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Top 100 List Still Fishy
, , December 22, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The edublogosphere is in a tizzy about a Top 100 list of educational blogs that was posted last week and marketed with individual 'congratulations' letters to each of the bloggers so listed. Imagine! An upstart with no history in the edublogosphere coming up with a list of the top blogs. What's next, a newsletter and a conference? Christian Long demands that his link be removed (what, now we have constraints on linking?), Darren Kuropatwa asks, Why would Jimmy do this?, John Pederson creates wiki out of the list and says, "fix it." Stephanie Sandifer raises the question of transparency and blogging ethics. Dean Shareski quotes some Seinfeld. Miguel Guhlin ponders the nature of publicity and thinks about truth, trust and transparency. Every person starts somewhere. So what, may I ask, is Jimmy Atkinson's misdeed? Nothing, really - no ads, no commercialism, no payment-based linking. Is it just because he's not one of them? Meanwhile, Bryan Alexander remains neutral and points to some who react more positively: Cool Cat Teacher, Jon Yang, Alan Levine, NYC Educator. Total: 2116
Enclosure:
[Direct Link] 37343
Comments

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

As I wrote on James Farmer's blog (http://incsub.org/blog/2006/top-100-education-blogs#comments), the fault isn't really Jimmy Atkinson's at all; he wrote a list and posted it. It's the amazing naivete of the people who link back to this like it was some great honour. It's one person's list of edublogs. Shessh. Great. Here's mine - http://www.bloglines.com/public/EdTechPost. Whopee! Want a badge to go with that? If you doubt it's a link troll, then ask the 100 people on the list how they found out they were on the list. An email. Telling them they had got an "award." I got one too. From someone whose single other previous contribution was also distributed via an email. And what's worse is the people who actually understood that this is a troll and STILL POST TO IT. Huh? Enough with the 'Top' this and that lists. Publish your damn blogroll. Tell us who you read. Link to people who you think deserve it. It's how the networks of edubloggers have been growing on their own now for quite a few years. Jimmy, he's not in mine. Not because he's not one of the anointed. Because he doesn't have an RSS feed and hasn't really written anything that's grabbed me. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

It's strange so many would get worked up in such a lather about this ("easy for you to say", yell the hecklers, 'you're on the list"). I can only imagine that Jimmy was only trying to do a service, and his is surely not the only "top educabloggers list" floating out there. How different is this from the mid 1990s when some unknown entity named "Point Communications" started awarding "Top 5% Web Site" awards? Thousands posted their badges, and a whole pile of other badges followed. Worked out well for Point, they got gobbled by Lycos (oldest relic of their site is at http://web.archive.org/web/19971017143208/http://www.pointcom.com/), yet no one really was able to get on their case... 5% of what? How exactly do they examine all the web sites and figure out the top crust? Their methods were vague. But what's changed is that in the mid 1990s, the internet audience was just that, mostly a content consumption audience. Now with our gazillions of blogs, we can make noise that gets echo-ed, amplified, distorted, batted around, etc. Lots more conversation on all levels. I'll take now over then (and look how well Point's web site (http://www.pointcom.com/) is doing now, a domain just parked. Where's your badge? [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

"Them?" Who are "they?" [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

I actually couldn't care less. I certainly see it as more positive than negative. My point was 2 fold: 1. People love their lists...my initial reference to Tom Hoffman was the trigger for my post. 2. I simply wanted to do some inspection as to who was touting me as a top 100 blog. I don't hold any ill will toward Jimmy but I had never heard of him or the Online Education Database. I just felt I was doing the prudent thing by checking out his credentials. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

Anything that brings attention to the edublogosphere whether or not I'm on the list is a good thing. Let's not give it more credence that it deserves, but yet it is a list. Honestly, I don't know how many readers they have, but they certainly GOT READ by all of the edublogs that they link to as most of us read our links in Technorati which perhaps was their purpose anyway. As edubloggers we should know that: 1) Impuning the motives of a person you do not know is not right. If you have the FACTS, post them. Otherwise, they might just be someone getting started and hey- it is their blog, they have the right to post what they want. It is your choice to give them credence or not. (And you give credence when you link to them.) 2) Let's keep the main thing the main thing. Our focus is to be on education. Bunny trails can get us off the main focus. As the "marketeers" begin to understand the power of the blogosphere, we will see more and more such things happen as people link to us in order to get us to review / respond/ advocate. Are we going to let them get us off track? My inbox fills with companies trying to get me to do just that. When people read your blog, you have responsibility. We've so we'd never heard of Jimmy, I say welcome. Perhaps his list wasn't perfect (I wasn't listed under a teacher blog and I'm the Cool Cat Teacher) but you know what, when I pointed it out in my post, he corrected it rapidly. There is an old southern saying "Don't burn a bridge you might need to walk across later." With the explosive growth of the edublogosphere, newcomers arrive daily. As a person who has been blogging a little over a year, I remember those who helped me early on AND those who were particularly unkind to me, "a nobody." I appreciate those like Stephen Downes, David Warlick, Will Richardson, and others who welcome newcomers and report "the news" as they see it. I also appreciate that they were early encouragers of mine -- some of the lesser knowns of the blogosphere were not so kind because "who was I? -- a nobody." But in this day of explosive growth, everybody's got to start with a first post. Be kind, keep perspective, encourage newcomers, encourage responsible blogging, and focus on our common mission: better education in the classroom. Vicki Davis - Cool Cat Teacher [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

