The unregulated dog training industry is a breeding ground for fraud and fakery. This has been a major problem for consumers looking for dog training help, but it’s also a major problem for dog trainers who are looking for educational/professional development opportunities — in particular, the problem of “fake” conferences.
What is a “fake” conference?
A “fake” conference has two main elements. Firstly, the purpose of a “fake conference” is to make a profit, and sometimes the organizers try to disguise this by making the conference look like it’s organized by a not-for-profit. To get enough interest for people to pay to attend, the organizers need to get some big names (or people that sound like they are experts). This leads to the second element of a “fake” conference: dubious content. A “fake”conference may a few big names listed as key speakers, who may or may not have agreed to present, or who may have initially agreed to present but then withdrew but their names yet remain on the list of speakers. There may also be presenters whose content lacks high standards of peer review, meaning, the conference organizers did not make the effort to screen the content to any reputable industry standards.
How to spot a “fake” conference?
Certainly, attendees don’t want to waste their money, and professionals who might be targeted to present at a “fake” conference certainly don’t want to damage their reputations by doing so. But how can one identify a “fake” conference before paying the fees, agreeing to present, or arriving at the conference and realizing your mistake?
Look carefully at the conference website. It’s not always the case, but the design of the site can provide clues that it’s not a reputable conference. Some examples of “red flags” include typos or poor grammar/spelling, images that are poor quality or looked stretched, links that don’t work, and contact information that is difficult to find and/or incorrect.
Examine the speaker’s list. Do you recognize any names? Can you find their websites? Do their credentials seem legitimate or do they have exaggerated claims and vanity awards? Why not try to contact them to confirm they are speaking? (Or, in the case of some “fake” conferences, let them know they have been listed as a speaker without their consent.)
What about the name of the conference and the name of the organizer? Do you recognize it as a well-established conference? Is the name of the conference very similar to a popular conference in the field? Does the organizer seem to be a business that arranges a lot of conferences?
Protecting yourself from fraud and fakery isn’t always easy, especially with more sophisticated schemers. Here are some helpful links so you can learn more about the problem of “fake” conferences, how you can avoid them, and how you might help to prevent the growth of this problem in our industry.
(Photo by Charles Deluvio on UnSplash)