Monday, January 25, 2016

I Don't Believe In Contests, But . . .

Today was supposed to be the deadline for submitting material to the Alaska Press Club Annual Contest.  These are awards the organization gives out to its members every year.  There are lots and lots of categories and not too much about how they are judged.  My understanding is that the submissions are sent out to judges out of state - a different judge for each category - and they decide.

Each submission costs $15 to send in by the early deadline and $20 by the late deadline.  Today was the early deadline, but I got an email saying it was extended until tomorrow.  The fees, from what I can tell, help pay for the Press Club, which puts on an annual conference that has pretty interesting speakers from around the country and beyond.  I've done a few posts from the conferences over the last couple of years.

I'm leary, though of these kinds of contests.  Do they really mean anything?  I submitted stuff for a couple of categories a few years ago in the hopes that there weren't many bloggers who would submit and if I won, I could then point to my Press Club award as some sort of independent evaluation that the blog was not just one of the thousands of Alaska blogs.  I even won a couple of awards which served my purpose.  The next year all my submissions were lost.  I got a refund eventually.  Last year I got a couple more awards - in the best news and current events blog category and in the best commentary blog category.  I even got an award in the arts reporting, which wasn't restricted to blogs.

I have continued to participate in the contest because I find it useful to go through a year's worth of posts and assess how well I did.  Are there posts I'm proud enough to submit?  Reviewing them makes me proud sometimes and often makes me cringe.

So I'm hoping to have a list of posts to send in tomorrow for the best news and current events blogs category again.  And also maybe a couple of other categories.  Looking through the list of categories, it appears they've combined the news blog and commentary blog and added a 'best feature blog' category.  I've been trying to review the year's worth of posts, and I have some long lists of potential ones to submit, but I'm glad for the extra day.  But winnowing them down to about ten to package together is hard.

I was trying to get posts that I thought were good and important.  But as I made a last sweep through Blogspot's back pages that shows number of hits and comments, I was surprised by which posts had the most hits.

Comments about computer problems score high.   I don't get that many hits.  It's hard to say because the two different measures I use differ wildly.  Statcounter says I average about 9000 page views a month or 300 a day.  GoogleAnalytics gives me about 1500 - 2000 page views a day.  That's a big gap.  Of course, those hits aren't all for the current day's post.  There are over 5000 posts in the archives and google send people into those older posts.

My hypothesis about the relatively low number of comments is that my writing is usually not confrontative or inflammatory.  It's more calm and reasoned.  People don't feel compelled to disagree or correct errors.  Another possible explanation is that many posts are so long and complicated that people never get to the comment button.  But I get enough feedback from folks that the people who matter in particular issues do read what I write about those issues.

So, this list is much longer than I can offer the Press Club, and these aren't necessarily my favorite posts, though some are.  They're just the posts with the greatest number of hits (from Blogspot.)  I'm putting the number of hits and comments next to them.  If there's only one number, it's the number of hits and there were no comments.

Here are posts that the most readers saw.

Sitemeter Out of Control  -  2374 hits  24 comments

Happy Thanksgiving Political Correctness  1648    I do think this is an important post.  I was very surprised to see it had gotten so many hits.

Selma's Garbage Bag Problem  -  1156  6   Again, surprised about this.  This is not a very important post, though it does fit the 'how do you know what you know?' theme of the blog.

Famous People Born In 1915 - It Was A Very Good Year  -  1117   -  This is an interesting post and it makes sense that lots of people got here.  There was a follow-up post or two.

The Impact of Modern Day Shaming - 784  14   - Not a bad post, it looks at how people judging others on the internet can really disrupt others' lives.  A little herd mentality.  Another ways of knowing post.

Hello Statcounter Goodbye Sitementer - 567  -  This is a followup to Sitemeter Out of Control.

Why I Live Here - Quill Bailey and Rachel Barton Pine, and Eduard Zilberkant Play Down The Street - 507 4   I really like that this one did well.

Would More Women Police Officers Reduce Police Violence?    - 496  A solid post.  One I'm considering for my list for the Press Club.

Soon I'll do the posts that I liked the post.

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