- How do I know the ratings on a professor's page come from students?
Short answer: you don't.
In fact, it's potentially worse than that... you don't even know that someone
rating a professor, assuming they are a student, which is a huge assumption
to make, ever took a professor's class.
Polyratings.com does everything in its power to review questionable postings
brought to our attention, but a function of Polyratings' privacy guarantee is
lack of authentication and login. This means that a professor could post
positive ratings about themselves to their pages, or negative ratings about
other professors (both of which have happened in the past).
We have been looking into ways of curbing this practice, but for now,
Polyratings users will have to rely on their own judgement in determining
which ratings to consider to be accurate; if you think about it, that
requirement is no different than information you get from any other source.
If you believe a rating comes from a questionable source, please
- What are your guidelines regarding comments?
The standard by which we judge all comments is a simple one: value.
We do not judge comments based upon the words they contain or the way they
express their opinion, but if a comment is reported as innapropriate, we look
to see what value it adds to both Polyratings.com and to Cal Poly students
Calling a professor names is not only immature, but does not add value.
Posting anything but a comment (emails, test questions, etc.) about the
professor does not add value.
Replying to other comments instead of giving your own opinion on the
professor does not add value.
Value to the Cal Poly community is the gold standard by which we rate
comments when problems are brought to our attention... if the comment lacks
value, it will be deleted.
- Why do you let innapropriate comments be posted in the first place?
Polyratings' staff does not have time to read and approve every comment.
As such, we only hear about innapropriate comments after the fact;
just because a comment appears does not mean that it's been reviewed and
If you see an innapropriate comment, report it; over 90% of
the comments reported as innapropriate are either removed or moderated to
remove offending material.
As an aside, the ratings engine does support an "approval process" for
comments, but as stated earlier, we don't have time to approve every
comment, so we don't personally use it.
- I made a comment about a professor, but I've thought about it, and I wish I hadn't posted my comment; will you remove/edit it for me?
If we made time to personally edit every student's comments, we'd never have
time for our own school work. Think before you post.
Besides, there's the side issue of verifying that the person who's
requesting we remove or edit the post is the one who really wrote it, which
opens up a whole different can of worms.
As such, any requests to edit or delete comments will be ignored.
- I have this really cool feature I'd like you to implement; will you write it for me and put it in Polyratings?
Chances are very good that the feature you're thinking of we've already
heard about, and have either planned to implement it and haven't had time or
have purposefully decided not to implement it for one reason or
Having said that, we still like hearing about new features. Since Polyratings
is based upon OpenRatings,
if you'd like to suggest a feature, you should go over to OpenRatings' Bugzilla open an
account (it only takes a couple of seconds) and file your feature as a bug.
The OpenRatings team will then get back to you about the feasibility and
time frame for implementation of your feature.
- I'm a student/professor, and I've seen a comment you wrote on
your website and I'm going to sue the crap out of you if you don't take it
Despite the fact that this is not a question, we often get comments like
this from professors and occasionally from students (if you can
believe it) and we'd like to clarify our position on these types of emails.
In a nutshell, you can't sue Polyratings.com. You may think a comment
about you is defamatory and libelous, and it may very well be.
But, we didn't write the comment. The comment is not ours;
it's the property of the student who wrote it and while you're welcome to
sue the author (assuming you can find out who they are), you really can't
sue Polyratings.com, because we haven't broken any laws (and you wouldn't
get any money out of us poor college students anyway).
The Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects Internet
service providers (ISPs) and website operators from being sued for
original comments made by visitors to the site. And while the CDA itself
has been struck down by the Supreme Court for other reasons, courts, in
cases involving Yahoo!
and AOL, have
generally followed the precedent set by the CDA that ISPs and website
operators carry immunity from being sued for content posted by others.
So please... if you find inappropriate content in reference to you
on Polyratings.com, please notify us.
