Come Scratch My Back

Warning : This is one hell of an itchy post

You are like the last sack of potatoes of the drought stricken season. Everyone desires you, everyone must have you. You are their last chance for survival.

You FB message box keeps blinking like a deranged strobe light. Your hitherto unknown, undiscovered blogger pals are landing in droves from The Planet of Nowhere. And they all seek communication with you. You have what they all wish for – your vote. Ek salaa vote mujhe zero se hero banaa dega. Ha! You think... Now you want me. All this time you ignored me like an insignificant cretin. Now it’s my turn to make you stew. Should I.....Should I not..... You file your nails. Dust imaginary cobwebs , try to memorize Munni Badnaam’s lyrics, before you hit the vote button. It’s just a measly vote, you think.

When I started blogging, it was because I love writing. True, I couldn’t differentiate a post from a blog when I started. But with the constant encouragement of my wonderful, vibrant blogger friends, I took baby steps in this unknown world. I joined Indiblogger, a fantastic platform for aspiring, famous, infamous bloggers. And I steadily got what every blogger survives on, an eclectic set of readers who believe in me and constantly goad me to write better. I also learnt my first valuable lesson – a chunk of the community survives on reciprocity. And why not? It’s a good way to increase your reader base. No one is here for charity.

But of late I have observed a disturbing trend. Contests that are meant to showcase the best from our lot are bringing out the worst in us. Rather than promoting a healthy competition, it has become a mad hat chase for votes. In fact I even participated in one such contest and promised myself that I wouldn’t ask for a single vote. Sadly I succumbed. I just couldn’t bear the trauma of seeing “unworthy” posts racing past me and I resorted to what I dreaded the most. Of course I didn’t win. But that experience put me off for life. How are we any different from the vote hungry netas, who we love making fun of? 

Contests that hinge on votes are turning into scratchfests – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. You may write crap with grammar that will make Wren and Martin turn in their graves. But hey, if you don’t mind sending 3452 mails and 4367 messages, spam the entire blogosphere pleading for a scratch......You my dear are the lucky winner. Kudos to you, you deserved to win.

And now I can sit on my high horse, file my talons and deign to scratch whoever I want. No thank you, I do not need your scratch. But why crib about the unfairness of the system? We deserve the winners we get. After all we are the ones who voted for them.


  1. You have hit the nail on the head. Seriously, the vote seeking trend makes me want to throw up. I will vote for your post if I like it, not because you voted for mine and I need to reciprocate the gift like we do during Diwali.

  2. I'm so glad you wrote about this, Purba. I thought something was wrong with me - I'd sheepishly go and cast my vote in a feel-bad move. But I really hate the request and my role in the whole thing. What irks me is that these people have probably never visited my blog or really bothered to interact with me on any level before or after. Some of them tried to 'friend' me on FB too - but I drew a line at that. I'm not sure whether the forums are encouraging this - to make their task of choosing a winner easier. What do you think?

  3. It's getting more infuriating with every single contest. I participated in just one contest and decided against repeating it ever, like you.
    You've perfectly echoed my views... nice post

  4. i m still naive to this trend i believe, but i liked the way you vented your thoughts, that hint of dark humor.

  5. Yes of course.. why crib about it when we ourselves choose to vote for an utterly silly post with horrible grammar over a better one!
    This rule has to change or else nobody will ever wanna participate in a contest which becomes a test of one's vote-begging skills.

  6. Nice one, Purba. This is exactly what puts us bloggers off of these contests. The vote-begging idea is disgraceful, to say the very least.

  7. I don't acknowledge any comment wanting my vote and just about decide to use the famous unfollow button.

  8. heights of winning contests. Doesn't matter what they write and how ugly they BEG for votes... winning is what it matters for many. I second every line that you have written here!

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  10. Exactly. A contest like this would be fair only if there was an impartial judge who would actually 'read' and decide the best post, not some selfish bloggers who keep voting for others only to be voted back, irrespective of what they write.

  11. That's precisely the reason I dont compete.:P
    But again, do we need 'votes' on these competitions. Do we really need to win to prove to ourselves that we are good writers.
    Aren't we better judges of ourselves?

  12. Bang on, Purba!!
    This vote-begging thing for contests is truly atrocious! You get a friend request from a blogger on FB, you accept it and the very next moment you get a mail to vote for them, of course the new tag line is "please read and if you like it, then pls vote"! Then you mull over it for some time... and then with a bad taste in mouth, you cast your vote!!
    And if you decide to read and don't like the content and thus you do not cast your 'precious' vote, you get reminder mails one after the other! Its terrible! :(
    Its victory of vote begging skills over quality writing!!

