0773: "University Website"

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deadbird17
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby deadbird17 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:37 pm UTC

Wow. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I had to go to my University's website for the first time in years so I could get their mailing address. Couldn't find it for awhile, but there was plenty of other fluff!

firinne
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby firinne » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:40 pm UTC

_jbryan wrote:The only way I ever access my school's website is by going to google and typing "UIC $what_i_want_to_find". Letting google sift through all the crap is a much more efficient use of my time.


Same. Unless I've memorized the URL for a certain page, and it's easier to type than the search term.

Majuba
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Majuba » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:45 pm UTC

I forwarded the comic to my school's webmaster. Thank you!

Re: google, just last night, my professor told us how to get to his university webpage: "go to google and type the class name and my last name."

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uncivlengr
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:51 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:I think you'll have to look long and hard for the 5% who genuinely gives a damn about the university motto and nothing-saying press releases.
You understand that a univerisity's main website is intended to be advertisement, right? They want someone who Google's "University X" to see how awesome it is and want to go there. A list of all the boring paperwork that students might be looking for isn't particularly appealing.

The students that are in the programs already should be able to figure out their own business without being spoonfed - they're university students, for Pete's sake. If the information you regularly need is five/ten/seventy clicks away from the main page, stop going to the main page to get it. Obviously, you need to bookmark your department's site, or whatever you end up going to the most, and just go there directly.

Heck, most university's offer students personal webspace - create your own portal with all the links you regularly use.
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neoliminal
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby neoliminal » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:02 pm UTC

BTW, boys and girls, this isn't just true to university websites. Almost all websites have this exact problem.
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MinistryOfInfo
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby MinistryOfInfo » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:02 pm UTC

Interesting. I actually maintain a university home page, for a (heh) top-ten UK university, so I can unofficially confirm what everyone knows already:

A University's home page is NOT for current students or staff. At all.

Last time we looked, there were 19 different potential audiences for that page, which really isn't workable, so we had to decide which subset to focus on. And existing personnel aren't even vaguely in it. The page is for recruitment (currently with a focus on overseas students), promotion of research, and, well, income-generation.

That said, there are home page links to 'Staff' and 'Current Students' index pages, so all the info is there, just not promoted in the 'shop window'.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:15 pm UTC

Know what pisses me off? When I walk in the front door of our office every morning, my desk isn't right there in front of me. There's not even a sign telling me how to get to my desk. There's a reception area with some chairs and plants and photos of projects we've worked on - what the hell, that's not what I'm looking for, they obviously didn't design that for my needs.

I have to walk ALL THE WAY down the hallway and through my office door to get to my desk. Christ, it's a pain in the ass.
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mturyn
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby mturyn » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:23 pm UTC

I hesitate to say this, because a good number of you will assume that this completely reflects my tastes, but it's more about comedy:

I was expecting to see 'Hot, Drunk, Co-eds Pix' or some such included in the set...as the sole element common to the two largest subsets (that is, instead of the college name).

xatm092
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby xatm092 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

THIS IS SO TRUE.

Thankfully my uni website has a /internal directory where all the useful information is kept. It's just you can only access it if you are already a student or staff member.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Sprocket » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:38 pm UTC

Randy, I snuggle you.
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ß Orionis
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby ß Orionis » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

Hmm. Ours [Carnegie Mellon] is not so bad. Certainly, it has it's fair share of publicity content, but all the pertinent information is at most two clicks away. A search for "campus map" brings up three, useful versions on the first hit (still only two clicks!)

We have one of those handy "quicklink" drop down menus too, which will take you to the college of your choice, or the administrative page for forms, academic calendars. etc.

Refreshingly, the featured press coverage usually revolves around current students and faculty rather than alumni.


Also, I thought every university website listed the main campus address at the bottom of the front page!

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ethereal_fire
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby ethereal_fire » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:52 pm UTC

So true, So true.

I'll be honest. How easy it to navigate the website and find information like course descriptions and stuff was one of the factors that played into the universities that I chose to apply for.
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bzakharin
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby bzakharin » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

How do you define front page? Do links to said info count?

