October 19, 2013

Introducing Dark Side University

On October first this year, I opened Dark Side University, which has been a work in progress since I first announced it in 2002. I am very excited about this project and passionate about it, and it's true it's been sucking my time away from updating Darklinks and from the Darklinks goth social network.

Dark Side University is a goth community offering free classes on gothic, horror, vampiric, and Halloween topics. You don't get credit or a grade, just the fun of learning new things and discussing dark topics alongside other cool people from the subculture.

It's meant to be for adults, and courses are taught at the college level. There are homework assignments, but nobody raps your hands with a ruler if you don't complete them. Still, we hope if you choose to take one of our courses, you'll make time in your busy life to participate in it fully.

Back in the early 2000s when I was able to devote much more time to Dark Side of the Net and immerse myself in the online goth community, I was so inspired by the goth people I was meeting. So many people in small towns, isolated from other goths, with so much passion for our subculture and so many interesting ideas. I thought what a shame it was that it's so difficult to find interesting classes on dark topics in the real world (aside from the occasional horror film university course). I learned so much from people running goth businesses, promoting dark events, creating clubs and festivals, working professionally in bands. I wondered if there was a way to share all of everyone's expertise in dark topics. I watched online education blossom and then explode, and became interested in presenting a place where goth students and goth experts could come together to learn and share knowledge.

I finally settled on the Ning platform to facilitate our courses, and carved out time in my life to finally begin. I'm very excited, and I hope you will take a look around!

The current and upcoming course offerings include:

For now, Dark Side University is free. It's never been conceived as a money-making venture, but in the future it will likely have to charge minimal amounts (a few dollars per class) to pay its expenses and attract quality professional lecturers and professors. Also, I've learned through my many years of teaching in-person Internet and eBay classes, people tend to show up more, learn more and work harder in classes they've paid to attend.

How do you sign up? Just head over to Dark Side University and create an account. You'll need to fill out a captcha, provide an email address that the Ning Network can verify, and fill out a short profile about yourself. Mostly it serves to prove to me that you are a real person and not a spammer or a bot.

Note that we require you to leave at least one real, truthful link to your own personal blog, your own personal website you actually run and maintain (Don't leave something like www.yahoo.com or www.vampirefreaks.com as I know you don't personally own and operate those domains), your own personal Facebook or Twitter link. Which link you choose is up to you, but you must leave one. A huge number of people have been leaving their email address in place of a link, and that simply won't work for us here.

Reading comprehension is going to be critical for you to benefit from the courses offered here, so filling out your profile incorrectly will get your application to DSU denied. I am quite shocked at the number of applications I've had to decline because the person unfortunately could not seem to be able to leave a clickable working link to their blog or one of their social profiles.

Once your application is approved, you can log into the community and take a look around. There's a FAQ available for people who want to teach classes (in short, you need to have a college education in real life but it doesn't matter what subject it's in; and I'll want you to participate in one online course before offering to teach one yourself).

Thanks so much to our first professor, Alisdair Smyth (shown on the left), who is an English professor in real life, currently teaching our Dracula class! This picture was taken in Seattle this summer when we went wine tasting and started developing the first few courses for DSU!

Please "Like" the Facebook page for Dark Side University if you're interested in keeping up with what we're doing here.

-Carrie Carolin


  1. What is the general time frame for reviewing applications, and if you decline the application will the applicant be made aware of that? I'm worried because it's been over a week since I submitted it and I haven't heard back. Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi, I log into the network every day to look for new members. If your application is denied it's most likely because you didn't leave a link to your blog, Facebook or Twitter (pick one) A lot of people seem to have trouble leaving their link instead of email. You can log in and try again with the same account you created.