Reddit, a portmanteau of “read” and “it”, has, since its inception in 2005, grown from a simple aggregator of links on the web to one of the internet’s most unstoppable and indomitable beasts. The sites simple logo, the white alien that can be seen at the top of this post, has come to be known for the best and the worst of the internet. The reason for this is that Reddit, through its own organic growth (self-moderation), functions to intensify the scrutiny that is placed on subjects, whether those subjects be individuals, politics, places, ideas, regimes, foods, lolcats, anime, religions, etc.
The site functions through a series of, what could best be described as, bulletin boards and are known by redditors (those who post, engage and moderate Reddit) as “subreddits.” Anyone registered with the site can generate a subreddit, and estimates place the number of subreddits at well over 60,000. Other redditors then have the opportunity to promote or demote a post. This form of moderation serves to filter less useful comments without removing them and aggregate what are judged to be the best comments by the community to the top of the reddit where they can be easily referenced and discussed.
If you’re interested in the infamy of Reddit, dig into the controversy surrounding Michael Brutsch, AKA Violentacrez. Despite the controversy that surrounds Violentacrez, the positive elements that have come from Reddit are impressive.
Volunteers respond to posts from individuals contemplating suicide. The subreddit has over 17,000 readers.
r/iAmA “Ask Me Anything”
This subreddit is dedicated to individuals and groups answering the community’s questions. Celebrities and politicians are jumping onto the popularity of these conversations. President Obama has done an ask me anything. Bill Gates has done an ask me anything.
Sometimes complex subjects just need to be broken down into simple terms so that people can explore them. Whether it’s why down syndrome affects physical appearance, tax advice, or discussion of the German offensive into France during World War 2, the subreddit is a source of interesting and insightful discussion.
Redittors take to this subreddit to discuss the ethics and behaviors of Reddit.
The groundswell of engagement on Reddit is indicative of the direction collaboration is heading. Crowdsourced projects, politics, and studies grow like weeds on the internet and the GOP has already felt the sting of not paying attention to this group.
As the thresholds for access to technology and collaboration continue to fall lower and lower, what will the government of the future look like? If the culture of the internet continues to grow and groups like Anonymous, Wikileaks, and Reddit maintain their positive trends, it will be certainly be “of the People” and “for the People.”
Joshua Schwitzerlett is a researcher and writer for Ring of Fire. Find him on Social Networks.