Data Loss & Recovery

April 25, 2016

We’ve been hearing from some students and professors who are wondering why some of their reviews are not showing up on CULPA. Today, we’d like to explain. Last month, our server was attacked somehow. On the bright side, we figured out how to protect reviews in the future. However, as a result, we were unable to access our database and were unfortunately forced to revert to an earlier version. What this means is that some reviews that have been submitted over the past few months were unfortunately lost. We’ve been trying to recover the reviews for several weeks now, and today it seems that we will be unable to.

Just to clarify about our policies, CULPA does not filter out specific reviews. The reviews that were lost were all reviews submitted within a certain timeframe, not any particular reviews. The only case where any post is removed is if we see clear homophobic/sexist/racist or libel comments. If you see posts like this, please report them to If you would like to read more about our policies, they are available at

Again, the entire CULPA team is very sorry about this, and we're taking measures to make sure this never happens again. In the meantime, we encourage you to resubmit reviews that may have been lost so that they may be helpful to students again.

CULPA API Now Available!

March 07, 2015

There are lots of awesome student developers on campus we want to have access to CULPA's data in their applications. Well, now they'll have access to it! The CULPA team is happy to introduce the CULPA API!

This CULPA API will allow access to information for developers, including courses, reviews, departments, and professors. The URL will allow users to query and search the entire CULPA database.

Feel free to use the data, but please remember to use it in a way that will help the Columbia community!

It's that time of year again!

October 12, 2014

Yes, pumpkin spice lattes, Oktoberfest beers and sweater weather are back, but a far more important harbinger of fall is the opportunity to nominate your best professors for the Mark Van Doren Teaching Award!

Every year, a student committee spends their Sundays and part of their weeks researching and observing classes taught by Columbia's best professors, all in order to select the recipient of Columbia College's most prestigious student-given award.

All you need to do to add your favorite professor to the list for consideration is fill out this form.

Of course, as always, feel free to expand upon and package these thoughts for easy digestion by fellow students by writing a review of that exceptional educator.


September 27, 2014

As you may have noticed, CULPA recently received a makeover. That is because we recently released CULPA 4.0. However, don't worry. You'll still get all the CULPA-y goodness that you are used to.

Along with this, you'll get some new things. These include....nothing yet. Stay tuned!

And in the meantime, it's prettier!

Give the gift that keeps on giving

July 31, 2013

And no, we're not talking about a gold nugget! Every year, a group of student volunteers spends a lot of time and effort trying to reward the professors who do what they do the best by selecting recipients for the Mark Van Doren faculty teaching award. These phenomenal students do the heavy lifting (researching these professors and even sitting in on classes)—all you need to do is send an email to with "Van Doren Nomination 2013-2014" in the subject and the professor's name in the body. If you want to elaborate a little on the reason for the nomination, too, that will only help your nominee in the selection process.

And while you're thinking about your favorite professors, don't forget to collect all of those thoughts into a nice, coherent review so that future students can choose courses with the benefits of your wisdom.

I can haz data?

March 01, 2013

Dear lovely people of the Columbia community,

We heard you were having a hackathon with lots of lovely data. The CULPA team has a little present for you:

Professor data

Review data

A statement regarding open course evaluations.

April 11, 2012

We're concerned about a number of incorrect statements that have come up in discussions of open course evaluations, and we've published an Op-Ed in the Spectator which we hope will clarify the issue.

"Misinformation about CULPA" (Columbia Spectator)

December 15, 2011


Nominate your professor for Best Teaching award

September 21, 2011

What's better than a nice CULPA review? A prize.

The Columbia College Academic Awards Committee invites you to nominate your favorite Professors for the 2011-2012 Mark Van Doren Award. The Van Doren Award recognizes those teachers who have made an outstanding contribution to students' classroom experience. To determine the winner, members of the Academic Awards Committee attend the classes offered by each nominee. The Committee then meets to discuss and select the Van Doren recipient.

To nominate a Professor for the 2011-2012 Mark Van Doren Award, email the name of the nominee to

And don't forget to write that nice review anyway!

Thanks for your interest!

August 16, 2011

We're no longer looking for a new team member, but we may open it up again at the end of the spring semester. Stay tuned!

Tutor with CULPA!

August 29, 2010

Welcome back to school! As promised, new feature number one: CULPA now has a tutoring marketplace! Get the full scoop here. Sign up today and get 100 pageviews for free.

False Prophet

August 28, 2010

Remember that bit in the Histories when Croesus tries to test all the oracles in Greece and Libya? Well, it's that time of the year again. And while we're not eating a lamb-and-tortoise stew out of a brass cauldron, we did spend the last couple of days crunching numbers to see just how well our personal Pythia scored. We were looking forward to telling you that the Oracle was a huge success, and that you could expect to have exactly the core professors you wanted in the years to come.

Unfortunately, that's not quite how it happened.

In fact, the Oracle's predictions were almost completely useless. Those interested in the messy statistical details can see them here; the short story is that only our most confident predictions about Music Hum passed the standard test of statistical significance. Everything else may have been noise.

We tried to make it clear from the beginning that the Oracle was an experiment. It's entirely possible that this will never work, that teaching schedules are simply to random to usefully predict. But we can't shake the suspicion that there's order hiding in the data, and we're not going to give up just because we didn't get everything right the first time. We are 96% confident that our predictions about the Monday morning sections of Music Hum were more than a lucky guess, and that gives us hope.

Later this semester, expect to see a better algorithm, a clearer table, and more transparency about our methods.

