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Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Secret Admirers Facebook page creator tells all

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 1:00 pm, Sun Mar 31, 2013.

More than 1,500 anonymous declarations of love, secret crushes and compliments have been displayed within the past week for ISU students' reading pleasure.

The Iowa State Secret Admirers' Facebook page offers an outlet for timid students to share their hidden affection for those they might not otherwise ever speak with.

On March 21, 2013, Bob Cohoon, freshman in electrical engineering, began the Facebook page. While the post's authors continue to be anonymous, Cohoon agreed to step forward to explain his motives and how it all works. 

"I love the idea of it; I think it's great," Cohoon said. "I figured when people got back to school it would get somewhat popular because people would want to waste time during class, but I didn't expect it to get this big."

In just a week's time, the page has received more than 7,000 likes. 

"A lot of people, they just don't want to go up to somebody; they don't want to approach them," Cohoon said. "Maybe they see them, maybe they met them once [but] they don't want to talk to them in person face-to-face. It's awkward for them or something."

Cohoon said he began the page out of boredom, not realizing how big it would get. 

"Anonymous compliments are good to get you know? A lot of people message the page saying like, 'It made my Monday. Thank you for making this page.'" 

Cohoon said that although his page has similarities to the Iowa State Confessions Facebook page, it's not quite as racy. 

"People have recommend that I do scripts, like putting all of them up that I get through the Google docs, but I don't want to do that because well first of all I don't want people to put up like excessive swearing or anything that's inappropriately sexual or anything like that," Cohoon said. "Any sort of trolling or negative comments, I don't want to put up there either because it just defeats the point of the page."

The way the page works now: anonymous comments are submitted to Cohoon by Google document. Unless you put your name at the end of submission, he doesn't know who the authors are. 

"People can ask me, but they'll get the same answer every time," Cohoon said. "It's completely anonymous; I have no way of knowing who posted what."

While Cohoon has received some submissions with names attached, he's said he is still "on the fence" if he wants to put the names with the comment. 

"I want it to be anonymous but if they put their [post author] name on there, they should probably just go talk to the person," Cohoon said. 

Cohoon said he does want people to know he's sorry for "blowing up" their news feed after liking the page. 

"That's one thing I didn't expect to happen, but you can hide posts from it and then you can just go look at them on the page," Cohoon said. "So I don't feel that bad, because people can turn it off, but a lot of people did complain."

As of right now there is no real schedule in place for the page's posts; it's all done during Cohoon's free time in-between classes. 

"If I have free time, I'm going to post to it," Cohoon said. "I'm not going to skip parts of my life just to run the page, as interesting as that would be. I've got to live my life; I've got to go to class too."

Cohoon runs the Facebook page by himself for now, but his roommate Dave Bettner, open option freshman in Liberal Arts and Sciences, runs the Twitter account.

"If it continues to grow a lot then I will [get help]. My friends have offered to help, so I'll get them to help," Cohoon said. "I don't really read the posts that much." 

Cohoon did not make the page to express any personal thoughts of his own.

"I made it to give the opportunity to people that couldn't have the courage or don't have the courage to say something to someone else's face or just want to get something off their chest," Cohoon said.

Cohoon wants page viewers to know that he's not being selective by any means. If he sees something negative or inappropriate, he won't post it on the page.

"I'm not playing favorites or anything like that, I just put up whatever comes in," Cohoon said. 

Alex Sobek, senior in computer science, found the page interesting but with one major flaw: Searching for your name in over 1,500 posts takes too much time.

"I stumbled upon this page when it was about roughly eight or nine hundred posts long and it occurred to me, because I was curious 'Hey is my name in there?' but I don't want to scroll through the whole thing or read through all the posts. Basically, what I thought was there's got to be a way to do this automatically," Sobek said. 

Sobek used his computer science skills to create a solution to the problem within an hour. He created a website where you can put in your name and it will search the entire Iowa State Secret Admirers feed to see if you were mentioned. 

"[Iowa State Secret Admirers] is an awesome idea, I love it. I think it allows people to get stuff off their chest," Sobek said. "Not only that but it encourages people to connect because it's anonymous."

MJ Boehmer, freshman in elementary education, was one of many anonymous post receivers.

"I was flattered! I thought it was really sweet and whoever did it thank you," Boehmer said. "I really like this page because it puts a smile on someone's face everyday."

Andy Harmsen, junior in horticulture, also received an anonymous shout-out on the page.

"I do think it is a neat idea and when that note was posted about me, it was awesome and made me feel very loved by my friends," Harmsen said. "I do think the potential is pretty good for it to turn negative at some point, so as long as people are watching it to keep that off the page, it will continue to be an encouragement to fellow students."

For Cohoon, bringing people together will always be the ultimate goal. 

"Even if one person meets another person from it then I think the page is a success," Cohoon said.

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