Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Old and unimproved

In late August and early September, my January 2005 post How to e-mail a professor begins to account for many, many visits to Orange Crate Art — right now, about half of all visits. HackCollege recently called this post “the golden standard” for advice about “asking things of professors.” (Thanks!)

At one time this post had little competition. Now there are several pages online offering similar guidelines. At least three are remarkably similar to my post in their content and sequencing. (Remarkably, remarkably, remarkably similar.) Two appear at eHow as the work of unnamed contributors. One appears at StudentStuff as the work of an ex-English major. She should know better.

I have no idea what kind of traffic these other pages get. But I’m happy to see that a Google search for how to e-mail a professor still finds my post at the top of the heap — old and unimproved, and using only original parts.

Update, September 2, 2010: I’ve received no reply to my e-mail, but eHow, to its credit, has removed the two anonymous items from its website. The piece at StudentStuff still stands. I’ve e-mailed again, requesting that it be removed.

Update, September 2, 2010: The writer at StudentStuff has removed the borrowings from her post. Case closed.

comments: 9

Anonymous said...

Dr. Leddy-
I wandered into your blog after following a link on a website about pencils. Now I try to stop by on a daily basis. Your blog is a comfort and a joy, and I hope you continue with it for many years to come. "The dowdy life" has entered into my lexicon, and your perspectives on teaching have helped me with a few of my own issues as a high school English teacher. Anyway, just wanted to finally comment and tell you thank you, though I'm not sure what sparked the decision today. Probably the ex-English major plagiarist combined with a 9th grader who told me today that all literature is crap. We'll be reading Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Poe before the end of the 9 weeks, so I have a pretty good feeling her opinion might change. Best of luck to you in the new semester!

Michael Leddy said...

Thank you, Lindsay. Your comment has made my day, maybe my week. Seriously, it means a lot to me.

Best wishes for your semester too. I am ever optimistic when it comes to teaching. I hope your student has a change of mind about reading literature.

(By the way, on the Internets I’m just “Michael.”)

Matthew Schmeer said...

Here's another question to think and blog about: how to respond in class when a professor asks a question. On our internal mailing list, we've been discussing the various non-responsive responses students provide to professorial queries, whether directed to the class as a whole or to individual students. We've come to the conclusion that it's about "not wanting to stand out" because past high school experiences reinforced the belief that to draw attention to yourself in class was anathema to being considered cool--unless you gave a smart-ass answer that made the class laugh. So, I'd be interested to hear your advice to students on this front.

Michael Leddy said...

Not wanting to stand out is exactly what’s involved. I think many students come in with very little background in genuine class discussion. What I suggest to my students is to think of a question (or at least most questions I’ll ask) as an invitation to think, not as something for which there’s a pre-made answer that they’re supposed to have. I also tell my students that they need to give themselves permission to talk.

It becomes much easier when many people in a class are willing to pitch in. Best of all is when students begin to talk to one another. Some of what’'s involved in all of it is the mystery of human chemistry, as when someone has lively and funereal sections of the same course, back to back.

stefan said...

Hooray, Lindsay, for your smart comment. You took the words right out of my mouth. And based on the positive responses I'm getting from my composition and philosophy students, it's clear, Michael, that your original "How to E-mail" parts still work the best. And finally, thanks too to Matthew S. I'd also be interested in a "How to Answer a Professor" post (though I'm sure we don't mean to give Michael an extra assignment just as the new semester is beginning.)

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Stefan. I think I’ll sign up with eHow and write an “article” about talking in class. :)

I will write something about it — here — but it’ll be a while. As Elaine and I say (household mantra), “Lots of things to do!”

Daughter Number Three said...

"How to e-mail a professor" is the post that originally brought me to your blog as well... a friend had linked to it on Facebook around the time school started last year.

I'll have to send her a note to thank her for helping me find you!

Anonymous said...

It's a dangerous world. Anything you put online can be subject to plagiarism! It is completely disgraceful when someone takes your words and thoughts and presents them as his or her own.

Michael Leddy said...

Daughter Number Three, I was trying to remember how I found your blog — I guess it was by following up a comment. I like knowing about student-focused posts showing up in Facebook.

Anon., I know that many people have fared far worse than I have when it comes to have their work appropriated. But still it stings, and stinks.