Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Peter Frank Wants to Talk It Out

I said I didn't like CollegeACB. But after talking to site founder Peter Frank, I'm a little more optimistic for the forums' future.


Peter Frank (friend of the blog!) wants to know all about you! Well, not really. He just wants you to be able to vent.

Which is why he shelled out a five-figure sum for JuicyCampus's traffic. "I saw an opportunity to fill a hole in the market," he told me via Facebook message (so new media!) "People want a place to vent anonymously, I thought that even if advertising wasn't my main goal, I'd eventually make my money back (and hopefully more)."

How will he make that money, seeing as how his site currently lacks adspace? "Eventually we will have ads," he said, before going on to add that "he goal of the site isn't to make money, but I do hope it goes that way one day." Clearly, this is a future investment; he provides a service now, and hopes that it will make later, offering students a chance to anonymously let off steam all the while.

But Juicy Campus already tried this and failed. What makes Frank so sure he can navigate these catty viral waters better than they did? "JuicyCampus had high overhead," he explains, citing an overabundance of employees and costly, inefficient coding over at the now-dead gossip hub. "We have basically no costs--only hosting and my time."

And does the site ever take up his time! Running a burgeoning gossip empire ain't no hobby. Has Frank become a campus celebrity because of his site? "Yes. I've been approached at parties and asked if I ran the ACB. Our paper (The Argus) ran a story about me, so that's how most people know." But he hasn't lost any friends over the risk of Internet exposure: "Those who trust me enough to share secrets aren't worried about the fact that I own the ACB," he says.

But what of those he doesn't trust? Like, say, all the people who dragged Juicy Campus far enough through the mud for the site to be forced to shut down? "You have to remember that we are receiving much of our traffic directly from people trying to go to JuicyCampus.com," Frank points out. "There's not going to be a huge difference in post content overnight." Plus, he says the site is already "seeing more posts of substance." Much of the content I saw would seem to contradict this--the usual homophobic, racist, or otherwise slanderous posts that marred Juicy Campus garner the most attention. But to Frank's credit, I have seen some more intelligent efforts from students, often in the form of questioning the very drivel for which Internet message boards are infamous.

Well, good luck to you, Peter. I'm sure I speak for plenty of people when I say that I hope your site eventually matches your mission of giving students "a place to vent, rant, and talk to college peers in an environment free from social constrains and about subjects that might otherwise be taboo [...] from sex and sexuality, to politics, to classes and campus life."

For now, let's relish in the reasoned discourse of NYU students. To quote one anonymous NYU student: "Greenwich Village is a scum bucket. i cant believe ive signed onto this shitshow." [sic], naturally.

-Josh

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