Created by Frank Warren, PostSecret is a mail art community founded in January 2005, where people who are dying to share their secrets to someone can mail their secrets together with a homemade postcard to PostSecret, 13345 Copper Ridge Road, Germantown, MD 20874. The secrets divulged are meant to empower not only the author but also those who read them. In many cases, the secrets give inspiration, as well as hope, to the users who may be having the same secrets and who can identify with them. Moreover, the site provides an avenue for having an anonymous community of acceptance where other users can accept the secret holder.
The site originally started as an experiment in a hosted blogging site, Blogspot where 10 secrets are published weekly. Due to the site’s general influence, in 2008, Warren teamed up with 1-800 suicide or The Kristin Brooks Hope Center, a suicide hotline founded by Reese Butler in 1998. Currently, PostSecret is maintaining The International Suicide Prevention Wiki (ISP Wiki) site which contains a directory of suicide hotlines to help those who cry for help from the secrets that are sent to PostSecret.
Presently, various international Postsecret versions are now in the web. The French version was founded in 2007 and which is under the name “PostSecretFrance”. The German version, on the other hand, was founded in 2008 and is called “PostSecret auf Deutsch”. There is also a Spanish version called “Los Secretos Dominicales”. On the other hand, there are similar sites such as “PostSecretChina”, “PostSecretUK” and others but are not officially affiliated to Darren’s PostSecret.
Postsecret.com’s content is based on the deepest, craziest, darkest, silly secrets that anonymous people send to the site. Usually, these secrets talk about sensitive topics and issues that you cannot divulge to anyone, even your closest friends. It mostly talks about suicide, depression, sex, revenge, infidelity, drug addiction, homosexuality, marital woes, and beliefs that go against prevailing morals and conventions. Aside from secrets written, the visuals in these postcards convey messages that are sometimes ironic or descriptive of the secret. Moreover, the visuals have their own character as they are made by different people. The postcards featured on the site, however, are already regulated by the content manager and are updated on a weekly basis.
Participation in the site happens through the senders of personal postcards with secrets on them. The postcards that will be sent are personally made by the contributors giving the site an enticing feel and interface as the postcards are unique from one another based on the contributor’s personality and even skills (in postcard-making especially). Contributing content to the site, however, is quite complicated (and somehow costly) since they only accept physical postcards sent to their offices. However, the anonymity this site gives to contributors an avenue for divulging secrets and at the same time participate in giving content to the site.
Interactivity on the site itself is limited since there are no “comment” sections in the posts. Reportedly, this feature of commenting on the postcards is not available especially to foster an environment that is free from discrimination and judgments from the audiences through their (derogative) comments. However, the postcards can be shared on other social networking sites. In addition to this, their other “versions” of PostSecret in social networking sites (tumblr, facebook forums etc.) give them a space to interact with other users of the site. Aside from the online interactivity, Warren also publishes a compilation of submitted secrets in books (mostly not published online) and museums exhibits.
Some of the competing online sites are secrettalk.com, secretsanon.com, confide app.com, and more. PostSecret’s strength, however, lays in the visuals. Other sites only cite secrets in written text format and work like a “chat room” for divulging secrets. Other sites also provide a comment section while PostSecret does not do so.