No Stinking Badges

Badges?

We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.

– Gold Hat in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

I’ve written about bogus blog awards/lists here and about the marketing of Zen here, here, here and here. Now for another exciting chapter:

I’ve been notified by an entity calling itself  Zen College Life that that The Endless Further has been named one of the 50 Best Buddhism Blogs. (Cue fanfare.)

Now I don’t really begrudge anyone for using “Zen” to promote whatever it is they’re promoting. I think it is unfortunate that they want to go that route, but it’s not like Zen is a sacred word, and a lot of Buddhists do it too, so que sera sera, I guess. Visit the Zen College Life site and you will see it has nothing at all to do with Zen or Buddhism, rather it’s just a bunch of links to other links and contact forms to receive information (supposedly) from institutes of higher learning. It’s a referral program and that’s how they make their money. No crime against that.

This badge is empty

Obviously, the purpose of the awards/lists is to get bloggers excited enough about being one of the chosen few that they will put a “badge” on their blog which will drive folks to the referral site. They all say the same thing, that their list was compiled, or the award given, based on input from their editors and readers. I do believe someone on their staff looks at these blogs, but if you think they have “readers” – you know, like regular visitors – then I have some prime swampland in Louisiana I’d like to sell you.

The notification I received was almost convincing. It read “Our Editors and Readers selected your blog because of its high standard of quality information mixed with your excellent commentary.” Wow, it sounded like someone actually read this thing. Really fed my ego for a second and a half. They describe The Endless Further as “The concept that the spiritual journey´s destination is just an illusion.” I think that’s fairly accurate (I will discuss this tomorrow from the viewpoint of The Diamond Sutra). They also offered to give me a badge and a chance to be interviewed on their blog.

I emailed them back, asking for more information about their site, the purpose of the 50 Best Buddhism Blogs list, and where I could find the blog where the proposed interview would appear.

I got an answer back today: “ZenCollegeLife is a resource site for college students – we have info on schools, careers, that kind of thing. We’re doing a few ‘Best of’ articles to show students a range of cultures, jobs and interests. What we aim to do is to provide an all-round resource for students who are not sure what to do with their lives.” That’s nice. It’s a public service. Conspicuously absent was any link to their blog.

The Endless Further is kind of a public service, too. You’ll notice there are not any ads here. I don’t do this to make money. Besides, I don’t want my blog cluttered up with commercial junk. You’ll also notice I have very few links. I am not against reciprocal linking, but I am particular about who I do it with.

So, I’m not all that interested in sending folks to Zen College Life, or Online Doctorate Programs, or Online Christian Colleges (which quite a few bloggers fell for about a year ago). But, if they want to put The Endless Further on their lists and send people here, hey, I got no problem with that. So far I’ve gotten a whopping 4 hits from Zen College Life.

Overall, the whole thing seems rather meaningless. I would much rather get a few comments from people who read the blog (as I have recently) than a badge awarded by someone who wants me to help them make money.

What I find interesting though, is that some people are so eager to receive a pat on the back or have their blog validated that apparently they don’t bother to do any investigation on who’s giving it to them. Maybe they don’t care. Maybe they think they will get visitors out of it. But that’s not my thing. Not my cup of tea.

Professor Groucho Marx

So, as Groucho once said,

Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them . . . well, I have others.

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