Whether you have a complaint about your neighborhood coffee shop or an allegedly unfaithful ex-boyfriend, the average Joe has a surprising amount of power through these sites.
Rating sites apparently even have the power to bring a well-known UNC Law professor to his electronic knees.
It’s not every day that a torts professor sends his former students a “rather embarrassing request” to repair his online reputation. It’s also certainly not every day that the students respond en masse….
On Tuesday, Professor Michael Corrado sent the following email to 2Ls who took his torts class last year, basically pleading for their help (the entire email is reprinted on the next page):
I have a rather embarrassing request of you. An undergraduate brought something to my attention that needs to be fixed. It seems that there is a website, something like Rate my Professors, where my rating is so bad that he was uncertain about whether to take my course or not. I was puzzled, because my evaluations are generally not bad. It turns out that there are just a couple of responses on the site, and they are apparently from people who have a real grievance against me for some reason.
They are certainly entitled to their opinions, but it isn’t really a fair reflection of my teaching (I hope).
What I would like to ask of you is whether, if you are so inclined, you would go onto that site and write your own review of my teaching. I’m not asking you to write a favorable review, just to write an honest review. I think that overall I would get much better ratings if a number of people did this and just gave their honest views.
You have to give him some credit. It’s an earnest request for truth; he believes if more students rated him honestly, the average score would go up. And by golly, he was right. As our tipster points out, the number of ratings on the page has exploded over the last few days. About 20 people have left their views on Professor Corrado’s Rate My Professor page this week.
Most of the comments are overwhelmingly positive. Like this review:
Prof. Corrado was hands down my favorite 1L instructor. All classes are confusing as you begin law school, but he made Torts interesting and kept the material and pace suited to the class. Extremely helpful and always available.
Dag, yo. That’s a good start. And this one:
A difficult professor, but extremely straight forward and fair. He expects you to be prepared and to think for yourself. UNC could use a few more professors like him.
I am glad Corrado handled his problem like a human being, instead of filing a lawsuit (although that might have made for a more exciting story…).
Of course, no one is universally loved. Some students feel he deserved the tough critiques. Our tipster agrees with some of the more critical Rate My Professor reviews:
I was not particularly a fan of him. He comes across as arrogant and disrespectful in class sometimes. Further, he spent more than 3/4 of the semester only teaching the elements of negligence. So come exam time, the curve was very, very tight because the coverage of his course was so narrow. He is also quite theoretical in his teaching, which is understandable given his heavy philosophy background, but I have a greater appreciation for professors who work to make their courses practical for our future careers.
And that’s totally fair. Why shouldn’t a student want more practical advice? (Even though such advice can be surprisingly hard to come by in law school.) People come into their classes with all sorts of different expectations and preferences. One of my least favorite professors in college was also one of the school’s most popular. My friends have loathed some of my favorite teachers over the years.
In the internet age, it might be unrealistic to tell people to only write things that could safely appear on the front page of the New York Times. But even in the troll-infested waters of the internet, people still care what is said about them. Except for bloggers, that is. We don’t give a s**t.