Why public likes and votes are a terrible way to judge competitions.

I bet most people don’t know that there are groups you can join on Facebook, or websites that you can go to, which consist of thousands of people, who will vote for you in a competition, in return for a vote for them in another competition? Or, that Facebook likes, or retweets and followers on twitter can be bought for a small fee?

A simple googling of the term “vote for me and I will vote for you” yields this gem as the first result.


If you are lucky enough to be in a competition with people who don’t utilise services such as this, then you are in a constant state of begging for likes/votes on social media – which is more annoying than brands retweeting their every mention. (And I’m guilty of begging for votes too, but popularity has never been my strong point – so it is futile)

There are thousands of examples of such competitions, and regular folk who just ask their friends and family for votes, often get disheartened, even if they had the “best” photograph/witty saying/blog/hairstyle/wedding/panda out of the myriad of entries.

I’m not professing to be a social media expert, but most Facebook competitions, where number of likes determine a winner, contravene the terms and conditions of the site. Which is so eloquently covered by this article on memeburn.

Simply put, if you are running a competition on Facebook, you need a 3rd party app for people to enter competitions on. One example of a number of companies who get this right is Pick ‘n Pay, as can be shown by the app for the Freshly Ground competition in the picture below.

PnP facebook


Whilst I understand that public opinion is an important aspect in determining a winner where specific content is judged, I don’t think it should be the only criteria. Including independent assessments from a range of judges, would surely result in  the best content, rather than the most popular person being chosen as a winner?

Having a look at the recent disaster that was the SA Blog Awards, people could nominate themselves, then ask the adoring public to vote for them. The winner was then chosen based on who got the most votes. Which can easily be skewed by utilising services such as “Get Online Votes”. They didn’t even have a ceremony this year, so I’m not even sure what the winners received, besides for a mention on the website.

The Irish, those jolly people, have their own blog awards, which have a fantastic starting point for the criteria on which blogs should be judged.


Judging criteria


I’m sure that this could be used as a starting point for our own blog awards, with many more criteria that could be added for specific categories.

For example, if judging the “Best South African Food Blog”, the following criteria, in addition to the criteria mentioned above, could possibly be considered.

  • Original recipes vs. reposting of recipes from other sources
  • Own photographs vs stock images/images from other sources
  • Format of recipes, i.e. are they easy to follow?
  • Do the recipes actually work?
  • Are recipes easy to find on the website?
  • Does the blogger engage with their readers via social media?
  • Are reviews honest, or just a way to say thanks for the free meal/product?
  • etc

Would it be fair that a blogger who just reposts other peoples content win an award, rather than someone who spends hours on a single blog post?

One post that I came across whilst researching this(the comments on the post were fantastic) mentions that perhaps there should rather be an award for “Best contribution to food blogging” rather than “Best food blog”.

Based on the above criteria, I would probably never win any awards, but at least if you know what is being judged, there is less room to complain when the “better” person wins.

What do you think about public likes and votes for competitions? Love it? Hate it?

What criteria would you like blogs to be judged on?


  1. says

    I Hear You! As a nominee for the second year running for the Eat Out Best Food Blogger I can state that I did not nominate myself and I will not be begging for votes. This popularity competition is not my type of thing. I will not create false email addresses/use ‘false’ votes/or ‘up’ my subscriber list to be a winner!

  2. says

    Jess this is a fantastic blog post. THANK YOU!! Personally I loathe the public voting system. Although I have never cheated by buying or exchanging voting as per this article I have won competitions previously via public vote and it takes a LOT of begging and spamming and embarrassment. After the last one I decided I would never again choose to be a competitor in such competitions. I believe that if a person’s blog is nominated for competitions/blog awards the company involved should be mindful of personal beliefs and contact each one nominated and ask them if they would be willing to enter the competition! That way if you hate the public voting system you can refuse! I too, like Tandy, have been nominated and am automatically entered in the blog awards this year again. I have put out one tweet and one facebook status on my pages and that is it. I will put the widget on my blog and if people want to vote they can. If not it is also OK! 😉 Well done you! xxxx

    • says

      Ja begging for votes takes a lot of energy. And after weeks of campaigning, someone can come along and win because they are more “popular”. I’m sure Eat Out will come up with a better system for their awards in the future. Maybe it’s something that can be brainstormed at the next indaba?

      • says

        I only just saw this comment from you. My apologies! But just revisiting the blog post because it is something that I am think about a LOT and it will possibly be under review for discussing at Indaba 2013. But…it will only work if all bloggers feel the same and if the companies and PR’s are present to hear it all….but it might work! Thanks again Jess xx

  3. says

    Very nice article and I completely agree. I feel in general that a lot of popular blogs don’t offer much in terms of quality when it comes to style of writing, photography or originality. I also think in this case it is quite hard to compare some of these blogs and put them all under food blogs. Comparing restaurant reviews to recipes is like comparing apples and pears. It’s also strange that the blog award is the only one being awarded by public, all products by judges – why?

    • says

      Thanks Annika. I’m also not sure why eat out has chosen to do it that way? Maybe they will explain why? And you are right, it’s very difficult to compare recipe blogs to review blogs.

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