Stand behind your work

I can't believe I'm writing two posts in a row on the subject of netiquette (neither NaturallySpeaking nor spell check are raising any red flags about that word so I guess I can roll with it), but another interesting situation came up this week that I thought I would write about it.

About a year ago now, I completed work on a wiki for The Oakland Post student newspaper.  There are portions of it that are a little (okay, a lot) out of date because there was a lot of administration changeover just as I finished and before I could figure out a plan for training the rest of the staff to update the resource. It started out as an individual class project in media design that I envisioned reporters could use to get up to speed on new beats, contribute analysis of public university documents and learn background on important university officials. (It could still be used this way with a little work.)

In determining which people to profile, I selected the top 50 highest salaried employees at Oakland University. If an individual was in that rarefied air, I reasoned they are probably doing some important work at the university.

If you are unaware, the great thing about a wiki is that anyone can edit it meaning you can gain a variety of perspectives on a subject. The bad thing about a wiki is that anyone can edit it. To be well executed, the wiki must be carefully policed for bad information.

One of the things I included in every profile template was a section on controversies. While not always bent on dredging up the past, a good journalist should know pertinent details regarding the backgrounds of those they cover. It is not unheard of for history to repeat itself.

I finished the project around this time a year ago and I haven't touched it in any significant fashion since August. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I got the email that someone had edited one of the pages.

Someone had deleted the controversy information on one of the profile pages. The action was undertaken by an anonymous OU IP address.

There are legitimate reasons for anonymity. These might include free speech concerns in countries with oppressive authoritarian regimes or maybe blowing the whistle on government wrongdoing.

However, in a database such as this that anyone can edit, it can be important to know who last edited information in order to better judge the likelihood of its accuracy.

During my time at The Post, we went to great lengths to verify our reporting. I have no reason to believe this practice has changed or will change anytime soon. For example, we had a rule (except in very rare breaking news and emergency circumstances) that every story must have two independent sources.

Given the time and verification work put into articles, information should not be removed lightly. I'm not saying errors of fact don't happen. We're human and probably every journalist who is worked in this profession for any length of time has found themselves the subject of the corrections corner. However, when a person deletes something without leaving an explanation or a name, it becomes very hard to judge their credibility.

I put the original version of the page back. I trust the reporter whose byline it was did their verification work.

It's possible that someone didn't want this information on the public Internet. The irony here is that nothing ever came of the incident for the faculty being discussed. It was probably minor office politics in the grand scheme. By trying to suppress it, they bring more attention to themselves.

If you're going to contribute, or remove information from a public database, put your name behind it. It's better for all involved.



Oakland University email gate 2014

All hell broke loose at Oakland University sometime around 8:45 p.m. How it happened, we may never know. (Sure, we may hear something within 24 hours, but that might as well be a lifetime on the Internet.)

It started innocently enough. Someone sent out a survey for their Rhetoric 160 class. From then on, chaos reigned.

Most people that have dealt with email for any length of time knows the perils of the "Reply All" button. It's cemented in your head the first time you accidentally send an email to the larger thread for whom the message was not necessarily intended.

Apparently someone at OU missed the message. For the second time in my undergraduate career, someone has decided, intentionally or otherwise, to take part in a reply all social experiment.

Most will be annoyed by this, but the first instinct of some to tell people to stop responding will do no good. It just encourages those that take some sort of pleasure in blowing up a perfectly sanitary inbox into an experiment in chaos theory.

Rather than panic, I say we take this opportunity to institute rules of order for our little email community. Let's call ourselves "E-Campus" for the sake of argument. Here's what I propose:

  • Every email must begin with a picture of Greg Kampe. This will serve as a symbol sort of like the conch shell from Lord of the Flies. If the picture is there, you can talk.
  • To continue with the basketball theme, this next policy is the "Travis Bader rule." Each email must consist of at least three coherent, preferably related, sentences. This will keep people from sending things like "I like turtles." We are in college people. Let's bring up the level of discussion.
  • Just because you like chain emails doesn't mean everyone else does. They are banned.

We may not like this whole listserv email thing, but as long as we have it, we may as well enjoy insightful discussion.

Golden grizzlies have positive outlook going into the softball season

Oakland University’s softball program has seen its fair share of changes during the off-season, most notably the hiring of a new head coach, Connie Miner.

Miner replaces LaDonia Hughes, who left the program last year following a 10-38 season. The Grizzlies were just 27-67 in Hughes’ two years at the helm.

Miner has previous head coaching experience at Eastern Michigan, San Jose State and the University of California Riverside.

