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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Disclaimers on your web presence

Something that has been bothering me for a while now is this message that I (and every other student, faculty ad employee at UGA) received from the university last month. It read:

Subject: new web site disclaimer policy
TO: UGA faculty, staff and students
RE: New policy requiring disclaimer statement on Web pages
____________________________________________________
On April 21, 2005, the University Cabinet adopted a new policy requiring a disclaimer be placed on all Web pages residing on the UGA Web server, or that otherwise explicitly or implicitly indicate an affiliation with the University of Georgia. Please note that pages that provide OFFICIAL information on behalf of the University are NOT required to affix the disclaimer. The policy, including the specific language of the disclaimer and detailed information regarding the requirement, may be viewed at

http://www.eits.uga.edu/webhelp/wsdpolf.pdf

Please review this policy to determine its applicability to any Web site under your control. This particularly applies to any personal sites of students, faculty and staff, as well as those of student organizations. Please note that non-compliant sites are subject to removal from the UGA Web site. We trust that the policy and explanatory document at the link above will answer your questions. Additional questions may be addressed to wsdp@uga.edu.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

The problems with this are numerous. The first thing is that this disclaimer must be on every page of your website, not just the first page, but every page. So in my case, all 200-odd pages. However, if you follow the link above you findout that some websites hosted on the university server are exempt. Which ones is another story, as the descriptions are quite vagued and you can make an argument that website developed as a course project could be exempt and may not be exempt. When you e-mail that e-mail address, you get a standard message that thanks you for your question and states that they will be using these questions to form an FAQ that will be posted at a later date (note that I sent a question to them on May 24, 2005 that still hasn't been addressed). Finally, no where on the e-mail above or the linked website did it state when all this had to be done. We later found out that it is June 1, 2005 for the main page and August 1, 2005 for the remainder of the site.

This got me thinking about a number of things, the first of which was the amount of work that was ahead of me as I added this stupid little disclaimer to all of the pages of my website. I also started thinking about the purpose and advantages of using a university server. I mean I have website available to me from a number of different places: my ISP (Charter), the National Capital Freenet, tons of free servers, this and my other blogs, etc.. Why use the university server?

I used to think that it was part of an institutional think and looked more professional in the academy. However, when I look at people like David Wiley (http://davidwiley.com/) and Stephen Downes (http://www.downes.ca/), both well respected members of the academy that many would argue are ahead of the curve in terms of thinking about technology and its uses in education. Neither of those individuals rely upon institutional servers, but have instead their own domains.

Based upon this, I have been exploring the idea of registering my own domain and using that as my professional site. I figure if I have all this work ahead of me, I might as well take the time to explore what other options are out there available to me.

So I ask this question to those from the academy that may be reading this entry: As a member of the academy, what are the perceived and real advantages of using an institutional server for your professional site?

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