Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter

More from my boy Second Suitor. --PGS

So it seems these days more and more graduate students hopping on the bandwagon and creating their own web pages. Several schools appear to have space dedicated for every student on their website. Makes sense. It seems like an easy way to market yourself… But wait. Should we really have our own websites? Sitting here posting on a blog I tend to think having a website doesn’t hurt. Just make sure those drunken facebook photos stay safely behind some privacy settings.

Assuming for the moment that someone decides to have a webpage, what should you put on it (besides, of course, a link to the PJMB)? There seem to be two schools of thought. Some are more informal with pictures of cute little kids. The informal approach tends to be more like personal websites with a cv. The second approach uses a website more like a business card. In addition to the CV, these websites seem to include things like research interests or maybe even a statement of teaching philosophy.

I’m guessing professionally the second approach is best? At the end of the day I’m not sure that it really matters. I mean the main person that’s going to look at your website is you (and maybe some obsessive blogger).

--Second Suitor


Anonymous said...

The advice from my advisor when I was sending out apps in the fall: "Don't put any papers up on your website you wouldn't want future employers to read". The same advice goes, I imagine, for the website in its entirety: don't put up anything there you wouldn't want future employers to see. (Especially when you're going out on the market -- SCs won't use websites to make initial cuts, I imagine, but I wouldn't be surprised if during the making-tough-decisions phase some of them surf on over to candidates websites to get some more info.) That doesn't mean it's got to be all work and no play -- a cute kid or two is probably fine, but my gut says not to go for the Pythonesque theme.

Anonymous said...

If it's on university server space, it should be professional (your school almost certainly has rules about using technology resources for personal business), but that doesn't rule out linking to an off-campus personal website.

As for content, I'd recommend a brief CV in html format (people are more likely to look at this), with an optional link to a more extended CV in .pdf; an outline of some research interests, past, present, and future; any papers you've presented at conferences; penultimate drafts of already published papers if you're so lucky; classes you've taught with syllabuses and any other teaching stuff that other philosophers would be interested in (as opposed to just hiring committees -- you want to look professional, not desperate); and finally, contact information.

Look at the websites of real junior faculty and see what works and what doesn't. I prefer minimalism in both style and content myself.

Anonymous said...

CSU Long Beach rejection (I mean "regret") letters are so thoroughly incompetent. Who wrote these things. Really.

Anonymous said...

i just applied to PhD programs. i have a blog, and i check my stats every few days. usually people find it by googling some keywords (temporary intrinsics, philosophy vagueness, moral realsim, etc). since app season began, i've noticed that a lot of hits have come from people searching "mylastname philosophy." i can't help but wonder if they're from the AdComs, and whether the content of my blog has helped or hurt me. my gut feeling is that my app is the best i have to offer, and that anything else will end up hurting me. i'm thinking of deleting my blog for that reason.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous 8:07 that you should be careful concerning what papers you put on your website (among other things). However, that said, I have had three good outcomes due to unpublished papers that are on my site. Two of those were just people from different parts of the world who were interested in what I was writing about, had kind things to say about my writing, and who wanted to correspond about the issues. The third one was the best. Because of a particular paper, I was asked to become coauthor on an article by a scholar in that field, a paper that is published in a very nice place indeed. That was complete luck, etc., etc. It will probably never happen again, for me, but it shows the possibility.

Anonymous said...

I guess I thought it was more or less expected when I read this blog entry by Brian Weatherson back in 2005:

The key quote is this:

"I can’t imagine why a candidate in this day and age wouldn’t have a website to support their candidacy . . ."

That made me feel behind the times then, amost three years ago.

Anonymous said...

At this point I think most academics under 50 have a website, and I'm puzzled when grad students don't. At least put up (and keep updated) a CV for when people google you.

I find the websites that some departments (like in SS's UMD link) put up to be rather disgustingly institutional, but they're useful when they put up info for people who don't produce their own websites. But if you do this for your department, make sure not to created links for people who don't have anything to link to (the fake pages with name, phone number, and office don't count).

