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.
- As submissions for a blog carnival, i.e. 100-weight-loss-tips-tricks.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
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….
which refers to
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:
- 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!
The degree finder at the about page
Prominent links to some Universities
An example of a letter drawing your attention to a list