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11/30/2020

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Tim O'Keefe

Eh, I don't know. If the question is "should I have a professional website or not?" I'd answer "yes." But in the particular query, it looks like the person is using their PhilPeople profile page as a professional website. I mean, if it's got a picture, a research blurb, copies of papers plus the CV, the only obvious thing that would be missing from a typical website is teaching material, but the candidate will send out that stuff anyway as part of their application. The only suggestion I'd make is to include the URL of the PhilPeople profile page near the top of the CV, as people do for their websites, so that web-curious parties know it's there.
As long as you do all that, are there going to be a non-trivial number of search committee members who would give you an interview if your website is "myname.com" or "myname.webhostingservice.com" but not "https://philpeople.org/profiles/my-name"? My guess is no.

RecentTT

I am from continental Europe and have now a TT position in North America. I have done what Bram Vaasen does: using PhilPeople and Academia.edu as websites. I have two reasons for this: 1) It is not as common in Europe to have your personal website. Many top philosophers in continental Europe I know do not have their own website. I modelled my online presence on theirs. 2) This is a matter of priorities. I only have so much time and keeping another website up to date does not seem a good bargain. Having more than three professional online profiles (including your department profile) does not seem necessary to me. And I believe that PhilPeople and Academia.edu are really helpful for disseminating my work.

And if you ask me personally: For me, many of the personal website of early career people (and even more of undergraduate and graduate students) do not look professional but presumptuous.

Anon UK Grad

For whatever this is worth, when I was on the market, some of the faculty in my department told me this: you never know what is going to make a search committee member cranky, and to the extent that it is pretty easy to avoid doing so, you should.

So, to the extent that making a website - even if it is basically redundant with your PhilPeople profile - can stave off some crankiness, you should do it.

cranky

Personal websites make me cranky. Surely, I'm not all alone here?

Trevor Hedberg

Do you "need" a personal website? No.

Should you have a personal website? Yes.

A personal website gives you a degree of control over your online profile. If someone puts my name into a search engine, the first thing they'll find is my website. They'll then be directed to my papers, recent scholarly activity, etc. This way, they aren't directed to results for other people who share the same name (and believe it or not, there actually is another Trevor Hedberg with academic publications in a different field) and can easily find pertinent information about who I am and what I do. It's not a coincidence that my personal website has gotten much, much higher traffic when I've been on the job market. Plus, independent of job market factors, this is a great way to publicly promote your work and increase the likelihood that people will actually read those papers you spent years working on.

R

@cranky: I sure hope you are alone in this (though sadly you are probably not)! If you don't like personal websites, you don't have to look at them. What possible reason could you have to hold it against a candidate (or just any academic) simply that they have a personal website?

designer

R,
My issue is that people's webpages are often quite unprofessional. They often have a lot of nonsense on them. Some people, for example, post a lot of pictures of themselves milling about at conferences with famous philosophers. Or they post pictures of themselves on holidays in exotic places. Of course, one can post what one wants to, but it is no longer a professional webpage.
Further, many of them, as noted above, are really poorly designed. I was trained in design, so I speak with some authority. People think they have good taste, or make a really nice webpage. Often they are very amatuerish. It is a bit like hearing your uncle's "philosophy" over the thanksgiving dinner table.

Francois

I have a photo of my cat on my website, just so the impression I give off is a *little* lighthearted rather than totally stodgy. Is this objectionably unprofessional?

Marcus Arvan

Francois: I'm planning on making a new post and discussion thread on this probably later today, as I think it's a good issue worth discussing in some depth in a thread of its own. So, I'm glad you asked!

Francois

Ah cool—thanks so much, Marcus!

R

For what it's worth, to me it still seems quite unfair, if not a bit mean, to judge people for having a personal website. Most of us are not professional designers and at least during graduate school cannot afford to pay a professional designer for our website, but as the OP indicates there is some pressure to have a personal website. I would (still) recommend to cranky and designer that they avoid personal websites rather than holding it against candidates that they have one.

designer

R
Unfortunately, I cannot just avoid philosophers' websites. Part of my job involves looking for people ... and I need to find their contact information. I am often led to their webpages.

Anonymous Postdoc

Francois,

It's less off-putting than standard personal websites, which always gives me a narcissistic vibe. However, I come from a less individualistic and assertive culture than the US, so I might be unrepresentative of how most academics think.

R,

I try hard to stop a personal website being a negative in assessing candidates, but it's definitely not a positive for me. I'm sure that, for others, it's the other way around.

RecentTT

@R: I agree. But the same holds for having not a personal website. Moreover, I see no actual argument in the entire thread for having a personal website in addition to a PhilPeople profile (the actual question). You can upload teaching material to PhilPeople. The argument that is given for having a website is to be visible for other philosophers. Why is this visibility not given by having a profile in a professional online network (like other professions use Linkedin)? I could understand if somebody argues that you need a personal website, since you want to reach a bigger audience than your peers. But why do we accept that committee members expect things from job candidates for which there seems to be no actual reason? We do not we amplify the discussion about "what should job candidates do" with a discussion about "what is sensible to expect from job candidates"?

Marcus Arvan

RecentTT: Here's one potential reason that I actually know has come up as a real consideration in a SC meeting. Some departments need a good web designer. Departments sometimes run/design their own university webpages, and often have a faculty member assigned to do it as service to the department (and service is part of the job). If you come across a candidate who has a great website and you need a web designer, that could make a difference. Should SCs *expect* this from job candidates? Of course not. But that's not the issue. The question is whether having a good personal website can make a difference. This may not make a difference with many SCs. But it may make a difference with one--and all you need is one department to hire you.

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