Explain Reddit to a total n00b

What is it, why is it, what is it good for?

I don’t even know what other questions to ask. I only ask now because I see there’s some big flap over there because someone the moderators liked/found useful was fired, and the moderators made large sections inaccessible to the public. That seems like a lot of power for moderators.

What’s it all about, Alfie? (Not just the current flap, but the whole shebang)

Reddit is a platform for sharing links to things and talking about them. You can also start discussions that are not about links to things.

Anyone can start a category (called a subreddit) and moderate it how they see fit. Subreddits cover everything from tech news to foot porn to woodworking. Some of the more popular subreddits have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

Here’s an interesting one. Not a lot of activity though.

I see the topics/links (and can open them) but don’t understand how to see the comments or discussion (I’m on an iPhone).

I would think they would be hard to view on an iphone
try checking on a laptop or desktop and it will work better

I’ve checked it out a time or two, but don’t understand how it even works. I did not find it to be a user friendly site, at all.

Reddit is a forum, like the Straight Dope. But much bigger.

Instead of the dozen or so sub-forums here, there a thousands of sub-reddits. Anyone can start their own and rule it like a God-King.

There are some site wide rules of course. And if a sub-reddit gets particularly obnoxious and attracts bad press - it gets taken behind the shed and shot by the admins.

The current flap is over the sudden firing of a Reddit employee who organised celebrity AMAs (Ask Me Anything), which ground those to a halt. And that bubbled over into general unhappiness with lack of communication etc.

There have been two major kerfuffles over there in as many months. First was the banning of /r/fatpeoplehate (and a few other minor ones). This was a subreddit devoted to making fun of fat people. They would post pictures of fat people and mock them. The admins (that is, the people who are actually paid to run the site) banned it for violating the “no harassment” rule, claiming that people were getting harassed in real life. Redditors got up in arms crying “free speech” and “censorship” and posting lots of Nazi flags. Other critics pointed out that several other offensive subreddits, notably several devoted to really nasty, virulent racism, were left untouched.

The current one is about the sudden firing of an employee named Victoria. She was probably the best-known of all Reddit employees, because she handled the popular “Ask Me Anything” feature. AMA is a thing they do where famous people will come onto Reddit and anyone can ask them anything and maybe get a response. Everyone from actors and singers to President Obama has done them. Victoria did a lot of behind the scenes work organizing them, and usually was there with the celebrity “helping” them when the time came. It’s generally understood that she did all the reading and typing for the celebs. The moderators (unpaid volunteers) of the AMA subreddit heavily relied on her help to make it successful.

Then one morning they woke up to find that she had been fired by the administration with no explanation, no plan to replace her or her functions, and without a word of consultation with the various moderators that would be affected by the action. This was sort of the last straw for mods that already felt that the admins didn’t care about or appreciate their work in making Reddit successful. The AMA subreddit “went private”, meaning that all of their content was hidden away from the general public. Many other popular subreddits did the same in a show of solidarity. Reddit in general has once again lost its collective shit, and most of the content at the moment consists of complaints about the administration and/or posts using the word “Victoria” in every possible way.

In my personal opinion, I was fine with the fatpeoplehate banning, because it really was a nasty place, but this latest firing does seem pretty questionable at best.

So I’ve been hearing that the mods of the more popular forums closed/hid/locked them to keep traffic on the site to a minimum.
Is the site set up that the reddit brass can’t go and turn the forums back on? Or are they choosing not to because that might just cause bigger problems?

Actually, most - perhaps all? - of the closed / private subreddits have already been reopened.

Reddit is where you can experience both the best and the worst of the internet in a matter of 30 seconds.

The key is to find good subreddits and only stick to those. r/news is awesome. So is r/science.

I don’t keep up with the “behind the scenes” drama. The blackening was just mildly inconvenient for me, since the majority of subreddits I subscribe to stayed open for the most part.

The affected subreddits have reopened. This is the message from the mods running the AMAs.

My guess is they feel that she was fired for opposing some sort of pay-for-play arrangement that celebs PR people were pushing. And from now on they’ll go it alone.

I’m sure they could physically do it. But that would create a much bigger shitstorm.

I’m sure they have the technical ability to do that, but that would be a massive violation not only of the site’s traditional culture, but also the administration’s stated goal to be as hands-off as possible.

Thanks to the responders and especially you two; maybe Reddit is worth exploring a bit. I don’t have enough online timewasters yet.

Their personal finance and credit subreddits are great.

The sub text to yesterday’s scuffle seems to be that Reddit is trying to monetize itself coupled with the usual problems inherent in a company with a startup culture transitioning into a more standard corporate environment. The new board of Reddit has made several extraordinarily tone-deaf decisions considering it’s a company with (I think) around 60 employees rather than a Fortune 500 company.

The first really odd decision was made last fall and was that all employees [*had* to relocate to San Francisco or be fired](http://venturebeat.com/2014/10/01/after-raising-50m-reddit-forces-remote-workers-to-relocate-to-sf-or-get-fired/).    It's hard even to count the ways that was an baffling decision, given the ease of telecommuting, the cost of living in SF, and the disruption to employee's lives.    This pretty much cemented the notion in much of the community that the new management is authoritarian and uncaring.   

There have also been several unexplained firings of personnel, leaving gaps of functionality and mistrust and confusion in the community which again, given that Reddit has nothing marketable except its community, could have been handled far better.

The biggest problem, though, is that Reddit is trying to make money off the volunteer labor of hundreds of moderators (as well as the contributors), but has failed to communicate effectively with those moderators or provide them tools to make their lives easier.

Note that none of the above doesn’t mean that many members of the Reddit community are overly-entitled drama queens. I think it’s reasonable to be a proponent of free speech and still be OK with the banning of a subedit called “fatpeoplehate”. But somehow this offended people who think there’s an inherent right to be nasty douchebags on the internet.
The summary, or TL;DR if you will, is that if you don’t want message board drama about freedom of speech, jackbooted moderators, and heavy-handed administration, you should probably stick with the SDMB :slight_smile:

Looking at the Reddit “front page” is a great way to keep up with current issues. It’s like going into a large Barnes and Nobles before the internet got so widespread… you could browse through all the best magazines and get caught up on the cultural and political doings of the whole past month by browsing for one hour… except on reddit you can get caught up in like 10 minutes.

Thanks for such a great summary
It sounds like they are going to totally screw up reddit :frowning:

Almost every link there was posted by one user. A bot? None very recent, either.

I could never get the hang of Reddit’s upvote/downvote system. It makes threads a confusing mess.

I like it. Its fun to see how the rankings change when you come back in an hour. What I don’t like is how they display their threads.