The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Reddit builds a following in CHS community

When it comes to using the power of the Internet, a website called Reddit is rapidly gaining popularity at CHS.

Founded by Steve Huffman and Alex Ohanian in 2005, Reddit is a website that allows users to submit original content, content found elsewhere on the Internet or simple text for review by their peers. Everything considered important such as recent news or a viral video is voted to the front page of the website where it can be immediately accessed by anyone. Reddit content is organized into different topics called “sub-reddits” that can vary from “r/funny” which aggregates humorous pictures and videos, to “r/worldnews,” which serves as a forum for current events news and articles. The “r” symbol is used to get to the link of specific subreddits. A web address for a subreddit would be for example.

“You can ask a question and have it almost immediately answered, in a very detailed and accurate format,” senior Denise Li said. “Relevant news articles get posted and shoot up to the front page far faster than I could hear about them on Facebook or somewhere else. If you can sort past the rubble, you learn a lot of interesting things.”

In early October 2010, neighbors bullied 7-year-old Kathleen Edward because she was recently diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. Within hours, a description of her situation was voted to the front page of Reddit and users raised over $17,000 to give the girl money for a shopping spree at her local toy store.

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“I think [Reddit] is different because of the general attitude of most of the people on Reddit,” senior Richard Sage said. “For the most part the people are very helpful and almost always have a kind word or a piece of advice.”

Reddit is the organizer of the largest secret Santa gift exchange in the world, an operation including 12,179 different people as of 2010 and more than 60 countries. One popular sub-reddit is “r/nonprofit” which raised over $10,000 for the Haiti earthquake victims. Another cause Reddit users supported with donations over $500,000 was the “Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear” which was held last fall in front of the capitol. As a number of users are politically active, a variety of specific sub-reddits dedicated to the Occupy movements sprung up this year.

According to general manager Erik Martin, Reddit is a community of communities with sub-reddits, or, categories. These can range from sub-reddits for specific video games or movies, to every kind of political flavor, to every hobby as well as more abstract categories based around rhetorical frameworks like “I am a,” “Today I Learned…” or “Ask Science.”

Students find that the sub-reddit system is appealing because it allows users to pick and choose which topics to read about, and the varied content of Reddit can educate students on a large number of topics.

“I mostly use Reddit for entertainment and news, and [to] see what’s going viral on the Internet,” junior Constantin Koehler said. “It’s easy to go on Reddit, click a link or two and get completely addicted to Reddit’s content.”

According to the Reddit blog, a website that documents updates and Reddit-related news, Reddit’s popularity has tripled in size over the previous 15 months and grown beyond its original user base.

“When it really started, it came out of programming communities, engineers, geeks, that sort of thing, and had a very strong geek culture to it but it’s expanded beyond that,” Martin said. “Reddit is probably 70 percent US, 30 percent international.”

At CHS, students find that Reddit users have also increased as students learn about Reddit from friends and in classes. A Reddit app is now available for smartphones.

“My friend talked about all he does at work is go on Reddit,” Koehler said. “I went to Reddit on my smartphone and spent countless hours on it thereafter.”

A downside of this vast array of information is that it can distract students and easily become addicting.

“The longest time I ever spent on it at one time was probably 6 hours,” Sage said. “It can suck away hours of your life, but I still love going on Reddit whenever I have free time.”

Although it may seem like a source of distraction for teens, the website can provide benefits. Students can find specialized communities on Reddit to learn more about a particular interest.

“For young people, one of the nice things about using Reddit is that it has communities for every different interest out there,” Martin said. “Whether you’re trying to learn a new programming language, looking to get into a certain career, looking for particular information on a college, or if you’re just looking for people who like the same TV or movie that you like, you’re going to be able to find other people that have shared interests. I think that’s really important when you’re in high school or trying to figure out what to do.”

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Reddit builds a following in CHS community