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07/30/2019

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Amanda

My main point was really against the kind of comment that suggests by far the most important factor in job market hiring is publishing. While there is certainly evidence that suggests publishing is very important, both at research and teaching schools, there seems absolutely no evidence to suggest it is *the* most important factor, nor that there are not several other factors that are just as important (both at teaching and research schools.)

FWIW, I did not have a webpage any of my years on the market, and I did well. That of course, doesn't mean much, as I could have done better with a webpage. I tend to think that the value of a webpage is more indirect than direct. Having a webpage helps you get noticed as a philosopher, and I think this is indirectly helpful on the job market in the following way: when search committee members are looking through hundreds of applications, and they come across an application and recognize a name, they are far more likely to pause and consider the application slowly and carefully (if out of nothing other than curiosity.) I guess having a webpage *might* be some help when committee members have picked their short list and are researching more about candidates. But I'm a bit skeptical, because you have to also calculate the risk that it will hurt. If your page doesn't look the way a committee member likes, or you come across as caring too much about research or teaching, or there is a paper available that a search committee member thinks is poorly written - this can all *hurt* a candidate.

Publish please

Amanda,
your reflections above, support my original claim. I do not want to dwell on this or provoke wrath, but it seems publishing is a +near+ necessary condition for getting a TT job in philosophy. A webpage is not. And, as you note, some webpages cause more damage than good. FWIW, I never looked at peoples' webpages when I was involved in searches. There was usually enough to sink people in their application file.

Michel

Academia.edu is increasingly spammy, and I wouldn't let it do this work for me.

It doesn't take too much time to put together a half-decent website, especially if you've already got all your materials (i.e. all your site content) ready to go. And I think the indirect benefits are worth it. I, for one, spend a fair bit of time going around and looking at people's sites and CVs, and it's great when all that is easily accessible via a personal site. And since I'm pretty involved in organizing things in my subfield, one of the indirect effects is that having a site makes it more likely that I'll get in touch with you to share a CFP, give a keynote, or referee some conference presentations. I imagine I'm not alone in this.

But the other major advantage, I've found, is that I can stash various documents on my site, and then quickly link to them in other contexts (e.g. in a cover letter, when I mention particular courses). And I find that having all that stuff right there makes my life a lot easier in a number of lower-stakes contexts (e.g. when someone asks for syllabus recommendations, it's faster for me to go to my site and look at my content than it is to navigate through my filing system [which, I hasten to add, is well- and carefully organized! It just has a few layers to navigate, whereas my site doesn't.]).

Tim O'Keefe

Re: academia.edu, I've found it an easy place to upload papers. And that site seems to do a decent job of getting indexed by google etc., as well as suggesting your papers when people are looking at other papers. So for the core function of 'getting people to look at my work,' academia.edu does OK.

But I agree they send out tons of spam. I actually signed up for it with a side gmail account I use specifically for signing up for things that I suspect will send me spam. That way it doesn't annoy me during the day when I'm using my real e-mail.

Recent committee member

My impression from serving on a hiring committee this last cycle was that there was a bit of a generational divide: younger faculty like myself used candidate websites quite frequently, less so for those faculty nearing retirement.

Here's one small, but not insignificant, reason why I found websites useful: our online repository for looking at materials was slow, clunky, and buggy. Cover letters and CVs were stored in a different area from writing samples and research statements, and it's time consuming to go back and forth when you have many applications to sift through. Candidate websites provided an easy and reliable resource for reminding myself about a candidate's overall profile, especially when we were making decisions about who to include for interviews and flyouts.

And I'd second the point that it doesn't take all to long to make one -- in my option it's well worth the time!

postdoc with a website

I'm pro-website, but for those who aren't, note that there are several good alternatives to academia.edu (which is terrible), such as Researchgate and PhilPeople. If all you care about is making your papers accessible, go with one of those. If you also care about making other kinds of materials accessible to people, make a website.

anonymous

I look at websites and find them useful during hiring. I don't know if I hold it against people who don't have them--I don't explicitly, but maybe there's some kind of non-conscious thing going on.

