I (and I believe a lot of other HN frequents) live in a bubble. We rarely meet people outside of the bubble - ask yourself when did you speak IRL with a real racist, for example? I remember this recent thread about his/her/them/their and a poor chap from Joyent. This is a special form of "sexism for us in the bubble". You just don't want to know what real sexism is.
Reddit allows me to look outside this bubble without actually meeting these people. And to adjust my gauges, and to educate myself (it's easy to laugh at some weird looking gal on the internets, but much less easy if you've learned what she went through and what her disease means, etc).
TL;DR: If you feel the urge to laugh and you see that the Reddit crowd laughs too, then probably you need to google around first. Chances are you won't be able to laugh and sometimes you'd cry instead. Which in itself a useful emotional exercise for (way too much) rational people.
I see it a bit differently myself. All online communities seem to end up the same way, people group together based on shared interests, which tends to lead to a false-consensus bias. Ironically, I think much of reddit has fallen victim to this bias, while simultaneously believing reddit is resistant to these kinds of biases because it is free-speech friendly.
But in actuality, reddit is generally filled with straight, white, English-speaking, college educated, single, 18-25, middle-class males  . Reddit sees more of traits, perspectives, problems, etc of these groups and less of others. I see a lot of hostility towards perspectives that come from groups who fall outside the criteria above.
In other words, I see plenty of racists on reddit -- just not non-white racists. In my opinion, this is not looking outside my bubble, it's looking in at a smaller part of my own bubble.
These kind of comments are what caused me to never comment on the internet about things. I always hated the negative tone people have on the internet and how critical they always are. Its easy to say things when you arent looking at someone in the face.
Recently I have started commenting on various websites and I am enjoying it but still those negative people come out of the woodwork given an opportunity. I too sometimes fall into that behavior but never say anything humiliating.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. See this post , to which the person from the picture responds .
Reddit does seem to have a problem with people who want to make fun of others posting, and unfortunately the content does get upvoted. I can't stand the people on reddit that take secret photos of others and post them. But don't write reddit off because of this juvenile behaviour. Read my responses to rfnslyr to see why I feel reddit has a lot to offer. As an example, from the post I shared links to, I learnt something about the Sikh faith that I would not have otherwise, although I do wish that the post was never initially made.
>Reddit does seem to have a problem with people who want to make fun of others
I always thought that's because there are many teenagers active on Reddit. I think ridiculing others in an attempt to elevate ones own status is a very common phase for insecure teenagers to go through.
You could replace "shitty" with "thoughtless", "callous", "cruel" for example. It's quicker, and more satisfying, to simply use the shorthand "shitty".
Also, what argument? Does the fact that the lady in question did not have anything to defend against, nothing to be ashamed of, really hinge on the exact definition of the shittyness of reddit trolls? Heh. So it's simply a statement. And if you disagree that such behaviour is shitty, make your case. If you don't, I really wonder what we're even talking about here.
This is less alarming than the potential that private-social-network based sites such as facebook, etc. have for mockery and harassment. Imagine if someone locally took a surreptitious photo and posted it to a social networking site, it ended up spreading, and this woman would be walking around in public, unaware that she was an object of mockery to the strangers around her.
At least, since this was posted on the public internet, it eventually was able to gain the benefit of wide scrutiny, and the original posters were somewhat chastened.
I share op's feeling. At least on that image the skin looks very raw, like it has been peeled or burned off. It absolutely does not look normal and can be disturbing to unexpecting observers (me included). If it was normal there would be no post about it.
Looks don't mean much about a person and I am sure she is nice. No one should be ridiculed for their looks. But please have some sympathy with people who feel uneasy looking at diseases (not a native speaker, probably the wrong term).
The image IS disturbing to me. You cannot project your own feelings on me. She looks very alien, like sun-burnt at a high degree and it made me queasy. I am not ashamed of my weakness here but I wanted to warn others.
Reddit is useful to me because I read subreddits that are interesting. Stuff like /r/offmychest /r/confession can provide a unique perspective on life.
For discussing TV shows (which I have to admit, I enjoy), it's also quite good. And if you are an artist making music, I honestly think Reddit would be one of the best ways to succeed if you carefully researched the right subreddits.
So it's not all bad. The default pages are generally quite brain-dead, particularly "adviceanimals."
