December 3, 2016

Q&A: Webster Confessions administrator discusses the page, the confessions and the criticism

Editor’s note:

Megan Washausen, Journal lifestyle editor, sat down with the administrator of the Webster Confessions Facebook page with the understanding that their identity would remain anonymous. The Journal rarely uses anonymous sources. The Journal is doing so now to provide readers with knowledge we feel they should know without causing unnecessary harm to the page’s creator.

Why did you decide to start this page?

It was mainly because I had a lot of friends who went to other universities, and they all had their confessions pages, and I was always jealous of them. I kept looking for a Webster page, but I could never find one, so I was like, ‘well, I’ll just start one.’

Do many people know that you created it? Why do you choose to remain anonymous? Are you worried at all that people will find out?

I don’t want to be someone who causes drama even though I’m not causing it. I’d rather not deal with that.  A few people knew but it was kind of by accident, so it wasn’t really my choice.

What were your intentions and expectations for the page when you were thinking about starting one?

Some of the confessions are pretty funny, so I think it’s just to provide humor … you also have to be careful about what you do post because there are literally hundreds coming in everyday, and number one you can’t post that many, and number two, some of them just aren’t appropriate, and you just have to figure out what gets the pass and what doesn’t. It can be hard because other people get mad at you if theirs doesn’t get in. You can’t really please everyone.

What’s usually the topic matter of the ones that you can’t post?

At first I would post specific names, but then as it grew really big, no specific names. If it’s really hateful or something — so I mean they’ll poke fun at conservatory, that’s a common theme — but if it gets too hardcore and just angry, I won’t post that and that goes for any type of group.

At the beginning when you were posting names, did something in particular happen that you changed your mind about posting them?

I just realized that it could get dangerous quickly if there were specific names, and I also got advice from friends about it.

Were you expecting it to take off so quickly?

No, not at all. I thought it was going to get like 100 (likes) and that’s it.

What do you think has made it so popular?

Webster’s drama. People love drama here, and because they’ve never had it before I guess.

Do you really not have any idea who sends the confessions? Or, if someone messages you a confession then you do know who he or she is?

There have been a few people who have not read the “about” and who have messaged me the confessions. If they do not go through the link then it is not anonymous, but the majority of them have gone through the link. And I really don’t have any idea who does it.

Are you using a free version of survey monkey to receive the confessions?

It is, but what’s really annoying is for every 100 submits I get — because I’m on the free version — every 100 submits you get you have to create a new survey, so I have to go through several surveys and change the links, so if I haven’t checked it all day and there’s 107, I can only see 100 of them. It’s really frustrating, and I’ve been looking for different solutions for that.

Do you post to the group anonymously?

No. To get it started, I made up random ones when (the page was at) two likes to kind of set the tone for it, but no, I don’t post anonymously.

The nature of these confessions range in seriousness and intensity. There’s a few that have really stood out to me and some are just silly.

Yeah. There’s a lot of serious ones I get actually, and I don’t always post those just due to the nature of the page. I don’t want it to become something-you-should-be-talking-to-a-counselor-about-a-confession-page, so I don’t always post those. I post a few just to get a sense that ‘you’re not alone,’ etc., and there have been a few where I’ve posted our (Webster University’s) number for the counseling services and things like that.

Of all of the messages that you’ve gotten, what percentage, roughly, would you say are serious?

I’d say like 20 percent maybe.  At first they were just really, really silly then they got more serious as time went on.

Did that surprise you?

Kind of. I guess that’s a way to vent. Even though it’s anonymous, it’s still a way to get things off your chest, and they want to see it posted because they want to see support for them … I feel bad for not being able to post everything just because of that. Because I’m like, well, if I don’t post that, maybe they’ll think I just ignored them. It’s hard being fair.

Have you gotten any that were more serious than ‘I was raped…’?

There was one about, ‘I’ve wanted to commit suicide.’

Did that one also get posted?

Yeah. That was one of the ones where I posted the numbers for hotlines and things like that. But for the most part the more serious ones tend to be about people feeling lonely.

Have any Webster administrators approached you about this page?

The closest thing would be the logo at first was a Webster logo, and they asked me to take it down — someone who worked for marketing — so I just changed it, and then I got the approval from them that the new logo was fine … I try to edge on caution. This is not something I would want to get in trouble over. I’ve thought about quitting it before, but I’ve talked to some Resident Assistants and stuff, and they’ve been fine with it. Plus, it’s a privately owned page, it’s not Webster affiliated. And if people have asked me to take something down, I take it down.

Have you had to take very many down?

Only one or two.

What were the nature of those?

One of them had a name and the other one was just a personal one. 

What have you noticed with the comments, which you have less control over? Some people can be really snarky…

There’s some people I’ve had to block from the page. If they’re really obnoxious then I’ll just ban them just because I don’t want it to turn into a snark fest. 

What do you think are the positives of the interaction that comes with comments?

They’re hilarious! The more depressing ones — especially if people show their support — it’s really cool because people will be like, ‘oh I don’t really have any friends lets hang out’ or ‘message me, friend me,’ things like that. It’s a way to connect with people socially. 

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