[[This is a guest post by Scott Selisker, who is currently completing his first book as an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in the UCSB Department of English. He learned some stuff about the internet while designing features for the UVA Writing Program’s website, Redschoolhouse.org, in 2009. He is on Twitter at @sselisker.--@jbj]
This is the second of a two-part series on the Academic Job Wiki. The first post introduced the wiki and discussed the extent of users’ anonymity on the site, and the present post will discuss advanced features and shortcuts that can help you spend less time finding information on the site.
While the job wiki contains a great deal of useful information about the current status of most or all the job searches in a field, it can be tedious to navigate. Really tedious: the basic navigation option is to scroll down a very long page, pause at the sections of interest, and inspect them in the hope of identifying the new updates, questions, and answers.
Getting to know the job wiki site better can help you to spend less time when you check the wiki, and to devote that time in turn to more productive endeavors, like reaching a daily writing goal. Also: deciding to check the wiki infrequently saves, it must be admitted, even more time.
When you sign up for an account on Wikia.com, a couple of very useful shortcuts become available: the History and Diff pages for every editable page on the wiki. First, the History gives a list of all the recent edits to the page:
Especially when pages on the wiki are organized with headers for each job listing – some are more organically organized by phase of the job search – the History page makes it very easy to see if changes have been made to jobs that are relevant to you.
For these pages, every change in the list includes a time stamp and a listing of which job has new information. Another great thing about the History: if useful information is deleted—not a common occurrence, but it sometimes does happen—the History page keeps a record of everything that has appeared on the wiki.
The Diff page (named after the Unix file comparison command) comes up when you click “Compare selected revisions” on the History page. This page will show you exactly what was changed, even the formatting:
Things that have been added show up in green and deletions and changes show up in red. Clicking the link to “Older Edit” in this view takes you, intuitively, to the previous change. If there are several changes of interest to you, this view is a nice way to browse through them, especially if something has been deleted or the order of the most recent contributions is unclear.
You can bookmark either of these pages—History as is, or Diff with a slight change to the URL—in order to bypass the standard job wiki page entirely. Taking the regular URL format to be “http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/[Page_Title_Here]”, then you’ll have:
Page History: http://academicjobs.wikia.com/index.php?title=[Page_Title_Here]&action=history
Most Recent Change: http://academicjobs.wikia.com/index.php?title=[Page_Title_Here]&action=historysubmit&diff
You can also use these URLs to access these special pages without being signed into a Wikia account, but links to them don’t appear on the normal wiki pages.
Other (Less Optimal) Options:
Bad news for those who use RSS feeds: Wikia only generates an RSS feed for the whole Academic Job Wiki, so tracking relevant job listings via your Google Reader or other RSS clients isn’t an immediately practical option. (Readers: please let us know in the comments if you know of a way to hack it.)
One final option for getting very general news about a page: registered users can use the Follow button in the lower-left corner, in tandem with the Following Preferences (upper-right corner: Username ->Preferences -> Following) in order to receive email alerts about changes to particular pages. Sadly, these don’t work for individual sections, nor do they give the text of the actual changes. The Follow option might be helpful for users in disciplines where the wiki is used less frequently: you’ll be sure to get notifications of whatever news comes along without needing to check for it.
Here’s hoping one of these tips will make your job season just a little easier!
Are there other shortcuts you’ve used to get news from the job wiki? Please share them in the comments!
All screenshots are courtesy of Scott Selisker.