Student revives forum for NIU through

Kevin Hamilton, senior computer science major, recently revived a subreddit forum for NIU through the website

By Ross Hettel

DeKALB | NIU has a budding online community in its midst – and no, it’s not Facebook.

A user-driven, social news website called Reddit hosts an NIU-specific forum, otherwise known as a subreddit. With 53 student members as of press time, the website allows users to post links to news articles or text of their own, and other users vote up the stories and comment on them, adding their own insight.

The NIU subreddit started two years ago but was abandoned by its creator with just two users and a few posts. Kevin Hamilton, senior computer science major, revived the subreddit this summer and assumed moderator duties.

Hamilton said he hopes to see it become a posting board for things going on around campus and tips on living at NIU.

The subreddit may have begun moving in that direction. In a post six days ago titled, “What tips would you give other NIU students?” the top voted comment states, “Burritoville is only acceptable after 3 a.m.”

There is more advice given than early morning dining habits, however. Tips on finding groups of friends, tricks of the trade for commuter students and where to find free condoms are all available to those interested.

NIU is not the only university to have a page of its own; other Illinois campuses do as well.

“[Illinois State University’s subreddit] allows people to speak their mind and have no shame asking a question about living on campus, what to do about classes and even new freshman asking the low-down before even stepping foot on campus,” said Daniel Cigrang, username DJ_Bulbasaur and moderator for the Illinois State University subreddit.

“No question is dumb on [ISU’s] subreddit,” he said.

The ISU subreddit has 256 subscribers, and is a positive force for its students, said creator Matt Wylder, also known as MatticusF1nch.

“It can bring together people who wouldn’t normally have had the opportunity to have met,” Wylder said. “Last week we had around 40 people in a bar; enough to overwhelm the [bar] staff.”

Aside from social aspects, there is also an ongoing competition for the fastest-growing college subreddit. Reddit’s owners have started the “Grow a College Subreddit Competition,” ending Sept. 30. The first place prize includes the school colors and mascot on the main page of Reddit for an entire day.

The second largest college subreddit, University of Illinois, is trying hard to win, said moderator Murph Finnicum.

“Not because of the competition,” Finnicum said in an email. “We want to continue growing our community … It only takes a handful of really active users to make the community a useful and fun place.”

NIU might have a chance at winning the competition, Hamilton said.

“It’s possible,” Hamilton said. “But we have to have interested people who are willing to be outgoing and garner enthusiasm.”