Why Use Reddit for Social Networking?
I'll be honest: Reddit is one of my favorite websites online. There is such a diverse range of content on the site that it becomes much more then a large forum. It is designed in such a way that you can interact with people very similar (or very different) then yourself depending on which "sub-Reddit" you go into. These are essentially forums and sub-forums in which you can browse.
The focus of this article is highlighting 10 reasons why Reddit is a great social networking website. To begin, a working definition of the term "social network" should be considered. A social network is a "grouping of individuals into specific groups." For the sake of this article, it does not need to be much more complicated. You are likely familiar with the term social network as it is applied to websites and online communities like Facebook, Myspace, StumbleUpon, Digg, and similar. Not to mention, the term "social network" has existed even prior to the age of the internet: social networks also exist in our day to day "real" lives. Small communities, for example, would be a good representation of a social network. It is, in essence, a network of people with whom you can be social. Reddit fits this definition perfectly, and in essence contains multiple "social networks" on it's website.
So, why is Reddit a great social networking website?
1. Forums > Sub-Forums
One of my favorite aspects of Reddit is the ability to discuss and read about a large variety of topics that one does not often encounter in every day life. As an atheist, I find myself flocking to the forum aptly titled r/Atheism. Of course, atheism is not my only interest; and I have bookmarked over 20 sub-reddits I frequently visit including forums dedicated to music, religion, philosophy, video games, freebies (more on this later!), among so many other topics. While these categories may be broad for the purpose of this article, under each forum is likely another sub-forum for more discussion. For example, you can visit r/Atheism; then take notice of other atheistic forums such as r/debateanatheist. The topics of discussion are similar, but still drastically different.
Reddit works because it caters to broad topics, as well as very niche ones.
2. The Users Control the Forum
While there are some moderators on Reddit, ultimately the users have the final say. Anyone is able to start up their own sub-reddit. If you think the topic of "microscopic robotic dishwashing soap" will lead to some great discussion, and needs it's own sub-forum no less; then you can make it! Of course, not everyone will want to read, but that is part of the point of Reddit.
One of the major innovations found on Reddit is the ability to vote up or down posts. This allows the forum to self-moderate itself, which reduces the amount of spam very quickly; and also kills off uninteresting posts. There are of course flaws to this sort of democratic system, but it works very well on the whole.
One very cool thing I noticed since I began browsing Reddit (around a year ago) is how many celebrities will come onto the website and interact with other users. Most notably for me was a recent time when astrophycisist Neil deGrasse Tyson came online. Of course this could easily be a hoax, but Reddit has tools in place so people claiming to be celebrities have to provide verification that they are who they say they are.
4. Get Free Things!
One of my favorite sub-Reddit's is r/freebies. It is a forum dedicated to posts about free things people can get across the web. This ranges from relatively lame things like free wallpaper downloads (for your computer desktop) to free shot glasses, DVDs, cologne samples, and other things. Recently I ordered a free DVD about cancer titled Not as I Pictured, and it is free! If you are poor (like me) getting free things like this is really great. Like usual, the forum is moderated as well to decrease the number of scams and spam that hit so many other websites of this nature.
5. Reddit is Great for SEO
The ability to post content freely to Reddit means a lot for people who are running websites or creating new products. I have posted a few articles from InfoBarrel on Reddit, and they took off pretty quickly garnering me quite a few unique views. Reddit is great at bringing in an audience to topics people really enjoy.
Reddit is also useful if you have products to sell (or to give away for free). For example, I released an album of music; posted a link to Reddit, and found myself getting a few album orders; as well as being contacted by someone to have my music played on the radio. Self-promotion (when not overdone) can be great on this website.
While certainly not for everyone, Reddit caters the "social network" aspect of their forum to people looking to debate and have in depth and sometimes heated discussions with other likeminded (and not so likeminded) people. I frequent two forums in particular specifically about debating: r/debateanatheist and r/debateachristian. While certainly some people go into those forums to troll (IE: to be an idiot), many people use them as constructive ways to make sense of their views and understandings of the world they live in. I am not often around people I can freely have open discussions and debates about religion and philosophy with, so to have a website like Reddit is fairly freeing. It also allows you to see into the minds of people you may not have thought about otherwise. For example, on occasion Hindus and Muslims will be in discussions in which I am active; and to see their viewpoints and better understand their way of life is very interesting to say the least.
Social interacting on Reddit is really a great thing most of the time!
7. Find Unique Romantic Partners
There exist quite a few romance and dating centric sub-forums on Reddit, where people can typically find rather unique dating partners. Often, the people who actively inhabit Reddit are more along the lines of "geeks" and "nerds," and can make for some interesting relationships if you choose to pursue someone IRL (in real life). The way this works is similar to Craigslist listings, just with much less spam and porn (unless you want porn, as that is easy to find on Reddit as well). Of course, be careful when looking for dates and romance via any website online; but it is just one more aspect of Reddit that makes it so great!
8. Memes and Rage Comics
I was initially lured onto Reddit because of seeing some hilarious memes and rage comic strips. These are typically user created bits of humor that incorporate memes and "rage faces" (such as the ones seen above). If you are looking to use Reddit simply for fun and humor, then there are many dedicated sub-forums to helping you out in this respect. Almost every forum has at least a few rage comic posts a day as well, so you may as well get used to them!
Similar to the celebrity thing I previously discussed in this article, IAMA is a sub-Reddit where people can discuss who they are. IAMA stands for I am a _____. You can go onto this sub-Reddit and find people in strange professions, careers, or just something plain "out there." Some things I have seen include prositutes, porn actors, scientists, celebrities, psychologists, film directors, musicians, kidney transplant patients, cancer patients, and so forth. If you are looking to see into the lives of some interesting, and sometimes strange, people then look no further then this!
10. Get Help
One great aspect of social networking websites where you can maintain relative anonymity is that seeking help for problems you may be having can be really simple, and much less stressful then confronting friends and family. There are forums dedicated to helping people cope with loss, depression, sexual dysfunction, among other things. Some of these are issues people are not too likely to discuss very easily in their day to day life, but people can find genuine help on Reddit. While you should not put away your family, friends, or medical doctors if you have major problems; it can be a great place to go for assistance with your problems.
Let me reiterate: Reddit is one of my favorite websites. It is much more then just a forum, it is a social networking site that far surpasses Facebook and similar sites. You can connect with a variety of people from all over the world, with a variety of backgrounds. You can use the website for anything: fun and humor, business, romance, discussion, and so much more. I recommend checking it out in depth for yourself!