Reddit: The social media platform that prioritizes community over algorithms

Karishma Jangid
New Update

In an era where social media often feels overwhelming and superficial, here's analysing how Reddit stands out by prioritising community building over algorithms. 

If you have been using social media long enough, you will agree that lately, it feels like a cacophony of voices vying for attention. The forced algorithm, advertisements, unwanted content, content overload, and toxicity - every social media platform is starting to feel exhausting. This is why I have lately been finding solace in Reddit. I believe the biggest reason Reddit stands out is that it focuses on building communities rather than vanity. Due to its unique culture, Reddit unites people in ways that other social media platforms struggle to. 

How so? Reddit is built upon its subreddits i.e. specialised communities centred around specific subjects, interests or causes. For example, r/mumbai, r/ShahRukhKhan, r/AskHistorians and more. From serious topics like r/technology to funny ones like r/birdswitharms, Reddit has it all. Each subreddit is, in essence, a mini forum with its own rules, culture, and members. Reddit is pretty much for everything. It has a wonderful set-up for every thought experiment, community, fandom, and group. I use it for my technical doubts, linguistic doubts, biblical theology and history, Christian faith, series, movies, movie details, bizarre facts, news in India and worldwide, writing prompts and challenges, poetry, and so much more,” says Epsit, a mass media and theatre student.

What happened to the average German soldier following the conclusion of WW2?

byu/sportsmedicine96 inAskHistorians

This decentralisation helps users join communities they want to, and not the algorithm. While most platforms use complex algorithms that decide what the users see, Reddit brings you more content that you voluntarily choose, making your usage relevant and engaging. Content is curated not for views; it is created by the community, for the community. 

Also Read: Exploring digital communties where fathers can connect and grow

One more appealing aspect of Reddit is self-moderation. On each subreddit, volunteer moderators enforce community guidelines and maintain order. As my anecdotal experience goes, most users are considerate of these rules. The comment sections actually are quite fun! Unlike other social media platforms’ linear comments, witness in-depth discussions in the comments. Instead of likes, we have a voting system where you can upvote and downvote posts and comments. These votes make people active parts of discussions instead of simply liking and moving on. Moreover, upvoted content comes on top and becomes more visible, whereas less important downvoted content goes down. Thus, instead of the algorithm, the community decides what should be favoured. 

Reddit has thus become a haven for niche communities. These communities can be fun or educational. It can come in handy in day-to-day life. For instance, Khushi, an International Relations student, says, What I like is that it’s real people giving real takes. Let’s say I am having roommate troubles, which I often do. I go to r/badroommates and see if someone has faced similar problems (and they often do). So, I get sane and real advice. ⁠I find these tips genuine and more helpful than Google SEO-generated tips. And they’re witty too! Mostly when I need genuine information and personal experiences, I don’t Google. I Reddit. For example: Can I eat my bread a day after the date of expiration? - Reddit. I want real people who’ve either had food poisoning or dodged it to tell me if I can eat my bread a day after the expiry date.”

Am I wrong to be annoyed that my roommate’s boyfriend is here every single day?

byu/enemyn1 inbadroommates

Oftentimes, communities delve into sociopolitical issues too. Subreddits like r/LGBTQ provide inclusive environments where users can connect over shared experiences and identities. Meanwhile, r/India is where 2.4 million Indians come together to discuss and debate political issues whereas r/LegalAdviceIndia is a forum to ask for legal advice. Such subreddits can be informative and can offer support, solidarity, and a sense of community for those who struggle to find such spaces offline. The support is not only political, it also extends to other issues. Subreddits like r/depression, r/anxiety, and r/relationships provide safe spaces for users to seek advice and share their struggles. Reddit’s communities, thus, go beyond the digital realm and have real-world impact. Crowdsourcing and problem-solving are common practices on the platform. For example, r/RandomActsOfKindness encourages acts of kindness.

The real-life effect extends to more than just support. Reddit has often caused significant effects like movements and viral moments. A famous and mindblowing example is the r/wallstreetbets community’s GameStop short squeeze where numerous investors quickly bought GameStop stock, causing its price to surge and forcing those who bet against it to lose money. Reddit, an often underrated social media platform, has the capability of causing real-world economic impact! In journalist Ruchi’s words, I love the Reddit community and how they stand together for the wrong. If a community can shake Wall Street and control it, then they can do anything.”

Gamestop Can't Stop Won't Stop

byu/nacliamsi inwallstreetbets

This is how Reddit’s community-centric model starkly contrasts with algorithm-driven platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On these platforms, content with more engagement gets the push, making them feel like echo chambers filled with sensationalism. In contrast, Reddit’s content focuses on quality and relevant discussions. Moreover, Reddit doesn’t ask for your real name. A large number of Reddit users keep themselves anonymous, which leads to less vanity and more honest discussions. There is also a lack of fear about your posts being used against you in the future. No word limit and a lack of intruding advertisements are also aspects that make the usage of Reddit more comfortable. Discussions don’t require sponsors and brands, keeping them authentic and private in a sense.

This does not mean that all is well in Reddit-land. Along with its strengths, Reddit has challenges too. Content moderation is one significant issue. Reddit often struggles with toxic subreddits and the spread of misinformation. People can also flock to communities to direct hate towards another community, culture or belief. These communities can become echo chambers too. However, Reddit’s unique community-based culture still sets it apart as it often does more good than harm. After all, as Khushi puts it, I prefer Reddit over other social media apps because it doesn’t capitalize on my attention span. Maybe it’s because I have found the good side of Reddit so far. However, in an age where every social media platform is somehow trying to sell me something, Reddit feels like a good space. I don’t like being a commodity, or the fact that everyone is on Instagram to just monetize on my attention. I sometimes get distracted and consume it mindlessly and I never feel good after that.” As social media continues to evolve, Reddit’s encouragement of communities and meaningful interactions sets a benchmark. It makes up for an inclusive space worth exploring! 

What do you think about Reddit? Tell us in the comments below! 

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