Is the @TimesHigherEd “exam howlers” competition driven by metrics?

In the section of my book on ‘effective communication online’, I’ve been writing about the informal space of interaction between academics and students that social media opens up. This is an issue which is only going to become more complex with time and I don’t try to offer any rules for negotiating the challenges it poses, apart from perhaps being aware that students might stumble across, or even deliberately seek out, things you post online. It’s in these terms that I’ve found myself writing about the Times Higher Education ‘exam howlers’ competition:

Due to the annual event’s popularity, we have extended the deadline for this year’s entries until 12 July at 5pm.

For your chance to be crowned the winner of this competition – which comes with a magnum of champagne – please send examples of hilarious typos, unfortunate spoonerisms and daft misunderstandings to

I love the Times Higher Education. I really do. But this is just fucking unpleasant. It obviously raises the question of why they continue to do it every year, in spite of the outcry it provokes. The only answer I can come up with is metrics. I bet this is the most shared content they have on the website each year. What do other people think?

Categories: Social Media for Academics

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