It’s always nice to get recognition. So when I received the following email, I was at first surprised and pleased:
Congratulations! Jean here, and your blog, Louis Kessler’s Behold Blog, was determined to be an essential part of our resources, and has received our Top Genealogy Blogs award presented by Online Colleges and Universities!
You can see your name amongst our winners here at:
We feel learning should not be limited to only what you can earn a college degree in. So we began an Experimental College, where knowledge extends beyond the classroom. And your blog is a pivotal part of our resources.
As a winner, we honor you by presenting you with an awards badge. You can use this to signify your win to your winners!
If you choose to accept or decline inclusion in our resource list, please let me know.
Please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions. Again, Congratulations, and keep providing us with a great resource!
I was all ready to put their nice award graphic here up on my blog, but something just didn’t feel right.
Receiving and being proud of a meaningful award is good. But displaying a meaningless award is only an attempt to be deceitful to your readers.
Take a look at the page with the list of sites they awarded their “Top Genealogy Blogs” award to. The sites they pick appear rather random. They did not give any specific reasons for their choice of the specific sites, but only give general statements about the category and don’t specify what’s special about each site to deserve being included. I doubt whether they even checked the specific sites, since 8 of them are no longer active and 2 have not posted since 2007.
So then, looking around, I found this:
So they’ve done:
Top Doll Making Blogs www.onlinecollegesanduniversities.net/experimental-college/top-doll-making
Top Baha’i Blogs www.onlineuniversity.org/top_bahai
Top UFO Blog www.onlineuniversity.org/top_ufo
Top Antiques Blogs www.onlineuniversity.org/top_antiques
Top Hunting Blogs www.onlineuniversity.org/top_hunting
and who knows how many more.
All have a similar template and admission letter. The letter for one awardee was a little bit more detailed than the one I got. It was still listed in Google’s cache, but the awardee has since deleted that post from their blog. If it’s still in the cache, you can find it here.
Otherwise, here is what they said in their letter. It is very interesting:
“Each of these blogs were found by our hard working staff using a system of filtering. We first take all the possible blogs that can qualify for a category, and then filter each blog to make sure they uphold to the values that our site does. Informative, entertaining, and enjoyable; each blog
overall provides each reader with the satisfaction that visiting the blog was worth their time. After this list is created, it is then passed on to our judges who then grade each blog on multiple characteristics that can define a blog. Once this is completed, the top 1% of blogs are then chosen, and are given our stamp of approval.”
“Why don’t we do any voting, or notify our candidates of their possible win for our award? Because we want to take the bias out of our awards. There are too many awards out there that base their winners off of how many votes they garner. But what does that represent? How well a readership can click a button? It doesn’t say anything about the site itself. So, we feel our award process is unique, and we hope that you recognize our hard work and effort that goes into selecting our winners.”
Whoops. It gets worse. Looks like there’s others closely related in that business as well: www.onlineschools.org/top-blogs
Of course, I should have been more aware of this. Software has its own scam awards, and Andy Brice did an experiment and followed up with this classic article on it: http://successfulsoftware.net/2007/08/16/the-software-awards-scam/
This award sucked me in initially. It was well done. But the real giveaway was that they weren’t a genealogy organization. They are just trying to get reverse links to improve their page rank or something like that.
Well, I’m giving them their reverse links. But I’m sure it’s not the type they wanted.