By Natalia Asis, Staff Reporter 

Ophélie De San Bartholomé checking out the  Confessions page

Ophélie De San Bartholomé checking out the
Confessions page
(Photo by Natalia Asis).

   Some of the latest and most popular pages on Facebook involving The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) students are “UMF Confessions” and “Farmington Compliments.”

   This way of transmitting unsigned messages has been so popular that each page has over 500 likes so far. “I think it has to do with not letting the person I’m complimenting think they owe me a thank-you or think they owe me a compliment even,” said Kris Kelley, a freshman who has written a couple of compliments. “The anonymous factor, I think, impacts how meaningful the compliments are to the person, and how sincere the compliments sent in are.”

“I wanted to cheer up my best friend so I wrote something anonymously,” said Amelia Coburn, a sophomore who also wrote an anonymous compliment. “She knows it’s me but it made her day.”

   These two pages are managed by the same person, who was interviewed through Facebook. The person running the sites wanted to remain anonymous and be referred as Nigel Whittaker, a pseudonym. Whittaker is a student at UMF who recently came up with the idea of starting these pages that got a lot of attention on campus. “The idea came up after the end of the Fall semester;” said Whittaker, “I was having a rough time in school and I read somewhere that if you make others happy it’ll in turn make you happy.”

   “The compliments are 100% anonymous, obviously there is a human behind all of this who receives and posts them;” said Whittaker, “actually there’s a team of 3-4 people working on both pages.”

   There are, however, some people that feel that these students running the pages may be gathering personal information or just gossiping about it. Whittaker explained that there’s a standardized process to keep all comments as anonymous as possible. “After each post is submitted, we send back a smiley face and delete the message,” said Whittaker, “so that on our end we can’t remember who sent what.”

   “It was easy,” said Nick Lyden, a sophomore who wrote a confession. “I mean they hardly replied. I was cool with it and it was confidential.”

   “The idea wasn’t totally mine, however, other schools have done the same thing,” said Whittaker. “Any compliments that are mean, rude, or degrading will not get posted, as it is clearly stated in our “About” section. Confessions are on a less strict basis, they are on a more funny or not funny basis.”

   Whittaker has a couple of favorite posts in these pages. “There were one or two dedicated to Walter Sargent shortly after his death, those were very special to the UMF community,” said Whittaker.

   There are other messages, especially in the Confessions page, which are particularly funny. “I guess my favorite one would be #37,” said Matt Theriault, a sophomore. “The confession was: ‘I failed statistics last year because I was sick and the professor refused to meet with me to help me do well. One morning the next semester, that professor bought a coffee where I work and I may or may not have given them decaf instead of their extra sugar, add espresso, whatever coffee…’ That’s karma thrown back in his face!”

   “When I read the confession ‘I’ve contemplated writing out a compliment for myself on the Farmington Compliments page,’ I laughed so much,” said Ophélie De San Bartholomé, an exchange student. “Everyone has thought about doing that.”