I recently downloaded Yik Yak onto my phone and while scrolling through it today in procrastination I realized that this would be a perfect example of a medium to analyze for its digital rhetoric. For those who don’t know, Yik Yak works as an anonymous Twitter that filters posts by geographic location. This app is popular on college campuses and allows students to create a sense of community by yakking posts that are relevant to their peers. The confines of this app have sparked unique forms of digital rhetoric. With a 200-character limit, the app has compelled users to use concise language in a similar fashion to Twitter. With no way to include pictures, tags, or links, users must come up with creative posts using only words and emojis. Posts can be “upvoted” or “downvoted,” giving users an incentive to say something that appeals to their audience. Again, the geographic radius limit means that their audience is the people around them. For example, if someone yaks on U of M’s campus, the Yaks would need to appeal to students who attend U of M. The downvote button incentivizes users to post only nice things; just five downvotes on a post will automatically delete a post and a user who creates too many downvoted posts will be suspended. Thus, although some offensive posts are bound to survive, the creators of the app have attempted to establish a non-hostile environment. In addition, users can comment on each other’s posts, allowing for anonymous dialogue between strangers in a community.
Since this app is relatively new, the creators are constantly developing and adding features. The digital rhetoric available to the users will inevitably increase with every new feature as users gain tools to put forth their ideas and appeal to their audience. I am curious to see in what direction the digital rhetoric heads!