This sort of sums up Reddit for me. 4chan is an example of what some Usenet groups were years ago, a community of like minded individuals debating their world views which are fundamentally similar and who share a common background/mindset. I suspect there is a relationship between the commonality of the participants and the vibrancy of the community.
It has been my experience that when you take a set of self selected folks and give them a wide ranging area to discuss, their discussions about most topics are energetic and self-reenforcing. This makes for a very strong community experience.
I first noticed it hanging out with 'air force' kids (which is to say early in my life everyone I hung out with, their parents, like mine, were serving in the air force). That shared experience, moving from base to base, base housing which was always nearly the same, stores with the same goods, etc, we (the kids) seemed to have remarkably similar views about things. I noticed it again when I went to college, the bulk of the folks who entered engineering were all there for similar reasons and that created a community with a common set of interests and values. For many folks college was the first place they had experienced the 'community effect' that arises when there is a 'kind of people' selection criteria affecting the overall group.
I am glad for the successes of Reddit. Staying vibrant and alive will be a challenge, it is for any community, but they have a good start.
=== Why I left Reddit ===
I remember Reddit back when it had tech news and startup advice. Back when it was like Hacker news basically. At that time Reddit's comments were of the highest quality. It was the most intelligent & sometimes hilarious discussion I had ever seen in an online community. So I fell in love with Reddit. But as it grew (especially from Digg refugees and popularity) Redditors started to "participate" on an astronomical scale. Because of the shear amount of participation, the first members to comment on a story (despite having mediocre comments) had a better chance of getting upvoted, those who waited a few hours to submit their comment got their voice lost among thousands of comments and no one would ever see it.
The problem with upvotes is this: They don't scale up very well. Whoever comments first competes with LESS comments and so has a HIGHER chance of getting their comment upvoted. Remember, just because your comment was one of the first to be seen and voted on doesn't mean it contributes the most to the conversation, the best comments come from people hours, sometimes days, after a submission gets popular. So by the time high quality comments came in, the community of Redditors had already received and upvoted the most mediocre, smart ass comments with tired memes, old jokes, & complete non seriousness. Even if they spotted your high quality comment that revealed something incredibly profound and rare, you never stood a chance at catching up to the comments at the top.
Also, as Reddit's popularity grew, the worst of humanity came out. Off-topicness, mob-rule, endless memes all became the norm. You had to flee to a subreddit and even then, the massive amount of comments (most of them one liners and chit chat) was just too much to wade through. I became frustrated at trying to have a serious conversation in a room full of jokers, I was just fed up with trying to speak in a room full of thousands of people yelling. So I just left.
My last few days I was a Redditor, I remember every submission had comments like these at the top:
Comment#1 "Smartass answer that doesn't contribute to the conversation",
Comment#2 "Smartass conversation that doesn't contribute to the answer",
Comment#3 "Contribution that doesn't converse the smartass answer"
Comment#4 "Smartass answer that doesn't converse the contribution"
Comment#5 "I see what you did there"
Comment #2,476 The most intelligently posted comment that will never get upvoted because no one can see it
I just left, and not on a good note. I miss Reddit because it helped me overcome my Christian Extremism and move towards Athiesm but it is nothing like it used to be, and for that I am angry. The Reddit I remember is dead.
Oh, and the top voted link at the moment was a sex tape of some woman who declared she's having sex with a stranger just to spite her husband who joined a sect which made him sell their furniture. And she was going to making him watch the video.
In fact, I see human nature as ritualistic as ever. As I see the world, most things in religion are more human-in-a-society based (a ritual for adulthood, a ritual for marriage, and some more rituals) than belief based.
We atheists/agnostics/non-religious should separate the wheat from the chaff and stop assuming something is bad just because religion does it.
It's surprising to hear anyone really praise Reddit, even at the start it wasn't that great. 'Downvoting' comments that you disagree with regardless of the quality of the points made is daft.
Reddit's discussion has always been far behind Metafilter. The $5 entrance fee keeps out people who don't want to make some contribution at least. The active mods there do a great job.
This happened again recently, only this time, I discovered hundreds of smaller subreddits and started participating in a few of them because they offered that smaller community atmosphere. It feels a little like a cozy lounge with glass doors at a super busy airport.
So please don't deny the good for the perfect.
Reddit, has been ridiculed enough for being bad for X reasons. But hey, that's the only thing existing out there. And it works well for vast majority of the people. People who are out there just for chat or a serious discussion on a sub reddit.
I have seen that this thing works in many cases. If you have some good idea that can solve problems. Work on it and get an implementation out. Even if for the moment the working quality of that thing or the implementation quality of that thing isn't upto the mark.
This can be seen manifest in things like programming languages too! People criticize Php/Perl for all sort of reasons. But hey, remember they are so much useful and practical in the real world the elusive perfect that is supposed to replace never comes into existence. Because the elusive perfect is always in never ending path of ideation and implementation, in form of some abstract concept.
People call bash scripts and solutions hacked together using sed/bash/Unix text processing utilities crud, non readable, not elegant or whatever. But remember they often serve as the fastest way to solve some very difficult problems in seconds/minutes. While an equivalent verbose elegant language would take hours of effort writing and testing the program.
Sometimes an existing ugly solution survives in the real world, it wins and persists and nothing really replaces it. For many reasons, it was first to arrive. It convinces people that it can be useful to them. It is practical, it can survive and maintain the niche for a long time.
Meanwhile the elusive perfection, never arrives.
Reddit works and wins on the same principles.
I disagree with the article; there is no one reddit culture. One can go to r/politics, r/gardening, r/fitness, or r/askscience for example, and they all feature their own cultures and own biases. For example r/fitness has a culture focusing on weight lifting for fitness. But for people who are into fitness through running, there is r/running. The same thing goes for politics: r/politics tends to be left leaning, but you can find right leaning people in order subreddits.
