A series of books published by Marquis Who's Who(R) whose original aim was to provide "accurate, concise biographies of notable Americans." Since being started in 1899 by Albert Nelson Marquis, the series now includes many categories and presents over 900,000 people from all over the world. The professional categories include the fields in Media and Communications, Medicine and Healthcare, Entertainment, Science and Engineering, Finance and Industry, American Women, American Law, American Politics, and American Art.

People are chosen for inclusion because the publisher believes their accomplishments have "significant reference value." The method by which people are chosen is unstated, although it is possible to be nominated by a "colleague."

By being included, you are not required to purchase the publication. Marquis states the primary purpose of inclusion is to maintain their biographical database as "the definitive biographical resource of top professionals."

Various members of my family, myself included, have been offered inclusion into various publications. Although it is a decent ego boost, I really wonder what their inclusion process involves, because I really do not see any "significant reference value" in including us. The order form included with the letter, I think, explains it all. I highly doubt they generate a significant amount of revenue from people who actually use it as a "biographical resource."

Who's who sent me an application form a month or so ago, telling me that I had been nominated for acceptance into their society of professional elitists. Of course I was excited, flattered, and thought I was just the greatest thing in the world and everyone must love me, so I filled out their application and sent it back.

A lady from that organization just called me at work and told me she needed to interview me to find out if I really qualified for their organization of professionals. She asked me some excellent questions that I answered to the best of my abilities, puffing myself up to seem like the most important person she's ever run into in her Who's Who lifetime.

At the end of the interview she told me that based on the answers I'd given, she'd like to include me in the society. I seem like a valuable asset, and she'd like to give other professionals in my industry the opportunity the network with me, and exchange expertise.

Flattered, and reassured as ever about my own personal self worth, I thanked her kindly.

And then she asked for money. Now, let's say the membership fee was like the Society of Thespians, $10, I would have gladly forked it over. But no, this woman asked me for either the Platinum membership package for $349.95, or the Regular membership package for $249.95.

Now, even though I'm a very important software professional, that kind of money is still a pretty penny. I was a little shocked, and I told her that I'd like to take some time to think it over and review the society to find out if it was something I was really interested in. She informed me a) That I should have reviewed it before I turned in my application, b) That getting nominated to join the Who's who is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and don't I want to be listed next to the likes of Gerald Ford and other big names I forget? and c) That membership is not on a "whenever you want to" basis and I had to pay it right now or else I lose my chance.

Put on the spot, I started to waver. Oh god how I'd like to see my name next to Gerald Ford, oh how I would love to tell my parents that I'm a big Who in the Who's Who of America. Oh how I would love to brag to my fellow employees about how I'd been accepted into this elite society for only the really important people.

She started to tell me about the biography they were going to write about me, describing my personal and professional achievements. My ego swelled as I imagined the thousands of IT professionals who would flip through the exciting biography of a girl named Sara, the most important person in America.

But a voice in the back of my head was screaming SCAM, and I realized I had no other choice but to decline. After all, would I really want to be in a Who's Who of American Suckers?

If you or anyone you know knows anyone that's in this society that actually thinks it's an "excellent personal investment" like the lady tried to tell me, please let me know. Until then I'm going to wallow in my own self-unimportance until I finally make it into Mensa.

Whatever I can do to be elite. :)

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