In 2001 two students launched “Polyratings 2.0,” a website where Cal Poly students can rate professors and review their classes.
Despite its popularity, the site changed to “read only” mode in 2020. It wasn’t accepting any more reviews — until new students decided to revive the site on May 9.
After working on this project separately for a few months, two computer science majors came together in November 2021 with the same vision: to restore Polyratings and make it an effective tool for Cal Poly students.
The two students in charge of this project chose to remain anonymous for privacy concerns, explaining that previous website owners received many unsolicited emails.
One of them, a senior, was working on building a new version of the site for his senior project. The other, a junior, saw a need for it after he was frustrated with choosing classes during registration.
Since November, the team has done front-end and back-end coding for Polyratings to be ready for students to use — just in time for Fall 2022 registration. They started out by identifying what was wrong with the old version, as well as the issues with the other Polyratings attempts people have tried to create.
Their goal was to make the new version as similar to the original website as possible, while still fixing all of the glitches and cleaning up the data.
“We designed this from the ground up to be as long lasting as possible,” the computer science junior said.
The duo used data scraping to push all the data from the old website to the new one. They were also able to use a machine learning model to detect previously posted reviews with inappropriate language and ended up detecting about 3,000 — which is equivalent to 3.5% to 4% of all the reviews on Polyratings. This system will also automatically deny any new posts that contain bad language.
The old version was also very outdated, as some professors didn’t have reviews posted about them since 1999, and many new professors were not added and hence did not have any reviews posted about their classes. The computer science junior said this made for an inefficient and frustrating process when registering for classes.
The new version’s technology creates a simpler way to find classes and professors. The website is desktop and mobile accessible, and students can filter their search by either professors, classes or departments, and the corresponding information will appear.
For example, if one searched “CSC,” a list of professors in the computer science department would appear. When clicking on a professor’s name, the class(es) that professor teaches is organized numerically on the same page.
The computer science duo is trying to make this project as community-oriented as possible so Polyratings can be run by other students after they graduate. Others can contribute code as they made the front-end and back-end code open-sourced. Additionally, the data is available to be used for research and, with so much data from an array of different people, the source said this would be an “interesting dataset” to use.
Through Discord, which is linked on the homepage of Polyratings, students are able to weigh in their thoughts and can provide feedback to the administrators. The feedback received since the launching has already been implemented by the administrators, and will be a continuous resource to help improve Polyratings.
The first round of priority registration for Fall 2022 starts on Thursday, May 19 and the duo wants students to use the website as much as possible before their registration date. They said that the more students who are on the website, the faster they can get information so students aren’t “rolling the dice” when registering.