Reddit: All About It
I was surprised a few weeks ago when my brother, a super tech geek who works as a web producer in New York City, mentioned that he had become addicted to Reddit. While I was vaguely aware of the site, I had chalked it up as one of the many social media platforms that haven't really made it to the big time. Well, boy, was I wrong.
Apparently, Reddit has been booming in the United States and its popularity has risen to the point that the tech savvy Obama administration took note. Two weeks ago, the President graced the community with his presence to take part in a 30-minute Q&A session, called 'Ask Me Anything' (AMA) on the site. According to the Los Angeles Times, nearly two million people followed Obama's AMA thread, which received over 12,900 responses in the form of comments and questions. Writing on behalf of Mashable, Christina Warren called the event Reddit's "coming-out party". She went on to say: "Earlier this summer, I advised a publicist friend to put one of her celebrity clients on Reddit for an AMA. The event was so successful, Reddit is now becoming a major outlet for her most connected clients."
Looking into it further, Reddit looks like a collection of contradictions. Founded by two bright young graduates in 2005, it is now owned by publishing powerhouse Condé Nast. Yet, somehow, the network has been allowed to retain its open-source structure and the freedom of a community guided outlook without interventions from its giant corporate owner.
The paradoxes also extend to how the site itself looks. In a digital world where visual appeal is increasingly important, the design of Reddit can be a bit confusing at first. Actually, it seemingly eschews design in general and consists mainly of a simple compilation of latest-punch-news.html, which can be submitted by users (redditors) and voted up or down on the page. While each link can form a microcosm of conversation unto itself, communities are also created within different categories called subreddits. Anyone can create or subscribe to a subreddit.
Quantcast estimates that Reddit averages around 20 million users a month, while the site itself states it had 43 million unique visitors in August. This indicates that many have become intrigued by the network and have visited to poke around and explore, but have not yet signed up to be active redditors. Despite this growing popularity and interest, it is not yet clear how the site can be monetised, and the community currently seems somewhat adverse to commercial interests, so the way its future unfolds will most certainly be interesting.
I've signed up for an account and had a peek around, but must admit to being intimidated by the sheer amount of information and geekery going on. I hope to get a crash course from Punch's very own #TeamGeek, so I can impress my brother next week when we are on holiday in San Francisco (all hail the capital of geekdom!). So, perhaps I will eventually become a bona fide redditor.