BALTIMORE, MD, October 11, 2011- Anderson Cooper on CNN’s 360 with Anderson Cooper recently broadcast a piece on the site Reddit where he highlighted some of the more despicable posts on the site.
He seemed particularly upset about a subreddit titled r/jailbait.
Based on that post, the journalist seemed to take the pedophile brush and paint all Redditors with it.
With all due respect to esteemed newsman, 20 million Redditors (as the site users are called) would like to tell you “You missed the point.”
This isn’t to dismiss the issues Anderson Cooper brought up in his piece or to deny that some of those postings are certainly an example of the worst what the internet has to offer. However, those posts are not the whole of what Reddit is about.
Reddit is community of users who more often than not bring out the very best in each other.
Reddit is not a site for everyone. Certainly some of the subreddits (subreddits are indiviual community pages centered around one subject, i.e. Vancouver, Star Trek, Tattoos, etc) are distasteful, the jokes over the line, the humor not to everyone’s taste.
But it is a site driven by participation and user submissions.
Reddit administrators take a very ‘hands-off’ approach to the site. The site is structured so those stories that the community deems worthy rise to the top and those that are thought useless are regulated to the bottom.
Reddit is the very definition of community. Yes, you have your town drunks and physically and emotionally ill people and those that like to stir up trouble just for trouble’s sake, but that is only a small portion what goes on every day.
Reddit is the quintessential internet community.
It is the site that every other community site should strive to be. Almost any city, area or town has their own subreddit (here is an example of Baltimore’s). People who visit the site can help someone look for an apartment, legal help, a drummer for a band, or find a local restaurant. New people in town look for information on where to live and where to work. Other Redditors answer the queries and questions. It isn’t one administrator doling out advice and instructions; it is a community helping out other people.
This isn’t to dismiss that are some disturbing parts to the Reddit site. Yes, there is subreddit for r/deadchildren and r/beating women. However, most of the posts on those subreddits contain posts of censure or outrage that there is even a board promoting such despicable subjects.
So why don’t the administrators shut down those subreddits? Again, it goes back to the nature of community and free speech that Reddit is famous for. One, when Reddit administrators start censuring any users – even those most in need of censure - the site will lose its credibility. Those users on the site revel in the fact that they can say anything about any subject. It is what makes the debate viable and lively.
Second, the administrators rely on the users to police themselves. If there is a subreddit that is horrible, illegal, or despicable the majority of users will stay away from it and warn other people to do the same.
You cannot have free speech without some horrible things being said; about you, about children, about things that should not be joked about. When you accept that this will happen, then you can truly have a debate about anything and everything.
As an internet user, you know how to block out the things you do not want to see. Also, Anderson Cooper, you kind of asked for this.
Baltimore based, Amy Phillips is a columnist, blogger, public speaker, twitter addict and all around nerd.
Follow Amy on Twitter @amydpp.
Amy Phillips is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Amy at her Accidental Musings blog.
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