  13. You are so right. It's not the system and the participants who are at fault but we, voters. We should think more than once before we vote. After all, our votes show our level of intelligence.

  14. Purba... i should agree... these events and games are creating a cribbing drive for many..

  15. It is good that you raised the point. Loved reading it. The contests have nothing to do with the blog posts,. It's only about voting. May the best vote gatherers win! It is hard work too!

  16. Well done but I find similarity between the mails for vote & visit to the blog. In blogging also same yardstick applies i.e. you comment on my post, I shall do on yours!That is one of the principles I have read on several post to attract visits/comments.

  17. Wow... seriously you have hit the nail on the head.
    I always wanted to write for myself. I seriously do not care what others think...
    I also took participation in one of the contest. I got several comments. But then, most of them wrote"good one, please read mine too".
    I had never heard of Indiblogger community until a person who had invited me on facebook and stupidly i accepted because he was under another community where i was a member too. Then he started sending message "please vote for my blog on indiblogger" What the [email protected]?? Then I was not even a member of that community..
    True, this scratching your back thing is a human tendency I suppose. We humans are shit hypocritical.

    Even the ranking system does not impress me, but i received my second ranking and it had increased, but I did not understand how it increased.. Anyway I donot care..

  18. but this is how the blogworld runs! be it about reading and following blogs, posting comments, voting, promoting and such! except for taking part in contests and begging for votes, I have seen the peak and valley of the blogsphere..I have even written so much about the blogging behaviour that I am tired of writing but the traits are not ready to end! each day, I come across new kind of blog, blogger, behaviour and contest! I read a lot, but don't comment much..earlier, people mailed so that we leave a a days, the trend is of tweeting..and now this 50k contest!

    sorry, I started with my own rant here; but i am sure you can understand the frustration :)

  19. Well said! I feel sickened at the hunger for popularity on Indiblogger. Shitty blogs and their even shittier owners. Sigh. And all I can do is lament. The mediocre and the crass win on the so-called 'votes'. These contests are more like testing one's popularity, tenacity and shamelessness, rather than the content, quality or thought behind blogs. I hope I never (ever) succumb to this!

  20. Hmm. Interesting.

    I've been a blog-follower for many years and started at a time when Google didn't even own Blogger :)

    Anyways, I used to follow some really cool blogs. (Almost) all posts were intellectually challenging, made you think, and prompted you to comment. Most importantly, they were well written. (If not, the comments would not spare the blogger).

    What's happened to those bloggers now? They write columns on Yahoo! India. [Try beating THAT traffic!]. They're now Editors and regular columnists at national newspapers. They write books, like "Dork", or sadder versions like "May I Hebb your Attention Pliss?".

    I miss those days. Those blogs that I used to follow have cobwebs on them now. The newer-age blogs, from Indiblogger etc., will take time to reach that maturity. Competitions AREN'T helping them.

    Thanks for posting this. It's quite like an "expose" if you ask me! Should I congratulate you for this journalism? Hehe!

  21. Well, I joined Indiblogger about 2 months ago, very curious about what the whole deal is. (Credit to you Kartikay-from-above-this-comment)
    I nosed around looking for something pleasant to read.

    I tried reading blogs which were "promoted", I saw a few which were love stories, they did the best! The stories didn't quite have very good grammer. I tweeted, asking why the bad ones were getting promoted.

    Someone told me exactly the same thing. "Indiblogger is a "scratch each others back affair".

    Very very true

  22. Prateek...That nail might hurt.

    Corinne...Voting is an easy way out for them. They should have an informed panel of judges.

    Tanay..Voting contests such as these are putting off many genuine writers.


  23. Samadrita ...Yes, a test of your PR skills and how expansive your network is.

    D2..Had read your comment on the forum. Well said and right said.

    BK...I have learnt to say NO.

    Mohan...We just need to caste our vote judiciously.

  24. Pulkit...Contests that hinge on voting can never be fair. Agree with you.

    Kish...We may shout from rooftops saying contests don't matter (I do it all the time). But the truth is, they are fun, if taken in the right spirit.

    Shilpa...Let's start saying No. No, I think your post is full of crap and doesn't deserve my vote.

