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Yik Yak and Differences in Gender on a


Predominantly Male Campus by Katherine Upchurch
ABSTRACT
Yik Yak has been seen as a controversial social media application, specifically on college campuses.
Students on a mostly male campus conduct research using a survey to gather data about Yik Yak. The
results are broken down by gender as well as show general data results. Trends were found when
looking at the responses to questions about Yaks being offensive. Many of the research questions can be
elaborated on and further research can be done to further understand Yik Yaks effect.

1 INTRODUCTION
During the spring semester of 2015, students in the Technical Communication Theory and Practice
course distributed a survey (see Methods) on the Missouri University of Science and Technology
campus. The survey posed questions about Yik Yak, a social media application that can be used to
anonymously post Yaks (nickname for a posting made on Yik Yak) based on geographical location.
Students and faculty were main demographic for this research since Yik Yak has been affecting college
campuses. Gender was a constant theme of this paper with a small focus on accessing and posting
frequency on Yik yak. Results show that there is still much research to be conducted for more
information about Yik Yak and its affects on students.

2 METHODS
For this survey, the students compiled questions about general feelings and opinions concerning Yik Yak.
The survey was given to students and faculty on the campus but in this research, only data collected
from students was used in this research paper. Only student data was used on the research paper, as
well as the poster, because I felt that the low number of faculty (8 total) seemed like it wouldnt be as
useful as the 93 students that were surveyed. The data was then put into percentages based on gender
and overall usage of Yik Yak. There were a total of 93 surveys filled out, 1 survey was thrown out (due to
the fact that they had never used Yik Yak), and 91 surveys were used in the gender based data.

3 RESULTS
Once the surveys were collected, the data was compiled and grouped into a table. From that point,
percentages were formulated surrounding a few topics. This report focuses on a few questions that
were asked in the survey. The questions included information about how each gender felt relating to
being offended by Yaks (figure 2), contributing to offensive Yaks (figure 3), and feelings of being affected
by Yaks (figure 1). Figure 4 was created using general questions about Yik Yak, which was also organized
based on gender. Some data was also collected surrounding two questions on general access (figure 5)

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and posting frequency on Yik Yak (figure 6). Lastly, figures 7 and 8 represent the gender breakdown of
accessing and posting frequency on Yik Yak.

3.1 RESULTS ON GENDER: BEING AFFECTED, FEELING OFFENDED, AND BEING OFFENSIVE
The below three pie graphs represent data from three questions on the survey. Figure 1 was about if
they or anyone they had known had ever been affected by Yik Yak. More men than women said they or
a friend had felt affected by Yik Yak. Upon further reflection, the question about whether Yik Yak has
affected them or someone they know is very vague and could be taken many ways. However, the
following two questions concerning whether students had ever felt offended or contributed to offensive
Yaks showed an interesting result. Out of the 21.98% of students, women were offended 14.19% more
than men by posts on Yik Yak. While almost a fourth of the total students, 68.18% of which were men,
said they had contributed to offensive comments.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

For the above pie graphs, pink represents women and blue represents men.

3.2 RESULTS ON GENDER: GENERAL DATA QUESTIONS


Figure 4 contains data concerning multiple questions that were asked on the survey. The questions were
yes/no and are based off of the entire gender and separated by male and female to show trends
between genders. Questions were about the following: whether or not they had posted on Yik Yak, if
they thought it was a useful communication tool, if they had ever reported a Yak, if they or someone
they knew had ever been affected by Yik Yak, if they had ever contributed to an offensive Yak, if they
had ever felt offended by a Yak, and if they though Yik Yak could harm students.
Some general results surrounding gender show that women post more than men and that women
reported offensive Yaks more than men. Overall, most students felt that Yik Yak could be a useful
communication tool as well as could be harmful to students. The columns concerning the three
questions referenced in section 3.1 (figures 1, 2, and 3) are shown here to represent the data compared
to the total number of students.

Harm Students

Offended

Contributed to Offensive Yaks

Affected

Reported

Useful Communication Tool

Posted

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Figure 4

3.3 RESULTS ON POSTING AND ACCESSING FREQUENCY


General data was collected on frequency of posting and accessing Yik Yak, the data was compiled into
the two pie graphs below (figures 5 and 6). The graphs show that 73.63% of students said that they
access Yik Yak only several times a week or less. When looking at posting frequency, 87.91% of students
claimed that they only posted on Yik Yak once a week or less. Figure 5 is based off of the 85.71% of
students that said they had posted on Yik Yak while figure 6 represents the 92 students that have used
Yik Yak but not necessarily posted a Yak.

