From eph2015 (on the demise of WSO Discussions):

I think this is a positives step. Keeping these kinds of discussions to Facebook keeps it relevant to just those who are on campus. We don’t want parents or alums reading our every word. A current community can’t thrive when it feels like it’s being watched in this way. On Facebook, we have options to limit the visibility of our posts to only those we want to see them.

This is problematic on several levels:

First, how is a first year supposed to read these discussions? Not everyone keeps their Facebook feed open. She may not know many/any of the people involved in, say, something like The Taco Six. So, by not having this discussion on WSO, you are preventing much of the campus from participating.

Second, even among the people connected on Facebook enough to see some of the discussion, there will be a natural tendency to mostly see/read the comments from your friends, i.e., that part of the campus most likely to agree with you! In fact, the more likely someone is to have an opinion radically different from you, the less likely you are to see what she writes.

Third, the issue has little to do with “parents or alums reading our every word.” The critical thing is that WSO Discussions does not exist. If it existed and only students/faculty/staff could see it and participate, that would be fine.

Fourth, this claim is false:

A current community can’t thrive when it feels like it’s being watched in this way.

WSO, just a few years ago, was an amazing on-line community, thriving in every imaginable way. Alas, the links don’t work for me anymore. (Obviously, I should have saved local copies.) Do they still work on campus? How about:

Katherine Dieber ’07 on campus racism.
Nick Greer ’08 on the Odd Quad.
iana Davis ’07 on athletics at Williams.
Cassandra Montenegro ’06 on Queer Bash pornography.

Fifth, stand by for progress! It looks like WSO Discussions may revive. Here’s hoping.

For branding, instead of calling it “WSO Discussions,” we might try for something better. How about “Uncomfortable Learning” or “Gaudino Forum?”

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