It’s no surprise that the popular anonymous social media bulletin board Yik Yak is strictly location based. This is to say that the app is exclusive to devices within a specific location radius—about 1.5 miles according to the most recent news release from the app, meaning that trolling other bulletin boards is neigh close to impossible (save for the “****iPhone 6****” scam spammers who’ve found out how to…). But in areas where Yik Yak is more popular—like on college campuses—it’s more likely that you’ll see the closest 100 yaks posted in relation to your device. In my experience as a student living just north of UNC’s campus, the radius seems to fluctuate depending on the number of users posting new yaks at any given moment, meaning that Yik Yak now varies based on meta location due to the increased user base. The bulletin boards are now more specific and exclusive than before as the popularity and utilization of the app continues to rise.
When opening the app in different locations on and off campus, I’m exposed to very different numbers in terms of “ups” and the frequency of new yaks. In August of 2014, I was able to open the app about two miles south of the center of campus and access the hottest yaks in the Chapel Hill area. However, a month later, I’m now no longer able to access UNC’s yaks from the same location. Instead, I experience a much less engaged bulletin board. The newest yak could have been posted as much as thirty minutes prior to opening the app, and subsequently, I now view a less engaged bulletin board with yaks producing fewer ups. So, as Yik Yak gains speed and more users begin to engage with the app, the location becomes more specific and the radius the yak produces is closer to the 1.5 mile parameter.
It’s also worth noting that the “Hottest Yaks in my Area” found under the “More” tab are different in accordance with location. Two miles southwest of campus, I’m unable to see the most popular yaks on UNC’s campus, yet a mile and a half north of campus I’m still able to the most popular and newest yaks. At my residence, I can access yaks with 225+ ups posted in the last 24 hours, but two miles south of campus, I’m only able to access yaks with about 180 ups, the newest of which is two weeks old. I live in a large student neighborhood, which may help contribute to the fact that I’m able to access a more frequent stream of new yaks and a more engaged bulletin board, compared to two miles southwest of campus, which supports a large community graduate students and young families, a demographic the app has yet to reach. Therefore, app engagement is certainly correlated with demographic makeup of a community.
However, it’s also very obvious that included in the list of yaks I receive are those originating from South Campus, about two miles from my home and one mile south of central camps (hoping these numbers aren’t confusing you too much), which means that I’m able to read yaks published a half mile outside of the official 1.5 mile parameter. It is interesting to note that two miles north of campus I can see the South Campus yaks, but two miles farther south of South Campus, I’m unable to see any yaks published on campus. In this regard, the answer is likely related to the fact that I live in a very large student neighborhood where Yik Yak engagement is higher in accordance with the community demographics, and the radius is extended to accommodate for this.