Students launch patriotic humor website

By Amanda Ostuni, News Correspondent

Matthew Webber and his friends have a patriotic humor website and a dream.

“I would die if Steven Colbert saw our site and mentioned it on his show,” said Webber, a junior math and physics major.

GodBlessMerica.com is comprised of user posts of 140 characters or fewer about American lifestyle and culture. The posts range from satirical and humorous to sincere and emotional. At the end of each post, the user signs off by writing GB’M, an abbreviation for the website’s full name.

Webber created the site with three friends from his hometown – Jared DeLuca, a junior communication studies major at Northeastern, Justin Butler, a Harvard University senior statistics major, and Rob Auger, a senior mechanical engineering major at Johns Hopkins. They launched GodBlessMerica.com in February and re-launched a new version March 20.

It’s a similar concept to popular websites that are based off user-generated content, like MyLifeIsAverage.com or FMyLife.com. On these sites, people share personal tidbits and comments with other users.

Webber and DeLuca admitted those popular sites gave the group the idea for the framework of their creation, but the four founders had a new concept they wanted to build their site around.

“We [wondered], what’s the best way to reach the most general audience?” Webber said. The group realized they all love America and felt it was something a vast audience could relate to.

Because the domain name GodBlessAmerica.com was already taken, they settled on GodBlessMerica.com. As Webber explained, he felt that “‘Merica” added to the humor and satire of the site.

The site first launched in February and received a few hundred views per day. On a record day, it hit about 500 views, DeLuca said. But Webber described the first version of the site as more of a template, and the team decided its success warranted the need for a face lift.

“We saw the idea had legs so we thought, let’s roll with it and make the site more user-friendly,” DeLuca said.

They set to work on a new version and launched an updated, enhanced site under the same name Sunday, March 20.
The new version has a more polished image than the original, but its most significant improvements are in the features it offers. Now the site allows posters to choose what state they’re from so that others can get a sense of how people from different regions view America.

Butler said the most posts have been from Mass., because three of the creators attend Boston schools; however, they have had views now from all 50 states as well as 30 different countries
Another new feature gives fans the option to sign up for an email list.

“We put a lot of energy into considering how users feel or what they’re thinking while viewing the site,” DeLuca said.

The team recognizes their users are the real reason the site has gained success.
“It looks really good, I like the setup,”said Brian Clarke, a middler health science major.
Clarke said he thought the cartoon of Uncle Sam playing a flaming guitar at the top of their home page was a great symbol for the site.

“It’s really funny stuff,” Clarke said.

Although God Bless ‘Merica was not meant to be satirical, the founders welcome posts that are, explaining that the site is for anyone to be able to comment on what they think about America – whether their thoughts are funny or deep.

“We’re reaching out to America,” DeLuca said.

Webber said he and the other founders don’t know how popular the site will become, but as DeLuca put it, they’re just “picking it up and running with it. … The sky’s the limit.”

Butler, who did the programming for the site, commented on how much viewers have contributed to the development.

“The greatest recognition we get is when a viewer responds enthusiastically, because it lets us know we’re going in the right direction,” Butler said.

One idea for the future is to expand on the state demographic feature and give users the ability to go in and view statistics.

“We want to make graphs and charts like the hash things for twitter. We want to chart posts for certain topics,” Butler said.

For example, there would be  a beer chart and people could see what state posts most about beer.

DeLuca and Webber noted that many posts have been about McDonalds and Hummers – things Webber describes as typically being associated with the American way of life. Webber and DeLuca joke that there has also been a lot of posts bashing Canada, though none too crude.

Webber said one post about fast food is his favorite: “When I go to Subway and they ask me what kind of cheese I want, I say American because that’s what I am. GB’M.”

Deluca, who favors the serious posts, said his favorite so far is: “Live free or die. Death is not the worst of all evils. GB’M.” The quote originated from a revolutionary war general for the United States’ continental army, John Stark.

Webber and Deluca said the group hopes GodBlessMerica.com continues drawing in users. They believe their web project embodies all that people love about America and that it offers a place for people to exercise – as the tag line suggests – “Freedom of speech at its finest.”

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