As for the academia.edu question--why not just fill out your philpeople profile carefully instead? You can put a photo, your cv, info about your research, and organize your work on there. I think it's much more professional than academia.edu, which many people look down on and which is not accessible if you don't belong to it.

Anon

Given that academia.edu has a spam problem, what about having a profile on philpeople? It seems to me a great tool

anon

Update from original inquirer:

I made a wordpress site.
It was extremely easy and did not take much time.

My general sense is there is not any kind of choice to be made between publishing and making a web site, especially given how easy I realize it now is to make one.

Amanda

Warning - defense of academia.edu to follow. Please ignore if this will upset you.

philpeople is not nearly as helpful as either researchgate or academia.edu for people who do any interdisciplinary type of work, as it is nearly all philosophers. I also just prefer the interface of the other two a lot more. Perhaps I'm an oddball, on the other hand, while I do hear academia.edu get a lot of social media criticism, it is almost always by people who don't use it. If you don't like it, fine, but please don't judge others for using it. And just in case anyone was thinking about it, please don't give me some lecture about capitalism....just think for a second about all the capitalistic websites you visit (let alone all the other things you buy). Most personal websites also involve a for profit company, anyway.

In my experience, lots of philosophers use academia .edu . It has been very helpful for me not only in paper sharing, but letting me know who comes to my site. Also, because I have a different email on academia.edu, I know when people who email me found me through there. And while the game is early, I get more people contacting me through academia.edu than I do through my webpage! I have to admit, I find this pretty surprising, and perhaps it will change. Yet I also have far more *philosopher* followers on academia.edu than philpapers. I really have no idea why, unless there is something about the interface which explains it. But I guess my main point is, lots of philosophers do like and use academia.edu. So while I agree this probably shouldn't be someone's main or only site, I do think it is a good idea to join. (I would suggest having another site in large part so you don't piss off a search committee member who hates it, but also, I do think the indirect value of a website is worth it.)

As for spam, I guess what people mean is emails? There is no advertising on the site - unless perhaps, my ad blockers are blocking all of that. (If so then I encourage you to get ad blockers, everyone should have these, anyway) The only emails I get from them are ones that let me know someone has visited my page, or my weekly "stats." I find both helpful. I only occasionally get emails that someone else uploaded a paper, but I get that from philpapers and researchgate too. In any case, it is easy to set it up with an alternative email.

Amanda

Publish please: I agree having a webpage is not as important as having at least one publication. And in general, publishing is certainly more important. On the other hand, as has been pointed out, creating a webpage takes one afternoon, and you have almost 100% odds of success. Alas, few people can do anything to guarantee their work will get published.

Anyway, I guess my advice would be that have a webpage for the indirect benefit, and be very careful to not have anything controversial on there that will hurt you instead of help you. I think it's a very bad idea for people on the market to upload unpublished papers.

Charles

Here's a question: Does the production value of a job candidate's website matter? I ask because I have been writing the HTML for my website myself. This makes for a very minimal, in some ways ugly, mid-90s aesthetic. (Think https://spacejam.com) In other words, it makes for low production value. My website isn't online yet. Here are the virtues of this approach, in my opinion: 1) I have fun writing the HTML 2) I know everything going on in my website, so I can control and change things as I like, 3) The Wordpress themes in general don't suit my taste, so I prefer not to use them 4) I think that some of the canned Wordpress themes are overproduced and might suggest that I am putting too much energy into a personal website instead of publishing and pedagogical development. Thoughts?

Michel

Amanda: most of the spam comes in the form of emails about papers that mention me or cite my work (which is demonstrably false).

As for why you have more academia than philpeople followers: academia has been around for years and years. PhilPeople is new, and hasn't yet become entrenched.

A Philosopher

You can easily adjust what emails academia.edu sends you through the settings on your account. I get zero spam from them and get only the emails I want to get. It's also clear how to turn off even those emails, if I wanted.

