Monday, November 9, 2009

The New Wiki Versus the Old Wiki

We've been seeing some complaints about the new wiki in comments. Anon 6:00 presents a fairly comprehensive list of problems:

1. There is no stored history. If someone reports information, and someone else removes the information, there is no record of the report. I’ve reported application acknowledgements that have been removed, for no good reason (as far as I can tell). Someone else I know reported an interview request that was also removed.

2. There is no way to report requests for further information. A lot of schools do a first cut, and then request further information from the survivors. I’m sure many of us would like to know which schools have done this. I’m aware of two such requests, but I’m unable to post either.

3. There is no way to guess how many interviews a school has scheduled, nor whether they are scheduling all of their interviews at once or not. On other wikis, it is sometimes possible to work this out on the basis of the number of interview requests reported, and the dates.

4. There is none of the extra information that helps to determine how reliable a report is. For example: multiple reports of the same piece of information from different ip addresses, reports by ip addresses that have provided reliable/unreliable information in the past, et cetera.


There are four possible solutions: a) the administrators of the new wiki could modify it in a way that resolves the problems; b) someone could restart the old wiki; c) (a) and (b); d) neither (a) nor (b). I am actually somewhat sympathetic to the suggestion that these wikis are a net evil and should be abolished. However, it is clear that not everyone agrees (or is willing to stop torturing themselves with wikis), so I say, let a thousand wikis bloom.

--Mr. Zero

Update: Another new wiki has materialized at http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/PhilosophyPositions

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never bought the argument as to why they don't list AOC's or teaching needs on the new wiki, either. This is highly relevant information.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon 7:00--It's worse than that; the wiki often intermixes AOSs and AOCs (so, for instance, if the job is AOS open, and has some set of AOC disjuncts, it lists these as AOSs). It can be terribly confusing. Granted, it shouldn't serve as a SUBSTITUTE for the actual job postings, but it should certainly accurately REFLECT them.

Anonymous said...

The new wiki appears not to provide important information about dates. The old wiki indicating the first date at which a department contacted an applicant for more application material, a first date at which a department scheduled an interview, a second and third date at which the same department scheduled an interview, etc.

This information about dates has been very important to me in past job searches. If I saw on the old wiki that one of the the jobs I applied for has already one week ago contacted four people to interview, then I can re-order my hopes, expectations, and priorities about where to focus my anxieties and where to focus on further resources if applicable.

Does anyone not agree? Is there anyone way to get this information about dates onto to new wiki?

Who took down the old wiki? Why not just send a bunch of emails to Leiter about this until he posts about it, and then we could have the old wiki up and running again.

In addition to the above complaints about lack of temporal and temporally sequenced numbered information, the new wiki does not contain links to other relevant jobs containing valuable information about the job market. I personally find the new job wiki virtually worthless - with the one exception of knowing when a position has been filled. However, the old job wiki provided that info along with lots of other vital stuff. So, please, lets get Leiter and other influential people to direct everyone to the old job wiki - it is still there - people just need to start filling it with structure and information.

Good luck to all.

Anonymous said...

This is not exactly on Wiki. Are you also having trouble accessing the APA members page? I need to see the latest on-line jobs list. (Stupidly I did not print it out.) If anyone could email me that list I would appreciate it a lot.

Anonymous said...

If someone can find a copy of the old wiki in the archives somewhere and restore everything minus the job listings, I'll take some time and help reconstruct it with the information from the new wiki.

I did some searching but could not find any way to restore it after someone deleted it. This seems to be one problem with these open wikis. Someone can just go in and destroy it and it is not clear how those changes can be undone.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anon who couldn't access the APA website. I found a way to access that job list. (Although the APA website still doesn't work for me for some reason.)

diss_or_death said...

Anon 11:44am (and others):

We should use this wiki:

http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/PhilosophyPositions

It keeps a record of every prior version of the wiki. So if someone deletes everything, it would be very easy to replace (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V). I can contribute, but I'm too busy right now to do the whole thing myself.

Anonymous said...

Looks like someone is posting on this page:

http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/PhilosophyPositions

I'll start posting my information there as well.

Anonymous said...

