The site lives on as the recently expanded CollegeSecrets.com, which now includes secrets from all colleges across the country in addition to CU.
Zach Cohn, a co-founder of the site and CU ’09 alumni, said a nationwide appeal was apparent from the start.
“I started to notice after six months [of Buffsecret being online] that people from all around the country were using it,” Cohn said. “We saw…that there are a lot of people coming from California and Texas and Boston. So it was clear to us that it wasn’t just Boulder using it.”
On CollegeSecrets, people can anonymously submit secrets online, view other submissions and comment on them. Secrets can range from funny anecdotes like “I make sure to fart quietly in public” to personal confessions about cocaine addictions.
The nationwide switch, however, isn’t the only update to the site expansion. In addition to viewing secrets from other universities, visitors can now tag their secrets into different genres, share background artwork and become a member to order to follow their favorite secrets, Cohn said.
Cohn said he and co-founder and ’08 CU alum Craig Durham put user input into consideration when creating the new features for CollegeSecrets.
“People had a hard time finding their secret or knowing it was posted,” Cohn said. “[Becoming a member] keeps you anonymous but you can at least track your secret in your account…and see the comments posted on it.”
Cohn and Durham, fans of the PostSecret project where people send their secrets in on postcards, came up with the idea for an online version in 2008 and later launched Buffsecret in February of 2009, Cohn said.
Originally the site was more lighthearted as it began with the creators’ friends, Cohn said, but as it began to circulate the amount of darker secrets began to increase. Serving as an anonymous outlet for students, Buffsecret later earned an honorable mention Student Voice of Mental Health Award from the Jed Foundation, an organization which prevent suicide, according to the website.
Before the switch, 4000 people a month were visiting Buffsecret and users submitted about 100 to 120 secrets and comments per day, Cohn said. With the recent expansion, Cohn said the site visitations show a positive, increasing trend.
Cohn said he thinks those who enjoyed Buffsecret will like CollegeSecrets because it allows users to get input on a larger scale.
“Buffsecret gave them a platform where they had a voice, stage, and audience,” he said. “Now [with CollegeSecrets] they are going to get more on their secrets…get more input and feedback and facilitate more connections.”
Hillary Adatto, a 19-year-old sophomore psychology major, said she thinks it will be fun to read secrets from other colleges.
“I think seeing what people at different schools are writing secrets about will be interesting and funny,” Adatto said.
Other students like, Catherine Hutchison, a 20-year-old sophomore studio arts major, said they feel a site like CollegeSecrets could just prove to be another distraction.
“I try not to spend too much time looking at stuff on the Internet,” Hutchison said. “It could be interesting, but I wouldn’t look at it all that much.”
Cohn said he thinks people enjoy viewing the site because they like to see other people experiencing similar situations.
“The most popular comment is ‘me too’ or ‘I’m going through the same thing,’” Cohn said. “The real power is realizing they are not alone and they aren’t the only one going though this.”
Camille Paulk, a 20-year-old sophomore speech, language, and hearing sciences major, said she thinks people are drawn to the drama.
“People love drama and hearing about other people’s problems,” Paulk said.
Fans of the original Buffsecret site, Cohn said, need not worry about losing their favorite secrets.
“Buffsecret is still alive on a different site,” Cohn said. “We are figuring out a way to put that on a different site and perhaps [users] can pick their all-time favorite secrets.”
For now the site is run as a side business, as Cohn and Durham each have full-time jobs, Cohn said, adding that perfecting the site—not money—is their immediate focus.
Cohn said he is optimistic for the future of CollegeSecrets and its expansion to other campuses.
“I think it’s going to take a life of its own,” he said. “The user made it what it became. I’m ready for the ride.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Rose Heaphy at Josephine.firstname.lastname@example.org.