Sunday, April 29, 2007

This blog is more popular than I thought. And a new blog contest!

Popularity is not at all something I am after (though I could start considering my running for the Romanian Presidency in the future- after all, so far, all you need for that is to be very popular:-)), as I immediately made clear when I was nominated to this "Clujblogfest", a blog "competition" in my native city, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. At that moment I announced, publicly, my desire to withdraw from the blog contest, but, to my enormous surprise, that was not possible: once nominated, you participate whether you want or not. This is but one of the absurdities of this blogfest (no role for a competent jury whatsoever and, respectively, no properly defined, narrow enough, categories in the contest are the two major problems). My opinion is that any such contest promotes excessive popularity and not necessarily (or not, period, this is happening in Romania...) quality... And that's when and where I suddenly lost (and would always lose) any interest in something that, had it been done/were it done properly, could have been/could be a very interesting and more than welcome endeavour.... But there'll be a next time: next time I am sure this will come out much better. The first thing one needs to do for that to happen is to throw away this old format, inherited unchanged (incredibly enough, there was no learning whatsoever!) from the first edition, the national one, of the same contest (edition which, by the way, also rewarded some blogs that cannot induce anything but nausea; at least we're insulated from such feelings in this second one and this is not because I am biased pro my blogger colleagues from Cluj...).

Nevertheless- and here you discover another side of my very complex personality :-)- when placed into such a situation (even- or, I should say, especially- when- involuntarily, arbitrarily), I function contingent on the rule "whatever you do, don't be bored" . In fact I acknowledge that some epsilon amount of "electoral lobbying" has been going on (starting once the preliminary results , published about half-way into the voting period, showed that Sebi's blog was doing far better than most had predicted, including yours truly :-)) and that I've even received the voluntary services of a few enthusiastic- far more enthusiastic, and crucially, with far more time to spend on this than myself- "campaign managers", and all within the rules of the game! But anyways, to cut this saga short, many thanks to all my voters, the final results are here (and I'll emphasize below what exactly this blog won, so that you don't have to skim through all that list, unless you really have time to). I add the (ex-post) hope that most votes for my blog were based on more than just friendship, partisanship or whatever else that would have little to do (notwithstanding that they could be correlated) with the one and only attribute that should matter in this context: quality (and never mind, for now, that, given the way the categories were defined, "quality" itself can be cumbersome to assess). Also, sincere congratulations to all winners and participants at this Clujblogfest, after all we've been through this together :-).

But all this talk and no concrete results presented so far :-). So what on Earth did this blog win (keep however in mind the criticisms from above, on the definition of the blog categories, I will not repeat them) ? Here we go, quite some prizes actually:

  • 2nd place in the category "best blog of socio-economic-political analysis" (subtitled, my free translation here, "best blog that gives us food for thought"...) with 74 votes (which make 38% of the total number of votes for this category). The winner had 78 votes (40%).
  • 2nd place in the category "best personal blog" (subtitled "best blog 'the world is mine'") with 58 votes (20%). The winner had 73 votes (26%).
  • 3rd place in the category "most informative blog" (subtitled- ad litteram translation- "best blog that gets you out of the fog") with 52 votes (16%). The first two places had 134 (41%) and 66 (20%) votes, respectively.
  • In addition, this blogger also won, together with the rest of the team, composed of Dan, Lolka and Tihi, aka the (in)famous PhoenixTransylvania (the first inter-ethnic blog from Transylvania), the 3rd place for the "best collective blog" (subtitled "best blog team") with 25 votes (10%), with the first two places receiving 123 votes (49%) and 44 votes (18%), respectively. Again, a surprising prize and ex ante certainly undesired; however, you will see in a bit why, ex post, this prize will become quite useful, as all the other prizes mentioned above :-). Hence, my priors were not the best. I admit.

Let me also mention, finally, that this blog also received (but these are out of the "podium"): the 5th place in the "best blog" category (subtitled "the most popular and most appreciated" blog), with 59 votes (9%), where the winner had 167 votes (24%); and it even managed to get 3 votes (2%) in the "worst blog" category (subtitled "the blog that makes you break the monitor"), where the "winner" had 39 votes (23%).

