The perils of blogging

It's time for a new posting, and since I can't think of anything going on in my life to blog about, now seems as good a time as any to post about the recent Chronicle of Higher Education article about blogging.

The pseudonymous Ivan Tribble is "a humanities professor at a small liberal arts college in the midwest." In his article, "Bloggers Need Not Apply," he advises job seekers to beware of having blogs. He refers to experiences from his department's job search, in which the search committee googled candidates, found their blogs, and read them. He cites the bad examples of candidates who bitched about their current jobs on their blogs, or who revealed on their blogs that they'd misrepresented their research in the job search process. Okay, so we can probably all agree that these are bad ideas, since the blog is a public forum. Although Baxter Sez sometimes feels like an intimate conversation among friends, we've seen here that lots of other folks may be hanging out among the friends. So I try not to say anything here that I wouldn't want my dean, or the parents' of my students, to read. It's a good idea for folks searching for jobs to be mindful of blogging responsibly.

However, Tribble goes on to say,

The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.
Okay, so he's suggesting that having any kind of public forum is a bad thing for a candidate looking for an academic job? The fact that a candidate might have a life that extends outside the walls of the university--that the candidate might at some point in the future voice an opinion that represents a "lapse of professional decorum"--is reason not to hire a person?

Come on, folks. I mean, yikes. What do you all have to say about this?


Joan said...

I would imagine watching how they handle their blog would be a good indication of how they handle their life.

Zane said...

This would be a sticky subject for me because if I have to hire somebody it's based on academics, experience and how well their attitude and personality fit into the job they will be doing. Many people can act one way, but truly feel another so I would like to know their true feelings if possible. Therefore, if I can read their freely available diary, then I will, and use that to also help me decide what type of person this is.

With this being said I would look for things that influence their job. Not whether or not they think George Bush is an idiot, or if they like Peanut Butter Cookies better than Choclate Chip.

Anonymous said...

Being Feminist and Pro-Abortion rights could be adverse to tenure in the (self-)righteous South. One can holler free speech a lot in Academia, but it comes only after ten years of silence. Some people consider feminism inherently evil, worse than an instructor having a sexual relationship with a student :( There are reasons why some academics choose to remain anonymous, though [at least in this case] we admire how outspoken you are about your life and values.

Anonymous Academic

Alison said...

Well, I'm lucky enough that being feminist and pro-choice is pretty much written into my job description. But I recognize that this might not be the case for some of my colleagues.

claire said...

What disturbs me is that people hiring seem to think that looking for a blog by googling the candidate is finding out some dirty private secret, and so if they find a blog they read it with an eye to finding such a secret and using that secret against the candidate. This means that what candidates should really do is set up the "perfect job candidate suck up blog" in response.