Publish, please

Charles
I think we are back to where we started. I quote you: "This makes for a very minimal, in some ways ugly, mid-90s aesthetic."
That is precisely what you are supposed to avoid. If the webpage is ugly, it will do you no favours.
Webpages have to look professional. No one looking to hire you cares whether you have fun writing the HTML. What they want is a clear idiot-proof webpage where they can find information about you in seconds.

Philosadjacent

I think the advice here is quite good. I will put in a couple of slightly different plugs for a website. One is that it forces you to think about your self-presentation in ways that sending a bunch of job application materials off into the ether doesn’t. Your CV can be too long and have weird categories. Your teaching statement may be really wordy. Your statement of your research could be boring. It’s easy to ignore that stuff if you send it out to the boundless void that is a job application.

But a webpage is right there for anybody in the world to see. You have to be terse. You will be painfully aware of self-inflating language. And it’s there as a whole package, where it’s easy to see if your research doesn’t align with your teaching. It’s a good way to force you to reckon with all of the difficult issues in your application materials.

Another reason is that you can update it. Many of you have articles under review or revision; some of those will land soon. Many of you will defend your dissertations in Fall semester. Some of you will receive awards. Applications that are sent out in October may not be at first interview stage until late December, and not be at finalist stage until March. If you land something new, or move from ABD to PhD, you can put it on an updated CV or pub list right there on the webpage, and you can refer the search committee to that page. That is, I believe, more effective than simply sending in an email that “hey, my paper got accepted in __”.

Finally, it gives you another visual representation for committee member to remember. All paper (or PDFs) looks alike, and it can be hard to remember which piece of paper was which. Websites have different looks and feels, and if you make a positive impression based on your CV, and that gets associated with a distinct object, committee members will more readily recall you. That helps. It is contingent upon your record, of course, but if you have a good record it helps.

Google sites, wordpress, foursquare, whatever. Even paying someone to build one (or trade X hours of proof-reading/copy-editing with a Web-savvy friend). Your department may even have a CMS with a university-themed personal page option that you can use (these are usually a single page where you can have a few headings and links, plus a mugshot); those are super simple but professional looking, and may be available through the department or university.

Lastly, on the “publish or website” question. This is a false dichotomy, for reasons noted, especially that the amount of time to put up a site versus write an article is several orders of magnitude less. To see why, compare: is it better to publish or to have a polished cover letter? Well, to publish of course. But the payoff for a polished letter is worthwhile.

Charles: If you’re hand coding the html, cool. But just make it a *clean* page. No geocities, pls.

Marcus Arvan

Charles: I strongly agree with ‘Publish, please’ on this. As I noted above, search committees care very much about the kind of person and colleague you are likely to be—and the overall way you present yourself online and offline can very much affect how you come off. A website that looks ugly or outdated can unintentionally make a person look lazy or out of touch with the times. I’ve come across some like the one you describe, and they didn’t come off well to me at all. I think there may be clever ways to construct a *good* looking minimalistic site (and have seen some). But a website that looks like it is based on web technology from the 90’s is probably not going to be that. If you prefer a minimalistic look, I strongly suggest one that looks up to date. Most website hosting companies have minimalist templates you can edit.

Amanda

Charles I agree with the others - the main necessities of a helpful academic webpage is that it should look professional and be very easy to navigate, otherwise the risks are not worth the potential reward.

Additional things that might make some difference: you should always have your CV on your webpage, and update it whenever you get a publication, teach another course, or something else of job market merit.(I am always shocked to find a few that do not have a CV, or say "contact me for CV." Don't do that!). While not as important, I do also think there should be at least one professional photo, and it should not be this weird thing where the photo takes up like 90% of the page. You should have a photo, I think, simply because many people are curious and expecting it, and it will seem off when someone looks it up and doesn't see what they expect. (and yes, this kind of sucks do to gender issues and appearance, etc. But if you get a flyout they will see you anyway. ) And the extra large photos just comes off as odd, unprofessional, and maybe vain. I remember recently looking at a webpage of a very handsome grad student who had his model-style photo take up almost the entire page. While I probably am not justified in my reaction, this induced negative feelings. For strategic reasons, you want to avoid both rational and irrational negative reactions.

Amanda

Michel - interesting point about philpapers, thanks.

