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Mining the HiveMind
November 27, 2012 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good way to have volunteer Mefites critique my grad school personal statement without asking an AskMe?

I've seen the resume/coverletter review group, but I'm looking for feedback on a personal statement essay, that is... personal and identifiable. I want to get good, anonymous feedback on it without having to let my statement air out in the internet breeze for all to see. Seems like for a critique-type askme, you need to have the content in question publicly available. I just want to target people who say "hey send it, I'll read it." (ps will you read it?)
posted by Katine to Etiquette/Policy at 2:24 PM (32 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I think it is maybe generally agreed upon that it is somewhat not cool to do this here on MeTa but as always, I am, and shall remain, in charge of nothing.
posted by elizardbits at 2:29 PM on November 27, 2012


Seems like for a critique-type askme, you need to have the content in question publicly available.

Yep, that's pretty much the deal. Using askme to fish for private volunteer feedback/work on stuff is pretty much off-mission since asking and answering on the site itself is the whole idea, much as I can understand how it'd be an appealing approach.

If you've had good interactions with a specific mefite in the past, you could always send them a polite mefimail asking if they'd be available to take a look.

(ps will you read it?)

For the record, it's okay to ask about this general policy stuff on Metatalk, but tacking this sort of thing on as a sort of i'm-not-asking-but-i'm-asking thing is not so cool. I dig that you want your thing looked at but this is skirting the spirit of the guidelines and folks need to not do that sort of thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:30 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I knew that was a possible risk. Hopefully the mods will put this out of its misery.
posted by Katine at 2:30 PM on November 27, 2012


I bet if you popped by chat.metafilter.com and were nice about it then you might find some bored and helpful person who would be willing to check it out. I know that folks in chat have been sort of using it sometimes as a way of asking trivial questions that don't really need the full might of the hivemind behind them.
posted by Scientist at 2:32 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not that your question is trivial or anything, just that I imagine there's a chance somebody might be willing to critique your essay if you swung by there and asked nicely.
posted by Scientist at 2:33 PM on November 27, 2012


Hopefully the mods will put this out of its misery.

Their deletion of the Japanese-grandmother-with-cat post proves they are utterly cold-hearted.
posted by Egg Shen at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, chat has saved me at least 4 AskMes recently.
posted by elizardbits at 2:38 PM on November 27, 2012


"Is there a good way to have volunteer Mefites critique"

Mu. This is one of those inherently flawed questions, like "Have you stopped beating your wife at Words With Friends?"
posted by Eideteker at 2:44 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, you should definitely have your undergrad advisor look at your personal statement. They know the norms etc of your field - which vary, and matter a LOT - but also, knowing what you are saying in the statement will help them to emphasize the most pertinent things in their letter for you. Prior to that, your uni's writing center probably has people available to give you detailed in-person feedback on mechanical issues.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:44 PM on November 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


Dumb question - why couldn't you post this to Jobs?
posted by SMPA at 3:04 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another option is to come visit us bunnies in Metachat.org and see if you can email/memail it to some volunteers for editing.
posted by bearwife at 3:07 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


While I have you all here, does this account make my head look fat?
posted by octobersurprise at 3:40 PM on November 27, 2012


Has anyone offered to critique your personal statement, Katine?
posted by cribcage at 4:20 PM on November 27, 2012


Would this kind of thing be appropriate to post to Jobs?
posted by Lexica at 4:34 PM on November 27, 2012


Does anyone read the comments down here?
posted by klangklangston at 4:38 PM on November 27, 2012


> Their deletion of the Japanese-grandmother-with-cat post proves they are utterly cold-hearted.

They deleted that?! I don't want to say anything against the mods, but they are worse than Hitler.
posted by languagehat at 4:41 PM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Does anyone want to play the game of questions?
posted by Night_owl at 5:01 PM on November 27, 2012


Would this kind of thing be appropriate to post to Jobs?

