Just Sayin… A Word about Awards

Great blue herons show sibling rivalry even before fledging. They compete with each other for food from the parent herons. They engage in bird-to-bird “play” combat, bill dueling like the adults. They perform elaborate territorial displays, strutting and erecting feathers to scare away the other.

Great blue heron nestlings showing neck fluff display.

Great blue heron nestlings showing sibling
rivalry. The bottom heron uses a neck
fluff display in an attempt to stake a
claim on the nest and deter his sibling
from landing there.

I have received six awards, and have thought long and hard about the meaning and intent of awards, and why some people declare their blogs award-free zones while others do not. There are pros and cons for each stance, and I want to share my perspective, just speaking for myself.

Professionally, I have worked for international publishing and media companies for nearly fourteen years, and I’m sure that publishing company orientation affects my views on audience engagement and awards.

I think of blog readers’ involvement as falling along a continuum.

People have lots of demands for their attention every day, and for any person to even click on your blog’s link in an email or reader and read your post – well, that’s a compliment. There are hundreds of thousands of other posts and sites a person could be reading in that moment, movies they could be streaming, games they could be playing, work they should be doing, etc., but they chose to read YOUR blog. That’s really something – just having their eyeballs on your post (out of all the choices on the internet and in real life) is an amazing thing.

Next on the continuum is the person reading your blog and then clicking the “Like” button on a post. That says even more about the reader’s appreciation of your writings or photos. They like it, good for you! (Some people don’t have “Like” buttons on their blogs, and that’s their choice, but it isn’t mine.)

The next level is the person who leaves a comment. They’re definitely involved with your post, usually in a good way, but not always – sometimes they disagree with your premise, sometimes they spam and run. Getting a comment is a big compliment – it takes time to craft a meaningful comment, time people could spend elsewhere, and they are sharing of themselves and making a deeper connection to you as a blogger in their own words.

And at the end of the continuum are the various awards. Not all awards are created equal of course – there’s the Oscars on one hand and The Razzies on the other, but we’ll come back to the Oscars later.

When a person takes the time to honor your blog with an award – and it does take time, a lot of time in many cases – they are giving your blog a gift. They are telling the community that YOUR blog adds value to their world. How great is that? (If I had a self-esteem issue, I’d say it’s “Sally-Field-They-Like-Me-They-Really-Really-Like-Me” great, but I don’t, so I won’t.)

If you find a wonderful new restaurant or read a book that opens your eyes or visit a gallery exhibit with breathtaking works, don’t you want to share it with others? An award is like that, people sharing their enthusiasm.

And look, most people blog because they need to, or want to, or are driven to – apart from those who are *required* to blog, say as part of their employment. An award is an affirmation of your efforts. How fun is that? Not only are your blogging efforts not going unnoticed, they are being actively validated by your readers.

Some people decline awards because they don’t want to risk offending anyone they have omitted, whether accidentally or not. I have had that concern on occasion, myself, and have made peace in this way: we are all adults, or most of us are, and this is not choosing up sides for softball in high school. Do our blogging friends keep score and compare who gets what? Maybe. When you post comments on a blog, those are publicly visible via search engines, just like giving someone an award is. Do people bother to keep tabs on comments, and feel jealous if you comment more on Suzy’s blog than on theirs? Not likely. I think most people are way too busy to do that, and I also think most people want others to succeed. Are people capable of being happy for the accomplishments of others? At the end of the day, yes. Yes they are.

We are all only human, doing the best we can in any moment and we all make mistakes. Sometimes we even leave out a blog we meant to include. In her Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, Jennifer Lawrence forgot entirely to thank David O. Russel and Harvey Weinsten, Director and Producer, respectively. That was huge, but she recovered gracefully, chalking it up to a “brain fart.” Will she ever work again in Hollywood? Duh.

Everyone moved on.

Even the nestling great blue herons shown at the top of this post moved on, and coexisted peaceably until the next sibling squabble in the nest.

Everyone always eventually moves on.

Just sayin.


Related Posts

The Day of the Helicopter


A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Awards, Great Blue Heron, Fledgling Heron

Posted on December 9, 2013, in ardea herodias, Awards, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Heron, Photography, postaday, Wildlife Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I agree Babsje, I have received a few awards and I love them and I display them proudly on their very own page on my blog. Somehow though I haven’t got the energy to narrow down which blogs to pass them onto, as you say if you are a reader then you definitely appreciate that blog already.

