Entries tagged with “Seth Rotherham”.


Thank you to all concerned friends and Blog readers who have contacted me about the defamatory posts on Monday and Tuesday by 2OceansVibe. 2OceansVibe has looked for any opportunity to slate us since I asked the question four years ago as to why its owner Will Mellor should hide his true name, using the alias ‘Seth Rotherham’. (more…)

Whale CottageWe used Google Analytics to identify the top ten blogposts on our WhaleTales Blog in 2013. The most read blogposts related to restaurants, MasterChef SA Season 2, and Social Media drama.  The top 10 most read blogposts in 2013 were the following:

1.  Autumn and Winter Cape Town and Winelands Restaurant Specials 2013 tops the list of most read, achieving almost three times as many unique readers compared to the other top 10 blogposts.  In winter restaurant specials are extremely important to Capetonians, as their wallets and purses are more bare.

2.   The year started off with a Social Media explosion, when ‘Mother Superior’ Blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs attacked us on Twitter,  protecting her ‘chicks’ Michael copy-and-paste Oliver, mommy Tweeter and then occasional CEO of Cape Town Tourism Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, former political poor-spelling-grammar ‘PR’ and Communications Consultant Skye Grove at Cape Town Tourism, and Eat Out editor Abigail I-love-Giorgio-and-Luke Donnelly.  We retaliated with a blogpost (‘New Year kicks off with Twitter bullying, bashing, and blackmail’) which attracted so much attention that Hobbs must have regretted her Tweet, as all ‘sins’ of the four ‘chicks’ were laid bare! (more…)

saba2013votebadgeWe have become increasingly critical of the SA Blog Awards, the organisation of it having become so bad that we have decided to not enter again unless the organiser JP Naude is not involved anymore.  The winners and runner-up list contains largely unknown blogs.

We first entered the SA Blog Awards in 2010, in which year we made the Top 10 ‘Most Controversial Blog‘ shortlist.   In that year Will Mellor (better known as his alias Seth Rotherham of no longer vibey 2Oceansvibe) won almost every category (there were many more in those days), even though 2Oceansvibe could never be described as a blog!  He was a co-organiser of the Awards the following year, and seems to no longer be involved.  We have criticised former Good Hope FM sport presenter JP’s role as organiser and co-ordinator, not being a blogger!  JP cannot write to save his life, as this classic paragraph on his website www.jpnaude.com illustrates:  ‘During this time JP worked for Mr Tokyo Sexwale and succesfully managed the Bastille Festival as well as the launch of the Nelson Mandela statue at The Drakenstein prison where for president Nelson Mandel (sic) was released from‘!

Every year the announcement of the SA Blog Awards is later and later, and feels like an afterthought, and so too it was this year.  Being on their mailing list, we received an e-mail to announce the Awards competition, and requesting one to enter.  We were sent the SA Blog Awards voting badge to add to our blog.  None of the few e-mails from the SA Blog Awards identified the name of the writer of the e-mails.   (more…)

From small beginnings, Twitter last week celebrated its 7th anniversary. with 500 million Twitter users sending up to 340 million Tweets daily, described as the ‘SMS of the internet’, according to Wikipedia!   Many on Twitter will say they are hooked, even worse addicted, but for many the dark side of Twitter may soon outweigh its benefits.

Twitter users love the social medium for the following:

*   its information role – faster than any conventional broadcast medium, Twitter users are well informed about world events almost as they happen, can listen to a courtroom bail application judgement real time, obtain weather updates, read the world’s newspapers and magazines digitally, and update themselves about anything and everything.

*   its friendship role – many new friendships have been made via Twitter, with Tweeters with similar interests meeting and connecting, and becoming real time friends.

*  its profiling role – should one wish to build a profile of a person as a potential employee or employer, friend, competitor, or business partner, one can read their Twitter stream to check how well they can communicate, how well they can spell, how courteous (or not) they are in their communication.

*   its experience-sharing role, in sharing restaurant experiences (a great irritation for other Twitter users, research shows), recipes for cooking and baking, evaluation of wines drunk, and general tourism experiences.

*   its micro-messaging role, in users productively reducing their communication to 140 characters and still communicating coherently.

*   it has moved communication into the visual realm, allowing one’s Followers to share great restaurant meals, beautiful sunsets, great sporting achievements, and life in general via one’s photographs, allowing them to be there digitally.

*   it is an immediate brand feedback platform, highlighting the positive and negative attributes of every brand around the world, given the immediacy of sharing information.

*   it leads to dialogue and conversation, often generating funny and interesting points of view, such as during the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The dark side of Twitter has overtaken its benefits for many Tweeters:

*   Less original material is Tweeted, and more Tweets by others are re-Tweeted, especially first thing in the morning.

*   The flood of Tweets is never-ending on weekdays, slowing down vastly on weekends and in the evenings, showing how much Tweeting is done from the office.  Finding it difficult to reduce the number of Followers, Tweeters are unable to read all the Tweets in their timeline, and feel that they are missing out because they cannot read all the Tweets.

*   Twitter’s policy of allowing freedom of speech, without action to remove Tweets that are abusive, that harass, are defamatory, and spread untruths, is its biggest weakness, and while one can block unpleasant Tweeters, and even report them for Spam, Twitter never acts against them as Facebook would do, in closing their account down after one warning.  Slowly but surely Social Media is receiving attention from Twitter cyberbullying victims and their lawyers, for Tweeters not respecting libel laws for excessive defamation. Even re-Tweeting defamatory Tweets makes one liable for libel. Ignorant Tweeters who abuse others, and have their employers’ names in their Twitter Bio, are learning that they and their employers can be sued for libel, and can claim damages from both parties.

*   Even worse is the ganging up by a small number of Tweeters, who not only target Twitter victims, but also badger, bash, and bully their friends and those that they interact with on Twitter at every turn.  Because they don’t like a Tweeter, all the friends and followers of that Tweeter are disliked as well, and ridiculed, bullied, harassed, and even stalked by Tweeters such as Sonia Cabano, an old hand at Twitter abuse and at setting up anonymous accounts to disparage others (e.g. @TableMountain_); as well as Twitch Marthèlize Tredoux, who Tweets as @Konfytbekkie, and is regarded as one of the most abusive Tweeters at the moment, ‘out-performing’ Cabano in terms of venom and persistence. One wonders how Tredoux does her job at Siyavula, Tweeting ad nauseum!  These two Tweeters are assisted with behind-the-scenes input from Skye Grove at Cape Town Tourism, recipe blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs, and supermarket wine promoter Michael Olivier, known to do anything in their power to disparage ourselves. Twitter has become their ‘school ground’ bullying domain, weaklings hiding behind anonymous accounts to disparage and destroy others. Ironically, every time an abusive Tweet is sent, it pushes up the readership numbers of our blog, which is hardly what the Tweeters would want to achieve!

