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Participatory Culture, Community, and Play

Learning from Reddit


Adrienne L. Massanari

What does online community look like in the age of social networking? How do participatory culture platforms reflect both their designers’ intentions and the desires of their users? In this incisive and timely work, Adrienne L. Massanari discusses how culture is created and challenged on, the self-proclaimed «front page of the internet». Reddit enables the sharing of original and reposted content from around the web, and provides a platform for like-minded individuals to commune around topics of interest – everything from the joys of drinking beer in a shower (/r/showerbeer) to celebrating the pleasures of tidy penmanship (/r/penmanshipporn). Massanari’s ethnographic work provides a detailed examination of the contradictions that shape Reddit’s culture and how they reflect its role as an epicenter of geek culture. The book explores the ways in which community on Reddit is formed and solidified through play and humor, and the complex ways in which Redditors come together, which demonstrate a deep capacity for altruism and charitable giving, but can easily lapse into mob action. It also explores the community’s troubling gender and racial politics and how some Redditors are carving out their own space on the site to fight back.
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Chapter 7. Conclusion


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I knew my time on reddit was coming to a close the week I had a comment gilded (finally), received a Dogecoin tip, and was banned from posting to a subreddit. The first two were genuine, unexpected accomplishments. My comment mentioned something about how I thought allies of marginalized communities could learn a lot if they simply sat back and listened for a while before jumping in with their own opinions and that most folks don’t take kindly to the Kanye West “Imma let you finish, but first let me say how you’re wrong” approach (a common tactic on reddit). Surprisingly, it was this comment that was considered gold worthy that cheered me, as at the time I was deep in the throes of exploring the more disturbing elements of reddit that I detailed in the last chapter. The second event that happened resulted in a posting I had made regarding Bitcoin—one of the common tropes around the cryptocurrency is that people are quick to say how pretty much any development is “good for Bitcoin”—a comment I jokingly echoed in a posting after someone asked, “But, is this good for Bitcoin?” and I responded, “Everything is good for Bitcoin.” Lo and behold, I found myself being tipped +10 Dogecoin (an offshoot of Bitcoin), which amounted to about $0.00005 USD. The Dogecoin folks are known on reddit as being especially generous, playful, and random (see, for example, their sponsorship of...

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