When assessing the team, Miner believes the area with the biggest room for improvement over last year is pitching.

“Our ERA last year was around 6.50 last season and it’s very tough to win games when you are giving up that many runs a game,” she said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense and the offense to score a lot of runs.”

Looking to improve play in the pitching circle are freshmen recruits Laura Pond, Erin Kownacki and Sarah Hartley. Each had a strong fall season for the team.

Junior catcher/outfielder Erika Polidori said she expects the freshmen newcomers should be able to contribute early on.

“We have two freshmen pitchers coming in who look like they’re going to play a lot of innings and games,” Polidori, a nursing major, said. “We have a lot of freshmen who are going to look to start and they’re going to bring something special to the team I think.”

Miner also said they need more of the team to hit .300 this year so as to not put the pressure on any one group of players to perform every game

Polidori said Miner has spent a lot of time on the mental aspect of the game with the team.

“She’s done a lot of team building things, a lot of confidence building things, worked a lot on our skills obviously,” said Polidori.

Polidori said she thought the team beat itself a lot last year by letting mistakes pile up until they couldn’t overcome them. She said this year the team has renewed confidence.

“This year it’s going to be having the confidence and knowing that we are good enough to win a lot more games and have a much better record and have the chance to make it to the Summit League conference tournament,” she said.

Being competitive in the Summit League was a goal both Polidori and her coach emphasized.

“Hopefully I can instill in the team to have faith and believe that at the end of the year they will be in a position to get into the tournament because you can do anything if you believe something and have faith in it,” Miner said.

Miner said she will have to hit the ground running on recruiting. The late timing of her hiring means she will have some catching up to do.

“In softball, people are already looking at recruits for the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes, so coming here I know I am already behind in recruiting some of the best players in the state of Michigan,” she said. “Of course there are kids who will develop later or fall through the cracks but because of the experiences I do not panic about recruiting like a younger coach might.”

Assistant Athletic Director for Development Gordie Lindsay said Miner was hired in part because of her ability to build a program.

“She has built two programs that were similar to ours in Eastern Michigan and UC-Riverside and had tremendous success while coaching several all-conference and conference players of the year,” Lindsay said. “She has a true passion for the sport and has a lot of experience that will help guide this program for years to come.”

In terms of strategy, Miner’s approach is varied.

“I’m not one-dimensional, I like to have a fast team but you also need players who can hit them in so I use small ball and power ball,” she said. “I think you have to take advantage of what the defense gives you.”

In addition to the freshmen, Miner expects continued success for two-time All Summit League selections Polidori and senior second baseman/third baseman Erin Galloway.

Miner said sophomore Jackie Kisman should play well, coming off a strong freshman campaign.

Brittany Prior, a junior, hit the ball really well in the fall, Miner said.

She said junior Shannon Cleveland has taken her coaching tips well and is working to improve her game next season. Junior Chelsea Carena had a good fall season as well.

Oakland opens up the season down south after spring break.

Click here  for a rapidfire audio session with Erika Polidori.

Oakland Golden Grizzlies lose road opener to Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

A total of 20 turnoversand general sloppy play led to the Golden Grizzlies first loss on the road at the hands of the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns Sunday night. Oakland's Junior guard Duke Mondy led all scorers with 30 points shooting 67 percent from the floor. This turned out to be one of the night's only bright spots.

The Ragin' Cajuns meanwhile reaped the benefits of a balanced attack, getting 15 from Elridge Moore and Mbamalu Bryant. Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long each added 14 of their own.

A cold snap to start the second half really hurt the Grizzlies. There was a six minute stretch where it seemed like they couldn't hit a shot. Despite having 16 points, Oakland sharpshooting junior guard Travis Bader could not buy a bucket from Chick-Fil-A.  He did not hit a basket from beyond the arc until after the ten minute mark of the second half.

If the Grizzlies keep having periods like these it will be hard for them to compete with the daunting road schedule they have.  Boise State will be favored at home tonight and after this performance it is hard to see how they will match up with Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Drew Valentine also had 16 points but the Grizzlies will need him to step up more in order to have a shot in the Summit League this year.

Redshirt Sophomore Corey Petros will need to be more assertive on the glass.  With his size, five rebounds just isn't going to cut it.  That said, his baby hook seems to be effective, netting him 12 points on the night.

Still, I think there is cause for concern.  Mario Impemba and Neal Ruhl on the radio call made the comment that this was a very young Louisiana Lafayette team.  It will be interesting to see how they fare against clubs with more veteran leadership.