Twitter users seem ignorant about the legal implications of their defamatory Tweets, often shooting off Tweets without evaluating the content for defamation, and re-Tweeting libelous Tweets, making them guilty of libel too.  Recently Webber Wentzel Social Media lawyer Emma Sadleir warned that abusive Tweeters could land up behind bars if they ‘put up racist or offensive posts’, opening themselves up to charges of crimen injuria or facing charges under the Equality Act, reported Times LIVE.  Sadleir has encouraged cyberbully victims to report such defamation at a police station and lay a charge of crimen injuria. A recent new ‘Protection against Harassment Act’ allows online victims to obtain a ‘protection order against their perpetrators‘.  The South African Press Council has also announced that its press code will be expanded to include online media, allowing for the same standards of ethical and professional communication to apply to all media platforms.

Well-known constitutional lawyer Pierre de Vos summarised the worst aspects of Twitter on his ‘Constitutionally Speaking’ blog, in that it (with Facebook) seems ‘to bring out the worst in people. Otherwise reasonably decent people who might well carefully weigh their words can become raving hatemongers and irresponsible tattletales on these platforms’. Analysing the differences in defamation between printed media and Social Media, Professor de Vos came to the conclusion that defamation is defamation, when it leads to the ‘lowering of your reputation’, which is unlawful, with the exception of substantiated truthful reporting which is in the public interest.  Yet Professor de Vos comes to an interesting conclusion, writing that legal action against defamation on Social Media may in fact attract more attention to the matter, and that one should hold one’s head high, and allow one’s reputation on other Social Media platforms and one’s blog to speak for oneself.  He concludes: When somebody says something defamatory about me I usually laugh and instinctively feel pity for the person who is so damaged that he or she has to resort to insults to make him or herself feel better about themselves’ (our underlining).

2oceansvibe owner Will Mellor (he lives his life under the pseudonym ‘Seth Rotherham) has produced an etv Tech Report about defamation prevention, ironic in that his blog was subject to a charge of defamation and dishonest reporting about the zoning of the property which is rented by our Whale Cottage Camps Bay.  We question his honesty and ethics, and that of his company. Earlier this week the City of Cape Town confirmed the zoning of the property, and found that there is ‘no land use contravention in terms of the conditions of approval‘, which was granted to the property in 1999! This counters the unsubstantiated 2oceansvibe allegation that the property was incorrectly zoned by the City of Cape Town, and their libelous allegation that the Trust that owns the building may have ‘defrauded’ the City of Cape Town in terms of rates and taxes!  We expect Mellor and his unethical self-proclaimed ‘journalist’ Simon Hartley to remove the libelous post, which was based on unsubstantiated information, and to offer us an apology.  We expect an apology too from Len Steenkamp from the University of Stellenbosch, Ben Wagner and Amanda Sevasti from Native digital agency, Marthèlize Tredoux, Cape Point Trails, Sonia Cabano, Rob Armstrong from Haut Espoir, and Lisa Strachan for alleging impropriety via Tweets or Re-Tweets. See Mellor in drag, for a good laugh, preaching about Social Media defamation prevention!

One hopes that the nasty Tweeters will realise that incessant abusive Tweeting is boring for one’s Followers, leading them to be unfollowed, and reflects their own personal issues, according to Professor de Vos. Twitter has become an open ‘skinner (gossip) space’, in which many have no manners in talking negatively about others publicly, knowing full well that the Tweets can be read by the person(s) they are Tweeting about.  Twitter could be such a pleasant space for all if there were not regular Twars spoiling the communication value of the medium for so many!  In Twitter’s next seven years it is likely that legal controls about what is written will get tighter, in that action will be taken against Twitter abuse, harassment, and defamation.

POSTSCRIPT 3/4: Sonia Cabano closed down her personal Twitter account on Thursday evening.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Having been on the receiving end of a deceiving, defamatory, and dishonest attempt to extract information about my guest houses from 2oceansvibe ‘Chief Whip’ Simon Hartley, we were interested to read about the dishonest past of 2oceansvibe founder ‘Seth Rotherham’ in the March issue of Playboy!

The article highlights the following about 2oceansvibe and its owner:

*   Its slogan of ‘Work is a sideline, live the holiday‘, implying that the owner sits on the beach or at Café Caprice in Camps Bay all the time is obviously not truthful, and interestingly does not reflect the content of his website. Through the slogan he has created a profile of himself as a wealthy person who has hooked in some brand ‘partners’ at great expense to feed his extravagant lifestyle. Those who have met ‘Seth’ know that he works hard, writing for his website, and being involved in his Radio and TV stations 2OV.  He has also run a luxury villa rental business (DG Rentals with the Dogon Group), but appears to have fallen out with its owner.

*  A sensitive issue appears to be the use of the pseudonym ‘Seth Rotherham’, instead of his real name Will Mellor. When we sent an sms to ask him why he hides behind a false name, he referred us to Playboy, as he had been asked the same question by them.  His weak reply was that he needed a clean name for the property rental business (but which he has not operated in the past 4 years), therefore using his real name for that business, and he created ‘Seth Rotherham’ for his 2oceansvibe website, as his ‘risqué party-times might not sit well with my daytime clients’.

*   The article shares how dishonest he was whilst working as a Butlers pizza delivery boy, cheating the system so that he got the largest orders, guaranteeing him the largest tips, at the expense of his colleagues, and which led to him being fired!

*   He explains in the magazine that he rarely takes calls (one a week, he says), wanting to be contacted on his terms, which is only via e-mail or sms, as we discovered last week, when I tried to contact him about Hartley’s information request. He explains that he is ‘actually quite shy. I need to be in my comfort zone and I don’t like surprises. I feel bad if I don’t remember people’ names. So, everything I do daily is managed digitally’. Having Will’s cell number, I attempted to call him, but I should have known that he never answers his phone. I sent an sms, and he (cowardly) wrote that he could not take the call as he was in a bad reception area (a predictable cop out), but surprisingly he was able to send sms’s perfectly, and almost immediately!

*   His radio station 2OV, with Darren Scott’s Ballz, was embarrassed last year when IT expert Shaun Dewberry discovered that their radio listenership data was highly suspect and overstated.   NetDynamix, the company hired by both radio stations to supply listener data, said the botch up was a miscommunication on its part and that the figures supplied to the radio stations referred to the number of times people had logged on to the station instead of the actual number of listeners.  One wonders how someone as IT astute as Mellor would not have known instinctively that the numbers were inflated, and that he was misleading his brand ‘partners’ (including Pierre Jourdan – it was Boschendal until recently, Vespa, MINI, Mail & Guardian – just the other day it was still News24 – Block & Chisel, Puma, Jack Black, Vida e Caffè, The Westcliff, The Mount Nelson, De Grendel) in terms of claimed listenership! Will tells Playboy: ‘Darren and us (and indeed the public) were all duped by the same incorrect data’ – come on Will, you were paying the company to generate the data!

