Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists.

1 09 2009

Just the other week I wrote a post “Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists!”

In short this post describes that (some) Top 100 etc lists may not be as useful or innocent as they seem. Some of these lists are created by real scam-sites, who’s only goal is to make money via click-troughs and to get as much traffic as possible, via YOU (and me)!

The scam appears in many guises.

  1. As submissions for a  blog carnival, i.e. 100-weight-loss-tips-tricks.
  2. An offer of a health care student who asks you to do a guest post (you only have to link back to his/her site).
  3. In the form of a mail, dropping you a quick line that you’re included in a top 100 list, possibly worth mentioning to your audience.
  4. You just noticed a top 100 list with excellent sites, worth mentioning on Twitter or Friendfeed, so your followers become aware of the sites and pass the message.

The first two are pretty obvious scam. The latter two are more difficult to see through.

Why do I write another post? Because it happened again, today. And I think I should bring the message home more clearly.

Below you see what happens. Berci has found a list with 50 great tools to “Double check your Doctor”. He tweets the link to what he considers a great resource list, and in no time the message and the link are tweeted several times. Some people also post a link on their blog.

  1. Bertalan Meskó
    Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  2. Liza Sisler
    lizasisler Good resource list RT @Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  3. Bart Collet
    bart RT @Berci: 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  4. Guy Therrien
    gtherrien RT @bart: 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor – Online Nursing Classes http://ff.im/-7q9pK
  5. zorgbeheer
    zorgbeheer DELI 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor – Online Nursing Classes: You probably know that Googling yo.. http://bit.ly/n1NXc
  6. ekettell
    ekettell RT@Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  7. Robert L. Oakes
    RobertLOakes RT @Berci: 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA (via @ahier)
  8. dr. Horváth Tamás
    ENTHouse RT @Berci 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor http://ff.im/-7q7DA
  9. Sagar Satapathy
    sagar13d 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor. URL: http://tinyurl.com/mlmf47

this quote was brought to you by quoteurl

Finally this will result in more traffic to the website onlinenursingclasses and a higher rank in Google.

Indeed 12 hours after Berci’s tweet, searching for “50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor” (between quotes) gives just 21 hits (similar hits not shown), many of which can be traced back to the twitter posts.
All but one are positive: the last hit is my warning, which was only received by ahier and TheSofa. Ahier deleted his original positive tweet from Twitter.

Also worrying is that the spam site was bookmarked by various Stumble upon visitors. And that the one person that made the Stumble upon review also “liked” similar sites, like Online Classes and Learn Gasms. So probably a whole team takes care that the site is socially bookmarked. When several people “like” a site others may be attracted to the site as well. That is the principle of social bookmarking sites. And you and I do the rest….

1-9-2009 0-55-13 Google results 50 great tools

Why is this bad? You can read more in my previous post or in the post “Affiliate sites” at Ellie <3 Libraries.
In addition, Shamsha brought another post to my attention, again from a librarian:

Top 100 Librarian Friendfeeds to follow at cheapie online degrees com at Tame the Web.com.

which refers to

http://www.librarian.net/stax/2970/why-i-dont-accept-guest-posts-from-spammers-or-link-to-them/

Tame the web gives some very good advice

I sometimes see other libloggers linking to sites like these and I have a word of advice: don’t. When we link to low-content sites from our high-content sites, we are telling Google and everyone that we think that the site we are linking to is in some way authoritative, even if we’re saying they’re dirty scammers. We’re helping their page rank and we’re slowly, infinitesimally almost, decreasing the value of Google and polluting the Internet pool in which we frequently swim. Don’t link to spammers.

How do you know that you can’t trust that particular site?

