Countless McGill-themed Facebook pages have emerged over the past year; McGill Compliments, Umentioned McGill, McGill Chirps, and Spotted: McGill Library—there are also individual ‘Spotted’ pages for each McGill residence—all make for excellent procrastination material. With over 4700 friends at last count, Overheard at McGill might just be the most entertaining, but it also might just turn our student body into a mass of paranoid whisperers. Then again, that’s one way to keep it quiet in the libraries. One of the co-creators of the Overheard at McGill Facebook profile shared a little bit about what it’s like being the fly on the campus wall.
McGill Tribune: So how many people run Overheard at McGill?
Overheard at McGill: Just two of us. We’re roommates.
MT: How does posting work—how do you guys divide it up?
OaM: We don’t really have any set schedules or anything. I mean, whenever either of us gets a free second, we’ll just go on, and sometimes we’re on at the same time. We don’t really communicate when we go on and check things.
MT: How much time do you typically spend working on the profile in a day?
OaM: That’s kind of hard to answer. We’ll just go on sporadically, maybe for two to 10 minutes each time, depending on how many posts there are to put up and whatnot.
MT: Do you have any idea of how many posts you get in an average day?
OaM: It ranges a lot. Some days we’ll only have four or five, other days we’ll have around 20. Some don’t go up, based on if they were things that were actually overheard, or if people are trying to advertise through us.
MT: What kind of advertisements do you get?
OaM: There were a lot of people trying to submit their platforms when they were running for different positions on different councils…. They would send us their platform for like VP internal for some sort of faculty, and try and get us to post it so everyone would see, you know, try to campaign for themselves over our page.
MT: What kind of screening process do the posts go through? Do you receive any submissions you deem inappropriate to post or that just aren’t that funny?
OaM: We usually let most things through. A lot of the stuff is pretty vulgar, but I mean, everyone’s over 18, so I think the R rated material’s alright. Aside from that, there are things that are obviously made up, [but] you can kind of tell when things are made up. Or, if neither of us find [the post] funny, then we just agree to not post it.
MT: Have you ever had to take a post down after it’s been published due to complaints?
OaM: Yeah, we’ve had a couple of people send us messages saying that their friend got mad at them for posting what they said, even though everything’s anonymous, and we never quote anyone. People have also gotten upset at a few of the more vulgar posts, so we’ve just gone back and taken them down.
MT: Where did the idea for the Facebook profile come from? Are you guys at all affiliated with the little-used Twitter account of the same name?
OaM: I didn’t know about the Twitter account. I know that there used to be a website called “Overheard at McGill,” and I had seen it last year. At the start of second semester, we just thought it would be a cool idea to get this going, and it looked like a lot of people enjoy it, so we just kept it going, and it’s gotten bigger and bigger.
MT: Do you see yourselves bringing in more help to run the profile?
OaM: We had a third person working on it, but they weren’t really pulling their weight. They would never really go on and check or anything, so we changed the password and just kept it to the two of us.
MT: Have you guys run into any of the problems McGill Compliments has, in terms of Facebook designating you as spammers?
OaM: Just at the beginning, when we were trying to get the [profile] up and running. We were adding lots of people at the beginning, so we actually got banned from adding friends for about a month. But at this point we don’t add any more people, and we seem to get about 20 or 25 friend requests per day.
MT: What’s the best part of running Overheard at McGill?
OaM: I was actually telling my friend yesterday that my favourite part of running Overheard is sitting in the library and watching the guy next to me on the computer reading, these posts and kind of chuckling to himself. It’s sort of funny because I was posting that stuff about five minutes prior.
MT: Do you ever worry you’ll get caught posting on Overheard at McGill in public?
OaM: Yeah, there’ve been times where we’ve been at the library posting things, and someone will be walking by, and we’ll switch to a new window just in time.