*   The article claims that Mellor is karmic, and that he fired a staff member after four days of being employed, in not fitting the karma of his business, which led to Mellor being called to face a CCMA hearing, which he described as ‘not cool”!

2Oceansvibe has been a benchmark for bloggers, having been created long before most bloggers had even heard the B-word.  Many envied ‘Seth Rotherham’ for his advertised lifestyle arrogantly communicated via its pay-off line.  As a new blogger I had held Mellor in high esteem, especially after meeting him at a bloggers’ function.  He generously organised a pair of Rayban sunglasses from his client Sunglass Hut when our hug led to my sunglasses being crushed.

However, I saw a different side to him and his business last week, when he allowed his website to post a story devoid of all journalistic ethics.   On Friday afternoon we received a call from Hartley, mumbling indistinctly about a story he was ‘researching‘ relating to the SA Butler Academy, and requesting a radio interview.  I told him that we were frantic, having had a large number of check-outs, and new check-ins expected for the afternoon.  I requested more time, explained how busy I was, and asked Simon to e-mail the questions.  He set a deadline for 3 pm, and would not budge.  The two questions were not related to our SA Butler Academy blogpost at all (which it is evident that he never read, so much for balance!), and when I asked him to explain what the relevance of the questions was to the SA Butler Academy he brushed the question aside. He did not even send the link of the City of Cape Town’s property valuation roll, the crux of his story, and request an explanation.  It is clear now that he was in a rush to leave Cape Town to get to Hermanus for the weekend, according to his Tweets.  He did offer an opportunity to opt out if I did not want to respond, saying that ‘you will be credited as being unavailable for comment’, but that would have been dishonest, so I did not accept that option!   I had sought advice from two communications specialists, and both encouraged me to do the interview initially.  In the last minute however one of them sent an urgent sms: ‘Don’t agree to the interview. The chap is apparently not above board’. Seeing the story that Hartley wrote, the advice was spot on, as Hartley had not written about the SA Butler Academy at all, and had tried to dishonestly mislead me, not revealing the real topic of his story.

It made me wonder why 2Oceansvibe would have wanted to publish a non-story, with such a weak headline as ‘Outspoken Guest House owner Knee-Deep in Controversy‘!  Short of traffic they are not, with ‘350000 unique readers and nearly a million page views in the past month‘, Mellor smsd proudly, and he was clearly annoyed and sounded almost threatening when I decided to turn the tables, and asked him a few questions, just as Hartley had done to ourselves: ‘Chris I think I need to make something very clear to you because it seems you might be going down a bad path here’. Quoting his readership and page views, he continued: ‘I say that to make clear the fact that it is no longer a blog, it’s a news outlet with 10 permanent editorial staff. Simon is the editor overseeing all of that. This is his job. I can only interfere to a certain point’.  He continued, now clearly fired up and concerned about this blogpost: ‘Regarding standards, I expect my staff to be thorough and truthful and to give subjects an opportunity to respond. I also insist they include comment post-publication, if the subject  was initially unable to respond. Again I must stress that I can only interfere with Simon’s work to a certain extent. He is a highly ethical person and known for his integrity. Chris I assure you that I am giving every effort to ensure this doesn’t come out as bad as it could, and will keep doing so’ (our underlining). Now please Mr Mellor, don’t think that we will buy that – you ARE brand 2Oceansvibe!  You have been lied to by your editor, and the PR industry does not agree with your faith in Hartley either.  ‘Response’ is not answering two questions unrelated to the false and misleading topic Hartley spoke about, meaning that Mellor’s instructions are not being followed by his staff! On the top right of the website ‘Seth Rotherham’ is introduced as ‘Editor in Chief’, with no mention of Hartley!

A long sms from Mellor highlighted that ‘I insisted he (Hartley) gets your side of the story before publishing’. This did not happen, as Hartley unprofessionally denied us the opportunity to be told the real topic of his story, or even be given an opportunity to see the full story before it was posted.  A follow-up sms from us, to express the disappointment with Hartley’s unprofessional conduct, received Mellor’s reply: ‘I don’t have browsing internet access where I am – data very slow. Simon smsd to say he tried to get comment from you and were able to reply more than once but refused to‘, which is devoid of all truth!  Clearly Hartley was desperate to get the story posted, and used Mellor’s absence to post it without any ‘journalistic’ integrity!

Our blog being highlighted as being controversial is not newsworthy, and we carry the badge from the SA Blog Awards, having been nominated as ‘Top 10 Most Controversial Blog’ in 2010 (the category has been discontinued since then), a category that was won by 2oceansvibe in that year, even though it wasn’t controversial, it never was a blog, and Mellor was a judge for the Awards too, showing how poor his ethics are, his sms claim of no longer being a blog being noted – it never was!  In fact, his website is nothing more than a rehash of other writers’ work, with little original writing!  He is not universally liked, seen by many to be arrogant and a ‘cheat’here, here, here, here.

In one of Mellor’s sms messages he wrote that he has opened his own Twitter account (@SethRotherham): ‘I even had to get my own twitter handle as I can no longer use 2oceansvibe twitter for personal use

That brings us to Hartley, someone I have never met.  Asking what his agenda was with the story, he replied that ‘I was following a journalistic lead’, and that we had not met previously.  However via Twitter (great research medium which Hartley likes to use too for his so-called ‘research’) we discovered that he had been alerted to the story by Twitch Marthèlize Tredoux, a good friend of Hartley’s wife Lize, and a continual abusive Tweeter (as @konfytbekkie) about ourselves (she and I have never met, but she does love our Blog and Tweets, obsessively reading them and writing about them ad nauseam)!  Unsurprisingly, Hartley’s defamatory call via Twitter for information for his ‘research’ was eagerly replied to by Skye Grove, PR and Communications Manager of Cape Town Tourism!

