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Facebook says I’m a 29 year old female living in San Francisco. Twitter says I like puns and bad jokes (@The_PUNisher_SF). Reddit upvotes and says I LOVE puns and bad jokes. And this blog tells you about my experiences using social media sites and learning to fit them all together into my life. www.facebook.com/TheBigSocialPicture

Friday, February 15, 2013

Have you Reddit?

As I've been exploring social media in the last 1 1/2 months, I've engaged in several conversations with people about why they chose the medium they use.  Mostly it comes down to where your friends and colleagues are.  One friend said that in his social circle, nobody uses Facebook to communicate, but they are constantly commenting on each other's Instagram photos.  I checked out his account and sure enough, every picture has upwards of 20 likes and 5+ comments.  I'm usually pretty thrilled when I get one like.
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Another friend told me he is addicted to Reddit (I think he even had a name for that?).  I've gone to Reddit before, but I have a very short limit when it comes to clunky, visually unappealing sites.  This one takes the cake.  There's text everywhere, and it looks like it should be hosted on Geocities circa 1998.

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I never could get past that, and never thought to ask what was so great about it.
Well at least, not until my "Learn Social Media" NY Resolution, when I asked my friend to explain his interest in it.

It turns out Reddit is driven by the up and down arrows on the left of each post.  As users read posts, they "upvote" or "downvote" the post to move it higher or lower on the feed.  So naturally, the best content rises to the top.  It's very democratic, and actually pretty ingenious.  And is probably the fastest way that viral content travels online today.

In a world governed by Reddit, any post has a fair chance at happiness.  With the right content, it can rise from obscurity and climb to the top of the social media ladder.  It is in touch with its voters, and gets where it's going because it deserves it, not because it's backed by money or status.  </cheesymetaphor>.

Imagine if our Facebook news feeds worked that way.  I know they try to put Top Stories higher on the feed, but we all know that Facebook drops posts from our feed and isn't that reliable.  But if I could just read the first 5 posts on my feed, and they've already been weighted based on my friends' opinions of them, then I could get a lot more relevant information a lot faster.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), Facebook isn't into negative reinforcement, and I can't see them allowing people to downgrade posts to less importance.  Because every post everyone makes on Facebook is important, right?  People have been asking for a Dislike button for years now.  But they are training us to feel "Liked" and important.  If I post something and it doesn't get any likes, my first thought is that people must not have read it, not that people disliked it.  Facebook is giving us Pavlovian rewards in hopes that it will stroke our ego and make us crave that acceptance.  If I started logging into Facebook and seeing Dislikes, I might not want to log in anymore.

So here's my problem with Reddit still.  The interface is ugly.  Like fugly-ugly.  It's really taking work for me to ignore it and get straight to the source.  I also don't like clicking on every single link to read something. That extra 5 seconds of load time always makes me question if I am wasting my time.  I wish there was an "expanded" view where you could see everything already loaded.

I DO like that the link turns a different color once you look at it, and I'm pretty enamored with their voting system enough that I may be able to overlook the aesthetic shortcomings.

My friend has proven his loyalty to Reddit, and has convinced me of its value.  If I really want to understand social connectivity, Reddit is a main player that I need to start to understand.  I am going to sign up for an account and start contributing upvotes/downvotes when I can.  I am convinced that I'll start seeing content on Reddit long before it makes its way to Facebook.

I haven't Reddit, but I sure am going to start.

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