Anyway, my (former) school:
    Full Name: on front page
    Campus Photo Slide Show: on front page
    Alumni in the news: on front page
    Promotions for campus events: on front page (note: I'm looking for the calendar but not the events? How does that work?)
    Press releases: on front page
    Statement of school's philosophy: nowhere to be seen
    Letter from the President: nowhere to be seen
    Virtual Tour: nowhere to be seen
    Full Name: on front page
    Faculty Info: link
    Campus address: on front page
    Application forms: link
    Calendar: link
    Police: nowhere to be seen
    Department list: link
    Parking: Really? There's parking on campus? (it turns out it's on the map, but I guess it's not obvious)
    Usable campus map: link

Sorry, only two things on the "looking for" list are missing versus three on the "useless crap" list.

plasticup
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby plasticup » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:55 pm UTC

I am applying to Medical Schools right now, which involves navigating the web pages of my two previous schools and every one of the 15+ med schools that I am applying to. But if you think US schools have terrible web pages, try Oxford's. That thing is a wreck. You don't realize how much jargon is involved in university life until a foreign country shows you it's completely warped vernacular.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Poke Alex » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:05 pm UTC

Holy crap.

I am lead web developer at a university. Every day of my life I spend my time fighting with faculty, staff, administrators and managers about what a mess we've made and to put the freaking audience first. I am going to print this comic on a giant plotter and bring it to our next committee meeting.

"Guys. This is a COMIC STRIP telling you exactly what I've been saying for two years. A COMIC STRIP. Don't you all feel as embarrassed as me?"

Bobsama
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Bobsama » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:10 pm UTC

elrunethe2nd wrote:This is a brilliant comic, and I really want to send it to every staff member of my goddamn university right damn now.

If only I could find their emails!!!

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby jqavins » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:12 pm UTC

All right, all right. Accurate? Yes. Funny? Not so much.

Here's a falaceous lagical relation for you:
1) "It's funny 'cause it's true" happens.
2) Therefore, "It's true therefore it's funny" will work.

Is it me, or do too many strips lately seem to rely on this falacy?
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enderverse
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby enderverse » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:51 pm UTC

So Funny, I am telling everyone who goes to my college about this. so far everyone thinks its great.

SecretofMana
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby SecretofMana » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:56 pm UTC

jqavins wrote:All right, all right. Accurate? Yes. Funny? Not so much.

Here's a falaceous lagical relation for you:
1) "It's funny 'cause it's true" happens.
2) Therefore, "It's true therefore it's funny" will work.

Is it me, or do too many strips lately seem to rely on this falacy?


Cue 50 angry members pointing out that you misspelled fallacy instead of focusing on the content of your post...

Seriously, though, I agree. Not to mention that the way Venn diagrams are structured does not lend itself towards humor, since the punchline is usually located in the middle. Maybe if there's one point per side and not a lot of text, you'll take in the whole thing at once and chuckle, but when you have walls of text the humor's lost entirely when the reader sees the punchline as they go from one side to the other.

This strip was lazy.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Elusieum » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:12 pm UTC

As a recent high school graduate, and newly enrolled university student, I can definitely say, "Randal, get out of my head!" It took me forever to find course descriptions!

ninestraycats
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby ninestraycats » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

That school web sites have multiple target audiences is true. That school web sites nevertheless fuck up their student portals is also generally true. Pomona is guilty like all hell. And don't even get me started on the tools some schools buy...

U.C.S.D. has a really nice grad page, as I've found out recently.

IIAOPSW
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby IIAOPSW » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:22 pm UTC

For some reason this gave me an idea:

you take your standard "3d campus tour" app, then when you enter the konami code it becomes an absurdly violent first person shooter (taking place on campus of course).

note: do NOT do this at Virgina Tech.
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mikeho
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby mikeho » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:35 pm UTC

Hmm... wonder if it requires tech savviness to get this right?

My alma mater (MIT) seems to have it almost working: http://www.mit.edu

Academic Calendar: Click on the date at the top of the page; takes you to events.mit.edu
Application Forms: Click on Admissions.
Campus Address: Bottom of the page in the footer
Campus Police Phone Number: This one's harder to find: type police in the search and it'll be the second link. They have their phone number on their page.
Department/Course Listing: Under Education, Schools+Courses
Full Name of School: At the top of the page
List of Faculty Phone Numbers and Emails: The search in the upper right has a search box that can look in the directory
Parking Information: Mmm... this seems to be harder to find... I can't find it. Maybe they don't expect you to have a car in Cambridge? There is a section about visiting though...
Usable Campus Map: Under About, Maps

Technical Ben
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:45 pm UTC

MinistryOfInfo wrote:Interesting. I actually maintain a university home page, for a (heh) top-ten UK university, so I can unofficially confirm what everyone knows already:

A University's home page is NOT for current students or staff. At all.

