And the 2020 Bantha Award goes to…

31 Dec

There are so many book awards, would anyone notice if I just made one up? When I see an award on someone’s book that I don’t recognize, I always check to see if it’s legitimate. How true is that for the rest of life? And how much do I want to fact check everything?

For example, there’s a book by an acquaintance of mine, and as a result, I really want to like it. It has a seal that says, “Readers’ Favorite, Five Stars.” I’ve tried reading it twice–the story’s okay, but the formatting is so awful that I don’t understand who is talking and when–I never got past page 20. You spent so much money on a custom cover, sprung for a sticker because this is self-published, and someone to sell your books at a con, and you couldn’t spring for an editor?

It turns out that Readers’ Favorite is a website that does free book reviews, has contests, and offers proofreading services to authors and book access to readers. However, since you can just buy a roll of stickers to put on your books, as long as your free review got five stars, it makes me wonder how authentic this is. Plus in 2020, they proudly proclaim that they are “featuring 800+ winners and finalists in 150+ categories,” makes me think I could sweep the alternate history urban fiction category this year. 🙂 Okay, this is obviously a money-making ploy, and it’s a good one, but how many people would do the research to catch it?

About 30 years ago, the accreditation movement started getting steam–it might have started earlier, but as a new teacher, this was the first I had heard of it. ISO 2000 certification was the rage in the factories I worked with, but in the early internet, no one outside manufacturing executives had any clue what ISO was or why they should care. It’s actually rather impressive when you research it, but it only really impresses other manufacturers, not your customers.

Private schools and public colleges suddenly all got accredited by these mega-agencies that no one had ever heard of. Unless you’re working in a private school, have you ever heard of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges? No? Well, it’s very important if you want to convince American colleges to accept your high school graduates if you’re teaching them in Malaysia. In fact, this accreditation got so bad that now there’s an accreditation association for accreditation associations!

Damn–I wish I got in on this scam. Convince people that you’ll make them authentic and pocket their money; you’re selling air! It’s gotten so crazy that there are fake accreditation agencies for fake colleges! You know, the diploma mills for schools that don’t actually exist? On a more insidious path, there are fake colleges that have an office that purely exist to allow foreigners to come in student visas, and rake in Department of Education funding.

This post is getting way too long–so I better continue it tomorrow. However, I am curious, what are areas that you’re familiar with that you know people are trying to scam with fake awards/certifications/accreditations? Let me know in the comments below!

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