|Renay (renay) wrote,|
@ 2010-01-13 10:04 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||books, oops! had an opinion, young adult literature|
Others might not find this underhanded, but I do, and also find it creates an environment in which it's hard to host contests without feeling like a jerk for not offering people 500 different ways to get entries.
I like the idea of contests. I used to enter a lot and I won a handful of times. I always read the book and then gave it to my library if they needed it (they were usually happy to have it). It was a nice system, but it stopped working when the follower feature was introduced. It died a horrible, stinking death, and its body was kicked into a ditch to rot. Maybe there's some sour grapes involved, who knows! I can be whiny when I want to, sure. But also, it's been awhile since I played the game. Once the trend of giving a pound of points to followers started kicking in, I bid the whole process a dissatisfied farewell.
As I was telling another friend the other day in an e-mail discussion, this was, in large part, why I decided to close my YA blog: popularity and the obsession with visibility and fame for doing nothing but giving people free things. It was spreading, and fast, and frankly, having a "YA" attached to my blog name was starting to look like the kiss of death credibility-wise and on top of it all I was tired of pretending to fit in with a specialized blog. At some point being a YA blogger became less about sharing the love of books. It became more about bribing people with free books and swag to promote the blogger instead of the book in painfully obnoxious ways that sometimes hit my embarrassment squick so hard I was convinced I was back in a theater watching Meet the Parents and getting so upset I was ready to barf. Honestly? It's hard to tread water in a sea full of popularity sharks who want nothing more than to have more followers than the big BNF bloggers, without putting any effort in to add to the discourse in any productive way. It's intention whoring at its most basic.
Christ on a cracker, popularity. I was over this mess back in primary school. It was an illusion of power then and it's an illusion of power now; as if there is true power on the internet. People host contests, but you have to be a follower to enter. Right? Or you can enter, but if you're not a follower, dude, you are fucked, because becoming a follower gets you five extra entries so if you don't become a follower winning anything has gone from one chance in five to one chance in 1,000. Then inevitably, down the pipe comes the infamous "YAY I HAVE 500 FOLLOWERS!" contest, and guess what, you have to be a follower for that one, too, and sometimes they will offer extra stuff if they git a higher follower number during the contest.
What a joke. Of course these people have 400, 700, 1000 followers—they've bribed a good portion of them all to become followers for the chance to win a book. Then they use this number, which was arbitrary before but really hasn't a foot to stand on now, to promote themselves as a trusted voice in the community, to lend credibility to their reviews and interviews and work. I mean, comparisons I'd never thought I'd make: YA bloggers and snake oil salesmen. Like hell I'm going to trust a review written by someone who is regularly pumping up their follower numbers with bribery and asking for tons of free promotion in exchange for a book. Dude, I am not freaking Google Ads and it is not my job to promote a blog: it is the job of the owner to do it. That mess is work and also amounts to a bunch of empty pointless content poured into the tubes that is just totally self-serving, and I don't want a damn book for polluting the internet, I want at least minimum wage.
What do numbers mean? Nothing. What matters is the voice that is being added to the collective conversation about YA literature, and all I'm hearing right now is a whole lot of static. The annoying kind that comes with buzzing, even.
Examples from recent contests I thought about entering, but had to stop and go, "Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" along with angry spluttering and bemused keymashing, etc.
+5 if you subscribe by mail
+5 if you subscribe via google reader
+5 if you tweet about this giveaway (leave link)
+10 if you rate me (see link at bottom of blog)
+10 if you add me to your blog roll (and link it back to my blog)
+10 if you blog about the contest in your sidebar (link back)
+15 if you blog about this giveaway in it's own post (link back)
+20 if you follow @username on twitter (leave your twitter name)
+20 if you put my button on your blog and link back
The above crossed the River of No Shame and then scaled Mount Ridiculous. Own that pile of blatant self-promotion, blogger! *cheers on*
blog post? +5
follow me on twitter? +1
add me on facebook? +2
add up your entries for me? +1
are you following me?
+0 not following
are you subscribed to my feed?
did you blog about this contest?
have you tweeted/myspaced/facebooked about this contest?
+1 (for each) yes
I like this one especially because it highlights the lack of doing these things in a negative fashion by actually writing out that MAN you are getting a ZERO for this one! It's a really funny form of visual manipulation. Man, I am feeling warm and fuzzy!
In a lot of ways, I am disappointed the most in the aspect of this that has taken the focus off the books in question, and made it about the blogger. It's all superficial, the book is getting lost between the "ME ME ME LOOK AT ME!" and "HELL YEAH FREE STUFF!" Is that what contests to win books are supposed to be about? Maybe I am just old and surly and need to stop worrying so much about my lawn, but dammit, I like the lawn! I like the green grass and appreciating it and this metaphor has fallen and can't get up. Trying again: I can't see the lawns for the ostentatious pink flamingos that also light up at night and blink. Everyone has a right to decorate with pink flamingos, but at what point do we start appreciating the grass again? Will we be able to move them for the BBQ and the slip-n-slide? Internets, I want my 2007-2008 lawn back! This lack of room for the slip-n-slide is unacceptable, otherwise known as I really miss the days of entering a contest by leaving one comment, where extra entries were about promoting the book and not the blogger. So, I find it disingenuous for the requirement to promote the contest and the blogger's twitter account and blog: why isn't the requirement to blog about the book itself? To tweet the link to the Amazon page or the publisher's page or the author's website? To follow the author on twitter?
I do not understand.
I throw out a serious question: what is the deal, the obsession, with the follower number on blogger—or anywhere, facebook, twitter, myspace? Why do people want to inflate it? Wouldn't it be more useful if people didn't prompt others to follow them, but instead let the number develop organically, so it meant something? Because right now, YA book blog community, I cannot trust the follower number on many blogs, and it's even starting to make me suspicious of new blogs, too because I am not sure which new blogs have picked up this skeevy habit yet. If it's high, I assume it's high not because readers are interested in what a blogger has to say, but because those followers have been prompted to lend credibility to a blog by following it for a contest. After that, I'm also betting there's less promotion of a loved title and more promotion of the blogger behind it, as well.
A community is what the people in the community make of it, and credibility is not something that can be bought. It's not setting a few good example for new people, or promoting sharing of ideas or even the books themselves—it's setting up the expectation that to be heard, you have to buy people off. What a message.
I guess if that's what the community wants, that's what the community will do, and it'll work as long as the contests continue. It's going to be a shame when bloggers lose the ability to host them through whatever unexpected event that strikes, and find it's not so much people respect and enjoy their words, but that people enjoy getting free stuff, and can take or leave the blogger behind it. Ah, the nature of the community that develops in the shallow end of the pool.
To end on a positive note, I will promote some YA that my friends have loved: Paper Towns (John Green), Marcelo in the Real World (Francisco X. Stork), Between Mom and Jo (Julie Ann Peters), Little Brother (Cory Doctorow), Nation (Terry Pratchett), If I Stay (Gayle Forman), Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins).
Now I go back to chapters 1-10 of Northanger Abbey.