ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Friday, April 1, 2022

US News Announces that Ratings Will Henceforth Be Based on Twitter Followers

U.S. News and World Report (USNWR), an unranked online news magazine, is best known in these parts for its rankings of law schools.  Vital life decisions are made based on USNWR's mysterious calculations.  Students decide which law school to attend, faculty members decide which job offers to take or determine where to place their articles based on USNWR's rankings.  It thus comes as no surprise that law school deans take USNWR rankings into account in their strategic decisions, and academics bemoan the fact that their self-worth is tied up with the mysterious process that fuels the rankings. 

USNWR's rankings editor, Algo Rhythm, rocked the world of the legal academy, when he announced that starting next year, the reputational component of rankings will be based on the number of followers faculty members have on their Twitter feeds. 

LawprofblawgThis blog reached out to the popular Twitter personality Lawprofblawg (left), to ask if they would be revealing their true identity, now that their school's USNWR ranking could benefit from it, to which Lawprofblawg responded, "You are LITERALLY the only person who still does not know who I am!" 

We also reached out to USNWR for an explanation of this unexpected change. Mr. Rhythm responded:

It's too easy to game our system by having friends at other law schools fill out our surveys in a way that skews the results.  In addition, other unranked, online journals were making fun of us for relying on paper ballots distributed through snail mail. 

Twitter followers are a much better measure of scholarly impact.  For one thing, following someone is a real commitment.  You have to click a button or something.  It's not like citing to someone's law review article -- those citations could be added by research assistants or law review editors.  But also, high numbers of Twitter followers indicates an ability to reach beyond the academy and say things that ordinary people are interested in hearing.  If you can't revolutionize constitutional theory in 280 characters, you're just another blowhard.

Shapiro_scott-2015Celebrated sh*tposter, Scott Shapiro (right), asked what impact USNWR's new approach would have his institution's ranking, affected disinterest.  "I don't know why people are so obsessed with the fact that I have 73,900 Twitter followers (but who's counting?).  I also have a podcast, you know, and Brian Leiter is not the only legal philosopher who blogs."  

Eric Segall, when asked to comment responded in "what may be my last TikTok ever" by noting that TikTok is the wave of the future and USNWR should really be taking note of TikTok followers rather than Twitter followers.  "Twitter is to TikTok what blogs are to Twitter, no offense," he noted, adding, "And the U.S. Supreme Court is not a court."

We have it on good information that Blog Emperor and law dean Paul Caron is pressuring USNWR to take blogging into account as well.  Until that happy day, my dean has asked that I remind readers that you can follow us on Twitter.

In the News, Law Schools | Permalink


What, you think i don't have a calendar? You think i'm gullible enough to fall for what, . . . well, on reflection seems to be very disturbing news? Nah, 'll believe it when Ginnie posts it and not till then.

Posted by: Sidney DeLong | Apr 1, 2022 7:22:21 AM

I like the "stealth" weekend frivolity, which I assume is being done for April Fools'.

Also, you have a slight misspelling at the start of the title. I have to admit, when I started reading I thought it might be something about Ukraine for a second!

Posted by: kotodama | Apr 1, 2022 11:18:00 AM

Thanks for correcting my typo and for being the first to go on record as agreeing with me about the Tom Brady football!

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Apr 1, 2022 11:57:20 AM

I know it's April Fool's, but maybe that would be an improvement over the current metrics?

Posted by: Andrea Boyack | Apr 1, 2022 1:13:13 PM

I learned yesterday that reporters for mainstream newspapers are under pressure to Tweet and gather a lot of Twitter followers or their editors will conclude that they don't have enough readers. We might not be that far off from that world.

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Apr 2, 2022 6:49:53 AM