Getting on Reddit was a way of promoting the ideas I post here on my blog.

Since my blog is NOT monetized, I could assure any readers I wasn't encouraging anyone to visit my blog for financial reasons.

Since posting comments and responding to others is kind of clunky on Blogger, I thought the discussion on Reddit would be better.

Boy, was I wrong...

I think it is a fundamentally flawed platform with no redeeming qualities. I think it ought to be shut down as worthless at best and damaging at most.

I'll detail why below. Consider that I joined two Latter-day Saint Reddit sites that were only for strong believers. I found them to be otherwise.

The Platform Itself:

The way the platform is structured, it encourages either/or, black/white thinking which is currently fueling a lot of the discord in the world.The world we live in is nuanced and contains a tremendous amount of ambiguity.

The way Reddit, and other social media platforms are structured, you really can't have a thoughtful discussion, only a short one where you address extremes.

You post a comment and others comment. You really can't examine particular ideas inside the comment - accept some and reject others. That takes too much time and space and the platform really doesn't accommodate that in how it is set up.

What's more, most people won't take the time to read anything long. It caters to short pithy posts.

While technically possible, the Reddit platform norms don't encourage thoughtful, dispassionate discourse, just the opposite - thoughtless and emotionally charged attacks. This is the Reddit norm.

Posts go up chronologically. If there is little interest in them, they quickly get passed over. If there are no comments, they become irrelevant within days or hours. This suggests that if they do not elicit a strong, immediate response, they get relegated to the Reddit dust heap.

Anger and outrage prevail. Thoughtful and introspective dialog rarely occurs.

People get "up" votes for being inflammatory/strong, not for being thoughtful and reflective.

Also, I think the strong Latter-day Saint Reddit forums draw people away from the scriptures and the Church's own website. I don't think this is desirable.

The moderators and owners would probably counter this by saying they post links to church articles and resources all the time, which they do. However, I still think it draws people away from church resources not to them.

Members won't visit the Church's sites if they think they are getting what they need on Reddit.

To be truly effective, we need to guide people to the scriptures and the Church's website not away from them, even when our "intent" is good, not evil.

I don't think the owners/moderators have any evil intentions. However, that doesn't mean that what they are doing is positive or good.

If our actions aren't achieving something good, despite a righteous intent, we need to change.

The Moderators:

Most people seem to think that conscientious and good moderators will solve most of the problems. They won't.

Moderators just cancel posts and people. In fact, those of us who are capable of managing discussions, and validating ideas while steering around personal attacks are shut down before we have a chance to exercise our skills, by the moderators trying to keep the dialog "civil".

Their idea of civil dialog is not discussing anything that "might" explode. The unfortunate result is that you don't ever end up discussing anything that's particularly important. Anybody that tries gets canceled and their posts deleted.

I caught some posts before moderators deleted them and found some of them to be honest attempts by members to navigate difficult issues and ideas after encountering perplexities.

I think some of these discussions would have been more relevant and beneficial than some of what the moderators let stand.

Much of what the moderators let stand was much more disturbing to me than what they canceled. In fact, I would term it simply near apostates supporting each other in their gradual apostasy.

These discussions weren't overtly hostile, but I found them to be profoundly disturbing. They were "civil" according to Reddit standards but were, in my opinion, very damaging.

It is possible to manipulate the moderators by ostensibly following their standards but in a way that would undercut them. I concluded it wouldn't be very hard to do.

There are other techniques to get around the Reddit civility standards by ostensibly following them on the surface but violating them in principle.

It made me wonder how often this actually occurs.

Truly effective moderators could play down the personal vitriol in posts and focus attention on the legitimate statements posters make without wholesale canceling posts and people.

However, this would take a horrendous amount of time and attention. I'm not sure anyone would want to spend the time to do this. In fact, I'm not certain it is even worth it.

The Posters and the Commenters:

Good grief, where do I start?

I suspect there is a profile of a typical Reddit poster/commenter although I'm not interested enough to research it. I would say most Redditors follow a typical pattern.

They spend a lot of time online, much more so than they spend reading scriptures or on the Church's website.

Opinion prevails. Even where Redditors could simply refer queries to a thoughtful and complete discussion of their question on a church resource, Redditors simply give their opinion instead of referring anyone to anything else.

Instead of giving one Redditor my opinion, I simply included a link to a reference in a digital-only Liahona article I thought was relevant. The Redditor responded, "Thank you! This is exactly what I needed!!!"

Why would I give someone my opinion when good resources, well-written and well-documented exist that can answer the question far better than almost anything else could?

I think the answer is that Redditors are more interested in posting their own opinion rather than reading or actually answering the query in question.

Perhaps this is a narcissistic tendency?

This is a natural conclusion after reading a long stream of comments to a poster that all say exactly the same thing.

Didn't the commenters read all the prior comments? If they did, why did they feel the need to repeat them? It is puzzling unless self-interest and self-aggrandizement are involved.

That would explain this phenomenon.

For example, one query was whether herbal teas violated the Word of Wisdom. There were dozens of responses. Honestly, a few words or sentences from one to three commenters could have covered all the relevant issues in depth. The dozens of responses were redundant, unenlightening, and distracting.

I did encounter a handful of Redditors who seemed genuinely interested in helping people with legitimate queries and encouraging members to remain faithful and righteous.

However, their small numbers got lost amongst all the prolific and repetitive Redditors. In essence, they got buried. Not canceled, just buried. However, the result was essentially the same.

I had to decide if I wanted to join their numbers.

I decided not to. I have more productive things to do.

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