Stephen, As I said to Bud (via a comment on his blog a few days ago) and Vickie (via a comment at her blog this morning), I appreciate the opportunity to learn from you (and your criticism) on this curious (or tired, depending on POV) 'List' debate. I take your criticism (direct or implied) seriously. And respect it, too. I don't suggest that there are limits to linking in general, or even in this unique situation. Every blogger or 'site' can link to who they want. I simply didn't value the process, nature, or intention of how the 'marketing' side of things was handled...and while I greatly valued the other 99 sites on the list, I would rather be removed (and not gain the link-value from the list, ironically) based on disagreement with what I still think was a disingenuous marketing process. I did a tremendous amount of research into the site as well as emailing him a couple of times for more information, and to explain why I wouldn't link to his original request (before the list was sent out). Ultimately, everything I came across -- other than people being flattered to be included in the list -- made me not want to be affiliated. So I requested that I be removed. And he did that (before adding a new name to the list in that space). Fair enough. His list; his discretion. He could have refused and left it alone, but I did appreciate that he honored my request given my criticism. My request to be removed was my own, but it was not lightly suggested or a spur-of-the-moment decision for me. As Vickie suggested, and I think you implied, the question for me was not a matter of the 'annointed' or 'them' or an 'upstart' blogging a list of favorites. This is not my issue. Anyone -- from first time blogger to those with far more experience than I'll ever have -- can link or create a list or whatever. But when its done the way he did it, and it was set up to simply farm links, then I find myself questioning the entire situation. And if a student of mine had come to me with a similar situation, I'd have suggested they do their due diligence and come up with their own conclusion. Basic stuff. Seems -- ironic to me -- that many were so flattered to be on the list, that they blogged about it without due diligence, and offered up their implicit recommendation that the original source was vetted. I don't criticize those that did but I do find it telling -- esp. since they are educators who would have other standards (I'd like to think) if they were giving advice to a student given the same 'honorary' nod. Had the list existed without a marketing campaign and a request to be linked to, then it wouldn't matter. But when such techniques were employeed and so few did the background research, then I'm curious. My request to be removed? I accept the criticism...but I also think there is more value in the larger questions and debate, even if many suggest that it's not worth the energy. Vickie says that its better to encourage newcomers. Fair. But the issue of information exchange and marketing is worth exploration. Don't many educators worry about kids/students taking whatever they discover on the first Google page they read as credible research/sources? And don't we expect the students to look into it, not just accept a link at face value? Just because you get on a list or are sent an email doesn't end the responsibility or the questions. You can ignore it, be flattered, be critical, or asked to be removed. But I think that we are all obligated to not take things at face value, and to make sure we only add momentum to what we can verify. And Vickie said that the common mission of better education in the classroom is what we ought to be focused on. I agree. But if not helping your students (or colleagues, or even yourself) do the due diligence to make an informed decision with a careful read of the process vs. content isn't about better education in the end, then I'm missing something. And I'll happily take whatever criticism comes from that. And hope to learn in the process, too. Again, and most importantly, thank you for your insights, your criticism, and the opportunity to make my own learning curve even steeper. Keep up the great work, Stephen -- you continue to offer the rest of us a remarkable web-within-a-web of ideas! Cheers, Christian ("think:lab") [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

I think it's a pretty decent list and a good starting place for people interested in finding out about the edublogosphere. However, I will not put a badge on my blog because I don't think it's any great award. If the distinction had some weight to it, I would consider it. What I find funny, though, is some of the people questioning this non-event are the same people who's transparency you, Stephen, were questioning not too long ago. Am I wrong to think that there's sort of a double standard going on? Some people claimed to have no alterior motives with the online conference, but are now are sort of at least suspicious of Jimmy's motives. Why not give him the benefit of the doubt if we are going to believe the online people had no other motivation? Incidentally, I think the online conference was a great idea and while I did not participate, I'm looking forward to learning more about it. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

Howdy, two points to make: 1) In regards to the edublogs list, there was a lack of transparency on the part of the list organizers. Those organizers--including the gentleman mentioned--gets the benefit of the doubt if he was ignorant and just creating a Web 1.0 type list. However, if a PR person, then the lack of transparency is problematic for the organization...talk to any PR blogger. Since I do not presume to know his motivations or intentions, I honestly don't care about the situation except to use it as an opportunity to explore what transparency means in blogging. I've written about this here: http://www.mguhlin.net/archives/2006/12/entry_2437.htm 2) Stephen, you ask a question that bothers me. You ask, "Is it just because he's not one of them?" Please define "them" a bit more clearly. I sense--perhaps incorrectly--an implication that Jimmy should have paid "them" for links, etc.? Is this a blogging practice you support? Why or why not? Please be a bit more transparent in your questions. With appreciation, Miguel Guhlin Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net http://www.mguhlin.net [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: Top 100 List Still Fishy

Stephen wrote: "A person above wrote, "What I find funny, though, is some of the people questioning this non-event are the same people who's transparency you, Stephen, were questioning not too long ago. Am I wrong to think that there's sort of a double standard going on?" No, you are not wrong - I have in fact made the same observation. It is to those people I refer when I referred to 'them'. ---------------- Help me understand? Are you saying that Sheryl, Wes, and Will are all part of the "them" because they were involved with K12Online06 even though they (to my knowledge) didn't post about this top 100 nonsense? This profiling is getting close to paranoia. Aren't you (Stephen) and Will doing an Online Conference in Manitoba with George Siemens? Hmmm.. Darren lives there. He is one of "them" and I have seen promoting (the criticism placed on K12 Online) of that conference taking place on blogs. Should we question transparency here as well? Come on! This is a waste of time. There are so many important things to talk about that will make a true difference in the lives of children. Let's get on with that rather than this "she said- he said" stupidity. All of the lists and badges are just popularity contests and we are acting like cliques in high school. Who cares who makes what list or the motivations of those who choose them! Let's get on with the business of leaving education better than we found it. [Comment] [Permalink]



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