Asking Hartley why he did not send me a copy of his story before posting it, so that I could give him a detailed response, he arrogantly replied:  “There is no onus on 2oceansvibe, or any other publication (sic) to send the subject of their investigations an entire article before it is published. On which journalistic handbook do you base this expectation? The onus on the publication is to strive for a balance of views, which we did in earnest by calling, texting and emailing you. Despite your ability to answer multiple emails, you did not comment on two short questions. Quite frankly, I did answer your questions as to how my questions for you were related to your dispute with SABA. I informed you that dozens of readers alerted us to the dispute you had/have with SABA, and while reading all of the available correspondence, an important lead appeared (you’ll see the screenshot in our post) – a lead that required its own investigation. So, as I answered at the time: the questions to you arose over the course of our reading through your dispute with SABA. I completely reject any assertions that I or 2oceansvibe Media acted dishonestly at any point in the investigation or publishing of the article, and should you be able to demonstrate any error in our reporting (we are confident there is none), we will gladly publish an amendment”.

We have highlighted the dishonesty of his misleading approach, and his unprofessional unwillingness to reveal what the story was really about. There was no balance sought, as claimed, as Hartley did not even verify which aspects of the SA Butler Academy blogpost were indeed honest and truthful (we did not terminate the services of Mrs Novacovic, for example, as he claimed, both our blogpost and that of the SA Butler Academy stating that, reflecting his poor research capability!).  He spent three hours looking for information, yet gave us an unfairly short lead time to respond.  He Tweeted libellously during his research, as he did on Tuesday too, proving how unprofessional he is: Currently standing behind J Arthur Brown in the line for Cirque du Soleil. He’s looking terrifically rested for a criminal’.

‘Infamous’ 2oceansvibe (Hartley’s description) has a chequered past as far as honesty goes, and it makes one wonder how honest and balanced any writing on the website is!  Clearly ethics and honesty are not part of the 2oceansvibe karma and vibe!

POSTSCRIPT 8/3: A blog reader asked about the tax liability of Mellor receiving the use of the MINI and the Vespa for free. We sent him a text message: ‘Hi Will, one of my readers has asked if you pay tax on the use of the MINI and the Vespa? What value is placed on each of these two vehicles?’ It was sent at 20h36 last night, and given no reply, again at 9h56 this morning. There has been no response from Mellor!

POSTSCRIPT 20/3: We have sent a lawyer’s letter to 2oceansvibe about their blogpost, which contained numerous untruths and is defamatory.  Will Mellor has reacted in anger, and launched another attack.  The two (unanswered!) sms messages (the second one was a repeat of the first because of non-reply!) we sent him about his own affairs (the value of and tax paid on his MINI and Vespa) he labels as ‘harrassment’, rich coming from someone who does not allow one to call, and who deals with communication with humans via sms or e-mail, on his terms.  This is what we wrote: “Hi Will, one of my readers has asked if you pay tax on the use of the MINI and the Vespa? What value is placed on each of these two vehicles?”. So much for ‘harassment’!

POSTSCRIPT 20/3: 2oceansvibe has added a further article to their website, an angry reaction by Will Mellor to our request to the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) to take down the defamatory and dishonest 2oceansvibe article. Their response ridicules the Take Down notice they received, as well as the ISPA Code of Conduct, especially the clauses relating to “Lawful Conduct’.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Woolworths is a leading retailer, that attracts a shopper profile at the LSM 7 – 9 level, and has always stood for quality.  Its CEO Ian Moir has had a bad year to date, having experienced the negative power of Social Media three times this year already, the latest furore no doubt given him the biggest headache. There is no doubt that the furore that its employment advertising has created will become an important case study in Social Media Marketing, and will guide many other corporates in how to deal with negative sentiment expressed in Tweets, on Blogs, and in Facebook comments.

My attention to the issue was first attracted when I read a Tweet by Woolworths’ Digital Editor, highly regarded Sam Wilson, who previously was the editor of Food24, Parent24, and Women24, writing as follows: ‘Guys, I am white. I am currently interviewing white people. This @WOOLWORTHS_SA white racism thing because we comply with BEE? Weird’. It came across as a Tweet expressing her displeasure at her employer’s employment policy, and it only made sense when the story broke about Woolworth’s recruitment advertisements specifying population group requirements for the positions it was advertising. The story was launched last week on Facebook and thereafter on the blog of Justin Harrison, who calls himself an ‘Internet entrepreneurial pioneer’ on his Blog, but who has not been heard of by most local social media folk, maybe because he operates from Durban.  It got so bad on Woolworths’ Facebook page that it removed the comments containing ‘hate speech’. Last Thursday Woolworths posted a note on its Facebook wall, announcing that it was closing it down due to the overwhelmingly negative and unbelievably harsh vitriol posted, a move supported by more than 2500 likes (out of 204000 ‘likers’):

Woolies fans,

Disabling our wall was not a decision we took lightly and not one we’re particularly happy about. But when your page becomes little more than a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech, we owe it to our customers not to subject them to such vitriol in our own house.

We have, in a variety of channels, repeatedly refuted the claims being made against us. We have also allowed thousands of comments on our Facebook page, debating the pro’s and con’s of Employment Equity as a national debate… deleting only overt hate speech and comments inciting violence.

However we’ve always put our customers first… and many, many customers have asked us to stop hosting this vitriol. We will re-open our page as soon as we think we can resume reasonable discussion”.

Yesterday the wall was re-opened, and new negative comments have been posted on the Facebook page, where most of the debate appears to be concentrated, with little mention of the issue on Twitter.  Interesting is the vast number of (mainly negative) comments about the Woolworths debacle on a new Facebook page called AAA Anti-Affirmative Action, with close to 3500 likes, reported on by The South African Newspaper published in London, which referred to Woolworths’ and SAA’s employment policy problems. The newspaper also reported in the same article that the ‘National Chairman of the Australian Protectionist Party, Andrew Phillips called upon both the Federal Labor government and the Opposition to unanimously support the introduction of sanctions upon South Africa’.   The sanctions are motivated by Mr Phillips, whom most Australians who posted comments about this story say they have never heard of, on the grounds of the government not having created an ‘equal opportunity’ society in this country.

Earlier this year Woolworths was embroiled in a Social Media war about its vintage soft drink range bearing a close resemblance to Frankie’s, which Woolworths was forced to remove from its shelves after the Advertising Standards Authority found that the retailer’s ‘Good Old Fashioned’ pay-off line was too similar to that of Frankies. Initially Woolworths denied copying any aspects of Frankies’ drinks.  In a third incident, Woolworths was criticised for launching Halaal hot cross buns over Easter, which caused a furore too. The sponsorship by the retailer of MasterChef SA was said to erase the damage which the two earlier Social Media disasters had caused, but Woolworths did not come out of the reality TV series unscathed, its Woolworths Pantry guest food blogger recipes causing controversy initially.

