Vote for Mental Mayhem

UPDATE: Disregard this post as the BABA awards turned out to be a mess! Polls
were rigged and had to be shut down. Thanks for all who took the time
to vote for me!

Monday is the last day of voting for the BABA (Best Arab Blog) awards. Mental Mayhem is nominated in seven categories. If you think this blog is worth a vote, please follow these links and vote:

  • Best Jordanian Blog
  • Best Photography Blog
  • Best Arab Blog (English)
  • Best Blog Design
  • Best Essayist Blog
  • Best Everyday Life Blog
  • Best Personal Blog

Remember, you can vote once each day for the next three days. Thanks for your support!

11 thoughts on “Vote for Mental Mayhem”

  1. To late I can say!
    Check it out:
    Posted by: Admin on Sat, 29 Jan 2005 19:42:47
    Due to rampant forgeries in some polls, we have had not alternative but to close and disqualify all those participants in the following polls:
    . Best Arab Blog (Arabic)
    . Best Arab Blog (English)
    . 2004 Best Syrian Blog
    . 2004 Best Saudi Blog
    . 2004 Best Jordanian Blog
    . 2004 Best Technology Blog
    . 2004 Best Photography Blog
    . 2004 Best Personal Blog
    . 2004 Best Everyday Life Blog
    . 2004 Best Essayist Blog
    . 2004 Best Culture Blog
    . 2004 Best Blog Design
    . 2004 Best Art Blog
    . 2004 Best Arab Student Blog
    As usual, because of the actions of an inconsiderate few, the whole is affected.
    Finally the admins decided to kick your blog out, same for nader and that Syrian one, few more I can’t remember. You guys or those who did it for you made it look so obvious cheat! I send the guys emails asking them if they are monitoring, and they said they are and will take action at the right time. i.e you never posted anything to ask the visitors to vote for you in these polls, yet u scored very high. Your post of today assured my big doubts that you or some one playing for you!!! In all cases these blogs looks very bad now.
    Good for you, bad for the guys who deserved to be awarded in these polls… After all you looked to be so desperate you even have a misleading award logo that you never got (weblog 2004 award)!

  2. Dear Mr/Ms disqualifications (who is too scared to post his/her name),
    I did not cheat and I never asked anyone to cheat for me. I wouldn’t stoop that low for an award that was a mess from the beginning. I expressed my concern about it on Subzero Blue’s blog. Check it for yourself. And that is one reason I haven’t pushed that hard on it: its legitimacy has always been a source of concern.
    And just for your info, I did advertise for this horrible, poorly managed award by posting its logo on the sidebar [Gone now though]. Go get yourself some eyeglasses.
    To you Mr/MS disqualification [It’s too bad you don’t have the balls to reveal yourself], please don’t die of jealousy. I have a large readership base. We are happy here. I’m sorry if that bothers you.
    As for the weblog award you mention, I was nominated for the Weblog Award 2004, something you obviously wanted badly. When you get your eyeglasses you will notice that I mentioned that I was a nominee for the weblog award — an honor in itself.
    Ok enough wasting my time replying to you or discussing this mediocre award. I have better things to do!

  3. Well, it’s sad really. We were worried and voiced our concern when we saw Subzero Blue comment on it. We were more or less given the back of the hand by an administrator. It was for that reason that Natasha chose not to post on it directly until yesterday, instead leaving the sidebar GIF link in case those that nominated her or others were interested.

    I think an attempt at transparency might help this situation. So here’s a brief timeline of events from this side.

