Friday, July 03, 2015

I really hope Reddit survives

For a couple of years now I have relied on Reddit to keep my middle aged self somewhat current on what is going on on the internet. Prior to this I had already given up on the tardiness of mainstream outlets, the insufferable social graph of facebook, the chaos of twitter and the overwhelming triviality of Buzzfeed.

I will admit that I was initially put off by Reddit's reputation as the home of some of the worst scum and villainy on the internet and it is true that Reddit is host to a lot of very objectionable content and even more objectionable users. Misogyny, discrimination and racism are easily found on the site along with a generous doses of innocent and not so innocent pornography. Reddit has it's own history of outrages such as the awful trial of an innocent by social media that occurred after the Boston Bombing. Yet Reddit is so much more than this.    It is also home to terrific scholarly material on history, science and other subjects. It is perhaps the only  place on the internet where a comment on a book by an ordinary user might be answered by the author himself or a film star or even a president. Best of all the subreddit structure allows you to tailor your Reddit experience to your own interests and likes.

Reddit is also a very current source of news. Breaking news invariably shows up on Reddit long before it hits facebook, Buzzfeed or the established news sites. Indeed you only have to browse Reddit for a few days to realise how much those tardier sources have come to rely on Reddit for their content. It is somewhat galling to hear mainstream media commentators adopt a holier than thou attitude to Reddit when you realise just how much of their own material is lifted from the site. Reddit may not be the most current source of news on the internet but the sites which  regularly beat Reddit to a scoop live in  murkier corners of the internet, places that most of us dare not go. Reddit has become the established portal for the more inspired creations and discoveries of those murkier corners to bleed over into the respectable internet.

Anyway the site is currently going through upheaval and the volunteer moderators and posters who actually make Reddit what it is are very unhappy with the direction being taken by the sites management and administrators. This discontent has been brewing a long time but the flashpoint happened when former Reddit employee Victoria Taylor was let go. Victoria is legendary among the community for co-ordinating and facilitating the AMAs (ask me anything) that have become such a feature of Reddit.

I don't understand the full implications of what is happening here but this feels like a serious rift,  one that ultimately may not be reconcilable. If the management want to pull Reddit in a direction where the volunteer moderators and posters do not want to follow then the future for the site is bleak. I do hope this is not the end of Reddit as we know it. I mean where else could you find a man with two penises vying for top billing with Barrack Obama and Bill Gates?: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/search?q=ama&sort=top&restrict_sr=on

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