Nearly 40 members of social news site Reddit congregated on a corner of New York City’s Governors Island earlier today, where they tossed a frisbee, ate muffins, played whiffle ball, and chatted about topics ranging from video games to programming to New York University.
The meetup was one of hundreds of such gatherings around the world organized as part of Global Reddit Meetup Day, an event intended to get the site’s users — who are highly social online — to get to know each other offline.
But things started slowly.
About 140 people signed up for the 2 p.m. event, but many had trouble finding the meetup spot — on the northwest corner of the island — because the directions weren’t clear.
By 3 p.m. only about 8 people had shown. One of the biggest topics of conversation was where everyone else was.
“We need a giant narwhal or something,” said Jackson Gallagher, a theater intern. The narwhal featured in a number of memes on the site last year, and Gallagher figured it could be a good way to lure redditors out from the other crowds wandering about the island.
But one-by-one heads poked up over the horizon; the redditors came cautiously in groups of two or three, most looking at their phones for the GPS waypoint organizers had provided them.
“Reddit?” the ones already there said in greeting. “Welcome!”
By about 4p.m., nearly 40 had arrived. They brought frisbees (which didn’t work), muffins, cheese flavored popcorn, and a whiffle ball and bat.
One group brought apple, bacon, and cheese muffins, which the assorted Redditors gobbled up.
“I’ve never met you before but I love you,” said one redditor, muffin-in-mouth, to Katie Wendt. She had stayed up “all night” on Friday making them, she said.
Though the event was part of the Reddit-sponsored global meetup day, the good showing wasn’t anything too unusual for these highly social redditors.
Web developer Ryan Ong, who organized the event, started the NYC Reddit Meetup group in 2009. He usually meets with Redditors every other week, he said, and routinely draw 30-40 people.
They’ve already had 129 events since the group was formed. Today’s group was even a little small, Ong said.
In fact, many of those at Governors Island already knew each other. Ong said he had already met 9 of those in attendance.
“It really is a community,” Ong said about Reddit. “The people are really interesting.”
Gallagher, the theater intern, said he had signed up for four events previously, but this was the first he attended.
The same was true for Darren Solomon, a musician and composer. This was his first Reddit meetup, he said, and it was better than he expected.
“I like that it’s doesn’t seem really homogeneous as I thought,” Solomon said.”If you actually read Reddit you get programmers, a lot of a certain kind of geek. But actually look around … and it’s any New York crowd.”
That, he said, was a “testament to the site.”