On Blog Rolls (EduBlogging)

After setting up a blog and writing the very first post, one of the first things one generally does next is to have a look around at other Edu-blogs for tips on layout and widgets, style and feel, and while traveling through the 'sphere one of the things which tends to stand out on the side bar (or bottom bar as in my own case) is the blog roll...

Blogging in the Afternoon, after Edouard Manet

Some of the first things you may think about when you first notice this are:

a) who do I list on my own?

b) how do I get on other people's?

a) Which blogs should you list on your blog roll?
  • Blogs you feel most comfortable recommending to your readers.  That is the primary function of a blog roll - it is there to tell others who to visit next.  It says that you have read at least five to ten of their posts and that you are very confident about the content and the intention of the writer.  You know that you are not randomly sending your readers on to someone who writes about dump trucks and you know they don't plagiarize other people's content.  They are EduBloggers who:
    • blog consistently.
    • write on similar themes as your own. 
    • write well (as this is subjective, it your call and this decision may affect your own reputation!).

Concentrate on
  • Bloggers who have started around the same time as you have (you can spur each other on and talk to each other about what you're both learning and going through).
  • Bloggers who visit your own blog and participate in your conversations, people who are not just focused on their own.
  • Bloggers with a sense of community: the ones with blog rolls.
  • Bloggers who do more than indulge in "diary" writing. (There's nothing wrong with doing that but is that who you want to send your readers on to?)
  • Bloggers who contribute. Their words/tips/lesson plans and ideas consistently help you (and therefore others) to develop as a professional in your field (or they make you laugh-think-feel something).

b) How do you get on other people's blog rolls?

Not by asking.  

  • Don't do this and in particular, never, ever do this with an already popular blogger - he probably gets hundreds of requests weekly and it is both a major breach of blog-i-quette and a form of spam.   

 So how do you get another blogger's attention?
    • write your own quality content, consistently. 
    • write on similar themes as the blogs you respect without being a copycat.
    • write at a relatively high level of English: use the spell-checker and edit your work before clicking on the Publish Post button.
  • Participate in other bloggers' conversations: don't wait for them to come to you.
  • Wait.  If you are new you have simply not produced a body of work worth recommending yet.  

Reciprocal linking might look very attractive to you when you're starting off - you've listed someone and because you've done this then you want to be listed back (you may even feel you deserve it) but aside from the fact that it is a cheek for you to expect this from people who are essentially strangers to you, doing this sort of thing, willy-nilly, can wind-up jeapordizing that blogger's ranking on Google!

Also those links on the side-bar also don't usually add much to your ranking - they're generally not searchable content and therefore the links which have the most value to you when starting out are those created within someone else's blog post.


  • Many bloggers don't update their blog rolls frequently so do not take it personally if you aren't listed even after visiting them many times.  Be patient, you never know, you might be on next week.
  • Many bloggers only list the blogs written by their personal friends (real or virtual) or by their employees/ colleagues or even their mates-from-back-in-the-day so do not take it personally if you aren't listed.
  • Many bloggers don't keep blog rolls due to the hassle and spam mails asking to be put on them.

So the social-media tip for this Sunday is forget about the blog roll for now and instead work on developing relationships with your fantastic new edu-community.

Useful links
Carnival! (27 bloggers writing on EduBlogging, 2009)
Thoughts on being an Edu-blogger

Blogging, chatting, discussions online: (we're still just writing on cave walls)
IATEFL 2011:  The ELT blogosphere symposium
Recorded Presentation on Edublogging at the Reform Symposium July 31st, 2010

The Guest Posts

Glossary of EduBlogging Terms, Mike Harrison's Blog
Glossary of phrases and expresssions based on the word blog, Sue Lyon Jones's blog

The Best Kept Secrets of Highly Successful Edubloggers
Intro  Nick Jaworksi's blog
Part 1 Shelly Terrell's blog
Part 2 Janet Bianchini's blog
Part 3 Berni Wall's blog
Part 4 Monika Hardy's blog 
Part 5 Anne Hodgson's blog (coming soon)


image credit: MikeLicht, NotionsCapital.com

I love hearing from you! Please add your thoughts if you feel like there's something you would like to question, add or say about it - don't worry about perfection or agreeing with me - it's always a pleasure to hear from you and know your own opinions about edublogging and the blog roll.  Did I miss anything?  

Worried about spamming me? Spam = you haven't read any of the discussion either in the post or by the other comments yet you want to come to my page in order to advertise yourself... (which probably means you won't have read this either :)). Your comment will be removed.

Contribution = you've read the post and the discussion which has been added to it from other educators (or you want to start one off).

8 Responses to “On Blog Rolls (EduBlogging)”

  • Mike Harrison says:
    September 26, 2010

    Thanks for the hugely informative post, Karenne.

