Most people think of the Internet as a mind-boggling network of computers and technology. But the truth is, it's an unprecedented network of people, more specifically, students. Thousands of students just like you, who have already been where you want to go, or are following a path that you've already taken.
Polyratings.com recognizes that the power of the Internet lies in the students who populate it. If you can imagine a room full of people helping you make decisions on who to take for a class or where the best place to live, then you can imagine a place like Polyratings.
Polyratings was created by two Cal Poly students over the winter break of 1998,
In the fall quarter of 1998, Dahms and Lanning, who were roommates, enjoyed creating web pages. They enjoyed working on designing and redesigning various web projects.
At the same time, Lanning was just starting a course in Physics. he had asked some people about whom he should take before enrolling and they all said "Take professor X; he's fine, pretty easy" So he enrolled in professor X's class. Little did he know, professor X was one of the worst on campus.
Both Lanning and Dahms enjoyed browsing Amazon.com, especially the customer evaluations on the products sold there. While looking at evaluations for a new CD, it clicked: " Why not evaluate our professors?!" Christmas break soon came so the two decided to split up the work and researched it more while at home over the break. Dahms took it upon himself to learn a new programming language, while Lanning went to work designing the interface for their new project.
After the break, Lanning came back to school with Shaman an old hand-me-down PC with a hard drive so loud that it kept Dahms and Lanning awake in their small dorm room at night. New life was breathed into Shaman when Linux, a Unix-clone operating system, was installed on it. Together with Shaman serving webpages and the network connection provided by Cal Poly at the time, they were able to host the first version of Polyratings.
The two were able to get the site up and working within the first two weeks of the winter quarter. But Lanning and Dahms knew the site would be useless without any publicity. So Lanning e-mailed Cal Poly's student newspaper, the Mustang Daily, sparking interest in the site. This led to the first of a number of articles about the controvertial, but always popular website.
After the article ran, people flooded to the website. Both students and Cal Poly University administrators came to see what all the excitement was about. Initially, administrators were worried about this type of information being widely available. But most importantly, they were worried about not having control over a system like Polyratings.
The University soon tried to stop Dahms and Lanning from hosting the site. Administrators threatened them with loss of their dorm housing if they didn't pull the plug on Polyratings. But the site had become too popular among Cal Poly students to simply take Polyratings down forever. Hassles from the University administration mysteriously stopped when a reporter for the Los Angeles Times contacted the campus' Chief Information Officer, who then misrepresented the university's prior position by incorrectly stating "Nobody who works for me felt this was an inappropriate use."
Ultimately, Dahms and Lanning would appear on the local news and in a number of newspapers and mazaines, including the Japan Times, People, and the Christian Science Monitor. The two never expected any publicity from their little "project", but it has happened and it was quite the rollercoaster experience.
In the spring of 2001, *J. Paul Reed approached Lanning about updating the Polyratings rating engine. Reed had previously worked with Polyratings on such projects as POWERatings, but found the 1.0 Polyratings system difficult to integrate other projects with.
Reed proposed a number of new features for the Polyratings backend, including a database-driven ratings engine which would not only support a number of new search options, but give Polyratings the power to support complex queries and data mining on the information already in the Polyratings 1.0 database. With Polyratings 2.0, students can now search for the best professors by name, class, or keywords, allowing the information contained in some 4000 ratings to be unleashed and used in new ways.
Having already implemented and supported complex web-based applications, including the popular Cal Poly Robot-Assisted Scheduling Helper (CRASH), POWERatings, and POWERTime, Reed became the Chief Software Architect for Polyratings 2.0. Starting in July of 2001, Reed worked to safely import over 4000 ratings on over 750 professors from the Polyratings 1.0 database into the new Polyratings 2.0 database. The task proved difficult because data from the old ratings engine was not complete for every rating submitted. The import alone took two weeks; another three weeks was spent writing a new engine to support access to this awesome new tool for Cal Poly students.
Polyratings 2.0 was officially launched, with a new database, a new ratings engine, and a new look provided by Lanning, on August 19th, 2001. With the extensibility of a complete web framework, and modualarized ratings engine, and a fully SQL-capable database, Polyratings 2.0 is able to analyze and present information regarding Poly's best (and worst) professors to the weary student faster, easier, and with more value so students can be empowered to make the necessary decisions to make the most of their education.
Over the 14 years this site has been around for before 2016, its been viewed 2.5 million times! With the average student population on Cal Poly campus around 20,000, that is a huge achievement for the site. This being said, when class registration came around every quarter there was always talk about the Polyratings scores for professors. However, with this talk also came much negativity towards the site. With this realization *Connor Krier, * Cody Sears, and * Anil Thattayathu started their senior project to figure where this negativity stemmed from and what they can do to fix it.
The problem that they found was that everyone needed Polyratings for help with class searching, but were also very dissatisfied with the website. The main problems with the website were that the User Interface (UI) was not up to date and was cumbersome, as well as there being some troubles with the data in the website.
They sought out to solve these issues over the course of their senior project. To do this they came up with a new layout using bootstrap to bring the page up to date and make it responsive. That's right! In a day an age where we access the internet over our phones, Polyratings is still here to help you know what your in for.
I think what you have done is so righteous! It not only lets fellow students check out what we have written about teachers but also lets the teachers know where they stand... Anyway, you guys deserve a medal for your idea!student
Read article today in Houston Chronicle on Polyratings. Great idea. Wish we had had such a system back in the 60's when I attended.Cal Poly Alum
A good service, reasonably presented. So my evals are crummy--that shows I taught my students good critical thinking skills.English professor
Sorry the administration is giving you crap about this. I think it's a good idea (even though my one evaluation is bad). If you need support from faculty, I would be happy to help.Math Professor
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Polyratings.com, Version 4.0.0 © copyright 1998-2012 All rights reserved
Based on the OpenRatings professor ratings engine