Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fixing The Upper Deck Awards

The UD awards were an idea that was interestingly put together to celebrate social media in the hobby. Instead, they have created riffs and accusations among the nominated and the snubs, causing more problems than partying over being recognized as one of the best. On Twitter, many of the blogs (nominated and not) have been discussing a better system and suggestions to revamp the awards to be more mutually inclusive rather than exclusive. Although SCU was left off the ballot due to some odd occurances, this site was actually among a large handful of pages that were not among the nominees. Considering that many of the top hobby blogs were left out of the awards, the disappointment felt by those sites is definitely warranted.

I will say that even if the UD awards were all inclusive, it would remain a popularity and traffic driving contest rather than who actually deserves to win. Even now, communities are bickering over cheating accusations and vote stuffing instead of trying to show why their site deserves the award. One forum has already said they are giving everything back if they win, which could be likely considering the race.

In my opinion, these awards are intrinsically flawed because the sites with the most traffic will always have the advantage. One could argue that traffic is gained by the effectiveness of the site, but Im not entirely in support of that. There have been a few suggestions to redo the format to neutralize this fact, and I think its worth repeating here due to the number of manufacturers that read this site over twitter.

My Suggestion

Instead of an awards program, I am suggesting the creation of an MVP program or something similar. This means that no one site or forum gains all the spoils of an award based on who can drive the most people to a poll. The manufacturer would designate blogs, forums, youtube box breakers, whoever they want as part of the program either through application or recognition, and that person would be able to display a badge on their site proclaiming as such. The MVPs would get the product to open and giveaways, much like the awards are now, and the manufacturer would get free advertising on the site thanks to the badge and the posts about the giveaways. Multiple people would be able to be recognized for their contributions rather than one or two. That would solve lots of the issues created by the awards, and it would be a great boost for the people who gain MVP status.

Cardboard Problem's Suggestion

Sooz from Cardboard Problem suggested a bracket style tournament where each blog would face off against another until only one remained. It would give more people more chances to win, and let people decide based on the matchup rather than everyone all at once. Personally, I still think this has the traffic problem, as the more popular site will always have the advantage.

Wax Wombat's Suggestion

The hobby's only card marsupial suggested that Upper Deck recognize each blog with a letter and a pack of cards for their contributions. I think this is a good idea, but when it comes to recognition, this idea really doesn’t give that. For the sites that could use the recognition, it doesn’t give them a bump, even though they are receiving contact from Upper Deck thanking them for their work.

Im interested to see what other people think, hopefully there will be some great ideas. I think at the very least, there needs to be more order in running the awards, and more security measures to prevent cheating. Maybe next time this will be the way its done. I hope they move away from recognizing so few people, as there are tons of sites that deserve to be in the spotlight.

21 comments:

  1. Can I ask why we always have to bitch about something? (not saying this site, but we as a collective community)

    We always have something to complain about and we take something that is good for the card blogging and collecting community and we make it into a big drama of "fairness."

    I would have thought this blog would have made it on the list, but it didn't and other sites I thought would have made it didn't also. Don't know why and don't care because the idea is still cool. It is a company giving back to the community. There is always going to be disagreement about who "deserves" it, my goodness this is why even things like the MVP for football get debated over and over as who really deserved it.

    How about we look at this in a totally positive light: even if some blogs, communities, breakers didn't make the list the collective conversation that has come from it is good pub and probably directs traffic to their sites and gets their voice heard. Yeah you might not get the "boon" of award from UD, but is that why everyone blogs, videos, creates trading communities? (is our ultimate goal to get free stuff and recognition by some award or is it to have our voice heard and shared and to connect with a collective experience)

    I think everyone of us has a "chip on the shoulder" mentality all the time.....

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  2. Even as a nominee, I recognize the system is flawed. There is no criteria for the voting, basically anyone in front of a computer can vote, even if they have never read the blog. The way it is formatted now, it's clearly going to go to whomever cam drum up enough votes. (And I am sure that the fact that the leading vote-getters are willing to give away the prizes is driving the votes through the roof. Everyone has their hand out for free stuff.)

    Having said that, it is impossible to determine who has the "best blog," given that we all offer different things. Some offer reviews and previews, others create hobby awareness, and even more merely chronicle their own path in the hobby.

    All of these are legitimate in their own way, and picking the "best blog" is kind of like picking the best tasting food or best looking woman -- there is no one right answer.

    I am not sure how to "fix" this problem.

