Reddit is an entertainment and social-news website that boasts the title “The Front Page of The Internet.” It was founded in 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian and was later sold off in 2006. It is a subsidiary of Advanced Publications, the 52nd largest private company in the U.S. and publisher of a number of newspapers. Users have the ability to post their own content to a number of “subreddits” that offer as receptacles for information. These subreddits often appeal to different subcultures of our society. Individuals with many different interests can almost always find something that they will enjoy. The content that is uploaded by users can be either “upvoted” or “downvoted” by other users on the site, as well as commented on and shared. What this had created is a funnel of information, relevant to your interests, that is easily accessible. The site embodies the true meaning of gatewatching because it is a sort of for the people, by the people type of institution that has a huge appeal to niche cultures.
Even though it is owned by one of the largest corporations in the United States, it is really a really a different animal than only other media-based website. There is a very limited amount of gatekeeping that occurs on the site; there is only a very small editorial process that is based on the regulations that users adhere to. For example, posted may only be removed from subreddits wherein their content is unacceptable. A pornographic picture would be removed from a subreddit about hiking, whereas a hiking picture would also be removed from a pornographic subreddit. There is no curbing of the average gatekeeping hot topics like dissenting political opinions, porn, shock material, fear mongering. There is simply an open forum wherein users can find just what they are looking for without any time of formal censorship.
I selected the guidelines from one of these particular subreddits, one for guitar enthusiasts (link here), as an example of what reddit expects from its users.
- All users are expected and encouraged toread the Wiki/FAQ and know the posting rules before submitting a link/comment.
- Please browse through the available“Link Flair” when submitting a thread. They’re laid out in an easily identifiable manner and should be applied to whatever topic you’re covering in your post.
- Spam and self-advertising are not allowed in /r/Guitar. This means no linking to your blog/web site/YouTube channel without prior approval from the moderators. Please message the mods with any requests for such approval.
- Do not link to outside retail sites in the Main Post. Be very descriptive in your post. Links in the discussions are OK but may be automatically removed by the subreddit’s spam filter.
- Be kind and considerate – Any inflammatory, disrespectful, and/or hateful comments will result in a ban. We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding such comments/posts
- No “Gear for Sale” posts – /r/Gear4Saleis an active music instrument gear sale/trade sub. All threads of this nature should be posted to that subreddit.
- No link-dropping – The body of your post must contain more than just a link. Any posts in violation of this will be removed.
The reality of the reddit situation is that there is no gatekeeping on the part of the site other than the simple enforcement of their rules and regulations. You can search the web far and wide and not find any evidence of a reddit-related scandal involving censorship or withholding of information. The most you will find is the “scandal” subreddit that focuses on the celebrity and political scandals (link here), just another indication that the sit is a hotbed of gatewatching activity and dissemination of information. This could be why reddit is so highly favored as a news source. It’s users know that they can get the information that they want and they know just where on the site to find it, as well as the peace of mind that the site is not withholding anything from them. Here is a figure illustrating the social media networks most used for news in the U.S. (Research done by Pew-Research in 2013).
All in all, I would say that reddit deserves its monacher of being “the front page of the internet” as there are no other digital mediums that can distribute and display so much useful, obscure, and sometimes edgy material to those who desperately seek it.
“Reddit.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit>.
“Scandal.” On ABC. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <http://www.reddit.com/r/scandal>.
“Guitar.” – Gear, Reviews, Lessons, and Discussion. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <http://www.reddit.com/r/guitar>.
“Which Social Networks Are People Using to Get Breaking News?” TNW Network All Stories RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2013/12/06/social-networks-people-using-get-breaking-news/#!vyYIR>.