    • Mental Mayhem is nominated from an outside source (i.e. not by us) for several categories. That is left at that for nearly two weeks before Natasha asks me to nominate her for two other categories.
    • I visit the site and nominate her and see the nominations show up in the sidebar and assume all is well. Two days later the voting begins but we find we can’t log into the site to vote. We also find that the two nominations I entered, which registered in the BABA sidebar, are not listed now as in competition for reasons unknown. Upon visiting Subzero Blue’s site we find him commenting on the situation and so we post our concerns.
    • Our concerns: We express worry about the server downtime and that the votes were not being vetted properly, possibly allowing for abuse of the system. We also don’t understand why my two nominations did not show up on the system. Administrator Haitham Sabbagh says that it’s not his fault, it’s a server issue and then proceeds to give Natasha, Subzero Blue and eventually me a dressing down for having the gall to discuss the award on a blog not his own.
    • "Natasha, if you doubt the credibility, you can withdraw. MMM, the award is in it’s first year … There is always room for improvement, but it would have been more efficient to bring to our attention any problem that you faced rather than criticizing in isolation here."

    • These comments were made in the first days of the poll. Haitham’s suggestion that discussing on a blog problems with blog awards is somehow "criticizing in isolation" seems at odds with what the award is about. The situation leaves a bad taste in the mouth and so Natasha decides not to pursue the award with any gusto, only leaving up the nomination GIF for those interested, with tooltip text indicating voting was open.
    • We continue to have difficulties accessing the site (specifically receiving a 500 Server Error) but as it’s not anyone’s particular problem things are left as they are. When able to access the site we vote and watch the competition with interest. We were pleased to see the site doing well despite not having directly solicited votes. This seems a testament that the site is well-regarded.
    • With only three days to go it looks like Mental Mayhem might win an award. As of 29 Jan. the site is not leading in any category but Best Essayist Blog by about 20 votes over the number two. I encourage Natasha to make a post soliciting votes in hopes that she might win one or two awards. Some of those she’s nominated in she clearly can’t win (her 200 or so votes versus 600-700 for some top spots) but the BABA site seems to be working okay and we have hopes the BABA polls might just work out.
    • Eight hours later we receive the first comment in this series informing us the polls are for all intents and purposes closed and this asshole proceeds to put the blame on Natasha. So Natasha has me remove the BABA GIF and she updates her entry.

    I must tell you at this point that the whole debacle really upset Natasha. She puts a great deal of time, effort and, yes, even money into this site. To have someone come here and anonymously accuse her of something without any shred of evidence is an outrage. It upset her to the point she just wanted to shut the whole thing down, meaning close this site. I encouraged her not to do so. But I understand her feelings. She puts all this effort in to create a wonderful site and someone just waltzes in and lays this turd on her doorstep.

    I encouraged her to delete the whole entry or this comment but she wanted it to stand as history and testament to what a debacle this award became and why our concerns, expressed in the early days to Haitham, were justified.

    Addressing some logic flaws in the argument put forth that somehow Natasha had something to do with this I ask: Why on earth would she go out and make a criticism of the polls, questioning their legitimacy? Wouldn’t this be opposite the behavior of someone intending to stuff the ballot box? Right out of the gate you say: "I don’t think the outcome of this event will be legitimate." But then proceed to de-legitimize them with voter fraud. It doesn’t make sense. Why express the concern in the first place if that’s your plan?

    As for comments put on the BABA site about "how is it possible these sites got so much traffic when they aren’t much of a site to begin with" I take real exception to that. Natasha’s site receives a great deal of traffic, over 30,000 hits since she moved to TypePad in June of 2004 — that’s 30,000 hits in about six months. She has about 100 loyal daily readers and the site sees about 300-500 page impressions per day. And that’s just the Mental Mayhem portion, excluding the photo albums, the gallery and newswire. A great deal of time and effort do go into this blog. Anyone impugning it from the shadows without proof, from what could only be surmised to be jealousy, can put it where the sun don’t shine.

    I feel badly that I encouraged Natasha yesterday to pursue the award at all. Had she not she wouldn’t have gotten this rude bedtime comment and she wouldn’t have gotten all wound up over it. I really hoped to see this award have some legitimacy. It’s why I suggested a "one vote, per category, per day and perhaps implement an anti-robot big of code" to Haitham nearly two weeks ago. I think, speaking for myself alone, that Subzero Blue, Natasha and I all wanted to see the awards be developed fully to the level they deserve. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t have said a thing.

