Anyone can submit snippets of conversations that they overhear (or pretend to). Choice quotes are published, and any reader can vote a quote up or down (no registration required). The tally is kept by Movabletype's content recommendation system, and OINY also has its own proprietary software that can organize the site and manage the submissions, queues, and editors.
But not very well; managing the editors has previously been treacherous work, according to Wikipedia:
In April 2006, Friedman fired original editor Malice after a dispute concerning editorial control. Malice immediately created New York, Overheard, a nearly identical site with the same format and layout. The two settled their dispute in May 2006, announcing a return to "regularly scheduled eavesdropping". At that time, Malice removed his competing site, and Friedman credited Malice on the original site as "Founding Editor".The catty site has similarly-styled sub-sections: overheard in the office, overheard at the beach, overheard everywhere, and celebrity wit. The slightly goofy but still semi-professional design is by Diseño Porteño, as well as the readers who submitted mastheads/banners.
A quick sample of quotes:
Kids These Days, I Tell Ya...
Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!
Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!
The Riddler's a Cop Now
Mom: Excuse me officer, can you tell me where the Crown Building is located?
Cop: Lady, if the building collapsed you would be crushed.
--57th & 5th
Sadly, This Isn't Fiction Either
Woman: Do you have a non-fiction section?
Book guy: Well, everything that's not fiction is non-fiction. [Over] there's cooking, and there's history.
Woman: No, that's not what I asked. Do you have a section for non-fiction?
Book guy: Well, there are no non-fiction novels. Everything here that's not a novel is non-fiction.
Woman: But you don't have a non-fiction section?
Book guy: No. Everything that isn't fiction is non-fiction.
--Barnes & Noble, Staten Island (Overheard by: Dr. Ballon)
Pre-Class Registration Starts Once A Month
Dumb teen: Hey, look at this! It says "Train for jobs in biotch."
Smarter teen: Fool! That word is biotech. Why you gotta be ignorant all your life?
--1 train (Overheard by: Manhattman)
Wednesday One-Liners Keep Things on Track
Conductor: This is a Brooklyn bound B train. Like bitch.
Wednesday One-liners Cook the Afterbirth
Girl on cell: Wait, was this the eating disorder cousin or the crack dealer cousin?...Oh, she's having a baby? Wow, I hope it doesn't die.
--Waverly & University
Now Shut the Fuck Up, You Unwanted Accident
Little Girl: Mommy, why do people in New York always wear black?
Mommy: I don't know. Maybe they just don't like looking pretty.
--Upper East Side
And without the Personal Touch IM Would Provide
Teen girl #1: He broke up with me on Facebook!
Teen girl #2: Like, on your wall?
Teen girl #1: No, he just changed his status back to 'Single'!
--Metro North terminal, Grand Central
Time to Take a Break from the Studying
Guy #1: I'd totally hit that.
Guy #2: Dude, I'd hit that so hard whoever could pull me out would become the King of England.
--College Walk, Columbia University (Overheard by: King Arthur)
Overheard in New York: The Movie
Suit: I think you would really like As Good As It Gets.
Woman: Is that the one with Jennifer Aniston?
Suit: No, it's Helen Keller.
--75th & 3rd (Overheard by: Aaron Hotfelder)