Student, prof launch hit Web sites

Kawther Albader

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It was love when the world first got its hands on two sister Web sites dealing with the progress and sometimes failure of modern relationships.

Robert K. Elder, a Medill adjunct professor, was looking for a “fun and frivolous” getaway when he decided to found two Web sites devoted to sharing stories of love’s heart-warming beginning or its tragic end. Soon after, McCormick junior Doug Peterson answered an ad Elder placed online for a web designer. A duo was born.

Neither of them could have ever predicted the Web sites’ immediate success, Elder said. It has been a little more than a month since Elder and Peterson launched the Web sites, yet they have already had more than a quarter of a million views, combined with 60,000 visitors in the first three days alone. They have had hits from all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.

“The Web sites got so big, so fast.” Elder said, “OverWhen is a runaway hit.”

The sites’ premises are simple: Those who enjoy gushing about their lovers and hook ups are typical LoveWhen posters. Conversely, those who find they need a space to vent after a rough break-up log onto OverWhen. The stories on OverWhen are often hilarious: “It was over when … I realized that I absolutely detested the shape of his head.”

The Web sites have been steadily gaining popularity since their launches. Both recently captured the attention of movie director Kevin Smith, who Tweeted that OverWhen is an “addictive site.” Discussions of the humorous posts at OverWhen have since been given a time slot on the syndicated radio show Johnjay and Rich.

Elder said the sites are a unique endeavor because students and professors usually team up for research and not for business. The success of the Web sites, Peterson said, is due to a lot of “blood, sweat and tears.”

The Web sites are open to anyone who has ever had heartbreak and, Elder jokes, “anyone who has ever dared to date me.”

Since their launches, OverWhen has garnered relatively more hits than LoveWhen.”You should strike out more than you should get home runs,” Elder said.

User-generated Web sites like OverWhen and FMyLife.com have become popular time-wasters for teenagers and young adults.

“They’re hilarious. They’re great for when I’m bored,” Bienen-Weinberg freshman Vivia Chengshi said. “You can kind of relate to them and sometimes you just … can’t, which makes them really funny.”

Elder is currently looking for assistants and offering internships in web-design. Since being “inspired by this little corporation,” Peterson has launched his own Web site devoted to custom web and creative design.

kawtheralbader2013@u.northwestern.edu

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