Anyways, to the really important part of this post. Part which I will repeat in a new post as well. I was stating above that, a posteriori, all these prizes might actually bring quite some utility. And I mean a social, not an individual one (I wouldn't care about the latter under the circumstances). Hence, economically speaking, participating did not turn out such a bad move, after all. Why is that? Well, look what will happen with the prizes that this blog (and this blogger) won and just admit that this is a great idea :-). Here we go:

New Blog Contest: Best Blog Entry on Inter-Ethnical Matters in Transylvania

Sebi Buhai (in collaboration with Dan, Lolka and Tihi, my colleagues from PhoenixTransylvania, who do not yet know about this, but I am sure will have nothing against it :-) ) is launching a new (smaller scale) blog contest. And absolutely all the material prizes Sebi won at the clujblogfest will be used as funds for this new blog contest (more details follow below). So what is this about? This blog contest will be under the logo of PhoenixTransilvania and will reward the best blog entry (essay) on any ethnical aspects in Transylvania, from any perspective (more details follow below). The candidate blog entries have to be submitted between the 7th of May and the 7th of June (they could have been written before or within this time range) and all that needs to be done, logistically, to this end, is to submit the address of that blog entry as comment to this post or to my future post on the blog contest or to the blog entry that will soon introduce the contest also on PhoenixTransylvania. There won't be any "popular" vote, but solely the decision of a jury composed of myself, Dan, Lolka and Tihi. The first three places will be decided and the decision will be argumented in a post from the jury members, by June 15th, or as soon as possible thereafter. All three best entries will be also published, with the name of their authors, on PhoenixTransilvania. Some further, more detailed, information follows. Please send your questions/suggestions as comments to this post (or the future post repeating this info or the post on PhoenixTransilvania announcing this competition).

  • the candidate blog entry cannot be longer than 2000 words and can be as short as you want it to be (strong preference for short and concise entries)
  • the theme of the blog entry can be anything linked to ethnicity in Transylvania and this includes (but does not exhaust the entire list of possibilities!) the normative perspective (how you'd like things to be); the historical perspective; the very personal perspective; the socio/economic/political perspective; very concrete topics; connection to ethnical relations in other parts of the world etc. Think of your own topics, maybe you can come up with something extremely original!
  • the entries can be written in English or Romanian, with English preferred (but the language of the post will not play a crucial part in the evaluation): the reason for preferring English is because we'd like to "market" the eventually winning texts also outside the country. Foreigners can thus also participate (though, obviously, they might need some link to Transylvania- not necessarily entailing that they should have been or be living here-; I know a few potential participants, already). Needless to say, all potential candidates have to understand the rules in English- don't worry: if you've got this far, you're fine :-).
  • the judgment on the quality of the submission will be mainly based on the following factors: topic relevance, originality, creativity, organization and coherence, expression and communication style, language use, usage and interpretation of references, conclusion. The jury (Sebi, Dan, Tihi, Lolka) may take the liberty to also consult other specialists if they think it necessary. The final decision, regarding the best three, will be argumented in a small essay to be posted on the blog(s).
  • in case you'd really like to participate but you do not yet have a blog and you do not know/do not want to start one, contact me, we'll figure something out. In any case all essays will be posted online somewhere, by the deadline
  • I'd like to use this as an incentive to raise some interest around the inter-ethnical issues in Transylvania and, also, to raise the civic attitude in general. Not to mention that this is a test of whether incentives matter in such contexts :-).
  • about the prizes of this new contest (so far; if anybody wants to supplement them in a way or another, nobody will mind:-)): the 3rd prize will be my third prize won at the Clujblogfest for the "most informative blog" category; the 2nd prize will be one of my second prizes won at either the "best analysis blog" or "best personal blog"; the 1st prize will be the other of the 2nd prizes mentioned before, supplemented with my share of the third prize that we won with PhoenixTransylvania at the "best collective blog" (and maybe my colleagues in PhoenixTransilvania will like to sponsor with their shares as well here, but that is not mandatory, of course :-)). Given that the Clujblogfest had quite some interesting sponsors, I am sure you will appreciate the prizes!
  • what is not certain, but the idea is here already: I'll also try to arrange some space in Cluj-Napoca somewhere so that the three winners can actually present their essays in front of a (small, but very interested) audience and discuss and debate them afterwards and- needless to say :-)- dinner, drinks and possibly accomodation for the contest winners- are all on me, though you'd have to make it to Cluj-Napoca on your own, somehow . The date for this is to be decided later, together with the three would-be winners.
  • everybody is encouraged to participate ( in particular feel free to advertise this among pupils and students as well) and all possible views are welcome, as long as you do your best in discussing and argumenting them
  • submission starts May 7 and ends June 7th, 24h GMT+2 (Romanian time). Entries might have been written already or, more likely, should be written before the deadline above. The submission per se will consist in sending the address of your candidate post as comment to one of my (Sebi's) posts on my blog or on PhoenixTransylvania (a post will also appear there, soon).
  • all submitted entries require a list of all eventually used references and the proper citation of all these in the text (this is not going to be counted in the 2000 words limit). Any detected plagiarism will be made public and the entry disqualified.
  • should there be no submission whatsoever or should the jury decide that none of the eventual entries are worth a prize, the prizes will remain in the hands of the-now-sponsor of this contest, Sebi: so don't let that happen! :-). After all, think of it as contributing an opinion to our discussions (or future discussions!) on PhoenixTransylvania
  • Success, everybody!

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