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Student gossip site CollegeACB picks up where JuicyCampus left off

March 7, 2009 | 11:27 am
CollegeACB is a new online hangout
JuicyCampus' spiritual successor, CollegeACB, is a message board for student gossip.

Many refugees from JuicyCampus, the shut-down online college gossip mill, have found solace in a similar hangout called CollegeACB.

Amid JuicyCampus' closing last month, the student-focused message board's founder, Matt Ivester, made a deal with CollegeACB creator Peter Frank to send visitors there. JuicyCampus.com now redirects automatically to CollegeACB.com, through a deal Frank says cost his company less than $15,000 for two months.

Frank, a freshman at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., launched CollegeACB three months ago. When he heard that his biggest competitor was shutting down, he decided to capitalize on the opportunity.

"Obviously, JuicyCampus was way bigger than us," Frank said.

In the last month, daily visitors to CollegeACB have skyrocketed -- to 450,000 from 80,000. The initial reaction from displaced JuicyCampus users was overwhelmingly negative -- not surprising based on the characteristically obnoxious posts that appeared on the site.

Frank seems intent on making sure his site doesn't generate the same controversy as JuicyCampus, which was known for nasty comments about students' sexual activity and hygiene. Finding your name on the site was often a miserable experience, and there was no way to remove it.

"I'm not sure if JuicyCampus ever deleted posts," Frank said of JuicyCampus' moderators. "They basically let anything go. It really became a polarizing figure of free speech."

Frank said CollegeACB won't be a free-for-all. "We certainly don't let anything go," Frank said. "You'll see a much cleaner image on our site."

Frank says he gets about 10 e-mails and a few phone calls per day from students and ...

... concerned parents, asking for posts to be removed. Frank says he usually honors such requests.

Even more posts are deleted through the site's built-in crowd-sourcing moderation feature. Posts that receive a significant number of votes as being inappropriate are removed from the message board.

JuicyCampus' laissez-faire approach to post moderation made companies wary of advertising on the website, Frank believes, and that may have contributed to the site's demise. JuicyCampus did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.

But Frank says the posts on CollegeACB still aren't up to the level of intelligence he would like to see.

Common JuicyCampus conversations featured girls with the least sexual inhibitions and sentences with the maximum number of expletives. So going after the JuicyCampus audience may have actually damaged CollegeACB's reputation.

"We're certainly not there yet," Frank said. "There's more hateful speech than we'd like to see.... I might have hurt our image in the short term."

Converting JuicyCampus users may seem like a counterproductive method to reaching Frank's desired level of intellectual interaction, but he believes he can mold them for the better.

"While they're accustomed to JuicyCampus, I don't think those people are totally useless," Frank said. "They can be changed."

-- Mark Milian

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