My Experimental Reddit Community-Certified Failure.
Failure is always a shame. It sucks but I went out on a wing here anyway to try to create an alternative community on Reddit. I was still pretty optimistic about the possibilities and information that Reddit could provide.
The basic concept behind the sub-reddit was that users be selected on the basis of intelligent and original content. The reddit itself was in part controlled by the users, they were given just short of total power over the reddit. I tried to stress this early on by naming myself Overseer instead of Administrator to denote that I oversaw community development and growth. It seemed like a good idea too me. A place of intelligent discussion where nothing is taboo and everything is examined.
I invited about 50 individuals the first day. It took a while for things to get moving. Then I would constantly be asked why the were invited. I would usually give a standard reply to this. Telling them it was because they posted interesting/intelligent/original content and that I believed they had something to offer the community with their
presence. Things started slow so I decided to answer some questions to stimulate activity. It worked and after some explaining people saw me as some sort of eccentric who owned an island but generally we got on well. I would try to get users to submit content but it only worked about 50% of the time.
I constantly had to explain to them the level of power they had over the community, they acknowledged it, provided ideas on a few occasions but did nothing with their power other than talk. I realised that we needed a vein of mods and trusted members to apply stimulation to the community when necessary. To that end I put together a think tank. Interesting ideas were discussed but due to lack of motivation within the community the ideas never went anywhere. One example was that the community had decided to get rid of karma in favour of a different system to be developed by someone within the community who had the correct skill set.
The stimulus did work but not very effectively. I believed that inviting new members would be a good idea. I even asked people to nominate people for admission into the reddit. It worked for a while but then I began to realise something. The community didn’t work cohesive in conversation to map out new ideas for the reddit. Examples of this include providing something to make the reddit unique make people want to flock to it when the community was established and the flood gates opened.
An idea I had used from the beginning was to create a sense of where they were and its purpose but also state that the community itself was omnipresent within reddit itself. Taking away any sense that I ‘own’ the reddit. I wanted these people to realise the freedom granted to them and shape a community, possibly into something great.
This was the message they read:
”Choosing a particular subject for this reddit was pointless seeing as the users of a reddit define it. It is much too late in the game to set up a reddit with one theme in particular. I want to encourage free thought, conversation, a sharing of ideas, networking and much more. This reddit, though I created it, was always here and will remain. Welcome to the *******.”
I don’t know why the community was unmotivated really. I tried constantly to nudge it and induce changes, more so than I had intended too. Which was something I wasn’t happy about. Another way I tried to inform the user base of their freedom in this reddit was this:
”Look beneath reddit, deeper inside you’ll find the substructure. An experimental reddit with no pre-defined purpose, no real rules or constraints. Feel free to discuss anything, any way you please. In the end you will be what defines this reddit. Intelligence and Free thought are highly encouraged here, ideas can be shared and connections can be made. It is what you make it, nothing more and nothing less.”
You might be wondering what I had hoped to learn from this. The answer is this, I wondered how people would handle an exclusive community in which they are given little instruction. How would they truly make it their own. When the community was out of its proto-stage I had planned to see whether being selective about members would improve allow us to map out the flaws of reddit and the community and possibly improve on the within our community. Later on I had planned to open the place up and just have a moderation team hammer out bans to people who caused trouble.
I had planned to have a team of moderators, a small team of programmers, a ban squad, think tank and many different wings which I had recently began to establish. Teams would head up projects. The community would have an organized substructure that effectively allow it to maintain itself without my input. The community would have been steadily producing content, changing and debating key ideas and concepts. It would maintain itself through a teams of moderators given specific tasks.
Given the lack of pre-definition if this idea could be achieved and taken in its own direction by the community it would certainly be a sight to see. When I called this an experiment. I use the term experiment loosely. It was more of a try this and see how it turns out. unfortunately it lays dead in the water.
One idea that I was quite proud of was that the community would discuss what makes reddit tick and prove how easy it is to farm karma on reddit. Basically general experiments in manipulating the reddit community at large were on the drawing board. Other experiments included observations of the backlash from the community when one veered from reddit norms. One thing I particularly noted is that upvotes and downvotes were rarely used after we identified the many flaws of the karma system.
One should remember that community was in its proto-stage and never matured far beyond that. A lot of ideas were thrown around but unfortunately nothing came of them because there is no way of motivating redditors to work toward a common goal of creating and shaping the community. It was a grand idea but redditors and pretty damn unmotivated unless a cat is injured or someone sodomizes their dog. That gets em’ riled up.
I think I’ve explained mostly everything. Not that it matters since it was a failure but some good came of it.