Sunday, September 21, 2014


We've had 2 requests now to host Beaker Ben's Twitter feed on this page.

I ran the CM Twitter feed and received a great deal of flak when I re-tweeted nutty, indecent, revealing, horrifying tweets from students, and so as the page started up again last week I decided not to mess with Twitter.

One of the most common complaints was that by re-tweeting items that college students had posted publicly, we were "mock[ing] specific, publicly recognizable, individual students."

Here are two ( 1  |  2 ) examples.

I got private mail about it, the former RGM did, and there were a fair amount of complaints about it in the comments. (There were even posts from correspondents decrying it.)

So I'm leaning toward not doing it again. If there's been a sea change in how the CM readership views this, please let me know. Email thingie is in the sidebar. It's orange.


  1. I think the tweets are very entertaining. I also think it is EXTRAORDINARILY HELPFUL to students to gently help them realize that their tweets are public and can be seen and shared by anyone, even their professor. To do so is to teach.

    1. Such a sage reply to what has always seemed to me to be a rather silly complaint....

  2. I thought the re-tweets are in very poor taste. These are young people at the start of their lives and the occasionally make poor choices. Mocking them while you hold yourself far above them in your Ivory tower is unseemly. You should act better.

    1. Stephen, mocking them while we hold ourselves above them in our Ivory tower is what we do, and unseemly is what we are. Your point was?

      Incidentally, we anonymize ferociously. So if the 'flake sees us mocking hir, s/h/it has a really acute case of wearing the shoe that fits.

    2. We give each other a hard time when deserved (or not). My favorite set of Terry's tweets was when he called out profs for canceling classes.

  3. Terry P, like all previous mods, is overly sensitive. People critized the tweets because he was making fun of children, and he reacted wildly, deleting the account and taking his ball home so no one else can play. This website has the most sensitive and insecure group of moderators.

    You like to snark it up on the pitiless students, but God forbid anyone should point out how weak your game is.

  4. I may be misunderstanding the technology, but I'm more comfortable with the feed than re-posting tweets on the blog (and only comfortable with the latter if they are anonymized). I think that's because I'm under the impression that a twitter feed goes no further toward archiving the tweets than putting them on twitter in the first place does, while reposting them, at least with names attached, might make them more permanent (e.g. by landing them in the internet archive/wayback machine) than the original twitter posting did. But I also get that retweeting makes them more permanent than the original tweet was (I believe -- and, once again, correct me if I'm wrong -- that the original tweeter can delete a tweet, but not a retweet).

    I also think I'm evolving on this issue, since I both enjoyed and felt I learned something from the twitter feed on AWC (while also realizing that I was seeing a highly selected/curated stream of tweets, one that reflected RYS/CM/AWC's somewhat jaded perspective on students and student behavior. Unfortunately, most times I start worrying that hanging out too much in the RYS/CM/AWC universe is making me more jaded than I should be, one -- but usually only one -- of my students does something that confirms all too well that a certain degree of jadedness is self-protective). I also agree that the occasional snarky reply to a tweet that also serves as a reminder that they're broadcasting their thoughts for all the world -- including their professors and future employers, partners, in-laws, exes, exes' lawyers, etc. to see -- might even do a bit of good.

    So, I dunno. I still lean in the direction of not aiding and abetting possible long-term self-harm though youthful stupidity, but that's pretty much covered by anonymizing any re-posts (I'm not concerned about anybody getting their feelings hurt by somehow stumbling upon their post, anonymized, posted on this blog. That seems unlikely, and besides, we all do stupid stuff sometimes, and taking it in good stride when someone calls us out on it is part of the maturity that we hope students are developing.)

    The one thing that I'm sure of is that I'm not in favor of this being the subject of the first kerfuffle on the resurrected CM. Kerfuffles take a lot out of moderators, and moderators are a scarce resource. Anyone who's interested in Ben's (or, if relevant, CM's) twitter feed can always go over to twitter and take a look.

  5. On CM, I never posted any tweets with names or images. Those are public, on the Internet, archived like anything else. I always blurred every image, name, and institution. On the Internet, on Twitter, on the site anyone with web access can view, I re-tweeted things like students wishing death on their professor, STDs on their boyfriends, admitting cheating on finals, etc. At the peak, the CM Twitter had about 250 followers. There are cats with many times more than that.

    I got out of Twitter because more than a few readers felt that I was representing them in some way, although it seems to me that Cal is the only member who's "out" in the real world, so how the Twitter feed actually affects anyone else is beyond me.

    I'm in agreement that a kerfuffle drains the spirit. Ben's Twitter feed is funny and I hope folks read it and follow it @Beaker_Ben. Be warned: he does post stupid things students write, under their own names, to a worldwide audience. If that's going to be a problem, maybe you best leave it alone.

  6. From what I remember people really freaked out about it. If it's a headache, don't do it. I thought it was great, and I think that Kimmie was great when she took it over and Ben the same as he's done it on his own.

    Students, often under their own names and institutions, call proffies "faggot" and "fatty," and brag about banging townies, blacking out on Molly, and cheating on final exams. Their own friends retweet this shit.

