Rate My Teachers: the lost ‘rate’ in moderate

sad-smiley-face-computer_ver1Had a bad day at work? Has a colleague annoyed you? If so, why not write a review about them and vent, anonymously, your feelings online? No? I’m glad to hear it, but that’s just how one website does work – Rate My Teachers. This website offers students and parents the opportunity to reflect and provide feedback on teachers in their school. On the face of it, I agree that it sounds like a good idea, an opportunity for prospective and current parents to find out exactly what students/parents think of a school and its staff. However, having recently re-visited the site it doesn’t take long to see that is more of a haven for unadulterated venom rather than a place for balanced views and opinions of teachers.  I quickly signed-up to be the ‘moderator’ for my school thinking that I could filter out the obvious trolling of some staff, delete feedback for staff who had left and remove some of the more grotesque comments. Much to my surprise, the moderator has very little influence or editing rights. That is, unless you become complicit in the murky world of teacher feedback yourself…

Upon agreeing to be a moderator, one of my first tasks was to approve or decline some recent feedback for teachers in other schools (schools that I do not have any connection with). Here are the first four that I was confronted with:

rage-1015611_640_version1“This woman is a callous bully, a control freak of the very worse kind, with no sense of compassion or fairness. It is a disgrace that she was ever put in any position of power, which she regularly abuses. As far as I can tell she is thoroughly abhorred by the pupils, the teachers and the parents alike, yet she intimidates people into silence. I can only express my dismay that this nasty bully manages to keep her job.”
“The nastiest piece of work you could ever encounter”
“[The Headteacher] doesn’t care who she hires as long as they obey her regime”
“The worst person i have ever shared a classroom with…could not complete a lesson without incident and cost many people passing grades in various subjects. So glad to see the back of her.”

How could I possibly approve any of these comments, particularly as I do not know any of the staff that they are referring to? However, I cannot reject them either as none of the comments, rather surprisingly, break any of the Rate My Teachers rules.  Here’s the conundrum – until a moderator approves or rejects 100 comments they are unable to make any changes to the listings at their school. Even when the moderator has approved/rejected 100 comments, they cannot change any already approved comments. How can I look my colleagues in the eye when I’ve just approved a comment which says that there are, for example, a “thick idiot” or an “incompetent teacher”? I am simply not prepared to become complicit in the approval of comments which are often tasteless, insensitive, inaccurate and seemingly written in a state of frenetic vexation.

Students are in contact with teachers a lot. It is therefore inevitable, despite our attempts to avoid it, that every single teacher will annoy a student at some stage in the day/week/month/year. Students of High School age often don’t know how to deal with their emotions so a quick diatribe on Rate My Teachers can often seem, to them, a good place to vent their anger. And why not? A student writing some feedback on Rate My TeachersIt’s anonymous, you don’t need to login and you can make a permanent blot on a teachers reputation in just a few clicks; instant satisfaction! With more and more schools now allowing students to use mobile phones and/or laptops in schools, the comments can be written at any time of day. According to Rate My Teachers, 65% of the comments on their website are positive. I challenge you to find these 65%. It’s very clear that the vast majority of comments are unpleasant. Then again, there are some teachers who are rigging the results themselves. I personally applaud these teachers who are giving each other false feedback to bump-up their ratings. Of course, such manipulation of the scores means that Rate My Teachers becomes an even more unreliable place to obtain satisfaction scores of teachers.

Rate My Teachers is not a new site, I suspect that if you’re a teacher reading this you’ve probably visited the site previously. In fact, a BBC News article from 2006 reported the concerns of teachers and how the site has just become a playground to bully teachers. Ten years later we’re still having the same conversation and Rate My Teachers are just as unrepentant in their work. A look through their FAQ’s for Teachers & Professors shows that they will not remove comments, are not worried about teachers suing them (my favourite line being “If you want to drag us into court, bring your checkbook with you, because you’ll be paying our attorneys to defend us”) and are simply not interested in hearing from teachers, even if comments seem to have affected their reputation or even career.

I am keen that teachers are rated by parents and students but such a survey needs to be completed in a fair and honest way. The headteacher in this 2013 article from The Telegraph goes some way to showing how this could be achieved. For the moment, Rate My Teachers does nothing to help prospective parents or students to find out more about a school. All users should be aware that comments are usually written by angry students who need a quick fix relief from their annoyance at a teacher. In the meantime, I’ll be handing in my moderator role as it clearly has no effect on the legitimacy of the site and I do not wish to be complicit with the cesspit of hate that the site attracts.

What are your thoughts on Rate My Teachers? Have you received feedback that has affected you or have you been pleasantly surprised by the feedback you’ve received? If you’ve any comments, please ‘join the discussion’ below.

