all those people nominating, nominated, judging and just watching on the sidelines must be that there are thousands of people who just have their heads down quietly doing some amazing work who are either too modest or too socially awkward to put themselves forward. Maybe it should be reserved for nominees. If you get nominated tell us about a person quietly getting on with amazing work we should interview.
If you are genuinely angry about the net awards you probably need to go home and rethink your anger and on the way you could try a little something I have been doing for years. If someone (internet famous or not) makes a thing, does a thing or says a thing that inspires me, changes my workflow for the better, or just makes me feel good about my day I’ll email them personally and award them with a big thank you for making my life just a little bit better. It doesn’t matter if they reply, the real upside is you’ll make yourself just a little bit happier in the process.