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A ‘disclaimer’? …

Once again, sharp-eyed readers have noticed the ‘disclaimer’ at the head of the left-hand column.

The Board composed of Ronit, Eric, Sophmom, Lowell, Joe, dcat, and me, together with founder David Kane and Advisor to the Board, Ken Thomas have been wrestling with the question of distinguishing ourselves from the new blog to be set up under direct Williams aegis and to satisfy the growing need to identify ourselves as ‘unofficial’ to avoid confusion to new or infrequent readers.

Over the next few days, you may notice some changes to the top of the page. David, Ronit, and Ken are working within the technical capabilities and limitations of our system. You may find things change, and then re-change. Please have patience!

A line may even appear, something like ‘Your UNofficial source for All Things Eph.”

This or a close relative will be a way of establishing our position vis-a-vis the college-sponsored blog.

My thanks to Dave, Ken, and Ronit for a lot of hard technical work, and to these same three and Sophmom, Eric, Lowell, Joe, and dcat for their time and inputs to this needed Board action.

Dick Swart 1956

ADDED on Tuesday AM.

I can see I didn’t take enough time on this post to fully explain what has been approved by the board to be added. I am sorry for having written half-way and now add the other half.

The Board has decided to implement a change in two parts:

The disclaimer at the top of the left hand column

is a statement of fact and as such is necessarily a ‘disclaimer’. It serves to announce a fact but does not ‘sell’ the brand of EphBlog to our current and potential readers. It can be smaller than it is. It can be less obvious than it is. But it is not a positive statement of positioning. It is a disclaimer.

The line to be included as a part of the banner head

Your UNofficial source for All Things Eph is a ‘selling’ statement. It gives current and potential readers a reason stated
positively and with humour to read EphBlog. It serves to differentiate us quickly and with style from official William announcements and the to-be implemented Williams blog. This is our positioning statement.

I hope this adds more understanding to the rather bald-face original post! Again, I am sorry for my haste and negligence.

Dick Swart ’56

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Comments Disabled To "A ‘disclaimer’? …"

#1 Comment By frank uible On February 24, 2009 @ 6:29 am

Make it more conspicuous.

#2 Comment By jeffz On February 24, 2009 @ 6:35 am

Agreed with Frank, even bolding the text would help.

What new official Williams blog???

#3 Comment By Diana On February 24, 2009 @ 9:34 am

No, it’s definitely visible enough. It’s right under the word “EphBlog,” and therefore one of the first things that the eye sees on the page. It was the first thing I noticed when EphBlog loaded this morning.

#4 Comment By Ronit On February 24, 2009 @ 9:46 am

I don’t know if it’s clear enough. Somehow, I still have an urge to call the Williams switchboard and ask for a trustee every time David Kane says something I disagree with. This IS the official Williams College blog, right?

#5 Comment By Parent ’12 On February 24, 2009 @ 9:55 am

Until a permanent disclaimer, why not highlight what’s there now with color?

As an example, have the statement be the same purple as the banner & lettered in bold type. Similar to “Speak up,” but in purple.

Disclaimer could be in gold. But, that might look gaudy.

#6 Comment By nuts On February 24, 2009 @ 10:44 am

We could try a touch of color to catch the eye.

#7 Comment By sophmom On February 24, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

Personally, I think the “Unofficial” is brilliant. A little irreverent, self-deprecating, witty…all in all, much more fun than “Official”… kind of like a good dinner partner.

I predict EB readership goes up with the addition of this disclaimer to the banner!

#8 Comment By kthomas On March 1, 2009 @ 12:08 am

Updated. What new Williams blog?

#9 Comment By kthomas On March 1, 2009 @ 12:22 am

Belay that. Reverted all my changes.

Anyone out there using IE6 — can you tell me if the problems with the right columns’ positioning are new or cropped up recently?

#10 Comment By reader On March 2, 2009 @ 11:34 am

I would also like to know more about about “the new blog to be set up under direct Williams aegis”.

#11 Comment By Parent ’12 On March 2, 2009 @ 11:51 am

Welcome back, Dave-

I just want to add about the disclaimer that the addition to the banner looks great!

#12 Comment By sophmom On March 2, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

Ronit, Ken, Dave and all,
Thanks for making the disclaimer work so well. Ideas are only as good as their execution.

And thanks to Dick, for pushing forward with what IMO, was the right thing to do.

reader @ 10: I am looking for that link, which was originally posted (now deleted) on “Speak Up” by ‘aparent’ (I believe). Hopefully, she or someone else can provide it again.

#13 Comment By reader On March 2, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

Thanks sophmom!

#14 Comment By Ronit On March 2, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

Whenever an official Williams blog is set up, I’d put even odds on it being boring, dry, and unreadable. Oh, and you won’t be allowed to comment on it. It wouldn’t be officially endorsed or supported by the Williams administration unless they can impose stifling control over the conversation.

I’d love to see Williams embrace the web, and encourage alumni participation through blogs and discussion, but I’d be shocked if they pull it off within this decade. Schools with more cojones will figure out how to take advantage of the web to build alumni relationships, and then Williams will grudgingly and halfheartedly follow, a few years later, driven more by their own insecurity than anything else.

