Monday, May 10, 2010

Am I Wrong?

I see that the APA webshite has been down since yesterday. And the "web only" JFP has just been posted. That's a another big "fuck you" from the APA to the jobseekers. Well.... not really, since there are no jobs anyway.

Seriously now: Am I wrong to think that it would be rather easy for some enterprising folks with minimal programming skills to produce an alternative "jobs for philosophers" online publication? Couldn't one easily design a standardized form for departments to fill out which contains all the relevant information about the position, and then simply throw it up on the web in a searchable, open-access, format?

In other words: Given the state of technology and the state of the academic job market, isn't the APA's JFP totally, irredeemably, and obviously obsolete?

Here's a plan for some unemployed philosopher with the requisite know how: design such a website. Mass email philosophy departments, inviting them to list their openings on the site. Do it for free for the first year or two. As long as the site doesn't totally suck, it will soon replace (in practice) the JFP. Then start charging a nominal fee, and make some money.


Anonymous said...

First, I am not writing from the APA.

Second, even when the APA site is down, the jobs site is still available:

Third, there *are* a number of other job sites that regularly feature philosophy jobs. Here are four:

I think the APA is far from perfect and screws up a lot, but there's a little too much whining about it on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Is this what you have in mind?

Anonymous said...

First, the APA site constitutes a serious crime against web design. Nobody should be forced to use it for any purpose.

A better option is simply to use the philupdates list to advertise jobs (as many departments now do). It's easy (and free!) to access the archive to see past ads, and departments are free to write the ad as they choose (rather than filling in a form).

(The sites 2:11 mentions are ok, but not widely used; jobsinphilosophy, in particular, has been unreliable over the years, while the others tend to attract ads for college positions rather than research/teaching positions -- nothing wrong with college positions, but ideally we'd get all ads in one place.)

Anonymous said...

"Am I wrong to think that it would be rather easy for some enterprising folks with minimal programming skills to produce an alternative "jobs for philosophers" online publication?"

No, but you are wrong in assuming that people with useful real-world skills care about what happens to unemployed philosophers.

david morrow said...

As one of the creators of the Phylo jobs wiki (kindly linked above by Anon 3:22), I'm afraid I have to say that you're wrong -- but not because it's technically difficult to create such a web site. With some minor modifications, our wiki could do exactly what you describe. For the record, our wiki is not currently an authoritative listing of jobs, nor is it intended to be. It's a site for job seekers to share information about the status of jobs advertised elsewhere.

The biggest hurdle to running such a site is the need to authenticate job postings. To make the site trustworthy enough to be a source of original job listings, you would need an actual person to interact with philosophy departments and verify their job postings. That takes a lot of time.

There's a smaller hurdle, too. I've read (probably on the Philosophy Smoker or the old PJMB) that departments in many schools are required to run a print ad during a job search. I guess it's lasting evidence of a genuine job search. The JFP, when it's printed, fills this role. Obviously, departments could post an ad to your hypothetical job listing site and run a print ad in the Chronicle, so this isn't a big deal. But it does mean that a web-only ad site isn't the end of the story.

Spiros said...


I guess I wasn't clear. I was suggesting that there are enterprising folks with minimal programming skills who are also unemployed philosophers.

Spiros said...


Right. The administrative end would be time consuming.

My sense is that the requirement for print publication (introduced as an equal opportunity measure) is probably relaxed these days to include web ads (on sites considered to have profession-wide reach).

Anonymous said...

Why isn't it an option to improve the current JFP? Perhaps an unemployed philosopher with the requisite skills could get herself a job working with the APA to make the JFP more job seeker friendly.

It would be quite simple really. Just go to a standardized format for all job postings and then make your website searchable by the fields used in the form. Another advantage to this is that schools would actually list the AOS/AOC (even if just "open") and this information could appear at the top.

BTW, I secured a TT position recently.

Spiros said...

11:22: Good suggestion. However, the existing APA website is so crappy, so filled with bugs, and so counter-intuitive, that I simply figured that the APA has no interest in catching up to the late 20th century (never mind the early 21st)...

Anonymous said...

I believe that a print publication is also needed for immigration purposes. A web-only ad may end up preventing foreign nationals from being able to get their visa.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 3:43 is right. I recently went through the immigration hoops for an H1-B, and the US government requires the submission of a printed ad. Not just printed off a website, or even a printout of the pdf page that is the same as the paper JFP, but a copy of the ad from the actual hardcopy is currently mailed out to apa members.

The legal counsel for the university said that if no ad had appeared in print form, they'd have to readvertise my job in print before they could submit my visa application.

Glaucon said...

This is completely off-topic, but did anyone catch Colbert's Oil Containment Solution Randomizer last night? First solution: stuff the hole with breaded juggalos delivered by trained dolphins.

Here's the clip; the fun starts about 2:45 in....

First Law and Order, now Colbert. One more and we've hit the ICP trifecta.