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Beate rufft

Hi Stephen…here’s my story:
I happen to have a very unique name. It turns out that I am the ONLY one with my name in the entire world. So when I am Googled, RMT comes up first with my name, and as you can imagine, the comment that is visible happens to be quite negative. So who cares right???? Of course I know it was a grade 8 student (13 years old) who was angry at me. I certainly let that go…BUT…I also happen to be on the Board of Directors, and a dedicated volunteer at an orphanage and school in Haiti. I am very concerned that when someone “Googles” me, to check out my involvement with the orphanage they come across RMT and see the “ticked off” kids’ comment, and perhaps not offer support to the charity.
I ended up doing something I regret (sort of)…I ended up posting a comment under my name that contained every profanity you can imagine…then I proceeded to apply to be a moderator, again swearing over and over…guess what? I actually got someone to email me!!!!! My tactic, albeit not professional, got someone’s attention. Needless to say, those comments were taken off, and I am thrilled to have actually had contact from a person who works for RMT.
What people fail to realize is that this site is specifically structured to capture IPs, and gather data to sell to advertising companies. Have you seen what Patrick Nagle is up to lately? He is developing an on-line Rehab site to “help” persons with addictions…yikes…can you imagine allowing his cronies to get ahold of private, dangerous information about people’s personal issues??????
I will keep a copy of your posting…and maybe I will discuss with the grade 8s how far reaching their actions can be.
thanks for letting me vent. I would appreciate not putting my name up??? after all I am the ONLY Beate Rufft in the world…pretty cool eh!

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Beate rufft

whoops I thought you’d read this first…duh…oh well

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James Ray

I also happen to be an admin on RateMyTeachers, in fact I was recently promoted to an elite admin, so any spotcheck results you receive may have gone through me (or one of my colleagues, if there are any…)

I have to admit, I have been looking over the site a lot recently and from what I can see the master admin we receive emails from is no longer active. I have, many times, asked about why the forums for moderators don’t work, and as I have looked through the sites FAQ page I have found many supposed features that just don’t exist anymore or have never existed in the first place. I am really beginning to feel like I am the only moderator active on the site…

I have so far been a moderator since around the end of last year to the beginning of this year and have reviewed over 1,250 ratings and over 100 teachers between two schools… yet I have never seen the numbers I have to moderate go down… I really feel like nobody else is moderating the site at any level…

I just looked on the data for moderators, and it says that yesterday 2,105 Ratings were Processed… which is actually really suprising to me… if I wasn’t an elite admin I would have no idea that any activity whatsoever was taking place other than mine :3…

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James Ray

I also happen to be an admin on RateMyTeachers, in fact I was recently promoted to an elite admin, so any spotcheck results you receive may have gone through me (or one of my colleagues, if there are any…)

I have to admit, I have been looking over the site a lot recently and from what I can see the master admin we receive emails from is no longer active. I have, many times, asked about why the forums for moderators don’t work, and as I have looked through the sites FAQ page I have found many supposed features that just don’t exist anymore or have never existed in the first place. I am really beginning to feel like I am the only moderator active on the site…

I have so far been a moderator since around the end of last year to the beginning of this year and have reviewed over 1,250 ratings and over 100 teachers between two schools… yet I have never seen the numbers I have to moderate go down… I really feel like nobody else is moderating the site at any level…

I just looked on the data for moderators, and it says that yesterday 2,105 Ratings were Processed… which is actually really surprising to me… if I wasn’t an elite admin I would have no idea that any activity whatsoever was taking place other than mine :3…

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James Ray

Sorry about that, double posted there :3

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Veronika

Hi, I’m a student who noticed a disturbing comment on one of the teacher’s, I know it may be difficult, or not possible, but as a moderator I ask, please help me remove this comment at uk.ratemyteachers.com/merghani/523111-t
Thank you

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Justin

I also am an elite, I keep 83 schools under my wing, and at one point, we got the pending parent ratings down to 0. I moderated post number 17.

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James Ray

just going to say that some of the info you have said is actually incorrect, as a moderator you have to decide to either approve, remove comments, or unpublish a comment.

as a moderator myself, in fact an elite moderator, I know what constitutes the right decision, so I will try my best to say what I would do with the comments you provided, in fact if I could find out your username I could even spotcheck you. 🙂

anyway, lets begin…
“This woman is a callous bully, a control freak of the very worse kind, with no sense of compassion or fairness. It is a disgrace that she was ever put in any position of power, which she regularly abuses. As far as I can tell she is thoroughly abhorred by the pupils, the teachers and the parents alike, yet she intimidates people into silence. I can only express my dismay that this nasty bully manages to keep her job.” – this would be a remove comments as “a callous Bully” could in fact be classed as an insult.

“The nastiest piece of work you could ever encounter” – This again would be removed as calling them a nasty piece of work is again an insult.

“[The Headteacher] doesn’t care who she hires as long as they obey her regime – I admit, I do not see anything rule breaking about this comment. I mean it may be mean but she doesn’t allege any illegality and she does not really insult the teacher personally.

“The worst person i have ever shared a classroom with…could not complete a lesson without incident and cost many people passing grades in various subjects. So glad to see the back of her.” – again, I think this would fit into the same board as the last one where I do not really see anything wrong with this comment… I mean you could possibly argue for a removal if you really wanted as it does state that he/she is “the worst person I have ever met”, but other than that I don’t see anything wrong with it…

I understand you may have strong beliefs about this site, but the reason It is so bad is because there are not enough moderators… so if you really want it to be any better than its you who needs to make that change… I’m already doing it for my school and I’m going to do it for my college and university as well, but even if I moderator 300 ratings a day I would be scratching the surface of just how many ratings need moderation… so if you have a problem with this site, become a moderator… and make the changes you think are right and just…

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James Ray

by the way, if you have a problem with a preapproved comment just report it and then do as you will with it…

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