For those of you who voted in the IndiBloggies, you’ve probably heard of the repoll in the Best Design category. Some of you might have followed the discussion on the IndiBloggies website, so you know what this is about. But for the rest of you, here’s a recap.
Last week, nominations were announced in multiple categories including Best Designed IndiBlog. This blog also made it to the list. Much happiness. A couple of blogs in the first stage of nominations used non-original designs. After receiving negative feedback on their inclusion, the organizers eventually withdrew them from the list and the contest went to the polls. And then they had a change of mind. Thus the repoll.
The organizers, by way of an explanation, claim that it does not matter where a blogger got their design from. Created, inspired, lifted, mutilated – it doesn’t really matter. If it looks good, it qualifies. They go on to add that in honoring a ‘borrowed’ design, they actually mean to honor the ORIGINAL designer, not the person lifting it. And lastly, they add, since templates are part of the ‘blogging phenomenon’ and ‘most blog-wares provide starter templates’, a blog using someone else’s design should still be eligible.
Here’s what we say — Sure. Using someone’s design that has been made public domain (in the form of a theme/template) is most certainly not unethical. I wouldn’t call it plagiarism. But entering a DESIGN contest using someone ELSE’S design IS. If, by honoring a blog that has re-used someone else’s design they are really honoring the original designer, then THAT designer’s name should be on the list, not the person borrowing it, yes? If a piece of writing is a writer’s intellectual property then the same is true of a designer and their design. A designer, by making their design available for public consumption may have waived their intellectual property rights to USE the design, but it doesn’t mean they have allowed you to ENTER A CONTEST with that design.
The organizers also claim that 99% of the blogosphere uses borrowed templates, and only 1% showcases original design and thus it was unfair to narrow the playing field to that 1%. While firstly, I doubt the credibility of that statistic, even if that were true, then why SHOULDN’T that 1% be honored? It is the DESIGN category, for crying out loud! Let’s take a different example. Say 2% of the blogs in the blogosphere are Telugu Indic Blogs. Still only those 2% qualify for the Telugu Indic Blog award, yes? So why should things be any different in Best Design? It is NOT an award for content. It is an award for aesthetics, colors, navigation and user interface. Not how cleverly you can borrow and customize someone else’s creativity.
Anyhoo, this is my take on the situation — it is evident that this award does not respect originality and thus fails the very concepts it sets out to honor. For those of you who voted and are willing to vote again, please do so. For those of you who are sick of the whole affair and don’t wish to vote again, I feel your pain.
Either way, the outcome doesn’t matter anymore.