A little while back I wrote about Yik Yak and I’ve still been playing around with it a bit as the community has evolved. I can’t comment on other ‘herds’ (groups of Yik Yak users) but the Durham University community does like to create ‘celebrities’ of a sort. “Library baby” being an example that gained such a profile during revision period that they got their own library card. Considering that as an anonymous social app Yik Yak has been at the centre of claims about bullying and racism the phenomenon of the library baby was a really positive news story.
I recently came back from holiday to see that “Yik Yak Lecturer” has become a thing in the Durham herd (I’ve also had a few messages asking if it is me!). I have no idea who this person is, or even if it is a single person or group of people, but they are answering student queries, and there has been a lot of them as we have just been through resit period. Here is an example:
These queries make me wonder if the students on Yik Yak are more likely to be taking resits or not, but clearly this is a stressful time and the YY lecturer has been providing helpful responses to the many queries that they have been getting, so many that there was a plea from somebody (maybe even the lecturer themselves!) for consideration:
Whoever the YY lecturer is they are clearly giving up some of their time to anonymously provide support to anonymous students and I think this is to be applauded. I mentioned in my earlier post about the bawdy nature of Yik Yak, and yet I’ve not really seen any negative comments about staff being in what is clearly a student dominated forum.
I manage my work’s Facebook page and I’m sometimes suprised by the queries we get through that. It is hard to know whether we would have gotten those queries through alternative media had we not had the FB page, and similarly it is hard to know if the people posting questions on Yik Yak would have gone to their department if the Yik Yak lecturer wasn’t a thing, but I suspect not.
This post, and its net +60 likes is a pretty clear indication of student gratitude for the YY Lecturer, but I’m not sure that this Yak will count for much in the way of promotion, sadly. I do think this is an encouraging example of staff playing around with new social media and communicating with students in new ways.
Whoever the Yik Yak lecturer is, I think they represent a new kind of academic that I’ve discussed elsewhere, a digital scholar who is open about their work and engages with the widest possible community.