Likealittle.com came to life on Tuesday, October 27, and hit Stanford campus in a flurry of posts about people in Green Library, Stern Dining, and Mausoleum Party. It’s a flirting website for college students by college students—comprised of anonymous online posts—that has spread to over a hundred other college campuses across the country.
“We did expect it to go well, because buzz words like ‘flirting’ and ‘gossip’ on a college campus are just like honey,” said Evan Reas, a graduate of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 2009, one of the three cofounders of the new startup, “It’s like yes I want some of that, but I didn’t expect it to take off by itself.”
After less than a day of actual development, two days of marketing, and the creation of seed content that was posted by a starting group of users, “It very quickly turned from that core group into a much, much larger group” incorporating the whole student body, according to Reas.
Stanford students “start reading some of the posts and they either get an ‘aw’ like the cute kind of thing,” said Reas, as well as, “They often do the, ‘Oh is this X person or Y person?’ or ‘I was in that location, is it talking about me?’”
One of the biggest challenges Reas and his fellow cofounders Prasanna Sankaranarayanan and Shubham Mittal have to deal with are the quality of the posts because “whenever you have user-generated content, keeping the quality high is a difficult thing to do,” said Reas.
In order to keep things positive and people feeling comfortable, “if you have a Stanford email address and you don’t like a comment, you put in your email and it’s gone, no questions asked,” in addition to being able to report it to the moderators of the website who keep an eye on any offensive posts.
Reas also thinks that the website’s use of fruit names such as “Apple” and “Pineapple” make it harder to make low quality posts because “it’s really hard to make a really negative, racist comment when your name is Cucumber.”
Tom Schmidt ’14 is an intern with Likealittle and agrees that “content management is one of our biggest issues,” but likes “the anonymity and the spontaneity of it. If you see someone, you go and you write about it and it’s just done.”
Bianca Argueza ’11 was introduced to the site when one of her friends posted it on Facebook.
“First I was curious, because I had never heard of it before,” said Argueza, “Sometimes when I read the comments I’m like, ‘Oh, this is cute, that’s really nice,’ but other times, ‘Ew, that’s kind of disturbing and gross.’ But in general I think that’s it’s an interesting website as long as the moderators keep the comments tasteful.”
Argueza has also had some personal experience with the website. “Somebody posted something that was about me a couple weeks ago. At first I was flattered,” said Argueza, “It was flattering and it was tasteful, but it was also kind of disturbing, because part of it said, ‘too bad you’re the RA,’ … so for me it was kind of uncomfortable.”
But in general, Argueza thinks “people are curious about what’s on there,” and that “it’s a new way to procrastinate, like the new Facebook.”
Others don’t think so highly of the website. An anonymous sophomore said, “It’s pretty weird. Why would I put something online that I could just say to a girl?”
“It just seems pretty self-indulgent I guess, if I’m going to see how many people think I’m attractive,” said the sophomore. “Do I really want to know and talk to people who are too shy to say, ‘Hey, what’s up?’”
Reas thinks the main purpose behind the website is to answer the questions of, “How do you bring offline and online interactions together? How do you lower the barrier for the fear of rejection? How do you get people if they’re in a similar space to create a community together and to feel comfortable interacting in a way that they wouldn’t have thought of before?”
For now, the website is expanding to other schools, with 500 plus on the waiting list, and expanding its features, because as Reas said, “We don’t want it to be an FML, where someone just comes and laughs and that’s it.”
Reas hopes that likealittle.com “can be a huge business, can change the world, and affect a lot of people at the same time.”