There are thousands of vibrant community subreddits were people with similar interests (and sometimes opinions) participate. All with their own cultures and moderation rules for what are acceptable posts.
Subreddits combined with voting and good moderation make reddit way better than usenet, Digg in its heyday, or 4chan.
You could compare it to 4chan having a culture despite there being dozens of different boards.
The site self-selects; you are not going to get many grannies coming on board when the front page is filled with f-bombs, sexual questions or interviews (AskReddit/IAmA), non-sensical pictures and jokes, and news about IPv6 or other techie stuff. That's just the long and short of it.
Even if you give a specific link to an individual subreddit, anyone who participates to a meaningful degree will venture outside into the broader world of reddit and be very sorry they did so, often swearing off the site entirely.
I haven't even mentioned the intentional harassment offered by the kind reddit denziens who find what you are trying to talk about "moronic", "abusive", or "mind-numbing".
This effect was so pervasive that I recognized I could not get meaningful participation from relevant segments of the population if I hosted the community on reddit. I coded a clone and started an independent site. I think this is required for anyone whose primary audience doesn't overlap with the 20-something nerd crowd.
I will admit that for the ones I use, the proportion of Americans are at least 90%.
That's what makes reddit great, if your not into the memes, you can easily "turn them off".
For one thing, the site admins won't get involved with what they term "moderation fights" so one bad actor as a mod can cause a hostile takeover/coup of a subreddit that nothing can be done about.
1. They didn't screw up their site.
2. They scaled. Not without struggles tho.
You may disagree with the content that adorns the front-page but you can trust that it was driven by users and not sponsors.
When when the dreaded "V4" came, it wasn't the design that was the problem, it was the change to prioritising major media companies.
It would be possible for Reddit to change their design without changing functionality. But I suspect that no-one would be happy with the result.
Has Reddit considered providing a public backup functionality ala Wikipedia? Anyone have thoughts on this?
The FBI might target them, but most likely for their laissez-faire moderation where deleting a subsection literally dedicated to child pornography caused a major uproar.
1) whether the focal point of the visual depiction is on the child's genitalia or pubic area;
2) whether the setting of the visual depiction is sexually suggestive, i.e., in a place or pose generally associated with sexual activity;
3) whether the child is depicted in an unnatural pose, or in inappropriate attire, considering the age of the child;
4) whether the child is fully or partially clothed, or nude;
5) whether the visual depiction suggests sexual coyness or a willingness to engage in sexual activity;
6) whether the visual depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer.
Apparently digital reddit comments are exempt from this notion.
Whether the same approach would work today depends on how well the reddit new comment api is holding up. Even a year ago, when unedditreddit was working, new comments was a decent sized firehose and the approach seemed to work well.
IMO the biggest problem with Reddit is that too many people downvote well-supported arguments because it goes against their belief system which really stymies the conversation. I'd like to see downvotes haves some 'cost' associated with them so they are used sparingly and on content that really deserves to be downvoted.
I don't agree with their policy that those who vote in a thread may not comment in that thread but I think a lot can still be learned from Slashdot's model.
There's always going to be a way for determined users to get around the limits, but if it can reduce the number of reflexive downvotes from most users it could still be a net win.
No the biggest problem is that for the majority of reddit users that 'weak content' is actually what they come to reddit for. It's a systemic problem with the community. The comment system works fine.
In all, this means downvotes are uncommon; usually, people try to fix the problem (editing or asking the writer to edit). However, if something is downvoted, it is extremely likely that that post is irrelevant or actively wrong.
This allows you to do things like filter results to only high scores, excluding 'funny'.
Slashdot's comment moderation system always seemed to work pretty well to me. The general editorial quality is what made me give up on them. (When I checked back recently, most submissions were incredibly blatant flamebait.)
There would be no reasonable way to force people to make a useful comment.
The "flag" option would have to include a reason ("offensive", "off-topic", "spam")
The main problem with downvoting for me is that often people vote down out of disagreement, resulting in groupthink. In my opinion, downvotes should hide comments and punish commenters that don't contribute to the discussion. By making downvoting slightly harder, you could focus on the proper subset of comments that should be punished, like spam and insults.
(and by the way fix the UI problem of two arrows that are much too close to each other)
Redditors' reputation is depends on their actions, not points, badges, friends or any other "scoring" system. This makes for a way more dynamic and sustainable meritocracy than sites who's system tends to create an incumbent elite of power users.
The color of the post should only change when it hits a negative score. A post downvoted by only one person is a reflection of that person rather than the post. Also, since they start at 1 point anyhow, it would be a very elegant system.
(No, this isn't a quality post either, but it at least expresses my sincere if underexamined feelings.)
"Breaking news: Elvis Presley remains dead (41 links)"
Have a look at this picture:
You just reddit-bombed me and who knows how many HN'ers. 30 minutes gone and counting.
Put it this way, journalists who've been around a long time learnt "Web" and will often stick with it out of habit. "E-mail" seems to be a little further along the line here though with old school journalists seemingly more likely to use "email" than they did 10 years ago.
(This page - http://www.apstylebook.com/?do=ask_faq - indicates that AP recommends "Web" but also "website" and "email.")
Internet, on the other hand, is (and continues to be) capitalized in most cases and certainly in formal usage. The Internet is an internet, but an internet is not necessarily the Internet.. ;-)
You make a good point about "Internet", but I always feel somehow unclean when I write it that way. Perhaps it's just this generation's aversion to capitalization in general. Here's one interesting argument against that form: http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/08/64596. Food for thought. :-)
I could've made that.
Yeah, but you didn't.