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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Thinking Blogger Award

I didn’t even know I thought until I was nominated for this award. Didn’t even know that thinking was something to do. But I’d like to thank my agent, my loving wife, my wonderful children, and my mother. Also my earthly guardian angel Mary Wilkinson (also my childhood sweetheart), and my grandpa Donald who, if it hadn’t been for the stroke, would’ve almost made it here tonight. I’d like to remember my hairdresser. and other inspirational figures from real life. Most of all I’d like to thank God, without Him I might have been passed over and remained unrecognised and would never have received such a wonderful accolade.

Ilker Yoldas started a meme called the Thinking Blogger Award and set it free in the blogosphere. The 5 original nominees each nominated 5 others, and those 25 all nominated five others, which made 125, and they all nominated 5, which made 625, and then 3000, and then 15000, 75000, 400000 . . . well, there’s a lot of thinking bloggers out there.

It’s called link-love. Or website promotion. Or a chain letter. That little 7kb image that is displayed with every award, always linking back to Ilker’s site, means that Ilker can sell advertising space at premium rates.

Think about it.

29 Responses to “Thinking Blogger Award”

  1. Eli James says:

    Hrmm, i don’t see the 7kb image here. 😉

    A blogging award in the form of a meme. Whatever will be next …

    jb says: Hi Eli. The lack of any links in this post was entirely accidental intentional.

  2. Diana says:

    Yeah, I didn’t get nominated either.


    Thanks for voicing this. When it got to the point that every blog I visited was suddenly doing this, I too did the math and I too became skeptical.

    jb says: You mean there are no adequate grounds for certainty as to the truth of the proposition?

  3. Lee says:

    Good for you, John! Another reason to appreciate your take on the world at large, and blogging in particular.

    jb says: Thanks, Lee. When you think about it. When were honours not for sale?

  4. kimbofo says:

    Thank-you for this post. I, too, was a little sceptical when I looked at my RSS reader last night and saw sooooooo many blog posts about this so-called “award”. Now I feel enormously better that no-one nominated me!!

    jb says: Keep your fingers crossed. It could still happen.

  5. Debi Alper says:

    Oh yikes! What have I done???

    I’ve just done a post where I mentioned it had all got a bit meme-ish – and I also thought about pyramid selling and wondered where it would all end! But \I still liked the idea of promotiing blogs I like …

    Thanks for making me stop and think! I’m now going to go back and edit the post. Ooops …

    jb says: Hi Debi. You’ve got some great links on your site. And taking down the thinking bloggers icon was a good idea.

  6. Well I was nominated at Petrona. Meme aside, it was so great to read the appreciative comments that Maxine put forward for my blog.

    When it comes to the marketing of the “award” and the links to said originator’s site, it all falls down, John. I clicked on the logo twice on two different blogs and nothing happened so I had to resort to googling to see what it’s all about.

    So, OK, I hit on Ilker’s site in the end – another statistic – but when I got there I still wondered what it’s all about. I’m not chasing it at all, but really, where exactly is the “award”? It’s just another meme as far as I can see. And it’s true what you say – it all leads to Ilker’s site, even if you have to Google in the end to find out more or nothing more.

    But so pleased, all the same, to have some positive feedback. And when I get the chance, (this weekend, hopefully), I’ll also express my top 5.

    Pyramid selling – great if it works (and is not manipulative on the “all coins to me” front); fundamentally crap and lacking any kind of integrity if it results in gain to the perpetrator and loss to the “sign ons”. This appears to me to be a mere meme. The gain not financial, but a result in increased hits to the originator.

    As the links don’t seem to work & the award is spurious, it appears as a sham in the global context of originator objectives. But as a mere “meme” it’s a “nice to have” and a “nice to say”, if someone chooses to nominate.

    As I said, I’m happy to respond and nominate my 5, but I feel it means just another post to the same audience, however marvellous that five, and not a foray into an even wider audience.

    jb says: Hi CFR. The other problem with something like this is that it keeps on propagating itself and in the process undermines any credibility it may have had in the first place. If a few people get an ‘award’ for being special or rising above the norm then the distinction is meaningful, but if everyone gets it there ceases to be a point in it.

  7. Pearl says:

    Perhaps it would have worked better if the meme was to pick only one.

    jb says: Hi Pearl. I still think there’s something deeply suspicious about a ‘meme’ like this. It’s not really a meme because a meme makes it perfectly clear that the generated list is only personal opinion and completely inconsequential. This one, on the other hand, ‘awards’ a kind of plaque for displaying on the recipients site which purports to be an accolade, and the assumption is that the site has been vetted for the award by an ‘authorised and competently constituted body’ and not something that has been passed on by one of your mates.
    I want litblogs, especially, to be taken seriously, and I don’t think that will be achieved by taking part in cons like this.