Woolworths reaction to the employment advertising furore, which has led to a call by trade union Solidarity for customers to boycott Woolworths, and which was echoed in the thousands of Facebook comments, smacks of old world corporate disaster management PR spin, rather than being Social Media driven:

*  Posted its employment policy, in accordance with the Employment Equity Act, which applies to all companies with 50+ employees, on its Facebook page on the same day:

Over the past few days, we’ve been accused of racist employment practices. We’d like to state the facts:

Like all South African companies, Woolworths has a role to play in transformation. For this reason, SOME positions (where there is under-representation) are designated for EE groups.
• The designated groups are Blacks, Coloureds, Indians, women and people with disability.
• As per the Emplo
yment Equity Act of 1998, Woolworths is expected, like all SA companies with more than 50 employees, to plan our workforce by race, gender and disability.

• Our workforce is diverse and includes people of all races (Black, White, Coloured, Indian), gender and disability.

We appreciate the value diversity brings to our business and the need to contribute to levelling the playing fields for certain groups of South Africa’s population”.

*   Sent a personalised e-mail entitled ‘The difference between Rumour and Fact’ to its cardholders, with a similar content, and an sms to those customers who are not on e-mail.
*   Placed an advertisement in the Sunday Times, Rapport and City Press on Sunday, with a similar message.
*   Wrote an expanded version of the content as a letter to the ‘Readers’ Forum’ of Business Report, an odd platform to use to address his ‘Dear Woolworths customer‘, when it was possibly the shareholders he was trying to placate, given the knock that the Woolworths share price has taken in the past week (the letter is the same as the one sent to its customers by e-mail)!
*   Received public media support from Labour Minister  Mildred Oliphant for its ‘unwavering effort to genuinely address transformation in the workplace through the implementation of employment equity’.

In our opinion, the response by Woolworths has been very corporate, very reserved, very defensive, and not in keeping with Social Media marketing principles of engagement and two-way communication, a similar reaction it delivered in the Frankies affair.  One wonders how one Facebook post and subsequent blogpost by Harrison could have unleashed such a storm, his message obviously touching a raw South African nerve amongst the shoppers that make up the bulk of Woolworths’ target market.   Surprising was the blogpost written on the 2oceansvibe blog, which lambasted Harrison for using the Woolworths issue as a means to gain more Followers on Twitter and other Social Media platforms, and writing in detail how Harrison had allegedly bought Followers some years ago. This led to a strong outburst of comments against 2oceansvibe, accusing it of being linked to Woolworths and/or Woolworths’ digital media agency Quirk, defending the Woolworths brand (denied by owner Seth Rotherham), and criticising 2Oceansvibe for pointing a finger at a Social Media player when it itself had been criticised for selling advertising for its radio station on the basis of highly inflated listenership fingers, forcing Rotherham to deny the allegations contained in the close to 200 comments received to the blogpost!

The Woolworths’ website does not explain its BEE employment policy, nor does it contain the public statements made in the media by its CEO in its Careers section or elsewhere on the website.  It clearly has been edited, as its introduction page invites one to click onto a link to see the career opportunities, but when does so, no jobs are listed. Now one is invited to call the retailer to check out its employment opportunities!   Woolworths should use its website proactively to communicate with its staff, potential staff, and customers!

Seemingly sensible advice to Woolworths comes from Harrison: ‘Woolworths is clearly in a spin over how to deal with this issue and they would do well to learn from SAA’s mistake. Issue a public apology and revert back to the hiring policies to be fully inclusive and based purely on experience and ability‘.

For Woolworths specifically, a platform such as Twitter should be used for engagement.  The retailer has become very poor at acknowledging any feedback about in-store problems, expressed by its Tweeting customers.  There is no apology if there is communication, and there is no follow up to communicate with the customer telephonically after the Tweet, as Pick ‘n Pay has become reasonably good at.  A company that once had the Social Media lead has become reactive and defensive, and has lost its standing due to the Social Media wars, rather than walking tall and engaging with its customers in a credible and warm manner. This is a surprise, as its Head of Online Nikki Cockcroft has an impressive background, including CEO of Primedia Online, 365 Digital, and Prezence Digital before she started at Woolworths just over a year ago, and given Sam Wilson’s experience in engaging with a similar target audience at Media24 previously.

Woolworths needs to go back to basics to better understand how to maintain customer relationships via Social Media.  Successfully building up a large army of Twitter Followers and Facebook Likers is no guarantee that the same seemingly loyal customer audience will not turn against the retailer if it is not in touch enough with its customers, and offends them, as the past ten days has shown!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The Sweet Service Award  goes to Seth Rotherham of cult blog 2Oceansvibe, for organising a new pair of Rayban sunglasses from his sponsor Sunglass Hut when mine broke in a crushing hug from Seth at a recent blogging event.   Seth kept me informed about the status of the sunglasses throughout the process.

 

 

The Sour Service Award goes to Nedbank in Sea Point, who took 45 minutes to issue a replacement credit card and to set up an Internet banking profile.  The bank employee Shaun Parsons was surly and unfriendly, took his time with all the paperwork, and refused to supply copies of the ten pages I had to sign to receive the new card, but did so when his manager Mari gave the go-ahead!  This is a bank that says NO before it can say yes!

 

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

A provocative title about the future of blogging was an immediate drawcard to a function of Heavychefs, who had invited two high-profile bloggers, Seth Rotherham of 2Oceansvibe, and Rich Mulholland of Richard Mulholland Blog, and led to a turnout of more than hundred bloggers at the offices of Deloittes last week.

The challenging talk topic was set to the speakers by Heavychefs, a company offering a platform for persons interested in digital marketing to meet monthly in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London.  They had seen that Facebook and Twitter usage was on the increase, and felt that readers were not able to spend so much time reading blogs, due to other time competitors, and also the large number of new blogs being started, and therefore chose the topic.

Seth Rotherham was a delight, many bloggers attending to see and hear the blogger that has become a cult – I was one of them too, not having ever had the opportunity to meet him in my two years of blogging.   Seth established his sense of humour almost immediately, and told the 2Oceansvibe case study, relating how he had progressed with his blog over the past nine years, from it being a fun means of sharing information with his friends, to being the leading blog in South Africa.  His focus was to find “the common enemy”, and cyclists with their odd gear (‘prawns’, as he calls them) were one of his first targets.   He called this ‘moblynching’, and it became a fun way to attract readers to his blog.   Seth won the SA Blog Awards Top Blog of the Year for most of the years in which he entered (he sat out some years when he was a judge, and did not make Top Blog in 2010), and found that he faced huge criticism for calling his site a blog as it carries advertising.   He told the audience that he and his mates often fabricated comments, to get the debate going.   Seth did not want to write about topics that newspapers wrote about, such as politics, but rather about the topics that people would talk about over dinner at home, such as celebrity news.   The 2Oceansvibe site is so successful that he had 300000 page impressions in September, and has 55000 unique readers per month, putting his blog at one of those with the highest traffic in South Africa.   One quarter each of his traffic comes from Google searches and from referrals, while the remaining 50 % comes from direct access to the site.

