Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reddit: Helping Me Pass The Time on Unemployment

When I was in Pittsburgh, Aimee was constantly hounding me to join and start using Reddit. Although I didn't tell her at the time, I was adamantly opposed. I basically hate most general internet communities like Something Awful or 4Chan, and I assumed that Reddit was going to be like those, so I dismissed it immediately. However, towards the end of my time in Pittsburgh I found myself looking for a good news aggregate site. Fark had been terrible for a long time, and Digg was starting to get very stale. I, along with thousands of other users, ditched Digg once they did their new awful redesign in the summer, and I found myself looking at Reddit again.

It took me a while to get into Reddit. I didn't care for most of the articles making the front page, and I sorta disliked the general format of the website. Eventually, I registered a user name and discovered that I can customize my homepage so that it only shows me certain topics. Once I did this I was in love. I ditched every other news site I used to go to and started to only use Reddit. However, after using it for a while, Reddit started to show its ugly side.

First off, trying to get good political news on Reddit is a nightmare. The problem is that the community on Reddit is extremely sensationalist. Everything that happens in the world is a direct attack on their sensibilities. "OMG Obama is compromising with the GOP?!?! I guess I'm never voting for him again! I'd rather the GOP win! I've lost all faith in everything!!" Seriously, most of Reddit needs to calm the fuck down. Secondly, Reddit gets into these political fads where thats all they talk about for a long time. The past two weeks have been entirely Wikileaks based, ignoring every other piece of news out there. Before that was all about the TSA and the Full Body Scanners, and before that Prop 19. I generally agree with their sentiment on these issues, but seriously sometimes the front page of Reddit looks like this:

Yeah we get it already.
In addition, the Reddit community is the typical internet community, which is one of the things I wanted to avoid when I joined the site. People on the site want to be both Liberal and Libertarian at the same time. They are militant carnivores with a hardon for all things bacon. They love internet memes and every time someone posts a picture you can be sure its like a rage comic or something equally played out. They hate Facebook and all social media outlets. They are PC elitists both in regards to computer type and gaming. They hate Hipsters despite sharing lots of qualities with them. They are also incredibly misogynistic (although most nerdy communities tend to be since they are so male dominated). I realize I'm generalizing, but these seem to be the dominate views on the site. Basically, I don't read comment anymore because I can almost predict what the top voted comment will be on any particular link.

Do you know whats awesome about Reddit? Subreddits. Subreddits are small specific categories that are like micro communities with only a couple thousand users on each one. Most of my links during my Monday News Roundup are from subreddits. The comments are usually constructive, the links are relevant, and they are everything you can ask for in a news aggregate. Some of the awesome subreddits I subscribe to are:
r/magictcg, r/vegan, r/malefashionadvice, r/space, r/cogsci, r/japan, r/losangeles, r/space, r/archaeology, and r/nootropics. These are easily the best thing about Reddit, and you can tailor your main page so that only these specific things show up.

TL;DR: Reddit is an awesome news aggregate if you tailor it for yourself. Otherwise you'll have to sift through a bunch of chaff in order to get to real and interesting news stories. The community is exactly what you'd expect from an internet community.


  1. I agree with all the things you hate about Reddit. I was just yelling about a lot of those things a couple of days ago, especially the misogyny. TL;DR Haters gonna hate

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful and reasoned overview of Reddit. I certainly have stopped using Digg, and Fark is ancient history as far as I'm concerned. Any news aggregator that has a cogsci subdivision is almost assuredly fine by me.