Sorry, James … but

I've been accused of being an Edublogs fanboy and to some extent I am. I've always plugged this place as the place for educators and students to be blogging and that hasn't changed one bit. But I have to say that the news about the insertion of random advertising into my blog, my class blog and my students' blogs makes me feel quite uncomfortable. When I first saw the ads as shown in my graphic below, I actually thought it was an Internet Explorer glitch (a Microsoft grab for Google Ad cash which shows how much I know) and swore to only use Firefox after that. But I saw the little insertions in my class blog and thought, "That can't be right. Why is that there? It looks like a link but it isn't one that I inserted."

There has been some talk about this issue, nicely summarised by Dave Tosh here. I know that if I'd been fully aware, this topic could have had my feedback before in this forum. I know I should really be an Edublogs Supporter as I've been riding this free gravy train ride for over three years (and will when I get organised and work out PayPal).  

Love you, love your work James, but the embedded ads leave me cold and dare I say it, a little violated. I know back in the early days, you mentioned in an email that maybe Edublogs may have to become a user pays only system. But I really don't like the look of this - it really isn't all that hidden if I keep encountering it via my bookmarks, my auto-completes etc. - and I guess this is my way of airing my opinion on the matter.

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18 thoughts on “Sorry, James … but

  1. mrstucke

    The ads were enough to spur me on to hosting my own blog, I’m pleased with the result.
    I don’t think this change was communicated at all well and that has caused a lot of the problem. There seems to be little comeback, the message is pay your $40 or move on.

    Reply
  2. Cathy Nelson

    I am glad I moved on to my own domain as well, Graham. I began my venture into blogging on Blogger, but quickly moved over to Edublogs at the recommendation of MANY (and it s still there for now though I left a message that I moved–http://technotuesday.edublogs.org). I left Blogger primarily for the “next Blog” banner that rode across the top, and have done many workshops to educators singing the praises of Edublogs as the BEST interface availabel to educators. No more though. Now if I recommend a platform, I suggest Blogger first (with a quick code fix to get rid of the banner across the top.) I do tell folks Edublogs is a great platform for beginners, but I warn of the embedded (and uncontrollable out of context) links, allowing them to make their own decision. Yes everyone’s budget is tight. Particularly educators. I wonder how many educational bloggers Edublogs has lost since the decision to embed their own specially selected links? Will you keep your class on the platform? Will you keep this blog on the platform? Afterall, if you must pay for no embedded links, why not pay for your own space all together? Thanks for reminding all that this issues was not necessarily handled in the best way. I really think many voices sharing their unhappiness may (wishful thinking?) make a difference to the powers that be.

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  3. Warrick

    I agree Graham; it doesn’t look good, or feel good. Like Cathy, I’ve always recommended edublogs since I moved over from blogger, but I’ve been worried for some time (at least since the huge slow-down they had a while ago) about the community reliance on a tool maintained by one person essentially. I haven’t been using edublogs for student blogs so I could move somewhere else without much hassle, but it’s a shame to see it going this way.

    Reply
  4. Greg Carroll

    mmmmm ….. a bigger issue than we give credit for I feel. As a principal I want our school to portray an image WE manage. I am not going to be relying on the ethics, morals or whatever of some faceless programmer in Australia. I can’t afford to take the risk. What indication has there been of any ‘lines in the sand’ with respect to whose advertising will be accepted?
    Links are a standard way of showing the things YOU feel people may be interested in following up on. So by implication they are endorsed …. so ….. for me that’s the issue with now having no control over what links are in posts from our children.

    How is this much different from having some external company able to randomly place advertising logos on our children’s school uniforms? Maybe extreme, but am I wrong?

    For a company that has actively targeted educators – look at the name – this is crazy.

    have a great Xmas break!! enjoy the sun 🙂
    Greg

    Reply
  5. TFT

    Hi Graham,

    Your comments on this are well deserved. I have taken a break from blogging for many reasons and haven’t kept up with this change. I am at the point where I am about to prepare for my 2009 year, and hope to include blogging in this as well. We have at School just started rolling out Blogs for our Staff and Students using WordPress MU hosted on Windows Servers and authenticating to our AD. This makes it very simple to use within our College and from outside the user authenticates using their AD details. It was very simple to set up and I would urge anybody that wants to use WordPress for Multi Users to go this route.

    For an individual blog their are many hosting services that can handle WordPress too so moving your existing blog is a simple matter.

    I have loved using Edublogs, and will probably keep my TFT blog there as I would like to keep some distance between my personal views and that of my School.

    Although I haven’t been blogging myself, I have kept reading the wide variety of feeds into Vienna on my Macbook.

    Thank you Graham (and to all the others out there) for allowing me to share your journey. It’s great to know that there are several educators out there that share a passion for getting students and teachers from all over the world together in collaboration. Well done on your efforts, Graham.

    Cheers,

    Andrew.

    Reply
  6. J.D. Williams

    I can live with the banner ads. I don’t like them, but I can live with them. It’s the embedded ads that get me. A lot of people won’t even notice them though because they don’t show up unless you are not logged in to edublogs. I know that the computers I use have me automatically logged in. I’d been planning on getting my own domain for awhile and I think this might be the tipping point.

    Reply
  7. Tony Searl

    The apparent total lack of communication on these changes is what riled me initially. Later, the ongoing unresolved techno issues may see this as my first and last year with edublogs. Sue’s increasing role in 2009 may change that, I hope so.

