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During some Grinnell system signup (possibly for GrinCo), I was asked whether I also wanted to join Grinnell’s social network, which is hosted on Yammer. I stupidly clicked Yes. I later asked someone in ITS why we had Yammer. They said that there are some long-term plans for its use, but nothing firm right now.

This summer, I’ve started seeing students posting about their summer experiences to the All Company group on Yammer. It’s not that I spend any time on Yammer; it’s that Yammer sees fit to tell me when people post to groups that I subscribe to. The All Company group is intended for everyone at Grinnell who is on Yammer. Hence, it should be treated with the same respect with which the all-campus mailing list is treated [1].

Why are students posting about their summer internships? I had initially thought that it was because they were just so excited to be doing whatever they are doing - I’ve seen posts about the Syrian refugee crisis, and NGO in Senegal, the conservation of Humpback whales, and, surprisingly, Communication. I’m glad that students are excited. But that’s not a reason to post to the all-company group.

How do you think I wanted to respond?

Think for a minute about my primary personality characteristic.

Here’s what I thought.

No one gives a squirrel’s behind about what you learned about communication, particularly if you haven’t learned the basics of writing to the appropriate group. If you and your group of sycophants want to write about your summer experiences, find a room [2].

Here’s what I wrote.

All Company is for messages to all of the Grinnell campus. This posting is not relevant to the full campus. If you want to discuss your summer internship, please create a separate group. Posting these kinds of messages to All Company is likely a violation of the College’s Academic Computer Use Policies [3].

I also wrote to the director of ITS [4], who said something strange about CLS writing to students when they post to All Company. At first, I thought Oh, that’s nice. CLS is teaching students how to be professional when they are not professional. They probably do a better job of that than I do.

Then I realized that CLS is using Yammer for what they’ve been calling the ’blog posts [5] that students are expected to do as part of their Grinnell-supported internships [6]. It appears that CLS has not trained these students well enough. So, it’s not nice that CLS is telling students to post elsewhere, it’s necessary.

Of course, I’m not sure why we’re using Yammer for any of this. Unless students are posting about confidential issues at work, they should be writing public ’blogs. For team communication, they should be using a sensible tool, like Slack [7].

At least students are learning about trolls [8].

[1] No snarky comments about all-campus emails from [fill in your choice of office on campus].

[2] Well, a separate group.

[3] Those policies need updating.

[4] The legendary :DaveR.

[5] It is unlikely that CLS uses the apostrophe in ’blog. But that’s how I think it should be written, so that’s how I’m going to write it.

[6] One of the many great things about Grinnell is the support we provide for students to do internships.

[7] While I think if Slack as a tool for software developers, I hear that it’s popular for a much wider group, such as groups of online teachers.

[8] Or whatever you call a curmudgeonly old faculty member who posts nasty notes when students make a mistake.

Version 1.0.1 of 2017-07-10.