On Blogging “Awards” and Obligation

After being nominated for the “One Lovely Blog” award by Stan Stewart over at Muz4Now, I feel the need to address the pay-it-forward element of blogging awards like “One Lovely Blog” and “Stylish Blogger.” There are several awards of this nature around the blogosphere. The basic set-up is that after nomination a blogger accepts the award by passing the award on to several other blogs and sharing something about themselves on their own blog.

There are positive elements embedded in these awards. Acknowledging the blogs that have meaning for you is part of building a sense of community. Telling writers that you like what they have to say is a worthy task. Pointing readers to quality blogs provides a service to the readers. And, sharing about ourselves in our writing gives our readers an opportunity to feel a personal connection to us and helps develop community.

Making Connections in Good Fun

The same good effects can be achieved through less manipulative means by engaging with other writers on their blogs and by linking to good quality posts from your own blog. By sharing freely and engaging without manipulation, we invite a positive response and trigger the natural human instinct to reciprocate gifts that is key to community building without triggering the ick factor that comes when we feel coerced.

There is an ick factor that comes from the emotional manipulation at work in these awards. By offering a reward you want, the pat on the back in the form of the award, the blogger who passes on the award to you is dictating the content of at least one post, which may not be something you want to incorporate into the overall look and feel of your blog. But, it takes a strong-willed person to turn down recognition, especially when it comes from members of your tribe.

That said, I know that the people who have nominated me for these awards, have been people who genuinely engage with me on my blog, who I have reason to believe are acting on entirely good motives.

I will not be passing on the “One Lovely Blog” award, but I will be spreading the link love in some upcoming posts.

7 thoughts on “On Blogging “Awards” and Obligation

  1. Patrick Ross says:

    It seems clear why I like your writing. It’s not just your style but the person behind it. I too was given this award by Stan, and was humbled and flattered. But I too chose to 1) acknowledge my gratitude on my blog, and 2) not pass it on. It’s a bit reminiscent of the chain mail of our youth, except instead of threats that something bad will happen to you if you don’t forward it, there’s a positive message of support. That’s welcome, but there are ways we can applaud others we admire without contrivance. You do that, and I try as well.

  2. muz4now says:

    Kate (and Patrick),

    I’m truly humbled. Blogging is such a new thing to me. I really only started a “regular blog” about 2 months ago. I have to admit that I was so flattered by the collegiate award that I went straight to following the “rules” contained in it. I can see your experience and wisdom in honoring the giver (me, in this case), but not the contents of the gift.

    Your posts consistently leave me in awe. Once I get over my embarrassment at being such a newbie, I will be purely in the awe for this one, Kate.

    Playful blessings,
    Stan (aka @muz4now)

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      If you go back a few months, you’ll see that both Patrick and I did the same when we were first given the Stylish Blogger Award.

      Since then, we have both given conscious thought to exactly what we want to do with our blogs. In my case, it was the way that responding to the award didn’t fit into that pattern that triggered my thinking about responding in a different way.

      And, I really enjoyed writing the long sentences post last weekend.

      We are all learning. 🙂


    • Patrick Ross says:

      Hi Stan,

      I’m glad Kate pointed out we both did the same thing with Stylish Blogger. The takeaway here is that you should be honored that someone chose your blog for the honor, and Kate and I are both honored by your selection of our blogs.


  3. Patrick Ross says:

    You know, Kate, I’ve received several more of these in recent weeks. I’ve thanked the person (I mean, it’s great to know you’re in someone’s five fave or seven fave), and I like the concept behind them (spreading cheer and pats on the back), but I haven’t done the viral part required of them nor posted the awards. I also just took down the Stylish Blogger award I was given close to a year ago now from display on my site, although I’ll leave up the post I did promoting others when I accepted it; no reason not to leave those promos up.

    I never liked chain mail, and I didn’t like it when my daughter and her basketball teammates won a big trophy after not winning a game all season (her brother didn’t like it either, especially when his team made it all the way to the championship game and he received a trophy about two inches tall). I also didn’t like it when I had a managing editor who would at random moments come up to me, pat me on the shoulder, and say “You’re doing great,” but I really valued another editor who would, after a story he was impressed with, say “Well done.” I guess I need reinforcement to feel earned, be proportional to the moment, and have some level of exclusivity. I’m a grumpy old man, I guess.

    Your post above handled the issue very diplomatically, and I’ve thought about it as I’ve politely thanked folks for these other awards and then not acted upon them. I’m sure you’ve received some more nods like this and/or will continue to do so. There are worse problems on the Internet, I suppose!

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:


      Thanks for letting me know that you still think of this post. I’m touched.

      I think wanting reinforcement to feel earned and be proportional to the moment makes you sensible, not grumpy. And there is a sense in which a reward or recognition is meaningless if everybody gets one.

      On the other hand, it is great that you have been getting this recognition.

      I haven’t been getting the kudos on my blog per se, but the blog and my activity on Twitter and Facebook have led to some new writing and editing opportunities. Not enough paid work, unfortunately, but ways to donate my time and expertise to not-for-profits that I am unable to support financially to the extent I would like.


  4. […] to thank Robin Coyle for nominating me for a Versatile Blogger award. As I have written about before, I have a policy not to pass on such awards, but it is nevertheless an honour to be nominated. […]

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