An academic's website should have, at a minimum, place where the PhD was granted, noting if the person is ABD, and fields of specialization; also, preferably, a list of publications.

All departments with graduate programs should include this information for all standing faculty, and any department should have this on their website if they're hiring, including for non-standing faculty other than grad students.

Anonymous said...

you know, it strikes me as rather unfair that you single out this errol guy's webpage and then assert to the field that this is probably not the way to go with webpages. It looked more professionally set-up than the other, in my opinion (smarm doesn't always fly).

Anonymous said...

Personal websites do a number of useful things. One is advertising for your grad program; I think it's likely that creating the impression of a department with energetic, interesting, and nice-looking people helps in recruitment.

More importantly for the budding philosopher, though, is a networking and advertising opportunity for oneself. I've gotten a number of requests for papers and email introductions from people based on stuff on a website. It makes one approachable and it makes it more likely that one's stuff will get read.

Anonymous said...

I know that I and other faculty believe it to be bad form to post one's CV online. That smells too much like either shameless self-promotion, or hoping to get a job offer, or both. Pragmatically, it also opens you up much more seriously to identity theft.

CVs are the kind of things that should be requested and then offered, not freely disseminated like Halloween candy. An alternative would be to post a biosketch, which is much more interesting as a narrative anyway.

Also, personal websites are fine and give us, the search committee, a better sense of one's personality. But it could also be a liability if you post too much or unprofessional content. And if you're ugly, don't post your picture, for God's sakes. That can only work against you.

Errol Lord said...

I'm very confused why my website is an example of the 'bad', 'informal' model. The formal model includes things like research interests apparently. Well, the first paragraph of text is almost solely about my research interests. I also have pages with papers (see below), information on my MA thesis, an html version of my cv (which includes links to .pdf and .doc versions). I doubt many think it's unprofessional for me to have a picture of my son--especially when I'm in the picture as well. Moreover, it's common practice for people to have family pictures on their professional websites. Cf. Delia Graff Fara, Timothy Williamson, and .

Re. the papers: If I were on the market, I certainly wouldn't put papers up that weren't the very best I can do. But I'm not on the market, and at this point I want to show the types of projects I'm interested in. Plus, I cleanse the papers page after each semester. That is, I get rid of things I don't think should be on there. Several advisors have said that this was a fine policy at this stage in my career.

I should also say that the only reason I gave such a strong defense of my website design choices is that a lot of people read this blog, and I know damage can be done if you are mentioned in a bad light.

Anonymous said...

Our department tells us that not having a website doesn't hurt you, but having a website can help you (or hurt you, depending on what's on it).

I think it's weird when first or second year philosophy grads have professional websites. But by the time you are ready to go on the market, you need to start acting like a junior faculty member, and so having a website makes sense. Search committee members (especially younger ones) may google you, and you want some control over what google hits come up first.

When junior job candidates come to my school to give job talks, I always google them. I would say 90% of them have at least rudimentary websites.

Anonymous said...

Good looking people are not a recruitment plus. If every face on a dept's webpages looks like it came out of a clothing catalog, I think most people with body issues/insecurities will be less inclined to apply, seriously , however much they may want to study at school x. I know that I damn sure would.

Anonymous said...

If you're applying to schools that prioritize teaching, I'd imagine that a really good page for students would help. Not a course website, per se, but material relevant to writing papers, etc. This is the sort of thing that would be very useful to students of yours, but would also demonstrate a real interest in teaching if done well.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:28 AM,

Bad form? Are you serious?! I wonder what you think of blogs, then. Self-promoting? Then what is an application packet and all the crap that we're expected to put into that if it's not self-promoting? What about the letters of application in which we're apparently supposed to wax eloquent about how much we love such-n-such and how good we are at it? It's all about self-promotion, and we are hoping to get a job out of it. The website is just an extension of it. Other than that, I take it to be a way of letting others know what we're working on. I, for one, like to see what other ABDs are working on, and this usually shows up in the titles of conference presentation papers, dissertation abstracts, etc--all stuff on one's CV or its equivalent sprawled across the html of a website.

