Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



Reddit's Altruism Compared To 4chan's Trollism

from the but-are-they-the-same-people? dept

There's a wonderful saying that I keep seeing get passed around lately, that:
Reddit makes me like people I've never met, while Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life.
While I believe the quote actually started with Twitter in place of Reddit, there's certainly an element of truth there (no matter which service you're talking about). Mathew Ingram points us to an excellent listing of some amazing stories of altruism performed by the Reddit community. The post lists out 25 separate -- and often quite amazing -- stories of true altruism from the Reddit community. It's really quite an uplifting piece, and if you've spent time in the Reddit community, you're sure to recognize many of these stories.

It's also a nice antidote to all the claims we hear from people who think that the "online mobs" out there only perform acts of malice and attacks. Of course, stories of such things are often dominated by stories of sites like 4chan. But what really strikes me about all of this is that in my experience, it often feels like there are many of the same people who hang out on both sites. While I'm sure there are many who spend time on one or the other, in the Venn Diagram of both communities, I would imagine there's a fair bit of overlap. And yet, people always talk about how the 4chan (mainly /b/) community is the worst of the worst when it comes to doing despicable things, and here's a situation in which perhaps the very same people are seen doing amazing things. There's even one "crossover" story, involving a situation that originated on 4chan, where someone had posted an image of an upcoming 90th birthday party of a guy who... looked a bit lonely in the picture (his family later denied this...). However, both the 4chan and the Reddit communities jumped onto this and decided to "cheer the guy up," sending him tons of presents, and even having a bunch of folks (from both communities) show up at his party.

I'm not sure exactly what this all means, but it does seem like the rather simplistic story you often hear in the media about the "hurtful" nature of online communities is often ignoring that the very same people can be amazingly helpful at times as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    4Chan is a vastly confusing entity for most people. They think it's some kind of cesspool of evil where all the dirtiest of the internet society reside.

    It's more like pub on a Saturday night, where everyone goes to get drunk before having to back to their day jobs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Joe, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 9:41am

    I saw a similar comparison on Reddit (naturally), roughly paraphrased it was, 'Reddit rewards the victims, 4chan punishes the aggressors'. They do in fact often act as the flip sides to the same moral coin.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 9:52am

    The internet is stuffed to the gills with communities, forums, sites that are helpful, informative, kind, fun, supportive, or beneficial in some overall way. The brats (or perceived brats) are therefore always going to be, in the least, interesting or talked about since they aren't the norm. I'd wager that's why it's so easy to build moral panics around them.

    As for the overlap between them - no surprise at all, especially when the situation appears to be one of "justice". It's more the drama of ideals, being involved on a ground level with it, that appeal to the vigilante fantasy streak that exists in all of us to some extent.

    The power to help, in whatever way, is terribly alluring. Throw in anonymity and it can get bold, even dark, but alleviating the despair of helplessness? Major mojo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 9:52am

    The internet is stuffed to the gills with communities, forums, sites that are helpful, informative, kind, fun, supportive, or beneficial in some overall way. The brats (or perceived brats) are therefore always going to be, in the least, interesting or talked about since they aren't the norm. I'd wager that's why it's so easy to build moral panics around them.

    As for the overlap between them - no surprise at all, especially when the situation appears to be one of "justice". It's more the drama of ideals, being involved on a ground level with it, that appeal to the vigilante fantasy streak that exists in all of us to some extent.

    The power to help, in whatever way, is terribly alluring. Throw in anonymity and it can get bold, even dark, but alleviating the despair of helplessness? Major mojo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 9:53am

    Misclicked!

    Apologies for the double post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    voltier.com is a dead link, their DNS is grossly misconfigured.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Pitabred (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Humanity showing through

    I think that it's really more indicative of the natural feelings of people, how these communities behave.

    The average non-sociopath has strong feelings of right and wrong, and it's cross-cultural. These online community actions are simply the expression of those feelings. If they feel that someone is taking advantage of others (Scientology) they fight against it. But it's not for kicks, it's not just "because". It's got a social reason behind it.

    It's also why a bunch of people randomly decided to help some guy celebrate his 90th birthday. Being altruistic is a good feeling (again, for non-sociopaths). Helping others because you can is natural.

    We seem to forget that underneath all this, we're all still very human. There's nothing "odd" about any of this behavior if you actually understand people and their motivations beyond purely fiscal pressures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Having a beer with Pedobear is like... hmmm... being groped by the TSA perhaps.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    scarr (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Id

    I've always thought of 4chan as the "id" of the internet. It's the uncontrolled, raw sense of what people are. That's what makes it great and terrifying.

    I don't understand why the place responsible for a huge number of popular, funny memes can be seen as such an evil place. Is rickrolling really that horrific?

    I'm having trouble finding the evidence, but I also know of a case where someone posted a picture of his underage daughter and one of her friends, saying he was thinking about arranging to have sex with her. Within a few hours, 4chan had sorted out who this guy was, and contacted both the school and police to warn them of a potential pedophile.

