Proposal:Wiki for ratings of professors

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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation


In some ways, this would be like "Rate My Professors" and other similar sites, but it would be for serious discussions rather than sound-bites.


Like "Rate My Professors" and other like sites, this would invite opinions of particular professors in their roles as teachers, but unlike those sites, it would be for serious discussions rather than sound-bites. Students could comment and the professors being written about could also comment.


Currently existing sites for discussion of the merits and demerits of post-secondary teachers allow only brief sound-bites, not serious discusison. I recall a comment from a student: "This professor is terrible; the textbook he chose was 75 years old!". That is childishly naive. Can one explain why? No. Only short comments are allowed. One cannot ascertain what value-systems the commentators are bringing to the discussions: e.g. does a commentator feel that the professor's role in a math course is to get the student through so that the course will be behind him, to be forgotten? Or that the professor's role is to be thought-provoking? Intelligent discussion is forbidden by character limits, and in fact considered unwelcome by those who run such sites (I base this on a phone conversation with functionaries of one of them).

Key Questions

  • How would we make the existence of the project known to students and professors?
  • A page for each professor; a subpage for each written opinion? Or what?
  • What legalities would need to be considered?
  • Should a professor be notified when a page about him or her is created?

Potential Costs

Hardware: Similar to those of Wikipedia, I would guess: host machines would need to be fed and watered.

Staffing: As most or all of this information would be unsourced information about living people there would need to be active moderation of the site. This would require substantial staffing as the normal wikimedia model of volunteer moderation would obviously be swamped.

I disagree. The subjects of the articles could edit them and so could others. 20:08, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Reputation: Wikimedia is actively courting Academia as part of its development program for Wikipedia and other wikimedia projects. This project would undermine and jeopardise that.

Why would it jeopardize that? I would expect academia to welcome a site that's more than just sound-bites like what is found on the existing sites. 20:08, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Many (most?) academics have a very lukewarm relationship when it comes to the consumerist model of education. Letting the "customer" (the students) broadcast their opinions widely and anonymously (when professors can do no such thing in response) is a big controversy at the moment, along with the focus on "ratings" in general in education. I don't think most academics would like this, unless they happened to be academics who were already getting high scores anyway. I say this as an academic. The main problem with student feedback in general is that the people most motivated to post it are those who absolutely love or absolutely hate; you miss out on any middle ground, and if you trend to having more hates than loves, well, that's all that shows up. Some schools are trying to rectify this by making feedback absolutely mandatory for students, but a site like this obviously couldn't accommodate this. Take away point: make sure that academics would actually want this before assuming they would, if you care about their opinions. (It would be a valid stance to not really care, because this sort of site would not necessarily be done for the professors at all, but for the students. But keep in mind that these are two groups whose interests do not necessarily overlap.) Personally I think it's a bad idea — I can see much grief, and little good, coming out of it, and most schools have their own internal rating schemes by this point which are much more calibrated than a Wiki can offer. -- 14:59, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

First of all that is because students are not consumers. They are supposed to be co-producers. The idea that students are consumers harms the students most profoundly. No one who does not take responsibility for their own education can learn. In addition the model of students as narrow consumers is part of the ideology that has led to the massive dis-investment in education, and the corresponding creation of debt. If you intend to reify that on wikipedia, at least do not do it in a vacuum of ignorance. Second, and speaking of vacuums of ignorance, it is a bad idea because of the very well- documented biases against women and men of color in evaluations. I am assuming that the person suggesting this is SomeDude whose life experience is being a white guy in CS. Perhaps googling gender would help. In general, wikipedia has not been a particularly hostile place to women. Of course, adding this would open that to change for female academics. It is a deeply political choice that will have little valid output, provide a platform for venom, further reify the idea that an education is something that is passively consumed, encourage predominantly male wikipdians to publicly judge instructors, and create a duplicate platform where there is already one that embodies these bad ideas. I will endeavor to think of one good thing, and if I do I assure you I will return to post it.


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Wiki for ratings of professors.

Want to work on this proposal?

Michael Hardy 00:50, 12 March 2011 (UTC)