On Crowdsourcing and the Sunshine Blogger Award

I got nominated for a “Sunshine Blogger Award” by  RudyMariee, over at the Visions and Giggles blog.  I was intrigued by this. Is it a love-chain letter? A real award? Shenanigans?  Let’s Find Out!

I’m a “recovering academic.”  I research things.  The first thing I did was look at the rules and my, oh, my!  I discovered the “chain-letter” quality of this right away. 🙂   But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s about building community engagement and a handy little what-ever-it-is. I’m not sure if there’s a name for it yet, but I think there will be. I think “community-development-chain would be one candidate but there are too many syllables. 😛

Whoever came up with this is genius.

Here are the rules–see what you think. 

The Sunshine Blogger Rules

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link-back to their blog.  (Thank you, RudyMariee.  I enjoy your blog!  Thanks for including me in on this. I put the link back right in the top 200 characters to thank you properly!) 
  2. Answer the eleven questions that the blogger asked you. (More on that in a moment).
  3. Nominate eleven new blogs and give them eleven new questions. (I like this for many reasons. Explain more in a minute.) 
  4.  List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Logo in your post. (This is where it gets interesting. — Here are the rules.  Now. About that logo. . . ) 

The Logo Bonanza

This is the logo in RudyMariee’s post:

This is the logo that RudyMariee places as the featured image on her blog.

When I went to Google the Sunshine Blogger Award, I got this!  Look at all the images and logos!  Wow. And look there are MORE images.

A series of five different logos for the Sunshine Blogger Award--each very different.

I clicked the link for more images and got a huge page of Google Image images.  Dozens of them. This is just the top 24.

Four rows of six images of the top results on Google Images search

Clearly something is going on here. 🙂  A standard award is given by some panel of judges, based on a set criteria, with some sort of prize involved, even it is only bragging rights, like the Webby Awards.  There’s a deadline. There’s a procedure.  The Sunshine Blogger Award is a very informal process.  And you sorta/kinda “win” when someone nominates you and then they link back to you.

Remember that’s the first rule here.  And so in that sense, it’s a kind of chain letter.  For those of you unfamiliar with the idea of the chain letter, here’s a wonderful link to Snopes’s history of chain letters It’s a fun, fun read and will help you understand why I was so intrigued by this.

Brilliant, mind you!  I’m certainly going to play!  Let’s look at it a bit deeper first and I’ll explain why.

The Variations in Logos Tells Us Something

Notice that some of these logos say “Award” but two of them use the words “Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge.”  That’s an important variation, suggesting that this started out as something planned.

I took a look at the first instance of someone using the “Challenge” term in their logo in Google image search.  Earlier instances in Google image search tends to mean an image that is more widely widely used than other.   This came from The Traveling Spud. 

Traveling Spud's Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge ImageWinner of the Sunshine Blogger Award - The Traveling Spud

The Challenge part is probably the original with people realizing that they could just declare victory.   As a result, people dropped the “Challenge” part of the message.  No organization was going to come after them for faking to get this award, and there’s really no way to check if someone is legit.

This also explains the wide variety of logos.  It’s kind of a craze right now.  Hey, I enjoy being parts of a craze!  Who doesn’t?   Boring people, that’s who. 😀

Why I’m Going Along with These Shenanigans

This is a social phenomenon.  Right now, it’s good fun.  Later?  Well, success may bring it all to a screaming halt, with huge numbers of these chain-letter style promotion schemes polluting the system but for now? It looks to be interesting, fun, and a good way to promote good small blogs.

Finding great blogging content is difficult.  We can’t really trust Google’s algorithms. People are better at this. (They’re also crafty devils who game the system, so there will be issues.)  There are so many trash bloggers out there that small bloggers with worthy content are at their wits END trying to get noticed.  Trash bloggers are those who use black-hat and grey-hate SEO techniques to trick Google into ranking their blogs over other people’s content.  Their goal is to “herd eyeballs” to their pages and click-bait people to death for a sleazy profit.  Big budget blogs are also cutting small blogs out of the game in search engine return pages.

The Sunshine Blog Awards can be seen as a way to fight back. If it’s done right.

It’s all about William Sturgeon’s Law.  William Sturgeon wrote Gravity’s Rainbow and other serious science fiction work that cross over into more mainstream, classic literature.   He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for this novel. He was always having to deal with chuckle-heads from the media who told him that science fiction was crap. They would bring up all kinds of stories about weird alien things,  pulp fiction sorts of stuff.  He was always having to defend science fiction as a legitimate genre.  He came up with this gem that has become an Internet maxim.

Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap.  