    I'd never call it specifically "good" or "altruistic". It's just human.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Tails, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:11am

    This post made me want to join the reddit community, I'll probably look into the site when I have some free time this weekend. Thanks Mije!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    drewmerc (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    both sites as protests
    reddit is a sit in
    4chan is a riot

    (digg is the clean up crew after a protest) thought i'd add that one as well

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Re: Id

    Rickrolling is harmless, but posting flashing gifs to an epilepsy support board is not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:34am

    To me it comes down to site design, signal/noise. Reddit I can vastly outcustomize compared to 4chan.

    4chan my eyes bleed after a scroll. Not necessarily because of the content, but because of the repetition, and how 99% is rehashed shit for the 1% gems.

    Reddit is slowly entering mainstream, which is sad in a way, the site isn't like it was 3 years back, and the top 50 rated comments are predictable recognizable memes from the past few months.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I... LOVE... THAT!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 10:59am

    Flip side of @

    Nice "props", Mike.

    There are some very good anarchists, and then there are the others-- you know, the ones in Washington, er... I mean DDOS'ers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Dave, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 11:06am

    Sadly, for someone who's old enough to know better, I've spent a lot of time on /b/. I'm college educated, spent time in the 1980s with BBS, so I have no excuse. Like Homer Simpson eating tulips, it's my secret shame.

    4chan goes both ways. I've seen them do some nice things. They helped find the guy that killed the porn actress in the midwest. They find people who threaten to bring guns to schools.

    I've also seen them totally screw over people for small things. Heaven forbid someone under 18 posts naked shots of themselves with a traceable iPhone. The pictures will be sent to their schools, family and neighbors. And there's a small handful who post CP but hopefully a few arrests will stop that.

    Pick on /b/ because it's often out of control, but they do some good.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Re: Humanity showing through

    Eh, some of it is also the search for amusement, and the hatred of boredom. A good number of people (yes, weasel words, I know, I know) are just looking for something to do, and hey this seems fun. Or they're looking to be dicks to other people so why not sign on for a cause where they get to?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 11:30am

    Evidence?

    Did you just completely make up the idea that there's a great deal of overlap between Reddit and 4chan, and then treat it as though it's a fact? Because it looks like that's what you did.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    I think this is a much more apt comparison, or at least a better description of the differences between the two sites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    I think a lot of /b/ is more educated than people give it credit for.

    They just really really like to punish idiocy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    Pedobear the movie(a.k.a. Yogi Bear) soon in theaters everywhere.

    Seriously 4Chan seems like the little girl in the story bellow that stabs the fish gets all bloody and keeps saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" LoL

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-fish-almost-destroyed-my-childhood.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Evidence?

    Are you suggesting that there isn't an overlap?

    Even despite that many redditors would actually agree with that there is?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 18th, 2010 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Evidence?

    No, I'm saying that this: "the rather simplistic story you often hear in the media about the "hurtful" nature of online communities is often ignoring that the very same people can be amazingly helpful at times as well" implies that it's a known fact, but Mike presented absolutely no evidence of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    DRock, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 4:56pm

    Reddit People

    That quote at the beginning of the story is B.S. I checked it out and was reading this article:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/e8b53/my_18_year_old_sister_has_been_missing_f or_a_week/

    The comments from some people make me want to puke. But I digress, there are douchebags everywhere nowadays.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Winston Pennypacker, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 6:36pm

    Survival of the fittest

    What you see on the Internet is an extension of the real world where it's essentially survival of the fittest.

    In the schoolyard, the bigger stronger kid pushes the smaller weaker kids around.

    In the workplace, in order to climb the ladder you need to be a bigger yes man than your competition.

    On the Internet, the technology savvy people have an advantage over the technology challenged.

    Many members of reddit and 4chan are tech savvy. And just like you can't say all bullies are the same or all corporate scumbags are the same, you can't say all tech savvy people are the same.

    This, my friends, is my rambling, meaningless insight of the day. Do you see what the stresses of real life do to the human mind? I need to nuke RIAA's Website in order to clear my mind and then maybe I'll help someone out on Reddit.

    Also, never trust anyone who says, "my friends"... but I'm not really a dishonest person, I just felt like using that phrase for some reason... maybe I'm losing it. I don't know. I'll stop now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Ben, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: Evidence?

    That sentence doesn't necessarily imply an overlap between the users, just that people on 4chan can also be very helpful.

    Which they can. See all the cases of them hunting down and reporting people who post videos of them harming animals etc.

    Personally I see 4chan kind of like a developing foreign country.
    Everyone tells you all these horror stories about it and how terrible it is, then you go there and talk to the people and find out they're just like everyone else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    LouF, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 7:19pm

    Reddit is worse than 4chan

    Reddit is 4chan with herpes.

    I've never seen such a group of immature, pot-smoking, haters and perverts than on Reddit. The stories of Reddit altruism are propaganda and almost all factually incorrect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 7:39pm

    Re: Reddit is worse than 4chan

    You think reddit is worse than 4chan? You just lost all credibility, you must be smoking crack.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 1:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

    Even the biggest asshole can be nice to someone. That IS a known fact.