Anonymous said...

I bet Juan Comesana's web page gets a lot of hits today.

Errol Lord said...

Sorry about the bad coding. I don't know where 'Juan Comesana' went.

Anonymous said...

"I know that I and other faculty believe it to be bad form to post one's CV online. That smells too much like either shameless self-promotion, or hoping to get a job offer, or both."

That is very puzzling, since many faculty members have their cvs online.

Moreover, guess fucking what. We are "hoping to get a job offer". I can't imagine what is wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

"CSU Long Beach rejection (I mean 'regret') letters are so thoroughly incompetent. Who wrote these things. Really."

Agreed. Add to that the fact that I've now received three emails from them--both w/o attachment and once w/ attachment last night, and a third one again this morning. I get it! You don't want to hire me! Enough already! You don't need to rub it in!

Kenny Easwaran said...

Actually, at one interview in Baltimore, one of the professors apologized for having been out of town at the period when people were reading files, and asked if it was ok if he asked some questions about a paper I had up on my website instead of the writing sample. I then pointed out that this paper was actually included as part of my writing sample. But I suppose it could have been otherwise, if I had an interesting paper on my site that wasn't included with my application. So people do at least glance at the website of candidates they're interested enough in to interview.

Also, you might want to edit Errol's comment to close the link tag.

Anonymous said...

Hey 7:28... how can anyone who calls themselves a philosopher Write the following?

And if you're ugly, don't post your picture, for God's sakes. That can only work against you.

You make me fucking sick with shame for our profession when you utter this fucking nonsense. What is your analysis of "ugly" and how is one to know whether or not they live up to your own normative standards? Advocating (by uncontested acceptance) the practice of making hires on such negative aesthetic judgements is shameful and your part.

Be part of the fucking solution, for a change.

ttassprof said...

Anon. 12:42 AM asked...

"Bad form? Are you serious?! I wonder what you think of blogs, then. Self-promoting?"

Leaving aside the issue of personal websites (which incidentally I think are a good idea when well-maintained) I think personal blogs are almost always a bad idea for rookies on the market.

Once you're tenure-track or (better) tenured, you can let things rip, but I highly advise students against starting up personal blogs. Self-promoting? Maybe not. But self-indulgent? Certainly.

P.S. For the record, Errol's website is A-OK in my book. And ComesaƱa's kid is adorable.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:28 -- how does my publicly-posted CV open me up to identity theft? It's not I (or anyone else here, I suspect) am foolish enough to put my SSN, birthdate, mother's maiden name, etc. on it...

tenured philosophy girl said...

I'm as baffled as one anonymous commentor and Errol Lord himself as to why his web page was singled out as 'informal'. I just want Errol to know that as a senior faculty member and the type of person who gives out jobs now and then, I think his web page is quite good. It also disturbs me that he is accused of focusing on 'cute pictures of kids' when he has exactly one picture of his kid and he's in it too as he points out. Good for Errol for showing off that while he's serious about philosophy he's also serious about and identified with being a father. Why is this a problem? Do kids taint the purity of the philosophical project or something?

I also think that the person who says that s/he 'and other faculty members' object to cv's needs to come off it. This may be true because of the vagaries of quantification in natural language, but I have never heard a faculty member say this and I don't think this myself... as someone pointed out most of us have our cv's up on our web pages ourself.

FWIW, I googled every single person on our long short list this year and spent a fair amount of time on each of their web sites. I appreciated html cv's, and enough info on the web site that it didn't just double the cv and gave me some sense of what the person was like. People who went super-cutsie or who posted extended photo albums of their travels, communing with nature, or cuddling their girlfriends or boyfriends nauseated me. Just one girl's opinion of course.