  2. I’ve really given this some thought, too. While I agree with you on some level, I quit doing awards at some point because, quite frankly, blogging was taking over my life. There are so many fantastic blogs and interesting people out there that my list of blogs to follow kept growing and growing. Before I knew it, I was following hundreds. I could easily sit for hours sifting through them all.

    There are still plenty of ways that new blogs multiply on my list, but I’ve tried to limit the temptation to a manageable degree. One of my coping mechanisms is to not accept awards. If I wish to suggest a blogger I follow, I much prefer to feature him/her or to reblog a post I particularly like. It seems less rigid that way. That way there’s no compulsion to follow a list of instructions, or to add (or limit) ‘x’ number of bloggers to a list.

    So, that’s my perspective. Not to say yours is wrong in any way. Just my personal choice. 🙂

    BTW… Congratulations on being chosen. I’m already following you, so you can consider that an award from me -with no strings attached! ♥ ♥ ♥

    • Thanks for your thoughtful feedback! I agree, there are so many wonderful blogs out there, and I also agree that the awards process can be very time-consuming. Glad you have hit on a good coping mechanism that works. And also thanks for following my blog – that in and of itself is indeed an award. And I enjoy reading your own posts – tour photos are wonderful. I’m still agog over that one with the breaking wave, that luminous shade of translucent green you captured. Memorable even months later.

  3. Awards. Fraught. Seems churlish to officially refuse them – some kind person may really want to bestow one. But it’s clearly quite ok not to initiate awards, and to show appreciation with ‘likes’, comments & (I’d add) linking to a post, reblogging, or showing the blog in your ‘recommended’ list. My fence-sit is to receive with thanks, but not go through process of ’15 blogs I love’ or (far harder – what if you can only come up with 3?) ’10 interesting facts about moi-même’? And to be quite generous with likes etc, in the expectation that generally blogs I like will like mine. RH

    • Thanks, RH. I agree – it’s awkward to fall short of the required number of other blogs to nominate, and in terms of factoids about myself, well, I’m shy. Liking is something I like to do, and I feel thwarted by sites that lack a “like” button!

  4. Really good points. The whole award thing is a new concept for me, and a pleasant surprise when I recently received one. I haven’t got around to reciprocating. So many blogs, so little time.

    Another way people appreciate blog posts is by sharing on Facebook, Twitter etc, but this is sometimes not so obvious to the Blogger. I regularly share other people’s blogs posts because I follow some amazing bloggers that I want my friends to know about, and unless they blog themselves they may never find them. They usually get a good interaction, especially on Facebook.

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting, you’re right – so many blogs, so little time. Sharing blogs you like with friends is a nice compliment to the blogger. Speaking for myself, I think the best way to do that is mention them in your own blog post, with a link to the blog you want them to see. As a photographer, I’m nervous about FaceBook, and (ugh) Pinterest. My art is copyrighted, yet I have found my photos out there on other people’s sites without my permission. That’s troubling.

      • That’s true about FB & Pinterest shares, hadn’t thought about that, although images can be pirated from anywhere, including image searches. I guess I like the immediacy of social sharing – if I see a post I like – pix, recipes, political comment, whatever – I like to share straight away because I’m excited about it.

        I reblog occasionally but am not likely to mention other blogs in my posts unless they relate to the kinds of things I usually blog about – which doesn’t include herons, much as I love your blog :).

        However you’ve given me food for thought – maybe a regular ‘blogosphere roundup’ post would be cool. A friend of mine does a weekly post on news & research items related to food & food culture, (Weekly compost, he calls it) so something like that would be a fun way to share.

