February 21, 2002

Students Share Books, Advertising on Internet

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Students looking to sell used textbooks, advertise housing, and exchange comments on courses now have the opportunity to do so on the free, student-run Web site, bigredpeanutgallery.com.

Justin Potter ’02, and Matthew Kaplan ’02, co-creators of Big Red Peanut Gallery, started the site to save students money through free advertising and direct sale of books, and to provide a “portal to the community.” According to Kaplan, the site receives between 75 and 150 unique visitors daily.

Campus Store

In addition to message boards for course comments, housing, and textbooks, links connect the site to CU Info and other sites providing access to local information.

“Last year … I noticed a number of problems facing Cornell students,” said Potter. “One was that the bookstore was charging a significant fee simply to transfer used textbooks from one Cornell student to another. Another was that, if you wanted to find someone to sublet your apartment … your main option was to use Housing Solutions, which charges substantial fees.”

Challenges

Housing Solutions posts advertisements for sublets, apartments and rental housing for a fee of 15 dollars per unit subleased, and 25 dollars per year per unit to landlords renting apartments, according to the Web site.

According to Potter, a third challenge facing Cornell students was the lack of communication within the community about courses. This led Potter and Kaplan to start Big Red Peanut Gallery as a message board Web site, where students could initiate and participate in discussions.

“Initially,” said Kaplan, “we set out to pick up where ‘Candid Courses’ left off by allowing students to exchange comments on their classes, … to evaluate their professors and discuss the best and worst classes at Cornell.”

Candid Courses gathers student evaluations by distributing surveys to classes, asking students to rate various aspects of the course experience. Those reviewed are generally between 10 and 300 students, according to the Web site.

However, Big Red Peanut Gallery allows students to post comments on any class and respond to messages posted.

Chris Hohorst ’02 recently used the site to find a sublet, and thought that the site is “something that could be very useful” once more users are attracted.

While other students are currently involved with the marketing and management of the site, Potter and Kaplan are “looking to get other people involved” in hopes of passing the Big Red Peanut Gallery on to undergraduates before they graduate in the spring.

“The nature of a site like ours, is … you need a crowd to attract the crowd — the success of our site is dependent on a large user base,” Potter said.

In addition, starting next week the staff of the Cornell Lunatic, a humor publication, will be contributing to the site.


Archived article by Stacy Williams