As finals loom and the relaxation enjoyed during Spring Break becomes a distant memory, the skepticism surrounding AddSeven.com—which was launched soon after students returned from vacation in March—has also faded away. The website is the brainchild of seniors Yoni Ackerman and Noah Isaacson, and in the month since the site launched, 717 Bowdoin students registered. Now, Ackerman and Isaacson have expanded to include networks for Bates, Colby and Middlebury.
Ackerman explained that a combination of factors prompted the expansion.
"We heard from people at other schools that they would be interested in something like this, and we sort of had the idea that we didn't want it to be just at Bowdoin," he said.
So far, the reception of AddSeven at the different campuses has varied. The site has not caught on among Bates and Colby students but it did make a splash at Middlebury. After Ackerman and Isaacson launched the Middlebury version of the site on April 18, 1,000 Middlebury students had signed up by April 21. By the beginning of this week, the site had already registered 1,190 students at Middlebury.
A few factors seem to have boosted AddSeven's popularity at Middlebury, and account for the lack thereof at the other schools. Ackerman and Isaacson have mostly advertised the site by word of mouth. They emailed the site to friends at Middlebury and asked them to pass it on if they thought Middlebury students would be interested. The site quickly went viral.
"One girl I emailed actually heard about it from someone else before I emailed her," said Ackerman. "It really exploded there."
Middlebury students were also much more active in popularizing AddSeven on other social networking sites.
"They were blogging about it and they were tweeting about it," Ackerman said. "People were talking about it on Facebook. Here [at Bowdoin], none of that really happened."
Soon after the site was launched at Middlebury, a student using the pseudonym "Cody" posted a piece about it on MiddBlog.com. The blogger wrote that the site seemed superficially "fake and disingenuous," but otherwise remained reletively neutral and simply described how the site operates and asked other students to submit feedback.
The feedback was mixed, though several students responded positively. "Almost Alum" wrote, "In reality, people are flawed and weak, especially concerning relationships, and especially in Middlebury College. This gives them the chance to find a little happiness in their lives despite that."
Other commentators were less enthusiastic, however. Zach Schuetz '11, a student at Middlebury, thought AddSeven was too much of a crutch.
"While it can be awkward to put yourself out there and actually introduce yourself to someone...this is a part of growing up," he said.
Going forward, Ackerman and Isaacson are entertaining the possibility of expanding AddSeven to other campuses, mainly working through contacts at other schools. Before they broaden the site, however, their primary concern is to address the issue that the aesthetics of the site make it look like a hoax to some.
"We're trying to think of ways to make its appearance more professional, we'd like to do that before we go to anymore schools," said Isaacson.
In the immediate future, Ackerman and Isaacson don't have any big plans for AddSeven, as the academic year is ending and students will be leaving their respective campuses for the summer. Neither Ackerman nor Isaacson was sure what will happen with the site once they graduate in May.