Register to reply

Facebooking prospective professors rather than emailing them

Share this thread:
Simfish
#1
Mar8-11, 08:58 PM
PF Gold
Simfish's Avatar
P: 828
Yes, I know, it's a *very* crazy idea. :p But, you know, you might actually be very surprised.

It probably has a higher chance of actually working when it comes with professors who openly embrace the blogosphere, like Sean Carroll.

Has anyone else tried this?
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
Scientists discover RNA modifications in some unexpected places
Scientists discover tropical tree microbiome in Panama
'Squid skin' metamaterials project yields vivid color display
fss
#2
Mar8-11, 09:15 PM
P: 1,185
With the aim of achieving what? It depends on your situation. If you are asking about something of academic relevance, facebook is not the proper medium.
Simfish
#3
Mar8-11, 09:18 PM
PF Gold
Simfish's Avatar
P: 828
Well, when it comes to messaging professors in the way that you'd email them (when you're applying for grad schools).

Well, fact is, I don't think it would work for most. But it might work for a Gordon Watts or a Sean Carroll (who has over 1000 facebook friends), since they may say that it is the future and be sort of impressed with that. In any case, they might see your facebook profile, which can sometimes grab their attention in positive ways. There's no guarantee that they will look at it, of course. But if you do it 100 times (not saying that I would - but just trying to illustrate the statistical interpretation I'm trying to get at), then yes, you may have some small fraction of professors who do it.

And some professors now check facebook even more frequently than email. In fact, chances are that your email message will just be one of many (among people in your situation), whereas your facebook message will be one of few. So you might have a higher chance of getting a reply (assuming professor checks his facebook frequently and doesn't get creeped out - you can usually tell by the things they post anyways).

Vanadium 50
#4
Mar8-11, 09:21 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Vanadium 50's Avatar
P: 16,462
Facebooking prospective professors rather than emailing them

Again, to what end?
Simfish
#5
Mar8-11, 09:23 PM
PF Gold
Simfish's Avatar
P: 828
For simple questions about applying to graduate school and inquiring after open slots/basic advice. There's less of a "boundary" to breach when you're asking simple questions over Facebook - Facebook messaging is more like natural conversation than like email, and short replies over Facebook are not necessarily rude (while they can be seen as rude over email - professors don't like to appear unnecessarily rude either).
klackity
#6
Mar8-11, 09:29 PM
P: 65
Uh... I think short email messages are probably much more socially acceptable.

Email is professional. Facebook is personal. Forcing yourself into a professor's personal space is not going to win him over.
Simfish
#7
Mar8-11, 09:31 PM
PF Gold
Simfish's Avatar
P: 828
That's true, but what if a professor already has > 1000 facebook friends? (in which case it isn't that personal). Or what if they post a "feel free to add me on facebook" button on their webpage?

I've noticed that people who already have highly visible public blogs tend to be unoffended by "invasiveness", especially when compared to people who don't have highly visible blogs.

I once Facebook messaged a grad student rather than emailing her, and got a really nice reply. So much email is tagged as spam these days that there's a high chance that your email simply won't get read.
diazona
#8
Mar8-11, 09:53 PM
HW Helper
P: 2,155
Well you never know, Sean Carroll might just be really outgoing ;)

To me, it seems like a high-risk high-reward method of contact. If the professor you're messaging uses his/her Facebook profile as a professional resource, then yes, you'll probably stand out from the crowd and you might get a better response because of it. But if not, it could give a bad first impression. I know I'd be a little wary of anyone who contacted me via Facebook for the first time. (not that I'm a professor)
Pengwuino
#9
Mar8-11, 10:02 PM
PF Gold
Pengwuino's Avatar
P: 7,120
Quote Quote by Simfish View Post
That's true, but what if a professor already has > 1000 facebook friends? (in which case it isn't that personal). Or what if they post a "feel free to add me on facebook" button on their webpage?
If they say you can add them, then that's fine. If not, don't.

I once Facebook messaged a grad student rather than emailing her, and got a really nice reply. So much email is tagged as spam these days that there's a high chance that your email simply won't get read.
She may have been being nice. One of my students sent me a message on facebook and the situation was such that it actually was appropriate. However, outside of this one specific case, I would probably rip a students head off for doing that. Facebook is personal to a vast majority of people and just deciding to message them one day would be akin to looking up their home phone number and just giving them a call out of the blue.

