On numerous occasions [1,2,3] I have warned against top Twitter and Blog lists spread by education affiliate sites.
Sites like accreditedonlinecolleges.com, onlinecolleges.com, onlinecollegesusa.org, onlinedegrees.com, mbaonline.com.
While some of the published Twitter Top 50 lists and Blog top 100 lists may be interesting as such (or may flatter you if you’re on it), the only intention of the makers is to lure you to their site and earn money through click-throughs.
“I get endless emails from people with these kinds of sites telling me I am on such and such a list…I even get different messages claiming to be from different people, but actually the same email address.They’re splogs and link bait scams almost always and unfortunately some people get suckered into linking to them, giving them credence and publicity. They’re a pain in the ‘arris.
These education sites do not only produce these “fantabulous” top 50 and 100 lists.
I also receive many requests for guest-authorships, and undoubtedly I’m not the only one.
Recently I also received a request from mbaonlinedegrees to post an infographic:
“While searching for resources about the internet, I came across your site and noticed that you had posted the ‘State of the Internet’ video. I wanted to reach out as I have an infographic about the topic that I think would be a great fit for your site.”
But this mba.onlinedegrees infographic was a simple, yes even simplistic, summary of “a day at the internet”:
How many emails are sent, blog posts are made, how many people visit Facebook and how many updates are updated, and so forth and so on. Plus: Internet users spend 14.6 minutes viewing porn online: the average fap session is 12 minutes…
(How would they know?)
Anyway not the kind of information my readers are looking for. So I didn’t write a post with the embedding the code for the infographic.
Thus these online education affiliate sites produce top 50 and 100 lists, blogposts, guestposts and infographics and promote their use by actively approaching bloggers and people on Twitter.
I was surprised to find¹, however that even the high quality Scientific American science blog “Observations“ (Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American) blindly linked to such a spammy infographic (just adding a short meaningless introduction) .
That is an easy way to increase the numbers of blog posts….
And according to an insider commenting to the article the actual information in the infographic is even simply wrong.
“These MBAs have a smaller brain than accountants. They don’t know the difference between asset, revenue and income”.
If such a high authority science blog does not know to separate the wheat from the chaff, does not recognize splogs as such, and does not even (at the very least) filter and track the information offered, …. than who can…. who will….?³
Sometimes I feel like a miniature version of Don Quixote…
Again, @Nutsci brought this to my attention:
Colby Vorland (@nutsci) May 26, 2012
2. In response to my post @AdamMerberg tweeted a link to a very interesting article in the Atlantic by Megan McArdle issuing a plea to bloggers to help stop this plague in its track. (i.e. saying: The reservoir of this disease of erroneous infographics is internet marketers who don’t care whether the information in their graphics is right … just so long as you link it.). She even uses an infographic herself to deliver her message. Highly recommended!
Adam Merberg (@AdamMerberg) May 28, 2012
3. This doesn’t mean that Scientific American doesn’t produce good blog posts or good scientific papers. Just the other day, I tweeted:
Laika (Jacqueline) (@laikas) May 21, 2012
The referred article Scientific American puts a new meta-analysis of statins and an accompanying editorial in the Lancet in broader perspective. The meta-analysis suggests that healthy people over 50 should take cholesterol-lowering drugs as a preventative measure. Scientific American questions this by also addressing the background risks (low for most 50+ people), possible risks of statin use, cost-effectiveness and the issue of funding by pharmaceutical companies and other types of bias.
- Health and Science Twitter & Blog Top 50 and 100 Lists. How to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff. (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
- Beware of Top 50 “Great Tools to Double Check your Doctor” or whatever Lists. (laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
- Vanity is the Quicksand of Reasoning: Beware of Top 100 and 50 lists! ((laikaspoetnik.wordpress.com)
- What’s Smaller than Mark Zuckerberg? (blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/)