I’ve been on reddit for 2 years now, quite nearly 2 and a half, and I started back like most people after it got a small mention over at digg.com. I was interested in what another site might look like because the 4 billionth time someone posted that Admiral Akbar ascii art I was finally getting sick of it and wanted to go somewhere else. So like a lot of other bums I made my way towards the reddit servers, and honestly it seemed like a nice place. It had the lighthearted nature that I liked over at digg, but usually the top comments were those I would expect from slashdot. I could post shit there and know that if it was decent that it would have a chance to make it to the front page.
So, I jumped on the bandwagon and started to make myself a regular there. But I’ve started to notice something, as more and more days pass and reddit grows ever the more popular it occurs to me that the content is getting worse. Now this is simply because the user base has broadened to new users and as your user base grows, so to does the nature of the community get worse. If you want proof of this you can watch it happen on pretty much any site that has gotten popular [4chan, etc]. It essentially requires that the community inflate like a balloon without enough moderation to really combat and train the new users on what is acceptable. I would almost argue that this is magnified at reddit because reddiquittte is something that is more a suggestion than any actual set of rules that have to be followed. And honestly that really is an issue, because you had all of these new users coming in who could read their favorite stories, have a bit of input and see what they want to get to the front page. When this happens they will tell their friends about their wonderful new discovery, and they too will migrate to the site to see exactly what it is all about. In the end this just results in a lot of people who are getting to the site and don’t actually know the rules the site was operating under, they just know that now they and their friends are popular and that they get to share links and such with each other.
It is because of this little cycle that we have essentially this torrent of new users who honestly shape the site into something it isn’t at all. I noticed it on Digg too as more and more of my classmates would say “hey ever been to digg.com” and I feel like some kind of god awful hipster or punk because I feel somehow wronged for liking the site just as it was on the verge of becoming the next big thing. Same thing with 4chan, I wasn’t there from the very start, but I was there early enough that I got to see it inflate like a balloon into this horrible monstrosity of modern media and memes. There is something slightly disturbing too in the behavior patterns, and I’ll happily lump 4chan and Reddit together, because 4chan has lot its teeth, and reddit found them but doesn’t know what to do with them. The analogy is more this, that those people who like 4chan will also likely enjoy reddit because he type of material that is discussed is similar in nature. As such, I would go out on a limb to say that the 2 sites are more sister sites than anything. You’ve got people who disagree and say that 4chan is some cesspool and a terrible place filled with gore, but honestly, I don’t think they’ve paid a visit recently. /b/ is filled with camwhores and furry threads, and stupid games you would expect to see on a forum run by 12 year olds. /d/ is no longer about finding hentai, it’s now just a game of “hey guys look at this weird thing I found, haha isn’t it so weird”. /tg/ can’t even play dungeons and dragons any more, and now the memes have become the board. Really it’s just a shit pile all around, and reddit is picking up the same kind of thing.
If you go to really any of the main subreddits, you will see that similar kind of things are occurring, the overall intellect is dropping, the story titles have become nothing but sensational, and more critical than that is that the memes that constructed the environment are becoming the points of conversation.
See here’s the thing, when we would say shit like “anonymous is legion” that was the joke, because we knew damn well that we weren’t anywhere near legion sized or with the kind of power to actually do anything. If there any kind of serious work to be done than you can bet your sweet ass that SomethingAwful was taking care of it first and we just jumped on the train ride. We posted gore more like a game of chicken, to see who could get away with the most disgusting thing, zippo cat didn’t bother us not because it actually didn’t bother us, but because that was the joke. That’s the thing, this whole image of anonymous that has been built up is the massive joke of it all. We were a bunch of college age kids who found this way of conversing with ourselves, and we made the place look like such a massive shit hole that most normal people would stay out.
So, I guess people ask “Well how the hell does that affect reddit?”. And that is a legitimate question to which my answer would be that because they are now linked, it occurs to me that every time I show up on a site, it falls to shit quality within the next year or 2. And it made me wonder if perhaps I am the reason these sites are starting to just fall apart. That because of the crowd I ride in on, that somehow I bring in the others that ultimately weaken the social in-laws that are constructed to keep the place sane and behaved. They say that if you don’t like it, you can just go hide in the other subreddits, but the thing was that the front page wasn’t ever slow, and the subreddits which do not suck… are. Even if /r/truereddit is honestly got content that is 20 times better than that of any other subreddit, it doesn’t have enough readers to make it worth crawling through. And it occurs to me, that because I am part of that crowd, that if it did start to pick up, it would quickly just kind of ruin itself.
In the long run, I’m waiting for another site to come along. I guess it just occurs to me though, that it would almost be worth it to fork over the 10 bucks to become a something awful goon like some kind of god awful internet elitist. Of course the thing about something awful is that I’m the type that would probably go and get myself banned for something stupid as hell. But the more I sit on the internet, the more and more respect I have for the something awful goons. It’s their members in the real world that I often times find myself befriending, and more importantly with whom I share views about the nature of the internet. That having been said, I think I’m going to use coca-cola to drink myself into a diabetic coma so that I can be awake for work tonight.
Until next time kids