Ever since Oberlin Confessional, Oberlin’s anonymous confession website, crashed almost two months ago, many students have been without their anonymous gossip fix. A new website, Obietalk.com, has recently stepped in to fill the void.
The site was created by College first-year Will Adams-Keane, who said he started thinking about creating a new anonymous website a few weeks after OCon went down.
“There wasn’t really an alternative,” said Adams-Keane, “and I knew how popular OCon was, so I thought it would be cool to have something like Obie Talk.”
He put the site up in early October, after designing it himself. Like OCon, it allows users to post threads anonymously, and for others to post comments on those threads. Unlike OCon, however, anybody can post on the site, not only those who are on Oberlin’s campus or who have an Oberlin email address.
The website has experienced increasing popularity in recent weeks, with the current number of daily visitors reaching in the thousands, up from about 15 when the site began, said Adams-Keane.
Adams-Keane said he believes that it is important for people to have an outlet to express things anonymously. “It’s really easy to say what you want to say if it’s anonymous. People let stuff bottle up, but with a site like Obie Talk, they can say their inner thoughts.”
There have been complaints from students on the website itself that that the posts on Obie Talk can become unnecessarily negative. Wrote one anonymous poster, “Obie Talk makes me feel depressed about Oberlin.”
College first-year Vlad Bursuc said that some of his friends have had offensive threads written about them on Obie Talk. “It gets pretty nasty, and it’s just like, why? Why would anyone do that? … It’s just ridiculous that people can take it too far and not realize that feelings can get hurt.”
Adams-Keane maintained that while he understands why people could get offended, “You can’t take anything on the site seriously; it’s a joke for the most part.” He said he has been contacted only three times about removing particularly offensive threads and has done so.
He also tries to replace the names of people on certain negative threads with the name “Matt Alden.” Alden, a College first-year, said that while he has little say in the website, he “figured it was pretty funny … no harm in it.”
Adams-Keane admits that it seems that primarily first-years use the site, most likely due to first-years who know about the site telling their friends. Most of the names referred to on the site are also those of first-years. Said Bursuc, whose name has been on the site, “The upperclassmen who know about it just know about it from freshmen.”
Many upperclassmen seem rather disdain- ful about the website. A recent thread on Obie Talk that received over 50 comments begins with a post that read, “Dear Freshmen, Please stop being freshmen. Regards, the upperclass- men.”
The comments on that post ran the typical range of seriousness, from “[Poster #] 31 sucks balls” to “We’re not above anonymity. we just prefer to exercise it in ridiculously liberal biased political arguments about current events that have already been decided” to “Dear Upperclassmen, We’re trying. Just give us a bit more time. Regards, the freshmen.”
Unlike OCon, which had a specific policy ensuring privacy to all users, Obie Talk holds no such guarantee. However, Adams-Keane said that those posting to the site shouldn’t be worried.
“Originally, it was completely anonymous, and there was nothing being traced,” he said, “but then somebody posted a thread like, ‘I’m gonna kill myself,’ and I realized that I could be held responsible if someone did something really fucked up.”
He said he holds a temporary log of IP addresses that would allow him to potentially report a harmful post to CIT. However, the log deletes itself daily, and he assures that he himself wouldn’t use the log to trace posters. “To me, it’s just numbers,” said Adams-Keane.
Shibo Xu, OC ’08, who currently owns Oberlin Confessional, said he thinks Obie Talk is “a great site.” While he said that he is “getting close” to reworking his hacked confes- sional, he’s not sure whether or not he will restart the confessional at Oberlin in light of the new website.
“I’m mostly curious what will happen if I don’t relaunch it, or if I do and there are two anonymous confessional sites at Oberlin,” said Xu. “I don’t think there will be any bad blood between the two, especially because nobody’s making money — it’s just for fun.”
Adams-Keane said he doesn’t really care much whether or not OCon comes back. “It’s its own thing,” he said. “I think most of the upperclassmen on Obie Talk would go back to OCon. I don’t know what everyone would do.”
In terms of plans for the future of Obie Talk, Adams-Keane plans to make a few minor adjustments to the site’s design, but other than that, to continue as usual. However, he said he is hesitant to implement a search function on the site, “because I don’t think people really want to see everything everyone has ever written about them.” The nonfunctional search bar that currently appears at the top of the site, he said, “is just there to piss everyone off.”