E-mail is the proper correspondence these days. If you send an e-mail from a .edu, I find it very unlikely your email would get marked as spam. People get ignored by professors simply because of their busy schedule and they simply forgot.
Ryker
#10
Mar8-11, 10:55 PM
P: 1,088
Quote Quote by Simfish View Post
I once Facebook messaged a grad student rather than emailing her, and got a really nice reply. So much email is tagged as spam these days that there's a high chance that your email simply won't get read.
E-mails getting tagged as spam is a bit of a cop-out unless you count the professor's intrinsic spam filter, as well. I've received prompt responses from all of my professors at my university thus far, except for one. Even that professor when later asking him something related to stuff I e-mailed him about indicated he did in fact receive it. So at least my anecdotal evidence would suggest that there's very little chance of e-mail not getting in the professor's inbox. I think Pengwuino provided a good explanation of why you might not get any reply from the professors, and there's a reason the professor's contact info usually only contains his e-mail address and his work(!) phone number.
Quote Quote by diazona View Post
To me, it seems like a high-risk high-reward method of contact. If the professor you're messaging uses his/her Facebook profile as a professional resource, then yes, you'll probably stand out from the crowd and you might get a better response because of it. But if not, it could give a bad first impression. I know I'd be a little wary of anyone who contacted me via Facebook for the first time. (not that I'm a professor)
What exactly constitutes the high reward part when compared to e-mail? Do you really think any professor is such a Zuckerberg fanboy that he's gonna go nuts when he sees a message from a student? I mean, I guess there is a chance, but I think it's very unlikely. I don't think there's any real advantage to contacting professors on Facebook, but there is an appreciable chance the experiment is going to go awry.

But if you're going to do it, maybe "poke" him first to create a more intimate atmosphere and prepare the field
diazona
#11
Mar8-11, 11:31 PM
HW Helper
P: 2,155
Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
What exactly constitutes the high reward part when compared to e-mail? Do you really think any professor is such a Zuckerberg fanboy that he's gonna go nuts when he sees a message from a student? I mean, I guess there is a chance, but I think it's very unlikely. I don't think there's any real advantage to contacting professors on Facebook, but there is an appreciable chance the experiment is going to go awry.
Mark Zuckerberg has nothing to do with any of this. I just meant that, if the professor is open to being contacted through Facebook, then a Facebook message will probably stand out from the crowd more than an email would, simply because most people do use email for that sort of thing. Yes, it has a slim chance of succeeding - that's the "high risk" part - but when it does, you may stand to gain something as opposed to simply sending an email.
flyingpig
#12
Mar9-11, 12:39 AM
P: 2,568
This is kinda off topic, but i personally despise the whole concept of Facebook, it's just like some evil demonic organization that takes people's souls as soon as they get ahold of the Internet.
Ryker
#13
Mar9-11, 12:40 AM
P: 1,088
Quote Quote by diazona View Post
Mark Zuckerberg has nothing to do with any of this. I just meant that, if the professor is open to being contacted through Facebook, then a Facebook message will probably stand out from the crowd more than an email would, simply because most people do use email for that sort of thing. Yes, it has a slim chance of succeeding - that's the "high risk" part - but when it does, you may stand to gain something as opposed to simply sending an email.
Stand out how? People get e-mail responses from professors all the time, so it's not like he wouldn't get one. I also find it hard to believe he's going to get a better recommendation letter or whatever it was he'd ask of him just because he contacted him via Facebook (?!). Seriously, assuming he gets a response by sending an e-mail (which is a fair assumption), what difference could it possibly make if he was to contact him via Facebook instead?
diazona
#14
Mar9-11, 03:18 AM
HW Helper
P: 2,155
Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
Stand out how?
In the same way that any member of a set of 10 stands out more than any member of a different set of 1000, for example.
Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
People get e-mail responses from professors all the time, so it's not like he wouldn't get one. I also find it hard to believe he's going to get a better recommendation letter or whatever it was he'd ask of him just because he contacted him via Facebook (?!). Seriously, assuming he gets a response by sending an e-mail (which is a fair assumption), what difference could it possibly make if he was to contact him via Facebook instead?
I'm certainly not saying that a person is more likely to get a response by sending a Facebook message. And on average, I do suspect that sending a Facebook message as opposed to an email is likely to decrease one's chances of getting a recommendation letter or whatever. But I wasn't talking about an average. I was simply postulating the existence of professors who might devote a larger share of their attention to a Facebook message than they would to an email, because they presumably get fewer messages on Facebook than they do emails.
Vanadium 50
#15
Mar9-11, 05:04 AM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Vanadium 50's Avatar
P: 16,462
I don't see this as high-risk, high-reward. I see this as high-risk, low-reward. You're trying to get some professional information out of the prof, not become his newest BFF.

As far as standing out, if it's not for an accomplishment, you might question whether this is a good idea.
G01
#16
Mar9-11, 07:22 AM
HW Helper
G01's Avatar
P: 2,685
I don't see any good reason whatsoever to forgo sending emails and send facebook messages instead.

Facebook is where people post pictures of the steaks they are cooking for dinner, their cat's favorite new hiding place, or the pile of beer cans left over from their party last night. If professors are on facebook, and many are, trust me, they are using it for social purposes NOT for work related purposes. Not every piece of one's correspondence is meant for the blogosphere.

I know of no one who uses Facebook over email for business or scholarly work, and your set of two professors who have 1000 facebook friends is not significant, nor does it mean they use facebook instead of email for all of their correspondence.

This sounds like the electronic version of walking into a job interview wearing jeans and a Woot T-shirt. I think woot shirts are cool, but it would still make a bad impression on me and would say to me that this guy is laid back, easy going, but has trouble stepping up and being professional when needed.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Emailing departments for research assistant job? Career Guidance 3
Emailing professors when applying to grad schools Academic Guidance 1
How does the emailing work on classmates.com? General Discussion 0
Emailing Java files Programming & Computer Science 2
Stop emailing me General Discussion 5