It’s Not Due to Drinking…It’s About The Math

Any math wizards….Please, keep reading.

I’ve begun thinking about the 2008 Wine Blog Awards. I’ve decided I want to determine winners in each category by using a combination popular vote and a panel of independent judges. This approach seems like a good one based on the comments I’ve had from a variety of readers as well as thinking about it for some time.

However, I’m having a bit of difficulty figuring out the mathematical formula for determining what will be the winning blog in a category. Here’s what I’m thinking:

1. There will be four finalists in each category
2. The popular vote in each category will be given 70% of the input toward the category winner
3. The public will vote for one blog in each category
4. The Independent Panel will be given 30% of the input toward the category winner.
5. The Panel will rank the four finalists 1st to 4th (favorite to least favorite)


In the popular vote I want to take into account the total votes for each finalist, rather than just doing a "winner take all" scenario a la: top vote getter is 1st place, second most vote getter is 2nd place, etc, etc.

As I said, I’m having a difficult time finding the correct mathematical formula for combining these two types of input and taking account of their different weights. There’s a good reason I took an MA in History and not Finance.

I will forever be in the debt of those of you who can help with this.

Posted In: Wine Blog Awards


33 Responses

  1. Jake - September 6, 2007

    I’m sure I speak on behalf of everybody when I say thank you for racking your brains to make this event possible.
    In light of the seeming complexity of selecting the wine blog award winners, I would suggest you try something a little more simple.
    I think a win-win for everyone would be to purchase and set up a site similar to This would create a digg-like voting platform for the community as a whole to submit and vote on their favorite wine blogs. You can specify the categories available, and a site would not be considered to be “in the running” until they receive “x” number of votes (specified by you). You set an end date, and on that day, you could view each category, and sort by the number of votes given by the community (require registration to vote). You will then see the top 4 blogs from each category, ranked (1-4)by popular vote.
    Each member of the panel then ranks each of the finalist 1-4. You take the panel’s average for each finalist and multiply by .3 (this is your panel’s weighted rank) You take the community’s rank (1-4), and multiply by .7 (this is your community’s weighted rank). Add the two numbers, and place them in order to see who won.
    Sorry for being so long, but it seems like a simple enough solution to share (though you probably just wanted that last paragraph). I know Grape Thinking would be more than happy to help you develop a Pligg-based site for the event.

  2. Jake - September 6, 2007

    “In the popular vote I want to take into account the total votes for each finalist, rather than just doing a “winner take all” scenario…”
    Unless it was a really tight race, I don’t think the panel’s vote would make a difference.

  3. ryan - September 7, 2007

    One other question that needs to be addressed is the idea of location. Will ALL blogs from around the world be included, or are we still only allowing blogs that fall within the borders of the USA. Or rather where the blogger does most of his typing within the USA? Since my servers are in Georgia, I guess the first description would include me but not the second.

  4. Robert McIntosh - September 7, 2007

    I take Ryan’s point, although I would note that the awards were actually open to non-American blogs as there were two UK finalists last year at least.
    It leads me to re-iterate my issue with the name of the awards. Whilst I think the idea of the awards is good, it creates some issues. With this title you could include a category for an award for top non-American blogs, but then it seems a shame to exclude some very good blogs from the other categories (and the greater accolades).
    On the other hand, it doesn’t really make sense for a UK (or Spanish) blog to wine the “American Wine Blog Awards”, does it?
    What does the “American” add in this context? Is there no chance of making this “The World Wine Blog Awards”, “Fermentation Wine Blog Awards” or simply “Wine Blog Awards”? I seem to remember a few others agreed with this suggestion last time this was discussed.
    Just a thought.

