Greg Kuperberg, who besides being a very good mathematician is one of the prime movers of the indispensible math arXiv preprint server, has a new project: the Mathematics jobs wiki, which will serve as a clearinghouse for rumors and facts about who’s getting offers and interviews where. Other fields already have websites like this: here’s one for astrophysics, one for theoretical physics, and one for economics.
Is this a good idea? My first reaction is that it sounds terrible. If you’re on the job market, do you really want to know, in real time, which of your friends and colleagues is on the short list for which jobs? If you get an offer, do you want to know who turned it down before you? And do you want your potential employers to know where else you have offers? What if you’ve got an offer at school X, and school Y, which you actually prefer, decides that school X is too much competition and decides not to interview you? Or what if good schools X, Y, and Z make offers to the same person, and ten other schools see this and decide that must be the person they should pursue as well?
Since this feels like a bad innovation to me, and since I know Greg to be a thoughtful guy, let me suggest one upside of the job rumor wiki. You could say it’s an unfair advantage in the job market to be at a big university, with lots of connections, so that you already know a lot about which places are hiring in which areas, and which senior faculty members might be on their way in or out. In that case, the wiki will level the playing field by giving everyone access to this “inside information.”
All in all, I’m glad this didn’t exist when I applied for jobs. But I’ll reserve judgment until the rumors start getting posted and I see how it affects our own hiring process, and our own students and postdocs on this year’s market.