Blogging is an easy way for Seth to say what he wants to say, he told bloggers.  His definition of a blog is that it allows comments.  The 2Oceansvibe site has been updated a number of times, and he candidly admitted that he has matured in the past few years, so his visuals and content have ‘matured’, away from ‘sexy’ content, with resultant benefits in attracting advertisers.   The ‘new improved’ site has multiple writers, who are paid on the basis of clicks per story, ensuring that they add content that drives traffic to his site.  A few months ago Seth set up 2Oceansvibe Radio, which broadcasts from Cape Quarter, an opportunity that presented itself when M-Web introduced uncapped ADSL, proving how smart a business person he is!   I had the luck to chat to his girlfriend Sam, who writes the blog Pop Ya Collar, and was most flattered when she expressed surprise at the name of my blog, and when she told me that Seth wanted to meet me – we were fellow Top 10 finalists in the Most Controversial Blog category in the recent 2010 SA Blog Awards, the category which he won.  Seth has decided to not enter future SA Blog Awards, wanting to give newer bloggers a chance to participate and win.  He gave me such an amazing warm hug, and provided support and guidance for the abusive Twitter campaign, which he had not heard of before we chatted about it.   There was no ego and no arrogance, something one had heard others say about him.  I felt much better when he told me that he receives hate-mail regularly, and sees this as part of the Social Media ‘package’, and that one must just grow a thicker skin!   All controversy is good for increasing readership, he said.

Richard Mulholland is proud of controversy, and introduced his talk by proudly claiming to be the first blogger in South Africa to be sued for disparagement, an expensive lesson he learnt, he said, but he stood up for the rights of bloggers.   Richard absolutely denied that blogging is dead, and highlighted how bloggers can influence politics.  For example, 5FM presenter Gareth Cliff loves controversy, and his recent letters to the government attracted more than 800 comments, an amazing boost to the traffic to his site, and gives him a voice.   Blogging creates the content of one’s social media communication, while Twitter is the billboard that announces the new content, by providing the link, he said.  Richard said that RSS feeds are dead, and that “Really Social Syndication” is now needed, whereby followers and friends spread one’s messages.  He encouraged bloggers to work even harder at their blogging, and to write the best that they can.   He encouraged bloggers to be controversial, saying that “those people that want boring are spoilt for choice”!   Richard says his readers settle in to their social media catch-up in the morning, and he schedules his Tweet linking to his new Blog post at 9h05 every morning via Hootsuite, to reach the maximum number of readers.  Richard advised bloggers to register one’s name on every new platform that develops, even if it does not take off, to ensure that one can transfer one’s brand to the new medium.

More than hundred bloggers left the meeting delighted that they will not hang up their blogging shoes anytime soon!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter : @WhaleCottage

I had the pleasure of rediscovering Buitenverwachting about three weeks ago, having been invited to try their Sunday buffet lunch.  Whilst there, I had experienced chef Edgar Osojnik’s excellent cuisine, and therefore decided to return to try the Asparagus Menu, which runs until the end of November.

It was a lovely summer’s day and we sat on the terrace outside the restaurant, facing the Courtyard.  It was much quieter than on my previous visit, yet noisy from a field close by, where a sport’s day was being held.  

The Courtyard menu cover is made from black leather, is branded, and contains only a few pages, with four pages dedicated to the Asparagus special menu, costing R 260 for a 3-course meal plus a glass of Buitenverwaching Sauvignon Blanc or the Meifort.  It also contains a one-page Courtyard menu, being a mix of starters, mains and desserts, thus giving only a few options per course for non-asparagus eaters.

The Asparagus menu offers two standard asparagus dishes that one can order on an a la carte basis, either as a starter (R82) or as a main (R104) course.  Two choices are offered : with vinaigrette, offering olive oil, balsamico or truffle oil, and a baguette; and with a selection of sauces, being hollandaise, butter, Mornay, or Béarnaise, with parsley potato.   Other asparagus starter options range from R75 – R110, and are asparagus served with potato and an onion salad;  asparagus served with quail;  asparagus with parma ham; and asparagus with baby chicken.   Main courses are expensive, ranging between R145 – R165, and choices are asparagus served with salmon trout gnocchi, hanger steak, veal involtini, ravioli espuma, or with grilled line fish.  One of the desserts is served with asparagus, also containing rhubarb and strawberry gratin, and is served with saffron honey ice cream, at R69.

I could not get the waitress to explain to me exactly how the asparagus and linefish dish is served, and the French restaurant hostess came to assist, being very professional with her care of our table.  The waitress, by contrast, sulked the minute we said that we did not understand her reply about how the asparagus is served.   The hostess was able to offer a compromise, and Chef Edgar made a special dish with a most wonderful firm piece of kingklip, a parsley potato, and crunchy steamed white and green asparagus topped with the most outstanding deep yellow Hollandaise Sauce, at R156.  I savoured it slowly, to enjoy every bit of the wonderful taste.

My son is not an asparagus fan, and ordered the Entrecote steak with porcini dauphinoise at R152, and proclaimed it to be excellent, tender, and with a wonderful taste due to the shallot sauce on the steak.   Asparagus is one of the vegetables that comes with the dish, and a large thin fried potato slice added a lovely design touch to the presentation.    

Other Courtyard menu options are a caeser salad served with anchovies and salmon (R95), a vegetable tian served with sorbet, smoked onion puree and crostini (R73), and Sissy’s open sandwich (R44).  We were served an amuse bouche, which looked very attractive in its presentation, but was not really special in terms of its content, being two minute slices of Buffalo Mozzarella (looking like a quail egg slice at first, being so tiny) and a grapeseed Peperonata terrine with a minute panfried crostini, on top of which was a tiny drop of chippollini puree – a mouthful of a description for something that wasn’t!   Dessert options are rhubarb and ice cream, and Kardinalschnitte, a mousse cake slice.  

If one chooses to sit inside, or comes for dinner, one is offered the Nuptials Menu, a very clever name for the menu which pairs food and wine, but is even more expensive.  The menu is a very restricted one in terms of number of choices, but is beautifully presented, in a black leather cover too, with cards that can be changed as the menu changes.  So, for example, a starter Buffalo Mozarella and peperonata terrine is paired with Buitenverwachting’s Buiten Blanc at R20 per 125 ml glassful.  A Curry Leaf pan-fried langoustine-scallop starter at R 195 was paired with a Jordan Riesling at R25.  A veal main course costs R215, and is paired with  Whalehaven Pinot Noir at R35.  A Raspberry soufflé costs R55 and a chocolate variation R85, both paired with Buitenverwachting 1769 at R35 for 75ml.

