The List that Roared?

Stephen Downes has a great synopsis about “The List” that I blogged about last week.

Christian Long demands that his link be removed … 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. … So what, may I ask, is Jimmy Atkinson‘s misdeed? Nothing, really – no ads, no commercialism, no payment-based linking….Meanwhile, Bryan Alexander remains neutral and points to some who react more positively: Cool Cat Teacher, Jon Yang, Alan Levine, NYC Educator.

Stephen Downes, Top 100 List Still Fishy

Here is my comment about this nonevent that I think has become an event. I posted it on Stephen's Blog but wanted to share my thoughts here.

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 and several were left off) 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

And I'd like to add one cardinal rule for bloggers — IF YOU HATE SOMETHING, DON'T LINK TO IT. Don't blog about it, don't link. Don't even mention it.

For, I would say this thing would have died except for those who've been writing so profusely. And people love a good fuss, so everyone looked at it. And when you encourage what you consider bad behavior, guess what you get, more bad behavior.

I have several people that disparage me on a pretty frequent basis — my answer. Nothing. For in linking to them, I do them a favor and encourage others. Why would I do that?

And because of this – they now have 61 links from 47 blogs in the educational community and have already broken the top 100,000 in Technorati (something that took me months to do.) So, perhaps I will be a little more wary of mentioning such lists in the future but I still stick behind my original post which was truly discussing the importance of pinging Technorati — that is where newcomers like this database blog went for their information.

(You'll notice, I didn't link to the original list in this entire post. I always link contextually but in this case, I did not as the site we are discussing has now made it evident that they are selling online education.)

Never miss an episode

Get the 10-minute Teacher Show delivered to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit
Picture of Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

All Posts »


Christian December 28, 2006 - 5:23 pm

Vickie — Appreciate your run-down of the “non-event that became an event”, and while I’m still comfortable with my decision to ask to be removed from the list, I also see the larger discussion as advantageous for all of us. And your criticism (of me by association) to be valuable and part of my own learning curve.

I refrained from linking to the list directly, as you suggested, so we’re on point on that. And before I talked at all about it — good or bad — I spent an hour researching the site, the list, the emails that I received from him ahead of time, and also writing to him directly to tell him why I didn’t plan on linking (in a very polite manner) but to also be told more about him, the list, his organization, etc.

He never replied, until I asked to be removed. He claimed it was his spam filter. And since then, I’ve been since hit with emails from others who are writing suspiciously like him (same writing style, language, and supporting links) and power-linking to the del.ic.ious piece as well — which has more than confirmed my reluctance to be included…and to ask to be removed.

Stephen suggested that perhaps this might have had to do with the list not being created by “them” (I’m assuming by an A-Lister, or something). I link to kids with no commentors/audience, many orgs or individuals that are just getting their blogs running, folks that are far removed from the A-Listers (whoever they are), and, yes, some of the very well known edu-bloggers (and beyond) all based on ideas or a conversation that grab my attention. But I never link to organizations or individuals that seem suspect, disingenious, or demand/request links for marketing purposes. Even if I’m flattered by their request.

Ironically, I’m honored to be associated with everyone on the list, but it was more important to question the validity of the mass mail marketing that came via email by him that was followed up by the list that in my opinion — right or wrong — was about getting further links, rather than the quality of the list participants.

Beyond my own reasons, I put myself back in the position of being a teacher again and imagining if one of my students excitedly shared being put on a similar list…and then posting their appreciation without doing the due-diligence as to the reasons or the legitimacy of the site. Several times in my teaching career, a student brought in a letter or email that asked for something — money, often — for them to be ‘honored’. Sadly, most didn’t bring in the letter to get a 2nd opinion. Blogging links are similar to that, in many ways, esp. when trust is at stake. As a teacher, I’d have suggested they do some background checking. Why? To make sure that it was valuable to them, and if it was done in a fair and transparent manner, and they felt they could do decent citation/verification before they publically shared their inclusion in the site (or whatever it was). If it had been a non-for-profit that was merely passing on information or opinion the valued and they could cite it, then it’d be a no-brainer. If it was a for-profit that had done a marketing campaign and was clearly asking for links with limited credibility they could verify, then I’d ask them what value they saw in giving them publicity, etc. And if they wanted to remain linked, great. If not, I’d support that as well. But I wouldn’t overlook the value in doing some due diligence research ahead of time.

I found it striking that so many passionate (and smart) educators who were linked to (and received similar marketing emails from a source they were completely unfamiliar with and could find little background on the site or author after real effort) immediately blogged that they had been added to the list. And linked to him/it. And pushed the Google and del.ic.ious and Technorati #’s as well. A few did research — like Darren, but at the end of the day more people simply blogged the link and their appreciation for being added to the list. Re: debate, the camps seemed to split between a) let it be an open education-minded conversation vs. b) something about this doesn’t sit right. (forgive me for my paraphrasing; it’s a rough description at best). I’m fine with that, but I’m also fine with disagreeing with people I respect with…and no longer being included on the list.

