Thanks to a record number of nominations, nearly 5,000, the finalist selection process is going much slower than it has in previous years. Right now we're on track to finish within the next week, however that really pushes the voting closer to Christmas than we would like.
In previous years we've not had time to fully populate things like RSS/Atom feed links for all 500 finalist blogs and we've generally not had enough time after completing the finalist slate to do things we'd like (such as notifying finalist sites, scheduling press releases, and poll testing) before voting overtakes us.
This year will be different. We'll announce finalists a full week before voting and have all of our finalist feed links populated when voting opens. One of the major goals of The Weblog Awards is to expose the world to a wide variety of blogs and to increase readership of all finalist blogs. By giving ourself a little extra time we can better publicize the finalist slates and make sure that more people are aware of the voting period and the selected finalists blogs.
Last year we introduced embeddable polls in selected categories a few days into the competition. This allowed sites to include Weblog Award voting polls on their own pages. For us this was a fairly revolutionary step. This year we plan to offer embeddable polls in all categories from day one. Since we've not conducted a full scale test of the poll embedding, on December 30 we will make available a special test poll "Best Blogging System" that we will ask other sites to embed on their websites for a few days. This should be a fun experiment for any site that wants to offer a real-time poll to it's readers and will help us ensure that the system is ready for the deluge of traffic that embedding polls will generate.
As you can see there's lots of work involved in making The Weblog Awards the biggest and best blog competition in the world. We're committed, just as we have always been, to making our competition as open, fun, and inviting as possible. Sweating the details is a big part of past success. This year we're giving ourself an extra week or two to make sure every detail is sweated, making things as rock solid as possible.
Here is the final schedule for The 2008 Weblog Awards:
Finalist Announced - December 28
Finalist Logos Available - December 28
Finalist Voting Page Available* - December 31
Finalist Voting - January 5 through January 12
We know that the delay is frustrating, it's frustrating for us as well, but we also know that we've set a high standard for excellence in the past; a standard we strive to exceed every year. The new schedule allows us to make The 2008 Weblog Awards bigger, better, and more excellent than ever before.
* The voting page for all polls will open several days before the poll becomes active. This allows us time to publicize the voting page link (which will be the link that readers use to get to the voting screen) prior to the beginning of voting. This will help finalist blogs setup sidebar links directly to their poll. It will also allow us to pre-publicize the embeddable poll code.