Reddit: The Gold Standard of Online Communities

bb-redditAs far as online communities go, reddit stands out from the rest. Created by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005, the site is both a hub and a home for the citizens of the Internet. (Rather than explain reddit in detail, I suggest you follow the link and check it out for yourself).

So what makes reddit so remarkable?

Where to begin. From raising over 14k for a man with kidney cancer, to providing a shopping spree for a young girl with huntington’s, to mailing 70 birthday cards to one user’s dying grandmother, to the “Random_Acts_Of_Pizza” sub-reddit, the site exemplifies the altruistic abilities of the Internet.

Not to make this blog post sound entirely starstruck of the reddit community, I will note that there have been negative cases in the news relating to reddit. This is unavoidable in any community, online or off, and shouldn’t make people afraid of becoming involved with online communities.

My own personal experience with reddit has been inspiring, enriching, and a lot of fun. I use reddit to learn, ask questions, and engage with other users. One of the highlights of my involvement with reddit has been participating in a number of the exchanges. I first got involved with this when I stumbled upon the r/snackexchange sub-reddit. The snack exchange is a magical place where strangers exchange candy and snacks from all over the world. Sounds incredible? It is.

Studying abroad in London I was hit with a serious craving for girl scout cookies. I posted a request on r/snackexchange, and was contacted a few hours (!!) later by a reddit user in Texas who said he’d trade me girl scout cookies for some English snacks. I received a huge box a few weeks later, with this inside:

Reddit Snack Exchange

Reddit Snack Exchange

In-credible.

Last May I participated in  the reddit cookbook exchange. This exchange program is different than the snack exchange, with exchangers being paired anonymously. I sent a cookbook to an assigned reddit user, and someone else sent me a personalized vegetarian cookbook (along with other goodies).

Reddit Cookbook Exchange

Reddit Cookbook Exchange

Most recently I took part in the 2012 reddit secret santa. I sent out my gift, but never ended up receiving anything. Consequently the program rematched me with a super-hero secret santa, who sent me this incredible assortment of gifts:

vintage-beatles-album-chez-panisse-cookbook-and-art-supplies-1358780453

Reddit Secret Santa 2012

Needless to say, I have been deeply touched by the friendliness and kindess of the reddit community.

So what does the reddit community teach us?

Claire BeDell wrote this great piece on what reddit can teach Community Managers about anonymity, setting boundaries, and comment moderation. Reddit is the perfect example of how the Internet has something for everyone. The site is proof that no matter what you’re interested in, other people with that common interest exist.

And at the end of the day, reddit exemplifies commendable community service both online, and off.

The Magic Is In The Search Terms

thesaurus

In my Minds and Brains class we’re studying experimental phenomenology. One of the core principles of this is ‘describe, don’t explain’.

Ironically enough I recently experienced this concept in action while online shopping.

I was looking for a specific product for Coachella. I knew exactly what it looked like in my head, but I couldn’t seem to find it online. I tried all the obvious search terms. Forehead band, flower headband, festival band. I tried all the usual haunts. Etsy, Asos, Top Shop, Wanelo. It wasn’t until (through tireless searching, variations, and determination) that I discovered the product I was searching for, under the most seemingly obvious adjectives: “flower crown“. Oh. Duh.

Every day on the Lovely Twitter account I tweet an “apartment hunting tip of the day.” Searching for tricks and tips about apartment hunting I’ve learned to mix it up with my search terms. Tricks, advice, hints, wisdom, tips. The extent to which variation of tagging exists around a singular topic or item is impressive. It is easy to forget that not everyone thinks in the same search terms, and even easier to give up when everything that has worked in the past yields no results.

The incredible thing about the Internet is that it is a tool whose quirks and secrets are constantly evolving, at a pace which is outright intimidating. If you are struggling to find the perfect item or nugget of information just remember: If at first you do not succeed, think outside your search terms.