Muhammad

On a side note, not necessarily having to do with search committees, but I found that having an easy to access website is useful at conferences and for networking.

I still give out physical business cards to older professors I meet, but graduate students and younger assistant professors seem to appreciate the website.

Mike Titelbaum

Just to be clear, in case this has gotten lost in the conversation: you have to have a website. It has to have your cv and your publications, and hopefully at least a paragraph about yourself. Yes, when you're officially on the market. But also when someone (like me) is considering inviting you to a conference. Or perhaps I'm considering whether you might be someone my department would like to go after. The first way I try to learn more about you is by looking for your webpage. We can haggle about whether it should be custom, PhilPeople, academia, whatever. But just to be clear, you have to have one these days.

A Non-Mouse

Mike Titelbaum: You write, "you have to have a [website] these days." And you seem to suggest that the support for this strong claim has something to do with your convenience or, more generally, with the convenience of people who might want to invite others for conferences or flyouts.

Your claim is too strong. People without a webiste can get a job or conference invitations. It's just easier when there is a convenient way for someone (with the power to extend invitations) to "get to know you." But there are other ways. For example, when your advisors, mentors, and friends promote you or your work. So, your strong claim lacks support. You don't have to have a website these days.

Anon

haha well silly of The Cocoon to have this post then! Mike you should have just wrote that off the bat, so we didn't waste all this time having a discussion.

But seriously, I don't even know what you mean. "You have to." Have to for what? Or WM won't hire you or invite you to a talk? While it makes strategic sense to have a website, and while most do, there are absolutely people who don't that get jobs, both junior and senior, and that get invited to talks.

Mike Titelbaum

The question that started this thread was "Would an academia.edu count be considered a legitimate web site? Are these sites frowned upon?". So the question that started us off was whether candidates need a *personalized* website, or whether academia sites work just as well. In the course of the ensuing discussion, I was afraid an important point was getting lost: As an academic pursuing a professional career, it is a serious mistake not to have any kind of website at all. (Whether it need be personalized or can be academia/PhilPapers/whatever I don't have a strong view on.)

The "have to" in my comment was intended as a normative necessity. It is indeed *possible* to get a job, or get invited to a conference, without having any kind of website. But it is such a serious professional handicap not to have a website of some sort that we insist all of our graduate students here at UW eventually do, and if any academic from anywhere else asked me if they should, my answer would immediately be "absolutely yes".

I am often in a position where I am looking to invite people to things. Not just colloquia, but conferences, refereeing, and various other professional opportunities. Even if someone has been recommended to me by an advisor or an acquaintance, I will go looking for information about them on a website. If they don't have a website, they may just not get the invitation. And I am far from the only person in such a position who operates this way. Not having a website of any kind is a serious obstacle for a variety of professional purposes, so serious that I would say you (normatively) *have* to have one if you want to progress professionally in this field. I wrote my post because I was worried some junior academic might miss that message in the conversation that was being had.

A Non-Mouse

Mike Titelbaum: The only support you've given for thinking it a mistake not to have a website is that you *might* miss out on opportunities if you don't have one. That much is reasonable. But this doesn't support a normative *necessity*.

Even if you're right that it is a serious mistake, this alone won't sufficiently support your normatively necessary claim. In fact, people like you (who have power to make opportunities available) might "have to" (in the normative sense) ensure that having no website is never your reason for failing to extend an invitation. You haven't given us reason to think otherwise, and if people like you do have to ensure this, your claim doesn't hold. Further, it is reasonable to think that for reasons of fairness, people like you do have to ensure it. So your claim still lacks support.

A Non-Mouse

One thing to take away from Mike Titelbaum's comments is that it is prudent to have a website. It's still not at all clear that prudence *requires* it, because people have access to professional opportunities without a website. But this gives us a reason to take seriously the idea that one should have a website.

Mike Titelbaum

Dear Non-Mouse,
Thanks for your final comment. I'm not here to have a philosophical debate about what it takes to support a claim of normative necessity. There's also a debate to be had about how various decisions in the profession *should* be made, including by me. But all I'm trying to do is indicate to junior folks how decisions currently *get* made, and how badly they're prudentially handicapping themselves if they don't have a website.

