I was really excited about this year’s Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards. I was delighted that our blog ‘Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women’ had been nominated for a 3rd time in the best blog category. In the previous 2 years, we had won the award consecutively. I thought it would be great to score a hat trick – and then in future years not campaign in order to give others a bigger chance at winning this award. Winning this award has never been about the money. In the first year we won $250 for this category (and another $250 for winning best activist blog), as well as a plaque and some notebooks. That was very nice indeed. In the second year we won a mobile phone and that was it. Not even a plaque? Oh well, I thought, never mind. So for this third year all I wanted was to have the recognition that I think Adventures truly deserves, and a recognition that goes beyond me and my Co-Founder Malaka to the thousands of African women and men who read the blog daily and in a conservative (hypocritical?) society boldly share their personal stories around sex and sexuality.
So it hurts me to say that this opportunity has been taken away from us. Malaka and I feel like we have no choice but to withdraw Adventures from competing in the Ghana Blogging and Social Media Awards. There have been minor irritants. Issues with mobile voting which I have personally experienced, and the challenges that others experience when they try to vote. Understandably when we urge our communities to vote and when they experience challenges some of them come back to us to complain. Recently when I reported a challenge that 2 people had reported to me on the same day I was less than happy with the response I got – I was told to contact a generic email address in future because “The plan is to reduce as much direct contact with the members of the team as possible. Apparently this has been an issue raised by non-BloGh nominees. In the spirit of fairness, we would want info@BlogCampGhana.com to be the main point of contact for all nominees.” On one hand I could understand this, on the other this did not sit well with me. I am reporting a technical fault to a person that I know is responsible for organizing the awards event and somehow I am being told this can be unfair to the voting process? I decided not to report any more faults.
And then yesterday I received an email saying that a peer review process had now been added to the judging process to select the winners in each category. I was to assess the other blogs (apart from mine) and give them a score which would count towards the final scores. I was also to send screenshots of our traffic as that would count. Oh and not participating in this would mean we lose marks. I thought that was ridiculous and wrote to the person who had sent that email explaining that I had never read any of the blogs nominated in the same category as Adventures, and that I had neither the time or the desire to read and judge these blogs in the period allocated (the deadline was 4th April). I do not understand how a peer review system by people who have been nominated in the same category will lead to a fairer awards system. Even though incorporating the traffic blogs get into the final decision will work disproportionately in the interest of Adventures I do not think that is fair to the others. I have been happy to date with the awards being judged by a panel that have accepted to do this work and will presumably have been chosen because of their character, and ability to be fair and impartial as well as the popular contest element of the votes. I do not think this new process is fair. Malaka and I do not have the time or desire to participate in this peer review process and for that reason we have decided to withdraw Adventures from the contest.
We hope that YOU our community of readers, contributors and commenters understand and agree with this decision we have made. You are the ones that make Adventures the best blog.