I got an email from a reader this morning pointing me to this post at Reject the Koolaid. It's got a new twist on how those of us in the academy can respond to the ratemyprofessors phenomenon:
Just over a year ago when Tearfree’s daughter and a friend were discovering the wonders of Google and the Internet, they decided to look up their mothers on ratemyprofessors.com, a site they’d heard the adults heatedly discussing on more than one occasion.
Tearfree’s then 10-year-old daughter was, to say the least, distressed to discover some of the not-so-nice things written about her Mom there, and, like the loyal daughter she is, she took it upon herself to set the ratemyprofessors.com record straight. “I would love to have this prof as my BFF,” she gushed online as if she were at a slumber party. Tearfree’s daughter’s friend also added some equally kind words about her own mother.
The girls were so proud of the instant results of their handiwork that the next time they got together, they decided to boost their Moms’ ratings yet again. But this time their flattering postings were removed from the site. The girls had been unmasked as users making multiple posts about the same professor from the same IP address. They’d encountered just about the only barrier ratemyprofessors.com has.
We are not told, alas, where Tearfree teaches, or what her real name is. But it certainly puts a new spin on how some of us may be getting our ratings. It gets more intriguing:
Tearfree decided earlier this year that enough was enough.
She did not take the route of more diplomatic colleagues who have appealed successfully to the managers of ratemyprofessors.com to take the worst stuff down. Nor did she follow the example of valiant professors from the social sciences who have performed complex statistical analyses of ratemyprofessors.com’s data and drawn all sorts of conclusions, including the highly obvious one that students are inclined to give top ratings to attractive easy markers. No, instead Tearfree decided she was going to go up against ratemyprofessors.com using their own dubious tactics. Thus, since the beginning of 2006, whenever she finds herself with a free moment while sitting in front of someone else’s computer – be it at the library or at her aunt’s place of employment or at the gym – Tearfree just writes herself a glowing ratemyprofessors.com review and posts it.
The only unsuccessful part of this strategy is that for some reason all the chili peppers she’s given herself, to indicate a scalding hotness rating, have failed to show up. Yet despite that small flaw, Tearfree now has one of the best ratemyprofessors.com ratings in the entire university, making herself an off-the-charts statistical anomaly and a possible footnote in that study that concluded hot easy markers almost always come out on top.
Love it! I think my project for the rest of the day will be rating all of my colleagues, giving all of them chili peppers for hotness. I will give them plaudits merited or unmerited, praising their pedagogy and their personal style to the highest heavens. Then I shall rate myself as well. If those pesky MRAs who have figured out how to disguise their IP addresses will show me how to do it, then I can do it every dang day. I'm fairly certain a small number of people have given me most of my ratings anyway, so why not add to their number with glee?
By the time I'm done, the social sciences division of Pasadena City College will have nothing but hot, brilliant, kind, helpful, erudite, inspiring faculty.
UPDATE: I may think better of my Tearfree-inspired plan. If there are students out there who have found RMP to be genuinely useful, and would rather that I not conduct a campaign of insidious civil disobedience to boost the self-esteem of my deserving and undeserving colleagues alike, let me know.