As 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:
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).
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:
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.