20 January/February 2015 | BethesdaMagazine.com
Inside the ‘Best of’
Based on newsstand sales—and the amount
of buzz—our annual “Best of Bethesda” issue is our
When we published our first “Best of” issue in
2007, we used paper ballots for the “Readers’ Poll”—
and were thrilled when more than 1,000 people
voted. (Thrilled, that is, until we had to tabulate that
many paper ballots!)
Since then, the Readers’ Poll has been conducted
online, and the number of voters has increased
steadily. This year, nearly 10,000 people participated—the most ever.
Several years ago we added “Editors’ Picks,” and
this year we offer as many picks by our editors as we
do by our readers.
As the “Best of Bethesda” issue has grown in
popularity (and in complexity), the number of questions we get about the issue has increased, as well.
Here are answers to some of the questions we get
Why do you allow businesses to send out emails
urging their customers to vote for them? First, we
couldn’t control that even if we wanted to. Second, we
don’t want to. In fact, we encourage people in the community to “campaign” and even provide them with
tools to do so. The Readers’ Poll is a popularity contest—and we want as many people as possible to vote.
Why do you require people who take the Readers’
Poll to answer at least five questions? We want the
Readers’ Poll to reflect the views of people who know
the Bethesda area well. Frequently, people who run
local businesses will email friends and relatives outside the area to solicit their votes. By requiring people to vote in at least five categories, out-of-towners
can’t just write in the name of the one business they
How do you make sure that voters abide by the
rules? It’s a painstaking and time-consuming process,
but we check each ballot to make sure that voters follow the rules. On average, we disqualify between 20
percent and 25 percent of the ballots. The most common offenses are failing to vote in at least five categories and voting as part of a large bloc, when a significant number of people all vote the same way. In that
case, it’s clear that voters didn’t know who or what to
vote for and were following the instructions of someone who did.
Each year we also get a small number of fictitious
voters, such as Daffy Duck, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. (We assume it would be difficult for Daffy
Duck to vote in an online poll with webbed feet, and
that Obama and Putin probably have more important things to do.)
Why did you decide to start making Editors’ Picks?
One of the best things about working at Bethesda
Magazine is that we constantly get to experience what
the area has to offer. That gives us a unique perspective and the ability to let our readers know about the
best of what we’ve found.
For example, our food editor, Carole Sugarman,
dines out several times a week and tries multiple
dishes wherever she goes. In the “Best of” issue we
ask her to share some of the most notable dishes and
experiences she had. (This year, Carole weighs in on
everything from “the best dishes in a year of eating”
to her picks for best deviled eggs.)
More than anything, our “Best of Bethesda” issue
is meant to provide our readers with a yearlong guide
on how and where to experience the best the community has to offer. I hope you enjoy our readers’ and
editors’ picks, which begin on page 74.
Editor-in-chief and publisher