The Culture Of Reddit | Off Book | PBS


Uploaded by PBSoffbook on 01.06.2012

Transcript:
In 2005, Steve Huffman and I started reddit dot com and we wanted it to be the
place to go to find out what was new and interesting online. Reddit's so good at
pushing up these new nuggets of information. There's always something new. It has qualities
of like a real life physical
community. The reddit community just wants to know everything. You can find anything and everything on reddit.
The essence of reddit is let's give people the power: to submit links, to vote on
them, to discuss them and we'll trust the best stuff will bubble up.
If it's funny or people enjoy it, it will get uploaded or downloaded according to
whatever people think. A subreddit is a forum that you create and you control in whatever
way you want to.
There's a subreddit for everything. They're all run by volunteers, people with no formal
association to reddit. You want to create a community for people who want to share links about my
little pony, great.
There's definitely this really strong subculture on reddit
where people really just want to learn. So you have r-slash-askscience where you can
ask any kind of science question and, more often than not, you get an actual
scientist to come in and give you an answer, usually with citations.
People
really appreciate thoughtful responses and well cited responses but at the
same time it's a powerful system for busting hoaxes, checking facts and
there's nothing more special than being the first person to know that you busted a hoax.
IAmA is a live interview section. It's just a place for anybody to go, open up a
thread, give a little background of yourself,
and let redditors ask questions. It really runs the gamut from the most ordinary of ordinary
to celebrities, politicians, astrophysicists. There is one from
a 911 operator. Normally you would never had a chance to talk to
somebody really in depth who
works at a 911 call center so you learn so much about their lives
and their careers.
The way that the site works tends to attract people that want to know the truth.
Reddit is about the user. Reddit is about person whose on it. As a whole we always
want to see the good in the community, we always want to see things work out.
There was an idea that somebody was like "why don't we have a reddit secret santa?" and
everybody was like "OK that's a great idea" and they made a website so all
you had to have was a reddit account. You can either select to be matched up with
somebody in the united states or somebody in the world. It was the largest gift exchange
ever.
Random Acts of Pizza is a subreddit and people that don't have a lot of
money just go to and they post their story, post their situation and if you have a good
enough reason somebody will just order u a pizza online and deliver it to your house.
And I thought that was amazing. It's a weird sense of trust people have in each other
when they're doing this. This is proving that hey, there is good in the world. To
have a community coming together is just great. Generally people will respect one
another.
Yes, they'll make immature jokes but most of the time people will always do the right
thing.
Reddit is overall a nice place but its relationship with women is really complicated.
Any picture of a woman
who is on the beach and she's found a cute little turtle and she's showing the
turtle, the top comment will be about her breasts. There's a big problem on reddit
with sexism,
which is pretty backwards. Women don't post so you can degrade them. All of this terrible misogynistic
shit gets upvoted all the way to the top, like all the time. In SRS we are the
majority and sick of seeing the same jokes, the same
disparaging humor. The point of Shit Reddit Says is to like have a place to
talk about the things that are wrong with mainstream reddit culture. It's a place for people to come
together and make fun of the people who
are terrible to them. It's bullying the bullies. Mainstream reddits common response to
SRS is that they hate free speech
but sexual harassment in public is clearly not OK. One of the major problems
with self-regulation on reddit is that you do not have a diverse enough
user base. In society you have fifty one percent women but there aren't fifty one
percent women on reddit. The active majority, they determine what reddit is. Maybe the majority
of people on reddit are men.
Certainly the voting systems would seem to indicate that it's people who believe that women
are irrational sex objects. If we judge reddit by the voting system, that's what
reddit thinks.
We're brought up now close to anytime somebody makes a bad comment. It
opens a dialogue underneath
about what SRS is and "Who's SRS? What are you talking about?" And then
somebody else seeing that will come check us out and be like "Oh my god, I found it."
There's a voice out there. The conversation that mainstream reddit is
having with and because of
Shit Reddit Says is developing into real hard self-examination of their morals and
principles and character.
The internet is this sort of last bastion of free speech
and we want people to have
the freedom to operate in that space. I got an email about S.O.P.A. The aim was
purportedly to stop online piracy, that was the Stop Online Piracy Act. It would give
the power to not only shut down a website but it was basically placing demands on
website creators that we're just untenable in a world of user
generated content. And it wasn't just the economic issue but it was also a speech
issue and a civil rights issue because it affected every one of us who uses and loves
internet. The internet is such a vital part
of our democracy that we need it protected. And so we had these meetings
here in New York of all these New York tech execs and we went around the room and talked
about all the things that we were going to do with our web sites to help raise
awareness. And when it got to me I simply said, "Oh we're gonna create a subreddit, you know,
sopa.reddit. We're just going to direct people to it." And I think there was this moment
where everyone kind of looked around and was like "Really? That was it? You're not gonna tell you're users to
do something." and I had to explain that that's not how reddit works.
And sure enough
we saw the moderators of
reddits decided they wanted to black out reddit
and so the best thing we could do is provide a platform for that all to spread and then get out of the way and sort of help where we can.
We started to get some of
our best ideas
and started seeing redditors encourage other redditors
to start doing things and taking action and creating the tools that would
actually help us win the day in Washington.
And I'm extremely proud of the fact that reddit was the first site to announce
going dark.
And after doing so, you saw
hundreds of other sites and blogs also announce they were going to go dark.
Someone did this fabulous infographic that showed the
senators before and after that blackout and how they had
switched sides so quickly.
The action against that was just another example of us following the
lead of the community.
We knew the value in reddit was in the community and as long as we did right by the community, then we
would do right by reddit.
The core purpose of the site is that ordinary people are democratically
pushing content up.
Reddit has a culture and reddit has a community.
The internet is a place. Redditors are, I think, as diverse as anyone of us here
in the states or anyone of us in the world. It's just a constantly changing,
powerful force of the internet
that nobody can really stop.