COM0011 – Reddit: The Evolution of the Peer-to-Peer Conversation?

I was at a restaurant having breakfast with my family the other day. We were having a discussion of no importance other than a question came up that nobody at the table knew the answer to. At this point my teenage son piped up and said, “let me ask Reddit”. I had never heard about this before, so I had to ask, “what is Reddit? And why wouldn’t you just do a Google search or go to Wikipedia?” As teenagers love the opportunity to show they know more than their parents do, I received a crash course on Reddit. Once he was done the lecture, I was won over.

For those of you who don’t know about Reddit, ironically, here is the Wikipedia definition (old ways are hard to break):

 Reddit /ˈrɛdɪt/,[3] stylized as reddit,[4] is an entertainment, social networking service and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links. Only registered users can then vote submissions “up” or “down” to organize the posts and determine their position on the site’s pages. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called “subreddits”.

 Why is Reddit the next best thing?

As an adult who mainly uses the internet for information, e-commerce, and direct one-to-one communication (email), I was more interested in the quality of the information posted. I know a large part of the material one finds on the internet is open-sourced, but what intrigued me about Reddit was the part about the posts being peer rated. I love the concept that if you write something that is completely false, the users are going to speak out and tell everyone. Knowing this gives a level of credibility to the posts (or noncredibility, depending on what side of the BS scale the contributor is on). To further this idea, the more posts you make that people agree with, the more credibility you have as a contributor.

The notion of credible information isn’t what really drives the popularity of Reddit. Jason Fagone said this about a typical user of Reddit on Wired in his blog, “How One Reponse to a Reddit Query Became a Big-Budget Flick”

Prufrock451 was pretty clearly a quirky character—he was entirely typical of a habitual Reddit user, and like many other redditors, as they are called, he found the site addictive. More than just a creative outlet or time-killer, Reddit was a game. The object was to amass points—”Reddit karma.” Every time Erwin saw his karma level increase, he felt a little squirt of adrenaline. “People are sweating to make you laugh or make you think or make you hate them,” Erwin says. “It’s the human condition, plus points.”

This addictiveness to users drives its popularity, making it a very valuable network for marketers and researchers trying to take the pulse of social media. Fagone goes on to say:

More reliably than Twitter, more scientifically than Facebook, Reddit answers this question: What do people on the Internet think is important, funny, cute, gross, uplifting—right now?

 I think I’m going to have to become a Reddit member… I hope I don’t get addicted.

To get a more indepth look at Reddit take a look at this post put out by CrunchBase:

4 thoughts on “COM0011 – Reddit: The Evolution of the Peer-to-Peer Conversation?

  1. I’m not a frequent reddit user but I plan to become one because it’s apparently the hangout for the well-versed in social media! A lot of prominent figures (less celebrity news types) go to reddit to do Q&As, like Bill Nye the Science Guy or the economist – Jeffrey Sachs. I tuned in to those. I’m observing that the more ‘entertainment’ types of public figures go to twitter. For example, I joined a twitter Q&A hosted by a DJ. Your last quote from Fagone pretty much sums this up.

    I show my friend (reddit fan) a silly 9gag picture and he says that was already posted on reddit a while ago. It’s the current of the current – the ultimate source!

  2. My assistant is addicted to Reddit and quotes it as THE authority on all things. She is a heavy social media user but Reddit is her top tool. When I went to have a look, several months ago, I found it frustrating to use and heavy with comments, not all useful. But I did respect that, like Wikipedia, it is a truly democratic site — managed by the users rather than by a corporate public relations message master or editor.

    But I don’t know who has the time to devote to sorting through the site and voting things up and down, except my assistant who clearly needs me to assign her more work!

    • I think the power here isn’t for the member (contributor), but for the professionals who need to know what is going on in social media. Remember, we are looking at this from the perspective of the people who use social media to get their product or brand into the conversation. Rule number one…go where the people are.

  3. Democracy is a powerful tool but I also agree with the comment of who has the time to read all this information. I read…a lot, but if I tried to attempt to keep up with all the relevant information that would keep me abreast of interesting topics I would never sleep again!
    Reddit is super interesting but it`s still not my go-to.

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