Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Future of the IR Rumor Mill

Since there is a (temporary) lull in the job market postings and Fall 2007 jobs are beginning to be posted on APSAnet, this seems to be a useful time to solicit feedback on a number of issues regarding the future of the IR Rumor Mill.

The first question regards the utility of job announcements. Since most of the data comes from APSAnet in any case (and since most readers presumably have access either through their accounts or through a colleague's account), one question is whether it would be useful to continue individual posts as jobs come out. Since no one has complained since this practice was stopped in February, presumably this was not the most useful or popular feature. Additionally, although listings that expire cannot be searched for, direct links still work. Would a table of links and expiration dates still be useful?

The second question regards the scope of the blog. Originally this was set up as an IR-only blog. Given the large overlap between IR and comparative in job listings (somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3), it may make a good deal of sense to do both. (This, of course, requires additional work). Additionally, the American and Comparative blog seems to have done a good job of performing this function. Thoughts by readers of both would be appreciated.

The third question regards limitations on information posted. Unlike rumor mills in the physical sciences, this mill (and the other related political science ones) feature generally unmoderated, anonymous postings. The benefit is that information can spread quickly. The downside, of course, is that information that is outside of the remit of these blogs is posted without fear of being identified. While community policing seems to have worked fairly well here (and not so well in other cases), it is unclear where the boundaries should be set. We have had a policy of only deleting comments as requested by people discussed in those comments and guiding by exhortation rather than by fiat. Does this policy need to change, regarding either the types of information requested or the deletion policy?


Anonymous said...

1) agnostic about reposting job listings. I can see the benefit.

2) Yes, CP and IR!

3) Retain anonymous posting.

My $0.02.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to 6:44 pm

Anonymous said...

When someone is obviously using the site for ill-matched purposes (whether nefarious or merely clueless) I see no problem with deleting them. Examples include the "what's the juice" and the recent recruiting/poaching attempts. Shouting down just makes it unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

Well, not to get too semantic on y'all, but it strikes me that a decision needs to be made as to whether this is a "rumor mill" or an "information mill."

The name "rumor mill" implies to me (as I think many others) that rumors--those being not necessarily substantiated nuggets of information about developments on the job market--are fair game. We depend (perhaps unwisely) on the judgment and discretion of our colleagues to not spread rumors that could be harmful.

An "information mill" would, I think, imply that only confirmed, substantiated information should be posted. It would be very easy to remove any posts that did not have, in essence, a footnote. That is, any information posted would have to say who or what the source of the information was and it must seem credible. For example, "Blowhard University is inteviewing Disgruntled Scholar X. Source: E-mail sent to graduate students announcing job talk." Of course, people could easily lie and get around this, but at least it would be some sort of standard to which we could point.

Anonymous said...

I'm with anon 9:27. I don't think there's anything wrong with imposing a little accountability and restraint on posters. Like the other posters said, though, I'm indifferent about posting the listings. It probably takes a lot of time to reproduce something that most people have access to through APSA.

Anonymous said...

No to job listings; no to CP and IR; retain anonymous posting; delete messages that are inappropriate by fiat, but post a note saying, "8:11 5/26/06 Message deleted". Thanks for doing all this! I was on the job market and found the site anxiety reducing overall.

Anonymous said...

Trim it to bare-bones like the physical sciences. Accept rumors at an anonymous email address and post them in a condensed table. The blog format is idiotic. Most entries consist of "Any info about [my pet school]?", and nobody replies to those anyway. Right now the rumors here are not credible, sometimes incendiary, and always useless. I found it anxiety-inducing and not helpful. I actually ended up getting a job that I had long forsaken due to "information" posted here. Thanks, Rumor Mill. Huge help.

Our field has entered the world of electronic mass-gossip, and the only way to distinguish the IR Rumor Mill from all the other lame Enquirer-like blogrags is for the moderator to demonstrate good judgment. Post rumors that are vetted or have good sources, and don't slander people. Respect the privacy of those who ask for it. People will flock here, and it might even be useful. Right now, it's little more than an e-wasteland.

Anonymous said...

What a melodramatic crock. Why blame the blog for you acting on bad information? There have been plenty of replies to school-specific queries. Believe it or not others have actually benefitted. Maybe it's your self-absorption that is causing all the anxiety. Blogs do have the unfortunate effect of allowing for empty venting.

Anonymous said...

I think 11:11 is overstating the point, but I don't think s/he's wrong to complain about how puerile the posts on many of these blogs has become.

Other than that, I agree with the original post's priorities. (1) I'd keep the job listings. (2) A friend who does IR took a job that was advertised as CP. This stuff happens, and it happens more often between IR and CP, I'll bet, than between AP and CP. (3) Maintain anonyomous posting, but also the right to moderate the grade-school garbage.

Anonymous said...

1). If reposting the jobs is time consuming drop it. It is nice to have but not crcial.

2). Just the cross-listed CP positions, or those that ask for ability to also do IR. No need to post all the CP positions.

3). Retain ananymous posting. Moderator should feel free to pull any inappropriate posts. All those who are very critical of the posts here should just not come to the site. This is just the same stuff that gets talked about in lounges and conferences all the time. It is an unfortunate but ubiquitous part fo the profession. Get a thick skin now or yor whole career will be miserable.

To the moderator. The Mill is not a democracy. You are providing a valuable service and many of us are grateful. Since you are altruistically providing this service, I believe you can exercize good judgement and yank any particularly egregious posts that run to cross purposes with the intent of the site.

Thanks for doing this and do not let the complaints bring you down.

Anonymous said...

Double ditto to 5:25AM May 26. WORD.

Anonymous said...

Well, not being a member of APSA, I certainly liked the job postings, so my vote would be to keep them. And I would second the motion to integrate IR and CP.

Anonymous said...

Some late jobs at Oxford (starting date is Fall 06!):


Anonymous said...

1) Yes to reposting job listings, but not if it takes too much time.

2) Yes to integrating CP and IR.

3) Yes and no to retaining anonymous posting. I agree with a previous poster calling for job information to be posted in a table format with some information about source credibility; this needs to remain anonymous so people feel they can share tips. But, if the blogmaster wishes to continue to allow discussion about quality of various scholars/departments/types-of-work, then I think that people should have to be accountable for their opinions. Frankly, I stopped coming to this site once that became more typical of the average post. To echo a previous poster, let's encourage the sharing of information, not rumors and bad humor.

Thank you a million times over for providing us with this service. It's much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI: APSA eJobs already has a ton of job postings listed.

Anonymous said...

I like the information mill idea- keep all the stuff about upcoming job postings and fellowship offers; much easier to keep track of than APSA's God-awful system