Well here are some features I’ve noticed (for the spam sites in “my”field)

  • All the sites that publicized such list were educational, mostly directed at nurses or other health practitioners. Some even end at org. Examples:
    • nursingschools.net
    • associatedegree.org
    • rncentral.com
    • Learn-gasm
    • onlineclasses.org
    • onlinenursepractitionerschools.com
    • searchenginecollege.com
    • collegedegree.com
    • ultrasoundtechnicianschools.org
    • phlebotomytechnicianschools.com
    • MiracleFruitPlus.com.
  • All sites have a Quick-degree, nursing degree, technician school etc finder. Mostly it is the only information at the ABOUT-section (?!)
  • The home page often contains prominent links (clicks) to Kaplan University, University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University, and/or others.
  • People behind the site often approach you actively (below are some examples) to gain your interest.
  • It is unclear how the lists are made and who is behind it.
  • There is no real information, only lists and degree finders.

So spread the word! Be careful with those list. DON’T LINK TO THEM! And if you see a possible interesting list, first CHECK the site: WHO, WHY, WHAT, WHERE AND WHEN. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all!

31-8-2009 21-23-07 online nursing

The degree finder at the about page

1-9-2009 1-32-11 about 100 list

Prominent links to some Universities

1-9-2009 2-30-23 universities online nursing

An example of a letter drawing your attention to a list

1-9-2009 2-56-49 hi we just posted an articleAn example of a letter asking to write a guest post.

31-8-2009 23-56-03 guest post

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13 responses

1 09 2009
Bertalan Meskó

I never accept guest posts on Scienceroll, but you made a really good point here. Thank you, Jacqueline, for the note and for being so perfectly thoughtful. Nothing can escape your great observation. :)

1 09 2009
Beth

I am so glad you’ve posted about this. These sites drive me crazy!!! I find the nursing sites to be especially odious because they try to imply that you can become an RN via an online program. They are completely misleading and full of useless content that only tricks google into ranking them higher.

1 09 2009
50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor or Not? « ScienceRoll

[...] 50 Great Tools to Double Check Your Doctor. I shared it on Twitter as it looked nice. Later, Laikas took a deeper look at it. Well here are some features I’ve noticed (for the spam sites in [...]

3 09 2009
John Poffenberger

I dunno, I thought the content of the article was actually pretty decent. So what if these guys are trying to make a quick buck? God forbid anyone should actually make any money on the Internet!

@Beth, I think it actually is possible to complete nursing coursework online.

4 09 2009
Sharon

Agreed John. While I personally disapprove getting such emails on a regular basis, I don’t think it’s wrong to use tricks and strategies to make a fast buck on Internet.

Whatever you do, blogging, Internet marketing or anything else, your aim is to make $$$$, not charity. I think we are a bit harsh on them. Rather, we should learn from these sites.

9 09 2009
Alain Ochoa

Good point, I’ll be more carefule in the future!

9 09 2009
Health Highlights – September 8th, 2009 | Highlight HEALTH

[...] Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists | Laika&rsq… [...]

14 09 2009
junaebah

Great post, I found it useful information on this site…thanks

10 03 2010
Baby Scales

It’s good to know that there are people out there who know better and can help others not make mistakes that others have made. Thank you so much for this article.

Chris

8 01 2011
Christian Sinclair

Laika,

Thank you for writing this up so succinctly. I hate getting these and also get frustrated when I see respected bloggers fall prey to these tricks. At least now I have a link to help explain why they should beware! Awesome.

Christian

24 04 2012
Health and Science Twitter & Blog Top 50 and 100 Lists. How to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff. « Laika's MedLibLog

[...] @Prof_S_Hawking). And @nutsci (having read two posts of mine about spam top 50 or 100 lists [1, 2]) recognized this Twitter list as spam: Beware of "top 100 scientists" and similar [...]

28 05 2012
Even the Scientific American Blog Links to Spammy Online Education Affiliate Sites… « Laika's MedLibLog

[...] numerous occasions [1,2,3] I have warned against top Twitter and Blog lists spread by education affiliate sites. Sites like [...]

15 10 2012
Silly Sunday #52 Online Education Sites: and the Spam Goes on. « Laika's MedLibLog

[...] many occasions  (here, here, here and here [1-4), I have warned against top 50 and 100 lists made by online education [...]

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