Your comments and analysis are really appreciated, Vickie. And you’ve definitely given me much to think about after the fact, esp. in terms of creating an event out of a non-event. I also appreciated your suggestion that we keep the focus on education.

Ultimately, I respectfully disagree in terms of ignoring the inappropriate way the link requests were followed up by the ‘list’ (and the obvious linking that would arise from it without everyone doing some research ahead of time). This is not just a new-blogger that was sharing information that they felt was informative. This was a calculated marekting effort by a business person who took advantage of many good people who saw the ‘good’ in it over the ‘process’ or ‘means’ and that’s what my issue was with. Was the list’s content valid? Re: the other 99 (beyond me), I loved the list itself. I don’t put myself at the same level as the rest of you, because I think the quality of your work and the others is beyond what I do. But I separate the creation of the list with the intentions behind it. Period. Can I verify his intentions in a court of law? NO. But I also did a significant of research and worked hard to get feedback/explanation from him ahead of time before I made my “remove” decision.

And while I want it to be merely about the education focus within a wide-open blogging conversation, I know that as a teacher I’d have asked my own students to more rigorously look into it before publicly blogging about how honored they were to have been on the list.

Ultimately, everyone has to come to their own conclusions. Fortunately, I’ve learned more from the debate than I did from the list — esp. since the vast majority of blogs were already in my RSS feed after more than a year’s worth of reading and connection — and even if criticized, I have a lot of respect for what you and Stephen have said.

Thanks for pushing my thinking…and more importantly for the quality of the work/ideas you continue to share via your site.

Cheers and Happy New Year – And I look forward to learning much more from you in the year ahead!
Christian (“think:lab”)

Dean Shareski December 28, 2006 - 10:14 pm

If you read my post, I never considered it bad behaviour. My post was simply to share how I perceived the listing and how I went about finding more information about the Online Database.

I feel the discussions, with all the varying perspectives, based on a shared experience, are insightful.

Stephanie Sandifer December 28, 2006 - 5:22 pm

Hi Vicki!

First — let me say Happy Holidays! I hope you are enjoying some time with family and friends.

I think this is an excellent post with an important message. Thanks for pointing out the current Technorati status of the list — you are so right about the “bad behavior” concept. It’s very similar to being in the classroom — when we bring attention to bad behavior in the class, it only encourages other students who are seeking attention to “act out.”

I also agree with your point about “newcomers” — we all started out blogging as “newbies” and we learned how to do this by reading, watching, and interacting with other bloggers. More experienced bloggers took the time to comment on our posts and to link to us when we wrote something of value — we should extend the same invitation to participate to others and give them a chance to show us that they have honest intentions to become part of the conversations.

My final word on this — if you find value in something, link to it and share it with others; if you find no value in it or you question the intentions or authenticity of the author, then don’t bring it to the attention of the blogosphere. As Miguel points out — All publicity is good publicity.

Take care,

Vicki A. Davis December 28, 2006 - 6:09 pm

Thanks for posting, Stephanie.

Christian – I didn’t receive any e-mail solicitation, perhaps I would have felt differently if I did.

I just viewed it as a list. Nothing more. I do think he was helped far more than hurt by the negative publicity and that the best response is none in this matter.

Additionally – there are more to come because as you become more popular that is what happens.

Darren Kuropatwa December 28, 2006 - 8:26 pm

I took issue with “the list” because when I looked into it I discovered it had been misrepresented to me. I also took it as an opportunity to share my process transparently with the readers of my blog and my students. End of story … for me. But now it seems to have taken on a life of it’s own.

Vicki, I agree with the view you share here that we should nurture and welcome new voices in the blogosphere. In this case a message along the lines of “Hi. Just wanted you to know you’re one of my top 100 edubloggers.” would have been more appropriate than the implication of winning an award.

Two further points that I think have been overlooked in this conversation:

(1) You can link to a site without giving it any “google juice.” When you write your link add this snippet at the end: rel=”no follow” so it will look like this (remove spaces on either side of the = signs):

linked text

(2) Bud reports that The Infinite Thinking Machine had posted about being on the list. Their post has been quietly deleted. Other than Bud no one has commented on this. Of course everyone runs their blog the way they see fit. I’m of the mind that I’d rather “update” a post with new information rather than delete it. I wonder why this hasn’t made it onto anyone’s radar … maybe the post was just deleted too quickly. ;-)

Miguel December 29, 2006 - 2:04 am

Vicki, I have to agree with Christian’s points. Here’s my “brief” response:

1) Transparency is a core value of bloggers. In Public Relations circles, lack of it constitutes a breach of trust…in other words, I won’t do business with you if you aren’t forthcoming and honest about your motives.