Communities don't form in a vacuum, site ownership abetted, if not encouraged, the reddit culture:
A few years ago, while Jailbait was still going strong, Reddit's administrators gave him a special one-of-a-kind "pimp hat" badge to honor his contributions to the site, which he proudly displayed on his profile. Brutsch said he was even in the final running for a job as a customer support representative at Reddit last year.
Reddit has pretty much always had a laissez-faire approach to administration of subreddits. As long as it was legal it was ok. I really don't want to touch the violentacrez case, but he was given that award in recognition for serving as a moderator of a boatload of subreddits. It's not like the admins said "nice CP, here's a pimp hat".
And once again you are simply ignoring the fact that Reddit is not one entity. There is no single "reddit culture".
There is. There is a single culture that tends to upvote the same things over and over again.
Reddit.com is defined by its default subreddits — its front page. The fact that other subs exist doesn't negate the very real culture that has risen to the top of the site like the layer of oil on a cold, disgusting bowl of soup.
I really admire this person, the way she can handle the situation as a smart intelligent experienced person, the best of luck to her and her friends and family - their love and friendsheip is what matters really, nothing else.
I truly believe after spending so much time on Reddit I became a worse person by being exposed to the same regurgitated/top voted opinions on things nobody should be talking about unless qualified (which you can't verify). I realized after a few years after taking an objective look at my life how much I had changed. If you dwell in a medium, you tend to absorb it, and that's the only medium I dwelled in. It's taken me quite awhile to get back to being a normal, nice, human being, sometimes I still slip up in real life. Every topic I've been exposed to ad nauseam on Reddit that I experience in real life, I have to consciously drop all my preconceptions on the topic that I developed online and look at it with a fresh mind, it's slowly helping.
It's a podium for anyone who has an unqualified opinion to suddenly voice it for no real reason. That, combined with the broken upvote system promoting terrible content is a recipe for disaster.
"Reddit: the front page of an on going Dunning-Kruger effect study".
You don't stand to gain anything from Reddit. The comments are largely terrible unless you visit very niche subreddits that are moderated and/or have verified users. You can argue that some smaller subreddits have really good content, but do they REALLY? Maybe you'll find a few cool links, some good comments, and an odd article or two.
The reality is, nobody who has a credible opinion on something is going to bother wasting time having in depth conversations on an anonymous message board, so how good can the content quality possibly get?
I realized how bad Reddit was when I started following comment threads and analysis on other websites on he same articles as Reddit. What was upvoted as total truth (top comment) on certain articles was just scraping the bottom of the barrel. It's basically: hunt for topic -> scrape some shit off the internet (be it wikipedia or whatever site) -> loosely compose it into some shit essay everyone will upvote with a strong ideal behind it -> top comment. This goes for every Reddit thread.
I'm mad and disappointed in myself for wasting so many years on it.
It's a shit flinging contest determined by fake points called "karma" that people, for some odd reason, REALLY REALLY care about, mitigating any hope for a quality discussion.
Great response OP.
edit: toned down the vulgarity of the original post
edit2: My comment is towards the default subreddits, not small niche subreddits that you have to hunt for yourself to find.
You are using reddit wrong. You don't have to use Reddit in default setting. Unsubscribe from everything and then select those subreddits that are nice. You don't have to look at comments if you don't like their contents.
There are several nice and tightly moderated reddits that are great. For example /r/askhistorians and /r/askscience and several others.
Not to mention, some of the arguments can be made about HN without changing a word.
Reddit is different because people tend to chose subreddits that they care about, so the discussions are generally more positive.
For example, there are small subreddits about FirefoxOS or Jolla, that contain discussions about both topics, and are quite enthusiastic. On the other hand, any HN discussion about those topics is full of people who are doing nothing but complaining, putting (the thing) down and nay-saying.
But that's the thing. There is no actual real reason to go on Reddit. If I want to read something about the French Revolution, I'm going to pick up a book about it by a qualified author that I'll research before hand.
By simple virtue of being on Reddit, regardless of subreddit, you are wasting your own time. It doesn't matter HOW good the top comment is, ultimately it's a gamble. How do you know if what you're reading is real?
Trust, I've been on the site for like 7 years now and I've been to nearly every sub deemed "worthy". Almost in every situation, I'd prefer an entirely new forum specifically dedicated to that topic.