I was shocked at the wine prices, not having seen them on my last visit.   While the Buitenverwachting Buiten Blanc costs R45 in the wine shop a few meters away, it costs R120 on the winelist, and R40 per 250ml glassful; the Chardonnay costs R85/260; the Sauvignon Blanc R60/R180; the Meifort R60/R175; the Merlot R65/R195; the Cabernet Sauvignon R80/R245, and the Christine R160/R485.  The Buitenverwachting Buiten Brut costs R272, and other MCC brands appear very expensive, with Pierre Jourdan Belle Rosé costing R383, Graham Beck Brut R474 and High Constantia Clos André Cuvee Brut R479.   Moët & Chandon costs from R990, Veuve Cliquot R1020 and Krug Grand Cuvee R2335.  Imported wines are from France (R761 and up), Italy (including a Barolo at R1218), and Australia, the USA and New Zealand (more reasonably priced between R342 – R583).  Shiraz wines on the winelist are Boland at R279, Glen Carlou (each vintage costing a different price, most expensive being 2004 at R410), Kevin Arnold at R320, Anatu at R280 and The Foundry at R301.  

When I saw the bill, and the cost of the cappuccino in particular, at R26, it really hit home to me how expensive Buitenverwachting is.  I have not drunk such an expensive coffee elsewhere in Cape Town.  Buitenverwachting cannot be faulted in terms of its gourmet cuisine, but one pays a high price for it, positioning it at the well-heeled Constantia set as well as international tourists.  The Sunday Buffet lunch is however excellent value at R240 for the four course meal.

We popped into the wine shop/wine tasting room after the lunch, and in fact did not see that its entrance was in the Courtyard.   It was quite disappointing – it is quite a large room with comfortable seating, looking much like someone’s lounge but not with much class, and display cases for the wines, as well as jewellery made by the wife of the  Buitenverwachting GM Lars Maack.  Given the quality of the wines and the restaurant, I was shocked to see the chap behind the counter wear a Billabong T-shirt and what looked like a swimming costume.  I left with a bottle of Buitenverwachting Meifort wine, having tasted it at the Sunday  Buffet lunch, at a cost of R60.

Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia, www.buitenverwachting.com. Tel (021) 794-3522.  Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday Buffet lunch. Corkage R55.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The SA Blog Awards is a good idea, and can be a good measurement of success and performance in a field that bloggers were never trained for, by raising the standard of blogging in Southern Africa.   It is a shame that the 2010 SA Blog Awards were so poorly organised, and that it has been dogged by controversy.  At the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting earlier this week, long-standing blogger Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog said that the controversy surrounding the SA Blog Awards had devalued blogging, instead of enhancing it!

Ever since the SA Blog Awards were announced on Twitter about 2 months ago, they have been criticised for their change in procedure compared to previous years.  When the shortlist of 10 finalists for each of the 24 blog categories was announced on 1 September, there was even more criticism and very bitchy commenting by those that did not make the top 10 list in their category, and by those who disparaged others by questioning why some bloggers had made the Top 10 list in specific categories.  When the top two winners per category were announced, and most Top 10 short-listed bloggers were excluded from the Awards Dinner at the One&Only Cape Town last night, the knives really came out, and the organisation of the SA Blog Awards was severely criticised.

Guest of Honour Western Cape Premier Helen Zille spoke at the Awards evening about how “bloggers are the new voice of society” and how blogs “link the local with the big picture”.  The premier, no slouch herself on the social media scene with around 115 000 Facebook friends and one of country’s first verified Twitter accounts, said that digital communications were a “force for entrenching democracy”.  “Everything breaks immediately and is commented on and analysed before it hits the press… it’s a problem for newspapers and I wouldn’t want to be a newspaper editor in this day. It’s made it more difficult to control what information is transmitted”, reports Memeburn, one of the award-winning blogs.

So what were the complaints?:

1.  The announcement of the call for nominations of the SA Blog Awards was on Twitter only.   If one was not on Twitter, or did not follow SA Blog Awards on Twitter, one would not have known about the Awards, or may have been delayed in participating, in seeing Tweets by others about the call for nominations.

2.  The rules of the Awards seemed to have been made up as they went along – the fact that voting was encouraged at Nomination stage already was not clear, and irritated Twitterers, in that they were bombarded with Nomination vote requests.  The process of nomination was also not clear, with a message popping up, telling one that one could not nominate a blog more than twice on the same e-mail address. 

3.  The organisers of the SA Blog Awards were not identified on the SA Blog Awards website, and via Tweets one could put together the information that 2009 Blog winner in the Business category (Dave Duarte) and Chris Rawlinson, winner in the Marketing category, had got together with JP Naude (an infrequent blogger, by his own admission on his site: “Yes I don’t blog much… I’m a businessman and radio presenter” – prior to this mini-blog post earlier this month, JP had last blogged in May! He is a presenter on Good Hope FM) as Chairman of the SA Blog Awards. I met JP at the Vista Bar after the Blog Awards presentation, and he told me that his company organised the SA Blog Awards.  I was shocked when I saw a comment on the shortlisted Bangers and Nash blog, written by SA Blog Awards committee member Chris Rawlinson a few months ago, congratulating Dan Nash on his blog, and stating that a good blog should carry the f-word at least once a day!   So much for the quality of the judges!  (I did get to meet Dan Nash at the Vista Bar, having had dinner at Reubens at the One&Only Cape Town, and he was very generous in handing out tequila).

4.  When the top 10 shortlist was announced per category, the list was on the SA Blog Awards website, and top 10 finalists were only notified by e-mail the following day.  At no stage was an e-mail with the rules ever sent to all nominees.   One had to find information on the website, and this seemed to be amended as the SA Blog Awards progressed.

5.  Previous participants were shocked as to who made the top 10 shortlist, especially those that had won in previous years.  In the Food & Wine Blog category, for example, eight out of ten 2009 finalists did not make it in 2010.  The Relax-with-Dax, Scrumptious, Spit or Swallow, Rossouw’s Restaurants and Neil Pendock’s blogs all fell out of this category, with only the My Easy Cooking and Cooksister Blogs making the 2010 shortlist again.   Relax-with-Dax and Spit or Swallow did make the Microblogging/Twitter shortlist, however, a surprise to them too.

6.   As the SA Blog Awards developed, more and more sponsors were announced for the categories, but not all categories were sponsored (e.g. our Whale Cottage Blog made the shortlist in the Most Controversial Blog category, which did not attract a sponsor!)   In 2009, the ‘old hands’ and finalists tell me, they all went home with prizes.  It appears that despite sponsors coming on board, the category prizes were a little perspex obelisk with the SA Blog Awards logo on it.  This gives little incentive to enter the Awards competition in 2011.   Sponsors’ monies appear to have been used to pay for the dinner, and to compensate JP Naude’s company for organising the Awards.

