Blogs > Cliopatria > The Tribble Fall-Out, and what we can do about it

Sep 14, 2005 1:20 am


The Tribble Fall-Out, and what we can do about it



When Ivan Tribble published his response to the blogstorm following his initial column, I chose not to respond. I had said everything I had to say on the topic, and several commentators more eloquent than I had much to say on the topic, particularly fellow Cliopatriarchs Mark Grimsley and Sharon Howard. The consensus, after Tribble I and Tribble II, is that bloggers are very aware of the obligation they have to speak responsibly in the blogosphere, especially those bloggers who are not pseudonymous. Having recognized that, all of Tribble’s detractors had a variety of reasons why their blogs enhance their scholarship, their teaching, and other aspects of their professional and personal lives. I admonished potential employers not to fear the blog, but to embrace it.

I expected that Tribble’s poison would have little effect, but I was wrong. It is even worse: Tribble’s drivel has become even more twisted in the telling and is being peddled at job-hunting seminars. I was at a CV and cover letter writing workshop sponsored by Harvard’s OCS today, in which we were told that the Chronicle of Higher Education had reported that bloggers were not getting jobs because they wrote terrible things about their colleagues, and then job committees found out about this by checking the URLs bloggers had listed on their CVs. Actually none of Tribble’s victims had committed that particular blogging crime, but it seems that Tribble has trickled down in an especially anti-blog way that characterizes all blogs as career-destroying gossip sheets. In fact, it seems to be translating into an anti-web attitude completely: my cohort and I were further advised to google ourselves and attempt to get anything that looks less than appetizing “removed from the web.” (I’m not sure how one goes about doing that.) I’m checking with friends at other universities to see if an anti-blog attitude is prevalent in job-placement seminars away from Harvard as well, but I suspect that it is.

I do think bloggers, especially blogging graduate students, need to stand up for themselves now. So, I propose the following:

I would like to hear from all blogging graduate students in the humanities and social sciences, pseudonymous and non-pseudonymous. Please send me an email [rgoetz AT fas DOT harvard DOT edu] with the following information:

1. Your blog’s title and URL
2. Whether or not you are on the job market
3. If you include your blog on your CV or other job applications material
4. If you’ve interviewed before, were you asked questions about your blog? Did blogging come up at any other time in the process?
5. updated question Briefly or not so briefly, why do you blog?
Please let me know if I have your permission to blog the information you share with me (anonymously of course).

I will use this information to create a blogroll exclusively of grad students at (a)musings of a grad student. Beyond the blogroll, it is my goal to get a sense of whether or not blogging grad students are really at a disadvantage in the job process. I’ll share my conclusions in subsequent posts.
UPDATE Per Jonathan Dresner's suggestion from the comments, I would also like to hear from professors who blog, pseudonymously or otherwise:

  1. whether or not your department knows you blog
  2. whether or not your colleagues have commented, positively or negatively, on your blogging
  3. whether or not your blog has come up in tenure or promotion reviews, positively or negatively
  4. briefly or not so briefly, why do you blog?
  5. anything else you feel is pertinent that I should know about
I won't be making a blogroll from this information. As with the grad students, all your comments will be held in confidence, anonymously, unless you specify otherwise. [rgoetz AT fas DOT harvard DOT edu]

Unless blogging grad students can communicate why we find blogging useful to our research, teaching, and professional networks, I am afraid that Tribble’s anti-blog attitude will become the accepted conventional wisdom. So I see this as a first step to gathering some material about what we do, why we do it, and how it helps us be better scholars and teachers.

x-posted at (a)musings of a grad student
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More Comments:


Scott Eric Kaufman - 9/14/2005

I like this idea of a "stamp of approval" that bloggers can earn by "signing" a "document" indicating that they won't engage in the sorts of behavior Tribble warns against. With sufficient numbers and a little publicity, that could help sway whatever effect Tribble's had. (Despite all those scare-quotes, I'm deadly serious about this. So much so I'd even be up for hosting and managing the site.) I'll post about this and see if we can't get some sort of statement drafted...


Rebecca Anne Goetz - 9/14/2005

The CV workshop was still helpful (tho inside I seethed!)

I was thinking of asking for input from folks who already have jobs; your comment has helped me make up my mind. The post has been amended accordingly!


Rebecca Anne Goetz - 9/14/2005

Yep, that's me! In exchange for a sweet tenure-track job, I've agreed to turn you all in!!! :)

I think a blogging statement is a good idea. We could draft a statement of blogging principles (something that would basically elaborate on the "we stand for responsible free speech in the academic blogosphere" that seems to be what the anti-Tribbles agree upon, along with how it enhances our professional lives). We could post it somewhere and have a little tag, as you suggest, that people could put on their blogs. Nice idea. Let's make it happen.


Manan Ahmed - 9/13/2005

I suspect that you will make this list of us grad students and rat us out to the authority. NEVER.

more seriously, what do you think about a cohesive statement of blogging that we can draft and post on our blogs? Perhaps with a NO GOSSIP INSIDE image tag. Also a FRAGILE: HISTORY CONTENT. Ok, I kid again. But, barely.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/13/2005

I'm sorry to hear that the Harvard OCS folks have distilled Tribble in this fashion. Their CV-writing and cover letter workshops were very helpful....

You might want to include other folks than graduate students in the survey: not for blogrolling, but grad students aren't the only ones on the job market and, oddly enough, they aren't the ones likely to have spread faculty/colleague gossip because they don't have any yet.

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