When I was working as a camp counselor, the camp director created an incentive program to reward good work. It was a terrible idea that only made the divide between the counselors greater.
Let me back up.
This camp director was awful, and I don’t think that was just my opinion. She was objectively pretty awful. She would frequently leave camp grounds without telling anyone and leave no one in charge, which would create issues if any emergencies arose, like say a camper breaking a bone or an escaped convict appearing across the river. Yes, both those things happened. Around half-way through the summer, she created a program to reward us. If she or her assistant director saw someone doing something praiseworthy, she would give us a small token in our mailbox. These tokens could then exchanged for more meaningful prizes.
Sound good? It wasn’t.
By that point in the summer, groups of us and them had already been formed. There were the counselors who were her friends, and there were the counselors who weren’t. We felt on the outside or really did miss out on things. She made this program to try to encourage the disgruntled counselors, but since we weren’t her friends, she never spent time with us and so never saw us doing anything praiseworthy. And so, we never got the tokens. Does this mean I wasn’t a good counselor? No. I was a great counselor. The kids loved me–even if the director didn’t–and I think that is what mattered. Is this sour grapes? Maybe. But this happened over 10 years ago. I’m not missing that stuffed bear with a camp t-shirt or cheap piece of jewelery now.
So why am I bringing it up now? Because I hate incentive programs. They seem to work on this principle where only the “good” people (according to the eyes of management) are recognized and other people, who may work just as hard and do just as good a job, are not noticed because they are not part of the right crowd. They divide people and discourage them by tricking them into thinking their efforts aren’t noticed.
What does this have to do with Freshly Pressed? There are thousands of good blog out there. Everyday I like finding new ones that pertain to my interest and trying to find something meaningful to say in the comments or just “liking” something if I can’t think of anything to add to an already meaningful post. With Freshly Pressed, it’s great that one person’s writing has been rewarded. From what I read, the writer deserved to be acknowledged. But if I try to engage that writer, my comment might become lost in a congratulatory sea.
Additionally, from the little I’ve seen, Freshly Pressed is like the camp incentive program: it gives more readers to people who already have readers. You’re likely to get it if you’re already read. Wash, rinse, repeat. As such, it doesn’t give an incentive to new blogs. Or if it does, the incentive (maybe I’ll get there someday if I keep trying) is too far removed from the current reality and may be likely to be more discouraging because the reward seems too far away. Of course, as I said, there are thousands of good blogs here. I can’t expect the WordPress people to read everyone or even all the obscure ones in the hopes of finding rare gems. So what really bothers me about Freshly Pressed is the feeling it gives to those already on the outside. You all do good work and write thoughtful enjoyable posts. It’s hard for one person to constantly create and promote oneself, and that can be discouraging enough as it is without reminders that you’re not being recognized.
Is this sour grapes? I know some people will read it that way, but guess what: I don’t care what you think of me. If this is sour grapes, then you lead a wonderful life and you don’t know how bitter bitter can be. I’m writing this to try to sweeten others’ sours, but I know I’m not always clear, nor can I make people take meanings they don’t want to take.