Okay, so you've taken the plunge and created your awards
program. Your criteria are defined and well written, your
purpose is understood and you've promoted the heck out of your
program. Now you've started getting applications - and the real
This is the part of awards programs that is, well, both
interesting and extraordinarily dull. The creative work has all
been done. What remains is to examine each site that applies for
your award and determine if they are good enough to deserve to
So how does this work? It's pretty simple, really. It all starts
from your criteria.
Let's use an example of a pretty standard set of criteria:
- Reasonable download time - Understandable navigation -
Readable text - Not under construction - No broken links - Good
quality content - Way to turn off music - Good HTML - Viewable
in all screen resolutions - Does not violate copyright or steal
bandwidth - No sites which promote illegal activities,
pornography, hacking or warez.
What I like to do is set aside a few hours a week to go through
my list of sites. Then you visit each and every site and compare
it to the criteria that you have created for your award. You
should also keep in mind whether the sites must meet ALL
criteria or just most of them!
This is so important that I will repeat it again: compare the
applying site against your criteria and only your criteria. In
fact, you should only compare it against the criteria that you
had posted at the time the site was submitted.
So let's check a site against the criteria. You surf to it and
find that it seems to download very slowly. This, at first
glance, appears to violate your criteria - but spend a couple
more seconds to make a judgment call: is this the result of the
site design or something beyond the webmasters control (such as
slow server)? If the page has 500kb of graphics, then the site
flunks immediately - go on to the next one. If the page looks
reasonable (and it will not take long to figure this out), then
continue with it.
Okay, what's next on the criteria? Understandable navigation.
That's an easy one - can you figure out quickly how to navigate
flunk the site for this - but you can update your criteria so
Readable text is next on the list. Can you read the text? It
does not matter whether the characters are pink and green - can
you read them? If so, the site passes - if not, it doesn't.
The criteria of "not under construction" is a little vague and
could give you some trouble. All good sites are ALWAYS under
construction. The web is a dynamic place and static, unchanging
sites quickly die. Generally, this is interpreted to mean, "it's
not obvious that your site is under construction". Signs which
read "under construction" are virtually always an immediate
flunk. Be careful with the criteria of "no broken links". Do you
mean your going to check every single link on every page? That
could be quite a task! Or do you mean only internal links -
still, check them all could be a huge undertaking. Perhaps you
just mean "everything that I click on works."
And that's how it works ... you look through the site and
compare it to each and every one of your criteria. Keep a
checklist and mark passes and flunks (unless one flunk means "no
award", in which case you don't need a list). If the site has
too many flunks, it does not get the award.
All right, what do you do if you run across a site which meets
your criteria but which you find morally reprehensible? It you
subscribe to the theory of ethical awards programs, you grant
the award - and then you update your criteria. You could even
adjust your criteria to say "no sites which are morally
reprehensible to me" if you want. Or you could get more specific
and say "No sites which promote animal cruelty".
Remember to think of your criteria as a sort of contract with
people who submit their sites for awards. You are explaining the
them what you are looking for. Presumably, they read your
criteria and only submit their sites if they believe that they
pass. (This is often not true - most award submitters really
never read the criteria, but lack of ethics on one person's part
does not imply that lack of ethics is okay).
Should you notify the people who do not win your award? NEVER.
Let me be fully and completely clear about this - NEVER UNDER
ANY CONDITIONS, WHETHER REQUESTED OR NOT, SEND BACK CRITICAL
COMMENTS TO ANYONE WHO HAS APPLIED FOR YOUR AWARDS PROGRAM.
NEVER. After all, if you apply your criteria to the letter it
should be obvious why the site didn't win the award - it didn't
meet the criteria.
There is nothing more devastating to a webmaster than getting
back critical comments, especially when those comments are not
anticipated. It's one thing to be in a classroom environment and
receive feedback, it's entirely a different matter to have a
professional webmaster tell you your site is horrible or even
that the "navigation needs work".
About the author:
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets.
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