Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Reddit ELI5, NeutralPolitics, and ShowerThoughts

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Scott made a comment at Beyond Labels this morning about a brilliant thought he’d had in the shower. That reminded me of reddit and the ShowerThoughts subreddit. For those of you who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, I’ll explain.

First: Reddit is an entertainment and social news networking site. I think of it as kind of the anti-Facebook.

On Facebook you identify yourself by your real name. You get a “news feed” with posts from people you know — “friends” — and people you don’t know but who you “follow.” The stories range from personal tidbits, to links to interesting articles, to long written pieces. You can decide who gets to see each post — from just family, to the world. People who can see a posts can comment and discuss. Some of the content and discussion is interesting. Most is pretty bland.

Reddit is different. People who use Reddit are called redditors. Redditors don’t use their real names. Instead they pick handles  — like  HandyAndy136, or curmudgeon_lyfe — and use them. Reddit is divided into subject areas, called “subreddits.” Subreddits are open to everyone — but most are moderated so that discussion doesn’t get out of hand. Any redditor can start a topic thread in a subreddit by posting a question, or comment, or a link to online content. Other redditors comment and comment on the comments. They can upvote or downvote the original thread, or individual comments. Reddit will show you the topics and comment threads that have the most votes. Everything is public for everyone to read.

Facebook is useful. Reddit is awesome. Facebook tends to be about who you know. Reddit is about what you know, how smart you are, and — through the upvoting and downvoting system, how cool everyone else on reddit thinks you are.

I think the average reddit IQ is 10-40 points higher than the average FB IQ.

Here’s the first reddit thread  I ever came across. It was just after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, and someone posted a link to it that ended up in in my G+ feed. My favorite comment:

Confederate flag removal, Obamacare subsidies upheld. Now gay marriage is legal everywhere. Somebody better call and put the entire south on suicide watch.

My very favorite subreddit, the one that prompted this post, is Showerthoughts, “A subreddit for you to share all those thoughts, ideas, or philosophical questions that race through your head when in the shower.” Examples are toward the end of this post.

Another favorite subreddit is Neutral Politics. It’s a kind of 24/7 online Beyond Labels with people who are sometimes smarter and funnier than the smartest and funniest of us.

Another one I like is ELI5 which means “Explain Like I’m Five Years Old.” Here’s an ELI5 for the question “Why is Trump Doing So Well in the Polls” It’s got some interesting insights and some very snarky, and sometimes vulgar humor. Which, of course, I like.

Here are the top topics on Neutral Politics right now, with links to the discussion.

And here are some of today’s funnier and less tasteless ShowerThoughts. Sometimes the discussion is even funnier than the topic.

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