One of the interesting developments this year involves the requirement of full blog ownership. Quoting the text on the web site's front page (with the emphasized phrase in bold):
The awarding is open to all Filipino bloggers who have full ownership of their blogs. This implies that blogs belonging to blog networks or corporate blogs cannot be included because of ownership rights. The awards therefore pay homage to "grassroots bloggers" who have built up their blogs from their own efforts.
This, of course, speaks truly. There are a lot more people, entities and organizations who use blogging applications nowadays (because it's free, natch), and I would imagine that we'd prefer to count only those people who post legitimate and informative journals on the web. If you're dedicated enough to your blog that you actually reserve and set up your own domain for it, then I figure that you should at least be recognized for your efforts.
All the same, however, I do feel for the excellent blogs out there that deserve recognition for their quality despite the fact that they're not necessarily self-owned. But I figure that the Blog Awards people know what they're doing here. And the requirement is right out there where everyone can see it, after all. Holding a contest to award the best speculative fiction doesn't necessarily mean that anything outside that classification is not worth reading.
What I would like to see, however, is a list of the judges for the contest. The judges are definitely a major consideration in any competition: You'll obviously need a bunch of people who have had significant exposure to the medium, or at the very least are well-respected and open-minded pillars of the community. Anyone who fulfills both qualities, moreover, would be excellent to have. But the fact is that you want to make certain that all entries for a contest will end up being judged on the proper merits.
The Philippine Blog Awards currently doesn't have a list of judges on their web site, and that worries me. Does this mean that it'll end up like the Fully Booked competition, where the judges' identities were only revealed when the winner was named (after which most of us wondered where Neil Gaiman's involvement was to begin with)? I figure that it's important to note the judges' identities well before the request for nominations even comes around: You want to know how the blogs are likely to be judged, after all, and how people will look at them many years into the future. You want a fair guess at where the expectations and the prejudices will lie, where the high points and the low points are likely to roost. You want to know if you're going to run into a 199-member Academy of Motion Picture Sciences, or if you're going to have to schmooze to a panel comprised of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell.
I just hope that the web site gets the list of judges up soon. I want to know what each of the entries are getting into. They could probably name any random bunch of people as judges -- say, Tori Amos, Mahatma Gandhi, and that guy who cut in front of you at the bus stop this morning -- and I'd be okay with that. I just want to have an idea of how they'll look at the entries this year.
With some luck, however, the awards will be a lot better this year. The web site certainly looks better, the contest seems a little more organized, and the sponsors finally seem to be coming in. After all, we don't want to see another undeserving person win the Blog of the Year award, just like some arrogant jerk did back in 2005. :)