Photo illustration by: Zbigniew Sikora
Group administrators, moderators speak on group development, upkeep
With 23,084 members and counting, the Things Overheard at OSU Facebook group is a place for students, Alumni of OSU and residents of Corvallis to come together, according to Matt Enloe, an administrator of Things Overheard.
“It was created for sharing amusing snippets of conversation overheard on campus,” Enloe said on behalf of the administrative team, in an email. “As it’s gotten bigger, it’s evolved into a place to share information, humor and other things related to OSU and the surrounding area.”
With two administrators and five moderators, new posts to the group are usually viewed immediately, according to Enloe. While there is no pre-approval for posting, moderators are constantly checking up to ensure that posts are following the rules of the group and are actually related to Oregon State University.
“National political stories and memes about ‘student problems’ are a dime a dozen, and there are many other Facebook groups for them,” Enloe said on behalf of the administrative team, in an email. “Any political happenings or memes directly related to OSU are welcomed and allowed.”
Other posts that are not allowed or may be put up for discussion by administrators are posts for advertising, spam and stories on topics such as thefts or break-ins, which take up too large a percentage in the group and give members the opportunity to begin to blame or accuse people of crimes, according to Enloe.
“Our only major requirement is that users be civil to each other. Most Facebook groups have comment sections full of people attacking each other, and we work hard to prevent that from happening in Overheard,” Enloe said on behalf of the administrative team, in an email. “Our policy is simple—we delete comments that attack other users directly. Challenging an idea is fine, but maliciously insulting someone is not.”
According to Nicholas Wong, a moderator for Things Overheard at OSU, while the group may have several regulations for posting, there is another group, known as Things Overheard Uncensored, in which content is only taken down if it is spam or dangerous.
“The difference is that Uncensored is kind of a dumping ground for those who had been kicked out of the main group,” Wong said in an email. “People often claim censorship when they disagree with the rules in the main group, so Uncensored is a place for them to vent.”
Wong said he created the uncensored group as a result of disagreeing with how the original group was run. Yet as the Things Overheard at OSU group has evolved and improved its moderation standards, the uncensored group seems to be less and less necessary, but the uncensored group will remain just in case, Wong added.
“It’s a bit of a social experiment in a way as well,” Wong said in an email. “If the so-called censorship in the main group grows too prevalent and is stifling discussion, the Uncensored group exists to provide a platform for those who feel necessary to speak their mind without fear of removal.”
According to Lucas Bengtson, a member of Things Overheard at OSU, since the Things Overheard at OSU group needs to be moderated much more than the uncensored group, big events like election night tend to be more difficult to moderate.
“It was really fun, but difficult moderating the group during and immediately after election night last year, since there were a huge number of people looking to gloat or vent about the results, and we were very busy keeping things civil,” Bengtson said in an email.
Being a part of the administrative team is a fun way to stay involved in what is going on at OSU even after graduating, according to Bengtson.
Jordan Koetje, a current student moderator for Things Overheard at OSU, says being a Corvallis native made it even more enjoyable to become a moderator for the page because she was a fan of the group long before she monitored it.
“I feel much more in tune with the OSU community since becoming a moderator. As a sophomore, the page has been an incredible source of info and I have learned a lot about our campus,” Koetje said in an email. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to use my position to learn, and share my knowledge of Corvallis and OSU in a way that others cannot.”
People on the internet tend to represent themselves much differently than they would in person, according to Koetje. Being a moderator has made it easy to see there will be no shortage of people who disagree with one another.
“I’ve learned to not put as much emotional stock in things that are said on the internet,” Koetje said in an email. “You can worry forever about something offensive or rude that somebody said, but people say things to provoke others, and there are many more important things to worry about. In short, don’t feed the trolls.”