The biggest source of controversy with the ENnie awards comes from the disconnect between what people want/expect them to be and what they are. This year's debate over the appropriateness of allowing quick-start products into the category next to full RPGs is a perfect example.
You see, it's not a matter of allowing quick-start's to compete in the other RPGs' category, but rather allowing other RPGs into the category that was specifically made to cover things like quick-starts that is the problem.
Yeah, the full title of the award is Best Free Product or Web Enhancement.
Until this year it has always been a category designed to acknowledge all the extra stuff companies give away for their game lines. Of course quick-starts are done for promotion and advertisement, but they're still a service to their fans, and still products worth acknowledging. In addition to usually including a quicker, easier version of the rules, most include a sample adventure and some characters so people can get started playing right away. All in all they're generally a pretty neat package of gaming goodness.
So, to illustrate this I thought I'd do a little research. Here are last year's Free Product nominees:
Two quick-starts and a playtest document.
Two quick-starts and a player's guide for an adventure path.
A quick-start, an adventure path intro, and an introductory adventure.
This isn't to say that those who want to see complete products have their own place don't have a point or a right to complain, but I just wanted point out that it's a little misplaced. The mixing of this category was the result of an attempt to include these products that wouldn't have had a category of their own at all, not an effort to compare a product used as an advertisement against those produced just to share with the community.
Most years these sorts of products fit into the Best Fan Product category (which could use some renaming given the shifting way and reasons these products are being produced), and so there is less of an issue. This year however there simply weren't enough products to allow for a category of their own. This is hugely unfortunate, and I'm not a fan of the decision, but according to the rules as they have always been presented there wasn't much choice. The judges had to find a home for the eight qualifying products that would have normally gone in the Fan category, and we chose to include them here. It's not ideal, but I don't see what other option there was left to us.
Hopefuly future judges and staff members can find a way to encourage enough free, complete products that this won't have to happen again. Maybe a partnership with programs like Game Chef and the like could be encouraged.
I don't know, and I don't have a great answer right now, but I hope people can see that this unfortunate circumstance was just the result of trying to be more inclusive, not any effort to push corperate products against those which are independant.