“What does my super religious girlfriend and medicine have in common? I don't think I'll ever get in either of them,” is one of the latest confessions received by UoO: Meaningful Confessions. With over 17,000 likes on Facebook, the page was set up for students to anonymously confess their deepest secrets, library crushes, and rants. Although the admin moderator team changes, Critic got an exclusive interview with some of the most powerful vigilantes on campus.
How did this page come about?
Legend has it that on one fateful night in 2017, a second-year Otago med student was procrastinating studying for their final exam by binge reading UoA: Meaningful Confessions. They thought to themselves, “Man, reading this is so depressing - if Otago had a confession page, it would be way spicier and a much more enjoyable way to waste precious study time”. And so, UoO: Meaningful Confessions was born.
How many submissions do you receive daily?
Since taking the reins in September 2018, our page has steadily grown. A typical post will reach approximately 12,000 people with some going as high as 30,000, such as the one about how not to use a cock ring. While our numbers are not as large as UoA, we feel as if the engagement in terms of likes and detailed comments are second to none.
We will receive about 10-20 submissions a day. This drops off significantly during semester breaks and holidays. As you can imagine, a lot of confessions don’t make it because only 3 are posted every day. The most commonly rejected submissions are those which are overtly sexual, mentions traceable details, in poor taste, or a combination of all three. We aim to have a diverse range of confessions so that the page does not become stale over time. As you can imagine, this can become difficult when topical issues arise, such as library confessions during exam season or spicy sex confessions during Hyde Street.
What is your tolerance and moderation process of really marginal confessions?
One of our restrictions on submissions is anything that includes hate speech or racist slurs. Thankfully, we do not receive many submissions containing overtly hateful language so this issue is only dealt with on occasion. We always consider whether the content of a post can offend some readers (most of them will offend someone), though this has to be balanced with whether the moderation team thinks the post is appropriate and can contribute to public discourse in a meaningful way. Being such a vague criterion, we rely on the feedback of our viewers to hold our posts to account. Therefore, if one of our marginal confessions is reported for containing hate speech, we review the post and adjust our criteria accordingly.
Has there ever had to be external help and guidance provided from a confession?
In one case, yes. A person submitted a confession about something personal that they wanted to be followed up by OUSA. But they didn’t want their name associated with it for fear of the repercussions. So I copied the confession and sent it from our Confessions email address. In other cases we have read distressing confessions. But due to the nature of our page we have no clue how to get in contact with these people as it is all anonymous. We do try to keep it all light-hearted for the most part, but it’s also important to recognise that not everyone is having a good time.
Why is this page important?
Without pretending as if it is a high form of art, we think the page is a great reflection of the University’s culture. We receive and post submissions from all types of people, and this is reflected in the wide-ranging content of our page. We’d like to think that the page enables and promotes meaningful discussion and (hopefully) provides readers with a good laugh. Even though it’s just a Facebook page, for some people it might be the only thing that gives them some positivity that day.
Are you secretly James Heath?
We can neither confirm nor deny any allegations of our identity.
You can follow UoO: Meaningful Confessions on Facebook.