Saturday, 11 January 2014

ETC: Sunshine Award Redux

If you have the time, tracing an internet award back into the past can be surprisingly educational. I'm going to relate my journey with this post. If you merely want my final thoughts, skip to the Summary at the bottom. The journey itself starts with the following realization:

There are blogging awards? Apparently so: 14th Annual Weblog Awards.
Awards: Qualitative or Quantitative?


The Sunshine Award was first noticed by me in late December 2013 when Ontario Math Links was nominated. (Have I mentioned I'm a math teacher?) In that post, David discussed the mathematical implications of "a base 11 pyramid scheme" and said he traced back "as far as the beginning of September before I got bored". You can also see his lineage in the post.

This graphic appears in posts from late 2013.
It piqued my curiosity, particularly after it then spread fairly quickly through my blogging tweeps. But I didn't really expect to be nominated, as I'm such a hybrid - I don't only blog and tweet about education. Despite that, a nomination came twice within the span of 24 hours. Yet before posting, I figured I would do a quick search, to see what sort of blogs typically get nominations.

I found a post. From over a year ago. Complete with logo, and different set of rules requirements.

Okay, now I have to track this thing backwards, first to see if I can determine where it changed, and second to see if I can locate the origins. Down into the rabbit hole we go.


Almost immediately, I ran into a glitch. Someone who had been nominated more than once. For that matter, I had two nominees too! So tracking back, which path am I to follow? I elected to try both (not simultaneously). That is, I went back on one path until the trail became difficult, then tried the other. Difficulty came in three flavours:
1) A broken link. This usually meant the prior blogger was no longer active, creating a dead end.
2) No link at all, merely the blogger's name or site. This required a web search to locate said blog, not always successful.
3) A link not to the prior post, only the blog itself. The easiest to overcome, it merely required navigating back in said blog to around the same time period.

This graphic appears in posts Summer 2013
My two nominations (by Tammy Neil and Audrey McLaren) dovetailed back together at Dean Shareski on Dec 10th. You can check out his Ideas and Thoughts award post at that link. You'll see Dean was also nominated twice. (For the curious: Michelle Baldwin's nomination leads down to Tammy, and Tia Henriksen's nomination leads to Audrey.) En route, I found that Dr. Dea Conrad-Curry had also done some research: "I see that the award has been passed around for over a year and through a variety of blogging communities: cooking, teaching, writing, etc."

I'm also going to highlight Lee Kolbert, for what she noted in her Award Post: "In response to a FB post about this meme, Dan Callahan made a really good point. He said, "This seems like a plot to get the bloggers of the world to answer most of their potential credit card/iTunes security questions." While that is certainly not the intent, (as always) be careful about what you post online." True enough.

But we're not even out of December 2013 yet. Back, I say! Back!


I figured out when the rules changed. It's hilarious for reasons that you won't fully understand until the end of this post. It's (inadvertently) due to Stephanie Chavers at Bee Tree Studios. In that linked post, she notes that she was nominated for TWO awards, both the Sunshine Award and the Liebster Award, so she condensed the rules down into one set.

Prior to her post on Aug 16th 2013, the Sunshine rules were:
Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog. Link to the person who nominated you. Answer 10 questions about yourself. Nominate 10 bloggers. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

Within Stephanie's post, the rules were given as:
Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers (for Liebster they should have less than 200 followers as best as you can tell based on the info provided!). Post 11 questions for the bloggers that you nominated to answer. Let all of the bloggers know that they’ve been nominated - you cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

If you search, this graphic is likely the logo
So there you have it. Something that tripped me up here too was that Stephanie had a prior nomination, back in June 2013. I link to it there because she created a fun card for it that time. Speaking of logos, continuing backwards, the white flower (pictured above) is quickly replaced (in April 2013) by the more familiar orange one (pictured right). It's jarring. "Dear Kitty" uses the white version in a post that hooks back to "Jill London", who uses the orange version. Does this mean Kitty created the new one, or did she search for a variant...?

