Affirmative action is lawful discrimination against white people or somehow disagree with that fact?
Does the United States have a “rape culture”?
Who sucks more dick?
New anonymous posting app Whatsgoodly provides all of these answers and more. The app, named after California slang for “what’s good?”, allows users to anonymously create polls with up to four answers.
Launched out of Stanford’s controversial SAE frat in March, the app is now active at 30 universities and has big plans for an additional 120 in the fall. Named after California slang for “what’s good?”, the app allows users to anonymously create polls with up to four answers for other users to comment. Like Yik Yak, Whisper, and the now-defunct Secret, Whatsgoodly feeds off anonymity. The app comes loaded with controversy, born out of privilege, and laden with classism.
When interviewed by The Daily Beast, cofounder Adam Halper said that he launched the app in hopes of “finding out what is considered good through the silent moderate majority.”
“We are trying to gauge how the broader community feels by giving a voice to the moderate majority. We are giving a voice to those who aren’t going to post their thoughts all over Facebook,” Halper said.
Though Halper might be interested in the views of the majority, his origins are considerably more rarified. He is a Stanford legacy student—his father is an alumni and serves on the board of many prominent corporations. As a child, Halper attended a $35,000-a year-day-school, and has used his network of private-schooled-turned-Ivy-Leaguer friends to grow the company by having them introduce the app to their equally elite and well-connected friends.
Halper started Whatsgoodly as a member of Stanford’s SAE fraternity—his frat brothers reportedly helped beta test the app. The group is not unfamiliar with controversy, to say the least—Bloomberg declared it the deadliest in the nation, as nine people have died in frat-related activities since 2006.
In 2014, the frat was suspended from their housing by the school because of “sexual harassment concerns.” Stanford released a statement attributing the suspension not to any particular individual but rather to “continuing concerns about behaviors in the house as a whole.” The university’s statement cited an event with "offensive commentary regarding domestic physical abuse of women.”
The SAE’s Roman Bath party was the event in question. Tess Bloch-Horowitz, a then sophomore at Stanford, wrote about it and its aftermath in The Stanford Daily. She said the jokes included gems like:
“What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, you’ve already told her twice.”
“What do you call the useless skin around a vagina? A woman.”
“What do a woman’s orgasm and her opinion have in common? No one cares about either.”
Whatsgoodly comes up in Bloch-Horowitz’s article. The frat reportedly suspected that she was the person that first told authorities about SAE’s jokes and they retaliated with a harassment campaign against her, using the app as one of their tools. She provided the enclosed screenshot as evidence in her Stanford Daily article.
The university’s investigation into the frat included a mention of “intimidating and retaliatory conduct, including acts of cyberbullying.”
Whatsgoodly features polls like, “Best cleaning ladies? Foreign or not foreign.” Ninety-one percent of the app users vote foreign.
Does the United States have a “rape culture?” Fifty-nine percent say no.
Kamber Moss, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and regional manager for Whatsgoodly argues that the app is more than just its most controversial questions.
“It’s not just an Ivy League app, it’s inclusive of a lot of ideas, and maybe wealth is one of those issues,” he said when questioned on the frequency of posts that deal with elitism.
Halper says that his team was generally unprepared for managing content, and both Halper and Moss find it challenging to distinguish between cyber-bullying and polls that provide uncomfortable insight on mainstream views. The app hasn’t been able to avoid the “growing pains of an anonymous app” as Moss calls them.
At the same time, Moss was quick to stress instances of cyber-bullying “are just the opinions of one person and not of the community.” He insisted that, “[Whatgoodly] captures its users, it captures what they really want to know and hear about.”
The app does have a flagging system to delete content that is deemed offensive, but Adam and Kamber claim the community’s best defense against cyber-bullying is self-policing.
“You have to give the community credit. It has formed into an overwhelmingly positive one. People are quick to realize how childish they are being and are not willing to hide behind a wall,” Moss said. However, at the time this article was published, there were numerous posts on the app still targeting others.
Both Halper and Moss claim to hold an unfettered view of the inherent goodness of Whatsgoodly users and believe that as the app expands to more campuses and users, the posts will only continue to get better.
These claims seem naïve, considering the app’s content. Whatsgoodly provides an amplifying platform convenient channel to anonymously target fellow classmates. Nor will all users be driven by the idealism of community building as Halper hopes—mob mentality can easily take root in campus environments, as some college students can be immature and spiteful.
Halper and Moss see the future of Whatsgoodly as the go-to gauge of campus opinion, a grand democratic experiment in information dissemination, integrated into daily campus life, dictating what clubs people join and classes they take. But, it’s difficult to see the app growing and being adopted by a general audience when one of the most popular questions at Penn is: “Would you lower your standards and let an ugly girl suck your dick?”