A new poll may have lent some credence to Reddit’s claim to being “the front page of the Internet.” According to a poll by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, fully 6% of adults online are daily Reddit users. Perhaps less surprising is the fact that the majority of those users are men between the ages of 18-29, who outnumber women in the same age bracket on the site by three to one, a figure that will no doubt induce rousing chorusses of “Right. Your point?” from the rest of the Internet.
Granted, the impact of Reddit isn’t terribly surprising to us over here at Geekosystem, but we do try to keep things in perspective. After all, we Internet professionally, and thus know and hang out with a lot of Reddit users. While it certainly seems like Reddit runs the Internet to us, we’re coming from a distinct background, so what things seem to be to us isn’t always the way things actually are. Reddit’s bag tends also to be our bag, and we’re delighted to see the site doing well. As to how it keeps doing well in the future, though? Well, about those numbers…
Like I said earlier, the gender disparity is not surprising, but it is disappointing. That’s because Reddit is pretty great, and it’s pretty great because of how many voices are involved — contributing stories, commenting on them, laughing at and scrapping with one another in comments. The problem is, if those voices are coming from one dominant group of people, they’re likely to stagnate. So if Reddit wants to stay awesome — and again, I am full invested in Reddit staying awesome — then Reddit needs to be a place where everyone feels like they can come and play. And that’s not about making everything equal — it’s about what’s good for Reddit in the long-term.
The argument for diversity here is purely self-serving — I want Reddit to remain cool and interesting, and the more different kind of people, the more diverse opinions and views and backgrounds are represented, the more likely that is to be the case. You’re going to have better jokes and better fights and learn a wider variety of things. In short, all the things that most Reddit users are Reddit users for are going to be better with more diversity, which shouldn’t be surprising — hybrid vigor is a good thing, generally speaking, and monocultures are boring. It’s why clubhouses get stuffy and parties are fun. And it’s a real compelling argument for making Reddit a more welcoming place for new users.
Okay, that’s it, I’m wrapped. Feel free to start calling me names in the comments…now.
- Quickmeme: You’re outta here!
- Reddit + Samuel L. Jackson? You can’t lose!
- Even the President gets Reddit, and he’s still in love with his Blackberry