By RAJDEEP PURI
Log on, get ready to hit "like" and post a birthday cake emoji, because Monash Stalkerspace celebrated turning nine today.
From confession posts to countless viral memes the page, which is not endorsed by Monash University, has become a valuable part of campus culture since its 2010 creation.
More than 80,000 people now follow Monash Stalkerspace, which averages around 30 page posts per day, ranging from memes to calls for help with lost property. Some updates have been liked thousands of times.
Monash Stalkerspace became so popular that students at RMIT, Swinburne, and the University of Melbourne have all since created their own Stalkerspace groups.
One of Monash's page moderators, James Whitehead, is a regular contributor and has been dubbed the "Monash Meme King" by his online followers.
Mr Whitehead, 24, recently graduated from Monash with a Bachelor of Science, before enrolling in a Data Science Masters.
He said Monash Stalkerspace was initially launched as a hook-up site and was more like a precursor to popular dating app Tinder.
“If you saw someone you liked [around campus], you would post about that person, who would then choose to either get in touch with you or not,” Mr Whitehead said.
He also said the popularity of the page can be attributed to its freedom and lack of judgement.
“[Stalkerspace] went on to become a page where you could post about anything and not get judged, and post about things which would [typically] get pulled down on an official university forum,” Mr Whitehead said.
“Sharing ideas you think other people are experiencing. It goes back to the thing that if someone has a problem and you have the same problem, you can connect through that on the page.
"It’s quite translatable and relevant.”
Known for his witty online posts, Mr Whitehead has found himself being recognised by students as he attends Monash's campuses.
“It’s sort of a humbling feeling. As long as you don’t let it get to your head, you’re fine,” he said.
Monash University student and self-proclaimed meme expert, Kshitij Elizabeth Murali, said he appreciated how Stalkerspace kept him informed and connected with the Monash community.
“In the meme community online, there is a term called ‘dank’, which means excellent or of high quality. Stalkerspace is both dank and niche (low quality), since it’s all about Monash and what’s happening in and around it," he said.
"That’s why I like the page. The memes are relatable for every student studying at Monash.
"Even though I’m new here, I was able to relate to the content posted on the page very quickly."
In honour of Monash Stalkerspace's nine-year anniversary, let’s take a look at how the page has transformed over the years:
For the first few years, before memes and GIFs became a mainstay of online culture, Monash Stalkerspace was a confessions page, much like controversial Facebook page Monash Love Letters, but without anonymous posts.
The page was also used by students who needed books and other study material, something which still happens.
In 2014, many posts about political club The Socialist Alternative flooded the page. According to Mr Whitehead, the club was eventually removed from Monash’s Clubs and Societies since it ran events which discriminated against some people.
It was during these years sharing memes started to become popular.
In 2015 and 2016 meme themes began to centre on things which were relevant to students, like university life, food and relationships.
However, the page also continued to serve as a confessions page from time to time.
From 2017 onwards, Stalkerspace became what it is known for today, filled with jokes, memes, pictures, exam tips and questions.
From posting about professors to possums and everything in between, Monash Stalkerspace is a one-stop destination for everything weird, funny and relatable.
Let’s take a look at two of the most trending memes/running gags on the page today.
Thanks to Monash Stalkerspace, a running online gag has every possum seen on campus dubbed "Sir John Monash".
Mr Whitehead said it started when a possum appeared in one of the lecture theatres. It was photographed and posted on Stalkerspace.
A poll began asking what the possum should be named, and "Sir John Monash" gained the most votes, after Monash University's namesake.
After that, whenever a possum was spotted on campus, it found itself being photographed and made the subject of a fresh meme.
The theme dominated Stalkerspace for months in 2018 and became so popular one page member created Sir John the possum merchandise.
Monash University Professor Ramesh Rajan has become one of the most popular figures on Monash Stalkerspace.
This happened after students started posting screenshots of the professor’s emails on the page, where Ramesh tried to explain Moodle’s technical difficulties to his students.
The screenshots have received hundreds of likes, and memes about his classes have become a Stalkerspace trend.
Mr Whitehead said students not only loved Ramesh's emails, but they were a big fan of the man himself.
“Ramesh is not a trend, you can’t make him a trend. Trends end but this man, he is just brilliant,” Mr Whitehead said.
Mr Whitehead said the memes were an expression of admiration.
“[Ramesh] is just so focused on his students to get a good outcome. Outside of class, he just offers anyone advice,” Mr Whitehead said.
The ‘disappearance’ of the Rotunda building from Monash University’s Clayton campus came as quite a shock to many students when it was torn down in 2018.
The Rotunda building was built in the 1960s and housed many lectures theatres. Its demolition and re-build sparked students on Stalkerspace to share their opinions.
The latest trend dominating Monash Stalkerspace is plush penguin posts, which were started by the Meme King James Whitehead himself.
During SWOTVAC, Mr Whitehead posted a photo showing a student clutching a the toy while studying, opening the floodgates to copy-cat posts.
The initial photo received more than 1000 likes, and the penguin soft toy became an instant hit with students.
Miniso staff, which is where the penguin plushie can be purchased, were reportedly confused by the number of calls they received from students about the toy.
Mr Whitehead said the future of Monash Stalkerspace looks optimistic, with the number of members increasing daily.
“I think it’s pretty much going to stay the same with people asking questions, posting memes and jokes,” Mr Whitehead said.
“It is going to continue to be the unofficial forum for Monash students.”