[Air-l] Evaluation Logs

Charles Ess cmess at lib.drury.edu
Tue Jun 3 05:23:32 PDT 2003

Interesting thread! (Aren't they all?)

My _hunch_ would be that the issues involved would be analogous to
publishing comments about a person in a newspaper or other public venue -
and thus would depend in some measure on the laws and practices regarding
libel (in the case of libelous comments that could be proven to be untrue).
The complicating factors:
1) whether or not professors can be seen as "public" figures (in which case,
at least in the U.S., as I understand it, pretty much anything goes);
2) whether the forum is seen as a public venue (hence, the laws apply) like
a newspaper, or more like a private one (at least in the U.S., especially in
light of 1st amendment rights of free speech, again, anything goes); and
3) how these laws and practices vary from country to country.

On all of these matters, there are _real_ experts on the Air list (you know
who you are - smile!): I hope they'll pitch in and contribute their

While I agree that such a site/process is not necessarily bad - at the same
time, I would hope that no one would take such a site as anything more than
a "customer satisfaction" measure - and that, among purely self-selected
customers (probably those really enthusiastic about and those really pissed
off at a certain professor).  Given the real anonymity of the comments and
ratings, this information _could_ be useful, if read carefully - but I don't
see anything at the site suggesting such caveats.

At the same time,: this seems to take the "student as consumer" model to a
new height -or low, insofar as, in my view, such a model is pretty much
opposite to what I think higher education, at least as rooted in liberal
arts traditions, should be about.  Perhaps this is why I received the lowest
ratings in my university for "easiness"? (smile)

In any case, looking forward to hearing from our real experts on this -

Charles Ess
Distinguished Research Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Drury University
900 N. Benton Ave.                          Voice: 417-873-7230
Springfield, MO  65802  USA            FAX: 417-873-7435
Home page:  http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html
Co-chair, CATaC: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

> From: Homero Gil de Zuniga <hgildezuniga at wisc.edu>
> Reply-To: air-l at aoir.org
> Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 03:27:15 -0500
> To: air-l at aoir.org
> Subject: RE: [Air-l] Evaluation Logs
> That was funny. Regarding your question, I don't exactly know where the
> limit is but I guess that as long as they don't infringe any basic human
> being rights, they should be fine. I also would imagine that it depends
> on peoples' perception. In any case, it was interesting finding me
> rated... :)  Probably the fact that they said I was good and evidently
> HOT (just kidding) made me see it not necessarily and intrinsically
> bad... More thoughts? Anybody with a cyberspace- law-policy background?
> Hernando?
> Cheers,
> HGZ 
> Homero Gil de Zuniga
> http://www.homero.educations.net
> Project Assistant for the Journalism & Mass  Communication Department
> www.journalism.wisc.edu
> http://www.wisc.edu
> PO BOX 260022
> 53726 Madison
> e-mail: hgildezuniga at wisc.edu
> Office: (608) 263-7852
> "It is nice to be important... but it is much more important to be
> nice".
> -----Original Message-----
> From: air-l-admin at aoir.org [mailto:air-l-admin at aoir.org] On Behalf Of
> EGodard
> Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 12:05 AM
> To: air-l at aoir.org
> Subject: [Air-l] Evaluation Logs
> I apologize if this has already been discussed here; I haven't seen it,
> and
> have looked through the archive.
> What thoughts have ye on sites such as http://www.ratemyprofessor.com?
> Are
> there legal boundaries to what the site can allow? Are things said there
> contestable against the author and/or the site?
> Given relatively small numbers of evaluators per professor evaluated, I
> would presume there to be negative bias. Interestingly, however, the FAQ
> for
> that site in particular claims 60% positive ratings.
> -eg
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