Scoop: Q&A With Secret Seattle's Prasid Pathak

src= Prasid Pathak
Occupation: Creator of Secret Seattle and former
Student Lifestyle Marketing Manager, US Public Sector at Microsoft
Age: 26
Twitter handle: @prasid
Web site: Secret Seattle on Facebook

From favorite watering holes to the best views in the city, local Facebookers are getting their secrets out with the help of a new group aptly named Secret Seattle. In just a few short weeks, the simple, public forum has ballooned to 35,000 followers who are eagerly posting entries on their favorite spots in Seattle. We sat down with the man behind Secret Seattle, former Microsoftie Prasid Pathak to find out what inspired him to create the group.

How did you come up with the idea for Secret Seattle?
I’d read about the tremendous success of a Facebook Group called Secret London (which quickly amassed over 180,000 in about 18 days) on TechCrunch and started seeing a similar group called Secret New York popping-up on my Facebook newsfeed. I had always been drawn to the idea of discovering the perfect date restaurant, or the secret bar, so, after doing a quick search and discovering that there was no Secret Seattle, I decided to start it.

You’ve amassed more than 30,000 fans in just a few short weeks. Why do you think the site’s become so popular?
Fundamentally the group has taken off because people like the idea of hidden gems and secret spots. It’s in our nature to want to learn about places with character, places with exclusivity, and places that haven’t been discovered yet….Combine that with the tremendous viral power that’s built into Facebook’s DNA--every time a person joined Secret Seattle, it was broadcast across their Facebook network—and the page spread like wildfire.

To the savvy Seattleite, some of your users’ secrets (i.e., visit the gum wall in Pike Place or eat at Paggliacci Pizza) aren’t all that secret. How would you rate the quality of the suggestions on your page?
I agree wholeheartedly that not everything posted is truly a hidden gem or a secret. But, like the places themselves, part of the fun is sorting through the things people post on there and discovering a true gem. I think another value is the discourse that the Facebook group provides – people debating the best brunch places, the best sushi, etc. And, having heard this concern repeatedly, I’m now creating a “Top Secret Seattle” closed group that will be invite-only and will offer truly-secret events and offers. We’re trying to keep it very small and intimate.

What do you do to maintain the page? Are user comments moderated at all?
In the beginning I created the page just for fun. There wasn’t enough content to support a discussion board (which is what Secret London and New York had done), so I opted to remove the message board functionality and force all content onto the wall. Then, once the group reached a critical mass, I opened up the discussion board, and people began self-organizing topics and threads. The next challenge as moderator is going to be converting this fad into something genuinely useful to the community, or watching it stagnate.

What’s your Seattle secret?
I have two Seattle secrets. My first is a perfect place to take a walk with a date. Although the Olympic Sculpture Par