Soon-to-be-Jaded- Dissertator said...


No one said that your website is 'bad', all that was said is that your website represents a more informal approach to websites. Furthermore, the claim that a more formal approach is 'best' (whatever that means) when on the job market is appended with a question mark and also the claim that it probably doesn't even matter.

Having known Second Suitor for a quite some time now, I can assure you he didn't mean to throw anyone under the bus, or talk shit. It's a legitimate question of what's 'best' for the job market in terms of websites and in providing examples without passing judgment he made answering that question easier.

Anonymous said...

It's been apparent for a while that there are some assholes out there who are making stupid comments for the sole purpose of pissing people off. They see the popularity of the blog and the general anxiety level of many of the readers and think it would a blast to fuck with us. I really doubt the comments about ugly pictures and unprofessional/identity-theft-prone websites were serious (the "ugly" bit at the end was a sure giveaway I thought). I guess it's often hard to know who's a troll and who's just an idiot with a poorly thought out opinion (the threads about women and minorities in the profession were probably full of good examples of the latter), but I'd suggest taking PGS's advice: don't feed the stinking trolls. Think a bit about the comments before you go into conniptions. You're only encouraging these assholes and unwittingly making this blog a much more depressing place than it already was. Just ignore them.

Anonymous said...

That's right, let's be indignant when philosophers think that "ugly" is a meaningful term and that ugly people exist. Because we're not human, and we can strip away our biases. We don't need to eat either (that's for the lower animals). Dumbass.

Look here, ugly people exist. Aristotle said so himself (talking about the the conditions for a happy life). Virtue isn't enough, according to Aristotle. Would you say he isn't a "real philosopher"?

It's when you think that philosophers are somehow better than everyone else that you get into trouble, or at least get disappointed.

Our basic psychology is more or less the same as anyone else's. We can be sexist, racist, and all sort of other things that we'd rather not be. So don't fault anyone for having a natural repulsion towards the ugly. That's just how the world works.

Soon-to-be-Jaded- Dissertator said...

Made it through the comments (before writing my previous comment, I hadn't), and I must say, people need to go back and read Second Suitor's post with some principle of charity in mind. Especially these parts: "I’m guessing professionally the second approach is best? At the end of the day I’m not sure that it really matters." (emphasis added)

Secondofly, please point out to me, after reading the post carefully again, where Second Suitor says anything particularly bad about Errol's blog or says its a travesty of webpage making. He doesn't.

Tenured Philosophy Girl - the comment about the cute little kid wasn't meant to be derogatory or as some reflection on anyone's philosophical abilities. We all know that'd be a stupid connection to make, and we can all reasonably assume people on this blog ain't stupid (except sometimes in comments, people write things without having read carefully). It probably wasn't even meant to be snarky. The kid is cute for fuck's sake.

Anonymous said...

I like Errol's website too.

I'm intrigued by the idea of preferring html CVs. My first website had one, then I went to pdf for two reasons: it's easier to update if you just have one version of the CV (that's important over the long haul) and you just upload the one you use for other purposes; and it's easier to control formatting. I think basic html is better than the hideously complicated xml that a lot of the commercial web design programs create. And while I want to look professional and have control over how my CV is formatted, I don't want to spend the time to design the hell out of my website. I just want it to be serviceable and attractive-ish.

So here's why I think the preference for html CVs is interesting: I doubt not all browsers support pdf (probably most do) so html is the most universal format, and I can see the appeal of that.

Conflicting imperatives. Hmmm ....

Second Suitor said...

Just wanted to say that I never meant to imply that Errol's website was bad. I like it. That's why I picked it. It just has more stuff than cv, teaching statement, etc.. The other one I linked to has even more personal stuff going on and I don't think that one's bad either. Errol's may well strike the balance between being overly formal and being overly personal. I don't know. I take it the blog is a good place to start asking to find out.

