BCM · Media, Audience, Place

Reddit, the space and thoughts surrounding the age of the digital forum.

Reddit: User/non-user Sentiment

Reddit, “The front page of the Internet” A forum site unlike any other, with the ‘shitpost’ quality of 4Chan but the educational value of a sub-par school. Reddit is many people’s first place for information about niche topics, a place to go to discuss what they’re into, be it DIY projects or stories designed to keep you from sleeping, Reddit has it all. Personally, it’s why I believe that the internet ALWAYS has the answer. Although it might not be the right one.

As an intermittent Reddit user, I have developed feelings and impressions of the platform through using it. Of course I have not gone through every subreddit (category) or even read what’s on the default subreddits for a while. While I could write my own impressions of the digital space Reddit has created, I feel that would not accurately represent your “average” user, whatever that may be in this case. I will however use my impressions of the platform as a basis for what I believe the fundamental ideas and concepts behind Reddit are, as there are no ‘official’ sources for the ideologies that Reddit wants to represent. A quick list of what I believe are the platform’s most pertinent ideals is below:

  • Heavy focus on anonymity, no user has to verify their email.
  • Freedom of speech is heavily protected.
  • Without proof, evidence, or knowledge of the user’s background, any claim made by a user is not to be taken as fact.
  • New content is great, old or copied content is frowned upon.
  • Reddit holds weight (eg, the hug of death)

To verify that these are indeed some of the key, fundamental concepts behind Reddit, I decided to ask a fellow Redditor. To answer the first question without even quoting him, he’d like to remain anonymous.

 

Me: “What do you think about Reddit’s privacy policy?”

Redditor: “Well personally I like that they give you the option to remain anonymous if you want, it’s a welcome change from the other major sites that require like 8-step verification.”

Me: “So you’d say you’re pro-anonymity? Would you like to see other major sites take up that practice.”

Redditor: “ah I don’t think I want to see other sites do it, maybe less verification in general, but generally I don’t mind it, but that could also just be my complacency. I simply like that Reddit doesn’t require any verification at all to do anything on the site.”

As you can see, anonymity is definitely a core concern amongst this Redditor, it’s plain to see that this is something he/she has thought about before, or at least considered when signing up for Reddit.

Me: “What do you think about censorship on Reddit? What censorship are you aware of, if any?”

Redditor: “As far as I’m aware, smaller subreddits censor whatever they want in accordance to the rules of that subreddit, but bigger subs, like all the defaults are censored at a managerial level. I think generally, management of content is pretty good, and if ever there were an incident of censorship that was considered too harsh or not justifiable I know the community would speak up until facts about why it was censored were released or the post was put up again.”

Here we can see that while undue censorship is an issue sometimes, the perception is it’s either justified or quickly solved through community intervention.

Me: “How do you feel about getting information on a topic from Reddit?”

Redditor: “With mainstream topics it’s fine, like if you wanted to build yourself a desk or chair or something that has nothing to do with opinion, it’s quite easy to look up the answers you seek. But if you want to know something that’s niche, or that has some faint whiff of being opinion based, or something that usually requires qualifications to know, you have to get a secondary source on the info. Like I wouldn’t trust some dude who told me oh yeah you can definitely claim that on tax, or something like that. At least not without them providing proof. So yeah definitely need some secondary sources for important info.”

Here we can observe just how the average Redditor would go about obtaining information from the site, and the personal policies in place while looking.

Me: “Alright, how do you feel about cross-posting, or content duping?” (These are terms used to describe copied content)

Redditor: “To be completely honest, and I know every serious content producer out there is going to get mad, but I don’t really care. I know some people go nuts if you don’t accurately credit the original content or properly label it as a cross-post, but I just don’t care. It’s just not an issue because RES like deletes duplicate imgur links that you’ve already seen as well, so maybe that has to do with why I don’t see it happen that often.”

Here my opinions were challenged, through my use of Reddit I got the impression that absolutely everyone gets mad if you cross-post without labelling and copy content, but here we see your average user doesn’t value the source of the content that much. His use of RES (Reddit Enhancement Suite) is interesting to note, and the feature he mentioned that deletes duplicate links that have already been viewed from your homepage is obviously more powerful that I had imagined. I myself use RES as well, but I did not actively notice that feature.

Me: “Do you think the Reddit community has significant man-power? Or ‘do’-power if you like? That is if enough Redditors are committed enough to one cause they have the power to make a difference?

Redditor: “Absolutely the Reddit community has power, while the hug of death doesn’t happen all that often, there are plenty of other examples of the Reddit community coming together to make a difference. r/legal advice is one place to see law students and even fully accredited lawyers give out free advice to people who might need it. I can’t name like a specific example of it off the top of my head, but there are definitely large groups of people helping others in need of help on Reddit. I know sometimes Reddit can seem like a pretty toxic place, especially when it comes to stolen content, but there is definitely a nice side.

Here the Reddit ‘hug-of-death’ refers to so many people on Reddit clicking a link and checking out another internet site, that the site’s servers crash due to too much traffic, this is traditionally known as a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, however Reddit sometimes preforms them without malicious intent when an interesting link makes it to the front page.

Here is what a traditional DDoS attack structure looks like, however in this case there is not one attacker and an army of zombie computers, just the Reddit community instead. Also replace the victim with an interesting site.

In conclusion, a lot of my previous conceptions about Reddit as a space were confirmed by this Redditor, however some were challenged, in reflection the process of actually asking this person about their experience on the site was somewhat strange, in my mind I compare it to talking about fight club. To clarify, I don’t believe that every Redditor thinks the way that this one does, or that I do, and I’m sure that a non-reddit user would have another completely different set of views and opinions to myself or my Redditor friend, which just goes to show how completely different people are, even on what is a comparatively small website to other larger/more specific forum sites. It has definitely been interesting to hear the perspectives of another user.

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