It's all robots now.

What is, you ask? Everything.

Cars (with the exception of mine) are guided and protected by robots in the wheels, in the engine and in that button on the stereo that lets you choose between "rock," "jazz" and "pop" settings, except all three just screw up the bass/treble balance. I haven't communicated with some friends in years except through intermediary robots, while other robots monitor our e-mails and flash advertisements that change depending on the keywords we use (seriously: G-mail does it, and it's creepy!). There are robots in my house, I've always assumed, that record my every action and make clicking noises during my phonecalls.

And now the robots have taken over the Best Of Boise contest. As of 2007, after 10 years of using paper ballots, we are switching to an entirely online voting format.

We made this choice for all the right reasons--we want the paper space for editorial content; we can count the votes with a single mouse click; only 30 or so voters this year even used the paper ballots we printed in 35,000 newspapers; we anticipate more voters voting in more categories online than in print; we don't have to decipher as many bizarre, three-sentence answers to questions where one word would suffice; we prefer to save our crying, screaming and shin-kicking for the preparation of the issue itself, rather than for the traditional four-day vote counting sessions--but it's still a little sad for a newspaper to step away from the paper part of its name. And I can't help but fear that we're setting ourselves up for a science fiction nightmare along the lines of Jurassic Park next year. (If I don't win "Best Death Scene," I'll die of disappointment.)

One of those reasons in particular stands out: the one about bizarre answers. Of course, we always want our voters to be honest in this poll and give whatever answer they think is the right one, even if it's a paragraph about how much they hate the question, and us for asking it. However, we also want to streamline the process. When voters actually vote for things that exist, the process of conducting a poll moves along a little easier than when they don't.

But while we're still able, I'd like to start off by reviewing the best votes that didn't make the winners podium from this year's final ballot. A few came from the next endangered species, the "other" box on online Best Of Boise ballots, but most were given to us in your very own personal handwriting. We're grateful to have them.

Enjoy this, our (for the third straight year) largest-ever Boise Weekly issue. While we just learned your "Best Of" choices a couple of weeks ago for the Readers Choice winners, there are punchlines in the Editors Choice sections that we've been holding on to for months, just praying that we wouldn't forget them before this issue. There are also answers in the "Best Of Your Brain" section that made us feel very sad that we didn't come up with it first.

And one more thing: Next year, pray there isn't a blackout.

Abandon all judgement ye who did not vote. In other words, enter here.

--Nicholas Collias