A Non-Mouse

Mike Titelbaum: It's beneficial to have people like you weighing in here. I hope you continue. And I agree with the thrust of your point (the prudence point). I just think we should be careful not to overstate the case using the idea of a necessity or of a requirement. Otherwise we might thereby accidently contribute to creating an unwarranted professional norm. That would be unfortunate especially if the norm were one that unfairly advantages certain people over others. This is why I decided to weigh in.

anon

Original anon here who asked about web sites. I appreciate all the feedback.

Can anyone who has created a basic wordpress site tell me how to make it generally accessible and viewable so that search committee members are actually likely to find it?

I realize maybe linking various things in your job app to it might be the easiest way but didn't know if anyone knew anything else in this regard.

As it stands now, it doesn't appear my web site is actually searchable, which might defeat the whole purpose.

Recent Grad

It takes a while for google to pick up your page. Submitting a site map will speed up the process (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6065812?hl=en); linking to your page from other websites (social media etc...) should also help.

A Philosopher

anon, it tends to take Google a little while to index your site, so if you just created it you may have to wait a little while before it pops up in a Google search. I typically have no problem finding people's websites through Google, even if they have a very common name (or one shared with famous people). Usually just searching for their name, plus maybe "philosophy" or the name of their university, brings their site up. I assume these people don't have any special SEO skills. So long as your site involves your name, your university name, and the term "philosophy" somewhere in its text, I assume it will eventually get indexed by Google (in a few weeks?) and pop up on the first page of any reasonable web search. Of course, your domain name should be something obvious, like yourname.com or yournamephilosophy.com.

A side note: I'm not sure what you mean by a "basic" Wordpress site. I have no idea, but if you mean one that's free, and hence is a wordpress subdomain (e.g., yourname.wordpress.com), the search engine indexing might be different and worse. Especially if these sites aren't well indexed I highly suggest you pay the nominal fee (usually less than $10/month) for your own domain. I think wordpress offers it, and I know I see other ads all the time for similar services (e.g., squarespace?). Some major hosting platforms (e.g., dreamhost) similarly offer very cheap website builders with real domains, again usually for under $10/month.

Tim O'Keefe

To follow up on recent grad's post: make sure that you have an account and a public profile on philpeople.org. Then, from that page, you can set up a link to your homepage (i.e., the website you've made up, wherever it is hosted). Make sure that your philpeople.org profile includes all of your publications. For each of those publications, you can set up an external link directly to the page where you've posted your paper on your website. Since your philpaper.org profile page will accessible to the webcrawlers, your homepage will show up too.

As somebody else suggested above, you could just make the philpeople.org page your website--and along the same lines, you could just just archive your papers there. But if you don't, go ahead and do the above, which will help make your webpage more visible. The more links to your webpage from elsewhere on the web, the better.

Recent committee member

Anon, my sense is that most people will try to find you by googling '[your name] + philosophy' or '[your name] + [affiliation]', so things like naming your home page '[your name] + philosophy' (regardless of the actual URL -- you don't have to pay for a special domain name to do this) will help. A google search for 'search engine optimization' (SEO) will produce lots of advice along these lines.

new phd student

For what its worth, I had someone from a conference I submitted to visit my academia page about a week before I was accepted for the conference. I can't help but think that the docs and bio I had posted there did something to support my submission abstract

less new phd graduate

new phd student,

I can't tell if you're being facetious or not. It could be that they had already accepted your abstract and wanted to see who you were. The delay could be explained by a lot of other things, e.g., waiting for budget approval, waiting to make sure the gender-balance of the line-up was appropriate, waiting to accept other papers, etc.

Amanda

Yeah I find it hard to believe that for something like a conference abstract submission, anyone would bother to do further research before accepting or not accepting the abstract. Conferences just typically aren't taken that seriously. I think "less new phD graduate" has a more plausible explanation. When I've organized conferences I am often curious about people whoa re coming, and I look them up but only after all the decisions have been made.

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