Why Yik Yak is the Portsmouth Student’s App of Choice

Each morning Portsmouth University student Megan Langdon wakes up and has a stretch, before grabbing her phone and finding out the latest news from her friends. While she uses Facebook and Instagram a lot, she’s now convinced that the best app for staying up to date with Portsmouth’s student community is Yik Yak.

Yik Yak‘s emphasis is hyperlocal, allowing its users to view posts within a 1.5 mile radius of their location. Students can engage with the issues that directly impact on their everyday lives.

For example, a Yik Yak post on 19th February this year read, ‘Had my bike stolen from outside Richmond at about 11am today, it’s a grey Boardman bike so if anyone sees it any info would be greatly appreciated! Thanks guys’. The message quickly reached other students nearby and allowed them to ask questions such as ‘Anything that makes it obviously yours?’

Yik Yak is equally effective at promoting events, services and good causes. Also on 19th February, a user wrote, ‘If anyone has any clothes that need mending, come to Eldon foyer today. The fashion and textiles students are trying to raise money for their final year show. We’re here until 5’. This was met with positive responses and enquiries about whether specific articles of clothing could be mended.

A central feature of the app is anonymity, with users permitted to post without a username or picture. There is a randomised image reel for commenters (such as campfires, tents and boats) to ensure identity protection. This engenders an environment where students can advise one another without risk of revealing their closely-guarded secrets.

‘Could anyone with depression on here give their advice on how the University Surgery dealt with it?’ This post from the 24th February prompted many students to respond with their own experiences of mental distress. Others suggested different methods for alleviating the problem. Another post from 29th February asked if ‘anyone else [had] split up from a long term partner and not sure if it was the right thing?’ This too garnered a positive response.

If you don’t want to be anonymous you can create a unique username that means you can be identified by other Yik Yakkers.

Integrated in the “hot” Yak feed are posts that are “upvoted” (similar to Facebook’s “like” button) by hundreds of Portsmouth residents. I upvote anything that puts a smile on my face and that I want to share with others. Most of them are funny pictures with relatable captions underneath, based on life as a Portsmouth student. One post on the 12th March raked 99 upvotes with the caption ‘plot twist: milk steals flatmate’.

This carefree side of the app spreads unites the community through laughter. It’s reassuring to know that others are feeling the same emotions and having the same experiences. In this way, Yik Yak can mitigate students’ loneliness, alienation and homesickness.

Security features on the app allow for negative content to be removed. If a post is “downvoted” (disliked) by five users than it is removed by the administrators. This ensures that no bullying or abuse can filter through to the community.

So if you really want to know what’s going on locally, strengthen your connections to your fellow students and have a good laugh while you’re doing it, join Yik Yak now!

Photography by Moshe Tasky.