I hereby endorse…

Kevin Lim is one of 20 bloggers up for a $10,000 annual blogging scholarship. Many of the other blogs are also quite good, but Kevin–who is a former student of mine–has the best one, and deserves to win. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m a regular reader of Kevin’s blog, and often find interesting stuff there that I wouldn’t otherwise find.

Unfortunately, it looks like they are deciding who to award it to based on the inherently flawed internet poll. Not only is the willingness to vote a bad indicator of real popularity (if popularity, rather than quality, is their major criterion), let alone quality, but there is far too much opportunity for fraud. Not that I am impugning any of the finalists, only indicating that it’s a bad way to judge things. Right now, for example, the number of votes cast for each blog has no relationship to the Technorati ranking or PageRank, which suggests something is fishy. Moreover, it’s clear that more popular topics are going to win out over more academic topics in broad popularity.

But, who am I to complain, since I encourage my students to court an audience. Good luck to Kevin, and to the other entrants. And bravo to Collegescholarships.org for offering money to student bloggers. Yes, it’s a commercial for them, but this is marketing I can get behind.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted 10/8/2007 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Wow, thanks for the support Alex. Yes, it’s an inherently exploitable polling system, and I guess the bottomline is to drive traffic to their site. They are paying a big price for it, so some pain for some gain. Good luck to the other bloggers! :P

  2. Daniel Kovach
    Posted 10/9/2007 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I assure you there’s nothing fishy about the voting. We are check IP addresses and referring sites, and it all matches up. Good luck to Kevin and all the other finalists!

    Daniel Kovach
    CollegeScholarships.org

  3. alex
    Posted 10/9/2007 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Daniel: Hm. I certainly don’t want to be hypercritical, and the edublog awards are also made via voting. But cookies, IP addresses are not particularly accurate ways of constraining a vote. Email verification gets closer, but only barely. This is one of the reasons we teach our students to discount online polls, as a rule.

  4. alex
    Posted 10/9/2007 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    And note the first comment on the front-runner’s blog:

    Just voted for you :) But couldn’t you, in true MIT style, just write a script to vote for you millions of times ;) Just saying…

    And on a more serious note, GOOD LUCK!

    I sincerely doubt any fans of these blogs would stoop so low, but the process is, as I noted above, inherently flawed.

  5. Posted 10/9/2007 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    It’s the MIT spirit… they don’t have to resort to scripts, just sheer number of supporters. Daniel seems to be on the ball, so I trust he’ll be watching. On another note, it’s interested to see the kind of blogs in the running, some are hard sciences, one or two religious, two I spotted were sports related. These were in the higher hemisphere. :)

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] academic adviser thinks he should win. Enough […]

  2. […] also links to testimonials made by fellow bloggers, like Alex Halavais’ uber-serious “I hereby endorse…“, Elia Diodati’s (acidflask) “Help feed Kevin” with lots of silly reasons […]

  3. […] Why do you decide to join the contest, how did you chance upon it? My academic mentor Alex Halavais first reminded me of the college blogger scholarship this year. Since application was easy, I […]

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