    If readers are worried about these students and their future, or if you just don't want to have to fight a battle over it, just don't do it. Send 'em to Ben.

    Hi y'all, by the way.

  7. I have to confess I stopped coming around a bit when the page got run by committee, a committee of readers. Suddenly it seemed the moderators needed everyone's permission to do something. If even a handful of readers were annoyed, it all got waylaid. And then we got this pleasant little spot on the web where the right amount of complaining was all right.

    I sort of loved it when Fab or whoever just did it. I always thought Walter would be the perfect moderator because he'd do something, people who liked it would read it, the rest would go to the Chronicle.

    But IMO there got to be this desire among the mods for a consensus, for approval. And I don't think that's necessary.

    This is NOT the readers' blog. Please. Of course the readers are important, but it's up to the mods to chart the course. If 50 people (or whatever) have to make decisions about what this blog is going to be, it's hard to imagine it working. Have you been to a committee meeting ever? You get more than 5 academics together making decisions and it's the Bay of Pigs.

    Just my 2 cents. I'm not around enough to have the "right" to complain one way or the other. I'm just saying, I liked the page when some folks with their own sense ran it. (I loved RYS because of Cal, too, and because that page had so much personality in it. And this page, too, lots of time, early on.)

    Sorry if I've offended. I actually love the page and just want it to be as good as it can be. If Terry wants to Tweet, who are we to stop him? Seriously.

    Reg W.

    (First guy with a crush on Darla.)

    1. Ditto. Love(d) RYS, CM1, AWC & CM2.
      Screw page views, trolls, and people with any sense of entitlement about the running of the site.
      It's yours; run it your way.

    2. By which I mean, do whatever you want. I think wading into the Twitterverse would take up your valuable time, and that the tweets are out there for us to find if we want. But if you happen to be out there and find something too hilarious not to repost, why not?

    3. I agree with all of the above, including the crush on Darla. The more entertaining satire is, the more likely that someone will find it offensive.

    4. Although I'm (obviously) happy to give my opinion (at length) when I asked, I agree with the above: the RGM can and should do what the RGM wants to do.

  8. I'm flattered that people want to read my twitter stuff. The easiest way to keep up with it is to join twitter. There's lots of good profs there just like we have here.

  9. In my opinion, all the critiques against the re-tweeting indicated that those people simply didn't "get" what Twitter is. (Oh, and by the way, re-tweeting etc. doesn't make something "permanent" - you need to do a screen capture or similar action to make a tweet "permanent" (as in Storify), but its web presence would be as an image on a website, not on any sort of searchable Twitter feed; this is how one manages to 'capture' tweets from people who do something stupid and then delete their Twitter account when the world's attention swings to them, like Deranged Sorority Girl).

    Twitter is simple: you are telling the entire world something, in 140 characters or less. The entire world is free to do whatever the hell they want with that, be it a re-tweet (RT), or partial re-tweet (PRT), or modified re-tweet (MT), or embedded into a column article using a collection of tweets (using software such as Storify); [there seem to be innumerable "journalists" out there who make a livelihood from writing articles consisting primarily of a gathered-up pile of tweets]. This is what one agreed to when one signed up to Twitter and then commenced to tweet. If someone wants to tweet utterly stupid, or offensive, things, everyone is free to take that tweet and send it flying around the world innumerable times. If you don't like this, then you'd better pull the cord that rings the bell so that the bus can stop and let you off, because there is an entire Twitter world out there where this is S.O.P.

    I thought the Twitter feed was great on the AWC - I rarely wrote anything in the comments, but I went back regularly to see what Beaker Ben had re-tweeted. I disagree that somehow we should be "above this" (re-tweeting stupid student tweets). This is The Misery, not the Ivory Tower itself. We don't have to represent nobody or nuthin'. No one here will ever put any contributions to this blog on a CV for T&P (at least, I hope not...). This is free-time off-campus shenanigans. I'm certainly not allowed to drink booze when at work, but screw all y'all if you think I'm gonna go an entire weekend without some Bailey's on the rocks in the evening. (Hmm, I think I'm going to make myself one right now....)

  10. I appreciate all the feedback. The mail was quite a bit more positive than in the past.

    I think Ben is doing a great job with his thing, and I'd encourage folks to check him out @Beaker_Ben. It's funny stuff.

    I don't have the time to wade into the Twitterverse except to post our articles from the blog there once in a while and perhaps re-tweet some higher ed news.

  11. By this coming January I'll be old enough to take college classes for free, so you can chalk this comment up to being a crabby old geezer.
    What is the difference between a student proclaiming to the world what a dumbass they are, and us saying, "Here's an example of a student proclaiming what a dumbass they are, without identifying the particular dumbass."?
    Regular readers will be able to identify a line of these at a glance. If the tweets upset them they don't HAVE to read them. Scroll past.

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  13. I really enjoyed the tweets, both here and on AWC. I understand about the anonymity thing, and I think that the blurred pic-tweets were/are a great way for us to continue our standard complaining about the students the same way we anonymize them in our posts. If the CM mod doesn't want to do it, could someone do it as a post occasionally?