Figure 5

Figure 6

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3.3.1 Men versus Women: Accessing and Posting Frequency on Yik Yak
Figures 7 and 8 show a representation of students frequencies of accessing and posting on Yik Yak.
When looking at the results by gender is it visible that of men and women, men access Yik Yak less than
women. Overall, it seems that men and women are accessing Yik Yak about the same, especially when
considering the male to female population on campus, but the number of men that claimed they rarely
access Yik Yak was larger than that of women. When looking at posting frequency on Yik Yak, though the
numbers dwindle, men gradually show that they post more frequently than women. Figured 7 and 8 are
representations of gender percentage per each category. For example, 23 of 91 students said they rarely
accessed Yik Yak and of those 23, 30.43% were men. In figure 8, it is important to note that 52 of 91
students answered that they never or rarely post to Yik Yak. However, as a representation of their
gender, men that filled out the survey said they posted more frequently than women answering the
survey did.

Figure 7

Figure 8

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4 DISCUSSION
After collecting the data and calculating percentages, general usage data on accessing and posting on Yik
Yak as well as data regarding gender showed patterns. The data shows that over 75% of students are
posting on Yik Yak once a week or less. Also, almost 75% of students access Yik Yak only several times a
week or less. The data on posting on Yik Yak is interesting because it could be implied that people are
putting more thought into what they post on Yik Yak even though it is an anonymous application,
however it could be the opposite and Yaks could be impulsive, in-the-moment type of posts. Research
questions concerning why people post Yaks, what makes something worth posting to Yik Yak. The fact
that people are accessing Yik Yak more than they are posting on Yik Yak could show that the application
is more for reading than it is for posting. Hypothetically, only a few people could be frequently posting
but an entire area of people are reacting to those few peoples Yaks. If Yik Yak had more people posting
could it become unpopular and does the apps success ride on the idea that, even though the app is
anonymous, people are unwilling to share their honest opinions but are more willing to agree with
complete strangers opinions.
Regarding gender, it was seen that while men were contributing to more offensive comments, women
were feeling more offended by Yaks. This information correlates with the data concerning accessing and
posting frequency. Since it was shown that men are posting more frequently than women, the fact that
men are contributing to offensive Yaks more than women shows that men in general could just be more
willing or likely to post a Yak. Also, the data showing that men are accessing Yik Yak more frequently
than women could explain why women are feeling more offended by Yaks than men are because they
are exposed to it more. After seeing these correlations, the third question about whether the student or
someone they know had been affected by a Yak shows an interesting opportunity for further research.
Men could be saying that they or their friends have been affected by Yik Yak and if those friends they
are considering are mostly female it shows an interesting connection with women feeling more
offended by Yaks. Also, information could be gathered about how Yik Yak affects people, whether it is
long term affects like changing general opinions or feelings about a topic or simply being offended by a
Yak. On that same note, what is considered offensive and what does contributing to offensive Yaks
mean to students. It could mean they upvote a Yak that they think could hurt someone or responding to
a Yak with an offensive post.
Yik Yak is surrounded with contradictions and controversy. In figure 4, it shows that while most students
believe that Yik Yak is a useful communication tool, they also believe that Yik Yak can harm students.
Contradictions like this show how Yik Yak has become such a controversial app because it can help as
much as it can hurt. Researchers should find out where the line is drawn between Yik Yak being a helpful
social tool and it being a forum of hateful or hurtful remarks. Case studies could be conducted by
universities about how they have successfully used Yik Yaks social prowess to their advantage or how to
avoid Yik Yak becoming a pool of offensive posts that needs to be blocked from school networks.

5 CONCLUSION
Considering all of the results and the questions posed in the discussion, it is clear that much more
research needs to be done surrounding Yik Yak. Elaboration on questions from this survey created for

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different research could be useful in finding out more specific information about many topics. The
purpose of Yakking, posts worthy of being posted, and other information about the mentality or
psychology behind Yakking could shine some light on what motivates students on a college campus.
Studies furthering questions about users being affected, offended, or offending could provide
information about what audiences are being targeted, who is targeting them, as well as how people are
affected by being targeted and targeting people on Yik Yak. Since Yik Yak has been so controversial for
being offensive to so many different peoples, it creates an opportunity for research about college
students mentalities surrounding society, ethics, and equality. On college campuses, Yik Yak has been
such a controversial, problem-causing application it has been blocked by some schools. If more research
was done on how students think it could be a useful communication tool or how it could harm students,
universities, as well as other education systems, would be able to make more educated judgements on
how to use Yik Yak if decide to use it or have better justification for why it needs to be blocked on school
networks. Yik Yak has the ability to be a cornerstone for research on how our society functions on a
smaller scale as well as how we can use these social interactions to our advantage. As researchers
noticing Yik Yaks impact on students and attempting to understand these affects could prove to be
useful insight about social interactions.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Id like to thank all of my fellow students in Technical Communication Theory and Practice: Amra
Mehanovic, Killian Knowles, Kimberley Runge, Harold Ellis IV, Jill Sertell, and Michael Slusar. I would also
like to thank Dr Kathryn Northcut for getting IRB approval and helping us along the way with the
research and reporting the results.