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The ever expanding Internet is extending its reach to relationship advice with the Web site SideTaker.com.
The site launched in September 2008 and since then it has offered people the chance to pose questions about their relationships online and have strangers vote on how they should act with the tagline, “Deciding who is more wrong.”
This tagline is fitting considering where the idea for the site came from.
“As it goes [the idea came from], a personal experience with a cheating girlfriend kissing another guy while drunk and blaming it on alcohol,” said Justin Marinos, the site creator. “Aside from that, looking into other break-ups, the he said/she said arguments and others around me getting divorced left and right, it just seemed a good amount of arguing was going around.”
The site focuses on dating relationships and marriage problems but also includes categories for friends, bitter exes, neighbors, parenting and workplaces, and is quickly becoming an Internet sensation.
One user, a 26-year-old Indiana native who works in global education and who goes by the name “CWM” online, told the CU Independent she was introduced to the Web site through an online friend’s link. She gave her name to verify her identity, but the CU Independent did not include that information in this story because she would no longer be allowed to use SideTaker if her identity were revealed.
“I don’t remember which issue was linked, but I remember thinking that it was so ridiculous that the question was even asked,” CWM said. “Even with both sides sharing their opinions, one was clearly right and the other was just outrageous. I was in love.”
CWM said she prefers the relationship questions where she typically offers advice that focuses on communication, but is a dedicated reader to all the categories.
“For a couple of weeks I tried to answer every question posted,” CWM said.
Marinos said feedback to the site has been “98 percent positive.”
“The negativity only [comes] from people having problems posting to the site but are usually handled quickly,” Marinos said.
Marinos said he believes the positivity is due to the unbiased opinions that users offer.
“I use the point of unbiased anonymity,” Marinos said. “Your dirty laundry may be exposed but unless highly specific, won’t be tracked back to you so if you’re having a fight, you can get feedback on it from people other than your friends or relatives. They only have the side facts you provide to base their decision, which is a different point of view than a friend telling you what you’d like to hear.”
Users say the experience of giving advice has been beneficial to themselves, not just the troubled users seeking help.
“Knowing the right thing to say made me feel more confident in my own life,” CWM said.
Marinos says that users will see additional features on SideTaker.com in the future.
“Hopefully soon, there will be free professional advice as well,” Marinos said. “I’m working on other promotional deals with related sites and companies that users can participate in.”
Some CU students said they wouldn’t consider participating in SideTaker.com.
“No [I wouldn’t use it],” said Ali Todhunter, a 19-year-old freshman integrative physiology major. “I don’t believe in relationships and if I did I would ask a human.”
Todhunter said she can understand the appeal of the site and that she believes the users who pose questions on the site are looking for the right opinion, not the true one.
“They don’t want to talk to real people that may know the situation better because they’re afraid or don’t agree with the answer,” Todhunter said.
While some like Todhunter might question the success of the site, users say the answer is quite clear.
“In real life, your friends know that you can’t keep a partner and lost your job last month, but on SideTaker.com, everyone is Dear Abby,” CWM said. “Usually when people complain about something in their lives, they’re just venting and they don’t really want to know what you think. On SideTaker, everyone’s two cents matter.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Emily Zarka at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.