And, I like to think we can be a little cheeky on the blog without necessarily talking shit.

Juan said...

Wait, my webpage did get a lot of hits, but why, exactly?

And ttassprof: thanks!

Juan Comesana said...

By the way, and in case it wasn't clear: I just don't get what is supposed to be wrong with having a picture of your son on your website. Really, it's not the philosopher's "I just don't get."

Anonymous said...

To everyone getting all pissy about the earlier comment concerning atractive photos, there is actually pretty overwhelming evidence that attractiveness plays a huge role in forming first impressions.

Secondly, that poster never said anything about hiring based on attractiveness. He/she only suggested that having an unnatractive photo can hurt you. They didn't say whether or not attractive photos can help (which they can, not much but it doesn't hurt to be attractive).

I mean just look at how people prepare for job interviews. Do people seriously not try to look their very best? If you think that such "aesthetic judgments" are unimportant, I urge you to go to your next interview with 3 foot long, messily knotted dreads, muddy birkentstocks and a ripped salvation army t-shirt and see how well that goes. From the sounds of it, candidate's sites get looked at by search committees, so such a picture on your site probably isn't the best idea either.

No one is advocating hiring based on looks. It's just being realistic to admit that bad appearance doesn't help. And if the point of these websites is some sort of self-promotion (and I have no idea why you would put your CV up if it wasn't self-promotion), then if it doesn't help, you shouldn't do it.

Mr. Zero said...

anon 11:34,

I was pretty annoyed by the "ugly" comment. I took it to mean, "don't be ugly," in a dick-head kind of way, rather than, "don't post unflattering photos of yourself," in a be careful of what you put on facebook kind of way.

Also, and this point may or may not be in tension with the previous one, if you go back and look at the relevant threads on this blog, you will see tons of people either deliberately not looking their best for their interviews, or complaining bitterly / whining about it.

Anonymous said...

4:23 said: Be part of the fucking solution, for a change.

That's pure genius. Where did you get that, from a bumper sticker?

I believe 8:00 and 11:34 have satisfactorily defended the original poster (7:28), so please be part of the solution, not the problem, by reading these posts to learn something new.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with Errol Lord's website????

Errol Lord said...


My bad coding is the reason why your site got so many hits. I left a tag open and 10 or so comments ended up as one big link to your site.

Second Suitor,

Fair enough. I read too much into the comments. But let me say that I think it would be very strange if someone held the picture of my son against me (again, I don't think you did). The site is my professional page, but that doesn't mean I have to expunge the rest of my life from it. Of course, I think that your question was more of a pragmatic one; viz. prudentially should I go with the formal or informal styles? I think that my way of doing it is fine in that case as well. Just look at professional philosophers' pages. Many post family pictures on their sites. Thus, I doubt many would dislike a tasteful amount of family pictures.

Anonymous said...

ttassprof said:

"Once you're tenure-track or (better) tenured, you can let things rip, but I highly advise students against starting up personal blogs. Self-promoting? Maybe not. But self-indulgent? Certainly."

I'd add the caveat that there are a few exceptions here, where grad student blogs dealing with philosophical concerns can help a candidate. However, these are very clearly the exception.

Some blogs are more mixed, sprinkling in goofball stories and political proclivities every so often, but it's easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. I agree that 99% of stuff in the blogosphere smacks of self-indulgence. (No offence, PGS, but this blog is a stellar example that makes the point.)

I too believe there's nothing wrong with Errol's webpage, and that the OP was wrong in singling it out as "informal." I found the post itself unclear in distinguishing between the informal approach and the "business card" model, notwithstanding soon-to-be-jaded's request to be charitable. Seems to me that Second Suitor needs to work on parsing his/her distinctions.

And let me add (pace tenured philosophy girl) that I personally don't have anything against photo albums showing cutesie couples. Blanket disapprovals of cuddling usually indicate some form of attachment anxiety.

Juan Comesana said...


