Six Months (Actually) on reddit

This past June 04, I finally started using reddit.

That’s not true. I’ve lurked on reddit (I think I’ll use the lowercase form since that’s what the site uses; I also like it this way) for definitely at least a couple years before that, but this wasn’t even “regularly-checking” lurking; I just checked reddit when I got really bored or otherwise was reminded of something being on reddit. Okay, so this past June 04 was the first time I started posting on reddit.

That’s not true either. This reddit account I’m currently speaking of wasn’t my first reddit account; I made one five months earlier than I made this one, which I used exclusively to post on subreddits relating to various games, at first just generals.io. In fact, come to think about it, generals.io really gets credit for being what caused me to actually start posting to reddit. It’s really weird what major discussion-facilitating sites there are that I start using because of games: reddit due to generals.io, Twitter due to minesweeper. (Of course, my start with reddit from generals.io went far, far smoother than my start with Twitter from minesweeper went, as many of you know.)

But in any case, I specifically did not wander off gaming-related subreddits with that account, and before this account, I really didn’t browse reddit much. This past June 04, I actually started using reddit, in the sense of freely wandering the site.

The following are my thoughts from these first six months.

I. Thoughts on the General reddit Community

I’m just going to start with saying that reddit has by far the most civil comments section that I’ve seen of an online community.

There will, as is really necessary online, occasionally be someone quite terribly grating and hyperbolically antagonistic, but even in these cases they usually seem like they’re sincerely representing their anger rather than just throwing clearly frivolous flames.

I have been rather surprised by how eerily normal my opinions often are in the reddit community. As someone who day-to-day notices my viewpoints and thoughts way off-sync to that of most people, I have to wonder how it manages to not seem so way off in what is clearly a pretty large mass of people. I absolutely would not have expected, for instance, that my opinions of the significance of Japanese war crimes of World War II was something that earned me net upvotes. Time and time again, I wish to speak my mind on something that I would have thought was a very disliked opinion, but find it’s a sentiment towards which reddit at large approves. Where are these people in real life?

In either case, I really like being able to see at what karma an opinion comment ends up to have some sort of a gauge as to how it fares and how accepted it is in some large group of people, even if it may not be the best approximation for the real life scenario.

A further interesting twist on this: I have, several times, made a comment that got greatly downvoted over the daytime (say, to below -10), and then massively upvoted over the nighttime (say, to above 20). It seems I’m significantly more in agreement with people who reddit (or at least visit the relevant subreddits) between 0200 and 0800 Eastern time. Now I have to wonder whether these are people in America redditing late-night or people elsewhere in the globe redditing during the day.

I really like the bot culture on reddit. I kept a list of reddit accounts I really like the existence of, and many on the list are bots. The bots deployed on reddit span a really great deal of usefulness and a spectrum of flavors of bot humor.

I saw a thread a while back (unfortunately I don’t remember which thread it was) where reddit administrators were openly having a conflict with each other; I can see why some may consider this to look unprofessional, but I really like this. I see it as a willingness to be frank about what internal conversations can be like. I interpret it as a refusal to sugarcoat a situation as nicer than it is and owning up to the fact that sometimes discussions don’t go well. It inspires confidence in an honest presentation and an open nature to a site.

Overall, there are lots of aspects I really appreciate about reddit. I’ll touch a bit on the flipside, though.

II. Things I Dislike about the General reddit Community

There are certain conversational fads of reddit I’m very much not a fan of. Certain recurring jokes, in particular, really make me roll my eyes. Specifically, there’s quite a proliferation of your-mom jokes and French surrender jokes. I got sick of the frequency with which these appear on reddit just a couple days into regularly browsing; I really can’t believe the general community finds this recurringly funny enough that these jokes are often upvoted enough to show up very prominently in the comments. My feelings of annoyance towards these recurrent joke themes seem to well parallel my thoughts on overdone memes: “It’s happened enough times it really just isn’t funny anymore and is only more annoying each new time it comes up.” (Although, I should additionally note I don’t particularly find your-mom jokes and French surrender jokes funny even the first time.)

There’s also various elements of internet discussions that reddit to its credit has less of but for which it still would be nicer if it had none of. One such characteristic is people making very quick assumptions of intention, and rapidly descending into anger in subsequent response. The internet is not a good damper on this.

III. Favorite Subreddits

I’ll first talk about some subreddits that come close to being my favorite, and then point out my favorite.