By design, it's just a comment system without any features really, and that design promotes a certain behaviour, which plagues the intention of the poster in the first place, because it's not longer about sharing information, it's about sharing information in the context of it earning more upvotes, so the content becomes corrupt.
I use reddit to discuss stories that only people in my town would discuss (r/stlouis) or to discuss things about the local sports team that only the people in my town would discuss (r/stlouisblues). Neither of those places are particularly toxic and there isn't really a better place on the web to discuss those things.
But that's the thing. There is no actual real reason to go on Reddit.
There's no actual real reason to do just about anything. But reddit is the best place for certain types of conversation.
Edit: The default front page really is a piece of crap.
"You can argue that some smaller subreddits have really good content, but do they REALLY?"
Yes, without a doubt.
"But that's the thing. There is no actual real reason to go on Reddit."
Something like r/AskHistorians is fantastic and I could never take in such a diverse array of knowledgable points by "picking up books by qualified authors" - I simply don't have the time, nor the niche interest to read every topic to that depth. AskHistorians is full of very knowledgable contributors, has effective and tight moderation, and it's generally fascinating.
I don't have a Reddit account, so I just visit that subreddit (and a few others - AskScience, NBA, an anthropology one, etc) directly. Sure, there's trash elsewhere but the same is true of almost everywhere, anonymous or not.
> Pretend like it doesn't even exist, because it shouldn't.
Why not? I get a ton of useful content from reddit, and find that the discussions in the comments are often enlightening.
The biggest problem with reddit is that you have to spend some time up front customizing your subreddit subscriptions. Once you've done that, the (custom) front page still has issues, and there is still bad discussion in the comments, but I can bail out of those easily by collapsing them out of view and moving on the the next comment.
Lots of people seem to want to state "I don't use reddit" lately like there is really nothing of value there. However, quite often in the comments section there are experts on the topic that provide some additional information that you likely wouldn't get by reading the same information elsewhere.
Edit: Many others have commented as I was typing this, and some responses seem to indicate that even staying in so-called quality subreddits isn't enough. I would just like to point out that in certain circles, people feel the exact same way about HN, and we're all here anyway.
I can't be the only one who just ignores others opinions about places and takes the good where I can get it.
What's not the point? I think you seriously underestimate the quality of participants on reddit. As an example, across just two subreddits I can bump up against Andrei Alexandrescu, Martin Odersky, Walter Bright, the STL maintainer at Microsoft, and many other great programmers who are working on the languages and libraries that I might use. Also, often videos from a conference talk will be posted by the author, who will then respond to questions in the comments. Where else do I get this sort of interaction? If there is somewhere else, I'm certainly missing out on it.
Just the other day, a pointer to Knuth's Annual Christmas Tree Lecture  was shared. I wouldn't have found it as soon otherwise.
Nobody is going to pop into r/programming thinking they're a know it all and then somehow getting to the top by just making bullshit up about very complicated and technical topics. They will get shut down very quickly.
> How are you going to determine whether a comment is bullshit or not, especially on something super niche like some very specific question in r/Askhistorians?
Boy, that sounds awfully familiar... like a very recent Bestof comment, originally posted in AskHistorians, about why reddit comments aren't useful sources for anything. Sounds like you're still reading the comments, despite your low opinion.
I don't follow r/Askhistorians but is it really the case that factually incorrect comments are heavily upvoted with no dissenting one in sight ? I am not suggesting it's rare but I would like to see some examples as in subreddits I follow it's rarely the case (at least on things I am able judge myself).
>You don't stand to gain anything from Reddit ever.
Oh come on, really?
I'm a hobbyist game developer. I frequent a few subreddits including /r/gamedev. It's a fantastic community and I've learned a lot there, and I've been able to use it for free promotion. It's been very valuable to me and I've enjoyed using it.
If your statement was "you don't stand to gain anything from /r/funny ever" I might agree with you, but this is just too broad a brush to paint hundreds or thousands of individual communities with.
You're better off going to a website entirely dedicated for that topic than sub section of a link aggregator. Why not just frequent http://www.gamedev.net/page/index.html or conceptart.org or something?