    I have a pretty good idea what Haitham’s take on all this is from his replies on Subzero’s blog. But I’d still like to see both he and Mahmood address this issue on the BABA site and discuss what their future plans are. If they have evidence of voting irregularites they should present them openly so that all those involved know fully what transpired. The kind of rumor-mongering evidenced here is sickening. If they plan to continue the award, I’d like to know how they intend to combat this in the future. I knew from the other award Natasha was nominated for that these things happen. I watched them address them, with a robot and a user-graphic.

    I also wonder why this is so difficult. The simple little polls on this site are quite effective at preventing multiple visits by a single voter. I’m not sure how they work but when we tell the admin portion of the code "don’t let anyone vote twice with the same IP" and "place a cookie" it seems quite effective. I’m not sure what system BABA employed.

    I doubt there’ll be much interest by this site in participating in any web awards again. I hope Natasha will receive some words of encouragement from those of you who read and enjoy the site. She really felt shut down by this asshole’s remarks. It’s even possible they’ll be less Mayhem in the future because of it. I, for one, would hate to see that. This blog was a birthday present for my wife, meant to be fun and stimulating. It’s proven to be that and so much more. It’s really disappointing to see someone try to slime it like this.

    I also hope all those who got involved, got their hopes up and participated in BABA don’t run away from it. Haitham was right in that this was it’s first year. Some bumps in the road are to be expected. Let’s see if things can’t move forward, allowing improvements to be made — transparently — so it can continue next year.

  4. Anonymous Cowardly Fan

    All I can say is that it’s “mish mistahleh”. You have a pretty cool blog, the amount of traffic you get and the distribution of your readership (as can be seen from the hitmaps thingy) should by itself serve as a strong vote of confidence in what you’re doing. So keep up the good work…
    A fan

  5. Wait one moment here. If you set it to only accept one vote per IP with cookies turned on, there’s almost no way to stuff the ballot box. Yes, it won’t be dead on accurate, but enough for an online poll. On the other hand, if someone controls a range of IPs and votes with all of the, the website admins wouldn’t be able to complain of fraud. IP address is what that matters in an online poll. Now I’m curious what has really happened and why they are not transparent about the technical aspects of this issue. I suspect the blame lies with BABA and they know that themselves.
    And don’t be upset Natasha. People say hurtful things, don’t take offence, have pity.

  6. The Anonymous Jareer

    We like your blog , keep up the good work. I feel closer to home, express opinion, have some fun , vent some frustrations and learn new things when I come to this blog. Accusations hurt especially when integrity is targeted, but that should not deter you from moving forward.

  7. Jeff,
    Even without your call for support, I feel the readership would rise up in support of Natasha. This site is quite amazing and really don’t feel my day complete without at least one visit here daily. I am just waiting for the network adminstrators at work to block my access as I usually sneak a peek in the middle of the day 🙂
    To Natasha, I unequivocally and wholeheartedly support this site…although I may not agree with everything that is said and choose what to respond to, this site has amazing character, allows for the flow of ideas, has many intellegent readers and it is eveident that respect for others is practiced by almost all…except for the few times when “outsiders” come here to spew their hidden agendas or make false accusations. But their concerns are addressed by you and I feel that you make a effort to reach out to them to engage in constructive dialogue.
    As I have said many times before you are doing a wonderful job. Keep up the great work!!

