A few years ago, before the outbreak of blogs and web 2.0, online communities in the form of forums dominated the web. PHPbb, Simplemachines, Invision Power, vBulletin … all these forum platforms had their golden age. And they continue to exist, only they no longer have the prominence they once enjoyed. But there is a large community that has survived the evolution of the network: Reddit. It can’t exactly qualify as a forum, but it doesn’t have another fixed category either.
The main language of Reddit is English (there are some sections in Spanish and other languages, but they are few), and for that reason it is not a very well-known community among the Spanish-speaking public. Or maybe it is known, but not used because of the language barrier. And based on my experience, once this barrier is overcome, Reddit is a site with a lot of potential.
Reddit: a bit of history
Reddit was created in June 2005 by two college students named Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, with the help of an investment from Y Combinator. In November of that same year, the recently deceased Aaron Swartz came into play, who agreed to own Reddit by merging it with his own Infogami site. But the big part came when the publisher Condé Nast acquired the portal in October 2006. That caused the team responsible for the site to move to San Francisco with more serious objectives and ended with the firing of Swartz a few weeks later.
The growth of Reddit has been increasing progressively since its inception, and in mid-2008 the platform that shaped the community became open source. From here the community has progressed to what it is now: a huge community of users from around the world that became independent from its buyer Condé Nast in September 2011 and is now going free.
Subreddits: Success Lies in Structure
Classifying Reddit is complicated: it is not exactly a forum that many Spaniards are used to seeing, but it behaves like one. Usually a forum created with the content systems mentioned above deals with a specific topic, but Reddit is a community that covers all the themes that we can imagine. Each theme has its own section, called subreddit, and in it specific rules prevail for that community of users.
Newcomers to the Reddit website will see the front page of the service: a compendium of the most relevant posts from all subreddits. In the style of Menéame, the relevance of each news item is controlled by the votes of the users themselves and therefore it is the community itself that has control of what appears on the cover. Each message sent can contain a link to a website, an image, a video or any other downloadable content; and from that content you can create several nested comment threads. All Reddit activity is based on this simple structure: upvoted news and your comments.
If we create a user account we can subscribe to the subreddits we want, and the community homepage will be limited to showing the most relevant news of only the subreddits to which we are subscribed (although the option to see the votes of all sections again is always at hand).
Accessing a subreddit is easy, we can search for it from the main page or just type its address. There is a 99% chance that the subreddit you are trying to open is created, and the address structure of those subreddits is straightforward:
An example: suppose we are on Reddit and it occurs to us that perhaps someone has created a subreddit to talk about the Game of Thrones series. The direction to assume, and which obviously leads to the main reddit community of this series, is:
Try your hobbies, you just have to try with the words in English. It’s extremely rare that there isn’t a subreddit created for them, strange as they are. If you are looking for something in Spanish, you can always access the subreddit / es, where news related to Spain and in Spanish are published.
At this point it is very rare, but it is possible that there is not yet a subreddit dedicated to a specific topic. In this case it is the user himself who can create the subreddit, and you can do it publicly or privately. This last option gives rise to using Reddit as a platform so that a group of people can send messages to each other personally, or even to organize themselves between a work team or a group that is organizing a trip.
Two key factors: the IAMAs and the encounters
For me, the best asset of Reddit is the atmosphere that circulates among users. Subscribers to a subreddit organize often to hold meetings (in the / barcelona subreddit they organize regularly so that subscribers do something in Barcelona, for example), and they encourage so-called redditors go out to meet new people and organize to do some joint activity. Even if it is only to walk and have a drink, the experience is enriching. There are even activities like invisible friend gifts, or item swapping of some kind.
Although the biggest thing that has made Reddit rise the most lately is undoubtedly the IAMA phenomenon. It is short for “I am a …” (I am…) and it is a type of news that is sent to Reddit in which one user says what it is and the rest ask questions out of curiosity. It may seem like something very simple, but the questions and answers that arise are the sea of interesting.
“I’m a miner, ask me what you want“.”I work as a security guard in the congress, ask me what you want“The curiosity that these IAMA threads have generated has been enormous, to the point where Reddit itself helps organize IAMAs with famous people. We have IAMAs of personalities like Obama, who spent half an hour answering questions from Internet users. You can search for various threads like this within the dedicated IAMAS subreddit, located at / iama. Lots of personalities have already participated in one of these threads.
And how is it monetized?
Reddit is a huge community that spans the world, and creating a user account is completely free. The portal uses advertising to take advantage of all human traffic, and although said advertising is not intrusive or annoying at all (sometimes they even dedicate the advertising space to thank you for not using a blocker) there is the option to subscribe to a bundle of benefits called Reddit Gold paying a monthly or annual fee.
With Reddit Gold you stop having advertising on the portal, and you also have additional options such as filtering subreddits from the main cover, an option to see more comments per page, saving and marking of comments that we have already read, access to reserved subreddits already functionalities in the testing phase and a system of private and direct messages between users. They are $ 3.99 per month or 29.99 per year, a price that is not bad at all for those who visit and use Reddit frequently. Also, we can subscribe to Reddit Gold by paying with Bitcoins.
Many Internet users, when they enter Reddit for the first time and see the news and comments, describe it as an old-fashioned website for its simple structure and interface design. The truth is that it may seem like a very simple platform, but that does not mean that the developers have risen to their laurels. The look of reddit is what it is for a very simple reason: because it works. It focuses on the content and opinions contributed by the users themselves, and it is a place where you can calmly talk about anything in a social environment and with the possibility of meeting new people.
If you’ve never been in, give it a try and find your hobby subreddit. It may be the first step towards a good discovery.
Official site | Reddit Images | Jeff Keacher, John Attebury, Bethany