I learned this from an excellent book, actually THE book on crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe.  (By the way, I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so if you run out and buy it from my link, I literally will get a few pennies toward my ten-dollar Amazon gift certificate goal.  You will pay nothing extra. I am doing research on this and will publish how long it takes to get my ten-buck reward and what happened.)   Howe’s book is called “Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Changing the Future of Business.” 

I read this book when it came out in hardcover in 2008 and it changed my whole perspective on the Internet, voting buttons, and how things work.  I think it may be the most important book of the Internet age. No kidding. 

It’s also a VERY FUN read with lots of stories that blew my mind.

Sturgeon’s Law and the 1/10/89 (or 1/10/90) Rule

Sturgeon explained that 90% of all poetry ever written and published — is crap.  Ninety percent of all short stories, novels, films–are crap.  The gems are rare and the result of many, many people competing and creating.

On the Internet, Howe explains, lots of people create content, but not nearly as many as people who consume the content.  To create a stable “crowdsourcing” community that can produce the best product, we have to find a way to “validate” which content is good and worthy.  If we can get the crowd to do that laborious and difficult task of validation, then the best content can rise to the top! 

Howe’s research shows that to have a successful crowdsourcing platforms that can accomplish tasks, you need about 5000 people at minimum.   You need 1% of those people to be creating content, 10% of those people have to work at consuming and validating that content with a like, an upvote, a retweet, whatever.  In that way, social media algorithms can work to promote the best content so that the 90% (or the 89% if you’re a stickler for the math) can find it more easily and consume that validated content.

So, yes!  If the players all play the game honestly, nominating blogs they feel worthy, then this is an excellent validation scheme.   It’s a variation on the old blog rolls, but one designed to impact the SEO algorithms in a legitimate way. That’s good!  So let’s play!

I’ll post more on my research on the Sunshine Blogger Awards in the days to come, to see if I can find where they came from and how they are functioning.

My nominees?

I have to really think about this.  It’s going to take time and hard work to find some really good blogs for this. I also have to come up with good questions!  But if this done right, then this might be a great referral system for finding good content–at least for the moment. I’ll be doing some more research there will be some more posts about this in the weeks to come.

And now for the last part:

RudyMariee’s Eleven Questions

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  2. If you could change one thing about our current world, what would it be?
  3.  Why did you start blogging?
  4. What advice would you give new bloggers?
  5.  What is the most interesting and unusual thing about yourself?
  6. What is your idea of a perfect day?
  7. What are you most passionate about?
  8. What are you planning do differently in 2018 regarding your blog?
  9. Have you found anything difficult in your blogging journey?
  10.  What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
  11.  If you can be anyone for the next 24 hours, who would it be and why?

Lola’s Answers

  1.  In five years?  I hope to be developing a business plan to step out of my day job into my own business.  Not sure what in yet– social media marketing, e-book publishing, video and podcast development — something like that.  Maybe writing.
  2. Changing the current world?  I would get the nations of the world together to address the human tragedies of hunger, safety and security, and conflict.  We need to stop this polarized, back-biting nonsense and work on finding common ground and effective solutions.  We’re all connected — and so are our problems.  We have to deal with this stuff.
  3.  I started blogging to help people, and create a future business for myself helping people and teaching.
  4. Wow.  Advice for new bloggers is what my blog is all about.  Start on WordPress.com and start writing. Find your voice, discover your audience.  It takes time.  Read. Don’t try to get into trash blogging, but do find a way to discover your talents, develop your skills, and market yourself.  Build your brand, honestly and honorably.  Find your passion but also find your customers and serve them well.
  5.  Most interesting and unusual thing?  I’m a former college professor and a trained anthropologist.  I’ve traveled to 23 countries in the past ten years.
  6.  Idea of a perfect day?  A beach, some friends, some family, a rent-house with a big kitchen, dogs running around.  Shopping, chatting, cooking, maybe board games in the evening.
  7. Passionate about?   Helping people grow and develop. Teaching.  Learning.
  8.  Things I’m doing differently: I have decided to completely niche down to providing material and information to small bloggers, especially small bloggers on the WordPress.Com platform.  I’m finding it much easier to write now that I’ve done this–and more satisfying.
  9. Difficulty in my blogging journey?   Well, getting attention, of course!  Small bloggers face serious competition and very little help getting the word out.
  10. Books I enjoy?  Ridiculous urban fantasy and non-fiction books about career, business, media, data and society, and positive psychology.
  11. Who would I be? Some billionaire so that I could spend the day, giving money away to worthy causes.  That would feel great.

More soon.  And if you have some blogs you’d like to suggest, leave them in the comments!  Best, Lola



Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

One thought on “On Crowdsourcing and the Sunshine Blogger Award

  1. I absolutely love the way you analyzed this thing. And your idea of a perfect day sounds incredible and very much like my own….I’m glad you had fun with this one. ☺️

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