There's a very thought-provoking discussion going on over at enwe's meta-blog, which raises issues about the practice of self-submissions to the Philosophers' Carnival. Enwe and Clark were arguing that we often aren't the best judges of how interesting our posts are, so it would be better to have other people nominate our posts rather than having us choose and submit our own. I want to explore that idea further here.
To some extent I agree with them. However, I think it's a bit one-sided in that they're only looking at it from the reader's perspective, i.e. what would make for the most interesting carnival. That's definitely an important consideration, but I also want the carnival to be a service to blog authors, not just readers. There are a variety of possible reasons a blogger might wish to submit a post to the carnival -- the enjoyment of others being just one such reason. Perhaps the post touches on an issue which is important to the author, who wants to receive feedback on it. Someone might even intentionally submit what isn't their best work, precisely because they want a chance to improve it and learn from others' criticisms.
So I want to leave the options open for those who wish to submit a post for unusual reasons. In particular, I want authors to have the final say on which of their posts gets included (subject to the carnival host's approval, of course). Nevertheless, I do think it would be helpful to encourage more external nominations, especially for those bloggers who are reluctant to judge their own work.
Here's an idea I came up with: perhaps nominations to the carnival ought to be made publicly. For each upcoming carnival, I could make an 'open thread' for people to make their nominations (of others) in the comments section. If you read a really interesting philosophy post, scoot on over to the nominations thread and type in the details (author, post title, link). Then, as the date of the carnival approaches, authors might check the nomination thread to see if anyone has mentioned a post of theirs. The author can then take that under advisement when deciding what to submit. Also, if the author fails to make their own submission, the carnival host might check the nomination thread and include any nominations that s/he likes the look of.
What do you think? Good idea, or bad?
The main advantages are discussed above: (1) bloggers get some guidance as to which of their posts others most enjoy; (2) having a list of extra nominations handy makes life easier for the carnival host, saving them - and me - from having to hunt around for extra entries to include. Plus (3) it further decentralizes the carnival, making it all the more a result of community collaboration.
Disadvantages? Well, leaving a comment requires some (small) amount of effort, so people might not be motivated to actually use the system. OTOH, being public it might encourage more people to join in, since nominations might generate some gratitude from their targets. I expect that people who actively nominate others will be more likely to receive nominations themselves in turn! (What comes around goes around, and all that.) So that might not be a problem after all.
My only concern is that the public nominations thread might pre-empt the carnival itself. It will (if successful) have many of the same links offered in it. But at least it wouldn't receive the same level of attention, since many readers (e.g. those following the links from Leiter) would only see the finished product. Use of the nominations thread would be more limited. So this too might not be such a problem.
So, what's the verdict?
Update: Be sure to read the comments for a much better implementation idea involving del.icio.us tags.