There’s a lot of talk going on about Reddit these days.
Everything from charming tales of international secret Santas to national controversies about voyeuristic photos in public spaces seems to bear the mark of Reddit.
Why should we care about Reddit? Here’s a primer for you.
Reddit calls itself “the front page of the internet.” That’s a bold claim. But, to its dedicated users, Reddit lives up to the slogan.
What Reddit is and how it’s used. Reddit is an online bulletin board. It’s a place where people gather to share ideas and content, express themselves creatively, and have discussions and debates across a wide variety of topics. It’s a place to ask and answer questions, interact with celebrities and experts in all kinds of fields, and much more.
The system that governs Reddit is its upvote/downvote feature. People democratically upvote content they like or downvote content they dislike. Upvoted content is featured more prominently while downvoted content is buried or disappears altogether. In that way, quality control is the job of Reddit’s users. Users comment and engage in discussions on posts which often shift from sober reflection to whimsical nonsense and inside jokes and back again.
Subreddits are basically special interest forums. Some subreddits cover general things like /r/videos or /r/pics. Others are far more specialized like /r/RetroFuturism–dedicated to sharing the past’s visions and predictions of humanity’s future–or /r/life which is a free-to-play massive multiplayer role playing game developed by Deity Games and the most popular game, with 7 billion+ active players (hint: it’s real life).
Ultimately, Reddit is a community. With a distinct culture with trends, holidays, traditions, ideologies, and languages. And while there are many niches to fit in, all its users share this cultural identity and the common cause of sharing ideas.
The perceived image of the average Reddit user is an angry troll slamming its keyboard so hard with a club that its posts and comments are hateful, violent vitriol. This is a myth. The common Redditor has something special he or she really wants to share with others. The site–the community provides a forum for people from opposite sides of the Earth to come together and share that special something. Something that they might not have been able to share with their immediate community. It is the bastion of geeks and nerds, of people with a really keen interest or specialized knowledge of a particular thing. Reddit helps people feel normal. It’s nice to feel mainstream every once in a while. It’s nice to feel a part of something greater by contributing ideas and the things people enjoy and care about in a global exchange; a global community.
But why does that terrible image exist? Some of these hateful users do exist. And while they are by no means the majority, they are loud. Groups that promote racism, homophobia, sexism, and just general hate exist alongside (tenuously) the rest of Reddit. But, there are more troublesome groups that currently exist and have in the past.
As it exists now, Reddit is the place you go for the sharing of ALL ideas. The question, then–is that how it should continue to exist? Especially when some of those ideas are not only bad or hateful, they are hurtful or dangerous.
There are many questions that are being proposed. And there is no categorically right answer. When concrete decisions are made, it is important that Reddit as a company–as the overseer of a community–responds to the community’s wishes and maintains its core values and keep Reddit a safe place for everyone.
The Internet is a big place. And Reddit is the front page.