Couple of weeks ago I dipped a toe in the wilds of Reddit for the first time, hosting an Ask Me Anything for an hour and a half after Parliament had risen for the night
(The thread is here http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1edbxj/i_am_scott_ludlam_australian_greens_senator_and/)
There is always something faintly intimidating about finding your way in a new social network, particularly one that’s been around as long as Reddit. Unique social customs, taboos and pitfalls have evolved that you only really discover by lurking for a bit and then accidentally stumbling into them when you finally do start to play.
As it turns out, the experience was remarkably engaging; questions flowed in on every conceivable topic and then the wisdom of the crowd went to work sorting them into higher and lower priorities. What the greens think about thorium mining and nuclear power, the WikiLeaks party and the role of science in public policy scored very highly and sparked interesting conversations. Contributions like ‘please die’ were downvoted rapidly into oblivion, not by an army of green sock puppets but by the crowd of redditors who had shown up to see if the greenie politician had anything interesting to say.
Even the threads around nuclear power – surely one of the most polarising issues going – were for the most part respectful disagreements and analyses rather than outright flame wars.
Thanks to everyone who participated, commented and disagreed; in particular, thanks for the forbearance of everyone who sent a DM subsequently and haven’t yet received a reply – I will get there.
The experience was unlike anything I’ve come across online before; part bulletin board, part town square, part argument, part teach-in. It is also one of the best instances of crowd-moderation I’ve ever come across.
Kthx Reddit, see you soon.