Last time we looked, there were 19 different potential audiences for that page, which really isn't workable, so we had to decide which subset to focus on. And existing personnel aren't even vaguely in it. The page is for recruitment (currently with a focus on overseas students), promotion of research, and, well, income-generation.

That said, there are home page links to 'Staff' and 'Current Students' index pages, so all the info is there, just not promoted in the 'shop window'.


As long as the current students or staff have a site or the resources they need then that's ok. If not, then something is lacking, as most of the comments here show.
Why? Well, we have seen what happens to businesses that are all "sale" and "recruit" but with no real substance or support.
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fluentinsilence
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby fluentinsilence » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:25 pm UTC

YES. My school is completely guilty of this.

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QuantumBishop
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby QuantumBishop » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:46 pm UTC

Stanford's website (www.stanford.edu) goes even one step further. It doesn't even have the full name of the school (Leland Stanford Junior University) on the front page.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Turbo » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:50 pm UTC

My university pretty much has all of the above on the left, but has a nice, large "Current Students" link at the top. My problem is with that page. They keep changing it every year, and now they've unnecessarily compiled the schedule, grades, and a bunch of other crap links into one link. When you click that link, you're taken to a page where you have to log in, instead of giving you a pop-up prompt like the rest of the site does. Then you're taken to the list of links, where it starts out as being in alphabetical order, then about halfway through, just starts throwing in random links. Is it so that you only have to log in once to view all of these things? No, because when you hit backspace to go back to the list, you get an access denied page.

Then when you finally find the link to your schedule, it gives you the terms and conditions. Then you finally get to your schedule, and oh look, they've changed that page. Now there's a gigantic gap in between each listed class for "comments", none of which have any comments in them, save for one which says what prof is teaching the class. Now I have to view the week at a glance to get any sort of order, and either way I'd have to go to the map that's split into three different parts with three different pages to see what the abbreviations for the buildings mean.

Then there's Blackboard. They seem to change to a new version each year, and each year, they have problems with it. When people finally stop having problems with it, guess what? New version which is exactly the same, but with even more problems! And why, let's throw in a separate gradebook so that half the profs use the Blackboard gradebook, and the other half use the university's gradebook, why not?

And: http://img529.imageshack.us/img529/4759/whywhywhy.png

THEY LINK TO THE SAME THING AND I CAN'T GET RID OF THEM. What's worse is that you can edit the list of the top one, and every once in a while the classes that I had taken out that are from previous semesters magically reappear.

Then I tried to help someone find stuff on their university's website. It was a mess. No portal for current or prospective students. I finally gave up and used the search function, which gave me NOTHING relevant. I finally found the requirements for the person's major, which were sometimes confusing, sometimes vague.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:59 pm UTC

QuantumBishop wrote:Stanford's website (http://www.stanford.edu) goes even one step further. It doesn't even have the full name of the school (Leland Stanford Junior University) on the front page.


That's kinda understandable. Their brand name is established as Stanford. If you say Stanford, people all over the world know what you mean. If you say "Leland Stanford Junior University", most people will never have heard of it. So using the latter name, a fair chunk of people are going to think they've come to the wrong place.
I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:04 pm UTC

jqavins wrote:All right, all right. Accurate? Yes. Funny? Not so much.

Here's a falaceous lagical relation for you:
1) "It's funny 'cause it's true" happens.
2) Therefore, "It's true therefore it's funny" will work.

Is it me, or do too many strips lately seem to rely on this falacy?


Why must everything be funny all of the time. There's a number of xkcd comics that rely more on insight or evoking thought than humor. The map of the internet was profoundly unfunny. But it's still interesting.

The alt-tag delivers some of the sarcasm that the comic's tag-line promises, though.
I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Gamer_2k4 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:13 pm UTC

Poke Alex wrote:"Guys. This is a COMIC STRIP telling you exactly what I've been saying for two years. A COMIC STRIP. Don't you all feel as embarrassed as me?"

"Probably more embarrassed. After all, we're the ones who hired a guy that thinks that webcomics are credible support for his arguments."

You, sir, name? wrote:Why must everything be funny all of the time. There's a number of xkcd comics that rely more on insight or evoking thought than humor. The map of the internet was profoundly unfunny. But it's still interesting.

