The blog of the museum for which I do publications recently appeared on a list of “100 best curator and museum blogs.” The list was attributed to someone named Emily Thomas at onlineuniversities.com. That was nice, but there was no explanation who Emily Thomas is or how the list was arrived at, and a visit to the onlineuniversities site raised as many questions as it answered.
Some days later the museum received an e-mail from Emily Thomas suggesting that she guest blog for us and pointing to the list to establish her bona fides. We have a responsibility to be true to our nonprofit mission, and I wrote back with some questions:
- How was the list of 100 museum and curator blogs arrived at? Were there specific criteria you considered? Is it your personal list or were others involved in formulating it?
- What is the mission of OnlineUniversities.com? Who is the website’s intended audience? Are you a for-profit organization and if so what product or service do you sell?
- Have you written guest posts on other museum sites that you can refer me to?
- What is the nature of your interest in our museum? What topics would you feel most interested in or qualified to write about?
Well, that’s a lot of questions, so maybe it’s understandable that I never heard back from Emily Thomas. Meanwhile, a colleague did a quick check of onlineuniversities.com and found that it is owned by “P. Gavins.” One might assume that this is the Patricia Gavins who is mentioned in the site’s “about” page. Here is the text of the “about” page in full:
My name is Patricia Gavins, and I am a former professor with experience in both traditional and online educational settings. With over twenty years of teaching and research experience, I am committed to spreading the lessons I’ve learned to people considering an online education. I hope to provide valuable advice regarding new developments in online education, learning tips for both online and traditional education, and important information every student should know about degree accreditation. Check out my blog to stay on top of the latest news and trends in online education.
No resume or further bio or specifics about Patricia Gavins is provided. A quick internet search finds scant information corroborating her “twenty years of teaching and research” — but as I said this was a quick search, and maybe I just didn’t look hard enough.
But in turns out the domain’s registration address leads not to Patricia Gavins but instead to Patrick Gavin (Patrick, not Patricia; Gavin, not Gavins), who owns an SEO consulting and online marketing firm in Iowa City and appears also to operate domains related to nursing schools and online dating.
So those are the facts — draw your own conclusions about onlineuniversities.com. But here’s what I find really interesting — whatever you think of their credentials, their link-building strategy is working! Witness:
- The Museum of Jewish Heritage blogs about being on the list
- The Cleveland Museum of Art talks about being on the list on their facebook page
- The Burke Museum reruns the list on their site
- Design Museum Blog blogs about being on the list
- The Carolina Curator blogs about being on the list
- Curator’s Corner blogs about being on the list
- Current.com cites it
- Hamsurfer also cites it
- And even the National Scouting Museum tweets about being on the list
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Image from P/\UL’s photostream