Saturday, March 27, 2010

English Teacher History X

2003 -2006 was arguably the peak of personal websites and blogs becoming very popular and spinning off into books and occasionally movies and TV shows. (A couple of notable examples include Diablo Cody and Maddox.)

So the question arises: how widely read and successful was this little website project of yours?

(this link leads to the original English Teacher X site, hosted for free in all it's gaudily colored and illegible glory, on Angelfire in 2003. That year was actually the bulk of all the writing I did, I think.)

The answer is that I have no idea how many people read it, until about 2006 or so. I was using very crude statistic tracking software before that time, and went though several changes of hosts so I'm not really sure.

So sure, in the beginning, I wanted it to be wildly popular and then of course I'd be offered a book deal and Christian Slater would approach me to buy the film rights. I started publicizing it through fraudulent "troll" exchanges on, mostly in the form of an angry professional teacher named Charles Pangolin who was expressing his outrage about the website and the things on it. This lead to some amusing posts, and Dave eventually banned me from the message board, but I'd already made my mark there.

I think the most visitors I ever got in one day was about 800, when I was linked on the now-defunct Tucker Max message board. (Tucker Max, if you don't know who he is, was an early success story in writing about debauchery on the Internet -- he made a book that sold well and a film that did not, and now seems to be laying low on the Internet in the face of a vast legion of haters.)

Another important traffic-boost occurred when I was linked on a site for high-heel fetishists (because of this picture:)

There was also a link to my blog on, a site for white supremacists, due to something I'd written about an African student I knew and his white girlfriend. This led to some lively exchanges.

I thought the big time might really be knocking when a Russian filmmaker living in Canada made a documentary about English teachers in Moscow in 2004. She wanted to use a quote from my website at the beginning -- "God watches out for drunks, little children, and English teachers." And she used it -- but apparently some Canadian TV regulation forbade her using the actual URL, and she just credited it to the "English Teacher X blog." I had just moved servers at that time, so I don't know if this led to much increase in traffic. It didn't seem to.

Was there ever any interest from publishers? Uh, I thought so once -- it turned out to be a fan pretending to be a publisher, for reasons of his own.

So that creeped me out a bit.

Then, in 2006, apparently a young guy was actually inspired to come to Vodkaberg and teach because of me. He apparently found the website by googling "English teacher russia pain death siphillis agony terror" or something like that, and tracked me down by using Google Earth and my description of the area. This kind of freaked me out, although he had already been planning to come to Russia anyway -- he was a student of Russian language -- English Teacher X just kind of pointed him in the right direction. Still, it un-nerved me, and I almost stopped blogging entirely in 2006.

He brought a friend along -- the friend set a new record for the number of muggings in the shortest period of time, and left horrified after two months. (That I actually felt good about.)

And it was all of these things, among other things, that made me wonder about whether I really wanted to be famous for this kind of thing. Watching Tucker Max's legion of rabidly hating fans poring over his personal life looking for ways to harass him called the whole idea of Internet fame into question.

Of course, I was worried that my employers might find out about it. It was an obvious Catch-22 -- if I got a book published about how English teaching sucks, I'd never be able to teach again. . . and then what was my next book supposed to be about? Unemployed X? Another Internet Pop Culture Writer X?

Anyway, I never did anything else to publicize the site after 2006. I have a few links here and there on other English teacher's blogs -- most of which blogs have now been abandoned. (You can find them yourself, if you care.) Like hobo scrawlings on the wall of deserted warehouses and empty buildings, the links linger. I'm occasionally mentioned on in the forums, and other sites related to English teaching -- but not often. This seems to have been the most recent one.

I finally installed Google Analytics about 2007, however, so at least now I know who visits. Traffic has slowly increased -- from about 30 visitors per day to somewhere between 50 and 60 now. I had 1670 visits last month from 654 visitors.

Still, I'm always surprised how many teachers I've met who have heard of this website. I never bring it up in conversation, but if I give someone my e-mail address they occasionally say something about the website.

Its estimated worth by -- $1175.30. US Dollars.

This was the last of the cartoons that I drew for the original website.

Those are definitely the cartoons of a young romantic. 32 was the new 19.


Eve Lopez said...

It's a real shame that I didn't get to Russia till long after you left. There were a couple of other infamous TEFLers that old-timers talked about during my tenure in Moscow. Your anonymity is one of the main reasons why I considered going anon myself in my next gig. Unfortunately, my writer's ego won't let me.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those long time readers who have been frequenting your blog and website for years. I don't even remember how I came across it. I have a few friends who teach English in Japan who have seen your blog, though. You should write a book.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of creeped out...I'd been reading your blog for a while when I discovered I was familiar with some of your earlier work in a small film called "Steve, the Jury".

English Teacher X said...

oh come on! that's very statistically unlikely. only a couple dozen people have seen that, and not for at least 20 years. . .

Anonymous said...

Your not a real engrish teacher until you get banned from Dave's...

toastytoasty said...

you are not a real english teacher until you get banned from daves and David Vincents

Chris said...

haha...damn. that must have been hard to is supposedly the anti-Daves...

Were you spamming for penis pills or something?

db said...

You inspired me to go to Russia. Then this VISA screw up happened. I'm Korea bound in a week and a half.

Maybe next year.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your site from the safe confines of SW Germany the past few years and amazed at some of your stories, mostly glad they're not mine but a good story is a good story.

I couldn't imagine teaching in Russia or developing countries. My standard of living after building up 7 years of good jobs is pretty damn good for 20,000ish euro/year. I would need more than twice that in the States for the same...

anyway, i just finished writing a book about teaching in Germany and what it's like. I'm afraid it would sound like a cheesy fairytale compared to your experiences but a good story is a good story, even if it's a fairytale.

Cheers dude and stay away from the camels!