There's already some information at the wiki listed above. I'll add some more shortly.

Hegesias said...

Guys, if they want to interview you, they will call you. If not, no amount of Wiking will help, instead it will just distract. Just check JFP, Higheredjobs.com and Chronicle daily, and you will be up to speed. If the job isn't in one of those three places, lurking instead in some dark corner of the internet, the fix is probably in already and the advert is only to keep legal happy.

Anonymous said...

Hegesias writes: Guys, if they want to interview you, they will call you. If not, no amount of Wiking will help, instead it will just distract.

Hegesias, your comment suggests you're ignorant of the many purposes the wiki serves. If a department has chosen to interview other candidates, who's going to tell me so that I can reorient my job search and expectations accordingly? If I've received an offer from one school but am waiting to hear from another, who's going to tell me if the latter school makes an offer to another candidate? In both scenarios, there's a good chance I'll first learn about it from the wiki, and sometimes time is of the essence.

For what it's worth, I think the Phylo wiki is virtually useless. I check the RSS feed to see if I've overlooked a school which is hiring, and that's about it. I do however sincerely appreciate the efforts of those who have tried to create a better wiki; but the Phylo wiki is just not working out.

Anonymous said...

If a department has chosen to interview other candidates, who's going to tell me so that I can reorient my job search and expectations accordingly?

Seriously? You've already sent in your applications. The wiki offers nothing practical.

If I've received an offer from one school but am waiting to hear from another, who's going to tell me if the latter school makes an offer to another candidate?

It's standard that the first thing you do when you have an offer in hand (and only when you have an offer in hand) is telephone the search chairs of other jobs you're up for and let them know your deadlines. So, once more, no practical value.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:53,

I'm having trouble accessing the members section APA website on Safari, but it seems to work fine on Firefox.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6:17 writes:
Seriously? You've already sent in your applications. The wiki offers nothing practical.

No, that's false. If you're a finalist for a job, and they make an offer to another candidate, there's a good chance you won't hear about it first from the department. You may deny there's any reasonably likely scenario in which learning that information quickly via the wiki is of practical value, but I doubt you have sufficiently comprehensive reasons for making that assumption.

If you don't find the wiki useful, then don't use it. But, unless you're trolling, why discourage other people from using it if 1) they find it useful and 2) you have no sufficiently good argument against such a practice?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:13,

What does knowing that a job you are up for has been offered to someone else help you with? If the department has decided not to hire you (that is, if you have no shot) they will tell you.

But often depts are able to extend additional offers if the first offer is rejected by the first candidate.

So, you want to know that someone is offered the job you want before you. But why?

Either
1) you think that it means you won't get the job, which isn't true.
2) you think it matters whether you are offered the job first, which doesn't seem true.

You don't have to be a troll to see that the job wikis are making people crazy and don't seem to be giving them any useful information. It gives them more information, yes. But it's really unclear that more information in this case is useful and it's very clear that more information in most cases is torturous to those involved. Just stop using wikis. For your own mental health.

If people genuinely feel it is of use, please inform the rest of us. Because, honestly, wikis just seem like torture devices.

Will Philosophize For Food said...

"You don't have to be a troll to see that the job wikis are making people crazy and don't seem to be giving them any useful information."

The mental anguish you cite is more a function of the job market itself than anything else. Whether or not the wiki enhances this, perhaps. But I'm shocked that a bunch of people who have studied an assload of philosophy would argue that ignorance is prima facie better than knowledge.

Knowing where I stand on a particular search is far better than false hope--whether it be better for my psychologically or not.

Anonymous said...

The mental anguish you cite is more a function of the job market itself than anything else. Whether or not the wiki enhances this, perhaps. But I'm shocked that a bunch of people who have studied an assload of philosophy would argue that ignorance is prima facie better than knowledge.

The issue isn't of preferring ignorance to knowledge, but of preferring a moderate number of anguish-producing thoughts to an overwhelming number of anguish-producing thoughts.

Let's agree that thoughts about the job market are anguish-producing. Checking the wiki regularly greatly increases the quantity of job market thoughts, and thus produces anguish. (Of course, I have no proof of this. But it seems to be the experience of many - including myself, when I was on the market the year before last).