7.   The highlight for the 2009 finalists was the SA Blog Awards dinner, I have been told, even if the bloggers did not win.  It was a great networking platform, and an honour to have attended.  In pre-announcing the top 2 out of the top 10 of each category this year, the Awards dinner was reduced to about 50 finalists, and only those got to attend the dinner – in the last minute the rules were changed, in that the SA Blog Awards website announced that the dinner was ‘by invitation only’.  Initially the Awards dinner date was set for yesterday (over a long weekend!), leading one to assume that all top 10 finalists would be invited to attend it.

8.  The voting phase for each category spanned about two weeks, and one felt like an Idols’ finalist, begging for votes on one’s blog and on Twitter.   I think that the more the finalists begged, the fewer votes they received.  One was allowed to vote once a day per valid e-mail address one has.  So, for example, someone with 10 e-mail addresses could cast 10 votes daily!   The actual weighting of votes by ‘fans’ and the judges evaluation was only recently stated as being 30 % of the vote by the judges, and 70 % from the public.  The judges per category were also not all announced – on one specific day the judges of some of the 24 categories were named on Twitter, and some judges also proudly tweeted that they were judging blogs (e.g. Jo-Ann Strauss, Sam Wilson and her husband Andreas Späth).  We never got to hear the names of the judge(s) of the Most Controversial Blog category, for example.  Mention was also made that blog ranking statistics would be taken into consideration as well, being Afrigator specifically, a site that frequently goes down.  The question was raised as to the effect it would have on one’s standing if one was not registered on this ranking site.  Oddly, few of the top-ranked Afrigator blogs were in the finals.  It is clear that the larger the number of readers of one’s Blog, and the greater the Twitter following, the higher one’s votes would have been likely to be.   The top first and second winners per category were notified by e-mail that they had made it, and they were listed on the website too.  The remaining 8 finalists per category were not notified by the organisers, and were only told that if they did NOT receive an e-mail, they would know that they had not made it as number 1 or 2!   This was the rudest aspect of the SA Blog Awards organisation, in my opinion.  Many Blog finalists had put in a lot of effort to encourage voting, and thereby had publicised the Awards on behalf of the organisers, who had created little publicity for the event themselves!  No thanks was received for one’s participation.

Despite all of the above, we are proud that we made it to the Top 10 finalist stage in our category, and that we learnt from participation for the first time.  We trust that the organisers of the 2010 SA Blog Awards will accept this feedback and will improve the organisation and credibility of it, to ensure that they have quality participants in 2011!

The overall winner of the SA Blog Awards was a big surprise, being www.watkykjy.co.za, a provocative proudly-Afrikaans on-the-edge blog, that claims to receive 180000 ‘visits’ per month, and describes itself as “Die beste Afrikaanse blog en website in die heelal”!  In the past the Award has been won by www.2Oceansvibe.co.za every year that editor Seth Rotherham (Will Mellor) has entered the Awards.  Rotherham/Mellor did not even bother to attend, being in the Karoo over the weekend, and sent a message to the organisers that this was the last SA Blog Awards competition he had entered.   (Most non-Cape Town top 2 finalists per category did not attend, yet the writer of www.indieberries.blogspot.com travelled all the way from South Korea to pick up her two category wins).

The winners in the 24 categories, announced last night, are as follows (congratulations to them all):

Best Entertainment Blog:  www.2oceansvibe.co.za (ranks 3rd on Afrigator)

Best Media & Marketing Blog:  www.cherryflava.com

Best Post on a SA Blog: www.brainwavez.org/screen/film/features/2009/20091001001-01.html

Best Overseas Blog: www.pharside.co.uk

Best TV Radio Blog: www.ecr.co.za/kagiso/content/en/east-coast-radio/east-coast-radio-blogs-breakfast

Best Politics Blog: www.wonkie.com (ranks 10th on Afrigator)

Best Photographic Blog: www.guywithcamera.co.za (Andrew Brauteseth)

Best New Blog: www.simply-delicious.co.za

Best Food & Wine Blog: www.simply-delicious.co.za

Best Science and Technology Blog: www.shesthegeek.co.za

Best Music Blog: www.dontparty.co.za

Best Fashion Blog: www.kimgray.co.za

Best Design Blog: www.indieberries.blogspot.com

Best Podcast/Video Blog: www.zanews.co.za

Best Business Blog:  www.memeburn.com

Best Group Blog: www.rlabs.org

Best Sport Blog: www.paddlesweep.net

Best Green Blog:  www.sprig.co.za

Best Indigenous Language Blog: www.watkykjy.co.za (7th on Afrigator) 

Most Controversial Blog: www.2oceansvibe.co.za

Best Travel Blog: www.getaway.co.za/page/blog

Best Personal Blog: www.indieberries.blogspot.com

Best Parenting Blog: www.reluctantmom.wordpress.com

Best Twitter Blog: www.twitter.com/mandyjwatson

Best Company Blog: www.rlabs.org

The SA Blog Awards website states that “integrity and credibility of the SA Blog Awards is our highest priority”.  It also states that the organisers would look for a ‘balance between the public voting system and the judge’s choice of winners’, to allow a free and fair selection of winners.  Many participants of this year’s Awards will agree that this was not the case!  

POSTSCRIPT 27/9:  The response to this blogpost has been phenomenal, with more than 850 readers in the first 21 hours of publishing it, and an incredible number of Twitter Retweets, many containing compliments, throughout the day yesterday.  Twitter is normally very quiet on a Sunday, especially over a long weekend.   The link to this post was sent to the organising committee of JP Naude, Chris Rawlinson and Dave Duarte, with no response to date. 

If one googles ‘SA Blog Awards’, one can read many blogposts written in the past two months, criticising various aspects of the SA Blog Awards.

The list of judges per category, with many typing errors, was recently added to the SA Blog Awards website, it would appear.  It is funny to see Randall Abrams listed as a judge for the Most Controversial Blog category – did I not write above that we felt like Idol’s finalists??!!  The other judge for the category was listed as ‘Ivor Vector’, but this name does not exist on a Google search.  However, Ivo Vegtor says he was invited to be a judge, but decided not to.  Randall Abrams has no blog, nor has Graham Howe, one of two judges in the Food & Wine Blog.  As far as judging goes, read the Comments section to this blogpost about what happened to Chris, the writer of iMod, the top ranked blog on Afrigator.  The list of judges for all the categories:  http://www.sablogawards.com/Judge3.aspx

Chris von Ulmenstein: Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com