Copy Cats

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I suppose. Sometimes, it’s annoying. However, I try to be good-natured and remember that as a publisher I have led the way for the past 18 years on the coverage of issues of importance to the nation’s faculty off the tenure-track. Adjunct Advocate was talking about adjunct faculty when people were still unclear about what, exactly, an adjunct was. The other higher ed. pubs. still have a lot of catching up to do.

So, the other day, when I got my daily email update from about their redesigned web site, I was curious to have a look. In the past, the folks at and I have, let’s say, had some of the same ideas (well, I had them first, and then the lightbulb went on over someone’s head over at IHE). For instance, we posted cartoonist Matt Hall’s work online, then InsideHigherEd hired Matt to contribute to their web page for the “Teachable Moments” feature. We published the work of Oronte Churm, and had approached Churm to blog for us, then IHE hired him to blog at their site. 

The latest “redesign” of their site is, well, flattery at its best. If you pull up their site, and look at it side-by-side with ours, you’ll see several striking similarities. I’ll leave them to you to identify, but pay attention to the design and placement of the navigation tabs, the way the page “floats” on the gray background, as well as the curved lines. The placement of the company logos is identical. 

One important difference between our two sites has nothing to do with the look of the sites. InsideHigherEd serves up, on average, a single page to each of its individual users. I’m somewhat mystified as to why that is, because the site is awash in editorial content. Our site, over the past six months, has served up, on average 5-15 pages to each visitor. This is really what I care about most, of course. You come and you look around. You search for jobs; you read posts in the Forum; you read pieces from the magazine archive; you read the blogs; you play the games; you take the quizzes. In a sense, is a place where our users hang out and connect with other faculty off the tenure track.

What this tells me is that we are right on target as far as delivering to our users what they actually like, want and need. That’s not to say we couldn’t do a better job, and we work all the time to tweak and modify our web page offerings. Right now, we’re working to add links to the Adjunct Family e-Newsletter. So, when the jobs are updated, Adjunct Family members who choose to receive the Family e-Newsletter, will get notice of the job postings and links to the jobs on our site. The same will happen when there are postings to the Forum, and blogs. There will be links to the materials presented in the Family e-Newsletter.

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