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In praise of …

by Ben Romberg | 21.06.2012
The Internet is a really big place. Really big and it’s sometimes difficult to determine just how big it is. Sifting through all the content that gets submitted online every minute of every hour is an increasingly difficult prospect, becoming nigh on impossible to determine the good from the bad, the misleading from the accurate and the funny from the dull. In this respect, the much popularised content aggregation site has hit the sweet spot. The site has a clever voting system allows signed-up user’s one vote per piece of content posted to the site, either upvote or downvote giving or taking “karma” away from the user who originally submitted the post. The result has led reddit to quickly own the moniker “the front page of the Internet”, a place where new pictures, videos, memes, infographics, commercials, articles and stories quickly gain popularity or are buried as irrelevant, based purely on their own merit.

Around the sites democratic system sits a loyal and heavily Internet-addicted community who spend an in-exhaustive amount of time reviewing every new piece of content, voting, commenting and discussing their way through the constant stream of new posts that get posted to “sub-reddits”, categories of interest.

One of the most impressive sub-Reddits is the community at r/suicidewatch. The idea being to talk to those who feel they have nothing left to live for. The community is definitely responsible for having saved lives, with nearly 9,000 subscribers, this sub-reddit is arguably one of the largest groups in the world dedicated to suicide prevention, it is most certainly the largest 100% unfunded, 100% volunteer suicide prevention group.

The efforts of reddit’s users have caught the eye of news sites, political pundits, celebrities and the wider online community who now visit the site to see what content has made it to the front page – namely the most “upvoted” content of the day, that often end up in news stories, advertising campaigns and even political speeches.

The payoff for reddit’s users is simple, they get the most cutting edge pieces of content about a range of topics that interest them before anyone else, and with that comes tonnes of good karma and even possible fame beyond reddit’s walls.

Content aggregation has become important in a number of areas; brands are now taking note, particularly when distributing content online to ensure it reaches the right demographics. Celebrities and famous figures now respond to requests for question and answer sessions on the site, called “AMA” (ask me anything), charitable causes have received tens of thousands of dollars in donations and large institutions are being held to account for misdeeds by reddit’s rapidly growing community.

The site itself recently topped one billion page views in a month and since the decline of its rival, its growth has become exponential, attracting an increasingly international audience.

Click here for 19 reasons why Reddit could be one of the most influential websites in the world