“The Front Page of the Internet”

reddit-1007072_960_720The internet is full of different sources of information. News channels, online dictionaries, and even social media sites provide different types of information. But there are not very many sites in the aforementioned sentence that can provide you with gigabytes of cute corgi pictures. My preferred method of corgi butt picture gathering is through Reddit. It is a system that requires for users to “upvote” what they deem interesting or worth their time. The more upvotes a post gets, the higher up on r/all it goes, increasing its probability of being read by more people.

For the User, By the User

This design is all about the user. It is in the purest sense just a large scale forum. While Reddit moderators can take control of what content is posted and the format of the information, it is mostly free form in regards to what information it provides. If a thread becomes just people arguing with each other and no longer pertains to the content, comments can be locked. Moderators can choose to delete threads completely if they do not have any significance to the respective subcategory, or known as a “subreddit”.

It is very simple in design, and just looks busy because of how the threads are in your face as soon as you load the page. The appeal here is that users do not need much experience with the website to grasp its functions. It lacks complicated operations in order for someone to create a post or leave a comment, allowing it to appeal to different generations. The background of the Reddit homepage are just large rectangles of text and links surrounded by white space. So the emphasis is on its usability as opposed to looking great and having one topic more pronounced than another. Every thread created gets its own chance of becoming something huge, and there is no bias against threads unless they break the rules or the user is inherently biased against that topic.

The People’s Voice

This style of information distribution shows what the users deem as important, and that is not always the case. Here is a thread that directly links a reader to news about a horrendous fire in London and this is a thread of a dog that knows how to ride a bus all by herself. Both threads were created roughly at the same time, but the thread about the dog has roughly 45 thousand more upvotes. If the users choose to upvote images of cute dogs as opposed to major political events, then to the majority of the users, the dogs are more important. So the importance of the thread is up to the discretion of the users. This does not mean that what is actually important is not easily accessible. These important threads can be “stickied” by moderators and that thread will remain at the top of the list until it is removed of its stickied title.

Reddit uses visual rhetoric through the users that post images in their thread. If the images do not pertain to the subreddit and the contents of the post, then if there is internet traffic seeing that information, the image(s) in question are either edited or removed. This action cuts down the amount of information to the essentials; to what’s important to the thread. Many of the larger subcategories have a specialized version of Reddit’s mascot, named Snoo. The different variations of Snoo can have him wearing clothes that pertain to the subreddit, or have him look like something that is an icon in that subcategory. This also eliminates unessential information and appeals to the visual rhetoric idea because that picture must represent the entire subreddit. It cannot be anything but the essentials or else it gives a different perspective as to what that subreddit is about.

Simplicity is Bliss

The actual look of the site is not the most appealing as it looks like a forum without subsections are first glance. The subreddits are all hidden away, and a user will come across these subsections either because they have an interest in the topic, encountered it through one of the trending or new topic tabs, or through the random subreddit option. But, the look of the site does tell you what to expect; threads created by users on some type of topic. The threads have a little image next to them if the person who posted the thread decided to give a picture. This gives the user a quick insight as to what the thread may be about, and further supports the thread’s title.

 

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