Controversial blog site WhaleOil is up for the "best blog" award at tonight's NetGuide awards.
WhaleOil is among five finalists for the Best Blog award. Other contenders are Kiwiblog - also implicated in Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book - and blogs from the mainstream media companies NZME. and Fairfax.
Success at the awards would give blogger Cameron Slater a three-peat win after winning the best blog at last year's NetGuide awards and Best Blog at this year's Canon Media Awards.
His success at previous awards has caused controversy - particularly after the publication of Dirty Politics painted a picture of the National government collaborating with Slater to carry out political "hit jobs".
NetGuide publisher Sean Mitchell said the winner of the Best Blog award was chosen by the public and the controversial nature of the WhaleOil site was not a factor in it appearing as a finalist.
"It's not for us to censor. The readers of their sites are the deciders. We're not judging this in any shape or form - it's the people's choice."
He said nobody had any advance notice of whether they had won and the winner would only know at this evening's award ceremony whether they had received the most votes.
An ardent critic of Slater's blog, Giovanni Tiso - who writes the Bat, Bean, Beam blog - said the WhaleOil blog should have been disqualified because it encouraged behaviour the internet community should shun.
"It is a blog he has used to intimidate. It is a blog he has used to vilify. It's down to NetGuide to say 'we're not having this guy because there are limits to acceptable behaviour'. We know enough about Cameron Slater to know he should not be winning awards for blogging."
He said popularity was no measure of quality.
It comes amid continuing questions over contact between John Key and Slater after it emerged the pair had exchanged text messages over the release of the inquiry into contact between the Prime Minister's office and the blogger. Mr Key had earlier denied he had contact, and was then forced to correct his answer.
One of those implicated in the Dirty Politics scandal, Cathy Odgers, emerged on Facebook yesterday asking: "Someone want to text me John Key's cellphone number so I can text him to tell him not to text bloggers?"
Slater responded, asking why there should be a separate rule for texting bloggers versus journalists.
He also revealed he recorded phone calls, including one with a journalist he claimed threatened to "destroy" him.
"That one calmed right down when I played it back at them."
Ex-British Labour MP Bryan Gould yesterday questioned Mr Key's continuing contact in a blog post.
"The answer is one that should offer no comfort to any citizen of this country. Cameron Slater became the custodian of a huge amount of information that the Prime Minister simply could not afford to become public. One word from Slater, in other words - and the Prime Minister is history.
"Slater holds John Key's place in that history in the palm of his hand."