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This question has two intents. Firstly sharing an email I received, as an academician, with other academicians and also clarification on the contents of this email and the way it works.

I have received the following email.

Dear XYZ,

I am the editor-in-chief of Who's Who in the World® and I have received your name through a private nomination process. I'm writing to ask if you would provide us with information about your personal and professional accomplishments for possible inclusion in the forthcoming 33rd Edition. Inclusion in Who's Who in the World is a sign of true success. The book is a global reference source relied upon by universities, libraries, corporations, and governments around the world.

Like LinkedIn, Wikipedia, and Facebook, it costs you nothing to be included in Who's Who in the World. But unlike those resources, our books only contain biographies that meet our rigorous selection criteria (see below). Also, our books are available both online and in print and are used by the world's most respected institutions. So among other things, Who's Who in the World provides all the benefits of high quality networking. Many people put this recognition on their résumés or CVs.

Please click this link to the Who's Who in the World Biography Submission Form and you will be taken to our password-protected site. The submission process takes only a few minutes, and the benefits of being included are significant.

Deadline: February 23, 2015 Congratulations on being nominated!

Sincerely,

Fred Marks Editor-in-Chief, Who's Who in the World®

I googled this message and found some other people are getting it. I further drilled down and found that my email is allegedly given to them by Thomson Reuters (from the Thomson connect website that is the sender of the above email). So, I assume I am not the only one and will not be the last. I assume many of you academician and researchers will receive the same email so I thought it is good to raise the concern here since I found no other discussion elsewhere.

The email is being sent from

Who's Who Selection Committee and the reply-to field shows Who's Who Selection Committee

The email is Signed By "thomsonreuters-authorconnect.com" (suggests that my email is being given to them by Thomson Reuters).

The company behind this email is called

Marquis Who is Who, Publisher of Who’s Who in America® since 1899

Here are my concern:

  1. How much is this website credible? Does anyone (including academic employers) give credit to those listed there (email says, inclusion in Who's Who in the World is a sign of true success. The book is a global reference source relied upon by universities, libraries, corporations, and governments around the world).

  2. Registering into the system needs to fill a form that contains almost every single piece of information about me, including my parents, education, work, wife, certification, political/social activities and many more which is quite scary to me. How can individuals rely on this particular website and share their information. Does inclusion in this particular website gives so much credit that people lose privacy?

  • Related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/26798/… (maybe it's not exactly the same, but I am not sure whether there is any difference between these honour societies and what you mentioned) – xLeitix Feb 6 '15 at 13:38
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    To make it very clear, this sounds like somewhat more sophisticated spam to me and my instinct would be to ignore the mail. – xLeitix Feb 6 '15 at 13:40
  • 6
    my reply: "Dear Fred, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!" – Michael Feb 6 '15 at 16:44
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    These things are pure bull-diddle. This particular volume is published by News Communications, Inc, and is one of a family of similarly-named publications, including Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, Who's Who in American Politics, etc. They make money by getting the schlumps who are listed to buy the book so they can show that they're listed. Woot. In my opinion it's meaningless (and I should know - back in 1975 I was listed in Who's Who Among American High School Students! :-) – Bob Jarvis Feb 6 '15 at 23:18
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    @Espanta has it right. Even 20 years ago some reporters, committees, etc would look to Who's Who for information. Not now. It is not a scam in the sense of dishonesty. They will forthrightly ask you to buy hundreds of items with your name printed in them or glued onto them. – Colin McLarty Feb 7 '15 at 18:11
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How much is this website credible? Does anyone (including academic employers) give credit to those listed there (email says, inclusion in Who's Who in the World is a sign of true success. The book is a global reference source relied upon by universities, libraries, corporations, and governments around the world).

I will restrict to "academic employers" -- that is the part of you question which is on-topic for this site. Answer: no academic employer I know will give you any credit for this. Having this "distinction" on your CV would, in the context of seeking an academic job, be only negative: not very negative, but it would make you look slightly naive. The gist of this prior answer of mine (thanks to @xLeitix for calling attention to the question) certainly does apply here and explains this in more detail.

Registering into the system needs to fill a form that contains almost every single piece of information about me, including my parents, education, work, wife, certification, political/social activities and many more which is quite scary to me. How can individuals rely on this particular website and share their information. Does inclusion in this particular website gives so much credit that people lose privacy?

To the best of my knowledge, this is not a phishing scam, as you seem to be worried about. What they want to do is print books, which have lots of names together with information about those names. The more information you provide, the more material for potential inclusion they have. Some people actually take the length of their entry in these books as a point of pride (I seem to recall, well over 20 years ago, Harlan Ellison boasting that his entry in one of these things was longer than Ronald Reagan's, or something like that). This is not a new millennium thing. Go back 30 or more years, before the days of prevalent identity theft, and look at their request with those more innocent eyes. None of the information you listed is truly sensitive or confidential; it's just very detailed biographical information.

Of course, my answer to the first point renders the answer to the second point academic, but I wanted to be fair to them. One more thing: for academics, I disagree completely with what they say about wikipedia: it has quite stringent inclusion criteria, and wikipedia is a "global reference" source in the sense that organizations like this one have been dreaming about for the better part of a century but has never quite come to pass. It is also a free reference source, which is a key point that I hope that any academic would appreciate and value.

  • 3
    "for academics, [Wikipedia] has quite stringent inclusion criteria". Indeed. The criteria are at WP:PROF. I used to be fairly active in Wikipedia page deletion discussions and it was fairly common for a run-of-the mill academic's entry to be deleted for failing to meet these criteria. (At least a few a month.) – David Richerby Feb 7 '15 at 11:34
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    When you mentioned Harlan Ellison I asked myself "Who's that?" Since I do not own a copy of Who's Who in Whatever, I found an answer quickly by a web search leading me to Wikipedia. And Ronald Reagan has a longer entry than him there. – KCd Feb 7 '15 at 20:20
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They are trying to sell their books and associated vanity products. They know that their primary market for it, is people included in it.

Personally, I'd take an academic's inclusion in it to be a possible indication of gullibility.

If you've got the time, the Forbes article on the Marquis Who's Who series, "Hall of Lame", is worth a read.

24

These things are essentially a vanity publishing scam. Being included typically means that you have $100 to burn and poor consumer skills. Don't touch it with a 10 foot pole.

-1

This sounds to me like a scam. Check out the actual e-mail address. Does this correspond with Marquis' Who's Who? My bet is that it does not. Marquis could not care less who you are. I have been in Who's Who in America for the past five years. For the first four years, I received everything in writing via mail. Only this past year did I receive anything via e-mail. You have been scammed. As an academic, you should know to check your sources; in this case, the e-mail address.

Forbes' critique of 1999 was accurate. Later, they reversed their evaluation after the company was sold to News Communications, Inc. When Forbes first set up their college rating system, 25% of their rating was based upon the high achievements of alumni, based upon WWiA listings. Today, Forbes compiles its own list of highest achievers. 32.5% of their rating is based upon this list. Shifting from WWiA to their own list has produced no significant change in relative ratings.

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