        • Thanks again for your thought-provoking comments, I had to sit with this one for a little while to sort out my thinking. Speaking for myself as a photographer, my site tells people to contact me prior to using my images, they are all copyrighted. I don’t want any posted on Pinterest. I don’t want them on FaceBook. It’s one thing to post a link back to a blog, it’s a different thing to also pull the images into FaceBook, from there the artist loses control and loses credit for their work. It’s a compliment that someone wants to share, but it’s never ok to use copyrighted images on a site or an email without prior permission. (I know you don’t ever do this, just thinking out loud here.) Someone posted an image of mine on their FB without first checking with me. That image shows more than 5,000 FB likes on her FB page. As you said earlier, you get a great response, and this one did HOWEVER none of those FB “likes” were credited to my blog or me, none of the FB traffic came back to my blog. So, that FB account got a big traffic spike but the author of the original art got no credtit. Another example, a wonderful photo from another blogger was pulled from her site and posted on Pinterest, without her permission. It then made its way into the pages of a magazine without her knowledge or approval AND without her getting a photographet’s credit. The photo appeared with someone ekse’s name entirely. As you can tell, I have strong feelings about people sharing art online without following the copyright laws. Your idea of a weekly blog newsletter is interesting, but be sure to get upfront permission from everyone. Thanks again for visiting and commenting!

  5. love the herons and the post. i am a relative novice and and was ‘offered’ an award on my baking blog in my very early days- i had no idea what the implications were- worried about spam, etc- and most importantly didn’t at that point follow very many blogs to recommend! i find the baking and photography blogosphere very, very different- and thats nothing to do with the content.

    • Thanks, glad you like the herons! I’ve been following your blog for a little while and want to tell you something interesting. When I view it on my iPad, your background photo stays on my screen for a bit before the actual post gets overlaid on it. That background photo is so life-like and immediate that I can almost smell the food on the table, yum. Interesting you mention the difference between the two different blogging genres, I hadn’t thought about that although I am both a photographer and a foodie, following both sorts of blogs.

  6. What a great post, Babs!! I read it from top to bottom. I tend to agree Gunta. I would rather put a link to someone’s blog in my own post, if I enjoy it. I don’t like to be obligated to list a certain number of blog, etc. Yours, by the way, is one of my favorite favorites, simply because of your subjects that you write about, and I really need to give you a link soon. I can relate to a few others for the same reason.

  7. Sounds like you have really been burnt by people using your images – so hard to prevent it happening in these days when people rarely question their right to share, appropriate (not to mention mashup) anything they stumble across online.

    I wouldn’t ever pull an image out of a blog and share it the way you describe, but then I work in communications & am aware of copyright – most people aren’t. I always link to an actual post & explain it’s a blog that I follow and recommend people check it out – that’s the reason I am sharing, in the first place, because I want people to go and check out the post/images/recipes, whatever. It would be good if they commented on the blog I’ve linked to but I think people who are not themselves bloggers often don’t feel comfortable to do that & would rather talk about a post with people they already know, in the space where they feel at home (in this case FB). However hopefully some will also sign up to follow the blog by email, or bookmark it.

    I were to do a roundup I’d just be linking to the blogs via text descriptions – did you think I meant I would use the images? I always do get permission (or use creative commons images) on the very rare occasions I use other people’s pix.

    Anyway, the digital world raises lots of interesting questions, especially where the different social spheres and platforms overlap, thanks for being so passionate and educating people about this stuff.

    • Thanks, your comments are always thought-provoking. I like that, and I hope you know that I know that you, personally, aren’t misusing anyone’s content or photos.

      Yes, it has happened to me, is happening on an almost daily basis. Some of the folks who share improperly aren’t aware of the ramifications for themselves or the original posters – they mean no harm, are eager to share because of their enthusiasm, and think the copyright notifications don’t apply to them for some reason I can’t figure out. Then there are others who “borrow” for their own commercial gain, which is not an innocent sharing at all.

      An original poster can configure his blog so that emails only show the first x characters of a post, same for configuring their rss feed. They can configure their blog so that each post when viewed online also only shows the first bit of the post, with a link to continue reading. These are all techniques WordPress suggests to prevent content theft, to prevent people from using programs to scrape a site and suck down everything.

      When other people share from their own blogs by placing the images and content into their site manually or reblogging, it is that person’s email, rss, etc settings that are called into play, and so the original blogger loses the protection they had carefully set up.

      Earlier this fall, someone with very good intentions recreated one of my posts on their site, image and all. It went out via their email, image and all. When I realized this – because I received one of the mails myself – I asked the person to take down the image/content and merely link back to the post they wanted to share, but it was too late. My site had every single one of my then 100 or so posts individually clicked open by the same reader, and images extracted.

      Sigh. So yes, I have strong opinions about sharing and the proper way to do it.

      Thanks for your great comment!

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