Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

What Makes Something Popular On The Web? And What Makes Something Popular In The Education Blogosphere?


As I’ve explained in earlier pieces, I periodically post “most popular” lists of websites (and books) that I think educators might find useful. Of course, there are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites and resources, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.”

Related to all this, I have just read a memo from the head of the “Gawker” web media “empire” where he tells his staff what makes something popular on the Web. It’s of limited educational value (though it might be useful in my Theory of Knowledge class and I might refer to it when I teach writing in other classes), but it is interesting.

It got me wondering about what a similar list might look like for the education blogosphere. What makes something popular in our “neck of the woods”? Share your thoughts in the comments section by September 1st,and I’ll put everybody’s ideas into a post. I figured it would be a mildly interesting question to raise in the remaining weeks of our summer vacation. Obviously, that’s not the primary reason why we write, but it might be useful to know. I think most of us would like as many people as possible to read what we write, and if we can channel the essence what we want to communicate more into what people would like to see, it’s a win-win situation.

Here are Gawker’s main criteria:

* Explanation — “There’s too much news on the web; and way too little explanation.”

* “Readers enjoy strong opinion”

* “They like photographs”

* “video”

* “great yarns”

* “stories featuring teenagers”

* “female trumps male”

* “Youth also trumps age”

Do any of these carryover into the education blogosphere? What are your ideas?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I mostly look at education blogs and websites for concrete lesson plans and activities. If I’m doing a unit on travel, I might look online for a good vocab activity or roleplays or readings. Or I might look for a new way to teach the present perfect. I also store away lesson plans I like for future use.

    That’s 90% of my edublog use. I will also say that on my blog, lesson plans and activities are the most popular items by far. Anything about theories of teaching or personal experience tend to get ignored.

  2. I agree that readers really enjoy strong opinion. That’s why I look forward to reading comments and opinions here. Thanks very uch for sharing. I love reading your blog.

  3. For the most part I enjoy reading blogs that resonate with me and my opinion. I know it generally doesn’t really help me to “listen to global voices”, but it does make me feel good! I get a lot out of reading positive annecdotes and thoughts, too.

  4. I tend to favor three kinds of edu-blogs: cutting-edge progressive thinking that instructs and inspires me, an occasional dose of opposing opinions to interject different perspectives into my own private little echo chamber, and political commentary. I appreciate clear opinions that are backed up effectively as well as anecdotes that connect to and touch me. I could mostly go with Gawker’s list with the exception of videos, which for some reason I tend to skip, and as long as the strong opinions are respectful and well-reasoned. I work in an all-girls middle/high school; youth, female and teenage perspectives certainly make my list!

  5. Popularity is an interesting topic because it really does depend on what is your measure of what is popular?

    While popularity is definitely not the primary reason why I write I like to use a range of indicators such as Comments, Tweets, Bookmarking, Page Views, Pingbacks etc to give me a feel of whether the content I’ve written has achieved the outcome I wanted. Basically have I got the balance right sot that I am communicatoing the type of information that people want to engage with.

    So for example if I’m writing a posts where I’m wanting to encourage everyone to share their thoughts — how successful was it at encouraging readers to leave comments, did readers feel that the questions were meaningful to ask their friends to add their thoughts by tweeting or linking to the post?

    If I’m writing a post that I would like people to see as a valuable resource to refer back to — how successful was it in terms of being bookmarked, linked to and tweeted?

    Sometimes I get it right and other times I’m way off 🙁

    I’ve just attended a workshop on blogging and according to the information shared at the workshop compling content in order of priority are:

    1. Your biggest tips
    2. Big vision tips
    3. Guides, how to, tutorials
    4. FAQs – people want to know these questions –
    5. Story with a message – (what is in it for me)
    6. Research and results
    7. Jargon Busters
    8. Product Database
    9. Case Studies – see how it was done
    10. Resource Round-up

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