The Daily Gamecock

Column: Yik Yak has staying power

Popular app is the place to go for campus news and laughs

Over fall break, in a moment of weakness and boredom, I decided to download Yik Yak. The app store description shows it off as “a local bulletin board for your area,” allowing you to anonymously post news, jokes and quick quips in your local community page. 

The local communities only allow you to post if you are within 1.5 miles of the location, making the app perfect for college campuses. Since I was spending my fall break in my home state of Rhode Island, I was unable to post in the USC area page, but thanks to the app's “Peek” feature, I was able to read up on my fellow Gamecocks from 900 miles away while still in New England. 

My first thoughts of the app were less than stellar. On the surface, Yik Yak looks like nothing more than a gossip-spreading instrument with a potential for cyber-bullying. The jokes weren’t original, nor was the information always reliable. For me, it was just a way to pass the time during the commercials of the football game.

But upon further examination of Yik Yak, I see something. Sure, my initial reaction to the app was poor, but the reaction was no different than public opinion when apps like Instagram and Snapchat hit the store. They were seen as fads that would be out the door as quickly as they arrived. However, that’s not always the way things go, as Snapchat and Instagram have quickly become two of the main ways I keep up with my friends. The apps offer a convenient, simple interface combined with a unique idea.

That’s the one key thing Yik Yak will eventually have in common with those apps. Instagram and Snapchat both have clear intended uses. Snap a picture. Show it to your friends. Comment on your friend’s pictures. Send them a picture back. It’s simple, easy and keeps users coming back for more. 

Yik Yak is still figuring itself out in that regard. The use of the app is clear: post anonymous messages, "up-vote" or "down-vote" others. But the posts could be about literally anything. Is it a gossip app? A news-sharing app? An anonymous Twitter? The answer is, it’s all of those things, but trying to define it in that way is the quickest way to throwing Yik Yak to the wayside.

The key is take Yik Yak for what it is. If you’re expecting witty one-liners and major breaking news, you’re in the wrong place. The app is perfect for keeping tabs on the activity of a college campus. Have a question about the new textbook rental system? Fire up Yik Yak. Want to know which bar to go to on a Thursday night? Check out what's new on Yik Yak. Curious about what the Bible Guy in front of Russell House is up to? Go see for yourself, then post about it on Yik Yak.

There are over a million apps in the app store, but not many have the potential to stay on a college kid’s home screen for an extended period of time. I see that potential in Yik Yak.