Some refer to it as Fake Book. Others, the Book of Faces. Or, if you are my 17-year-old daughter, you call it SMOOMU (Social Media Outlets Only Moms Use). Whether you love it or hate it, Facebook has proven its usefulness over the years, and in no small part due to the popular Groups feature. No matter what you’re into, there’s a group for it, and Corvallis is no exception with the well-populated “Corvallis People.”
In many ways, Corvallis People – a closed group requiring approval for entry – has brought the citizens of Corvallis together in one place where people can exchange Corvallis-related content. Anything you can think of happening in Corvallis is shared on this page. Posts about job opportunities, restaurant recommendations, places to rent, pictures of lost pets, questions about why the power is out downtown, and even posts about strange things seen flying in the skies overhead.
Some posts seem harmless, and are generally just people trying to get information about local businesses and happenings. Yet, sometimes the posts deviate from the nice little-Corvallis-bubble we all think we live in, and things can flare up. Posts with pictures of pets locked in hot or cold cars, rants about reckless drivers (including car descriptions), and even the street address of a “party house” where loud music is blasted until the wee hours of the morning almost every weekend.
Corvallis People is a wildly popular group, and sometimes this popular group gets wild. The members take their online domain very seriously, and it is up to the administrators and moderators to tame the wild beasts when posts get out of hand. And, believe me, posts do get out of hand – just ask Cloud Davidson and Mealoha Dunbar (#tikigate2017 #neverforget). Or ask The Corvallis Advocate for that matter, as we’ve been either directly or indirectly involved in our fair share of dust-ups.
A Historical Perspective
The Corvallis People group was created in 2011 by a woman named Laura Avila. It began innocently enough, with the intention of providing a place for locals to exchange information. In the beginning, the group was made up of a few of her personal Facebook friends. As people began to use the group, more and more people asked to join. By 2016, the group numbers were in the thousands.
For the most part, people were fairly civil to one another, then the presidential campaign began. Political arguments and political memes from both sides began to flood the group page. Avila was overwhelmed with being the sole administrator for the group. She could not keep up with the many messages and requests people were sending to her, much less being able to delete all the “against the rules” political posts.
A few members of the group were so fed up with the way things were being handled that they left and formed a satellite group called “Corvallis People V2.” Soon thereafter, Avila asked for volunteers to help her with the situation, and two new moderators were chosen.
Jamie Raffety and Amber Barnard accepted the positions as the new group moderators in February 2017. Avila continued to be the administrator until July, at which point she appointed Raffety and Barnard to take over as co-administrators. Avila’s current status is not fully known. She has seemingly disappeared from social media, and I can only wonder why….
Both Raffety and Barnard are full time students at Oregon State University. At the time of writing, there are 8,313 members of the original group (nearly 2,500 for V2), with an average of 20 new members being added daily. In order to keep up with the ever-growing group, they’ve currently got three moderators assigned to assist, along with a long list of rules at the top of the page that people must adhere to in order to stay.
Of course, not everyone chooses to follow the rules. Trolls abound on Corvallis People and the moderators have but two ways of dealing with them: temporary suspension and permanent banishment. Generally, a person who is rude or calls someone a name is put on a temporary suspension anywhere from two days to up to a month based on the level of the bad behavior.
The moderators seem forgiving, but if you’re a repeat offender you will get banished. Unsurprisingly, some become angry when they are banned from the group. Raffety has even received threatening and inappropriate messages from past members after banning them. Raffety says they suspend one person a week and usually ban two people a month, on average.
She laughs as she tells me, “Yeah, we have been called Nazis and dictators by those we have punished. People think we are censoring them and not allowing them to have freedom of speech.”
Posts of Legend
What have been some of the most popular posts on Corvallis People? It should come as no surprise that Tikigate takes first place, with over 500 comments on the original Hapuna Kahuna debacle post. Sam’s Station is an easy second place with over 300 comments on that regrettable restaurant critique thread.
Other honorable mentions include The Little Lunch Box post, the party house post that was mentioned earlier (which included the address being printed and people showing up on the renter’s front doorstep) and a picture of a car outside the Darkside Theater that had a dog locked inside during freezing temperatures. And then, of course, there’s the Corvallis Advocate-related posts.
Negative posts may seem to gain the most attention, but Corvallis People is not all about the bad things that go on in Corvallis. Much good comes of the group page, too.
Raffety says what she loves most about Corvallis People is how it helps people. She tells me stories of people finding jobs and places to live. When people ask for things they need, the community is quick to help that person out.
“People really come together and support one another,” Raffety said.
All in all, people want to be united in something bigger than themselves in order to experience a sense of belonging. Corvallis People is exactly that. It is a forum where Corvallisites feel that their voices are being heard. It is a place where we can all experience being a part of this unique community.
By Jennifer Moreland