    When I found out I was nominated, I kind of dismissed it, then later came to embrace the idea as I feel I have done a fair share of passionate writing over the last two years. But it is clear that the awards have created a rift between bloggers, and that is definitely not advancing our cause as a vocal collecting community willing to share ideas and help each other out.

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  3. Could not agree more with the above poster. I think it's silly how worked up people get over this type of thing.

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  4. A way to make my idea more palatable is if UD listed the recognized blogs on their blog, in a post at minimum, in a blog roll at maximum.

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  5. The reason I am posting is because its been a discussion topic of late. I think it was a great idea to celebrate social media in the hobby, but it has caused so many problems amongst people that im not sure if its accomplishing what it was supposed to.

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  6. I think we can all agree that it's a good idea gone bad. I'm sure UD had decent intentions, but no matter what they did (outside of nominating EVERY blog out there), people were going to feel snubbed. But should they do nothing, we all complain that the companies don't care about collectors.

    I think there are two general problems with the blogosphere. Too many of us think we have a revolutionary voice that is heard by millions and should affect the companies at their cores. In reality, the vast majority of us pull in 100-300 site hits per day, which is miniscule in the internet world. Almost non-existent. The other problem is that more bloggers blog in hopes of getting free stuff that for the pure enjoyment of it, and since some DO get free stuff, they get bitter and jealous.

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  7. I think there are two general problems with the blogosphere. Too many of us think we have a revolutionary voice that is heard by millions and should affect the companies at their cores.

    I wouldnt say that. I think we all take ourselves a little too seriously, myself included, but no one expects results. On the other hand, bloggers have brought about some changes that have positively affected experiences in the hobby. I know I have seen quite a few ideas become practice, starting with communication and transparency.

    In reality, the vast majority of us pull in 100-300 site hits per day, which is miniscule in the internet world.

    This is true, but there are some sites that reach further than those small amounts of visitors because of message board participation and word of mouth. For only getting 25,000 hits per month, I shouldnt be recognized places. But I am. Visitors per month isnt the end all and be all of reach.

    The other problem is that more bloggers blog in hopes of getting free stuff that for the pure enjoyment of it, and since some DO get free stuff, they get bitter and jealous.

    I refuse to listen to people bitch about not getting their product to review. I havent accepted a single box since the creation of this site, and I wont ever do that. Others have made it a point to get as many people on board as possible, and I dont look highly on that. My site wont suffer because Topps and UD dont send me stuff, and its not a determining factor of success.

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  8. I'm just glad my blog sucks and I don't have to deal with this popularity contest. Besides, is it really an honor to be recognized by Upper Deck? It's kind of like receiving the Bernie Madoff award of investments.

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  9. Adam, I think people recognize you because of your early You Tube videos in which you bashed Beckett for the free boxes they received -- your style is pretty recognizable. Add to that that you've influenced the way some people buy or think about certain autographs and patches. Not saying it's a bad thing. Just stating the facts. I mean it's not like you have a giant picture of yourself on the front of your blog, or go around wearing SCU shirts. At least I don't think you do.

    As for the product reviews and previews ... I think it's all kind of ridiculous. I won't get into a drawn out diatribe about the ethics, I know how you feel about it already. But receiving free product from companies accomplishes one thing for the blogger -- it generates interest in their blog, which translates into more page views, and could be parlayed into some sort of advertising. If someone is giving away free cards, then many will be attracted to that site, not unlike a colony of ants to a picnic basket. I'm not saying that's wrong -- I've received my fair share of free stuff from people who have "sponsorship" -- but it is what it is.

    You're right about the quality of a blog not being measured in the number of hits, determined by who can offer the most giveaways, or some silly award given by Upper Deck. Quality if relative to the reader.

    That said, I think most bloggers would love recognition in any shape or form. While many write for themselves -- I tend to think I do -- we all love to think that others would read and enjoy our stuff as well.

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  10. Who cares! What does it mean at the end of the day LMAO. Is it going to change the sites we all visit most. one fo the sites up there has pretty much zero trading on there(how can that be a top site for cards) so again...WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CAAAAAAARREEEEES!

    -wheeler281

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  11. I understand people's gut reactions about both the nomination and voting processes for the Upper Deck Awards. However, I think it would be useful to take a step back, and look at it a little less emotionally.

    Firstly, this the inaugural pass by UD in creating and giving out these awards. There're bound to be growing pains.

    Secondly, they are called the "Upper Deck Awards", not "Objectively Determined (But Not Really) Best Online Hobby Presence Evar Awards".

