AVI Choice Awards: At What Cost Accountability? by Heavy Writer

H-portrait-szA friend told me once that Second Life® is a ‘Hollywoodish-society.’ I had to agree! SL residents try hard to give polish and glamour to everything they do. If a venue books a singer, you can bet that singer is ‘incredibly talented,’ and ‘not to be missed.’ If they have a DJ spinning, you can bet that DJ will ‘spin best tunes’ and so on… To an outsider, this might look as a perfect world, where just positive things happen and all residents are angels from heaven. But old-bones avatars have learned this world is not quite like that.

When I first heard of the Avi Choice Awards about (2 years ago),  I thought it is like a Second Life Oscars. I didn’t dig to see what it is all about, but I casted some votes for the friends who asked me to do so. I voted for a friend who was nominated in the Blues Section, hoping he will win! Well he didn’t, despite the fact I cast three votes for him. Yes, three votes! Voters could cast a new one each day…a bad setup for popularity reflection, I would say. So I decided to look closer.

First, their website says: “The Avi Choice Awards is the premier annual awards presentation recognizing the people and talent of SL’s™ amazing creations, completely chosen and voted on by SL™ residents. The 2011 and 2012 Avi Choice Awards response was tremendous and the website saw an amazing 65,000 visits and an staggering number of votes. This year, we expect even more.” This sounds like Oscars indeed, but there is no visitor counter on their website, and votes-counts are also not published. Why not show those numbers if they are so high ? Why not show the vote-counts in real time, or, if not in real time (because will ruin the surprise element), why not show those numbers at least when winners are announced?

Secondly, I checked Facebook. Nowadays, each respectable SL business has one, and indeed, I found Avi Choice Awards. It is only about two months old, with a little over 300 Likes. I expected more in that time-frame, especially when you run a website with 65,000 visitors over two years, and when you run a contest with 72 sections. I asked on the Facebook page if they can have the vote-count made public, but my post was ignored by organizers. The only reply came from another curious cat like me, who said: “I have asked the same, and no response. Its fixed!”

The way things are handled with this contest might drive you to jump to the conclusion that it is fixed, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and hope next year they’ll make a better set up. Currently, it makes me think of those lame contests (Best in Leather, Best in Jeans, etc.) run by clubs desperate to add traffic. Most of those contests are not even won by people wearing an outfit with the theme, but that’s ok, because it is a popularity contest, not a Best-Of. Let us not confuse the two.

A popularity contest is what Avi Choice Award is meant to be too, it is not convincing in the way organizers are handling their task. Is just another glamorous, polished, and glorious event in the Hollywoodish way Second Life is used to? Does it really mean anything? If so, let us see how the numbers work. People take this seriously, and in an age of statistics, let’s learn from them. If people are going to put the glamorous sticker of Avi Choice Award Winner in their resume, let us examine what that really means by respecting the audience who votes. —Heavy Writer

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