UNDerground visited thousand times daily

University’s version of Craigslist thriving as students buy, sell items.

What started as a project to revive a forgotten student website became a rebuilding of a site that now gets nearly 600,000 visits a year.

UNDerground is a smaller version of Craigslist that allows for the exchange of goods and services. It is unclear at what point it fell out of popular use, but eventually it became a program buried and forgotten by UND Student Government.

“In 2005, IT was cleaning up servers, and they were asking us what to do with it,” former Student Government Webmaster Mike Link said. “Some students were still using it, but you couldn’t upload pictures at that point. It kind of got forgotten, so, for a while there, I don’t think Student Government even knew they still owned it. Eventually I found out and … I brought it back to life.”

Memorial Union Director Tony Trimarco, who was the union student advisor in 2005, wanted the revamped site to be something that would last.

“We really just wanted to make sure that when it started up that it was going to be something students would follow up on,” Trimarco said. “We didn’t want it to just last a couple of weeks, we wanted there to be some continuity. We went ahead, and the students started it on their own, and they took the initiative.

“It really hasn’t changed that much in its philosophy. Students wanted a place they could exchange info about stuff that was for sale. We have the bulletin boards down at the Union, but they wanted more than that.”

Since adding the ability to upload photos and a button allowing students to flag posts, the webmaster position has been cut and the primary responsibility for the UNDerground has moved to the student affairs technology department.

“It’s probably one of Student Government’s most successful programs, just with the number of different students that use it, and they kind of gave it away, which is sad,” Link said. “It was a really fun project.”

Despite Student Government’s now distant role, thousands of students use it every week.

According to a statistics package originally used by the webmasters, the UNDerground was viewed an average of 1,303 times per day in August and 2,073 in January.

As far as security goes, the UNDerground has been fairly successful, and Trimarco’s supervision efforts focused on security have held up.

“We wanted to make sure that it was going to be safe, that it was going to be used properly and ethically,” he said. “We were concerned — we didn’t want scams, or for it to be used for them to sell items to each other — we wanted it to be above board. I have yet to hear of a problem with the site.”

Junior Steph Gartner used the site for buying, selling and giving rides to other students, and has never had any issues.

“(The site) is pretty good. I’ve never been scammed,” Gartner said. “There have been emails to look out for certain ones, but I’ve never had any issues. I just posted my rats’ old cage online to sell. It’s kind of sketchy because you don’t know exactly who it is out there, but they’re all students so that helps.

“Picking things up can be weird. I had a guy with me to help me pick up (a) dresser, so that helped, but I haven’t been kidnapped yet. I feel it’s safer than actual Craigslist because at least you know they’re actual students.”

UND isn’t the only school that has a Craigslist-like site.

Fargo Public Schools has a similar site, only available to FPS employees under their portal classifieds section.

“My mom has gotten me some furniture from that site as well,” Gartner said. “I’m all about reusing, baby — if it’s in good condition, why not? Save the earth, home skillets.”

Marie Monson is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].