Also, expect to see two exciting new features that have nothing to do with the Oracle: one later in the week and one in the middle of the semester.

Finally, with the departure of our most senior editor, CULPA is looking for one new underclass-person to round out the team. Do you love building websites and helping fellow Columbians? Can you design a better Oracle? Talk to us.

Introducing...the Oracle!

May 09, 2010

For the last few years, we've been slowly compiling all of the information in the official course directory. And we noticed something interesting: professors tend to teach at the same time, year after year. In other words, a little information about the past can tell you a lot about future sections. This isn't very useful for most courses, but you can probably already guess one place it might really come in handy... CORE courses. With that in mind, we're introducing predictions about who will teach which CORE sections in the semester to come. Here's what it looks like:

CULPA Oracle screenshot

What's going on here? The "Professor" and "Time" columns should be self explanatory; the "sections" column lists the section numbers that were associated with that time slot last semester and they conveniently link to the official course directory. The "∗" column is where the magic happens — that's our confidence that the listed professor will teach the given time slot.

See the little arrow on the right? You can sort the whole table by any of the columns by clicking on them: "Professor" will sort alphabetically, "Time" will sort chronologically, "Sections" will sort by the number of sections for a given time slot, and "∗" will sort by confidence.

Warning: the Oracle is still a baby and we haven't had a chance to test her predictions in the real world. They may be excellent, they may be mediocre, and they may be very poor indeed. We'd rather she grew up to be Joseph than Teiresias, but it's going to take some fine-tuning before that happens.

Now, just in case you don't trust our super secret algorithm (it relies on a proprietary calculus we developed just for the Oracle), we've made the raw data available for you to inspect. Go to any professor or course* page and scroll down all the way to the bottom. You will see when that course was taught and when it will be taught in the future according to the official course directory.

Enjoy the new features and don't forget to review your professors and upload syllabi for your classes!

* not all courses have directory data available


October 10, 2009

Welcome to CULPA 3.0!. You're now looking at the next generation of Columbia's professor review website. It's shinier, friendlier and easier to navigate, but we've also made some major changes under the hood:


We know that the nuts-and-bolts of course offerings—reading lists, exam schedules and the like—are often as important as professor quality when choosing a class. That's why we've added syllabi to professor and course pages. Now you can share not just your own thoughts, but real course outlines. Whether it's epistemology or neurobiology, you'll know what you're getting yourself into.


Your professors (to paraphrase Bill Cosby) say the darndest things. Now, when you really need a little gem of wisdom from the delightful Molly Murray or the dapper Xavier Sala-i-Martin, we've got you covered. The Bwog has graciously allowed us to start our collection their own assortment of professor quotes, and from now on we'll be gathering up every line of sheer genius or absolute lunacy that you hear in class. After all, there's no better way to understand a professor than with his own words.

Directory Courses

We've been hard at work this semester continuing our process of integrating information from Columbia's Directory of Courses with our database of almost 18,000 reviews. We've already made Columbia's directory data a central part of our quote and syllabus features, and as the year goes on, expect to see real scheduling information from Columbia in more places.

With all these changes, there might be a thing or two we've missed. Found a bug? Dying for a feature that didn't make it into 3.0? Just let us know, and we'll see what we can do.

—The CULPA team

Support CULPA

April 22, 2009

CULPA is run by students for students. We don't get any funding from Columbia by any means, so all of our expenses are out-of-pocket. If you feel like CULPA has helped you out in any way over the years, feel free to drop us a buck or two to offset our hosting costs. If we can raise ~$20/mo to pay our hosting fees, we can get rid of ads entirely!

Donate via PayPal

Post-Midterms Features

March 28, 2009

Dear Columbians,

Just as you start getting used to a new semester, it begins to wind down. Final projects are assigned, exams approach, and you realize that you've retained merely a factoid or two from the thousands (at least, hopefully more than dozens) of pages you've read this semester. We feel your pain. In an effort to reduce your blood pressure, we've rolled out a small new feature. If you navigate to a department page on our website, you'll see that some professors have "New Reviews!" icons next to their names. We've done this to clue you in to who has been written about since the last semester began.

If you have any other features you'd like, simply let us know by posting a comment using the link at left!

As usual, we wish you a good rest of the semester.

The CULPA Team

Welcome Back!

January 13, 2009

A new semester is upon us! Welcome back to school.

For those of you who've already reviewed your professors from last semester: thank you! Your classmates appreciate your effort. (If you wrote a review before January 1st, it has been processed and should be visible.) To all of you, whether you've written some reviews or not: please do something for us all:

In the text box above and to the right, enter the name of a professor you had last semester and click "Search". If his or her name does not come up, that means that no reviews of the professor have been submitted yet. Please write a review! If the professor does have some reviews, but they are few, uninformative, or more than six months old, please write a review! Don't be afraid to reiterate what's already been said, either since people can change over time, students reading reviews will be more certain that what they read is relevant. Also, feeling ambivalent about whether you liked a class you had with a certain professor can be just as useful as really being sure that you liked or disliked it: telling your classmates what was good, what was bad, and what mediocre will really help them out. So, to reiterate: please write reviews!

By the by, you'll notice that we've reimplemented voting to agree or disagree with reviews. We're already at work on some other new features, too, but if you've got any ideas as to how we might improve the functionality of the site, please let us know by using the 'Contact' link.

As always, we hope that what we've got here is useful for you. Best of luck in this coming semester.


The CULPA Team