Fail-Sharing: The Fall of Weshub
With movies, shows, and songs from every director, channel, and band imaginable, WesHub was a virtual world teeming with enough material to satisfy any student’s entertainment or procrastination dreams. Though the WesHub, known as the Hub among students, has been an integral part of campus culture in the past several years, the era of seemingly unlimited file-sharing has come to an end. With a short posting on the Wesleyan Anonymous Confession Board (ACB) on Sept. 13, students were informed that there would be “No More Hub.”
The University ignored the Hub’s existence until earlier this semester, when the file-sharing platform came to a halt. Information Technology Services (ITS) effectively shut it down by banning the single computer running it from the network. ITS Director of User and Technical Services Karen Warren refused to comment on the shut down.
“Wesleyan kept a blind eye to the Hub as long as possible,” said Red, the anonymous former operator of WesHub, in an e-mail to The Argus. “They could lose government funding because of illegal file sharing on their network. Even if Wes media didn’t write or talk about the Hub, it was only a matter of time before it was shut down.”
The Hub was a network that allowed students on campus to share and download each other’s files. While the Hub itself was a legal form of file-sharing, most users used it to illegally share copyrighted material consisting of movies, television shows, songs, computer programs and computer games.
“[The Hub] was really convenient—anytime my friends and I wanted to watch a movie we could just download it in a few minutes,” said Baomie Fang ’11. “We used it as a backup plan, and we would just scroll through all the movies looking for something to watch.”
The history of WesHub is a murky one. The original founders began the Hub approximately four or five years ago. Since then, one designated student has run it on a dedicated computer used solely for running the Hub server. This allowed for less Hub downtime—even though the computer was occasionally shut down for system updates.
Using the alias “Blue”, a student had been running the Hub in the past. However, as of this year, the student known as “Red,” had taken over, due to Blue lacking the time and resources to run it anymore.
“I learned from the infamous Blue on how to start and run a server,” Red said. “I did not do as well as Blue, as he took a few more precautions than I did. My intentions were for free-sharing—allowing people to freely share whatever they enjoyed with the rest of the Wesleyan community.”
The students behind the Hub do not fear any reprimands or legal action taken against them, but they still prefer to remain anonymous behind their color nicknames. Like members of a secret society, they do not even tell their close friends about their clandestine hobby.
“I keep the secret from all my friends because we all know that it would end up on the ACB if I didn’t,” Red said. “Plus it adds an air of mystery not knowing who could be the person behind the color.”
The Hub’s popularity initially began as it spread through word of mouth. When the ACB was created in 2008, students posted about the Hub online and word spread even further.
“I enjoyed the Hub being known,” Red said. “It’s nice to think someone found a new favorite movie or artist on the Hub.”
While other college communities have similar file-sharing programs, many of these programs exclude lots of students because they are invitation only or password protected. The WesHub creators do not regret their decision to make the Hub accessible to as many students as possible, even if this eventually led to its demise.
“I’m very happy with how public it was,” Red said. “It’s always nice to see something you worked for be so accepted by the community. This is the price we pay if we want to involve everyone.”
Red cautions other students about attempting to revive the Hub, since ITS is now more vigilant about students using ShakesPeer—Weshub’s software platform— or similar programs.
“ITS will ban any computer that runs Hub software,” Red said. “That is a warning to any of those out there who think they should do it.”
But there is still hope for students craving the convenience of thousands of movies, songs and shows at their fingertips. Though WesHub is dead, a new file-sharing system could be created in the future.
“[A new Hub] would have to be in a different form,” Red said. “I’m working on something as we speak, but I will not go into details.”