The best? Who says!

OK, so I reviewed Mountain Xpress’ “2010 Best Of WNC,” and I have to say that, after looking at one business that swept the categories, I am concerned that your “Best of” issue is not doing the community or the visitors to Asheville justice. In fact, it is misleading!

What is the merit to "win" a Best of category? What does Xpress do to make sure that the information you are presenting to your readers is accurate? I can have my friends sit and make up e-mail addresses and have them have their friends make up e-mail addresses and vote over and over for a company or business because someone I know works there. That does not make them the “best” of anything.

Who from your company goes to these places and makes sure they are indeed the best, that their food, service, product or establishment in general meets Mountain Xpress standards for being voted the best. What are your standards for being voted “the best”?

The best is a pretty big thing to live up to. Being called the best should require more than how many people a person can get to sit at a computer and vote for your company repetitively.

— Laura Humphreys

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16 thoughts on “The best? Who says!

  1. Media Watcher

    Ms. Humphreys raises an interesting question. Should “The Best of WNC” be renamed “WNC People’s Choice Awards,” since it represents popular vote, not critical judgment by, say, professional peers in each category? Does Mountain Xpress ever reveal the number of voters participating?

    Some of the arts abd entertainment “winners” raise some questions. A “singer/songwriter” wins in that category as well as “performance artist,” suggesting that voters are conflating “performing artist” with “performance artist.” Ms. Redmond, Mr. Hackett and Mr. Rash probably don’t pay much attention to these kinds of popularity contests. Mr. Rash, who came in “third,” is probably too busy collecting major national and international literary awards to organize a local vote campaign.
    Should MtnX reconsider? Or should readers just enjoy seeing who has the best vote-getting apparatus in place?

  2. Ken Hanke

    Since no one else seems to want to address this, I guess I will. First of all, it’s clearly a readers’ poll. Just exactly how and by what yardstick should the Xpress go check out whether the winners actually are “the best?” How does that work? “Yeah, you got the most votes, but we don’t agree with the readers so we changed it.” Is that how it’s done?

    There are — and always have been — a number of safeguards in place to attempt to prevent ballot stuffing. I helped count votes one year — maybe two, but I think one was enough — which was back when it was all done by hand. We were very careful to keep an eye out for stuffing attempts, which were usually pretty transparent (Xeroxed ballots arriving in a stack is on the obvious side).

    I’m not sure what a “vote-getting apparatus” is, but I don’t have one. My friends undoubtedly voted for me, but is that an apparatus? I didn’t even campaign on my Facebook page.

  3. WNCAmy

    I look forward to the Best Of issues every year. I am not sure why this writer decided to get so perturbed over something that is fun and a way to express support and love for local businesses. While it is true that some people might try to “cheat” the vote, I think on the whole, participation is spread out over a large enough swath as to get a fairly accurate pulse of what is loved and beloved in lots of different categories. This letter struck me as wrong headed and a little cranky-pantsed.

  4. zulu

    Ken- good for you that you didn’t use an “apparatus” or other underhanded ways to get your votes. Congratulations.

    But– many others did and have for years. This I know for a fact because I have witnessed it and have had “winners” brag about it to me. This is particularly true in the media categories where egos and the desire for publicity are involved. Now that the balloting is done by computer, it is even easier to “stuff the ballot box”, from what I’ve seen. A couple of people with a little time on their hands can conjure up dozens or even hundreds of fake votes.

    Does this ultimately matter? Of course not. It’s just a contest in a magazine.

  5. local reader

    In all fairness, although I have no doubt by the lists in certain categories that some ballot stuffing occurs, this is not an unusual circumstance for any standard weekly city newspapers ‘readers choice’ or ‘best of awards’. Its called a competition for a reason, so that folks can compete. This means marketing to your local patrons or supporters is part of the game, where as generating fake votes would be cheating. Any discriminating local will be able to figure out the difference by simply looking at the list of winners.
    The complacent judgement that runs prevalent throughout this small cities supposed progressive community never ceases to amaze. I can’t tell which ugly quality is more obvious jealousy or laziness.
    A song lyric comes to mind.
    ” Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it. I guess every super hero must need their theme music.”
    Congratulations to the winners, however you managed to accomplish it!

  6. boatrocker

    I’m going to have to go with Media Watcher’s comment here as being relevant about “Best of” being slightly misleading as opposed to the more accurate “Reader’s Choice”. I don’t feel there’s any crankypants type tone displayed as per stated in a later post for one reason:

    How does one win a “Best” and “Worst” of award at the same time? It’s happened this year as well as previous years. I’ve always wondered that myself unless it’s a veiled reference to the opening sentence to “A Tale of Two Cities” citing the best and worst of times. That may work in 1800’s London, but does it work in Asheville too?

  7. Ken Hanke

    How does one win a “Best” and “Worst” of award at the same time?

    Is that really so hard to understand? It simply means that a large enough number of people voted for a person in those categories. It’s not as if voting in every category is required. It’s also not as if there’s a certain quota that has to be filled to win — merely the most votes. In this case, it would simply mean that a lot of people liked someone and a lot of people didn’t. It seems pretty obvious to me.

  8. Dionysis

    Gee, some people get all worked up over the most trivial things. So what if this is basically a popularity contest? If anyone can come up with a completely objective, empirical way to determine something inherently subjective like one’s view of ‘best’ and ‘worst’ please share it. For example, one chain sub shop repeatedly shows up in the top three year after year. I would rather graze on my front lawn than eat that swill, but nonetheless, it’s popular. Same is true of other categories.

    This all seems kind of silly.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I worked for a paper in Florida where the editorial staff thought the popular choice of Taco Bell for Best Mexican Restaurant was so embarassing (which it was) that they made up their own winner. I don’t see that as an improvement in ethics somehow.

  10. dpewen

    I always enjoy the awards and agree with a lot of it … I feel it is just fun and not to be taken too seriously.

  11. Piffy!

    I am suing the Xpress for falsely leading me to believe that their ‘Best of” was a definitive guide and a ruling that was etched in stone by the god’s themselves, and not merely a cookie-cutter opinion poll meant to mildly engage the readership and stimulate local business while contributing to the idea of a ‘local’ flavor to our region.

    I feel so mislead and disillusioned to discover that ‘best of’ is subjective.

  12. Sacred Cow

    If you care about this on a serious level–as in you took the time to pound out an angry missive on this board or you lost sleep because your girlfriend’s business got ignored in the MountainX or your boyfriend’s band didn’t win Best Experimental Dreadlock Experience, then you really, really need to reevaluate your life–or simply end it.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Best Experimental Dreadlock Experience

    I do so want to see this category added.

  14. Lfrye

    My concern, that people living in and traveling to Asheville, might actually try a place because it is in your paper as “The Best Of” and it is in fact possibly just a rat hole, not one of Ashevilles best!

  15. lookatmeimsoshiny

    Thank you so much for voting me as “Best NON-Experimental, NON-Dreadlock Experience” in your poll! I’m totally freakin’ psyched cuz’ you voted for me on the fact that I’m an Asheville scenemaking hipster with trendy clothes and my hairdo has four diff. colors in it. What fun!

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