My bad coding is the reason why your site got so many hits. I left a tag open and 10 or so comments ended up as one big link to your site. "

Oh, I see. Can someone please close that tag?

I also see, reading more carefully, that nothing that Second Suitor said implied anything bad about Errol's site.

Anonymous said...

There are no such thing as ugly people...though I am close to putting some of the bloggers here in that category. Only judgemental people think there could be some who are ugly. I would guess that your a Republican for saying so.

And, yes, the concept of "ugly" is suspect in the first place and not necassarily meaningful. If we didn't think in those terms, then the word could just as easily disappear (from being meaningless).

So stop bothering we philosophers and go back to your cave, troll.

VAP said...

There are no such as ugly people because if we didn't think in those terms the concept would disappear?

OK, so if we did not think in terms of numbers there would be such a thing as being odd or even?

That seems manifestly false.

There are lots of complicated philosophical issues here, but look some people are ugly. Trust me, I am one of them. Ugly do people exist. They are beautiful buildings, paintings, other works of art. It seems to me that the same thing applies to persons.

Whether that ought to carry any weight is an open issue. (Even as an ugly dude I would rather be surrounded by pretty people. They are nicer to look at.) Maybe you think it ought not to matter because beauty is not under the individual's control. But neither is intelligence. Anything that is good is good. No matter how superficial.

brick is red said...

On my web page, it plays "Eye of the Tiger" when my cv comes up. Now I'm worried this is unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

OK, so if we did not think in terms of numbers there would be such a thing as being odd or even?

Uh...yeah! If we didn't use numbers, concepts such as zero, odd, even, pi, square root of i, etc. would all just go away. Where else would they go? Is there still some mysterious Form of zero floating around in the air? The very act of thinking about these concepts negates the antecedent of the conditional, which is to say that you're still thinking or using numbers.

P.S. "Eye of the Tiger" is fine to have as your philosophical theme music. When we hired Clubber Lang to a TT post in our department, he too had the same anthem.

tenured philosophy girl said...

"And let me add (pace tenured philosophy girl) that I personally don't have anything against photo albums showing cutesie couples. Blanket disapprovals of cuddling usually indicate some form of attachment anxiety."

I'll cheerfully cop to that if needed. Similarly, I'm sure I hate the travel photos partly because I'm envious. (Really - I am not kidding.) But also, I will be much more tolerant of cuddling couples on professional websites once same-sex couples get to post their cuddly pictures with the same lack of fear of professional consequences as do their straight colleagues.

I know no one exactly criticized EL for having his kid on his site, but it did seem to be the only reason his very professional site was classified as 'informal', and that's what I objected to - the idea that displaying your parental identity made your site informal. To me, the other site, which was very cutsie-fake-clever (I think someone aptly said 'smarmy') actually seemed much more informal. I honestly didn't get the original distinction being made.

Anonymous said...

"But also, I will be much more tolerant of cuddling couples on professional websites once same-sex couples get to post their cuddly pictures with the same lack of fear of professional consequences as do their straight colleagues."

Masterful observation, TPG. I must have gotten that memo too, but I guess I misplaced it somewhere or other. (You do get memos to such effect, don't you?) Horrible victims are those homosexuals, especially within the profession of philosophy. There shall be no public displays of affection betweenst heterosexual couples lest homosexual couples be allowed to do so as well - oh, and with no fear of consequences.

Trite as ever, TPG. Trite. As. Ever.

Were it not for you, I'd have long ago abandoned this site as abominably boring. So thank you. And keep rehearsing those memos, won't you?

Noah said...

Anon 10:39, you might want to check what 'lest' means. Use a dictionary; you're embarrassing yourself.

Anonymous said...


As my current dictionary lists the following example as an appropriate use of "lest":

"He was scared lest he should fail his exam."

Which, so far as I can tell, is virtually the same usage as applied in my previous post. Who precisely ought to be embarrassed, now? Please, go play the idiot elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

don't feed the trolls, yo.