JuicyCampus closed, but students already looking elsewhere

Olivia Bobrowsky

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Medill sophomore Lauren Cole learned about JuicyCampus this fall. She was hooked immediately.

“People just posted completely random things,” Cole said. “Like, ‘Girls: Do you like polka dot hats better than polka dot rain boots?’ But there would also be ones like, ‘Who’s the hottest SPAC employee?'”

To Cole’s dismay, the popular gossip Web site, which had pages for more than 500 college campuses, closed down Thursday due to inadequate ad revenue.

The demise of JuicyCampus, however, was not the end of anonymous online gossip. Traffic from the site is now automatically redirected to College ACB, or the Anonymous Confession Board. The new page already attracts about 500,000 views a day.

College ACB is run by Peter Frank, a freshman at Wesleyan University, who believes the site will be a “lesser evil” than its predecessor.

“I really hope that it can fill the void for JuicyCampus with productive, serious discussion that benefits from being anonymous,” he said.

Frank wants his users to shy away from personal attacks, citing a student at Wesleyan who asked, “My boyfriend cheated on me; what should I do?”

By Sunday, NU’s section of College ACB included 16 posts, including “Theta on Gone Greek Night” to “juicycampus was better.”

The “juicycampus” thread had 15 comments. The replies quickly progressed from compliments on College ACB’s clean, advertisement-free layout to how much one particular student “gets around.”

Personal attacks abounded on JuicyCampus, and Frank said cruelty is inevitable on any anonymous forum.

But if any user complains about a post or a comment on ACB, he will make sure it’s removed – a major difference from JuicyCampus, which had a strict policy of zero moderation.

Just before JuicyCampus closed, CEO Matt Ivester published a press release to defend his site’s reputation.

“While there are parts of JuicyCampus that none of us will miss – the mean-spirited posts and personal attacks – it has also been a place for the fun, lighthearted gossip of college life,” the press release read. “I hope that is how it is remembered.”

For Weinberg sophomore Brandon Samuels, who introduced Cole to JuicyCampus, the most entertaining aspect of the site was the personal nature of the gossip.

“We would type in a name and see what popped up,” said Samuels, who added that moderating a gossip site may detract from its allure.

Weinberg freshman Marielle Meurice said she doubts any successful gossip Web site will be anything more than entertaining trash talk, no matter the moderation.

“Who’s the kind of person who’s going to go online and start a topic like, ‘Oh, I really like the food in Evanston, let’s discuss this’?” Meurice said. “It’s always going to be ‘Oh, this girl’s a slut, this frat is stupid.'”

Before JuicyCampus, NU had Rumor Royalty. The content for that site, which closed in November because the creator, Michael Kane, Communication ’08, moved to Los Angeles, was created by one student rather than anonymous contributors.

“(The gossip) was never verified on my site,” Kane said. “It was all hearsay. But there was a disclaimer on there, and there were never any names listed.”

While a large portion of JuicyCampus involved Greek Life, Rumor Royalty, which had about 2,000 to 3,000 visitors a day, focused exclusively on that community, Kane said. As of Sunday night, eight of College ACB’s 16 posts were about Greek life.

Frank said that his site will have to overcome the image problem that accompanies gossip sites and anonymous commenting if it is to survive.

“If money is your goal, you’re not going to succeed,” Frank said. “If you work hard on your image, I think the money will take care of itself.”