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Liz Lawley on professor rating systems

Liz Lawley has pushed a short discussion on her blog about online professor rating systems and whether these would be a good idea if reversed (teacher on student). She finds them skewed to the extremes and potentially very damaging when anonymous ratings/comments are allowed. I agree.

I think that when reputation and identity are involved – these types of systems should definitely not allow for anonymous comments within the walls of the system itself. There is a place for anonymity, almost always, but it doesn’t have to exist formally within the channel. We can always whisper in the hallway or talk around the watercooler – or even print out anonymous rants on the office printer and leave them for co-workers to find and muse over… but the types of effects that recorded/refindable/searchable anonymous comments/rants can have for the person being reviewed are way too dangerous. Like Liz says in a later comment – faculty are much more worried about a boss seeing these potentially slanderous and false comments than they are about potential students seeing them. And without any real recourse, the deck is way too stacked against the reviewee.

A very different question posed later is also a good one. Should these comments be dissolved over time? Do they lose their temporal relevance as time passes and the class and the students and, no doubt, the professor has had a chance to change. If I’m an incoming student, does a review posted 7 years ago really have any relevance to me? Should it? How would I evaluate that?

I’ll write a little more about the pieces of a reputation/review system that I feel are necessary in the next post.

Update: Necessary pieces of a rating and review system

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