Academic Jobs Wiki

Hello. You should talk here -- because the talk page is the best part of the academic jobs wiki, after all. I'll start things off by creating some categories that might be useful as the job search season devolves:

Posting Job Talk Details[]

22. Dec 2011: There's been a brief discussion at the History of Science, Technology & Medicine 2011-12 page about the ethics of posting details of job talks. It seems reasonable to say that private, insider information should not be posted, but if a department advertises the talks, say on a home page, it doesn't seem reasonable to say we shouldn't link to it. This specific case, though, involved a link to a listserv posting - which *is* publicly visible, the archive is easy to find online (it's not a hidden or private link), and the listserv is not internal, although it's not entirely open to all comers.

Personally, I think that if the details are publicly available online, then it's OK to post a link: the information is useful to other job seekers and candidates. Other opinions? AFII 16:17, December 22, 2011 (UTC)


Thanks for raising this issue. I fundamentally agree with you that if details (about talks, hires, etc.) are freely available online, they may be shared on this site (ideally by providing the link to the relevant web page). It is actually the practice of some depts. in some fields to advertise job talks online, and where that practice is followed, I believe it may be noted on this site.

If such details have NOT been made public in this way, however (and have been obtained through gossip, second-hand chatter, etc.) we need to be very careful about posting them, as such details could cause problems for candidates in myriad ways. We need to remember that Wikia's Terms of Use technically rule out using the site to intrude on the privacy of those involved in the job search process. Since this issue has come up on other pages in different ways, I'd like to share a statement I've used elsewhere recently: "NOTE: the privacy policies of this wiki ultimately fall under Wikia's "Terms of Use"[]. NOTE the relevant clause for this discussion: "You agree not to use the Service to .... Post, upload, transmit, share, or store content which is unlawful, defamatory, infringing, obscene, or invasive of another's right to privacy or publicity." I hope this clarification is helpful." --Una74 18:36, December 22, 2011 (UTC)

