I guess I'd prefer an actual rejection letter or e-mail rather than the updated notice, "no longer under review" posted on the online application submission system that rejects me. Ugh!
I'm sorry, but unless you have been interviewed that is
indeed a lot to ask - there are often > 300 applicants per job out there, and most SC's are doing all of the paperwork themselves (one wonders what HR are doing 90% of their time, doesn't one?).
I'm a big fan of automated systems: you know that your application has been received and when (which I think is the most important thing), you know the status of a search and your application as soon as it is permissible by HR rules, and all of that without taking up more than a tiny amount of time on the part of the SC.
Of course, there are SC's that fail to update their systems, and systems that fail, but hey, why should academia be any less fvcked up in this regard than anybody else.
There are places that write directly in the job ad, or on the job application page, that they will contact you if they are interested, and if you haven't heard from them in a certain amount of time, than you should assume that they aren't interested. This was, if I remember correctly, British and Australian places, I don't remember if any US universities ever had that statement on the applications.
It is good to remember that, as unhappy as it makes us as job applicants, the SC doesn't really care that much about the applicants for their job searches, and they really shouldn't. Faculty members on search committees have many many other things to do with their lives, almost all of which are more important than keeping all the applicants on a job search updated.
Think, people, each one of the members of a SC has students in courses, student advisees, grad students (depending on the school), collaborators, colleagues, department heads and deans, not to mention families. Each faculty member on the SC had research, courses, grant proposals, and other committees, not to mention family activities. Basically, members of an SC have a multitude of people who have more right to the faculty members' time, energy, and emotion than any one of the 200 applicants in a job search, and dozens of tasks that have a higher priority than notifying every applicant of their specific status in a search.
This doesn't mean that SCC's are permitted to be dicks, and in fact, many SCC's take the opportunity of the little power that this gives them to be total dicks. However, many, many more search committee members, in my experience, take this as an opportunity to be wonderfully helpful human beings, taking the time to respond to inquiries with personal responses and a kind or helpful word. In all my job applications I can count on the fingers of one hand the times that I have been the recipient of dick behavior, while I have a couple dozen cases of SCC's going out of their way to be helpful and supportive to one of many applicants.
Of course there are many SNAFU's, but only a small number of them are the fault of search committees.
I do agree, though, that the rules of etiquette change when dealing with campus interviews.