Ahia's List

People on the internet are lying to you about IT solutions. Affiliate marketing, sponsored content, corporate blogposts masquerading as objective advice, it's not good. I have written about how there's a lot of bullshit online pretending to be solid IT advice. This list will include websites that I would not, under any circumstance, use for IT decision making, and the sins that they have committed. I hope to do what Beall's List does for predatory scientific journals, but for IT.

Have a publication you think should be added to this list? Contact me on LinkedIn

Terms

Fighting against Internet bullshit requires media literacy. You should check out this guide to media literacy if you want to develop your media literacy chops. I will also define here the sins used above, and why I think they disqualify a website from being credible.

  • Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is an advertising partnership between a publication and a product. When a publisher uses affiliate marketing, they include links to their partner's webpage, and track when a reader visits the webpage using a link from their article. If the reader then purchases from the partner, the affiliate marketer receives money for helping to facilitate this purchase. It is a clear conflict of interest when providing objective IT advice: if the publication only makes money when you make a purchase from a partner, they will only ever review their partners and only ever give glowing reviews, chasing that advertiser dollar.
  • Copywriters: Copywriters write the verbiage used in marketing materials. As such, they are advertisers. Often times publications hire Technical Copywriters (glorified advertisers for tech) rather than Technical Writers, people who write expository technical articles.
  • Corporate Blogposts: Corporate blogposts are a marketing exercise where corporations create articles that pretend to be objective advice. Since articles and listicles are favored by Google when listing search results, they are effectively advertisements for the product. While a corporate blogpost may be innocent when hosted on a corporation's homepage, so that it is clear this is an advertisement, sites that repost or link to corporate blogposts should not be trusted, since they are taking advertisements at face value.
  • Search-Engine Optimization, or SEO: Any system that can be gamed is gamed and search engines are no exception. Many publishers make decisions in order to make sure that they are featured at the top of Google search results.
  • Sponsored Content: Some advertisers simply pay a publication to write glowing reviews of their products. Any IT publication making use of sponsored content, especially if this conflict of interest is not disclosed, should not be trusted.