How safe are you when you leave a negative (but honest) review on the website RateMyProfessor.com (RMP)? We’ve been gathering some good pretty good tips from moderators at RateMyProfessor and students who use this website.
Just read on find out what you should avoid and how you can use it optimally. Generally, there’s no need to be worried if you post a negative review. Even though there is nothing that identifies you specifically at RMP. You want to be better safe than sorry, right?
RPM -safe in anonymity
- If you wish to feel safer, though, you can use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This is a very effective way to protect your online privacy. VPN’s hide your IP address (your online identifier) and lead your online activity through an encrypted and secure virtual tunnel. This prevents other parties from tracking and identifying your online data. They even hide from which country your activities come. Nowadays, you can choose from several VPN’s: TorGuard, Hotspot Shield, HideMyAss, and CyberGhost are currently available and pretty popular.
- Never use your own name, one of your nicknames, or any social media handle that could identify you.
- A password manager must always be used! Many people use passwords that can easily be guessed, stolen, or cracked. Having not an optimal memory for things like that may also mean that your anonymity is at risk! This is particularly true if you are a person who uses one or two passwords for anything, or for multiple services or websites. A fantastic way to enhance your security with passwords is using a password manager (for example LastPass).
- Always destroy cookies! Cookies are actually little code bits that get automatically downloaded onto your computer. Cookies are allowing websites to easily and quickly see if you visited them before. Cookies enable websites also to show ads that are based on your earlier visits. Cookies can be deleted from your browser by going to ‘settings’ and ‘clean history. Be sure, though, to clean EVERYTHING! There is a small program you can use, CCleaner, which is powerful and free.
These tips will help you increase your online privacy. Of course, internet security is a topic in and of itself, so you will need to do some reading to remain thoroughly protected on all fronts.
What are RMP moderators saying (source Reddit):
Reddit had once an Ask Me Anything sessions and these tips are results of it.
- Every single review that a student submits is read by a RMP moderator. A moderator has the option to remove just a comment, or the complete rating. If the concern would be a minor issue on the comment (an accusation of racism, some name-calling, or when the student signed with a name) then the moderator could decide to remove the comment but the numerical rating can stay. Mind you though, in case the rating is for a non-existing or fake course, or when it is clear that the commentator never saw the professor (for example when a female professor is referred to as a male) the entire rating will be removed.
- Do not post multiple ratings on identical professors. The RMP site knows perfectly well when multiple ratings are posted by one single user.
- Professors can not be fired for having bad reviews, but there was a case when a tenured professor got sacked because he had posted some nasty reviews about his colleagues. The University of Saskatchewan terminated a tenured professor’s contract after he had (in all anonymity) been posting disparaging reviews on the website RateMyProfessor about fellow faculty members.
- Professors can not remove bad reviews from their ratings. Threatening RMP with lawsuits happens continuously, but that won’t work. It never happened that a rating was removed for treats to sue.
- Do NOT think that all professors are bad guys by definition. They just are not. Many professors are real good and cool guys, and there are many students that are scumballs! So make sure you are as neutral as you can be.
Bear in mind that the Rate My Professors website has influence on students’ choices. Consequently, classes of badly rated professors may not fill up that quickly, and there have been moments that classes even had to be canceled due to low sign-ups.
No school will admit it, but there are schools that are using RMP to decide who they will hire. We know this as we received emails on this subject from people on hiring committees. This topic was also mentioned on forums in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
What students say:
- In general, RateMyProfessor.com is correct. Professors who usually get good scores will always be good professors, and those with predominantly bad scores will, in general, be pretty
bad. Professors with in between scores are generally pretty decent.
- I was kind of excited when I started as a freshman, and I had seen that three of my future professors had red peppers. When I went to my classes, I discovered that neither of my them were really attractive. I guess that my university’s students are giving a red pepper to professors that are non-overweight women.
- I checked out 3 graduate profs, and practically all comments on RMP proved to be accurate, even in detail. Normally, the random opinions of ten anonymous people mean nothing specifically, but I have to admit that the consensus was accurate.
- Whenever I can choose between professors, I look up RMP, and I give ratings too! For me visiting a review site always helps. Things will generally skew somewhat to malcontents, but if students gave a professor negative comments, they will be mediocre at best. And don’t forget that some students can be pretty mean and juvenile.
- The majority of students will be able to sort through these reviews and identify the ones that may have any value. But it seems to me that none of the comments could be of any help to the professors referred to. The point of many students is not to come up with reliable and valuable feedback, or to improve the performance of a professor. A lot of it has nothing to do with serious evaluation. Most comments are probably just to confirm how bad or good a professor is. The only thing professors can be learning from RMP is whether the students hate them, love them, or are mostly indifferent, and usually there are just a few sentences to justify those feelings. Well, I guess that teaching professionals can also get an idea of those sentiments if they will interact in the usual way with their students.
- Believe me, most professors will read these comments as well. If they will tell you that anonymous student ratings are irrelevant and of no value to their careers, they may be lying a little bit. All professors and their relatives are reading the ratings on RMP.
- If a professor’s students, in general, demonstrate strong negative sentiments about them, it has to come from somewhere. It’s never because they had to do too much work or that the study material was too challenging.
You may love or hate Rate My Professors, but we feel it is worth checking and useful. Just be sure you’ll stay on the safer side. The website also includes a few funny teaching evaluations.
“I thought this was supposed to be an engineering course, but all we did was physics and math! Ugh!” #teachingevals
— Engineering Prof (@theengrprof) May 31, 2016
@anonymousprofs #teachingevals “I’m not sure Dr X was the professor in this class but he was very helpful.” (I was the prof in the class.)
— pajerry (Paul Jerry) (@pajerry) June 14, 2016