The Bobs search for Internet heroes | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 04.02.2016
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The Bobs search for Internet heroes

Engaging, innovative and interactive. That's the kinds of projects Deutsche Welle is looking for in its annual contest "The Bobs - Best of Online Activism." The 2016 competition has begun.

Deutsche Welle launched the 12th annual competition for online activism on Thursday by calling for submissions to "The Bobs - Best of Online Activism."

"Freedom of expression on the Internet finds itself in a catch-22," wrote Claire Ulrich, a former jury member at The Bobs. On one hand, young people's willingness to get involved in social topics is more important than ever following deadly terrorist attacks in France. On the other hand, online activism in many parts of the world is also closely tied to surveillance and repression and is often a dangerous undertaking.

Deutsche Welle's award is one way to honor the work of people risking their lives to promote online freedom of expression and civil society through innovative projects and personal dedication. Internet users have until March 3 to submit websites and online initiatives to the contest at in 14 languages and 18 categories, including "Social Change," "Tech for Good," "Arts and Culture" and Citizen Journalism."

Independent, international jury

The scope of languages represented at The Bobs makes the contest a unique award. An international jury, with one juror representing each of the contest's 14 languages. This year, Georgia Popplewell, managing director of Global Voices, returns to The Bobs' jury.

It will be up to jury members to evaluate projects submitted to The Bobs, last year there were more than 4,800, and creates a shortlist of nominees to advance to the competition's final round. The list of finalists will be announced on March 31.

Then online voting boxes will open, and Internet users will have until May 2 to cast their ballots for the people and projects that impress them the most. In the past, some 120,000 people participated in the vote.

Freedom of Speech Award

On May 2, just before World Press Freedom Day, the jury will announce the winners of The Bobs 2016. Deutsche Welle's board of directors will also present its special Freedom of Speech Award for the second time. Last year the award went to imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

An award ceremony for the top winners will take place as part of DW's Global Media Forum on June 14 in Bonn, Germany.

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