I've been on Reddit a while now. It's a good source of information for a lot of the things I'm interested in and with some great conversations threads with like-minded people.
As you probably know though Reddit is also a den of hate full of trolls just waiting to be 'first post' or tell you just how wrong you are in a lot of respects you can think of it as a more mainstream 4Chan. We all know that's the nature of the internet, the veil of anonymity lead to elevated confidence and the removal of physical interaction with someone can, in some (most) cases, bring out the worse in people.
30 years into the real 'Internet age'.
I'd been thinking more and more about it, wondering if this was still the case now or am I just old now and projecting the internet of my youth on to the social media dominated net of 2019? Reddit is basically for those of us old enough to remember Usenet, just that. Surely in 2019, people are less judgemental and more accepting. We are almost 30 years into the real 'Internet age' surely by now we are less likely to pounce on an honest mistake made by a poster like a lion taking down an already lamed antelope? We are in the days of acceptance and letting everyone know our preferred pronouns at every opportunity. Maybe then things have changed, and the internet is a kinder more considerate place.
I wanted to find out if things had moved on over the past couple of decades and see if the Reddit users were a little less toxic than those on Usenet from my younger days.
I make simple mistakes all the time, both on and offline. Sometimes I will say one thing and mean another or use the wrong or tense. Common mistakes anyone can make! That notion gave me an idea, on how I could test the waters and see if things have improved over the last couple of decades!
Perfect I thought I'll post something with a simple mistake and see if anyone picks up on it on one SubReddit ( a topic-specific channel on Reddit and then on a second but similar SubReddit I'll post the same post without the error.
My method is reliable; the outcome is measurable; all I need now is a post that will look natural that I can tailor enough to fit without looking like a significant bit juicy of juicy click bait. Sure it's not 100% strict scientific method I would have prefered a rigorous A/B split test but since I don't own the platform that's not viable. For my interest, this is close enough give me a feeling of what a more accurate test would likely prove.
That was a couple of weeks ago. Fast forwards to 24th of June, It's 7 am, and I'm leaving the house for the office. Locking the door, I noticed a gorgeous cinnabar moth clinging to the brick of our house resting. Fantastic this my opportunity! Pulling out my phone, I snapped a couple of pictures of it, the saturated red of its markings contrasting with the stark black of the rest of its body.
A couple of minutes later, I'm sat in the car posting to a two different but similar SubReddits both the same picture of moth. One the titled "Noticed this little guy next to the door this morning. I've never seen a black and red butterfly before", and the other "Noticed this little guy next to the door this morning. I've never seen a black and red moth before".
Click post and there we go. Wait.
Agent provocateur well it's shit stirring isn't it dear?
Wait and wait and then. Bite. I didn't quite expect to get so many responses in terms of upvotes but the comments, oh the comments. After about 6 hours of the post been live on Reddit and one of the two variants getting to the front page (very unexpected!), the post got pulled from the front page of Reddit. I think the stats breakdown below sum it up then? So looking at the stats.
|VA - "Butterfly"||6.3k||217|
|VB - "Moth"||23||1|
I was surprised at quite how much of difference in the posts there is. Of even more interest is the ratio of positive to negative upvotes there is on Variant A. At the time of writing this (6 days after the post was made) it is at 98% positive. Considering the number of negative comments correcting the OP (Original poster - in this case, me) I'm going to assume the traction was gained initially by several negative comments in quick succession. This caused the promotion to the front page, and there is where the likes came in with most people not noticing or caring about the title of the post just the pretty picture.
Considering this I've concluded that maybe I'm wrong perhaps Reddit isn't that bad a place, not everyone wants to have the last word and instigate an unsolicited anonymous argument. What it does highlight to me though it that maybe people don't read and don't care, but they do respond more to a pretty picture than a few lines of text.
Maybe that's my next test? In the meantime, though I'll sit back and revel in the knowledge that with a simple experiment, I managed to get to the front page of Reddit. Even if I'm still not 100% sure it's that much different to the internet of yesterday.
What do you think?