Pet peeve: teachers who ask you, on behalf of their fictitious students, to add links to your website

September 13, 2012

Every few months I get an email like this one regarding my faculty website.

Good morning Greg!

My name is [name] and I am a [teacher/tutor/aide] at [school district] in [state]. My students have been using your webpage, __________________, and brought to my attention how helpful it has been for their [related topic] project!

One of the girls, [name of student], suggested another resource, as a thank you: [link to slightly related web page, often hosted by a domain with no obvious connection to the topic]

Would you mind adding it to your page? I think it would be a great help to your visitors! I researched the article and it is very educational which is why I agreed to write to you when she asked me yesterday.

We would like to thank you again for the wonderful resources and hope that you add our newly discovered resource to your page! Let me know if you add it, as I would love to show her the suggestion up…it would be a great motivator for her peers to see too!

Have a wonderful day!

[email address from an education-related domain, but not affiliated with a specific school district]

Perhaps a similarly generic response is in order.

Dear [name],

I know as well as you that websites are ranked by search engines according to their credibility, which is measured in part by the number of other websites that link to them. I know that certain people get hired to promote the addition of links to certain businesses’ sites. And I know that you are one of them. Shame on you.

Perhaps, [name], you ease your conscience by rationalizing that there’s no harm in politely suggesting a link for someone’s website. I agree with that. However, when you write that your students were using my web page, and found it useful, and one of them suggested a link that you are now forwarding to me, YOU ARE LYING. I don’t know whether or not you’re an educator, [name], or whether or not you have a student named [name of student], but that student, if she exists, did not suggest the link. You did. And you’re not forwarding it “as a thank you” but because you’re getting paid to do so.

Please cease this dishonest activity immediately.

Greg Crowther

A lot of people out there are getting these emails, and some of them are getting fooled. Just do a Google search for “Would you mind adding it to your page?” or “it would be a great motivator for her peers” or one of the other telltale phrases.

One comment

  1. You should absolutely send this email in response!

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