We talk a lot. It's good to talk, it's best in person but much of it is happening on list serves and email cc chains a mile long. Often these discussions are focused on a single event or idea. Some people seek to obtain consensus from the community about their ideas. We want to create safe space for these discussions. Email keeps us talking to ourselves and isn't very inclusive.

What if there was a solution that:

  • enabled rich multi-layer discussion
  • Allowed decentralized community led moderation
  • Provided a way for anyone to create a discussion space and run it however they wanted
  • Allowed community lead decision making

There is!

And it happens to be one of the largest online communities in the world...

Reddit.com Reddit Alien

How reddit works (from reddit's about page)

up and down arrows

redditors vote on which stories and discussions are important. the hottest stories rise to the top, while cooler stories sink.

up and down arrows

comments can be posted on every story on reddit. comments add information, context, and humor.

up and down arrows

anyone can create a community (called "subreddits"). each subreddit is independent and moderated by a team of volunteers.

up and down arrows

reddit is open source. community members are constantly tinkering and contributing features, bug fixes, and translations back to the site.

Here's an informative video about reddit:

Each month reddit gets about


unique visitors

How Occupy could best use it

Reddit allows anyone to make subreddits. Each group, project, or campaign could have their own subreddit. Each subreddit can be maintained and run how ever the creators want to run it. Use it for consensus decisions, voting on ideas, sharing information, or starting discussions.

Each subreddit has one or more moderators that maintain the space.

I'll outline some potential use cases:

Setting up an event

Lets say that you're putting together an unconference and want to figure out what programs people are interested in. You could create a subreddit and post all the potential programs, then visitors can login and upvote projects they want to go to.

Visitors can also comment on programs and discuss how to make them perfect.

Affinity group discussion forum

Your super awesome affinity group wants to have a private forum where you can discuss ideas, vote on proposals, and share interesting links.

Just put up a private subreddit and invite your people in there.

An alternative to mail lists

Tired of ten million emails a day? Want to follow a list, but only want to know the most important threads? Make a subreddit that only allows self posts. Now visitors can make posts and others can upvote the best content. Each post on reddit can be commented on, each comment can be upvoted or downvoted* so the best stuff rises to the top.

Community Feedback

The Reddit system is wonderful for gathering feedback on almost anything. Comments can be voted up and down, the original poster (OP, or the person who submits a post for feedback) can have public discussions with the people giving feedback.

A great example is the discussion around Reddit's privacy policy. This also highlights the administration's commitment to be transparent to the community.

Ready to get started?

Get started

Visit reddit.com

Create an account

new account

Click the register link on the top right. Follow the instructions and setup your account.

create account

Configure your account

The Reddit front page is an aggregate of all the subreddits that you subscribe to. Reddit automatically subscribes you to a few subreddits, these are garbage, you'll want to unsubscribe from those.

Note: Reddit is a very diverse and awesome place full of amazing cool people, however, it is an anonymous Internet forum with a majority of young privileged men and all the issues that come with that. Default subreddits will often contain thoughts and content many of you will find objectionable.

Edit Default Subreddits (optional)

You can see a list of your subreddit subscriptions on the top left of the screen. To edit your subscriptions click and expand 'my subreddits' and then press edit subscriptions.

edit subscriptions

Now just click the unsubscribe link!


Now that you're subscriptions are clean it's time to subscribe some cool subreddits. I'll be maintaining a subreddit of Occupy related subreddits at r/occupynet. More on this further down the page. (If you are interested in assisting in moderation please email drew at occupywallst.org)

There are also some existing #OCCUPYWALLSTREET subreddits like r/occupywallstreet, check it out. There's already 30,000+ people subscribed to it!


Subscribing to subreddits

All subreddits are found a reddit.com/r/subreddit you can pretty much put any topic in there and find a community. Like gardening, check out reddit.com/r/gardening how about anarchy? reddit.com/r/anarchy more into flags? Just go to reddit.com/r/vexology.

The reddit url

You can find all kinds of subreddits using the site metareddit.com.

Once you find a subreddit you like just click the subscribe button on the right side now all posts to that subreddit will appear on the reddit homepage when you're logged in.

click subscribe

Understanding reddit culture

Reddit is a community of communities. Each community has it's own rules, guidelines, and culture. You can normally find this information on the right side of each communities subreddit page. Before interacting with a community it's a good idea to review this info.

example of subreddit rules

If you're making your own community you'll want to write out clear guidelines.

Also, if you are going to post a picture, upload it to imgur.com. For what ever reason, reddit only likes pictures uploaded there.

Up and Down voting

example of up and down voting

All posts and comments on reddit have an up and down arrow. This allows you to upvote or downvote any content on the site. Each community has different guidelines around what voting means. Generally you upvote content that you feel adds to the community or current discussion. Downvotes tend to be used to "bury" off topic, mean spirited, or useless content. Downvotes aren't a way to dismiss opinions that you disagree with!

Some subreddits have different rules or configurations for the up and down vote system.

the r/askscience up down vote system

This is how r/askscience's up/down votes look.

reddit without a downvote

Some subs do away with downvotes all together!


When on your front page or a subreddit page you can sort the content using the handy tabs along the top of the page.

reddit filters

Hot: This is the default, it serves up submissions based on popularity and freshness. What people are into right now. New: Brand new submission, browsing new is seen as a public service where your up and down votes really count. Controversial: Like the name suggests, these are posts that have a high number of both up and down votes. Top: Submissions with a high number of votes, these can be filtered by time.

reddit top post filter


My favorite part of reddit: the community discussion. You can comment on any submission.

the reddit comment box

Notice that comments can also be filtered (sorted) much like submissions.

an example of a comment thread

Above is an example of reddit comments, a few things to take note of:

Threaded Comments: You can reply to the original post (also known as OP) or to any comment. This creates nested threads of comments. Discussions can take on a life of their own in this way. Up and Down Votes: Comments, like submissions, can be up and down voted. Like submissions the downvote is not a punishment for having a divergent opinion, it's a way to remove useless, abusive, or silly comments for a discussion. Note the gray comment at the bottom of the above image has fallen below a threshold and is automatically hidden.

Next steps

Now that you understand a bit more about reddit and it's culture it's time to think about how we can best use reddit to organize. I will submit this document to reddit to solicit ideas and improvements before I go into my next steps.


I will be managing the subreddit r/occupynet. Here I (and anyone else who wants to) will curate a list of occupy and occupy related subreddits. When you make a new subreddit please post a link to it here.

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