    Yes I too had been a short term edublog freeloader,when suddenly the ads and other major changes appeared unannounced.

    Then RSS disappeared(free OR supporters),clustr became geographically disadvantaged, flickr, well flicked off, and my storage was cut from 100 to 20mb. Not happy JAN.

    So I quickly paypaled my A$60pa supporters fee and hey presto my blog reappeared, well almost.

    The issues raised are serious in an educational setting. Bait and switch,lure,hook then hit,try before you buy all spring readily to mind BUT schools I have worked in do not operate like this.

    Now I am avatarless at edublogs, the latest glitch, I’ll seriously reconsider signing colleagues up in 2009. DET NSW launches their own online tools soon, maybe that will be sufficient.

    Reply
  8. Graham Wegner

    Thanks for all of the feedback – Dan, Cathy, Warrick, Greg, Andrew, JD and Tony – I hate to be somewhat grinchy at this time of the year, but the issue has been gnawing at me for a while. @Warrick, I think you are right in that the phenomenon has been much more evident using Chrome as the browser – maybe being a Google creation, it is designed to pick up ad based embeds more readily?

    One option would be to try self hosting – something my good friend Alex Hayes has offered to tech-support me through should I wish to do so but part of me wants to continue here as a living example of where teachers can go to get started. I still like to think of myself as a grassroots person and self hosting is well beyond a lot of people’s expertise (and wallets) and being able to show my own and my students’ blogs here at edublogs is an exercise in credibility for those with whom I work.

    @JD. I totally agree that the embedded text links are the greater of the two evils. Banner ads are pretty obvious but the others are almost subliminal in how they present to the reader. Then again, if people are reading through Bloglines, Google Reader or another RSS reader, these things become a non-event. But the blog represents me and my perspective – these ads mess with that big time.

    Reply
  9. Brian

    What I’m left wondering is… why choose edublogs over a regular, free WordPress.com blog?

    You can sign up for as many free blogs as you want – each with 3gb of storage. You’re limited to the pre-set themes (only 70) and the pre-set widgets (two dozen). But I’ve never seen advertising integrated into a WordPress.com blog – the only hint of branding is the link in the footer back to WordPress.com.

    I don’t have a problem with advertising per se (I use it sparingly on my personal blog), but I want anything that I create for use with my class to be ad-free. We shouldn’t be in the business of feeding our students to advertisers – they face enough of a media blitz outside the classroom (and outside of our class/student blogs).

    There are some advantages to self hosting (being able to upload and choose your own plugins, customize your theme at will, include .js widgets in your sidebar), but for classroom and student blogs I think simplicity is an advantage. You don’t get hung up on the infinite options in design and functionality. You can focus, instead, on the important part – the content. After all, unless you’re teaching web design, the content is the part that you should be most concerned with.

    Reply
  10. Graham Wegner

    @Brian Why choose edublogs over wordpress.com? It gets back to the fact that when I set up my blog here in 2005 (after a quick blast at Blogger) wordpress.com didn’t exist as a free hosted option. Plus wordpress.com is blocked by my education department’s filter while edublogs is not. And advertising has never been an issue – until now.

    I could unblock wordpress and get kids blogging there in 2009 but I wanted the 2008 kids to be able to build on their online content next year, as I have 10 kids continuing in my classroom and the others will be next door in my co-planning buddy’s room. So continuity is a priority. And when budgets in school are tight, then buying a Campus licence might be out of reach.

    Edublogs is the easiest place to get educators and students set up and blogging – the embedded ads now add another consideration into the equation. I’m still not sure what to do.

    Reply
  11. Darren Draper

    Happy holidays, Graham.

    I don’t see ads on this post so I’m wondering if edublogs has discontinued the practice? Perhaps they’ve only scaled them back.

    Either way, I agree with you: ads and educational blogs just don’t mix.

    Reply
  12. mrwilliams

    I took the plunge and bought a domain and hosting through godaddy.com for two years. Total cost just under $110. So I don’t think $55 for a year is all that bad (Merry Christmas to myself I guess). They also had auto installs of WordPress, Moodle and a bunch of other stuff I’d never use. I’ll see how it goes for the next year then re-evaluate.

    The only problem with it so far is deciding how to set it all up myself ;). Picking a domain name with my name being so common wasn’t the easiest task either. I think this one will be easier to get my students to remember though.

    http://www.mrjwilliams.com

    Reply
  13. Brian

    Ahh, I didn’t realize that WordPress.com was so new. I discovered it sometime in ’07 and I kind of assumed that it had been around as long as the WordPress software itself.

    In the scheme of things, $1000 for a campus license isn’t a large chunk of the budget, but that money could be better spent elsewhere (like on computers for kids to blog on).

    You may be able to have the kids move all of their stuff from edublogs to wordpress. It’s the same platform, so it should be easy to export and import the post/comment data. I’m not sure how well that handles the media gallery and attachments, though.

    This all makes me kind of glad that I came along later and jumped on a different boat.

    Reply
  14. Pingback:

    This Life of Brian » Blog Archive » Advertising, Blogging, and Education: Should They Mix?

  15. alexanderhayes

    Hi.

    I’ve been encouraging you to host your own blog.

    Your own themes.

    Your own Helpdesk.

    Your own community.

    Fact is mate……when you do you’ll you will discover what the rest of us have been learning and making application with much like our beloved Jimminy.

    Try it.

    We might just buy it.

    🙂

    Reply
  16. Pingback:

    » Creating a Site: Using Wordpress to Build Your Class Website

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