Last night when I withdrew from the Little Bloggers' Category of the Blogpower Awards I hadn't expected to post again on the subject but such has been the turmoil apparent within the community today that I feel compelled to post.
Firstly I'll go into more detail about my approach to voting and why I withdrew and then I'll give my views on the key issues which came to a head today.
My Voting Approach
As a very very small blog - daily visitors normally 7 - 15 although being mentioned and linked in a Blogpower post has doubled my traffic - I was amazed to be nominated 4 times in Category (Note: I self-nominated first hoping that others might pick up on that) and I only wanted to perform creditably in the vote. To that end I asked 2 people if they would vote for me and I hoped that they would find others to vote also. I guess this could be called an attempt to vote rig or skew although I saw it as my chance not to be embarrassed by a very low poll. I voted once per day until James mentioned that we could vote more often.
How many of my votes came from these sources I don't know but my vote was large enough for me not to be embarrassed.
Why I Withdrew
I was uncomfortable with comments made about the nomination of BNP- supporting blogs (actual or alleged) - henceforth called "BNP" blogs - in various categories. I wondered in a comment to a post somewhere if there would have been the same reaction had it been Conservative or Labour blogs which had organised themselves well. My guess is that the reaction was because of their BNP connections - again actual or alleged. When vote skewing was mentioned first I assumed from what was written that it was the "BNP" blogs which were being alluded to. I don't know if this was actually stated or not. When I read that James was playing "hardball" and saw that the leading blog - one of the "BNP" blogs in my Category had not increased its vote in two days - I assumed incorrectly that the organisers either had words with these blogs and convinced them not to vote or had taken other steps to block their vote. At the same time the votes for other blogs seemed to increase markedly.
I was confused. I assumed that there was some "jiggery-pokery" going on and I decided that I wanted out: despite being a great idea the awards were tarnished and I wanted no further part. Had I been unaware of any skewing I would have remained in the competition but I did know and ..........
I accept that James and the other organisers did not ask for nor did they set up any counter-vote skewing.
Whilst I detest BNP policies they are a legal political party and, therefore, they have as much right as any other party to have blogs in Blogpower, to have blogs nominated in the Blogpower awards and to organise their resources to get a favourable poll outcome. I do not agree with any organised attempt to skew the voting totals but, provided that the guideleines are not broken, the results of the voting should stand.
I have huge sympathy for James: he was between a rock and a hard place. Whatever he did he was likely to be criticised. I don't agree with everything James has done in this area but I respect his absolute right to act in the best interests of Blogpower and I support his actions even where I disagree. I have no doubt that James has always acted in the best interests of Blogpower.
Having found support within the Blogpower community I hope Blogpower can move on and find strength from this trouble: certainly I am committed to its on-going success.