Quad Times creators call AU 'test ground'

Quad Times, an online forum for AU students created in January, was not created with AU in mind and may expand its coverage to other universities in the future, the site's creators told The Eagle last Thursday.

Two college students - David Hocheiser and Matt Webster - run the site. They attended high school in the D.C. area but now live outside of the region.

High school friends, Hocheiser and Webster came up with the idea for Quad Times and decided to create the Web site over winter break, Webster said. Another one of their high school friends, Jake Wells, programmed the Web site and continues to manage its technical aspects.

"We didn't [create Quad Times] with [AU] in mind, but we did have an idea of what size school we wanted, and [AU] fit that size," Webster said. "Our knowledge about [AU] is practically nil, but we do know enough about it that we felt it would be a good pick, just based on the demographics."

The creators originally intended the forum for a large state university, such as one of their own, Webster said. They said they thought a site like Quad Times would provide a digital gathering place for a dispersed student body. But creating a Web site for a large school turned out to be a logistical impossibility, he said.

Hocheiser and Webster may expand the site to cover other college campuses in the future, but only if the AU version is successful, Webster said.

Quad Times would only expand if Hocheiser and Webster found another campus that could use the Web site in a positive way and if they could maintain students' privacy, according to Webster.

"I don't think we would expand for the sake of expansion," he said. "I don't think we envision this as becoming Webster full-force thing."

By building the forum for only AU students, the Quad Times creators were able to test whether their idea would take hold, Webster said. But they did not want to be too personally connected to the Web site.

"[AU] really was just a testing ground for this, we didn't know how well it would go over, whether students would embrace it or shun it," Hocheiser said. "By picking a school we weren't a part of, if it backfired on us terribly, it wouldn't have been as bad as if we had done it on our own campus."

For the same reason, Hocheiser and Webster did not publish their names on the Web site but created it under the name Rising Tide.

Several hundred students have signed onto the Web site in the month since its creation, according to Hocheiser. The site owners can see the number of people registered and number of unique page views, but all private information is inaccessible, Webster said.

"We've seen an increase in the total number of hits since Juicy Campus went down," Webster said. "We've gotten suggestions, mostly positive and one negative, who told us we were just Juicy Campus clones."

Someone anonymously suggested an option to attach links and photos to Quad Times postings, but Webster said he did not think this feature would be incorporated because of its potential to be misused.

Webster said he noticed that many of the users who create an account do not contribute any posts to the forum.

None of the posts on Quad Times are edited or deleted - even distasteful comments, according to Hocheiser.

"We don't dictate what goes on the site, we don't post, we don't comment. We leave that up to the users," Hocheiser said. "Even if those negative comments come out, only students from [AU] will be able to see those posts."

You can reach this staff writer at klitvin@theeagleonline.com.

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