In defence of Reddit

Why you need to pay attention to the thriving social network.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most high-profile Hollywood Redditers.
I'll be back (online) Arnold Schwarzenegger is regularly imparting wisdom and selfies on Reddit. Image Picture Kevin Lee/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International

Reddit. You know it is as that sprawling, aesthetically retrograde social network that stupidly calls itself “the front page of the internet”.

Generally pegged as an online cesspool populated by angry geeks spewing bile, its reputation has been rock bottom since being founded a decade ago. That’s a real shame because, although Reddit has its share of nutcases (what social site doesn’t?), when you dig into its many subreddits there’s gold to be found.

Reddit’s 36 million users might only be a drop in Facebook’s 1.5 billion ocean, but the former’s hardcore members are dedicated, passionate and make the site an essential visit on your daily web sweep.

Want to see the latest music videos or movie trailers? Bookmark /r/movies and /r/music. Fancy digging deep into fresh Game Of Thrones spoilers? /r/gameofthrones is a treasure trove.

Beyond escapist entertainment fare, humanity can often shine through on Reddit. After the terror attacks in Paris, discussion threads swiftly emerged to try and make sense of the madness, while others acted as a forum for users trying to find out if their loved ones were safe.

If you can find the right forum, Reddit is anything but the internet’s nadir. Here are five of its best subreddits on offer.

1

Ask Me Anything 

The most famous subreddit, Ask Me Anything features Q&A threads with politicians, movie stars and any figures of note. Got a question for Arnold Schwarzenegger? This is where he’ll answer it. The Terminator is a regular user, sharing videos, selfies and his laconic one-liners.

2

Colourised History

This does exactly what it says on the tin. Beautiful monochrome photos brought to life with vivid colours. It’s a visual treat.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on-stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2015.
The front page of the internet Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian gives it the hard sell. Image Picture Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch

3

Science

Officially the biggest forum on Reddit, Science is a broad sweep of everything from new particles detected by the Large Hadron Collider to human head transplants. Being as popular as it is, Science throws up some wild cards (“now you can read the mind of a fly!”), but there’s plenty of good stuff here.

4

Relationships

Here’s where war stories of break-ups and dumping are traded so the catharsis can begin. It also serves as the modern-day equivalent of an agony aunt forum.

5

Change My View

This plays out like so: user states opinion on a topic, replies flood in hoping to change said view. That sounds like it could get heated and nasty, but in reality the threads often generate some of the most interesting discussion. Philosophical musings on everything from climate change to the merits of Billy Joel’s Piano Man can be found herein.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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