    I don't think that Gellman (nor anyone else) should feel overly slighted by not making the list of nominees. It could be due to a couple of reasons:

    1) Anyone who reads a little Gellman knows that he's a pretty fierce UD fanboy, at least when it comes to product. UD, on one hand, may be protecting one of the most visible hobby bloggers around from being toasted later for shenanigans that he probably wouldn't deserve.

    2) Despite being a fan, Gellman has been justifiably critical towards UD (and other card makers) regarding the eBay relic scams, and particularly the card makers' silence and lack of action to help the situation.

    Clearly, the list of nominees have some UD-friendly bias. For example, lots of the Box Break nominees are UD-friendly, largely because they focus on Exquisite-level product, or maybe deal in hockey. However, I don't blame UD for that fact. The awards are theirs to give.

    Since it's a free vote, we all should get over the ballot stuffing and popularity contest complaints. By definition, blogs with more traffic, gravity, and stickiness are going to get more votes (probably). That's generally a good thing.

    A blog that may have the perfect Holy Grail Collector's Manifesto written on it, but gets read by nobody, isn't really doing much for the hobby. At least not until it gets discovered, and well, becomes more popular.

    Over here on the West Coast, our teams and players constantly get screwed in favor of bias, ballot stuffing, and popularity contests every year for the MLB All-Star Game. New England, Chicago, and New York pretty well make sure that it's super difficult for a Padre, Giant, or Athletic gets a roster spot without the parity rule or manager pity kicking in. We live with it, and nothing's changing.

    So, my idea for "fixing" the Upper Deck Awards?

    Keep the voting as is, and have three winners per category. Maybe even five.

    Nobody says there has to be a single winner, and as many have said, it's the variety of voices in the hobby blogosphere that make it both informed and interesting.

    Honor more than one voice with each of the awards, and you have the MVP program Gellman mentions without looking like you have UD kneepads on, and it dilutes some of the strength out of ballot stuffing by increasing the number of winners.

    Even if UD doesn't change the number of winners this time (though they certainly can), I do think it would be wise for the winners to do box breaks and contests with the proceeds.

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  12. Todd, am I disappointed with not being included, yes. Am I angry? No. Winning the award wouldnt do anything for my site, and I am actually eager to get another blog recognized. I agree with your more than one winner thing, though.

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  13. I agree with the thought that the awards have good intentions, but turn out that good! It's like at work when awards are given out.... most of the time the awards turn into political upheaval! I don't think there is a good solution to the problem, but one idea would be to have several awards for for various reasons or another. I'm sure everyone wants to get recognized and get their accolades, but I don't really see a "sure fire" solution to the problem.

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  14. For what it's worth, Gellman, I'm disappointed and suprised that you were left off the nominees as well. I think that the ScamWatch is fantastic, and is putting up the good fight against what amounts to general fraud in hobby commerce. That alone, to me, is worth a nom.

    It's like Mira Sorvino or Marisa Tomei getting Oscars. They win, and people are like, "They were nominated? I thought that was a typo."

    As a contributor (that does need to step it up a bit) to the nominated Wax Heaven, I am honored to be a recently introduced part of the blog. However, any accolades that Wax Heaven might get clearly are all Mario's.

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  15. Actually, being one of the somewhat lesser-known bloggers nominated for this thing has already made me a winner, and I'll guess that others feel the same way. I seem to have had a few new people check out my site in the few days since the nominations were announced. Hell, this award process has led me to a few new blogs that I actually kind of like.

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  16. G'man,

    You defended/fired back at a lot of things I said, which is great - I appreciate you responding. Just know that I was not referring to you in ANY of the points I was trying to make.

    Perhaps I'M the cynical one not willing to take blogging seriously and criticizing those that do! But yes, I do get tired of people complaining/posturing to get free stuff, whether it be for giveaways or not. It doesn't signify anything.

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  17. And quite honestly, I'm glad that there are people (bloggers) who have more time than I to break boxes, do reviews, etc. There truly is no better place to get hobby info than the blogs, as the only "major" news source is sketchy at best.

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  18. What Sooz said!

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  19. When are the awards for Comment Posters?

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  20. Can't we all just get along? Who cares about any of this? Yes, this is coming from someone who was nominated, but I don't know why/how I was nominated, especially considering my site has been around all of 2 months.

    I think that collectors as a whole are smart enough to see this for what it is, a PR grab by UD. Yes, they are "embracing the hobby" and the voices of regular collectors, but like someone above stated, it was their rules, on their terms. They nominated whoever they wanted, and the process is incredibly flawed, almost by design.

    Just like with the unlicensed MLB products they released when they shouldn't have, Upper Deck is once again in the limelight, and being talked about everywhere. If you ask me, they are the only winners here.

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