But isn't HN just an aggregator too? Just lacking the subsections? When you get down to it, how much specialization do you want? Surely a dedicated objective C site would suit me better, or a dedicated Python site. This generalized site called HN is no good at all. I find, unsurprisingly, that reddit isn't something that is any one thing. There is some good, some bad (well, lots) and some excellent stuff (not enough though). For the record, HN provides lots of what I want, and heaps of what I don't, but with a signal to noise magnitudes higher than reddits.
>> I hate Reddit so much, it's such an absolute shit hole. Pretend like it doesn't even exist, because it shouldn't. I truly believe after spending so much time on Reddit I became a worse person. I realized after a few years after taking an objective look at my life how much I had changed. If you dwell in a medium, you tend to absorb it, and that's the only medium I dwelled in.
I very strongly agree with this. When Digg did that "update-of-doom", I ended up on Reddit but I couldn't stay for longer than a year. There is way too much hate on that site. And for those who say "Well, just stick with a subreddit you like" that doesn't work. Because of bitcoin, for the first time in like 3 years I went to /r/bitcoin & /r/litecoin. Didn't take me 10 minutes to run into a racist comment. For all the good deeds that happen on Reddit, I still consider it a negative net-value.
And then it's going to be /r/truebitcoinserious, then /r/seriouslyguysthisistherealbitcoinsubreddit, then /r/thefinalbitcoinsubredditsolution and so on and so on. It doesn't change anything. It just fragments an already shit community into a smaller shit community.
It's actually hilarious reading some of the top posts in r/bitcoin. 18 year old basement arm chair analysts giving their fantastic insight into the future of bitcoin based on: reading a few articles, reading bitcoins whitepaper, and reading other similarly misinformed comments.
When I was young and I found this site, I thought it was the best thing in the world. In my head, I could throw out every other site because all the links are here first! Then I saw the comments, and it's very easy to feel like you're being informed on a topic when you see it has X upvotes (if it's this upvoted, it MUST be true!) when in reality, you have no position to judge the quality of a post because you don't know enough about the topic in the first place.
Now picture that, and then picture 1000 other people just like that upvoting a post, and the cycle repeats itself with every link on and on and on and on.
Thing about Reddit is that it is the lowest common denominator. The number of people on the internet that have an account on reddit is dizzying. There is no opinion originating in real life that doesn't make it there, so you see the same bottom feeding shit that you see all over the place. It may be heightened because real life is easier to moderate. You see people who have all the terrible opinions real people do and the same unwillingness to learn.
The number of people who browse and contribute to Reddit while on the toilet I would wager is quite high, it is a toilet magazine.
They do apply to HN, but HN is still very small compared to Reddit, and it's just one page dedicated to one (albeit) broad topic. The difference between Reddit and HN is HN has a reputation amongst a certain culture, so users fight to maintain their own reputation on here. How many times have I seen CEO's and founders of multi million dollar companies freely offer their insight on here? That's valuable, and for the most part, it's verifiable, and that matters to me, so I stick around here.
It's much easier to fling shit about a photo than it is about a very specific/complex product or technology. I can't exactly bullshit my way to top comment about something I don't know anything about on HN.
A lot of the users here, if you click their profile, you can find their startups, places of work, code they wrote, their blog, etc.
reddit used to be great, but the level of discourse plummeted when it became popular. I read slashdot mostly for the comments, but I generally stay out of the comments on reddit unless I'm looking for an explanation of something that was posted. Even then, I often have to scroll through pages of idiocy and in-jokes before I find the information I'm seeking.
You have hit upon a truth that many do not ever discover. What you take into your hands or eyes, you take into yourself.
If you read negative hateful rubbish, it will rub off on you.
If you watch a lot of pron, you will develop a warped sense of what human relationships are about.
If you absorb a lot of politics from a biased (one way or the other) source, you will start to dehumanise your political opponents.
Balance and real human discussions are the key. Your time is precious. Your keystrokes are precious - you only so many of them - http://keysleft.com/ - don't waste your keystrokes of pointless ragefests.
What do you want reddit for? Intelligent discourse, or links to entertaining content? I never went to it looking for the former, and I'm sure you'll agree it is consistently successful in the latter. The reddit population is a subset of the world, with an emphasis on pseudonymity and ignorance, much like almost any other public forum on the net. It's one fo the biggest communities, so it attracts the most assholes. They can't make you read, and they can't make you care, but apparently you have volunteered to do both!
