If you’ve never heard of Reddit, you must be living under a virtual rock. Last year alone the site racked up more than 82 billion pageviews and 725.85 million comments, making it the 25th most popular website in the world.
Reddit’s simple design has content categorized by subreddits. 853,824 subreddits, to be exact. Sections range from /r/worldnews to the cute and fuzzy /r/awww and the banal but captivating /r/mildlyinteresting. While the subject matter may be as diverse as the site’s users, there’s one thing these subreddits have in common: community managers or moderators, as they like to be called. They enforce subreddit rules, tame the trolls, and continue to look for ways to improve their little slice of the internet and make it more appealing for potential users.
As a redditor for 5 years, I’ve watched the site grow and mature. It’s a platform that prides itself on positive community management and user experience. There are many lessons we can learn from the site, but I’ve picked my top 3 to share with you.
Make the Most of Magical Moments
While reddit has received a bad rap for its user’s mob mentality and pitchfork approach to social justice, there’s also been many community moments that will restore your faith in humanity.
There was the time a mom posted a Facebook call-out asking people to come to her 10-year-old son’s birthday party because she feared no one would attend. When reddit got wind of the mother’s plea, more than 300 people showed up for the water-balloon fight birthday and even more sent gifts and cards from around the globe.
As the post became more popular, moderators participated in the conversation and controlled the trolls who came to detract from other’s good deed. The mods didn’t take credit for the content. Instead, they did what good mods do. They moderated, engaged with other users, and tried to keep the momentum going. They let the moment speak for itself – and it spoke loud and clear.
Keep Your Community in the Loop
When reddit went down on August 11th, the internet lost its collective mind. Everyone was speculating as to what happened, how long the site would be in the dark, and how they’d survive without their daily fix of /r/relationships. Okay, maybe that last one was just me.
The site was unreachable for only an hour and a half, but reddit responded by making a post on their announcements section detailing the disruption. Moderators explained the cause of the issue, the remedy for the problem, and apologized to its user base.
The response was overwhelming. Users suggested ways to prevent issues in the future, joked around with the mods, and complimented reddit on the improved site stability over the last few years. Transparency for the win!
Don’t Just Manage a Community – Become Part of It
One of the most popular subreddits, /r/IAmA, is said to be “a place to interview people, but in a new way.” Some of the most notable interviews include United States President Barack Obama, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, and a former North Korean political prisoner. But anyone who’s been on active on reddit knows that the heart and soul of this sub has always been Victoria Taylor.
Victoria worked as the Director of Communications for reddit and assisted in some way, shape, or form with more than 1,400 AMAs (“Ask Me Anything’s”). She’d often sit in with celebrities and sports stars to help them improve the quality of their posts and became a familiar face, so to speak.
So last summer, when Victoria was suddenly dismissed as a reddit employee, there was a huge backlash. Users were dismayed that their beloved /u/chooter (her username on the site) had been removed and demanded answers. Even The New York Times wrote about it.
This passionate response showed a very human-side of reddit. It acknowledged that moderators – and community managers – are not just faceless individuals behind a computer screen. We’re real people who go through real life problems. By opening up, you can create an emotional connection with other users in a way you never thought possible.
The community praised Victoria a few months later when it was revealed that she would now be hosting a six-part series on tech entrepreneurs for PBS. You go, Victoria!