BP2: Reddit Discourse Community

Blog » BP2: Reddit Discourse Community

Posted on 08 Mar 2013 03:10

There are a variety of factors that a community must have in order to be known as a “discourse community”. Having shared goals, common interests, as well as somewhat regular conversation are just some of the factors that are essential to creating this sort of alliance between common interests. Those who are a part of this community don’t just join and leave when they feel like it (although outsiders may do just that), but rather they become a part of this miniature society even long after the community has disbanded. It is this connection between members that make discourse communities stronger than your average club, and by participating in such a community one can gain a sense of enthusiasm over the particular topic as well as have the ability to share one’s own expertise.

One such discourse community is based upon a public website known as Reddit. Members of this website fit all of the criteria for being a discourse community. For example, although every one of the members may have joined for different reasons, they all still share the common goal of wanting to fulfill a sense of pleasure or enjoyment, whether it is by gaining information from subreddits such as Today I Learned or by looking up cute cat pictures throughout the site. The way many of its members communicate to one another in a way is through the use of Front Page, where all of the top posts from various subreddits culminate, or through moderator posts in the individual subreddits. Frequently, an individual of high status or certain expertise will go on Reddit to do an AMA, or Ask Me Anything, where users can ask the person various questions they want answers to. This shows that there exists diversity of expertise on the site, where college kids can post their confusions about nuclear technology for example and be answered by a nuclear physicist who happened to see such a comment. Furthermore, every so often moderators will often ask Reddit users what their opinion is regarding a certain change as well as offer a feedback box where users can submit their own complaints or suggestions for the site. This mechanism gives users some active form of participation within the community, allowing them to have some influence on the site’s development. Other reasons why Reddit classifies as a discourse community involves the fact that it uses certain acronyms or sayings, such as FTFY (Fixed that for you), IIRC (If I recall correctly), or NSFW (Not safe for work). These acronyms can usually confuse those who are new to Reddit and define a particular jargon in which only true members of Reddit can really understand and use effectively. Thus, these factors show that Reddit is indeed a discourse community in regards to the six characteristics defined by Swales, and that participating in such a community allows members to foster a strong, interpersonal as well as informational connection.

In closing, discourse communities can be best described as a collection of individuals who share a common purpose, a means of regular communication, a mixture of experts and novices, common lexicons, a genre of communication through written posts, videos, and pictures, and possess a feedback mechanism. Reddit exemplifies all of these qualities, and thus can be considered to be a prime example of a discourse community.

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