  5. Brogie62 - September 7, 2007

    If you want to take total votes into account then use the percentage of votes received times 0.7 to get the popular vote portion and designate a score to the 1 to 4 panel ratings, say 30 for first, 20 for second, 10 for third and 0 for fourth. The only way to get a perfect 100 is to win all the popular vote and be named first by the panel. With the weightings you are employing, the panel’s judgement will only be a factor if the popular vote is close (< 20 percentage points difference in the popular vote). I hope this made sense. I have had only 1 cup of coffee this morning. Cheers

  6. Tom Wark - September 7, 2007

    “If you want to take total votes into account then use the percentage of votes received times 0.7 to get the popular vote portion and designate a score to the 1 to 4 panel ratings, say 30 for first, 20 for second, 10 for third and 0 for fourth. The only way to get a perfect 100 is to win all the popular vote and be named first by the panel. With the weightings you are employing, the panel’s judgement will only be a factor if the popular vote is close (< 20 percentage points difference in the popular vote). I hope this made sense. I have had only 1 cup of coffee this morning. Cheer"
    Don’t I need in some way to calibrate the panel’s input to the total votes delivered in the popular vote? Maybe not.

  7. Tom Wark - September 7, 2007

    Regarding “international” blogs (read: blogs not written in English):
    I’m stumped as to how to evaluate a blog written in Spanish, French, German, etc.

  8. Robert McIntosh - September 7, 2007

    sorry to labour the point, but it seems worth discussing before the campaign gets going this year.
    I take your point about evaluating blogs written in a language other than English. However, do I take it from your comment above that “American” = “blog written in English”?
    There are a lot of blogs in English from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and also those written by english speakers (like Ryan at based in other countries. These are not “American”.
    This isn’t a rant against your country at all, just that if this is about promoting the best wine blogs, I just don’t see why they need to be called this.
    Wouldn’t you find it odd to add a button to your site that said “Winner of the best British Blog Award”?
    Boy, I definitely sound obsessive, but I don’t mean to

  9. Jill - September 7, 2007

    I don’t care how the scoring works as long as I win something…

  10. Jill - September 7, 2007

    okay, for those of you who don’t know me, that was a joke (sort of…)

  11. Jill - September 7, 2007

    (and we won’t take it personally that we still haven’t made it onto Tom’s enormously long blogroll!)

  12. Josh - September 7, 2007

    Here’s my take.
    Make it a dynamic system based on the percentage of votes a blog received in a category.
    If we say that 100 points is a perfect sweep, where a blog got all the votes from the popular vote (100 out of 100 votes all went to one blog) and the blog was selected number 1 by the judges (30 points). This hypothetical blog would earn a perfect 100 point score.
    Here’s how the system would play out. If blog A got 50 out of 100 votes they would get a score of 35 (.5 * 70 possible points for the popular vote). This has the effect of weighting the popualr vote total according to the winner’s percentage of the total votes placed in a category, which is what I think you want.
    One possible problem: this has the effect of possibly making the judges choice very influential. If that is a goal, great. Otherwise you could just scale the points awarded for a rank of 1-4 from the judges by down by 5 points for each tier. 1st place gets 30 points, second 25, third 20, fourth 15.
    Final example to bring it all together. Best Overall Blog category. 4 finalists. Blog A gets a first from the judges (30 points) and gets 30% of the votes (.3 x 70 = 21) for as total of 51 points. Blog B gets a third place from the judges (20 points) and receives 45% of the votes (.45 x 70 = 31.5) for a total of 51.5 votes.
    Blog B wins.
    Good luck with the awards this year.

  13. Josh - September 7, 2007

    Doh. Brogle62 is saying basically the same thing above.

  14. Paul Mabray - September 7, 2007

    No offense but I think the popular vote can easily be manipulated based upon factors of connections, staff, marketing budget, etc. I think the counsel should weigh more heavily after the popular vote. That means your choice of bringing together a very high level, objective board is key.

  15. ryan - September 7, 2007

    why not bring in a non- wine geek to judge some of the writing? I think that might add a nice element.
    Domaine547 don’t worry we’re not there either!
    Finally I really this the American is not necessary. I’m an American living in Spain. But I would feel weird winning an American wine blog award, not offeneded, just odd.
    Finally as to judging non-english blogs. Not that it can’t be done, but that would take getting to know those other communities better. Here in Spain we have a diverse wine blogging group, and in Portugal it’s very strong. Might ask one of them to collaboarate, or assocaite themselves with what we’re doing in a way that they use some of our standards in their own community? Thoughts?

