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The FLB 3.0 is Off to a Great Start

April 2, 2012

What does it take to win? I’m going to say five thousand. That’s not five thousand page-views of the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 3.0. That’s five thousand completed ballots that vote the full slate of businesses and write-ins.

You may think that’s crazy.

But let me tell you this. We now have a pretty impressive track record of getting things done as a community. Do you remember the New York State of Mind Cocktail? Your participation helped make sure that the drink received a seat at the table and gave it some great buzz going into the competition. And let’s not forget the most recent changes to the Times Union’s Best of the Capital Region questionnaire after the outpouring of responses to the newspaper.

It’s a large number, and it’s probably larger than we need. But historically there are significantly fewer than 20,000 ballots cast. 5,000 ballots all voting for the same slate should push our selections into the top three. I just want to give you a sense of scope to show that we cannot do this alone. Even if every reader who came through these pages over the next few weeks voted for the slate, it’s unlikely we would get the momentum we need. Still, I’m hopeful we can succeed.

Welcome to Phase Three.

In just over three days, the FUSSYlittleBALLOT has seen significant readership and is already in the top few posts from the past three months. That’s encouraging.

But we need to get outside our regular circles and bring other people into to the tent. I was thrilled to see a piece that irisira wrote on her blog about the FLB initiative. Not only does she really get what I’m trying to do here, it also turns out she once thought I was annoying.

This is great news, because if I was able to win her over, I may be able to convince others. At least there is hope.

The one thing she had slightly incorrect was that this survey can be of interest to people beyond the borders of the Capital Region. Anyone can vote, and if you have friends or loved ones here, voting the slate has the potential to help improve the cities and towns in which they live, work and eat.

So please don’t be shy about asking people for help, or continually reminding people that this effort is underway. I’ll have some more on this shortly.

In the meantime, I wanted to share what I was doing in service of reaching out to other groups beyond the readers of the blog. Well, I’ve been spending some time over at Table Hopping and apparently this initiative has its detractors.

Here is what I wrote to them in an effort to address their concerns and try to win them over. I hope you like it. It’s a little bit long, but it may help you defend and explain the ballot project to those who don’t quite get it.

Okay. I’ve got a lot to respond to here, so this is going to be a little long. And while some people have done a pretty good job representing what I’m trying to do, I’d rather you hear it direct from the source.

Steve K. – Phase One was my attempt at getting some of the problems that were baked into the questionnaire fixed. I was thrilled that my biggest gripe was addressed, and credit the success of the effort to all those who signed the open letter to the Times Union and the newspaper’s responsiveness to its readers.

Phase Two was an ongoing discussion with readers of the FLB about what it means to be the best [insert category here] in the Capital Region, and to find out everyone’s top three picks. This was an important step because ultimately I would be asking people to rally around one local business per category. The goal of collecting all this information was to identify places that most people could agree were AMONG the best (even if some didn’t personally believe the place to be The Absolute Best).

Phase Three is where we are now, with a full slate of food-based businesses for people to rally behind. These are not my personal picks. My personal picks would look different too. This entire effort involves trust and compromise. And it comes at a cost. The cost is not being able to vote one’s conscience. But it also has a much greater potential payout.

I’m amazed at how many people have never heard of great places like Ala Shanghai, Mr. Pio Pio, Caffe Vero, Mrs. London’s or Kinnaree. You all know these places. But most people of the region don’t know they exist. Getting restaurants like this to crack the top three, or maybe even reach the number one spot would be huge.

If you don’t quite see why that is, I can explain further in a separate response.

I totally understand why williepitt, Strick9 and others are reluctant to vote for the slate. It doesn’t represent their picks for what is best in the region. And I respect that. However, all of us have different preferences, and we split the vote. We’ve seen where that gets us. It gets results like we’ve had in the past, and people complaining about the results when they come out.

Maybe this year will be different based solely on the changes to the questionnaire. But maybe not. And frankly, I don’t want to take that chance. So I’m taking action, and I hope some of you will join me.

Presumably most of you would agree that the places on the FLB 3.0 are AMONG the best places in the region (maybe with the exception of Wolff’s Biergarten for Best sports bar – what can I say, my readers don’t know sports – it’s not exactly a big surprise).

Kinnaree just got a 4* food rating from the Times Union. Sure Yono’s is fancier, but Yono’s is also the only Indonesian restaurant of note. If you are looking for Indonesian food in the Capital Region, you will have no difficulty finding your way there. Have I mentioned that the category “Best Indonesian/Thai/Vietnamese Restaurant” is just absurd? The one great Indonesian restaurant in the region has been a pillar of the fine dining scene in Albany for years. Do we really need to vote for it again? Or can we finally show people that Albany is more than just a one South East Asian restaurant town? I’m voting for the latter.

I have a lot more thoughts on this, and I’ll be expanding on them later this week and the next on the blog. So for now let’s leave it at this which seems to answer all the questions and direct comments to me above, except one.

Apparently a commenter named Monky wrote, “As a grown man, I just can’t bring myself to be associated with a ‘fussy little’ anything.” And I’m going to let that just stand on its own.

Thank you all for your interest in this quixotic campaign. I’m glad to have the chance to get you on board.

Now please, share like the wind. Chat with your friends and colleagues about the poll. If you have a blog, please consider blogging about it. If you tweet or use Facebook, please help spread the word. I’m probably going to be a bit more annoying than usual over the next few days. But I want to keep the momentum from our strong start, and we do only have until the 20th. It will be here before you know it.

We’ve been doing great every step of the way. I hope this is going to be our year. But I can’t do it alone. Luckily I know I’m not alone. You all have put a lot of work into Phase Two. Now let’s bring it home.

- – – -

Click here to see the slate of businesses.
Click here to vote in the TU poll.

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