There's a difference between not trying to be funny, and trying to be funny and failing. This comic (and sadly, most of XKCD) falls into the latter category.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Mavrisa » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

UW's wobsite isn't so bad... it has some of the things on the right. They're very small, inconspicuous links below to all of the stuff mentioned on the left, but I can't complain.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby hdhale » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:27 pm UTC

tyingcatstocars wrote:My school has not one but two websites where I have to deal with this. What's worse is that the only map is hand-drawn & slightly impressionistic so I can't tell the actual distance between buildings for scheduling classes.

oh, & they also sent me my housing assignment in Comic Sans


Because the kids like those hip fonts you see. :wink:

I had the privileged/curse some years ago of being "the guy", meaning the person in charge of a college web site for a smaller institution in the Midwest. My boss for a good percentage of that time was a old newspaper guy. He didn't understand WWW, but he knew that having stories about some kid getting busted for drug and weapons possession in one of the dorms was probably news that didn't need to be on the website. Consequently I had a large amount of freedom when it came to what content got preferential treatment. Consequently the campus map (nice artwork, more or less in proportion) was not only clickable, but when you clicked it you got a close up of the building and some details about it. Some descriptions even included a link to internal views of the building. The map was available from no fewer than two locations on the home page, including the quicklinks available from every page. The quicklinks also included the staff directory, and pretty much links everything you saw in the right hand circle. As for the stuff in the left hand circle...you could find it fast enough (one click from homepage) but it didn't beat you about the face and shoulders.

The "eternal struggle" between marketing and information on university web sites however goes on, even if I moved on and now do instructional design work.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby RabbitWho » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:30 pm UTC

Ah hahahhah! Yes! Exactly! Brilliant!

http://www.gmit.ie/
So much fluff.

It's not as bad as it used to be, but when I was trying to apply first day I found two completely different course descriptions and requirement lists for the same course on different parts of the website.
It was like some kind of nightmare maze, take a wrong turn and you'd end up back in time.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby melladh » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:03 pm UTC

My school had a map over the neighboring school instead of itself. It did have a student/employee contact lookup system though, that would've been great if it actually worked.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Sunidesus » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:10 pm UTC

MinistryOfInfo wrote:A University's home page is NOT for current students or staff. At all.


That seems logical. However, as someone who has spent entirely too much time the last couple weeks trying to navigate college websites as a prospective student... they aren't set up for me either. Particularly because I fall into the "non-traditional student" category.

I realize that this is a smaller group and finding the information I need will take a bit more digging. This is understandable. But that being said, the information should still be there somewhere. Trying to figure out how to go about registering for a class or two as a "grown up" who is interested in actual classes (not "continuing education" classes) is challenging to say the least. Heck, even figuring out what classes are available to me is next to impossible.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby MaxtotheMax » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:21 pm UTC

That is so amazingly true: University/college websites suck big time. They always seem to have slightly different versions for each department too. And sometimes you can only get to one department via another.

This one is bad:
http://santarosa.edu

This one is much, much worse:
http://sonoma.edu

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby ohki » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:23 pm UTC

uncivlengr wrote:Know what pisses me off? When I walk in the front door of our office every morning, my desk isn't right there in front of me. There's not even a sign telling me how to get to my desk. There's a reception area with some chairs and plants and photos of projects we've worked on - what the hell, that's not what I'm looking for, they obviously didn't design that for my needs.

I have to walk ALL THE WAY down the hallway and through my office door to get to my desk. Christ, it's a pain in the ass.


You'd think the thousands of dollars you're paying your employer would make them fulfill your needs a little bit more! Wait, no... that's not right at all.

Also, if your office building doesn't have any sort of sign/map telling people which desks/conference rooms are where, it IS a pretty bad office. That or it's a small enough place that you don't have to worry about finding X room on a floor you've never been to in a building you've never stepped foot in before.
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SirMustapha
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:27 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:Why must everything be funny all of the time. There's a number of xkcd comics that rely more on insight or evoking thought than humor.


Congratulations for relying on the laziest excuse ever.



Guy #1: Let me tell you a joke I heard yesterday.
Guy #2: Okay.
Guy #1: A priest, a rabbi and a banker walk into a bar. And then they drink beer!
Guy #2: ...
Guy #1: ...!
Guy #2: ... is that it?
Guy #1: Yeah!
Guy #2: That wasn't funny at all.
Guy #1: IT'S NOT MEANT TO BE FUNNY, YOU...! *whimper*

bantab
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby bantab » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:28 pm UTC

It's just like the grocer keeping the milk at the back of the store.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby cprocjr » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:31 pm UTC

I find that it's often much faster easier to use google to find stuff on university websites. Just type the name of the school plus what you are looking for.


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