The first thing you need to know about this year's Best of New Orleans is that voting in the "Best Local Scandal" category closed less than a week before the Sewerage & Water Board's response to the Aug. 5 flooding — or things might have turned out quite differently.
The second thing to know is that we only list the top three responses in any category — and while the top three responses to "Best Next Job for Mitch Landrieu" were "garbage collector," "retirement" and "prisoner," the fourth-most popular answer was "U.S. President."
Welcome to Gambit's Best of New Orleans 2017. (Around the office we just call it BONO, and on Twitter it has the hashtag #BONO2017.) Every year, we get questions about our methodology, and we try to answer a few.
Are the results really real?
Absolutely, and they reflect the tastes of the voters, not necessarily the opinions of the staff — sometimes definitely not the preferences of the staff. No complaining about the results; they reflect the choices of those who bothered to vote. Advertisers don't get to tip the scale, either.
How do you pick the categories?
We start working on Best of New Orleans in May, when we review the issue from the year before, culling some categories and adding new ones. This year we cut the number of categories in response to voter feedback. Sometimes we get told we have too many categories — but we also get cries of anguish when we eliminate someone's favorite, so go figure.
How do you count all those ballots?
We couldn't keep track of tens of thousands of votes without Managing Editor Kandace Graves, who has kept BONO on track for more than a decade via various platforms, dating back to the fill-it-out-by-hand and snail-mail days. Online voting and software has made the job somewhat easier over the years.
Is there voter fraud?
In America or in BONO? Kidding. People have tried to cheat over the years, but we weed out their ballots without mercy.
Do the winners know they're winners before the paper comes out?
No, although they do know if they've placed in the Top 3. Again, advertising has no role in the results. About all businesses can do is encourage their customers to vote for them.
Who created the great wig on the cover and the wigs on the inside?
Brooklyn Shaffer for Fifi Mahony's. Thank you, Brooklyn!
Welcome to #BONO2017. Now argue among yourselves as to what you got right — and what you got wrong. — Kevin Allman, editor
Cover section cover photos by Gabrielle Geiselman Photography art direction by dora sison
Wigs created by Brooklyn Shaffer for Fifi Mahony's