But don't write a scathing email threatening to sue us. For one, it makes
your credibility go way down because you're threatening something you can't
deliver on and secondly, it also doesn't really endear us to help you,
even though over 98% of the time we're notified of inappropriate content,
we side with the reporter of the content and not the author.
Even if they are threatening to sue the crap out of us.
- What does "N/A" on a professor's rating mean?
A rating of "N/A" for a professor indicates that the Polyratings 2 engine
could not give a rating to a professor because of missing information.
Unfortunately, some 1200 evaluations from the original Polyratings only
contain comments about the professors; they do not contain the original
numerical data that students were asked about professors.
Thus, these ratings show up as "blank" for a professor; if a professor's
ratings are all blank, their overall rating is not applicable, or "N/A".
- Professor X's ratings have changed!
Two reasons for this: one is explained in question 4 below; the other
is a symptom of missing data from the original Polyratings.
It is entirely possible that a professor could have some ratings with
complete numerical data intact, and some ratings with no numerical data.
Because the old Polyratings included the now missing data, a professor's
overall evaluation could have changed, since Polyratings 2 only takes into
account the data which is complete from the original Polyratings when
calculating professor averages.
This, unfortuantely, could not be avoided. However, in an attempt to be fair
to both students and profesors, if you find that a professor has a lower
rating than they did in the original Polyratings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will
attempt to re-adjust the scores within the system to restore their original
ratings. If, on the other hand, a professor's score is higher, we will not
correct the ratings.
Within the next point-release of Polyratings 2, we are considering correcting
all professor's who lost over half of their ratings scores within the
- Why does a professor's evaluation say "with X evals", but the professor
has more than X written evaluations on their page?
This is an artifact of missing data from the original Polyratings
(are you beginning to see a pattern yet?).
The summary at the top of evaluation pages gives the "Cumulative GPA"
of a professor, along with the number of evaluations used to calculate
that score. Therefore, it is possible that a professor may have ten written
evaluations, but only seven actually contributed to the calculation of
their scores. In this case, the evaluations page would report their score
based upon seven evaluations, not ten.
- Why is the highest score a professor can have now a 4; it used to be a 5?
In discussions about ways we might change the presentation of information
in Polyratings 2, we decided to go with a "GPA paradigm" when it came to
We figured that every student can relate to a "cumulative GPA" and that it
would be easier to glance at a professor's "grade" to get a feel for whether
or not you would like to enroll in said professor's class.
Therefore, the lowest score a professor can now receive is an F (0), and the
highest, an A (or 4.0). As such, overall evaluations are now "cumulative
GPAs", with a scale from 0.0 to 4.0.
Finding out which professors are on "academic probation" is left up as an
exercise to the reader.
- How does keyword search work?
We felt it was necessary to answer this question because when offered a
keyword search, people will invariably enter... shall we say interesting
If, by chance, a professor's name comes up when searched with particularly
unflattering keywords, we want to deflect the question which will invariably
be asked: how do you rate professors based upon keywords submitted in
The technical answer? We implement keyword searches by querying a full-text
index which was created on the database table containing the text of the
This is a built-in feature of the database Polyratings 2 uses; technical
specifications for the full-text index can be found
If that answer made no sense, here's the shorter version: the database
has built-in search capabilities to do "natural language"-based searches.
These searches take the word(s) entered by the user and perform a
statistical analysis on all of the comments submitted. Comments which
include all of the words in the given order are rated higher than comments
which only contain a few words out of the keyword list. This is all done
by the database's full-text index searching module, and we simply pass
the keywords as we receive them on to the searching algorithm's engine.
So, if you're unhappy that a professor's name pops up when searching on any
particular term(s), don't complain to us; complain to the Statistics
department: they probably invented the algorithm you're unhappy with.
- You don't have Professor Z; how do I get you to add them?
Visit the professor addition station; be
prepared to rate the professor you're suggesting we add. We do this
because we want to have an initial evaluation for every professor we add
(as we're sure you do).