Thursday, March 20, 2008

Making good by being bad - JuicyCampus.com

Web entrepreneur, Duke graduate, and SigEp Matt Ivester is making waves with his "JuicyCampus.com" gossip site. The site has recently been in the news and on TV with the usual pundits decrying yet another sign of the impending collapse of Western civilization.

Matt Ivester, the site’s founder, recently declared on his site’s official blog that “hate isn’t juicy,” and attached an exculpatory note from his legal team.

Mr. Ivester, a 2005 graduate of Duke, declined requests for interviews and did not respond to e-mailed questions. In February he told The Daily Bruin, a student newspaper at the University of California, Los Angeles, that Juicy Campus was part of a trend toward “gossip 2.0” and that he found it “pretty entertaining.”

The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity has been crucial to the success of the site and of Mr. Ivester (whose Facebook profile photo shows him wearing a fraternity T-shirt and cap). When he founded Juicy Campus in August 2007, he asked his fraternity brothers across the country to provide feedback on how the site was organized and to offer material for some of its earliest posts.

But now many of these same fraternity brothers are part of the backlash against the site. “I don’t see any value in it,” said Aulden Burcher, a senior at Duke, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon and a friend of Mr. Ivester’s. “Look at what it does to the Greek system: rankings, sex, drugs, what happened at parties. Nobody is made better by it.”

Some student bodies are trying to ban Juicy Campus from their campus. Last month the student government at Pepperdine, in Malibu, Calif., passed a resolution urging the administration to prohibit access to the site.
Of course the talk of banning the site and "Ain't it awful" segments on the Today Show (they equated the site with the high school girl who committed suicide over a Facebook humiliation - not related at all) will only drive more hits to the site. If you can't get in today (you know you're going to look) it will be because there are so many others who are also trying to get a look.

So far, the site content is assumred to be perfectly legal, based on a precedent that web sites are not liable for content provided by visitors to the site. I wonder how long it would stay up if someone started posting the "mystic goodies" of the fraternities and sororities that are the biggest contibutors and readers?

A Crash Course in Online Gossip - New York Times