Ok, We Get It: No One Likes Being Criticized Online

from the but,-it-still-won't-go-away dept

Earlier this month we wrote about how doctors were freaking out over public sites where patients would complain about the doctors or rate them. And, now, Wired News is running a similar article about how professors are freaking out about the RateMyProfessors site, which has been around for ages. What’s odd, though, is that the article seems to assume that all professors hate the site. Obviously, almost no one likes to be criticized (especially publicly), but some professors I know don’t seem to mind those sites too much. While not all of the feedback is constructive, certainly a lot of it is. And, no matter how much people hate being talked about online, it’s not going to make these sites go away. So, people need to learn to either ignore them or try to take the constructive feedback for what it is.

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Comments on “Ok, We Get It: No One Likes Being Criticized Online”

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Craig (user link) says:

No Subject Given

As a college professor myself, I don’t really care about these sites since I know that the data on them are pretty much junk. What I think gets folks worked up is NOT the constructive criticism (which is rare) but the unconstructive criticism or outright falsehoods (intentional or not) that don’t really help anyone make informed decisions (after all, isn’t that what these sites are supposed to be doing?).

Rikko says:

Re: No Subject Given

I always used to surf to that site during my first week of classes and see what was said about my profs. My and large, the comments were accurate.

My Uni performed a teaching audit (read: questionnaire) for every prof after every course, so the damage that can be done to a professor’s professional status is zero – if you’re incompetent, my online review is going to say pretty much the same as my anonymous form.

I see it as a positive tool. What are students going to do? If they read that a teacher is a real prick to undergrads, they probably aren’t going to take his course – the administration takes lower enrolment (when possible) and the end-of-term comments (forget the online comments) and says “you need to stop being a dick”.
There’s also a plus – if everybody says “this guy is really easy”, the administration is going to notice and ask him to step it up a bit. Obviously doesn’t apply to bell-curved courses, but for most sciences this might be an easy out for students.

Again, this is “normal” folks suddenly getting a taste of what celebrities what to deal with. People you don’t know taking shots at you and making judgment calls they aren’t qualified to make. Might make you rethink pickin up that People magazine, won’t it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

Well I guess it would be in the professors’ best interest to not piss anyone off because people DO use these sites and take them seriously.

Let’s not forget something important. Students are paying professors’ salaries; so if they are not satisfied with what they have gotten out of a course, then the professors shouldn’t get paid.

A professor is not going to get overwhelmingly negative comments from people on sites like this if he is doing a good job. Of course there will always be jerks that simply are bitter or angry about something and talk trash, but the point of websites like these are to weed out the opinions of those who are ONLY upset because the teacher gave them a grade they feel they didn’t deserve.

There are far too many TA-type 20-something teachers at universities that do nothing more than:

-greet the class
-ask about the homework
-do 1 or 2 examples of homework and new material
-give a new assignment
-dismiss the class

THIS IS NOT TEACHING. A MONKEY COULD DO THIS. Teachers like this have no place speaking in a classroom setting. They should be criticized as much as possible until they no longer have a job. Students pay way too much to deal with this type of crap.

Kathy Davies (user link) says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

OK…no. Students aren’t paying professor’s salaries. Most of a student’s tuition, at a public college, is actually paid through taxes, etc. Especially in Georgia where most students are going to school on a Hope scholarship…they don’t pay much of anything at all.

College is not about making friends or students liking their professor. It’s about expanding your mind. If you aren’t offended in college, you aren’t getting the full college experience.

Students rarely know what’s good for them. I speak from the experience of having BEEN a student and being married to a college professor. We have students in our home weekly. They complain about homework, they complain about ‘hard’ tests, they complain about absolutely everything.

My husband is one of the ‘toughest’ professors in our college. He teaches Physics to potential engineers. They bitch and moan through the entire experience, but IF they actually make it to Georgia Tech, one of the top 5 engineering schools in the country, they come back and thank him because he was the only one who really prepared them for engineering school. I mean, seriously…do you want to drive across a bridge designed by a guy who ‘liked’ his professor, or who actually learned something?

My hubands students routinely score higher than students all across the country on tests designed to measure what a student has learned, conceptially, not by memorizing. He is, arguably, one of the best teachers you could have. Yet the students are terrified of taking his classes. He teaches lower level Physical Science and astronomy, as well…not expecting as much of them as he does his engineers, and they avoid him as much as possible.

His teaching methods are not lecture, they are hands on experience and experiment. He forces the students to think and to create their own knowledge and understanding. His methods have been shown over and over again to be the best methods out there in the science field. Students BEG to be lectured to like those monkey’s you mention. Occasionally, he gives in, teaches by lecture a few days, gives the students a test and compares it to the tests they had taken up to that point. They ALWAYS score at least a letter grade lower after the lectures becuase they haven’t learned the concepts necessary to understand what the hell they’re doing. So he goes back to his usual method. Again, if they do the assigned work, ask questions when they don’t understand, and actually show up for class every day, they end up with a great experience. He’s actually had more than one humanities major switch to science because they finally understand it.

And yet, on RateMyProfessor he gets low scores and complaints. The same complaints he gets all day in school. The same complaints he knows are from students who have been spoon fed their whole educated lives and don’t have a clue how to study, how to learn, or what college is about. By the time they leave him, they do.

What would really piss people off is a RateYourStudent website.

Frank says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

Kathy, time is a very important factor. Life itself is an open book test of events.