The 10 questions also stabilize rapidly as to be the SAME 10 questions EVERY post. This post at Jade's Jungle is the first I found to feature them. Favourite: 1) Colour; 2) Animal; 3) Number; 4) Non-Alcoholic Drink; 5) Alcoholic Drink; 6) Facebook or Twitter; 7) Passions; 8) Getting or Giving Gifts; 9) Fave City; 10) Fave TV Show. Arcing back a WEE bit further replaces "5", "9" and "10" to be: Fave Pattern; Fave Day of Week; Fave Flower.

And that's it. By April 19th, 2013, everything is completely stable again. Well, okay, occasionally one sees "10-12" bloggers must be nominated, or "You!" as being an 11th option, but the format of the award is basically the exact same from this point backwards. (At least, it is in my chain; in a random search I found a post from early April with a different set of - and I checked this - constantly reoccurring questions.)


Pete Denton blogs about the award February 24th, 2013, received from Kourtney Heintz. I locate Kourtney's post - it dates May 23, 2012. Wait, what?

Another older variant
The snake has eaten it's own tail a few times by now (blogs that send me away, only to have me return for their third nomination), so I'm not sure if this is a time delay, or me missing a huge chunk of blogs. The names check out, so I decide in the end it doesn't matter, and keep going. Then some disheartening news when I reach "Le Artiste Boot"'s post on January 28, 2012: "Awards seem to have no beginning place, just seem to circulate freely, unexpectedly received."

Two years in the past, and I don't seem to be any closer to an origin. A couple links later, a deleted site ending the trail. Not the first time this has happened - I pick up an earlier "two nominee" trail and track it back. I reach a site marked private, this still in May 2012. Now I'm sitting back to think about this.

I achieved my goal of finding when the rules changed. Origin tracking at this point is going to be difficult, and due to the time skip, a lot more effort than I'm willing to put in.

It's time to do an internet search to see what others have turned up.

That Cynking Feeling (@CynkingFeeling):
"Being a nerd, I tried to find this award’s origins, but could only get back to January 2010."

Make Nothing Online by John Metcalf:
"After following the links for the Sunshine Award I reached a dead end at Counting Coconuts in January 2010."

In The Know with Jo (@InTheKnowWithJo):
"I was able to dig as far back as 2008 and then the trail started getting colder due to old and deleted URL’s, so it’s not my fault."

This is the graphic from Jo's site
So, I'm done. Kudos to Jolene Davies. I may have found a post from Dec 2009, but perversely it links back to one from Feb 2010, so I'm not sure what to believe. I guess we go with John's "Counting Coconuts" discovery from Jan 1, 2010.

Here's the funny bit. Jo posits that "the Liebster Blogging Award and the Sunshine award may have been the same award at one time" based on "posts in 2008 that had them intermingled". This is the very SAME Liebster Award that MORPHED the Sunshine Award from '10 questions' into 11 facts AND questions without the logo, courtesy of Stephanie's 2013 post, referenced above.

It's a crazy world, isn't it?


I began this post by saying that tracing an internet award can be surprisingly educational. Here's why. Even though I was mostly focussed on the chain, I would still browse through the posts (and sometimes the blog in order to find the post!). I learned things.

Someone's rendition from
2011 - a popular year
Administrators blog. I had no idea. I forget who - think it was a VP - who wrote something along the lines of "If a teacher is having a bad day, their classes may feel it; if an administrator is having a bad day, the school may feel it". That resonated with me. There was an entire set of blogs I tracked through about Mental Health, and depression, and being bipolar. Some of that was powerful.

There was a blog post where someone referenced doing a "later" post that I never saw, so I left a (hopefully encouraging) comment. There's all manner of creative logos for this award (back when it had them), and here's a post from one such creator. (I noticed the post features rotating questions - in 2012. Change is inevitable.)

I also turned up this post from March 2011 featuring the award - on a blog that isn't even in English. I've only touched the tip of the iceberg! There's a lot of blogs out there.

Meaning, if you've taken the time to read at least part of this post, thank you. My actual post responding to the Sunshine Questions posed for me will be coming shortly. In the meantime, I have a web serial to put together. The personification of math. Feel free to check it out too. If you have the time.

Here's Flora, the Floor function.
Seems an appropriate closing note.


  1. Replies
    1. Hm, I tend to respond to all comments to at least say 'thank you'... so, thank you! Not sure how I missed this for, well, years. O.o