One of the characteristics of an excellent awards program is the
presence of solid ethics. This is very important as all awardmasters
must understand that they weld a certain amount of power over their
fellow webmasters. They have the power to cause individuals to blossom
and become better at their tasks. Conversely, they can easily cause
discouragement and despair which can lead to much evil.
That’s probably one of the most important facts to remember about being
an awardmaster – you have the power to help or to harm. Use that power
wisely and you will give people pleasure, reinforce their self-worth and
perhaps make them better webmasters. Use it unwisely, and you could even
cause them to stop creating web sites altogether.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this note from someone who won one of
“Hello Mr. and Mrs. Lowe, I want to thank you from the bottom of my
heart for the “heart and Soul” award! I cried when I saw it, as I had
given up on it! My health is taking a downward plunge, therefore it
means a whole lot more! You just can’t imagine how informative and
useful your newsletter is to me. Hang the superstitions; Friday the 13th
is lucky for me! :o) Mrs Lowe, I hope this letter finds you in good
health! God Bless”
Wow! Now that’s having an impact on someone’s life!
This is why it is very important to be completely ethical when you run
an awards program (we are talking about real website awards programs
here, not those that simply give the awards to whoever applies). What
makes an ethical awardsmaster?
First and foremost is a desire to be constructive at all times. Never
give any kind of criticism. Some awardsmasters give advice when
specifically asked – personally, my recommendation is to stay away from
this practice. Why? Unless you are very, very good at giving advice
without making it seem like criticism you are bound to cause someone to
become discouraged and upset. Really, your goal is to award good works
(and you define what is a good work), not to give out advice.
You should have a well written set of criteria which more or less
explains exactly why a site did not win. There really is only one answer
to the losers – “look at the criteria. Compare your site to the
criteria, point by point, and it should become obvious why you did not
Another strong ethics point is to remember that your criteria is your
contract with awards submitters. You should use no other standards
except for your those criteria which were posted at the time the person
submitted for the award. Why? Because you need to stick to the agreement
that you have made and not use some arbitrary standard known only to
Remember your power and be professional at all times. A professional is
smooth, honest, hardworking and helpful. Don’t get into arguments, flame
wars or any other petty behaviors as regards your awards program.
Another important point to understand is an awards program should be
pure. You should have no requirements, no string attached, except for
the common request for a link back to your site. You can, of course,
request people to sign your guestbook, but never make it a requirement
to win an award.
Remember, again, to base your decisions only on your criteria. It does
not matter if the site you are judging belongs to your boss, your mother
or your best friend – just judge against the criteria. If you feel you
cannot give an unbiased opinion for any reason, then by all means inform
the submitter pf the fact and do not judge the site.
A very important ethical point is your awards program is only as good as
your own site. In other words, your own website should be a model to
others as to what it takes to win one of your awards.
There are many other qualities that make for an ethical awards program.
For a more complete list, see our statement of ethics at
In summary, by remaining ethical you can build an awards program that
makes you proud and very effectively advertises your own site and
professional skills. What better way to promote yourself than that?