One of the big things I'm all about as an ENnies judge is communication and improving the awards through constant inspection and consideration. The ENnie Awards have a lot going for them, but its the rare institution that doesn't have the need to improve in some area or another.
Now, I'm a judge. I can suggest, prod, poke, and lobby. Its not a matter of legislation. But as an ENnies judge, I owe it to the folks who voted for me and those interested in the process to help give the smoothest, fairest, best ENnie Awards possible. So without further ado, here's my preliminary list of items to focus on for the 2009 ENnies:
1) Redundancy in Key Positions: Unfortunately, no matter how well-intentioned folks may be, real life can get in the way. The ENnies are no different. Solicit or find volunteers to work with, complement, or back up those in key positions, such as coordination and website admin. That way, if stuff does happen, there's no interruption, and no single-fail point.
2) Better Technical Performance: This can be largely helped by Point #1. Voting delays and miscues have the potential to really hurt the awards. Make it a TOP priority, before any dates are announced, before anything is opened, to have the software/website up and going. Ensure you have dependable people in place to make this happen.
3) Clear Submission Procedures: For websites and podcasts this past year, there were confusing or simply no entry procedures. We ended up with some great entrants, but how many entrants could be lost with a clear submission form or procedure to follow. Make sure we don't lose entrants in this way.
4) Quality Assurance: Hundreds of products are submitted for the ENnies. Simply put, we need to be certain that every product is valid in the category submitted. Another set of eyes or just keen attention to this detail. Finding out after the fact products may not have been eligible for a certain category is something to avoid.
5) Keep Communication Open: I know the awards have gone back and forth on this over the past couple years, with one faction wanting a united front/cone of silence from the judges during and after the judging process, and some definitely for I personally feel that generating product discussion and discussion about the process can only draw more attention to the awards and the products involved. Of course, one needs to respect the integrity of the awards, but I feel the way to build confidence in the entire procedure is to show how it all works as far as is possible. Let the sunlight in, and let no one be able to say there is a hint of anything shadowy about any of the proceedings
6) Accessibility: The folks at the ENnies do work hard to solicit as many different groups for the awards as possible. Some folks are going to disagree with me on this and I know it means more work for the judges, but the ENnies need to make it clear that electronic download of an electronic book or podcast is acceptable. Look, the ENnies judges didn't always have 9 months to judge product. Its still a lot of work, but I feel making this move opens it up to those folks on the fence about the whole business and especially folks on a tight budget. I do think the Best Electronic Product category requirements do need to be strongly enforced, however.
7) Innovation: I love the ENnies Lifetime Achievement Awards of this year. They were something touching, important, and entertaining. The ENnies needs to stay flexible, with an eye towards changing up categories, doing extra features, and keeping the awards not only held in good esteem, but relevant to Joe Gamer.
Because these are our awards, I'd like feedback and suggestions before up channeling matters any further. What can be improved upon? What part of the process would you like better handled? What wouldn't you change? How do you feel about the present category breakdown? Let's hear what you have to say, because that's what's really important.