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Make Educational Background mandatory and visible in all posts

  1. Jun 13, 2013 #1
    Make "Educational Background" mandatory and visible in all posts

    I think it would be helpful in avoiding paying too much attention to useless/uninformed advice in the Career and Academic Guidance forums. Too many times have I seen high school students trying to give grad applicants, phd candidates, and phd graduates serious advice.

    Frankly it's annoying to read pages and pages of posts hoping to find decent first-hand advice on something like graduate applications or job hunting, only to find half of the posts are people saying "you can do this or that" who don't a slightest clue what they're talking about. It would save me and I'm sure many others a lot of headaches and frustration and would improve the quality of posts in these forums (or at least avoid wasting time on poor ones).

    Another forum I visit allows you to select your educational degree and status from a pull-down menu, which IMO would be necessary if this were to be instated as anyone can write whatever they want in the Degree section.

    Also, a visible "Employment status" section if it could me made visible solely in the academic/career would go well with this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    We can't make it obligatory for the privacy reasons, so in most cases it will not work.
  4. Jun 13, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    We did experiment once with encouraging people to post their educational information and it was instantly abused with many people posting bogus degrees, some for fun, some just dishonest, it flopped. I agree that unqualified people tend to post a lot in Academic Guidance. Even if someone has a degree, that doesn't mean that they are in a position to give advice. Sour grapes, and all that. People need to remember that most of what is posted in that forum is personal opinion which may or may not be valid.
  5. Jun 13, 2013 #4
    Absolutely. But it would help to have a small (or huge) disclaimer at the left hand side when reading posts to avoid wasting people's time, or perhaps aid mods in identifying and removing unwittingly or deliberately (sometimes it really appears that way) bad advice.

    The bogus degrees issues could be fixed with my second suggestion. Of course that doesn't prevent people from lying about it, but I think most phonies would be pretty easy to spot.
  6. Jun 13, 2013 #5


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    If you find such posts in the future, you are encouraged to use the Report button to bring it to the attention of the Mentors. We consider the posting of misinformation a serious abuse of this forum.

    As others have said, we have had similar discussions before. The best we can say is to pay attention to whether posters have the "Homework Helper", "Science Advisor", "Mentor" or "Admin" designation. That is our forum's way of endorsing people with a track record of making quality posts. While not a 100% guarantee, it is a much better indicator than if we allowed forum members to claim some level of education.
  7. Jun 15, 2013 #6
  8. Jun 16, 2013 #7

    First of all Lava, the principal reason I come to this site is to waste a lot of time. :smile:

    Second, I've found that it is often the unsterilized rambling of a dis-affected "non-degree-er" that somehow seeds that epiphany in you. So I personally don't want to know anyone's "credentials" on this site.

    By the way, I have a BA in Biology from a California State University that I'm not going to mention cause I'm paranoid:redface:
  9. Jun 16, 2013 #8
    So do I, I should really be studying for my last final right now. :)

    But when I go to the academic and career guidance forums I expect/want a little more quality control on the posts, as some of the stuff that gets posted and god-forbid taken seriously can be potentially harmful for others that don't know better. I think PF could extend its mission of encouraging rigorous discussions of science to discussions on employment and higher education in science. There are other forums to better waste time in, the ones that don't add to your post count.

    I do admit I am a bit hypersensitive about this subject because I've spent countless hours sifting through highly misleading advice to get a job, grad school advice, etc.
  10. Jun 16, 2013 #9
    It's a topic the staff has talked about in the past, but the overall problem is it's difficult to verify. It would be an even greater disservice to promote bad information. Many want to be as anonymous as possible too.
  11. Jun 16, 2013 #10
    I do agree that quality control in the academic guidance forum is needed. But I don't think that an "educational background" would be the best way to achieve this. We have tried it in the past, and it didn't work. Furthermore, we have no way of checking whether people are filling in the truth or not.

    If you think an advice is grossly misleading and wrong, then please report it and the mentors will deal with it. This is not a solution that will solve everything, but it's something.
  12. Jun 17, 2013 #11

    jim mcnamara

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    Another point of view:

    What I am now current in has nothing to do with graduate work I did 40 years ago. I have a traditional (read: old) Botany/Ecology background. Because I did some primitive modeling, I eventually turned to the Darkside - Scientific programming, which then led me ever further into ugly old IT (read: decent salary). So having Biology degrees means zilch with regard to what I am actually qualified to talk in depth about. I work with some guys with PhD's in Physics, doing stuff similar to what I'm doing. They are in the same boat.

    This has to be true for many people, especially if they are outside of academia.

    So if I labelled my posts with Biology/Botany degrees and was blathering about becoming an Oracle DBA, or a Scala programmer would you be inclined to believe me? Probably not....

    If I answered a question about Bryophytes, sure.
  13. Jun 17, 2013 #12


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    I'm not following how a pull-down menu system would make bogus degrees easy to spot. I agree with you that misinformation is frustrating to read, but I don't think there's a true solution to the problem that doesn't involve an intrusive background check.
  14. Jun 28, 2013 #13


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    Advice is little more than an opinion based on personal experience. Academic credentials do not, per se, confer greater credibility, or even relevance to the question.
  15. Jun 29, 2013 #14


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    I try to make a point of explaining that I never finished high-school when responding to a question. It's only fair to the asker. On the other hand, I am an expert in a couple of things and also point that out.
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