Too shy to talk to that hottie in Poli Sci? Curious about the exciting world of anal beads? Need a course that won’t bring your GPA down two points? And, while we’re at it, who was the handsome stranger at the bar and what’s his story?
Fret not my wretched friend, for the creators of McGillGossip.com have found the solution for the classic student woes that plague us all. Launched last spring, the website is striving to become a one-stop shopping source for indispensable student information; namely, all the latest who’s who, who’s sleeping with who and who hates who in our beloved school. Essentially, it’s more gossip than you can probably handle.
As the website explains, the site is “McGill’s number one hookup [pun intended?] for news you can’t prove. If you’ve got a story to tell, we’ve got a place for you to put it.”
The brainchild of two McGill students, Alec Tallman and Nicole Bechard, the site describes itself as “a place to vent, a place to talk, and a place to hang out online.” The creators are quick to add that they are in no way affiliated with the school and any official organizations.
The site features discussion forums, a columnist named Dick McGill, an advice column by resident sexpert Naughty Natalie, a picture gallery, an events calendar, course reviews, chatrooms, polls, and uncensored message boards.
The latter seems to have attracted the most attention, and consequently, the most controversy. Visitors can leave anonymous messages on all aspects of university life, but discussion mainly centres around the lives and loves of fellow peers on the three uncensored boards, aptly named “Total Gossip”, “McGill Matchups” and “The Wall”.
These three uncensored boards have raised several eyebrows, with upset students writing in to protest the nature of the boards and select comments. Despite detractors’ claims that the site is a defamation tool, Tallman maintains that the site is merely an online student hangout. He sympathizes with those who have been offended, but maintains that individual users of the site can be neither predicted nor regulated.
“Considering that we like to think of ourselves as the last bastion of uncensored free speech, I try to let individuals post what they like until someone complains. The one thing that bugs me most is when people just yell rude things…those get pulled in a second,” Tallman explains.
When a complaint is submitted, the objectionable comment is removed at once in order to protect individuals from character denigration.
“Justifiable criticism of people in the public eye is one thing, outright defamation is hurtful, and all-around pretty pointless,” he says.
The site attempts to discourage perceived abuse in their “Rules and Disclaimer” section stating, “this site was not created for character assassination, directed and cruel criticisms, maliciousness or other nasty goals…Information in your submissions must be kept anonymous. Names are not anonymous.”
This, however, has not prevented users from using full names in their posts. Threats of lawsuits have been brought up, but the editors have retained their jovial outlook and remain unfazed.
“In the beginning, before people saw what the site was really about, they got pretty nervous about the name,” notes Tallman. “But as for a team of lawyers and a class-action lawsuit, well, let’s just say I’m still waiting.”
The creators want to stress that the site isn’t merely about gossip, as its name would suggest; but should also be utilized as a form of communication amongst students. With such a big student population, it’s often difficult to maintain active discourse, and the creators hope that this will become an avenue for lively discussion and debate about issues pertaining to McGill student life.
The site also boasts an anti-calendar, a unique feature where users can discuss the courses they’ve taken and compare notes about the good, the bad and the ugly. It is organized according to faculty, and then by respective subjects. Currently, there are less than a dozen courses that have been reviewed.
“What drives me nuts is that the structure is complete,” laments Tallamn. “People just need to fill it in. I really think it’s a great service, and I want it to rock.”
Tallman definitely recognizes the inane nature of gossip, though has no intention to stop it.
“Gossip suffers from being mostly untrue, and often exaggerated. As a source of information, it’s way down there. But that doesn’t make gossiping any less fun. After all, everyone does it!”
This truism led him to believe students would eat it up, but the response hasn’t been overwhelming. With only 40 registered users at present and an average of 350 hits a week, the site is still struggling to find its niche amongst students. New content is never lacking, however, and the small staff maintains the labour of love by absorbing the upkeep costs. In the future, they hope to have expenses covered by advertising.
Monika Dygut, a U0 Management student, laughed upon first seeing the site.
“I don’t know what to say-the boards seem to be cluttered with a lot of silly gossip; a lot of it is pretty immature. I’d appreciate it more if there was more relevant, practical information on there…but things like the anti-calendar are great ideas!”
Response, for the most part, has been positive, assert the creators.
“Once people get over the fact that the site has the word gossip in its name, people like it. The name McgillGossip.com is meant to be provocative and fun. We provide our share of gossip, but that’s really not the point,'” says Tallman. “The point is that someone who wants to have some fun reading and responding about McGill related issues now has the chance to do that.”
So if you’re ever wondering how to initiate contact with that cutie in Moral Issues, or whether you’re more of a Jerome or a Jeremy Farrell-a burning question in the life of any normal student-mosey on over to McGillGossip.com. Its got the market covered.