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After starting the application process this year, I found a wiki page at UC Davis that lists people who have supposedly been shortlisted, invited for interviews, or given offers for faculty positions in mathematics. I am listed in couple of places, and I wonder if this can harm my application. What are the pros and cons of this open source?

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I mean this web-site: – user2013 Jan 3 '13 at 18:18
Ah. Well, it's a wiki, so if you're actually worried, you can take your own name off; the moderators might even agree to keep your name off. But as @user4491 says, the effect of having your name on or off this rumor mill is likely to be minimal. – JeffE Jan 4 '13 at 2:39
I can probably agree on the effect on the actual offers, but on the other hand it seems if a name appears shortlisted then other departments may consider to the applicant, in the case they missed something in his application. I am not talking about the final offers, of course... – user2013 Jan 4 '13 at 3:23

I am a professor at a top 20 school in mathematics and I have been on our department's hiring committee for the past several years. I can assure you that we take absolutely no notice of the contents of that particular website when making decisions. We consider ourselves competent enough to form our own judgements on any particular candidate. In the past, we have interviewed plenty of people whose name occurs frequently on that list, and plenty of those whose name does not appear at all. Moreover, the accuracy of that website is dubious at best; at my own institution it sometimes lists people who are not at all under consideration, and usually doesn't list people who are - including those who have been given offers. The only time I made any attempt to edit the website was when it claimed that we didn't have any positions available at all (which was false). I suspect that at least on one occasion someone invited themselves to our institution to give a talk and then put their own name on the website as a candidate (they were not). Thus, I suspect that the effect this particular website has on job offers is minimal at most.

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What are the pros and cons of this open source?

I see three pros of these types of lists. The first is that it can alert you to jobs that you did not know about. The second is that it can tell you something about where the status of the hiring process is. For example, if the list says an offer has been made and you haven't had an interview, then the odds are not good. The third use is that it gives you an idea of who is getting interviews and offers and with the help of the internet, how your CV stacks up.

The cons are pretty simple in my mind. In fact, each of the pros has a pretty substantial con. First, there are much better ways of finding out about jobs. Second, the list is not accurate; just because the list says an offer was made, doesn't mean it was. Further, I am not sure of the value of knowing that your application was unsuccessful. It seems reasonable to want to know, but I am not sure how it changes ones outlook. Third, there are better ways to figure out what the weak points of your application are.

As for being listed, I don't see any potential for harm.

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I'm not sure anyone claims that the Rumor Mill Wiki has any particular value other than satisfying morbid curiosity. – Nate Eldredge Jan 4 '13 at 19:19
Could it be that it helps departments to reconsider somebodies application, when they see that it was lited many times? In that case big shots will be even in a better position, then they were before. This might reflect negatively on those who are less listed.... – user2013 Jan 5 '13 at 16:12
@user26565 NO. Search committees simply do not work that way. It just isn't information that is useful. – StrongBad Jan 5 '13 at 17:30
@StrongBad, is there any law/rule that would prohibit the search committees to look at the rumor mill and decide based on it, e.g., user2013's scenario? – John Jun 10 at 20:15

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