I approve of r/mildlyinteresting both holistically and reductionistically. The idea behind the subreddit’s quite a great one: let’s admit that much of this content is not all that spicy in its eye-opening ability (and divert those to r/interestingasfuck), and allow people to accept this standard and thus realize how many things in life are really curious despite only being a little deviated. Many images posted to the subreddit are ones I did in fact end up being not disappointed to see, and that has in fact piqued my momentary interest. On top of this, the subreddit has a deliciously great slogan paired with a perfectly expressed snoo, and excellent community standards (subreddit rules) to keep the subreddit from spiraling into many of the traps communities could end up in, and one has a very-well-managed extremely-high-traffic subreddit, delivering lots of worthy content.

I’m a fan of r/changemyview…although I would have to reservedly say that I’m a fan of the subreddit in theory.

I’m glad there’s a dedicated subreddit to discussions on topics initiated by people willing to be open-minded and to ask for viewpoints they may not have considered. I would even have said that I am impressed and happy for the rate at which people claim their views have been changed…

…but I did say “in theory” above. With just these descriptions, this would be an even better community. But the subreddit in practice just seems to often have people whose opinions were changed by responses I really often think should not have been that hard to anticipate: it really makes me question whether the original view-posters even bothered to seriously consider the foundations of their view before posting. Of course, there is a good volume of mind-changing responses that actually offer a deep re-analysis and strong mentions of nuance, but a lot are really not that much. I’m going to say that I expected more, but in this case, it really is a subreddit that gave the appearance of being “seriously legit” and turning out to just be “legit”. It’s still all the way up there.

For entertainment, I find nothing to beat r/vexillologycirclejerk. I will have to mention, though, that much of my entertainment reading this subreddit is derived from substantial prior knowledge about world flags, and those not that much into flags may very well just not enjoy the subreddit nearly as much as I do.

This subreddit takes many of the dimensions of nerdy humor to the limit and beyond the limit…way beyond the limit. On the delicious palette of flags. There’s unbounded meta-jokes, taking-it-literally jokes, jokes with brutal twists, all the stuff. Oh, and of course, horribly bad puns. It’s out-of-control humor that makes one reflect and laugh-weep at how susceptible our senses of humor are to certain just-utterly-ludicrous things. Or maybe, this is something I can’t describe as well as the subreddit itself presents.

Now, here’s my favorite subreddit: r/whatisthisthing.

It’s clearly a really useful subreddit. Someone could present some item they found that they’d wish to know more about to a massive online community, massive enough that there’s delightfully often someone who does know what some gadget is and what it does. I’ve really been impressed what various members of the community of this subreddit know about, and have been glad to see them talk about various objects. The subreddit even comes with a Wiki of frequently inquired-about items.

Even beyond this, though, it’s wonderful just to sit back and watch. Day after day, a rapid stream of curious objects surface on this subreddit, fun mysteries to wonder and think about, and usually eventually someone will elucidate and make the item no longer a mystery. I’m really glad this community exists.

IV. Personal Statistics

Here’s the subreddits that account for >0.5% of my total karma, according to http://reddit.dataoverload.de (unfortunately, the new reddit profile format does not provide such a breakdown):

r/mildlyinteresting: 9348
r/AskReddit: 7474
r/hmmm: 2969
r/todayilearned: 2395
r/gaming: 1812
r/vexillologycirclejerk: 1801
r/MapPorn: 1087
r/softwaregore: 923
r/interestingasfuck: 642
r/ProgrammerHumor: 612
r/vexillology: 528
r/notinteresting: 525
r/assholedesign: 497
r/Unexpected: 216

(There’s probably some degree of unreliability in this data. I know there has to be something not exactly correct because reddit.dataoverload.de thinks I have 31268 karma total when reddit tells me I have 26910.)

Most karma received in one comment: 2385
It was a pun comment. I’m quite ashamed that my top-rated comment on reddit was a pun comment. I even removed the auto-self-upvote for that because of this. My next two comments earned 2295 and 1815 points (and were actually made on the same day), respectively, and were fairly tongue-in-cheek as well (although at least they weren’t puns), and it isn’t until my fourth-highest-rated comment, at 1390 points, that I made what I would consider as a comment that constitutes good, solid contribution to conversation. I’ll just sit back for a bit here and let a small sigh, and again note that I wish society more valued sincere conversation than snarky quips, and that it probably would be much more productive if it did.

Most karma received in one post: 804
It wasn’t a pun. That’s what matters.

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