That's great - thanks for the clarification - glad to see my gut instinct was right! I'll keep the link up. AFII 18:51, December 22, 2011 (UTC)
  • No, your gut instinct is not right. An archived listserv is NOT the same thing as a department webpage. And I have to ask you both: why is it necessary to post this kind of information here at all? Eventually it will come out who got the job, but this kind of information can do someone actual harm. Even if the archived listserv can be found on a google search, it's unlikely that someone would accidentally stumble upon it. However, by posting the link here, you're making it dramatically more likely that the information becomes common knowledge. Who do you think you're serving by publicizing this information? Is the desire to gossip about job candidates really worth potentially making someone's life difficult? I think erring on the side of caution is always the best idea in these cases. I'm sorry, but you're being irresponsible here.
  • Hi there. I'm sorry you feel so strongly about this - but do bear in mind this is a wiki contributed to by hundreds of people. I am not a censor, and I don't always agree with what people have posted, but I'm generally inclined not to delete unless it's inflamatory, spam or otherwise against the TOS, or unless it's better moved somewhere else/repeat information/a mistake/etc. I have checked out this particular instance, and it's clear that not only were the job talks advertised to a wide group of people inside and outside academia (the mailing list has hundreds of members all over the world), but also that the listserv archive is clearly signposted on a Departmental webpage, even if the job talks weren't explictly posted there. I can't see that there's a case for this to be considered 'private' and links removed by moderators. I understand that candidates might not want their candidacy advertised that broadly, but that step's been taken by the Department in question, and I don't think it's our job to take down links and hide information that's out there. I might not choose to post it *myself*, but I am certainly not going to prevent someone else doing so. I'd still be interested in hearing what other people have to say about it, but my sense is that posting links to publicly advertised job talks is commonly practiced and acceptable to users. AFII 22:08, December 22, 2011 (UTC)
  • Look, the issue isn't what some other institution chooses to do with their information, it's with what this wiki chooses to do. It is most definitely not "common practice," by the way. I've been reading these job wikis since they were first created, and it is very unusual to post information about specific candidates. This is not journalism, and you're not serving some kind of abstract "public good" by defending posting sensitive information. If there's even a remote chance that posting this link could lead to causing someone harm, then that's more than enough to justify taking it down. I think this verges on a violation of the Terms of Use for this site, but more broadly, I think that common sense dictates being extremely conservative in these kinds of matters. What, ultimately, is the justification for having the link there?
  • The justification is that a wiki user posted a link to a publicly available and widely advertised piece of information about a job search. This was not privileged, private information, it does not in any way violate the TOS, and fundamentally I can't think of a good reason why wiki readers shouldn't be pointed at a source of information which is clearly accessible to plenty of other people though other channels. On an entirely personal level I *do* find job talk lists useful - especially when combined with feedback from committees, but even in the absence of feedback they're an interesting guide to what's going on, who's interested in what and so on. I've even headhunted conference speakers from job talk lists - which have certainly been posted here in the past (it might not be 'common practice' to post *all* lists because many are kept private, but it does seem to be 'common practice' to post those that are made public - like this one). AFII 23:00, December 22, 2011 (UTC)
    • Sorry, AFII, but I'm with the person who objected to the link being posted. You haven't made a good case for the value of providing the link on this site (aside from your personal feeling that information about job talks is "useful"), and I think the objector makes a much stronger case that such information could be harmful. While he/she may not be right that this link violates the TOS, I agree that the potential harm far outweighs the good. In the end, what Cambridge (or any other institution) chooses to make public or semi-public doesn't really seem to be the point. What matters is what we choose to publicise in this forum, which after all is meant to empower job-seekers (and the candidates this link "outs" are, in fact, job seekers). Newspapers will often choose not to print sensitive information (such as the names of victims of crimes) even when that information is easily accessible on the web--and I think that's a good analogy here. I personally would be very unhappy if my name were mentioned or linked to on this site. My vote is take the link down, and perhaps adopt a policy of excluding any information that refers to candidates by name, including links.
    • I personally don't have a stake in this search (or even this field) and it's not my desire to gossip or make anyone's life difficult. I just want this wiki to a be a useful source of information to people on the market across fields and as open as possible. I actually do agree that it is best to be conservative about naming canidates or hires on these pages (I will note, though, that no one is actually named on the page, only a link provided). Usually, I would agree 100% with the concerned poster's sentiment, but this seems to me to be a grey area because the archive is openly available online. Perhaps someone who is concerned about the privacy of talks advertised via this email list might want to alert the listserv administrators to the fact that these messages are publicly available on the internet - these kinds of listserv archives can be easily password-protected, from what I understand. However, the point is about our responsibility as administrators of this page. I can see that perhaps we shouldn't compound the possible error of the listserv administrators. So I think perhaps we should consider replacing the link with a note that job talks have been announced on x-date. I don't think this totally solves the problem that you are worried about, because I believe it really would not be that hard for someone so motivated to find the information in this archive through a google search, once s/he is aware it might be out there (so, again, I think if you are very alarmed about this, you ought to contact the admins of the listserv too). However, I can see this as a reasonable compromise in a rather ambiguous case. What do you think, AFII? Anyone else out there? Una74 00:03, December 23, 2011 (UTC)