  8. Is it a con, John, or is it not?

    To suggest an award or series of awards means that responses have to be collated and a final result achieved. But as a meme originator, is it even possible to do so? I think not. Not unless you ask for the nominations to be posted to your blog – which is what I expected and didn’t see.

    As I said before, the logo link didn’t work on two occasions and I had to resort to a free-form Google query to find the source. When I got there, I could see no evidence of any type of collation, let alone a hint as to consideration of an overall conclusion.

    I’m left feeling that this is a bum deal, with the “award” aspect more than spurious. (And if a financial gain was involved, I’d be reporting this to the various authorities.)

    As a pure meme, it’s good to focus on the positive and suggest credit where it’s due.

    But also, as a pure meme, it’s presented as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Delving just a bit; it remains a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There appears to be no real offer of reward here. There appears to be no real collation of result. It appears to be a simple case of viral marketing and you hit the nail on the head, John – you mentioned the relevant site, but I won’t in this comment.

    Afterall, why bother?

    jb says: Yes, CFR, what you said.

  9. You’ve smacked the nail on the head with this one, John, and it’s very dispiriting to see otherwise intelligent people display that stupid award.

    I’m someone who can’ t stand those dreadful “memes” which are the blogosphere’s equivalent of dried writers drumming their fingers. And how redundant this one is: if you read a good, interesting, curious blog for any length of time at all you’ll soon figure out which fellow-blogs s/he considers worthwhile. And for the rest, for the dullards, the unimaginative, the backslappers — who cares who they look up to?

    jb says: The ‘award’ appeals to people’s vanity, Ian. And it also seems to offer encouragement, which is a rare commodity when you’re blogging away by yourself. Both of these are difficult to refuse some days of the week.

  10. Maxine says:

    I don’t see the problem, or why you are picking on this one particular meme in your disappointing (to me) post. The whole of the blogosphere is built on memes and other ways of linking and therefore discovering blogs about. It is up to bloggers whether to ignore or pick up on them — surely there is no need to be so scornful? (Not just the post, but some of the commenters).

    For my part, I pick up memes and links that interest me and ignore the rest without writing negative posts about them: I presume other bloggers do the same. I was nominated for this award by someone whose blog I visit regualary and vice versa. I nominated five blogs whose viewpoints I tend to like. They’ve nominated others. Because the theme is “thinking”, I have discovered several blogs I didn’t know about before that I find rather interesting. So what’s the big deal? Even if this click theory you have is correct (which from CFR’s comments it seems not to be), so what?

    Whether you call this or any meme an “award” or “blogs I like” seems to me to be splitting hairs. I find some of the sentiments expressed here unnecessarily insulting and patronising — I for one shall carry on writing exactly what I want to on my blog, whether or not you look down on me from your lofty position. I have to say I find it strange that you are picking on a “thinking” blog meme when there are so many rubbishy and trivial memes around that might be better fodder for your scorn, if scorn you must.

    jb says: Ouch. Do I really deserve a dressing down like this, Maxine? I thought I perceived a cynical operation and felt it should be pointed out. If you don’t agree that’s up to you. There is no earthly reason why we should always come to the same conclusion. But I certainly didn’t, and don’t, feel scorn for you, or any other individual blogger. I think I’ll put the throne away for a while, though, get used to the milking stool again.

  11. Maxine says:

    One man’s cynicism is another woman’s portal to some interesting blogs. The little logo I was sent didn’t lead anywhere as I checked that out before I put it on my blog. I was disappointed in your post, the “chiming in/let’s have a go” tone of some of your commenters is, I suppose, an inevitable part of blogging. I do feel a sense of bewilderment that an idea/mechanism by which bloggers can link to blogs that contain thoughtful content attracts this hostility, whereas other memes where bloggers copy out lists (what they’ve read, etc) or auto-generate quizzes (that do, indeed, link back to the origin site) are spared. I just don’t follow the priorities of some people.
    Oh well, I’ll return to the several blogs I’ve discovered via this meme!

    jb says: Bewildering as it is to see you in a state of continual bewilderment, I don’t feel you’d be receptive to me restating the reasons. Oh, well, I’ll return to my cynical world view.

  12. Lee says:

    Maxine, I find it hard to understand why you think anyone is looking down on you. We all refer and link to blogs and posts that we enjoy or find interesting or disagree with. Critical thinking is not the same as scorn or hostility, surely, and many of the best blog conversations involve discussion of opposing points of view.

    John was merely considering the nature of this ‘award’. I happen to agree with him that language should be used with care, and that the difference between ‘meme’ and ‘award’ is not splitting hairs.

