Week in Reddit: Kindness, art and learning, for a change

Reddit had a pretty good week, helping out a gay teen, other members,  strangers, and clearing the way for a Reddit-to-riches movie deal.

Mar 3, 2020, 11:01 am*

Internet Culture

Kevin Morris 

Kevin Morris

Reddit hasn’t entirely escaped from its recent whirlpool of bad publicity.

Questions still linger over r/jailbait’s closure and the continued proliferation of sexualized photographs of teenagers on the social news site.

The site’s staff have yet to make a public statement, leaving the situation largely unresolved.

Still, Reddit seems to have at least partially escaped the maelstrom. Redditors were up to some good things this week.

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The r/LGBT community rallied to support a gay teen who was the victim of some pretty nasty online bullying.

Meanwhile, others were busy expanding the breadth of Reddit’s charitable subreddits. At r/Random_Acts_of_Pizza, people have been giving away pizzas to strangers for months now — all the name of charity, and fun.

So why not other things? Cookies? Beer? Cash? Star Wars toys? The recently minted r/RandomKindness is kind of like r/Random_Acts_of_Pizza’s bigger brother. It encompasses anything and everything. Even, it turns out, friendships for the forever alone.

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There was more good-for-Reddit news, however. Earlier today Reddit admins made it clear they had no intention to requisition any of James Erwin‘s (aka Prufrock451), Hollywood success. The man whose comment launched a Warner’s Bros. movie deal is free to make a movie as he (and Warner Bros.) sees fit.

As Reddit general manager Erik Martin wrote: “It would be completely against our interests to sabotage something awesome created by a Redditor.”

That was despite doubts placed on the deal by the Hollywood Reporter, which pointed out some interesting lines from the Reddit user agreement.

As I argued yesterday, a legal battle over RomeSweetRome would be a pretty disastrous PR move for Reddit.  And as Martin made clear, they’re not going to make it.

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Meanwhle, in a homepage shuffle, Reddit added 11 new default subreddits, and shut down another: r/reddit.com (a vestige of the site’s days before the subreddit system was implemented).

As Martin told us, this is a “baby” step in bringing greater customizability to the site — or to be more  precise, letting new or casual users know that customizability even exists.

It’s also bringing some growing pains as new users flood some highly esteemed sections, such as r/AskScience, where moderators are struggling to control users who disobey the rules.

That problem really highlights the conflict at the core of Reddit right now: does popularity bring mediocrity?

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Big certainly isn’t always bad. A lot of redditors complain about the proliferation of rage comics on the site, which were born on 4chan but really exploded on Reddit.

But all that exposure just increases the chance someone will do something really creative.

Scott Stillman, a professor at the University of Tsukuba, in Japan took the rage faces and turned them into an educational tool. It’s 4chan where you never thought to see it—the classroom.

Photo by homard.net

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*First Published: Oct 21, 2011, 7:55 pm