If it's a sort of thing where you can frame it as a straightforward "I'm looking for someone to do discrete task x for me" sort of description and a mefite could respond to that, then yeah, putting it on Jobs as a volunteer gig would be okay. Whether or not this specific case would fit into that or not might depend on some practical details, so Katine can pick our brains directly via the contact form if they want to talk about that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:03 PM on November 27, 2012


Now that the primary purpose of this post is performed we should spend the rest of it castigating cortex for his capriciously cruel cat cancelation.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:36 PM on November 27, 2012


I think it is maybe generally agreed upon that it is somewhat not cool to do this here on MeTa but as always, I am, and shall remain, in charge of nothing.

You should get to be a mod on April 1st or Dinosaur Day, or both. (Unless they happen to fall on the same day, obviously. It happens every dozen years or so.)
posted by michaelh at 7:21 PM on November 27, 2012


Maybe we need a new subsite.

JudgeMe.
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 PM on November 27, 2012


Dude, you're soaking in it.
posted by mediareport at 8:07 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


A random person reading it won't be very helpful. It's such a specific genre. I oughta know as I read 150 or so every year. I'm sure 100 Mefites could make nice editorial suggestions, of course.

They key point: "personal statement" is a misnomer if we're talking PhD apps at least. Very little should be personal, most of it should be about your scholarly agenda and preparation.
posted by spitbull at 11:03 PM on November 27, 2012


I knew that was a possible risk. Hopefully the mods will put this out of its misery.

You seem a decent person. I hate to kill you.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:27 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, klang, we read it. Every. Word. Down. Here.
even if it takes DAYS to get down here
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:33 AM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I strongly encourage you to talk with a professor in your field of interest about your personal statement. A close mentor/advisor of mine in my field has looked at and edited both of my personal statements for graduate school (Master's and now the PhD process), and her advice has been fantastic. Generally she has only advised me to slightly reword things grammatically (I have a pretty good idea of how to write these things, for some reason), but knowing she has 'rubber-stamped' my statements has made me feel a lot better about what I'm submitting.

With that said, I would be happy to look at your statement, provided you give me some context (what field? what degree? what program? what schools?). As spitbull said, it should be very specific, and it should be personal only in the sense of what you personally have done academically, what scholarship you have engaged in or plan to engage in, your very specific research interests (this is less important for a Master's but extremely important for a PhD app), the very specific reasons you want to attend that program and school, and that's about it.
posted by nonmerci at 12:51 AM on November 28, 2012


I've seen the resume/coverletter review group, but I'm looking for feedback on a personal statement essay, that is... personal and identifiable. I want to get good, anonymous feedback on it without having to let my statement air out in the internet breeze for all to see.

Maybe ask an AskMe question about where do get good feedback on a personal statement essay.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:34 AM on November 28, 2012


Yes, good general advice for phd apps: if you can't say specifically why you are a good fit with a partocular (top) program, you are probably not getting in. Never write just one essay. Customize it carefully to each program's specific resources.
posted by spitbull at 5:35 AM on November 28, 2012


I just remembered that I've actually done this for library-type (and UCLA-type, in one memorable instance) Mefites after they contacted me over MeMail. If you fit either of those categories, feel free to MeMail me.

It's definitely easier to do this by looking for Mefites in your field, MeMailing them politely, and going from there.
posted by librarylis at 9:23 AM on November 28, 2012


You are very brave for even considering putting a personal statement out there for all of the Mefites to see (and judge). If there were some way to put that in the statement itself, and I were on your PhD committee, I'd count that in your favor.

But, like elizardbits, I am in charge of nothing, so....

Makes me wonder how many PhD committees contain active Metafilter members. We should have a secret handshake, to identify each other in situations like these.

I assume declaring, "I'm from the internet," would be inappropriate.

"I'm a friend of Matt Haughey," might still work.

Now, what to do if the Phd committee are Reddit members---Ha. Yeah, like THAT'S going to happen!
posted by misha at 10:06 AM on November 28, 2012


"I'm a friend of Matt Haughey," might still work.

This, obviously, needs to be the next MeFi t-shirt.
posted by bfranklin at 9:19 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Been admitted to grad schools in the us every year for the past 3 - the fees are the biggest problem - I guess I could help with a statement.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:19 AM on November 29, 2012


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