    That said, I’m always glad to discover new blogs via the recommendations of others, which accounts for one of the reasons I’m a regular Petrona reader.

    jb: lurking in the back, wondering, trying to keep his mouth shut . . .

  13. Minx says:

    Maybe Yoldas should be hailed as a smartass, or maybe we should just label our blogs as gifted and talented – it seems to be the trend these days!
    I have a dislike of being hoodwinked but have escaped the award/meme problem due to a complete lack in the ‘thinking’ department! Move over John, I’ll join you on the stool.

    jb says: It’s only a tiny stool, Minx, but I expect we’ll manage . . .

  14. John Ahearn says:

    To borrow the words of Garrison Keillor–“All the men are strong, all the women are good-looking, and all the blogs are above average.”

    Can’t we all just..get along?

    jb says: Hi John. Yeah, we can get along. It’s worth fighting for.

  15. […] Steve Clackson was kind enough to award me a Thinking Blogger Award, but John Baker uncovers the truth. […]

  16. Hi John. I still don’t know what you’re all about (look forward to digging), but found you after googling the ‘thinking blogger’ award.

    I was granted one of these, and while the honour was thoughtful and lovely for a moment, my sniffer wrinkled up pretty quickly. I sensed everything you’ve expressed here (but articulated better than I have yet to)… the first thing that came to mind was the dreaded…

    chain letter.

    It’s the same thing. You think you’re thrilled to receive it, but then you dig in and find out what the deal is. I have to single out five blogs and pass it on? I don’t read *that* many blogs. Singling five out would be weird, in my world. And then you burden them with the same task?

    First, I don’t want a badge on my site. I’m a minimalist, and while I appreciate the sentiment from one blogger to another (‘hey, I like your stuff’), there’s something of the concept that’s a bit… hmmmm…

    So now I have to deal with this, and try to do so gracefully… without offending the giver with a thanks-but-no-thanks.

    Why not just link to cool posts and give love spontaneously, without strings attached? If nothing else, this ‘award’ has inspired me to do that more often. And I don’t need a badge and obligation to do it.

    jb says: Hi Kate, glad you dropped in. When I was a paperboy there were some of the big houses had signs saying: No Hawkers (an itinerant trader of goods – a huckster); and now we have on our mailbox a sticker which says: No free newspapers or junk mail, thanks. Perhaps it won’t be long before we get signs for our blogs, saying: Please not another meme.

  17. Deep thinker. « TheYellowDuckPond says:

    […] this thinking blogger stuff is all hokum, right? I mean. Who reads blogs to […]

  18. janejill says:

    You have certainly got it right, but I have now found about 30 new blogs to visit and enjoy, just by following nominations, starting at Brian Appleyard’s. I’ve spent many hours (what? me…addicted? ) viewing blogs which were humourless, ponderous, boring or extra complicated (not like me….) so now I can whizz to the funny, stimulating and interesting (to me) ones. If that makes sense… in a way it is just like reading a book review of a critic you respect. (and it is how found you, so….)

    jb says: Hi Janejill, nice of you to drop in. There is a lot of goodwill among bloggers and so many of the recommendations for the TBA will lead to great sites. You sound as though you’ve found a lot of them.

  19. Lee says:

    CFR, here’s a link to the first Cybils, the Children’s and YA Bloggers’ Literary Awards, which recognize ‘childrens’ and YA books with a mix of literary quality and kid appeal’:

    As you can see, a lot of effort went into nominating, collating, eliminating, and judging. Though I wasn’t involved, I was very impressed by the commitment of all concerned. It is certainly possible for bloggers to organise an award like this.

  20. Stray says:

    Hey JB!

    Thanks for visiting my place … I can see now why you enjoyed the community atmosphere. 🙂

    This is a difficult one. Personally I got a great deal from the exercise of thinking about why I wanted to nominate some of the blogs I read. I feel hugely grateful for the stimulation and sense of community that I get from my blogging connections – and it was wonderful to sit down and focus on the detail of the richness they add to my life. I know that I shouldn’t need a prompt to give space to my appreciation, and to express it to those who illicit it, but clearly I did!

    That said, I feel quite strongly that transparency is critical for trust, and I have taken the little badge off my site because of all that is said here, although I only did as instructed and linked it to my own post of choices.

    Most importantly – this is the first time this has come up for me, and it’s been interesting to explore my own feelings about it, and talk about those with the Others who I respect.

    Thanks for a stimulating topic!


    jb says: Hi Stray. Good to see you here. I think taking the badge off your site is probably the best solution to this one. If I remember rightly, that’s what Debi did, too. Whatever else happened around my original post, it certainly got people thinking beyond the obvious conclusions about the ‘award’, myself included.