  25. Nethra...Yupp... votes are not freebies to be doled out.

    Siddhesh..We Blog, We crib :P

    Giribala...It is a lot of hard work and requires tenacity.

    That's the way blogging world survives.

  26. Bhawna...The ranking system is based on our google page rank and alexia rank. I take it seriously :)

    Neha.. I guess one should stick to one's own convictions and do what makes us happy :)

    And I have yet to join Twitter!

    Vinitha...Please, please don't.

    Karthikay... Aww..can't even say I miss those days. Too new to the blogging world (is eight months new?) But there are a few good writers I follow (they aren't too consistent with their posts though)

    Priyanka... Bad ones were getting promoted because of their extraordinary PR skills.

  27. Good one, generally what happens is we dont have time to read all posts & just vote for the one, usually a friend, from whom we have got a request to vote....& this fellow sends that message to all & he wins..Nobel prize itself is politics nowadays...what is the big deal about politics entering blogosphere...but we need to strike a balance

  28. Well, I joined blogging and indiblogger just 2 months back and I'm new to all this!
    I'm sure I'll never beg for votes if I do participate in any contest!
    But I've seen some who asked me to vote for them!
    I only vote for those posts which I like and not because of any guilt feeling!

  29. Absolutely 110% agree with what you've said.

    I joined Indiblogger thinking it was something else. But the mad rush for votes just put me off.

    True...really worthless "writers" make it to the "top".

    I couldn't care less! Ha!

  30. We founded a writers club - Writers Inkorporated (WINK) last year. Even though we (neither of us is active on any blogosphere) despise selection of winners at Indiblogger etc, we have decided to go ahead with voting to decide the winners in the blogging league we are about to start.

    It's easy. It's objective. And despite the valid points in your blog, IT'S FAIR!!!

  31. Incidentally, you don't have a blog-roll on your blog!


    Please show-off which all blogs you follow, so that we can do the same!

  32. Sunil...Yes, we need to act with responsibility.

    Girish...That's the way it should be.

    MM...Fair enough and a high five to your initiative.

  33. Vijitha...It is a mixed bag. Indiblogger has some very good writers as well.

    Karthikay....Ooops, let me first have a good collection to show off. It is a deliberate decision btw.

  34. Even the so called spiritual people join after the satsang and exchange contacts.The guru(?) looks out for disciples, more money, more to brag about and PR.The disciples also have joined to ogle and look for some strange bedfellows.
    Marketing is the main mantra even with God and His place of worship.So it's ok to market yourself.We are living in a you scratch my back np.
    But a true detached person is hard to find.God bless you.

  35. You have put it so succinctly. There have been random people commenting on my post and leaving a link for me to vote. I never promote a post unless I like it except when the the insistence is persistent!! :) Like you say, it is just a measly vote, I think.

    I am not on any social network including FB and I don't believe in winning by votes, which are not a measure of one's appreciation but the outcome of the 'scratching' culture. So we have to put up with the trend of those who have the most 'followers' winning regardless of the merit of the post. Good for you not participating. I normally don't either, but indulged the younger brat this time :)

  36. I am glad that nobody can force us to participate in contests and the choice is fully left to us .. even about voting :-)

  37. This itch is spreading like swine flu,dengue......I can relate this to myself as I wrote post with my heart but the first response I got was that I am so and so and please vote for my so and so posts.I felt really bad and I clearly mentioned it in my blog that I am not into this race .I don't know much about blogging but such responses really hurt.Thanks for bringing this topic in front of viewers .

  38. krsna...That's an interesting analogy. Agreed we all a bunch of selfish nincompoops, but the least we can do is encourage the deserving ones.

    Zephyr...Your post deserves to be promoted. Will put a link on my FB profile.

    aativas...I just wish people will put an end to blind voting.

  39. Purba! I love the tone and tenor of this post.The angst against the reality TV inspired vote culture is so well brought out.Big hug!!
    I have removed myself from voting and participating in such contests because it's not about writing any more.Its a popularity and pester-power contest.

  40. Your style of writing surely engages and enertains...

    Pixellicious Photos

  41. Pratibha.....That really gets my goat, a btw comment with a vote for me tag line.

    Varsha...I am all for self promotion, but people should read, think and then decide to vote.

    And it is the daunting thought of 'pester power" that's keeping us away.

    Kcalpesh..This post is not meant to entertain :))

  42. we all are here for self promotion ,a fight to be recognized .isn't it?begging for contest is like asking for someone's mercy which i feel is not required as beggars are not choosers .it is our choice not to choose beggars and we are responsible for our own behaviour and can not expect others to change .we all are humans after all and all have their own perspective and own individuality.

