The term "farrago", from Latin, meaning 'mixed cattle fodder', means a confused variety of miscellaneous things. It has been used e.g. by Edward Tylor in his Primitive Culture. The name is included in the motto (drawn originally from the Satires of Juvenal) Quidquid agunt homines nostri farrago libelli est — "whatever men do forms the motley subject of our page" which was written on the first issue of the famous eighteenth-century periodical Tatler.
Up to four editors are elected annually and hold the shared title of Media Officer in the University of Melbourne Student Union, with the Union Secretary being the legally defined publisher. The editorship has been highly politicised in the past, and election campaigns are vigorous. Archives of Farrago are available at the Student Union's Rowden White Library and in the basement of the Baillieu Library on campus.
Noteworthy editors in the past have included Geoffrey Blainey, Amira Gust, Claude Forrell, Ian Robinson, Morag Fraser, Henry Rosenbloom, Garrie Hutchinson, Ross McPherson, Colin Golvan, Lindsay Tanner, Peter Russo, Louise Carbines, Jim Brumby, Pete Steedman, Arnold Zable, Kate Legge, Nicola Gobbo, Cathy Bale, Christos Tsiolkas in 1987, and Nam Le in 1999.
The implementation of voluntary student unionism in 2006 had a significant impact on the viability of student publications across Australia, compulsory student union membership fees having been the major source of income for most. "Christos Tsiolkas was editor in 1987, and he had a budget of $280,000; we have a budget of $58,000, and $55,000 of that will go on printing. We're quite lucky, we're a well-funded institution, and the University has provided transitional funding", said Farrago editor for 2009.