We held the BAKE Awards Open Day on Saturday 19th March at the Nailab from 11.30am to 2.00pm. We set out to answer some of the questions that have been coming out about the Kenyan Blog awards process and BAKE in general.
After introductions of the BAKE team who were there namely:
Jane Muthoni, Administration Manager
Catherine Ondari, Accountant
Kennedy Kachwanya, BAKE chairperson
The participants were taken through the timeline of the awards, some of the statistics for the previous awards and the judges for this year’s awards by Muthoni. The floor was then opened up for the people in attendance to ask questions.
The first question was about last year’s winner of the photography blog category who won while his site was down. Kachwanya explained that at the time of the nomination the site was ok, and then there was technical issues, and in spite of that his fans still voted for him and that’s how he won. The basic understanding is that readers vote for the content they like and the award recognizes the readers’ sentiments. Another related question was about the difference between a site and a blog as a lot of the photography blogs have portfolios rather than blog posts. It was noted that the judges normally look at the content as a whole more than the technical aspects of the blogs. There was a suggestion that next year, there should be someone who looks at the technical aspect of the blogs rather than just the content.
There were questions about the voting phase and what goes on when one votes. Kachwanya explained that use of the email is part of the initial authentication process. The email first eliminates the possibility of a robot voting. The system then uses the IP address to prevent multiple voting by the same person. Suggestions were given that we could have a system where people can vote with their social media account. An example was given of a South African system where people register an account with their Twitter, Facebook or Google plus accounts. Another was given on using a survey type platform like Survey Monkey. Also, a question arose on the issue of voting with mobile phones. Kachwanya said that the idea about social media accounts was great but the number of people on social media in Kenya is still relatively low, and that will either be forcing people to join social media or simply opt not to vote. Survey Monkey works but does allow the flexibility needed for the voting platform. It is probably best for the submission stage rather than being a voting system.
On the complaints regarding some of the nominees in technology category such as droid254.com who it was claimed only puts up press releases, Kachwanya responded that most tech blogs are not that different in terms of the content. Most of them attend the same events for launches of different technology products and normally rewrite the press releases to suit their audience. It is important to note that the judges look at the content done in the previous year up to the commencement date of the awards process. For this year, the consideration period was from 4th of January 2015 to 8th of January 2016. We have noted that most people blog more frequently between the announcement date for the awards to the end of the submission period. Such content does count but for the following year.
Also, for the case of techweez.com, we clarified that he had indeed been part of the BAKE team in the past but had not been active in the last one year and that is why he was eligible for the nomination. BAKE is a membership organization and all the members are equal, whether you joined on the first day or on the Open day. But the blogs run by the judges, Members actively working for BAKE, employees and sponsors of the awards were disqualified from being nominated.
Questions were asked about the judges and what determines their suitability. The participants were told that the judges chosen all had a background in either blogging, digital or PR work and were conversant with the blogosphere. On the rules that they should follow, we have some and we advice the judges for what to look for. Also, the blogs nominated were the best according the judges and BAKE management can not interfere with their selection since their decision is final. A suggestion was made that we define the rules better for example how many times a blogger should have posted in a certain period. Another was made on having a definition of a blog and a news site as there are some blogs which give more news than creating fresh content. Also, on using professionals who teach on online journalism/ digital courses in universities and colleges to be part of the judging panel.
There was also a suggestion on data collection in that we make the process more proactive. That we create a system such that people submit the blogs that they read throughout the year and we can see how many times they posted and monitor their activity throughout the year.
A question was asked on what we are doing for sustainability of winners and we responded that the bloggers have the responsibility to continue putting out great content. And the publicity which comes with winning the award help them gain greater recognition as well as partnership opportunities with other organizations. BAKE also continuously provide training for those who need it.
Another suggestion was made that we should consider having all the sites under one roof i.e. bake.co.ke and our other platforms as subdomains. We explained that it would be a bit difficult to tell the traffic coming to the blog awards site and that is why we have them separately.
On the prizes, there was a question of motivation to the winners in terms of the prizes. A suggestion was given that part of the deal with the sponsors should be that the corporate should work with the winner of the category they are sponsoring. Though great, it is not practical or rather difficult as it is already hard getting sponsors. The fact is not all categories get sponsors. It would be easier to have a sponsor who can give prizes to all winners as we have done in the past.
There was a question on the categories and why we cannot split them. We told the participants that having too many categories would be expensive to maintain and thus we only added a new one every year in response to the feedback we get from people. Another question was asked on the religious category and why we thought that judges who were not Christians were aptly able to pick the nominees as they were from different religions. The response was that the category in question is not for Christian blogs but for bloggers writing on different religious/spirituality issues and that the judges were looking at the content and not the religion the blogger professes.
There was a question on coverage of the gala event and whether we have the awards streamed live. We told the participants that it depended on the media partner we got on board as last year, the event was streamed on Standard digital platform but was not shown on television.
A question was asked about when a blog too big and is able to hire people to work for them. We replied that there was a need to define this and we would consider it for next years awards.
A suggestion was made that Video Blogs (vlogs) and podcasts be considered for the awards as well. It was noted that videos are considered as part of the content by judges and there is no need to have a special category for the vlogs.
At the end of the forum, James Wamathai, our Partnerships Director thanked the participants for making time and told them that we realized that we have not communicated well about some aspects of BAKE and we will work on that.
We had taken note of the suggestions and would see if we can use some of them for next year’s awards.