Anyone accessing RateMyProfessors.com can search and read the student-contributed professor feedback without creating an account or signing in. If you're using RateMyProfessors just to find information, search for the school and the professor, and click the professor's name in the search results. Here's the information you'll find on each professor's "scorecard," part of the professor's rating page:
- No. of Ratings indicates how many student ratings make up the total score.
- Average Easiness is the student's perception of course material difficulty, on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 being the easiest.
- Average Helpfulness conveys how helpful the professor was, on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 being the most helpful.
- Average Clarity is the student's perception of how clear the professor conveyed information, on a scale from 0 to 5, with 5 being "crystal" clear.
- Hotness Total is a "just for fun" rating of the professor's appearance.
- Overall Quality is the RateMyProfessors total rating, with a better score being closer to a maximum score of 5.
Scroll past the scorecard totals to view all submitted ratings for that professor. This list includes the date of the rating, the class that the student was taking and the rater's interest in the professor prior to taking the class. The comments sometimes include helpful tips for success in that course with that particular professor. Like other online communities, RateMyProfessors lets you flag any information that is erroneous, slanderous or otherwise doesn't seem to fit its posting guidelines.
RateMyProfessors follows the model of other social networks by requiring you to create an account and log in before contributing ratings or submitting professor feedback. Besides creating a username, password and other typical social networking profile information, RateMyProfessors requires you to enter your school, major and at least one current professor. From there, you can select up to six current professors for your profile, and you can select whether you'd like updates on music, contests and even casting calls from mtvU.
While you're logged in to RateMyProfessors, you can search for any professor in the system and submit a rating. If you cannot find the professor in search results, scroll to the end of the results and click the link to add a teacher. No verification process is required when entering the professor's information. As a result, RateMyProfessors has some fictional professors with amusing fictional ratings, often inspired from television or movies.
When you complete your rating, RateMyProfessors requires you to enter more information other than that shown on the professor's rating page. Besides the professor's scorecard, the rating form asks for textbook feedback, your grade (including "Rather Not Say") and whether the professor is still teaching. Comments are limited to 350 characters, and the form provides a link to the posting guidelines -- a standard feature for text submission on social networking sites.
If you're a professor, you also have recourse at RateMyProfessors. Each professor's page includes a link that reads "Professors add your rebuttal here." The link pops up a message explaining how professors can write rebuttal comments linked from student-provided ratings. As a professor, you must click a separate registration to become a "certified professor." This registration process is more extensive, and the site indicates that each registration is "analyzed and verified before access is granted."
In the next section we'll look at the benefits of using RateMyProfessors and how it compares to its competitors.