#15 Comment By Dick Swart On March 2, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

I am guilty of not fact-checking the rumour of the direct Williams blog and then not putting in the ‘weasel words’ in this post needed to indicate speculation.

I had read a conjecture or two, saw an ad for an open position at a low level (hardly blog-appropriate as one looks at the work of David, Ken, and Ronit in keeping EphBlog at the forefront of bloggery) and jumped to a conclusion of imminence.

The proposition to the board for their proposal did not include this speculation. The proposal was based on the need for a disclaimer distancing and separating Ephblog from official Williams announcements and other communications. This approved proposal has been carried out in the disclaimer and line as now seen.

My contrite apologies to readers for misusing an unfounded supposition as a fact.

Dick Swart 1956

#16 Comment By sophmom On March 2, 2009 @ 2:47 pm


As far as I know, the college issued an announcement. I remember seeing it myself. As well, I remember that aparent’s link mentioned their offering a job(s) to students to work on putting together the site.

I shouldn’t have deleted the link, but I have a feeling aparent can come up with it again. And, from now on, I will be more careful. In fact, I think I will just save all the “Speak Up” threads.

[methinks K. Thomas (arbiter of ‘save’, enemy of ‘delete’), is chuckling to himself right about now]

#17 Comment By Larry George On March 2, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

Maybe, just maybe, having the disclaimer in place over “here” will help the administration feel more comfortable about setting something official up over “there” – a result to e hoped for.

A friend wrote me recently to bemoan not having heard about a classmate’s death in time to go to the services or reach out in a timely way to the family — news did not come for months, when it finally appeared in the official paper alumni publication. At the very least, the college could provide a venue for posting (with the family’s permission, if the administration were really insecure) a timely list of deaths of alumni.

If anyone in the administration is reading, this is really tacky but we need to point out to you that it would be a potential source of memorial contributions.

#18 Comment By aparent On March 2, 2009 @ 3:20 pm


I looked for the information in both the “Announcements” and “Jobs” sections of WSO (where I had seen them originally), but they’re gone — so they’ve most likely filled (or changed) the position for the student worker to help program / set up the blog to launch this coming summer.

But I do remember that new alum and intern Jason Kohn ’08 had posted the announcement seeking someone to work with Juan Baena ’07 in technology for the alumni and / or development office. From the Alumni section of the Williams website, there’s an option to contact the staff by email — maybe they would provide an “official” status update of the previously-mentioned Alumni blog if you asked:


#19 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On March 2, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

Larry George: you cite a very important function– though one that rests with the alumni ourselves, as much as with the College or Alumni Development office– in the end, I’d hope we’d work together.

aparent::Ronit: I saw that and my take was that Alum Dev intended to set up some kind of blog for it’s own purposes. Williams has / has had a number of blogs, including the ones over at Career Services and the current ones for the 2020 initiatives– I don’t want to step on any toes here, but they seem to me almost universally a flop. (I’ve commented on the 2020 blogs, and I’m not sure anyone even received the comments; last I looked– and it’s a pain to find the things again — there were no comments posted).

That said,– Ronit’s comments aside– everytime I’ve talked to people at Williams, there’s been intense interest. It’s actually very hard to explain– but one of the elements, is that Williams is about as far from Evans Hall in Berkeley as you can get– there’s just little actual understanding of the depth and complexity of the entire field; the planning involved, the expertise and support necessary, and the long history of online community and politics how it works.

That’s abstract– more practically, if you want to have a Career Services blog, yeah, sure, you can get someone at OIT to throw something up as an “alpha” with the idea of being “a platform for Williams blogs.” (Etc.) You’ve already failed by not planning; because you haven’t defined your needs– you’ve done less work than you would buying a new car, much less a communications facility!– you haven’t drawn up a needs document and created some kind of comparison matrix, you’ve just accepted the product the ‘guy’ in OIT pulled off the shelf because he wanted to experiment with it– you’re already down some points. Since you’ve taken a piece of technology and and are now trying to sell it– that’s a backwards process– instead of surveying people’s actual needs, and putting into place some tools to serve those needs, seeing what happens organically, and then building more… you’ve already lost the game at that point.

Again and again, Williams gets this wrong. They just don’t get. Sure, plenty of other institutions don’t– but I care a little more about Williams, and I tend to think Williams is painfully deficient in this area.

My comment on what Dev is offering for the position vs. market rates– market rate for experienced WordPress developers, who have a basic clue what they’re doing, is $50/hr. And that’s the bottom in this field; the top is between $200 and $300/hr. If Williams were paying market rate to a professional firm, it might also be giving these matters the seriousness they deserve and respecting the people and process necessary to succeed.

As far as Ronit’s rather sharp comments– Williams is about to undergo a leadership change. There are other opportunities to get the message across; I might say, to deliver this message, it will take a lot of alumni and others, “overcommunicating,” until there’s some understanding in Hopkins and elsewhere; but: expressing this as a priority, to all members of the search committee, is an opportunity to initiate change in this matter.

#20 Comment By sophmom On March 2, 2009 @ 6:36 pm


Thanks for trying. I’m a bit hesitant to contact them, but I am fairly certain they have an official Williams blog in the works. Maybe someone who knows the facts will come forward.