    • I think that if objectors felt strongly enough to make that sort of edit I'd probably leave it as is. But my sense is that the horse has really bolted here: I don't know the foot traffic of the HSTM page, but it's in the low double figures of editors, nothing compared to US or EU History - yet the mailing list has hundreds upon hundreds of members, covering a wide demographic not limited to just those seeking jobs, running searches, or incurably curious about the process. If harm was going to arise from the publication of these job talks, then the probability is at least an order of magnitude higher that it would come from the email rather than from someone clicking through on this wiki. There are private options which are not publically archived, and these were not taken; my opinon is that this is the equivalent of posting on a departmental webpage - and I would strongly resist censoring links to that sort of information. At least one user posted 'thanks' when the link went up, so we're two for two on objectors vs. supporters! I agree that the better option is to ask the listserv administrator to make the posting private or rescind it entirely.AFII 09:07, December 23, 2011 (UTC)
      • Thanks, AFII, for these further thoughts (and thanks as well to concerned posters who have been willing to chime in on this ... even if there is disagreement, I think it is useful to air out these issues). Thinking about this more, one of the things that I'm not sure has been fully appreciated is that there is a possible cultural difference at work here. The job in question is at Cambridge, listserv is based in the UK (at Cambridge too), although I'm not sure if the candidates are from the UK or not. I believe AFII is based in the UK (but correct me if I'm wrong about that). I am an academic trained and based in the US, but I have several colleagues who have recently come over from the UK to work here in the US. My UK colleagues do have strikingly different attitudes toward the academic job market than I or other US colleagues do. I think these differences arise for a lot of reasons which I can't unpack fully here: briefly, it seems to me that the rather different "tenure" system in the UK (which can't properly be called tenure, I guess ...) and the relatively smaller geographical range result in UK academics making many more frequent, lateral job moves than US academics. With this frequent job-hopping comes less concern for secrecy when going on the market. Indeed, I have been surprised to hear UK colleagues urge junior US colleagues to go on the market and to publicize the fact that they are going on the market, to go get offers to show they are hot commodities, to prove their value. As an American academic, I have found this a bit shocking, but it has illuminated (for me) just how different the academic cultures are. Because of the tenure culture in the US, each colleague is seen as a potential long-term investment. Good departments in the US invest time, money, care and concern to nurture their colleagues within the culture of a given department, before and after tenure, to the extent that going on the market to trade up for a better or different job can be perceived as something of a betrayal, and something that can, on occasion, provoke retribution. Hence, the tension and anxiety for the candidates expressed by the posters above (who I am almost certain are American, although they can also correct me if I'm wrong). However, if you don't have a US-style tenure system, as is the case in the UK, these investments aren't as great, and the corresponding paranoia isn't as great--indeed, job candidates may very well want it to be known they are giving talks for a position at Cambridge! I know this seems alien to American academics, but I do wonder if this cultural difference is partially underlying the dispute here. Una74 12:05, December 23, 2011 (UTC)
        • Mmm, interesting. I think it might be more field specific than entirely national cultures though - I mean, US departments have previously advertised (publicly) job talk seminars (there's one - not a link but info on where to find it - from a failed search on the HSTM page for 2010-11, just as the first example I could remember) so I don't see that it can be the case that US nationals automatically regard the whole process as extremely sensitive and secretive. And I've seen US-based academics list job talks on their CV, but never come across that on EU CVs. If anything open/openly advertised job talks are actually much rarer in the EU, at least in History, so it might also be that we're less used to handling them - it's more common for the entire process to be a closed system and therefore knowledge about candidates is privileged and clearly flagged as confidential. But in this case I wonder if it's more to do with the fact that this field is quite small, even internationally, so the idea that you could give a public job talk to staff, students and affiliates and not have anyone 'find out' about it seems a bit ludicrous. I can see that that might not be so much the case for a huge field like US History, etc. AFII 12:23, December 23, 2011 (UTC)
        • That's a funny way of counting, AFII. By my count, THREE people suggested taking the post down, and just you argued for keeping it up. I don't think you can honestly count the person who wrote 'thanks' on your side, since he/she wasn't participating in this discussion, and posted before the discussion even began. So my count is three against one (you), but I guess your vote counts more than other people's. It's also kind of funny, because the people who object to the link seem genuinely (and solely) concerned with protecting the privacy of other people, whereas you're motivated by... I'm really not sure. Making some pedantic point? If all you're concerned about is being able to lay your hands on as much info as you can for your personal use, then by all means, google away. If you're really dilligent and check back on every department website and calendar where there's a job offered, I'll bet you can get all kinds of juicy details. But the point, as it has been stressed to you again and again by several posters, is what THIS wiki chooses to publish. I don't like the precedent of saying it's ok to encourage access to the names of job candidates under any circumstances. You may not be personally concerned about this, but why should your opinions carry more weight than those of other community members? So I'm going to take you up on your promise to leave the edit alone, and I'm going to delete the link.



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