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Reddit Is Not the Front Page of the Internet

Stashed in: Reddit!, Awesome, XX, Reddit, Favorites, Ellen Pao, @alexisohanian

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It's amazing that in 2015 we still conceptualize "white male under 35" as the default user of the internet... so a social network that is 70% women has to explain itself, but one that is 70% young men does not.


That's just a commercial slogan. It's not pretending much.

Reddit is obviously not the frontpage of the internet, whatever the group of people you consider.

Facebook, could pretend to that, it's probably the most used community website in the occidental world.

But reddit is used by a little fraction of internet users, and mostly in NA, but even in NA, it's a fraction of them.

Everybody knows it, nobody pretending Reddit is the frontpage of the internet, actually most people agree that its  90' interface repels the vast majority.

This article smells like some feminist was looking for a topic to release stress and found Pao's resignation as a good target to use, deform and misuse for the sake of the argumentation the author wanted to write down that day.

Well Oce, I am a feminist myself, and for me the point of the whole Reddit thing is that we might start to seriously consider whether it is AT ALL POSSIBLE to have a good public internet with young white males in it. You are very correct that Reddit is not everyone, although I would say that 160mm registered users and tons of lurkers is not "a little fraction" either. But look at the amount of hate and bad feeling they can whip up and throw all over everybody else! Even you saying a phrase like "some feminist" is so weird to me, it makes it harder to talk about the internet as a community because you've already dismissed people like me as somehow having a narrower agenda than... OH RIGHT, the young white male!

Maybe I am a feminist too?

But I dislike what some feminists do of the movement: seeing the evil patriarchal hand everywhere, and using it as an authority argument to denounce everything they dislike.

And the article you linked gave me that feeling.

Hence the "some feminist".

I hear what you're saying but think of it this way maybe: you don't feel like you "own" the most extreme Reddit assclowns, right? You don't think you are in any way defined or constrained by their wacko views, right? Well, I don't feel like I "own" feminists who see the evil patriarchal hand everywhere... and in fact I think most of them are a lot LESS extreme than the Reddit assclowns! Certainly the woman who wrote that article seems less extreme to me than the average Reddit young white male.

Well yeah, she's not hiding behind anonymity and has a job to keep, so she would obviously not be there if she was at the level of the reddit trolls you're mentioning.

Still, as you said, these trolls are an extreme part of Reddit, and the author seems to extrapolate their behaviors to most of redditors.

Even possibly implying that all happened, expressly because Reddit is mainly made of young male WASPs.

That would be sexist, wouldn't it?

Mmmmm... we can probably argue for a long time about whether sexism is an evenly two-way street. Probably best not to do so!

Agreed that that would not be fruitful.

I think that we can agree that Reddit will have an uphill battle in appealing to many women.

And that though its 160 million monthly visitors are impressive, it's still only serving 6% of the U.S. 

This is well said.

Ohanian doubled down on the idea that Reddit's community is a stand-in for a vocal Internet census.

“Reddit has 160 million monthly users, sure, but nearly 120 million of them are men and only about 3 million of them were alive when the Beatles played Shea stadium.”

“Reddit reflects the Internet, and the Internet reflects humanity,” he said. “Unfortunately, humanity is always going to have jerks.”

Reddit is not so much the generic front page of the Internet as it is its spacious, tricked-out man cave: a lot of people can fit inside, but only some people feel comfortable hanging out there.

Chuq von Rospach has a great metaphor: Reddit is like a bar and community center with a bunch of rowdy bikers who have taken up residence in the dark basement.

That IS a good metaphor. 

This is also well said.

But Reddit became a web destination and a traffic powerhouse by virtue of the clicking, viewing, and typing habits of a relatively narrow subsection of Internet users. Seventy-four percent of Reddit users are men, the highest of any social networking website. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube all come much closer to gender parity. Describing Reddit without making reference to its gender asymmetry is akin to reporting on Pinterest, which is 72 percent female, without noting that the site caters to women.

And, indeed, when The New York Times reviewed Pinterest in 2012, they rightly referred to it as "female-oriented," but when the CEO of a 74 percent male social network resigns after facing intense criticism from its users—much of it laced with misogyny—they somehow forget to label Reddit, in turn, as "male-oriented." Reddit too often passes in the media as unmarked and neutral territory while sites like Pinterest get pigeonholed as girly.

Reddit is also one of the most youthful social networks, with nearly 60 percent of its visitors coming in under age 34. For comparison, over 60 percent of Facebook users are above age 34. Increasingly, younger Internet users seem to perceive Facebook as a network for grandmas but, in 2015, grandmas are as vital a part of the Internet as anyone else—even if they'd never be caught dead on its supposed "front page." Only two percent of people over 50 use Reddit.

When we dial back the reverence with which we regard Reddit's visitor numbers, it's clear that the site is not at all representative of adult Internet users in the United States. According to data from Pew, a mere six percent of online adults in the U.S. are Reddit users, and even then, this statistic is driven by young men, who are three times as likely to frequent the site as young women. By way of contrast, Pew found that 71 percent of online adults use Facebook, 23 percent use Twitter, and 28 percent use the female-oriented Pinterest.

Here is the crux of the article: Reddit is missing 94% of the U.S.

It would be impossible to deny some sort of connection between the demographics of Reddit's narrow but vocal online user base and the tumultuousness of Pao's tenure. When Pao and her team removed several of Reddit's most vile subreddits (such as /r/fatpeoplehate) and fired popular staffer Victoria Taylor, the Reddit community retaliated with a level of vitriol that was clearly gendered in its expression. Particularly disgusting memes of Pao often made their way to the Reddit homepage.

But it's also true that Pao had a vision for Reddit that was incompatible with its very identity, one that likely could never be executed. When she and her team announced the removal of certain subreddits, they wrote, “Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform.”

Reaching the 94 percent of online adults who don't use Reddit makes sense as a business strategy, but the Reddit community doesn't seem to be as invested in boosting its numbers as it does in maintaining an absolute freedom of expression. And when a tiny sliver of online adults can make Reddit into the tenth most popular website in the country, Reddit users are keenly aware—as the recent blackout of some of its most popular subreddits proved—of precisely how much power they wield.

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