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Voting is now open for the 2008 Webware 100!

Vote early, vote often... show your favorite Web 2.0 apps some love.

Today we are opening up the user voting on the 2008 Webware 100. This is our yearly awards program where Webware users vote for their favorite Web 2.0 apps. In the 2007 Webware 100, there were more than 480,000 votes cast. And this year we have an even stronger lineup of finalists, so we expect very active voting.

Go vote now or read on for more about the 2008 Webware 100.

As we did in 2007, this year we collected products nominations from users (using WuFoo's online forms product). After all the nominations were in -- we had nearly 5,000 eligible entries -- Josh and I selected 30 products in each of ten categories to move on to the voting phase. Categorizing the finalists was a tricky task, since we were aiming for exactly 30 products in each category, but for the most part we think we found the most important webware products and put them in their best categories.

Voting will run until March 31. Winners will be announced on April 21, the day before the big Web 2.0 Expo opens. (The Expo is an official Webware 100 partner.)

We changed a few things around for this year's awards. We have separate categories for audio and video services, for example, and we killed the "mobile" category, since mobile is becoming more of an attribute of a Web 2.0 service than a type unto itself.

Our ten categories this year are:

    • Audio: Music, podcasts, audiobooks.
    • Browsing: Browsers, start pages, RSS readers, widgets, runtime engines.
    • Commerce and events: Retail, auctions, travel, real estate, concerts, conferences.
    • Communications: E-mail, chat, voice.
    • Productivity: App suites, to-do lists, groupware.
    • Publishing and photography: Blogging, content management, photo sites.
    • Search and Reference: Search engines, encyclopedias, mapping.
    • Social: Social networking, family sites, recommendations, online worlds, contests.
    • Utility and Security: Infrastructure providers, storage, online protection.
    • Video: Video storage, playback, streaming, editing, and animation.

One of the issues in the 2007 Webware 100 that I wanted to address this year was the very pronounced fall-off in votes from top products in a category. For example, in the "data" category in 2007, Google got half of all the votes; the other 24 finalists in the category had to scramble for attention. This year, we're doing something that I hope will make the races tighter: Users can vote up to three times in a category. So go ahead and vote for the obvious front-runner in each category, but also take the time to show your appreciation for other products that you like. Multi-voting will, I think, make the mid-pack battles more interesting.

We owe a big debt to PollDaddy, a 2007 Webware 100 winner in the "publishing" category, which this year is running the voting system for us. We told them we wanted this wacky three-vote-per-category system and they said, "no problem," and went and built it. PollDaddy is not in the running for a 2008 Webware 100 award, since we couldn't let our polling engine count votes for itself. But I did want to recognize the company for making this year's polls work.

I also want to explain why several popular products are not in the Webware 100. It's because we didn't allow into the voting products that were not publicly available by January 25, 2008. During our beta testing, a lot of people asked me why Hulu and Seesmic weren't in the 100. They were still in private beta when the eligibility period ended.

But there are certainly enough live products to make this year's contest interesting. So go vote, and be sure to check back on April 21 to see who the winners are in the 2008 Webware 100.