Rankings and Community
Three things to know about me before we get on with it:
- I suck at accepting compliments
- I’m competitive in some aspects
- Yet I prefer fairness
So today I found out I was named Kinkly’s#1 Sex Blogging Superhero 2016. In my 8 years of blogging there has been at least one “Top 100” list every year – the Top 100 Sexy Bloggers1 and Kinkly’s list. Over the two lists my rank from 1-100 has spanned 1-84 – and no, I didn’t start out at 84.
You would think that after 8 years I would be happy, nay thrilled, to be at the number 1 spot on a list like this. After all, I did ask for votes – as much as I hated doing so. And I really hated doing so. But instead, I feel….uncomfortable. Unsettled. So I have to say at this point that if you like the Kinkly list and your ranking and you don’t see any problems (and I totally respect that, absolutely), you might want to skip to the last section, “Blogger Awards”. This is my space to say my piece but you don’t have to read my words if they’re going to hurt you.
Apparently, winning the #1 spot comes with a prize. I say “apparently” because I so much didn’t expect to get #1 that I didn’t pay attention to prizes. The $500 prize money is going to be turned into two $250 “scholarship funds” for bloggers to attend Woodhull in 2017. If I had more money to do more scholarships, then I’d simply say “any educational sexuality conference” but with only 2 scholarships I’m gonna just pick my favorite conference: Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit.
Why do We Have to Compete Against Each Other?
Over the last month I’ve spoken to many bloggers who approached the Kinkly list with dread. The thought of bugging everyone, repeatedly, for votes felt off to some of us. Others didn’t want to do it, period. Some felt they had to because of the credence that ranking high can give you (especially if your blog is newer). Even I felt like “well if I don’t ask for votes and don’t make the list, will I lose the respect of my peers and those who may want to do business with me? Will my blog be less desirable?”. It was a tough internal battle to ask for votes.
Rankings can make people sad; angry; bitter; depressed. It’s really hard if you are upset by your ranking because you don’t want to pee in other people’s Cheerios if they ranked well and are thrilled. Conversely it can feel rough (hi, it me) to be ranked high when your friends are unhappy with their own rank. There is no denying that I spoke with many people last year, and this year, who looked at the Kinkly list with confusion (on their own rank and others’). A poor ranking can be the thing that makes a blogger stop caring, stop blogging – especially when the ranking criteria is vague and they don’t understand their rank. And it fosters this “I’m better than you” attitude2 – I feel like we need to support each other, build each other up. We need many voices. You never know what it is about your blog, your post, that may get through to a reader. No matter how new or old your blog, we’ve all reached people who are reading this for the first time. You are different than me and yet similar to someone else – and often, especially with sexuality, we need to know we’re not alone, we’re not the only one like that. Reading something where you say “Oh, wow, that’s totally me” makes you feel less alone and broken, sometimes. We need that!
So, yes. I may be ranked #1 but I don’t really like the list. I don’t like the competition. The popularity aspect. I don’t like wondering how XYZ blog is ranked so high yet these other blogs I love are ranked so low (or, not ranked at all). I hate knowing that the low ranking is making my friends feel bad about their wonderful blog. I am wondering how a blog that ranked #1 last year is #68 this year. How a blog with very few posts is ranked much higher than a very active blog. And so on. And yes, I know that there’s no point in a list like this if we all rank the same year to year. I know that a blog might be stellar to the judges one year and the next they think that others are simply better, not that you got worse. I know these things. I say we break tradition – can we change how it’s done? Can it be better?
I bet a lot of you are shaking your head right now. You think I shouldn’t be complaining. I should be happy. Right? Well, it doesn’t feel fair. I’m ranked #1 in the Sex Toy Reviews category this year, with Epiphora ranking #2. Please, tell me who thought that was accurate? Seriously if I could get that changed, I would. I would rather be ranked #2 for that one. I’m proud of my blog, I am. I know that my reviews help folks who are similar to me. But as far as the quality of writing in reviews is concerned? Epiphora is better than me. I say it objectively and subjectively. She has more traffic, more comments, and more followers than me AND crafts the most amazing sentences. I actually feel that a number of bloggers write better reviews than I – more witty, easier to read, better with the appropriate zings. I can recognize my strengths, but don’t really feel that my reviews alone are it or deserve the #1 slot. I would feel so much more comfortable if the ranking were more like “here’s the top 10, and here’s everybody else, and you’re all great” like Rory did in 2014. So I’m having a hard time being happy for my success at the detriment of others, and that’s really the bottom line. That and the fact that I hate the votes and popularity contest aspect. And the vague criteria. I said that already, eh?
A New Kind of Blogger Awards
So the list fostered a lot of discussions between some of us bloggers and an idea I’ve had in the past is going to come to fruition in January. It will fully be a group effort, brought to you “by sex bloggers, for sex bloggers”. But because we don’t think that a sex toy review blog can be ranked against an erotica blog can be ranked against an essay/activist blog, our awards will be limited to the niche of sex education, sex toy reviews, and social justice as it pertains to sexuality/sexual health. If you like this idea but want other sexuality niches to be included, please borrow the idea yourself!
We don’t feel the need for another 1-100 ranking, or ranking by number at all. We don’t even really want to rank one person’s blog against another’s. But have you ever read a sex toy review that had you laughing out loud in public, enough to elicit strange looks? What about a social justice angled post that stirred great emotion? Or a review about a kink item that totally changed your opinion about that kink? Made you say “Damn, I wanna get my ass beat now!”? Is there an educational article you read that you think is really important, and everyone needs to read it? A sex toy photograph that has stood out? A bold piece about sexuality and mental health that digs deep and bares it all? A really salty/snarky review that you loved? This is what, and how, we want to highlight. We want to celebrate the little things. We want to have fun, be silly, and also be serious and reverent. I think it makes more sense to compare like with like. I feel that removing the rankings and focusing on specifics, with a broad category range, will celebrate more people.
I’ll be taking input from readers and bloggers and industry folks on categories, and how the list will be run. This Google Doc will allow you to comment – agree, disagree, suggest an alternative, suggest an addition.
If you’d like to help out, please let me know. I want some judges who are bloggers but not sex-ed/review bloggers; I’d like some judges who are in the industry, but not a blogger. And yes, some judges will be eligible for nominations (but won’t be judging categories they’re nominated in).
I welcome comments – about your thoughts on the Kinkly list, how you feel about my critique of it, and your input/feelings on a less competitive Blogger Award set up (tentatively called The Lubies – yes, trophies will be awarded and they will be lube bottle based) – even if you think my idea is shit, tell me. I’m nervous as fuck about this post, but this ranking has been eating me up all day. Can we all get lifted up instead of just some? Can we find a way to celebrate more folks, more equally?
As uncomfortable as I feel about being ranked above everyone else, as much as I dislike the linear ranking at all, I’m going to thank Kinkly because their choosing me means I can do something important to me: Help more folks get to a really awesome sexuality conference.