If you say that your husband is the best one could ever have then why are people failing his class if he hold a notoriety of being a difficult instructor?

If a majority of students are only comprehending a small percent of the course material, then there’s obviously something wrong. There’s a likely chance that the people who pass his exams without a problem happen to be students who have studied such material elsewhere and therefore the material is familiar and easier in contrast to what newbies are exposed to.

Bad professors are normally the ones who have no methodology and class to make sure his/her students learn the subject. How can one think of a complex solution if they don’t have the experience or proper training?

You’re complaining that students complain about “everything. ” I come from a private University and we have to pay for the education.

We expect clear explanations… a quality education, not an angry instructor who whines about his/her days of glory are over and he/she must unleash their anger to students for are in the course to learn.

TIME is an important thing in life, and bad professors are a waste of time and money.

I recall a racist professor giving racial comments and the lack of intelligence in his classroom.

And sometimes some Directors and Deans will take many measures to protect these bad instructors…

Perhaps these instructors love failing people so more students can take those same subjects and produce more money at their University/College… There’s a lot more than the poetic: “to enhance your knowledge thru hard exams” type of sweettalking crap.

Fred says:

Sites are useful

These sites are very useful. People have always discussed their opinions about doctors and professors with their peers. The great thing about these sites is they provide a way to consolidate everyone’s opionions. The smart reader should more or less be able to sort through the non-objective or overly-emotionally charged criticisms, and find the common element of truth. As for doctors/professors not liking them, well there’s no way around it. You put yourself in the spotlight with your career, and you should be secure enough to have some people criticize you. And furthermore, these individuals should consider using these sites as a tool, to become more aware of what others’ opions are of their behavior.

cris says:

No Subject Given

I was a older student in college -dropped out of art school to pursue a biology major (duh, what was I thinking ?)

I had a husband who was dying of cancer at the time and I really wanted to learn these subjects, I wanted to do cancer research (naive, yes)

I was stunned when one professor was called into the dean’s office after giving an essay exam -twenty parents had called within a few horus of the exam to complain that their kids needed good grades to get into med school… we never had another essay exam -only exams that mirrored the MCAT format.

I think any thinking person knows the kids who post to these sites are like the the kids at my alma mater (none got into med school 🙂

Of course, there are bad professors but there are also mature ways to handle it.

I think these sites are lame, when I was let go at a dot.com -everyone was thrilled it wasn’t them. A year later I got an email to join the the others now laidoff in a bitch fest online. I passed.

Rikko says:

Re: No Subject Given

I was stunned when one professor was called into the dean’s office after giving an essay exam -twenty parents had called within a few horus of the exam to complain that their kids needed good grades to get into med school… we never had another essay exam -only exams that mirrored the MCAT format.

I think the most stunning part there is that the parents were actally listened to. What’s going on?
I was under the assumption that the students were responsible for their education. Running home to mama because you’re having trouble? At age 21?
I think the Dean should have been out on his or her ass for playing politics like that. There are always people willing to pay for seats at any school – a boycott of a few complainers shouldn’t affect the status quo. At my school, anyways, virtually all funding comes from corporations (and government, of course) – private individuals contributed to memorials and the like.

Frank says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given RIKKO.

Parents come to intervene when a student’s grade appeal process has been ignored by the director and the department dean. There are some Universities where students have to pay for their education.

Students are responsible for their education, but there’s a lot of foulplay and crap instructors/directors/deans make up in order to intimidate a single student.

I think the main reason there aren’t that many complaints is because:

– the professor is the only one teaching that subject in the college. and “hopefully” this time student hopes to get a sympathy grade.

– the student doesn’t know how to make a grade appeal, and fears that they will get in trouble.

– the students’ morale is low at their campus so they register again to the same instructor with the hopes of passing this time.

Bryan Berkland says:


Ratemyprofessor.com is a valueable tool. A bad professor can screw up or even crush an individuals hopes for a diploma if done right. A good one can inspire infinate potential. Used in moderation, rmp.com gives the user acess to thousands of opinions that are generaly true however exagerated some opinions may be. I use it to help pick my professors.

As for negative feedback, some of the best professors I have encountered hand out evaluation papers and expect negative feedback from their students at the end of a semester. I guarantee you if a professor knows they’re not liked, they wont have to get their information form a website.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sometimes the hard prof - is the best!

I think that the feedback is usually good.
However – I know of a prof with a great story!
She always got bad scores from her students
in the end of course evaluations.

However 2 years later they would come and tell her that she taught all then stuff they needed to know
IN THE REAL WORLD! The problem was the students
didn’t recognise her value till they had some experience.

Maybe you have to score your prof twice – at
the end of the course and 5 years later on.

thecaptain says:

The nature of the beast

What people tend to forget is the nature of this beast we call “internet”

Most of us, being normal people, see very little difference between how we act online and in real life.

However a growing segment of online users, behind the cowardly shield of pseudo-anonymity and realizing the total lack of consequences ENJOY acting in a negative, yet empowering way to compensate for their perceived short comings in real life. These people on the net become trolls, griefers, even virus creaters and hackers (the more intelligent ones anyway). These people live to trash, and never contribute…they destroy.

So any site that allows this kind of feedback without consequence or review will have a bunch of idiots who laugh and enjoy pissing in the gasoline to ruin it for everyone else who WOULD use it for mature purposes.

As someone stated above, I don’t think these people complain about any rational, mature constructive criticism, but more about the morons who think its funny to simply lie and rant and go flaming.

Sadly, there seems to be little solution.

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