    The media focuses rather a lot on the negative side of social networks. (ZOMG SEXUAL PREDATORS!!!!111)
    But they ignore the beneficial sides, as shown in these tales of altruism right in this story.
    Those are known facts too.

    What kind of evidence were you expecting?

    btw, that was not what you said in your initial post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 2:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

    A-holes of the universe?

    Sorry I was watching He-man on youtube LoL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

    True, maybe that is what he meant. It's open to misinterpretation though - could have been written more clearly, after the speculation about overlap that proceeded it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    (Long time reader and insider, but going anon for this post)

    To me, /b/ (and the rest of 4chan) is my escape after a stressful work day. Granted, I'm more into /d/ and /r9000/ for whatever reasons. But on a first hand account, there's quite a bit of overlap from 4chan and the rest of the interwebs. It's anonymous setting makes it easier to share information, but is also ripe for exploit from just a few people to derail a board or thread. But as it was mentioned, the nature of the situation is much like the id of the internet. Just a raw stream of data, all uncensored and unfiltered that tickles up to many of the other sites that oldfags and newfags go to.

    It should be noted that while 4chan is considered the source, it's not the only chan out there. You have many other "chans" out there built by previous members of 4chan who wanted to take their content to a more dedicated location. There's sites like bbwchan which are more dedicated to p0rn, 7chan is a more of a forum in comparison to 4chan. 420chan and gurochan started originally about the subjects as mentioned, but have spread out to additional topics unrelated to the original mission, but still having their own autonomous communities. Even though you have many of these sites around, they'll all usually get lumped together back with /b/ on 4chan, no matter how remote they are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Evidence?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    reflibman (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Reddit is worse than 4chan

    LouF is just pissed that he was kicked off of Reddit for excessive inappropriate and offensive comments, or ‘trolling’. And as such characters go, instead of blaming himself, he blames the forum, seemingly searching for opportunities to badmouth it. (Seriously, look up a recent pro-Reddit article and you will see LouF making disparaging comments.) Bottom-line - Reddit does good much more than it does evil.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Bonnie Stewart, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    Reddit is still sexist

    While the sense of community is great, reddit is still a cespool of sexism, sizism, and general misogeny.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Xander C (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Reddit is still sexist

    /TwoXChromosomes/ exists for your pleasure mad'am.

    Aside from that, I fail to see the rest of the boards being anything like what you mentioned... (aside from seduction of course, but they're he anti-twoXchromosomes...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    psulli, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

    Filling Gaps.

    'Reddit rewards the victims, 4chan punishes the aggressors'

    Just like journalism used to do: Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    thefool808, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

    Re: Evidence?

    There is. I'm an expert in these sorts of things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    alquanna (profile), Nov 19th, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Re: Reddit is still sexist

    Just like real life. (To be honest, most of the time it's tongue-in-cheek, but then again, sarcasm doesn't get through the Internet sometimes.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Abdul Basit Ahmad, Nov 19th, 2010 @ 11:57pm

    my 2 cents

    perhaps its a very simple matter. 4chan is an anonymous board and people hang out there for the lulz, basically. not that lulz are not had on reddit, but of a different kind.

    while on reddit you get karma and so. its not exactly 2 plus 2 straight forward, but this distinction seems to me to be important.

    also all the cancer on reddit is confined to a few circlejerking subs and it is pretty easy to avoid it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    shenoyjoseph, Nov 20th, 2010 @ 2:14am

    reddit is good

    reddit is always good for traffic
    http://techdraginfo.blogspot.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2010 @ 3:39am

    I think people in this day and age are desperately trying to make a difference. In whatever way.
    When you can make a difference by making some lonely old man's day, you do it, be it Reddit or 4chan.
    When you can make a difference by harassing the shit out of some dumb bitch who posted her contact information, you do it, be it 4chan. Not reddit though, because you're limited in identification: pseudonymity is not as safe as anonymity.
    The only real differentiating factor in all of this is that 4chan is more anonymous than other websites, while also being populous. Besides all that, it's just people trying to leave their mark on the world. 'Good' or 'bad'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Thanks, and...

    Thanks, I joined Reddit because of this thread.

    I like both of the sites, 4chan is not full of dumb idiots, they are very smart at times, and very helpful as many of you have said, but all of 4chan shouldn't be at blame. I spend the majority of my 4chan time on /wg/, /r9k/, and /tv/ where there is virtually no harm or harassment, if you think you know all of 4chan and you think you can sum all of it up with /b/'s actions then maybe you should take the time to go on there more often, because you don't know the other half of 4chan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Chris, Nov 21st, 2010 @ 9:43am

    fanboi

    Until you realize a group of Redditors' didn't like some guy getting alternative treatment for his wife cancer, so they decided to take it into their own hands. This includes death threats, calling child services, ordering things. Reddit's not necessarily some huge funtime adventure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    LouF's biggest fan, Nov 22nd, 2010 @ 4:09am

    LouF recognised for what he is on a completely different site. Awesome. Game over, LouF - everyone knows except you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Id

    LMFAO

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2012 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Id

    LMFAO

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This