The edu-blog list, how it was marketed, announced, and responses we’ve seen was a PR move from the “Web 1.0” days. It’s inappropriate…certainly, who would have had problems if Jimmy had taken the time to write a blog of his own? Not me. Instead he manipulated you and others on the list. If I hadn’t said anything, would he have gotten away with it?

2) As a teacher and administrator, transparency is critical. That’s why blogging aligns with what i do. Stephen’s “great” synopsis implies a lack of transparency on the part of those who challenged Jimmy’s PR strategy.

in the end, the focus has to be on the transparency of our writing and who we are. Without that core value, you might as well work to “keep it positive” and focus on the “main thing.” Then, it’s about looking good in the edublogosphere and ensuring that you always have a positive spin on what you write.

The problem with the positive spin is that it isn’t the truth…it’s spin. Haven’t we had enough of spin in education? More truth please.

with appreciation,

Anonymous December 29, 2006 - 9:29 pm

I would like to express my thanks to all of you, you mentioned several plus add yourself, who are right now putting up with this newbie! I really am thankful for all of you!

Beth Knittle December 30, 2006 - 3:26 am


I didn’t post about making the list as I felt it was sort of odd. I was flattered that anyone knows my blog exists, even with the cluster map I forget people read my blog. I am not sure how to deal with the attention. I just took it as a list and it lead me to other blogs to read. I wonder what the reaction would be if a new blogger made such a list. I have been blogging for just a year and this little event has taught me a lot.

Vicki A. Davis December 30, 2006 - 2:47 pm

Darren – Those are two GREAT points — I think somewhere back in the old HTML days I remember learning about the no follow tag but wondered WHY would anyone use it — now I DO! Great!

Secondly – I agree with you on the deleted post. I typically feel like once something is out there, I should update rather than delete.

Thirdly – I didn’t get the solicitation that many of you got. I also notice that the website that created the list seems to have changed significantly from when it first started!?

Dean – Yes, I’ve learned a lot from this whole thing two. I think that as an educator I’m going to remember to teach my students the power of links and how to use the nofollow tag – again that whole issue has a lot of ethics with it as well, huh?

Miguel – I guess what you call transparency – I call not “impuning the motives of a person who do not know” — which has happened on many sides of this issue (indeed Stephen did also in a portion of his synopsis, which I didn’t quote). Ultimately transparency is important and I know for myself I best represent my thoughts and notes as openly as I choose to.

Ultimately, transparency is a figment because no human being is ever truly “transparent” we are flawed creatures and with it we bring our flaws.

I will say this — my fundamental reason for posting about the list was NOT THE LIST ITSELF but rather, that many great educational blogs were left off this list made by an obvious newcomer from the Technorati rankings. The technorati rankings are important whether we think they are or not — that is my point.

I find that in battles such as this that many of us lose something.

Look at what it has done? Many great minds in education are listed in the comments here who have allowed themselves (myself included) to get bothered about an issue that is going to happen countless times in the future (ficticious awards, newcomers have bad judgement – what’s new?!) so, we need to learn and move on. Yes, this is obviously an educational, ethical issue and it obviously needs to be taught.

But, I do not think any less of any of those quoted by Stephen nor any more of those quoted by Jimmy Atkinson. It points out great ethical issues.

Durff – Welcome, there is plenty of room for more.

Beth – You’re obviously doing some things right. I too have been blogging at just a year.

My final thoughts –
As educators, lets learn from this and channel it into teaching ethics in our rooms. This is truly a nuance that I think that most people would not understand.

I also know from my experience in the business world that businesses are going to to what it takes to get more business. Hey, whatever Jimmy did – it worked, and now because we made such a big deal out of it, there is going to be more of this stuff to waste our time.

So, I hope we can all determine that WHEN it happens again – we will:

1) Look at it and move on or
2) if we post we will do more due diligence (MYSELF INCLUDED) before we give them our valuable links or 3) if we absolutely MUST link and doubt the motives of the person- use the nofollow link from Darren listed in the comments above.

Now, ready to get onto the real things of education. (And I hope that none of us on the list would ever think of “spinning” anything – I’m a teacher, I only have time for reality — which will hit again in four days!)

Kelly Christopherson December 30, 2006 - 7:29 pm


The discussion here is very interesting and insightful. From the perspective of someone trying to “break” into the blogosphere, the list was another reference point for people to “tap into”. I was able to get a few names and tap into a few blogs I hadn’t seen before. It’s too bad that it was done in a less than upfront manner. Being someone who doesn’t register on technocrati or any of the other lists, the rankings don’t mean anything to me. I don’t want this to be a competition for readers – I already have enough competition in my life to worry about – I do this for the insights, techniques, collaboaration and communication that takes place not whether I rank on any list. As the numer of people grow in this realm of the blogosphere, the list will change, grow and evolve and more lists will appear. As you stated, let’s keep the focus on educational issues – that is why so many of us are here.

Comments are closed.

The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere