Enough is Enough!

 This is one of our class blogs where ads have been appearing recently.

The class teacher contacted me for advice and I suggested that the school could sign up to be an edublogs supporter and then there would be no more ads appearing on their site. I also pointed out that if any other teachers were keen to set up a class blog, then their blogs could be included in the school’s ‘ad free’ package.

The school is happy to do that and the problem will be resolved soon.

Sometimes these ads are harmeless enough, but when I clicked on their blog earlier this evening, this is what I saw (these children are 6 years old!).



I focussed on the add links on the left hand side menu. When I clicked on the last link, it took me to this page:




Hence the post title …. enough is enough. My instincts tell me that it just isn’t right and that this sort of thing shouldn’t be happening on an ‘edu’ blog.

I wonder what others think?

26 thoughts on “Enough is Enough!

  1. Margaret,

    Like you, I am deeply concerned by the direction taken by edubloge recently. I understand the need for them to make money, even though I felt like they put me in a position where I had little choice but upgrade when I saw the infestation of adverts they placed inside my blogs entries. Inside the text of my posts, how invasive. Not even a (slightly more subtle) google advert in the sidebar but right there in the middle of the content I had posted!

    Now they have the audio/video comments feature. I see that the Edublogs news page is starting to take some heat over the issues that others have experienced and James’ response to this is astonishing. He says

    “for the moment the sheer ease of use makes it OK – and if you are that concerned about students seeing ads then I’d suggest that you make sure they stop using google (or any other search engine) or looking at online news sites.”

    Since when has “ease of use” made blatently adult content on an educational blog for schoolchildren an acceptable trade-off? The rest of his comments, about avoiding Google in the interests of internet safety are flippant at best. What we should be seeing from James and his friends at Edublogs is leadership and modelling of best practise in the educational application of blogging. Instead, we have a company who, while they have provided a great service until now, are happy to place their student users at risk in return for Google Adsense income.

    I will not be renewing my support for Edublogs. It won’t affect me greatly since I have another blog that is self-hosted. My primary concern is for those who don’t know how to do that and I hope that another solution steps up to fill the gap left by Edublogs.org.

    • Thanks Sinclair – well said! I feel very let down by Edublogs at the moment. I’ve always been very supportive of them (even during troubled times in the past) and have recommended them to other teachers (and to the L.A.). I’ve also spent a lot of my own time preparing training materials on how to use Edublogs….. but can’t see me using them again

      In the meantime, I’ve been adding class blogs here to my own class blog (supporter) so that they can be ad-free without forking out the money.

      Thanks for the offer of advice re self-hosting. I’ll email you today.

  2. At the risk of appearing a bit thick…and not knowing much about the mechanics of blogs…is there a problem withschools using wordpress ? I do and so does my school without issue. Blogger, if ‘unblocked’ in your authority or schools is also good, yes? or is there a problem with these of which I am unaware ?

    • Hello Jaye,

      I don’t know much about the mechanics of blogs, either ….. apart from Edublogs, Blogger and WordPress. com (still working out the difference between wp.com and wp.org).

      I began by using Blogger and found it very simple and user friendly. However, there are huge issues with the ‘next blog’ button. I did manage to remove it by messing about with code, but decided to move to Edublogs, because Blogger is banned in so many LA’s and I wanted the children to reach as wide an audience as possible.

      I’m now also familiar with wordpress.com, but I’ve read reports that they’re not ad-free either unless you pay. I’m not sure how ‘in your face’ the ads are, though? There’s also the added problem of wordpress not allowing Flash. We use photobucket a lot. I’ve managed to get them on to wordpress via vodpod ….. but I can imagine some teachers being put off by this extra step.

      David G and Sinclair have offered to advice on self-hosting …. not an area I’m familiar with. The search goes on

  3. I agree about the advertising being inappropriate – have you expressed your concerns to edublogs.

    We have used blogger for our school science blog, although it requires a google account to sign in, which may be an issue depending on how you try to use it (with pupils having their own IDs for example). Blogger is also blocked in many authorities – our policy is to block blogger but unblog individual blogs on request. (We also use our own domain name with blogger and removed the search bar etc to make it look less like a blogger site)

    • Hello Bob. Your Blogger blog looks great. I stopped using it for the reasons mentioned in reply to Jaye. Edublogs also allowed me to quite easily set up individual blogs for the children in my class. I had admin rights for each blog ….. the system was working beautifully until very recently
      I have expressed concerns to Edublogs – along with many other users, but the ad I saw last night was the final straw. There have been many complaints in the forums about inappropriate ads, but they’re always treated as though these are unusual occurrences. The trouble is that these types of ads can be there one minute and replaced with more appropriate ones the next. Hence the screenshot!

  4. Thanks for the discussion and advice. I too am disillusioned with edublogs – both the advertising and the approach to dealing with comments. Educators DO know what they want – and that doesn’t include inappropriate content, no matter how ‘easy it is to use’. I will be exploring alternatives. Would like to be kept informed of any alternatives you discover. http://twitter.com/janning

    • Hello janning,

      I see that we’re now following each other on twitter!

      I’ll keep you informed – but will probably blog about it here, too

  5. mvass, I’m sorry that you feel that way but I have to ask if you would be willing to do your job for free? I don’t like the inline adverts either but you have to remember that it costs a lot of money to run this site with all the blogs here. I do webhosting and I have a rough idea what James is paying out of his pocket.

    At the very least, James is honest about it. A number of sites like wordpress.com hide the information about their advert running deep within their docs or don’t mention it at all. Are these folks honest? I don’t know of a single free blogging site that doesn’t place adverts somewhere within their sites via either adverts or paid links or something else along those lines. Either that or they’re a simple operation without the support and backups that are provided here. Or they’re fully of splogs or other unsafe content for children.

    Having looked at your post, I note that many of those sites aren’t appropriate under google adsense’s own rules. Have you complained to them? I’ll be honest. They’ll be gone really fast when you do.

    Sorry you feel the way you do but I personally think you need to look at the whole situation.

    • Hello Drmike!

      First of all, I’d like to welcome you to my site – I’m so used to reading your advice on the Edublogs forums that this feels weird! Not too long ago, I received a comment from James himself when I posted about my M.Ed. graduation ceremony (my dissertation focussed on my use of edublogs with my class) and I felt very chuffed that he took the time to visit my site and leave his kind comment
      I’ve sung Edublogs’ praises for the past two and a half years. I never once doubted the commitment to education and have valued the wonderful support from the forums on the few occasions when I’ve felt the need to seek it. I’ve also taken the time to share a couple of ‘Here’s How I Did it’ tips.

      A trust was built up and I believed that this was a site that I could recommend to, not only fellow teachers, but my Local Education Authority.

      I took up my new post in August as an ICT Curriculum Development Officer, and one of my main roles is to convince teachers that blogging will have a positive impact on their classroom practice (I firmly believe that!)
      I have taken the time to produce a variety of ‘blogging’ presentation material – all based on edublogs – and the teachers here are beginning to come on board.

      The latest changes within edublogs didn’t bother me too much because there was always a way around them. For example, the cut in storage space can be can be remedied by compressing pics, hosting them on sites such as photobucket, etc.

      The recent ads issue, though, has left me feeling betrayed.

      James stated from the outset that he needed to take this step so that he could continue to provide the free service. He also promised that there would be no inappropriate ads because it was an educational site. More and more very inappropriate ads are sneaking in now. Why is it up to me to complain to a third party about this?

      …….. and by that time, how many children and their parents will have been exposed to them?

      I have taken the time to look at the whole situation and I still stand by my ‘enough is enough’ proclamation. We’ll need to agree to differ

  6. Blogger is filtered in our schools because of unsuitable content on my blog. I have happily used edublogs for a few years and have been delighted with the free service. We did however get 1 complaint from a parent about adverts on our main school blog – http://loirstonconnect.edublogs.org/ -so the HT has decided that we can pay to become a supporter. I do agree with the edublogs team and think that their support service is excellent. But the payment is difficult for the school to make as it is in dollars and needs to be done via Paypal which apparently the can’t do! Looks like I’ll have to get the credit card out!

    • Hello Shirley,

      Thanks for commenting. Like you, I’ve always been delighted with Edublogs free service and that’s why I had no hesitation recommending it to the LA.

      In my new secondment post, however, i can’t take the chance of having inappropriate ads appearing – and I can’t recommend it as a free service if the only option is to become a supporter to guarantee safe use in education.

      If I’d still been in class, I would probably, like you, be defending edublogs. But I’m having to look at things from a different perspective now.

  7. Echoing Dr Mike’s thoughts I’m also sorry you feel that way. But both James and Andrew has stated in the forum that give them a solution to addressing costs that don’t involve ads. In order for the company to grow plus provide a high level of support these costs need to be addressed.

    So the decision was made that if people choose to have free blogs than ads will be displayed; if people want to remove ads from their sites and up to 30 other blogs with additional features they can pay $39.95 per year. James will also be announcing soon an option to purchase batches of Edublogs supporters (e.g. for 5 blogs, for 30 blogs) at reduced rates.

    I would strongly recommend that educators take into account the support provided. I’m sure that Dr Mike could confirm there isn’t many companies providing as fast help and problem solving through forums, email and twitter – regardless of whether people are free users, edublogs supporters or campus users. Let me give you some examples – New Years Eve I spent it answering questions. The other week Gail Desler needed urgent assistance so I got out of bed at 3 AM and worked for an hour to ensure everything went smoothly for her – why not ask her?

    • Hi Sue!

      I”ve never heard of Gail Desler (and wouldn’t begin to know how to contact her) but i’m sorry that you needed to get out of bed at 3 AM because she needed your urgent assistance!

      I know how that feels, though, because I was up all night last night trying to figure out a way to remove the ads from the Primary 2 class blog before any more damage was done. Thank goodness I became an edublog supporter two years ago (I did it voluntarily when there was no pressure to do so – I wanted to show James that I appreciated the great free service)

      After a ‘tossing and turning’ for most of the night, I realised that I could add the P 2 blog to the Carronshore blog and make them ad-free. It felt good to get to work and telephone the teacher to tell her that she could relax, too, because there would be no more horrible adult ads appearing on her six year olds’ class blog.

      I hope I sleep tonight – I’m off now to check the other class blogs I’ve helped to set up since I came into post in August. I hope I get to any inappropriate ads before the families do

  8. There is no dark art to hosting something like wordpress locally and it may soon be as common as local mail servers –
    but company who cracks hosted version with revenue stream Edublogs provides so much more support – even if ads were there but child safe

    • Thanks for the comment, Joe.

      I had absloutely no complaints about the service at edublogs until the unsafe ads began appearing. The good thing about all this is that I’m being forced to learn the art of self-hosting. I’d never have taken that step otherwise

  9. Hi Margaret,
    I’ve always set up blogs on a host myself (other than a few tests of services here and there), it is not too hard but you do have a bit of extra work especially if you want extra features/plugins. It can also be more fun. A lot of hosts have auto installs of wp now.

    Difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org is that .org is the place to download wp for use on a host or your own server, .com is a hosted solution, using wordpress multiuser (wpmu) like edublogs with ads of some sort.
    East Lothian are ahead as they run wpmu themselves.

    • Thanks John,

      I do envy the East Lothian set up!

      It’s all starting to make more sense thanks to lots of help from David Gilmour, Sinclair McKenzie via email. Thank you, too, for recommending ilovethenet hosting service on twitter. Sinclair has just talked me through it on twitter and – hey presto!!


      I’m off now to try to change the theme and ply with plugins, etc.

      Any further advice would be much appreciated 🙂

  10. Yes recommending it and, as you say, getting people who are unsure in the first place to blog will now be more difficult. I am also considering adding blogs to the one that we will pay for. It’s just another job that I don’t really have time for!
    It might have to wait till next session but, like you, I am concerned and don’t want parents to feel that they have anything to worry about.
    It is disapponting also when you have a blog that the pupils have been building up for some time.

  11. I’ve transported the following comment and reply from my old edublog blog ….. just to keep the conversation flowing 🙂

    LibrarySupporter Says:

    January 25th, 2009 at 9:40 pm edit

    No advertising of any kind is permitted on school blogs in my district. Period. And certainly not the kind that’s been popping up on edublogs. I took the edublogs student blog down after the first ad was reported. There’s a spending freeze in my district, so they won’t be paying for Edublogs Supporter. I won’t either, mostly because there was no warning whatsoever of the ads. And I don’t include some vague discussion on the Edublogs forum, because like most educators, I visited the forum when I had a problem, searched for what I needed, and went on my way. Had a nice e-mail gone out explaining that Edublogs was no longer able to provide the current level of service without advertising, I might have felt differently. Instead, I got “good morning! Did you know there’s a sexy babe popping up on your website?” Not fun to be in violation of the AUP I helped write.

    As for “only $39.95? the fact that Edublogs doesn’t take purchase orders tells me they know that most teachers will pay out of their own pockets for things they want for their students, and decided to take financial advantage of that impulse.

    I’m looking at classblogmeister here in the US and our tech folks are looking at in-house hosting.

    • mvass Reply:

      January 27th, 2009 at 3:00 am

      Hello and thanks for the comment.

      I agree with all of your points. An email warning would have been nice. Even then, I would have expected any ads to have been appropriate for an educational site. As you say, most folk only visit the forums when they have a problem, so they’re not lingering there to read all the posts from users who have come across these ads and are complaining.

      It’s strange how some blogs are targetted more than others. I’ve spoken to a few teachers here who’ve set up free blogs recently with edublogs. Some are peppered with ads (lots of inappropriate ones) and others are completely ad-free – for now.

      I’m fortunate enough to have a ’supporter’ class blog with space in it (I can add up to 30 other blog url’s) to ‘rescue’ those pupils, teachers and parents who are exposed to ads until we come up with an alternative sulution.

  12. This comment was also left on the edublogs blog


    Mrs C Says:

    January 31st, 2009 at 9:10 pm edit

    It’s funny to come across a blogger who feels exactly as I do, but that’s the case here. I have preached the Edublogs message to my school, sucked our whole staff into signing up and now I feel stupid because of the sometimes-inappropriate ads appearing and the lack of functionality for those who don’t want to pay $40. Worse, my whole grade from last year used Learnerblogs that became obsolete within 6 weeks of starting them. The kids kept them going but there was no support, minimal widgets, wouldn’t accept Javascript – many issues. Now, even though I am a supporter (and was before my hand was forced), I can’t block ads from my kids’ Learnerblogs at all – although I was offered advice that it’s “easy” to move them all to Edublogs. (Obviously the assurance came from someone who doesn’t have a grade with 31 blogs running.)
    I don’t mind that Edublogs charge for their service – I’m offended and angry that they changed the rules after we’d put so much work in – it’s a betrayal.
    MVass – I hope it’s appropriate to mention this here (please delete this para if it’s inappropriate) : I have about 20 unused spaces to de-advertise blogs (I can’t use them as my kids have Learnerblogs) – contact me via my new class blog if you’d like me to de-ad your edublog. My supportership lasts until April.

    • mvass Reply:

      February 2nd, 2009 at 8:27 pm

      Hello Mrs C

      I had the same trouble with the learnerblogs accounts a year ago. Once the Edublogs support went, they were peppered with adverts. The final straw came when a child received an extremely inappropriate spam comment. I always moderate comments, but it was just unfortunate that she logged into her blog and saw it before I had the chance to do that.

      This happened at the weekend and it was so offensive, that I made the decision there and then to delete the blog (it was a panic reaction – I could have just disabled the comment function). I then spent hours making the children new edublogs accounts.

      When I returned to school on Monday, I explained the situation to the children and then demonstrated how they could export their own learnerblogs data into their new Edublogs accounts. I also showed them how to activate the Akismet plugin and shared my wordpress API key with them.

      A great worry now is that, although it’s possible to stop ads appearing in individual pupil blogs by adding them to a Supporter’s blog, there is no way to obtain the all important Akismet plugin for these blogs. Plugins are now only available to supporters.

      Thank you very much for your kind offer to use your supporter status to de-advertise any blogs here. I might be in touch if I find we have some in need of rescuing!

      Meanwhile, I’ve posted some basic self-hosting ‘how to’ ppts on my new blog, if you think that might be an option.

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