  21. ilker says:

    I think Maxim already said what I would have said and reading the comments here.. I’m actually shocked to find out people think of this meme this way.

    PS. What’s the big deal in linking.

    jb says: Hi Ilker. Please be honest with us. These are your words, from your blog: “I have decided not to join any memes in the future. My aim with this blog is to offer content that is interesting, informative and things that could really help my friends who are reading it.”

  22. Lesley says:

    Looks like you’ve struck a chord, John!

    I suppose this may come across as sour grapes, since I wasn’t one of the hundreds, possibly thousands, to be ‘nominated’, but the more I kept seeing those ‘thinking blogger’ icons, the more I was reminded of chain letters, and am glad I don’t have to deal with the sticky situation of turning down this ‘award’. To each their own, of course!

    jb says: Yup, to each their own. Whatever floats your boats. I’d like to reach beyond the cliche but can’t find a way at the moment without appearing tongue in cheek. It’s not an easy road to be able to say what you see, to criticize with a degree of objectivity, and at the same time to avoid setting yourself up as judge and jury.

  23. ilker says:

    I think you are the one not being honest. You are selecting my words to manipulate your readers and make them believe that my intentions were to generate website promotion. NO!

    Like any meme, “the 5 original nominees each nominate 5 others, and those 25 all nominate five others, which made 125, and they all nominate 5, which made 625, and then 3000, and then 15000, 75000, 400000.” Like any meme, you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. The reason why I said I will not participate in memes in the future is because they tend to be not relevant in terms of content. Take the Z-list for example. What good is it? You click a link and end up in a site that is totally not your taste. Say what you want, but you are simply picking on me while trying to criticize the concept of meme. And I’m afraid you picked one that makes may come across as the most sensible meme for a lot of bloggers!

    What I intended to achieve with this meme was to support quality content on the web. What’s more, if a blog makes another blogger think, then most likely the content is not only good – but also relevant. And it usually is.. when I tag a person in the science community, it usually goes around within science themed blogs. Though, one thing was unexpected and that is how it got around a whole lot of blogs. I thought it would die off in a couple generations because some would decide not to participate. And I think they shouldn’t if the meme is already everywhere. What would be the point if every blog is a “thinking blogger.” But you to criticize like this is not necessary. In fact, when you do.. you are creating the opposite effect to what you intent to do. After reading this, people will be curious and will want go check my blog even more.

    Now John.. you be honest. What was the real reason to pick on this specific meme?

    jb says: OK, Ilker, I accept what you say at face value, and if I maligned you, I apologize. But I also have no ulterior motive, nothing to gain by beginning this thread.
    However, whatever your original motivation, the way in which the meme was presented and the way it spread through differing blog communities, was mostly due to it appealing to individual vanity. Many people felt that they had been given some community based or corporate accolade and responded in the way of some of the best Oscar speeches. Not the kind of response one would expect from a thinker.
    If I haven’t answered your question already in this and other forums, I can only spell it out. I picked on this specific meme because unlike most others, it did not present itself as such, was generally misunderstood and instead of making people think (an impossible concept anyway) it led to self-deception and confusion.

  24. Lee says:

    John, I like that: ‘making people think (an impossible concept anyway)’ … Now, before someone rushes in and claims I’m accusing them of not thinking, I notice in myself – I repeat, in myself – that there’s very little which makes me think, as opposed to re-running old mental tapes, and mostly it’s the result of a very painful failure and/or threat to my self-esteem.

    jb says: There’s a lot of evidence of your thinking abilities on Mortal Ghost, Lee.

  25. ilker says:

    Confusion? Please.. these “thinking bloggers” are obviously smart enough to know the difference between a real award and a meme.

    I think that is all I have to say.

  26. How interesting that Ilker ends that first comment with something along the lines of, “ha ha, you just upped my blog traffic, thanks bud”

    Now I think we see the point.

    Adding chain letter to chain letter, I was just tagged with my second *@$^&@$^!! thinking blogger award. Frig. As much as I appreciate the sentiment – and I do my best to thank the giver and wiggle out of having to pass it on – the mechanism is like a bad smell. It’s just a self-promoting, traffic-building scheme disguised as “just-trying-to-recognize-good-content-in-the-blogosphere”.

    jb says: Hi Kate. I got another one, Saturday, too. Makes you think.

  27. Hi John – I’m glad to find others that don’t take this dubious (and somewhat pretentious) ‘award’ seriously.

    jb says: Hi Rebecca, welcome over to our side.

  28. […] folks, I should note, are critical about his intentions. Once you’re “tagged” and turn around and tagged others, you’re all […]

  29. Amiya Sarkar says:

    Oh, what an analysis of Ilker’s intentions. No doubt, you are a real thinking blogger.