    Have to admit starting out I wasn't so hot on this - on the people asking me to put them on my blogroll that is. I don't think I ever asked anyone to put me on their lists, agree it seems sooo cheeky, and is like you say a kind of spam.

    I need (or need to write) a post on organising blogrolls now, or you to reveal your secrets about setting up all your different blogroll feeds I've seen further down on your blog - the ELT celebs, newbie bloggers, etc.


    September 26, 2010

    Ar, the secret to the organization... I know who you all are and what you write about because I dedicate an evening a week to reading blogs and often visit during the week too! :)

  • Janet Bianchini says:
    September 26, 2010

    Hi Karenne

    A fantastic blog post, as ever, and really informative and sooo practical. Thank you very much for sharing!

    Like Mike above, I have also never asked, as I think that would be a bit embarrassing.

    I think it's a huge honour to be on someone's blog roll. I will never forget when I saw my blog on your sidebar in my early blogging days and I was so thrilled and touched. I know it definitely inspired me to do my best. For this, I am very grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to develop as a blogger under your watchful eye. You have been a mentor par excellence.

    In return, in my own way, I am trying to support new bloggers whenever I can by commenting on posts. The early days are really vital, and unless a new blogger is encouraged, they could easily give up. I remember feeling a bit de-motivated when I didn't receive comments on my posts, and I felt as if I was writing to myself!

    btw, what is the etiquette for how to respond when people ask to be included on a blog roll and they send you a link to their blog etc?

    September 26, 2010

    A great question Janet, because it's one I haven't been good at.

    With random people who I have had no previous contact with - who write out of the blue - I completely ignore it.

    But I have been asked by people I know and it made me incredibly uncomfortable and then with one when I said no, not quite yet - he was three posts in at the time - I wound up hurting his feelings and we've never been able to reestablish a friendship which made me sort of feel like a cross between used and sad and embarrassed myself.

    So I don't know - how do you handle this?

  • Janet Bianchini says:
    September 26, 2010

    Well, to be honest, I would love to know because, I too, have felt very uncomfortable when people have asked, out of the blue. I have sometimes replied and in a very polite way said the truth - that, I prefer to choose for myself,who goes on my blog roll, rather than be asked. Does that sound bad?

    Another thing I am not always good at handling is people I don't know at all who ask to write a post on my blog. They usually send me a link to their blog and bio. Sometimes they are not directly linked to EFL, but their subject matter is interesting. I am often very impressed by what they do and their credentials, but I still don't feel right about letting other people write on my personal space without even knowing them a little bit.

    This has given me the courage to write back to someone right now and tell them the honest truth, rather than ignoring it. I appreciate they would like to write on my blog, but I would rather get to know them first and then maybe later, I might do a series of guest posts...

    As for the example you mentioned about people you know asking to be included on your blog roll, well I would personally never ask, in order not to risk such a scenario of placing someone in an embarrassing position.

    As you have explained so well in this post, it's a very personal choice, which involves a lot of factors, and you shouldn't feel at all guilty about saying,

    "I'm flattered that you have asked me, but I'm sorry at this particular moment I'm not adding any more bloggers to my blog roll", or whatever the truth may be.

    If someone chooses to get offended, then sadly, that really is their problem, and shows that they possibly don't know you that well.

    Hope this helps :-)

  • gret says:
    September 26, 2010

    Thanks for this great post!
    I'm new to blogging and to be honest, I've seen many blog rolls, but couldn't figure out how it worked.
    I liked what you said "forget about the blog roll for now and instead work on developing relationships with your fantastic new edu-community"
    I think that is the most important thing too. We can learn a lot from our PLN or edu-community, which will eventually lead to more reflection. More reflection will lead to better writing.
    Thanks again! Your post has been really helpful!

  • Queer English says:
    September 27, 2010

    Hi, Karenne!

    Very informative post. I agree with what you said about working on establishing a relationship with the edu-community.

    When I started blogging about three months ago, I wanted to build a strong relationship with edu-bloggers, but I didn't know where to start. I just created posts and hoped people are going to read them eventually, but when I came across Ken Wilson's blog, I saw your blog and other established edu-bloggers' on his blog list, and then I started reading and following everybody like it's too much to take, but I loved it.

    I think it's what I'm doing now -- building a relationship. I understand, though, that it takes time to earn the edu-community's respect. I have to work hard. I'm sure you agree.

    I hope someday, I'll be on your blog list /roll. (Wink!)

  • Sue Lyon-Jones says:
    October 02, 2010

    Another excellent and very useful post on blogging, Karenne!

    Like Janet, I felt touched and honoured when you added me to your blogroll, and it inspired me to keep plugging away at it :-)

    I agree that it is bad etiquette to ask other people to list you on their blogroll. Fortunately no-one in my PLN has ever asked me to do this, though I do get a lot of requests for links from random strangers seeking backlinks to their site, which generally get referred to our FAQ ;-)



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