Yik Yak: Helpful or Hurtful to DSU?

Secrets. Gossip. Confessions. In the 90s they were passed on folded notes behind the teacher’s back or written in Sharpie in the bathroom stalls. The 2000s brought the wave of social media and texting. The temptation to tell all behind a computer screen was soon hard to resist for the avid users of technology.

Fast forward to the 2010s – Facebook is prevalent in almost every teen and 20-something’s life. The latter of note-passing and bathroom-writing have all but disappeared. The birth of Confession pages became prevalent on Facebook. The Confession pages would allow the user to submit a confession “anonymously” via a private Google survey or something of the like. The administrator of the Confessions page would then post the submitted confessions to the Confessions Facebook page for all to see. Most confessions would consist of shaming others, crush confessions, etc – things that I believe that most people would have a very hard time saying if they weren’t behind a screen. Dakota State University itself has had three confession pages over the last two years. The current one is titled DSU Confessions 3.0, and has not had a post on its page since November 2014. This is largely due to the rise of the app Yik Yak.

Yik Yak was created by two men named Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll. They cite the reason for creating Yik Yak to be “with the purpose of helping college students get acclimated to campus and generally just share with each other what was going on and where.” The way Yik Yak works is similar to the Confessions pages mentioned above. Users post anonymously to a live feed. You can type virtually anything that is 200 characters or less. Once the Yik Yik post is made live on the feed, users can up-vote or down-vote the post, and also comment. Again, all posts, likes or dislikes and comments remain anonymous.

I took it upon myself to see what all the yik yak about Yik Yak was about, so I downloaded it a month before writing this article. I have cited many posts, and have kept track of patterns that I see in the Yik Yak DSU posts. That’s why I am ultimately here – to shed some light on whether or not Yik Yak is dutiful to DSU or just plain detrimental. The answer to that question I have found is not black and white – there is a lot of gray area when deciding whether or not it mostly hurts or helps DSU students.

In my viewing of Yik Yak posts for the last month, I have noticed many trends and patterns. For instance, it is no surprise to me that most of the posts are filled with sexual matter, or talking about a guy, girl or group of guys or girls in a sexual way. Several posts merely call someone “with the red hair” or “the girl that just walked by my table” hot or pretty.

Another trend that I have viewed is that a good majority of the posts reference something happening in either Zimmerman Hall or Higbie Hall – the two halls that are home to exclusively freshman students. This can only lead me to infer that it is a freshman student who posts about something that is happening in their own hall. Perhaps the freshmen that post on Yik Yak are just merely “acclimating themselves to the DSU campus,” as the creators’ mission statement about Yik Yak says.

Stemming off of the latter paragraph, most posts on Yik Yak also give DSU students an update on campus happenings just a few moments ago. Usually, several people will post right after the event happens. For instant, someone got proposed to in the Trojan Center the other day, and even the people who were not present for the proposal almost knew instantly via Yik Yak. (That’s how I myself found out minutes after it happened.)

As for all the other posts made on Yik Yak, some are questions which generally get answered pretty quickly; some are posts that several college students can relate with. I.e. “Not going to class today. Who’s with me?” or “Netflixing it up, and drinking it down.” These posts that a lot of college students can relate with usually get lots of up votes.

Once in a rare while, I will see a positive post about someone that is no way sexual about that said person. These posts are far and few in between.

Overall, in my own personal experience of having Yik Yak, I feel that it is a great social tool where users can go to for up to date news on people and events they are familiar with, and also a great place to ask a question anonymously. However, there are those few that abuse it by verbally abusing others behind a screen. To decide whether or not it helps or hurts DSU, I feel that it depends on each post. Some are positive, some are informative. Some are hurtful, some are comedic. It’s up to you to decide.


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