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Awards…almost suckered again

January 17, 2012

Today I got this tweet…

And I followed the link to this text:

Hi there,

An article you wrote in 2010 titled How to get rid of AP…start by changing the conversation has earned your blog a nomination for a Fascination Award: 2011’s Most Fascinating Teaching blog.

The comments posted in response to your post prove that your content not only inspires your audience, but it also creates discussion around your posts, both of which are requirements for the nomination of a Fascination award.

As a nominee of this award, you will receive a $25 restaurant gift card and full permission to display the “Nominated” emblem on your website. To learn more about the contest, the rules, or the prizes, click here: 2011 Fascination Awards Rules & Prizes:

To get started:
1. Accept your nomination and receive your $25 restaurant gift card by sending an email that includes your blog URL to by Friday January 20th (11:59 PM EST).
2. Claim your “Nominated” badge to display on your blog:

Voting begins January 21st at 12:01 AM (EST). The blog with the most votes by January 26th at 11:59 PM (EST) will win the grand prize, a $200 restaurant gift card.

Good luck and thank you for your participation!

Director of Public Relations
Online PhD Programs:

At first I thought “Sweet—free dinner! My blog is starting to pay for itself!” (at a rate of \frac{\$25}{450\;\textrm{posts}}=\$0.05/\;\textrm{post}, which gives new meaning to the phrase “If I had a nickel…”

But just as I was about to send out my email to claim my award, I thought…wait, online PhD’s? Haven’t I seen this before…

Oh, yeah: just about a year ago: The Tricks Get tricker but they still prey on our pride.

Just to refresh your memory, here’s how the scam rolls:

  1. Online education sites get paid for every referal they send to an online eudcation provider.
  2. The victims, “students”, sign up for online degrees, taking out tremendous amounts of loans, and often, these education providers even manager to scam the government out of federal student aid dollars.
  3. Finally, with high dropout rates and questionable accreditation of many of these degree programs, students are often left with little to show for their “eduction” other than a crushing debt load.
  4. And of course my role to play in all this, if I so choose, is to add to the link referrals to the online education site by linking to my award nomination and encouraging people to vote for me. If they can get enough small time bloggers like me to link to their site, it will move the SEO needle, raising the profile of the online education site in Google search results, and bringing even more eyeballs and possible victims to the online education site.

Although I am “fascinated” with this new twist on the scam and Online Ph’d’s willingness to give me a free dinner in exchange for complicity in helping to raise their profile and ultimately lead more people to a spiral of student debt with little to show for it, I must decline this “Fascination Award.” As a person who is still working to pay off my student loans that are now more than 12 years old, the cost of this free dinner is just too high.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2012 2:11 am

    Thanks for the warning. Thought it was a strange award and tried to Google it. found your post here. I already had accepted the nomination, but i will not post the badge on my site.

  2. January 18, 2012 8:26 am

    Ann, Did you really get a $25 gift card?

    I got this too, and it went to the spam detector.

  3. January 18, 2012 9:36 am

    No check yet.

  4. January 19, 2012 12:20 am

    Thanks for your post. It felt like a scam to me, and with a quick check of his tweets which went out every minute to lots of folks, I was convinced. Your post confirmed it.

    @mathequality Your blog has earned a nomination for the Fascination Awards!

    And I was so looking forward to the Fascination Awards!

  5. Annie McQuaid permalink
    January 19, 2012 11:20 am

    Thanks so much for the heads up!

  6. February 20, 2012 8:53 am

    As everyone else said, thanks for writing this. I got an email saying I’d been nominated for my librarian blog. For a split second I thought “Cool! Someone is recognizing the work I’m trying to do with my little blog.” Then it started to sound fishy.

  7. February 20, 2012 10:58 am

    I cited your post this morning in an effort to continue spreading the message about these “awards.”

  8. February 20, 2012 1:09 pm

    Thanks. I’m a massage therapist, weight lifter and guerrilla novelist, but one thing I’m not is a librarian, so I thought something was fishy when I found one of the only posts on my blog that drew lengthy comment had been “nominated” for the Fascinating Librarian award. (I was once told I looked like a depraved librarian, but that was ages ago.) I’m glad I Googled you up.

  9. February 20, 2012 4:43 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I just got a nomination and it sounded like a scam to me. Yep, it is. I’m still fascinating though, right?

  10. February 20, 2012 6:22 pm

    Hmm… picking on LIBRARIANS for online scams? Umm… they do realize that we’re experts at searching out information and can tell the difference very easily between a legit site and a non-reliable one right??? I think they need to re-focus who they’re trying to scam! Maybe a group of professionals NOT in the information literacy business??

    I received this email as well– at first glance it sounded cool, but c’mon, that website? Did they really think I was going to buy that? Nice try guys lol 😛

  11. February 23, 2012 8:02 pm

    Like sledpress, I’m not a librarian either – and that was the first thing that made me suspicious about this award. Thanks for filling in the details of this scam. Besides, I’m in Canada. I doubt I’d even be able to use the gift certificate!

  12. June 5, 2012 1:35 pm

    Thank you….am happy I found you before I clicked on the nomination link for most fascinating yoga teacher award. Always a hook somewhere in the bait!

  13. Mari permalink
    June 19, 2012 2:33 am

    Thanks for the heads up I got one for my kinder blog. I thought it was weird because I just started my blog and haven’t done much with it yet.

  14. August 6, 2012 4:29 pm

    Likewise, thanks.

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