  16. Dr. Debs - September 7, 2007

    Hi everybody. What about making the panel and the popular vote 50-50? The math is easier.
    Also, about American. Tom Wark is in America. Most of the judges are too. What if American Wine Blog Awards means that these awards originate in America, just as the LA Times Book Award originates in LA? It’s not the contest that is limited to Americans, but the origins of the award and the judging panel? Don’t know if this solves Richard and Ryan’s issues, but I thought it was worth a shot.

  17. Tom Wark - September 7, 2007

    Regarding the Name, we may in fact be talking about branding more than anything else. As I mentioned about, I’ve not figured out a way to honor or evaluate blogs that I or my panelists can read.
    That said, the Wine Blog Awards will certainly be open to any English Language wine blog.

  18. Tom Wark - September 7, 2007

    The 50/50 weighting is an interesting thought. The fact is, I can think of a number of folks who, through their social networks, could generate 1000 votes in a matter of hours if they put the word out. This might not be as easy for other finalists.
    On the other hand, I want to make sure that the voting public knows their contribution to the vote really has meaning.
    It’s a dilemma I’m thinking through. More than anything I want the Wine Blog Awards to draw attention not only to the really good wine blogs, but also to wine blogging in general.

  19. Mary B. - September 7, 2007

    I agree with Dr.Debs on the name. American Wine Blog Awards has a nice ring, rhythm and alliteration. Not a small thing when it comes to branding. I also agree with Paul’s suggestion on the weighting. Maybe 60/40?

  20. Jill - September 7, 2007

    woo hoo! we’re on the blogroll!
    But back to important matters, I think that the issue of American Idol style voting is a big one. How do you control who votes, and how many times? Ideally, die-hard wine blog readers would make up the voting public but that can’t be controlled. So I think a 50/50 split would be giving too much weight to the public.
    Maybe there’s a way to create a system akin to that of many film festivals. For instance, at Sundance there is a list of juried awards, and then a separate group of “audience awards” chosen by anybody attending the screenings.
    At Sundance, there are more juried awards than audience awards, so this makes the audience awards more general in nature, where as the juried awards cover more specifics.
    But there is NO award at Sundance (or any film festival that I know of) where the public and the jury vote together.
    This would solve the math problem, as it would basically eliminate the need for any calculations and weighting.

  21. johng - September 7, 2007

    Seems like apples and oranges to me.
    I don’t remember the details, but didn’t pro baseball back in the day try something similar, where they gave equal weight to the writers and the fans? After a year or two they realized it was unworkable and gave it all to the fans, though for a while they tried to control the volume of voting. Now they just say vote early and vote often.
    To continue the MLB analogy you could have something like the veterans committee, which would be your expert panel giving out a couple plaques that the fans neglected to award.

  22. wineguy - September 8, 2007

    On the “American” topic, what happened to LA GRAMIERE last year? It is a blog written in English by an American, about her experience making wine in France. For some reason the nomination was rejected. Not American enough…? Or for some other reason?

  23. Dr. Debs - September 8, 2007

    OK, well, so far the suggestions are 70% readers/30 panel (Tom), 60% readers/40 panel (Mary B.) and 50-50 (me). And then John G says 100% readers.
    Perhaps what we need is a most popular wine blog as judged 100% by reader votes award (gee, wonder who that would go to? some guy in NJ???) and the other awards remain 100% the decision of judges selecting from nominees made as they were last year? I think that Paul, MaryB, and Tom all raise a valid concern, and I think “vote early and often” campaigns are among the most annoying and manipulated of all forms of voting so I would completely discourage that.
    Tom, thanks for worrying about all this. Shows why you have to run this in perpetuity :).