Reddit 8 years ago was like HN now. I would learn a lot from discussions, and there was no concept of subreddits.
Later, I remember being shocked to hear some co-workers who I considered kind of dumb, discussing reddit-this, reddit-that a few years ago.
I occasionally visit reddit these days, but it's more as a reminder that I live in a bubble and that there's all kinds of people. It's fascinating. People are just tragically stupid, and yet the world sort of works.
I wonder whether this is what the Eternal September felt like.
This is more or less the sentiment I have of HN, too. Basically it boils down to an echo chamber; the community selects what it wants to hear, and silences other voices.
Granted, HN seems to have a more pretentious selection criteria - less-mature-sounding comments are discouraged. But it seems to me that HN has much less tolerance for diversity of opinion.
But I read both HN and Reddit, as well as the comments and articles in many other places, because even though I may not agree with the attitudes or opinions, they are different perspectives all the same, and I think it's a fallacy to think that some perspectives can be of lower quality than others.
"The comments are always terrible. You can argue that some smaller subreddits have really good content, but do they really?"
Yes, they really do. And no, the comments aren't always terrible. You can't simply make absurdly absolute statements and contrived caricatures and expect them to fly.
You seem to have a deep emotional investment in Reddit, as if you put unrealistic expectations in it and now you strike out like a bitter ex-lover (alternately that you go karma bombed, turning you into a one-man anti-Reddit squad).
Reddit is a large site with a lot of diverse people. Many subs are not my cup of tea (/r/wtf is the domain of teenagers), but many others make for an entertaining and often information diversion.
The general rule I recommend for people new to reddit: When you sign up, you'll be automatically subscribed to a few default subreddits. Never, ever, ever read the comments on any of those posts. Unfollow the ones that might not be relevant to you (e.g. /r/gaming, /r/funny, /r/news, whatever), and then look for alternatives to the rest.
If you find the concept of Ask Reddit interesting, look at /r/TrueAskReddit for a moderated community of people answering real questions with real answers.
If you're a gamer, look for a more narrow community. Try /r/ps4, /r/wow, /r/steam, and so on. Instead of a reckless free-for-all of foul-mouthed teenagers, you end up with thoughtful, relevant, and moderated communities. For example, this post where top-level comments are restricted to mentions of the current Steam Sale games, with threads descending from those for discussions on each game:
There are local subreddits, like /r/Vancouver, but they're hit or miss; Vancouver's is generally a circle jerk of transit-hating, car-hating twits complaining about Asians buying up all the condos, so your mileage may vary.
If you get suckered into the 'hive mind' behaviour of 'what do we hate today?' then Reddit is going to make you a worse person, and I feel as though this is the general case for a lot of people on Reddit: it's where people go to let loose about things which they only hate because everyone else hates them too and it gives them something to feel a part of.
Reddit is a microcosm of the internet as a whole: your experience with it will depend on which communities and topics you're exposed to.
To add to your point, I literally never go to "www.reddit.com" at this point (for reasons you outlined), but there's a lot of niche subreddits that I love on Reddit itself (/r/hiphopheads, /r/nba, /r/nfl, /r/mfa). The key seems to be heavy moderation and relatively small community size.
Fatness is the one I can't stand people getting upset about (as in, upset when people make fun of it). I'm fat, if anyone wants to take the piss then I'm fine with it.
Sure, there can be situations out of your control - I, for example, do believe that my genes aren't helpful to my weight based on family members and anecdotal evidence, but at the end of the day if I really cared I'm perfectly aware that I could be skinny, I just happen to chose to eat great food, and too much of it, and do far too little exercise.
If you mock me for being gay I might be offended, but for being fat.. that's my own damn fault, I know how to stop being fat but I don't care enough to do it, currently. If anyone wants to laugh at that, give a shit,
There are a couple reasons I DO have a problem with people making fun of 'fatness.'
1) It's a lot easier to get out of shape and overweight, than it is to get back into shape.
2) Being overweight can cause emotional problems that make it even harder lose weight. Laughing at someone worsens these problems.
Having said this, I guess it's human nature. I find myself at times making fun of people (in my head) for how they dress or look. At least I'm trying to overcome that kind of thing, though. Doesn't seem like most people even recognize shortcomings/try to get better.