As most of you know, we announced the 2016 Best Blogs list yesterday. Before I proceed with some final thoughts on that experience, I have a few acknowledgements to attend to. First, I want to thank our seven judges, Pam Ferrandino, Mark Walls, Mark Pew, Tom Robinson, Jennifer Wolf Horejsh, Jonathan Mast and Sandy Blunt. It takes a good deal of time to read enough content from all the nominated blogs to form an accurate assessment, and we appreciate their willingness to get that done. I also want to thank two people in my office, Doug Curry and Ritchie Dubreuil. They scoured through all the nominees to determine some of the objective judging criteria such as posting frequency and age of the blogs (for those bloggers who did not respond to our requests for age info). I would also like to thank Mark Walls and Robin Kobyashi. Mark is the one who suggested we pursue this effort, and Robin is the person who produced the original “Top Blogs” program for LexisNexis, and was quite supportive of us picking up the banner.

Finally, I want to thank those who nominated my blog and continue to support me here on the Cluttered Desk. It feels a bit odd to find yourself included on a list your own company creates, but the results were quite gratifying. I appreciate the support this blog received, and am honored to be included.

One of the nicest things to come out of this first attempt is the realization that we have introduced some new quality content to much of the industry. Several of the judges have indicated that they were pleased to find some great new blogs that they did not know existed prior to this effort. That is exactly what we set out to achieve, and I think we are off to a great start.

But we can do so much more.

I wrote previously that I was surprised that some blogs I think are quite good did not get nominated in the process (our own rules prohibited me or any of my employees from nominating blogs). One such blog, WorkComp Writer by one of our own judges, Tom Robinson, should have definitely been on the nominating list. The exclusion of blogs such as Tom's were in no way indicative of quality, but rather a lack of responsiveness from their reading public. I've discussed many times the general reticence our industry has to “posting and engaging” others online. I think that this phenomenon extended to the nomination process, and submitting favorite blogs is just not on some people's radar. I am hoping that changes in future versions of this program. Good blogs deserve to be recognized, and I think we left some quality content on the table this year.

Another area where we would hope to see improved outcomes in the future is the blog category of “Injured Workers”. While a few were nominated in that category this year, none made the final cut. Personally I was hoping one of those blogs, Craig's Table by Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson, would be included on the final list. I've met Rosemary, who hails from Adelaide, Australia. I've sparred a bit with her on LinkedIn, and have tremendous respect for some of the great things she is doing for injured workers in her country. Rosemary's writing is not the most elegant of prose or always grammatically fashionable, but she writes from the heart with a passion that only someone who has walked the walk can possess. She scored slightly better with the judges than she did on the objective side of the criteria, so perhaps increased posting frequency would help next time around. As for the rest of the nominated injured worker blogs, I can best suggest that properly structured, concise and focused content that informs more than it criticizes will likely make a big difference in outcomes for future contests.

And speaking of injured workers, it was pointed out that we perhaps should have had one included on the judging panel. I think there is validity to that point, and we will look to make that change next time around. There is one injured worker in particular, a regular on our discussion forum who I had the pleasure of meeting at last years' Comp Laude Gala, who would be perfect for the job. I was impressed by her poise and professional demeanor; so if she is willing next year we will see if she would like to contribute to the effort.

Ultimately, I am thrilled with the quality that is represented by the final list of Best Blog designees. They really do offer a wide view of information and perspectives. We are chalking this one up as a win; a successful program that ran much more smoothly than I could have hoped. The best thing about it, however, is that we can learn for the next time around. We will be back next year to do it all again, a bit smarter and better informed.

And that is what the Best Blogs concept was all about to begin with.

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