  24. Ron - September 8, 2007

    Hi Tom, We need to all meet for a glass of wine on this one….Say top deck at Sterlings!!!! Since we are in America, I just love the Name American wine blog awards. I hope you have some Top notch counting equipment. This really is a tough one how does on compare blogs from say the giants….Fermentation, Vinography, or dude that does the TV show, or some of the other large blogs to people who are equally good but have not been around as long. I think the popular vote is good..Maybe 80% since those are most of your readers. The other 20% could be a panel of judges for content. I think you need to repost this so we can talk about more indepth as our coffee kicks in. Glad you are thinking about this way ahead. When does voting start since i am new to this. I am with the person above i just wanna win someting or at least be nominated!!!! I look forward to more discussions.

  25. johng - September 8, 2007

    No, Deb, I’m not saying 100% readers at all. Just pointing out what MLB did. You are right, if it was done like that Gary would wine every category. I think 1 year is too soon to say it’s broke, so I would not fix it quite yet.

  26. Ryan - September 9, 2007

    Ok I understand DrDebs point, but I think that branding an International event American is a bit short sighted. Does this mean soon, we could set up an European Wine Blog Awards, based on European standards? To me what makes blogging so important and great is the lack of borders, nationalities, and culture when it comes to authors. Really I think what is most important is to have an united voice, not one that might alienate a few.
    The statement that “Tom Wark is in America. Most of the judges are too.” in my opinion means that we would need to make sure that most judges are not American, but span the globe. This statement just points out a weekness to me.
    I know language is an issue, but hopefully one that could be resolved with regional judges. In Spain and Portugal alone there are probably over 30 wine bloggers. That’s a lot of blogs and if we could acknowledge them and ones that are in French, Italian, and other languages would we not have a stronger voice in the wine world?
    Many of my clients think that blogs are only important in the USA…if we were to show that they are becoming more important in the world as a whole, would we not show that blogs are breaking down the walls that print media has constructed? Wineries would then be forced to respect them even more.
    Maybe this year can’t be bi-lingual, but we could work towards it. I know plenty of people here in Spain and Portugal who would be over-qualified to judge. What we should have is a criteria to be a judge and then regional volunteers could work to build each languages panel.
    Finally, sorry for the length, if we do want a united “Awards” and there is a chance for misinterpretation of the name, we should if we can correct it. American wine awards, no matter what it really means, will always be thought of as North American Specific.
    Just my two cents

  27. Dr. Debs - September 9, 2007

    Thanks for the clarification John. And Ryan: Seems to me you are suggesting a different award: the International Wine Blog Awards. I see this as the difference between the American Academy of MPAS Awards and the Golden Globes. They have different judges, and different names. Film is no less international than blogging. Yet there are BAFTAS, AAMPAS, GGlobe, etc., etc.

  28. ryan - September 10, 2007

    I guess your right Debs…If this is the US version, great. I just hoped that we might considering the much smaller scope of wine blogs as opposed to movies, that we might start with an all inclusive look at it. Instead of becoming fractured in the future. On the other hand, maybe we need more awards? Either way…on to the awards we go

  29. Fabio Ingrosso - September 10, 2007

    Hi everybody. Will be also a section for non english wine blogs?

  30. Paul Mabray - September 10, 2007

    Not sure who suggested it but I like the idea of the people’s choice – one blog that is set up for the public vote and the rest are all judged by the panel for the categories. I can tell you that I am 100% confident that we need to not make it a vote fast and vote often awards as that will diminish the value and give the advantage to a certain subset of the blogosphere.

  31. Gene - Seattle Wine Blog - September 10, 2007

    Tom, have you thought about separate awards -one set from a panel, the other set from “the public”, otherwise aren’t you trying to mix apples and oranges? I recently tackled a very similar issue myself. There doesn’t appear to be an easy answer. Gene

  32. Gabriella Opaz - September 11, 2007

    Before we go any further with this discussion, I think we need to step back and look at the big picture, asking ourselves “Why are we doing this? Who is this intended for? What is this intended to accomplish?”

  33. barefoot wine - September 11, 2007

    Well, I agree with Gene-Seattle Wine Blog regarding our intended to accomplish. But to my own opinion, lets start right to make it a successful project.

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