A few weeks ago I let ChicagoNow's bloggers know we'd be having a contest to select the top posts of the month. The ground rules were pretty simple: At the end of the month each blog could submit one post as their best of the month. There would be ten finalists and then a top three would be selected with each of the top three awarded an Amazon gift card.
Here was the criteria I gave them: "We will look at the quality of headline, quality of content, quality of writing, overall creativity and presentation. We will not consider how much traffic a post has received, reader comments, your responses to reader comments or the number of Facebook "likes" or times a post is sent out on Twitter."
There weren't any rules other than the post must have been originally published during the month of August. And so when the submission deadline came I started to look at them. Most I'd already read during the course of the month but we have 700 posts or so a week so I don't always see them all, or read all the way through.
There were 80 submissions, and the way I started to winnow it down was to read them all from top to bottom and make a list of posts I felt shouldn't immediately be eliminated from top ten consideration.
All this did was get me down to 40 posts. 40.
Honestly, I didn't think I'd be able to do it and for a time was cursing myself for offering up this contest. But after going through the posts over and over and making a lot of changes I finally got down to a top 10. Here they are:
The Top 10
- Cheaper Than Therapy: Dear Youth Travel Sports Coach
- Chicago Chivalry: A private letter from London to Chicago
- Chicago Political Commentary: Devastated over the loss of my pet, I'm sorry but I will take a small break
- Getting Real: How a realtor chooses a realtor to sell his parent's home
- Mary Tyler Mom: Jack Layton is my new hero
- Spread Far The Fame: Do you like apples (Good Dan Hunting)
- Stump The Tromp: Peter Griffin comments on Big Z's apology
- Such Is Life: I'm still not over slavery
- Waterdog Journal: Music to fish by
- White Sox Observer: Great moments in routine throws to the infield
If you read these and then read the other 30 that made my initial cut I suspect you'd find very little difference among them, and there certainly would be disagreements. So why these posts? Well, for one because I wanted to get it done before October arrived. But if you look at the ten selected posts, in addition to having the criteria laid out, they each had an honesty about them I found very attractive. And I think ultimately writing honest pieces, whether it's how you feel about your pet, your fishing, your White Sox or yourself is going to separate the great blogs from the good blogs.
I did make one change from my initial rules for this contest. I was going to outsource the selection of the top three winners to a colleague but the more I thought about it the more I realized that was a case of me wimping out and afraid I'd be called biased or unfair and lose credibility with this group I work so closely with. So realizing this, I went ahead and picked the three winners myself. Here they are with a quick note about why I felt they stood out among the others:
Third place: Cheaper Than Therapy: Dear Youth Travel Sports Coach
Why: As a parent and as a former kid, I loved this post. Pretty much everyone falls into one of those categories so it was hard not to relate to this post on some level. Jill's conversational writing style isn't overdone and has no pretensions at all, I felt like I could hear her saying these words to this coach and that he'd be listening verrrrrrry intently.
Second place: White Sox Observer: Great moments in routine throws to the infield
Why: Besides being really creative and funny, James shows he has a great understanding and knowledge about his subject, the White Sox. You can tell he's simultaneously amused and fed up with what's happened this season and I thought it was tremendous the way he tied several events from this season together into one post.
First place: Waterdog Journal: Music to fish by
Why: This was beautifully written with perfect images. I'm not a fisherman but after reading this I felt like Ken had taken me into his world for a few minutes. One of his trademarks is to intersperse his posts with images, which you'll notice he does in a very clean way. They aren't slapped in at different sizes or with spaces missing, his presentation is always excellent. And I loved the surprise ending. If you don't know what I'm talking about be sure to click on his "Music to live by." Very wise of him to make it a link and not an embeddable video or it wouldn't have been as nice of a surprise.
Thanks to everyone who submitted a post and congratulations to all the winners, hopefully everyone enjoyed this and we can do it again next month.
Filed under: Best posts of the month