  43. Purba, your blogs are so interesting that surely you don't need anyone to "scratch" your back...I think it is the same with me too...!!!

  44. Purba actually your words supported the view of most of us.Perhaps this is the reason that repulses or in another way take the essence of contest.There are flaws in most of the activities people do . Here i would mention one --sometimes i find most interesting and well written piece without any comments and appreciation.It shows that networking and marketing do matter-no matter where the line blurs .

  45. Just like the half cup of sugar our neighbours borrow assuming it need not be returned...I vote for all those who ask expecting nothing in return! Who am I to spoil their fun!...looks like they need it quite badly, and it's no trouble to vote...just click!...I doubt if I will ever need votes...I so hate the contest posts...all of them!...they are so coma!....ZZZZZ

  46. You have written to the point.Voting system instead of developing healthy relationship detoriates it.One thing you can be sure of is that eventhough as many spams as you can get,you still hold the final key to Vote or not to Vote.
    I am participating ,but not vote begging,yet try myself to get noticed in simple way as comments as we most indibloggers do..and the fact is that if you leave no comments,you will be left with none.

  47. Pratiba...The voters cannot be absolved from the blame game. People do not readily read/vote contest entries. And good entries need our support wholeheartedly.

    Vikram...I cannot sit isolated in my ivory tower and expect readers to come flocking to my blog :(

    Arpana..It happened with me as well during my initial days of blogging. But with time and persistence you do find your niche audience.

  48. Oh Nalini, Nalini sweet Nalini :))

    Uma...Exactly!! the power lies with us and we need to exercise it judiciously.

  49. I posted my comments but it appeared three times. So I deleted them. Sorry for the mess! This ugly syndrome will stop only when they stop giving cash rewards / goodies for these contests. It is just a case of Greed getting the better of heart!!

  50. Grrrrrr..I get irritated when some people comment on my posts just for the sake and in the end of the post they keep like "this is the link to my so-and-so contest's post,please vote.."
    I lost interest in even looking at the post then.. x-(

  51. Saras...It's ok :)) Yes when the stakes are high, the competition gets fierce.

    Bhavia...I hope they are reading this!

  52. @Purba, I meant your style of writing not just the post in particular!! Sorry :-) to have not conveyed that properly!

    Had no comments about the post in particular since I've myself participated in such contests, and asked for votes! Phew!! Hard to tell the truth huh!! Kind of a been there done that type of a situation in a bad way for me...

    And sure I know your post wasn't meant to entertain. But, If it can make a lazy reader like me go through each and every word with so much attention then really Kudos to you for you writing style :-) Well otherwise, I'm not much of a reader...

  53. Kcalpesh...I've been there and done that too and realized the futility of it. It is such a demeaning exercise!

    And am aware that you are a visual artist, but one of the rare ones who puts an interesting byline.

    Thank you for your appreciation, it means a lot to me :))

  54. absolutely!!!

    catching up is so much fun!! :)
    you must be having real sharp claws by now lol!!

  55. magiceye...Sharp claws with a complimentary wicked grin :)

  56. This transcends to democracy which I since the age of reason have disbanded.

    You get votes if you write good. But it is unhealthy if it is other way around.

    A small afterthought. You couldn't have written this post if you weren't on top of the perch yourself.

    Meaning if this was to be your first post on Indiblogger you would pass of as a snub and be ignored.

    It is easier said than done, keep writing!
    Carpe diem.

  57. And for the lords sake people there is nothing wrong in being symbiotic.

  58. Dhanesh, you are perhaps not aware of the premise of this post. It was written at a time when a couple of bloggers had hijacked the system and were winning contests regardless of the quality of their writing.

    I simply echoed the sentiments of many. Yes, me being slightly more popular than others definitely helped.

    And the blogging world thrives on reciprocity, there's so denying that.

  59. Very well said. The maturity of the blogging community itself becomes suspect when a forum for sharing thoughts or just fun gets into a contest mode. The site Managers may have commercial compulsions; writers have none.

  60. Wow! I was going, "This is so true about the HP and Dell contest." I even posted in Indiblogger forum complaining of the same.

    Then I saw that the date of your post and realized you are talking about some contest that took place last year.
    Unfortunately, not much has changed even now.

  61. Haha....I am so glad I chanced upon this post. So in your face and so true :D


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