  8. Natasha, Jeff and everyone who visits this blog: Good evening!
    I am an ardent supporter of Natasha and value her insight, hence my continuous visits to this site which will not diminish now or ever. I think Natasha is a wonderful person with a good heart. I know how disappointed she must feel because of the actions of a few who wanted to hijack – and almost succeeded in – the first ever encompassing Arab blog awards. It is people like these who because of their selfishness typify what ails this nation. No matter, we shall not succumb to them.
    Natasha, we (yes that includes Haitham) are NOT against you personally, nor did we ever consider you anything but another pioneer blogger whom we respect. I know that there has been a misunderstanding, but please treat it as just that, a passing summer cloud. You were not, and will never be targetted personally for defamation or any other derogatory end. WE hold you in very high regard.
    Our fault in doing the Arab Blogger Awards is that, most probably like you, have been too trusting. Had we done the award polling like what others have done in demanding authenticated email addresses, restrictive IP pools, allowing only registered users to vote and the myriad of other restrictive practices, this situation would never have happened. We accept the responsibility, from which we can assure you that when next year rolls up, will be taken fully into consideration.
    We believe that whoever was desperate enough to want to win, might have targetted you as well in order to aleviate suspicion. It is a very cheap trick, but it might very well have been used.
    As there is another full day of polling ahead of us, I cannot divulge any technical details to support this argument; in my attempt to “keep the peace” I might never do so. Not because of exhonoration or pointing the finger of blame most definitely. I find the exercise pointless. It will create wars of words which we can do without.
    True that we have suffered from credibility issues because the tools we chose didn’t stand up effectively for such attacks, but even the best award sites get hickups from time to time, we’re chalking ours to inexperience.
    In this first ever blog awards, you have become a victim through no fault of your own. I hope that your enormous heart will find a way to forgive us our inexperience, and we both promise that next year we will ensure that things like this – as much as in our power and our abilities – will not happen again.
    For now for the polls which have not been tampered with, the show goes on.
    Best regards and whole heap of sorryness to you personally, and to all the others who have been affected by this unfortunate incident:
    Haitham and Mahmood

  9. Thank you all for your kind words and your support. Your encouraging comments really made my day. I promise you to do my best to keep improving this humble blog.
    Mahmood and Haitham,
    Thank you for you very candid, and supporting message. Apologies accepted;-) Best of luck for next year’s BABA award. I’m sure that the glitches that occurred this time will help us all improve the competition. Keep up the good work.

  10. Dear All (and especially “Disqualifications”)
    First, I would like to say that I am the one who nominated Mentaly Mayhem for all these categories. I did that although I knew (and it did happen) that Mental Mayhem (being older, more professiona, in English, and having wide readership-reflected in the hitcounters) will beat my blogs in the categories we competed (like best Essayist, best Arab blog, etc…). I never hesitated to nominate this excellent blog and I think it deserves the best English (together with Baghdad Burning, which I also nominated).
    I have had a bad experience with competitions before (in a competition called the BOBs) that I won in the last minute after having complained a lot against cheating. I never accused my competitor of cheating (although I raised the issue publicly and was misunderstood). I discussed the issue with Haitham at the beginning of the BABA, and they thought that all the warnings they made were enough.
    I followed the competition closely by looking at the number of total votes per category, and I asked my friends who voted to update me for results… I could see that Mental Mayhem and Baghdad Burning had lot of initial success (although they didn’t really advertise). I won’t accuse anybody, but people who compete with a blog with many hundred votes have to do something to win. So maybe, one or two of those have chosen to just keep voting from the same computer ignoring the rules. I have seen one or two blogs having more votes than visitors- and I witness that this does not apply to Natasha. Her blog has hundreds of visitors daily; she writes in English; she writes a lot everyday; she has contacts in the Arab world and the USA. All these factors make a blog successful. I personally get 40-60 visits daily; but one day I posted in English about Bin-Laden and USA elections, and I received 3500 visits in 3 days. SO… webtrafic has its rules. English readers are millions while Arabic readers are thousands. So.. I think “Disqualifications” is really wrong. I am certain though that somebody was cheating so badly.
    Never mind.
    I join voices with Mahmoud, Haitham, Linda, and others: Natasha: Your blog is a model.

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