Though Cantabs in town for The Game returned to Cambridge before Thanksgiving break, the Crimson are still infiltrating some parts of Yale: The idea for the Web site Yale FML — a spin-off of the popular FMyLife.com — comes not from Old Campus, but Harvard Yard.
In early November, Harvard freshman Jonah Varon launched College FML. Though the project began with a handful of sites at schools around the Boston area, including Tufts, Wellesley and MIT, it soon moved to Yale and has since expanded to include 26 schools ranging from Evergreen State College in Washington to Sunway University College in Malaysia.
But the Yale site has more Harvard visitors than Varon alone. Originally, he said, Yale FML received more submissions from Harvard students than from Yale students. Though that trend has since reversed, Varon said Harvard students maintain a significant presence on the Web site.
Suspecting as much, Charlie Jaeger ’12 said he signed up as a moderator for Yale FML in November. Since then, Jaeger said he has identified at least 22 submissions in the month of November that were posted from Cambridge IP addresses, some of which carry strong anti-Yale sentiments. Yale FML is the only member Web site of College FML that has received a large volume of submissions from students at another school, Varon said.
“There are so many Harvard-related posts on YaleFML,” one Cambridge-based post reads. “My friend was right about our inferiority complex. FML.”
In the style of FMyLife.com — which lets posters vent their frustrations with unfortunate daily occurrences and ends each entry with “FML” — recent Yale posts have touched on common campus topics such as hooking up, Quinnipiac students and school stress. One poster said she couldn’t “think of anything to write an FML about except homework.”
Though Jaeger said he does not like the idea of a Harvard student running a Web site about Yale, Varon said he has taken a laissez-faire approach to the content of each site in the College FML network. The process for selecting which submissions make the site carries loose requirements: The only stringent rules, Varon said, are that posts cannot be offensive, must be anonymous and, above all else, must be funny.
Varon deals primarily with the technical aspect and leaves the content decisions to moderators he appoints at each campus, but said he reserves the right to delete any post that slips past the moderators despite a violation of standards. Roy Lee ’13, a moderator of Yale FML, said he approves the majority of submissions provided they are relevant to the site, including some that seem likely to have come from Harvard students.
Through the ad revenue generated by the College FML network, Varon said he earns about $20 each day, most of which goes toward paying for the domain, he said. Moderators take 35 percent of the leftover revenue from their respective college FML Web sites, and Varon collects the remaining 65 percent. Lee said he has yet to receive a paycheck because the fiscal element of the Web site is still developing.
Though Varon said he spends several hours each day maintaining and promoting his group of Web sites, Varon’s network of schools is noticeably missing one university — Harvard. While Varon said he based the idea for the College FML network on the Harvard FML Web site, the original Harvard site is owned and operated by Harvard’s “The Voice,” a student life magazine.
Nonetheless, the concept of fmylife.com translates naturally to the college setting, Varon said.
“It’s a small enough community so that even though FMLs are anonymous, students can identify with what people post,” Varon said.
And because of Harvard FML’s popularity, Varon said, it is not surprising Harvard students would be active posters on Yale FML.
“It’s another way of expressing the Harvard-Yale rivalry,” Varon said.
But in that rivalry, Jaeger hopes to have the last word. At 2:30 p.m. today, Jaeger said, he will delete every single post on the Yale FML Web site.
“All that will remain is the post: ‘Someone deleted my Web site. FML,’” Jaeger wrote in an e-mail Monday night. “Hopefully, it will stay up for a couple of hours.”