UCMeTalk goes live for system-wide UC community

UCMeTalk, a new social networking site for members of the UC community, went live Oct. 21 and is quickly gaining traction among students.

The student-founded website is a brand-new social network that is exclusively open to students, alumni and staff members of the UC system.

“At its core, UCMeTalk serves as a platform on which like-minded students can connect with one another within their college communities,” said project manager Nazir Katbi. “Simply put, our aim is to bring UC campuses together for the purposes of both social and professional networking.”

UCMeTalk hopes to stand apart from the myriad of social networking sites flooding the internet today by utilizing a video-interface system. The system connects users who are online at the same time and allows them to meet each other via video chat. Users can filter the results of this matching process based on UC and major.

“Video-based communication creates extraordinary opportunities for the development of both personal and professional long-lasting relationships, and UCMeTalk looks to nurture that potential,” Katbi said.

The “reputation” feature allows users to add or subtract a point from each new user they are matched up with.

“Overall, we believe it adds a sort of balance to the site and gives all users perspective on the people they match with,” said Anthony Liu, another project manager.

Users with the greatest number of reputation points are displayed on the “top users” section of the dashboard and are given the opportunity to win prizes.

“We don’t think it will bring on cyberbullying because there is not enough incentive for users to rate other users down and also, we are brainstorming more ways to get reputation points instead of just getting points through matching,” Liu said when responding to questions about the reputation feature possibly being abused by users.

UCMeTalk emphasizes its zero-tolerance policy for cyberbullying as well as nudity and unauthorized advertising in the “about” section of the site.

The website also has a “shout-out” feature. A shout-out is like a status update, with a catch. Users are only allowed to make a shout-out (which can be seen by all users of the site) every 24 hours, forcing them to choose their message wisely. Users have been using it to express their first reactions to the site.

“This might be cool!” said UC Davis student and UCMeTalk user Araxya Movsisyan in a shout-out.

UCMeTalk’s user base is growing fast. As of Monday, they had 700 registered users — a 300-person jump from the day before. Studying how these users interact with each other and react to the website is an important part of the site’s future development.

“We have many ideas and options that would help make this site even better, but we are currently seeing how our users use the site first, before we make any giant development efforts,” Liu said.

Some early ideas for future progress include broadcasting live debates on the site and developing a UCMeTalk mobile app.

As members of the UC community are beginning to discover and get involved with the site, the project managers at UCMeTalk hope that the site will fulfill the purpose they envisioned during development.

“I had been (and still am) frustrated with the political climate in the country, especially in California, and the neglect both political parties seemed to harbor towards college students,” Katbi said.

When Katbi found he was not alone in his frustration, he and friends set to work creating UCMeTalk so students could share their ideas while making connections with the UC community at large.

“Now more than ever, our careers literally depend on who we know in what field. But how do you just go about meeting people?” Katbi said. “It’s difficult, and we think UCMeTalk helps you meet people in a less awkward, more organic way.”

A multicultural night is planned for Tuesday at 8 p.m. when different organizations will use the website to promote their culture and different events.

“This event really epitomizes the diverse environment we’re looking to foster, and should be beneficial and fun for everyone who attends,” Katbi said.
Anyone with an approved university email address is able to join UCMeTalk at UCMeTalk.com.

LAUREN MASCARENHAS can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.