Thus, in the absence of overriding reasons to the contrary, it is better to avoid the wiki. Since there are no such reasons (as several recent posts have made clear), it is better to avoid the wiki.

To make a gross analogy, would you want to be consciously aware, say, of every death in Darfur? I wouldn't - though I would like to know about what's going on. I think that's enough, even for someone who has studied an assload of philosophy.

Anonymous said...

If you don't find the wiki useful, then don't use it.

this seems to be the right view. those who feel compelled to tell people not to use the job wiki are like religious zealouts or arrogant atheists who see it as their mission to convert others to their own view

different strokes for different folks

Anonymous said...

"this seems to be the right view. those who feel compelled to tell people not to use the job wiki are like religious zealouts or arrogant atheists who see it as their mission to convert others to their own view"

If I thought that believing in God (or conversely, not believing in God) was manifestly making scores of people miserable and I had the opportunity to influence these people, I think it would be right to attempt to so influence them.

The analogy fails in your example because religious zealots and rabid athiests have no reason to think that the false beliefs of others are making them miserable.

Besides, many people do think that one should try to correct false beliefs of others.

Also, to the person who thinks that philosophers should prefer knowledge to ignorance in all cases -- seriously? That's total bullshit. I'm ignorant of many useless facts and happily so. I have no need to know how many times I'll sneeze over the course of my life or what the total population of Erie, PA was this morning at 4:03amEST. It doesn't matter to me! Moreover, there are facts that not only not matter to me, but will make me miserable if I know -- like the exact status of the job market at every given moment.

This doesn't make me less of a philosopher; it makes me more rational!

bonkers said...

To the person who feels so compelled to convince all of us not to use a wiki...

Dude, you're a quack. People know what kind of side-effect anguish they might encourage upon themselves if they use such a tool. So let them do it. Don't proselytize your norms upon others and assume some kind of ethical authority here. Stop being so egocentric and arrogant.

The only real effect you seem to be having is pissing off people and whipping yourself into a pissing frenzy to defend your point. It's okay to let your point go and acknowledge that others do not agree with you.

Anonymous said...

I have a tracker on my webpage, so I can tell when people are looking at it, and from where those people are. From talking to others, I think these are fairly common. I also gather that departments are inclined to look at your page a lot when they are about to contact you for an interview. I wonder if there's some good way to collect and report this information.

david morrow said...

Thanks for the feedback on Phylo's job wiki. We've had a number of these issues on our radar since the wiki went up. (For instance, we quickly set it to keep a record of updates, though we haven't yet taught the wiki to display that information.) But I'm on the market, too, and applying for jobs has kept me too busy to write the necessary code.

I hope to get to some of these things (especially the revision history) within the next two weeks.



Anon 10:23,

I'm not sure what you mean by "links to other relevant jobs." Can you elaborate? What kind of links did you have in mind?


And just for the record, we didn't take down the old wiki. We certainly don't want to force people to use our wiki if it's not as good as some alternative.

diss_or_death said...

Anon 6:21PM:

I'm not sure how helpful this information would be. The report of a website visit might provide *some* evidence that a school is interested in you, but that is no help to the rest of us. We use a wiki to infer something about our own applications. The fact that a SC member visited your website but not at mine isn't especially helpful information for me, since the SC might not visit my website for a variety of reasons, even if they decide to pursue my application.

*Perhaps* a flurry of website-visiting activity can be taken as evidence that a decision is imminent, but what wiki visitors want to know is when requests have been received, since it is only at that point that those of us without requests know that we have (probably) been rejected. If enough people are using the wiki, they will report requests when they are received, so the knowledge that a decision is imminent would not have any value once requests have been made.

One might claim that the value in reporting a flurry of activity is that it would lead people to check back soon to see whether they’ve been rejected, but my guess is that people using the wikis check regularly as it is. So I don’t see any value in the knowledge of a flurry of activity prior to the requests.

Also, I’m suspicious of the claim that schools look at websites before a decision. I've already had people from two schools looking at my website, but I'm confident neither school will be making any decisions soon, since the application deadlines aren't for another couple of weeks (unless, of course, they have already decided to reject me).