The Reddit Community and Why It's Useful for Freethinkers

So you’ve used the reddit voting system, you got some hits and you love the minimalism of it. By now you may have even gotten a post on the front page by which point you may have noticed quite a lot of comments, a lot of them inane, while others are long-winded. Should you care or pay attention if they’re not commenting on your own blog?

They’re talking about your thoughts and opinions aren’t they?

If you’re like me, and your main purpose in blogging is to spread your knowledge and replicate your ideas in other minds, comments are your bread and butter. There’s nothing else I give more credence to, than receiving comments (well, receiving trackbacks is also nice) and apparently the reddit community is more than happy to do just that.

The reason why so many people comment on reddit, instead of your own site is the same reason reddit is attractive in the first place: Ease of Use. It is much simpler for a logged in redditor to leave a comment on the story link than to leave in the comments of a blog. This just reinforces my impression that comment usability is important.

Just compare how many comments Vjack’s latest (excellent) post has received, compared to how many are under the reddit story and you will see what I mean.

Another useful feature of reddit is that it makes it easier for people to continue a conversation once someone replies to them. It is not as good as getting an email as with Intense Debate, but as soon as someone visits reddit, they will be able to see that they have a new message, which is really the direct reply to a previous comment. This really keeps the conversation flowing, unlike a blog where unless someone subscribes to the comments, they will most likely forget. If you want people to pay attention to your writing, you have a chance to make them pay attention there 😉

Some may have some reservations about the quality of the comments that one may find in reddit. I’m glad to say that from personal experience, the maturity level of the redditors is quite higher than, say, digg. Not ony do you find great commentary but if you’re lucky, you can get some instant blogging material as well 😉

As you’d expect, comments can be voted as well. This has the effect of making the least liked comments drop to the bottom while having the more insightful ones immediately visible. Very good for avoiding trolling and finding the interesting stuff to reply to.

“What about Karma?” I hear you ask. Well, in reddit’s, it’s not a case of a silly woo-woo belief in metaphysical retribution but it is a semi-accurate representation of a user’s activity and success in reddit. You get rated both on the quality of your comments and your posts. It’s not really important but it’s nice to see increase.

One final thing, relating to the various subreddits. What I have noticed in the Atheosphere is that generally the same news keep being recycled over and over. At some point one can always read so much about Crackergate, pedophile priests and whatnot. Using the various subreddits to subscribe to the things that interest you will not only allow you to increase the various subjects you might write about but it can help you posts your articles in various categories and reach a wider audience.

Sometimes it is worth hearing opinions outside our limited circle of the Godless.

Political Orientation of the Freethinker

light spell
CC - photo credit: pbo31

Soon after I implemented the member pages in the ACP I noticed something interesting. It seems that most people who are irreligious, atheist or generally freethinkers have a tendency to orientate to the left libertarian quadrant of the political compass. This was further solidified when Waldheri, who noticing the same trend, inquired on it at the Atheist Nexus fora.

The results were impressive. From out of the 20 people who took the test, 80% were in the left-libertarian quadrant, with a lot of them being on the far left/libertarian end, three were in the right and just one firmly in the middle. All of them were in the libertarian quadrant.

To me this is quite…invigorating (for lack of a better word). It means that most atheists are indeed free spirits and have an intense dislike for authority. I cannot claim to know the reasons but it seems to me that this is quite probably because we are always at odds with the authority of organised religion and have realised that authority is always at odds with freethought.

Even though libertarianism was a bit to be expected, the amount of socialist-leaning freethinkers is the real news in this case. I am immensely happy that most of us realise the inherent superiority of socialistic principles over the “free market” and that contrary to the Objectivist claims of growing popularity, the economic leanings of most Atheists are to the left[1. This also explains why the Libertarian party of the US is so weak. Many Atheist must be turned off by the far-right political leanings it has, even though it is libertarian].

I guess that is another reason for U.S. Atheists to be disheartened, since they are living in a country where there is no left & right but rather right & extreme right. 😛

So I’ve been thinking. If so many of us are in that quadrant, shouldn’t we have an appropriate name? Unfortunately “libertarian” has been hijacked by the right-libertarians and generally when one hears that, they immediately imagine laisez-faire capitalism.

We have the other terms for our disposal of course: Libertarian Socialist, Anarcho-Communist etc, but due to the McCarthyist propaganda the immediate negative connotations (especially for US Americans) are too large. Furthermore, these are all two-word descriptions and I’d really like to see a description that is distinguishable and easily digestable.

Personally, I believe that Communist is the most appropriate term but due to people being in the habit of confusing Communism with Stalinism or Maoism, that would probably do more harm than good (I’m also curious to see how many of the people who took the test realised how close they are to true Communism – No that’s not a “True Scotsman” fallacy).

I’m afraid that at this point I don’t have any suggestion for a better name but I’ll keep you posted if I think of anything.

Most importantly however, this is the first actual common point a majority of atheists seem to have. If indeed there are many of us like this, this could be a way to deal with the “Herding Cats” problem that seems to be plaguing us. An actual political focal point that is absolutely different than all the other political movements out there could be what we need to start having a common voice heard.

In any case, I’d love to hear what the rest of you opine on this subject? Do you think/believe/agree that most of the Freethinkers are leftist libertarian? Do you have a good idea for a left libertarian political label that rolls of the tongue? Finally, can we use this as a way to organise and form the political muscle that is needed?