100 Best Curator and Museum Blogs; Or, Link-building Made Easy

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:

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Link-building anyone?


Image from P/\UL’s photostream


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  1. Ya, I was also a recipient of that “honour” but it seemed pretty obvious that the site was just a high class link farm. They didn’t get a blog post or link from me. If they want to link to me I don’t mind. 😉

  2. Interesting – I’ve gotten similar type queries but I just trash them because I am suspicious of their motives. Guess I had a right to be suspicious. Now, if the Asian wants to “hire” me…..ahem…
    Oh wait. I’m already posting a ton of stuff in their blog.
    Which is a great blog (IMHO) – and that’s a totally free, no strings attached opinion.

  3. Damn, I am having so much trouble with my computer. I spilled wine on the mouse yesterday. I thought worse case, I’ll have to get a new mouse. But since then my touchpad is also not working. It’s near impossible to navigate without a pointing device these days. I can somehow make my way to device manager and delete the driver, and then it will work until it finds the device again and I reboot to complete the installation. Grrr!

    Anyway, what I wonder, Sylvia and Nancy, is if you can spot this kind of thing why can’t all these museum people? (Or don’t they care?) Is it that they are just not as experienced on the internet (yes, I admit to remembering animated gifs saying sites were “under construction”).

    Peacay, my feeling is the same as articulated on the link you point to. When we link to these things we drive them up in the search engine result pages and this just adds clutter at the top that makes those pages less helpful for finding real information.

    Okay, back to my pointing device problem . . .

  4. Yes, I think it is a question of experience, and getting familiar with legitimate versus illegitimate websites and emails. My dad often puts down the internet because he can’t distinguish the junk from the good stuff and so he thinks it’s all junk. It must be bewildering to novices. They’re really jumping in the deep end. When I started we were still using Mosaic! It was quite a revolution when Netscape came along… 😀

    Hope your mouse and touchpad issues get solved soon!

  5. I second Sylvia’s hope that you get more enlightened mice ( or at least a respectful, behaving mouse). Obviously your mouse is a bit worse for the drink. As far as spotting the fraud, well, I’ve been on the Internet about as long as there has been an internet. I started playing around on the back side of the server at UCSF in the days of DOS (does anybody remember the //: commands?). I just got a “feel” for something that didn’t quite jibe and when it’s somebody that I don’t know, with a big long title, making over the top claims and offering a “free” service, I immediately get suspicious. But remember, the Nigerian and other scams rake in millions of dollars a year so there are a lot of people who can’t tell the real deal from the scam. Plus, well, I think it’s human nature to want something for nothing.

  6. Laptop is fine. I figured the touchpad driver was corrupted but I guess it just took several tries to find the right one to replace it with. The health benefits of wine, however, are exaggerated, at least as far as computer mice are concerned . . .