Creating a community on Reddit

At one point in my history with Reddit, I helped foster and build a community centered around people in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area getting together. For lack of a more creative name, I called it /r/twincitiessocial. (Note the sidebar, which says “created by ironiridis“.)

Like any community, the initial development was slow and clumsy. It was only with the excellent involvement of other members of the community that it was able to build into a much larger, more successful “subreddit”. It taught me quite a lot about interacting with people, about handling conflict, and about the advantages (and strong disadvantages) of each member’s investment in and ownership of the various meetings.

A conflict that arose was over the public use and acknowledgement of drug use. Certain members were intent on hosting events for the purpose of using cannabis. In retrospect, this should have been obvious from the outset, but it caught myself and other leading members by surprise. We decided to make a formal declaration that such meetups would be explicitly removed, with a series of justifications, foremost of which was the Reddit Terms of Service that disallowed the discussion or advocation of any illegal activity. This resulted in the community’s first major splintering, and the creation of /r/twincitiesents by some with a strong opposition to the declaration.

Another community conflict grew over time from the size of /r/twincitiessocial, and from that popularity, its increasing deviation from “social” things. Many of the most popular posts at the time were humor, complaints, and in one particularly divisive case, threats against an entire group of people. When the leading members discussed the issue, it was clear that there was an ideal solution: push off-topic posters to re-post their content on the more general community /r/twincities. When the soft suggestions were ineffective over a few months, a harder line was drawn with removal of off-topic posts. The second major community conflict stemmed directly from this, and led to my resignation from the community as a whole.

Now in the better hands of community leader Brian Grondin, the communities have flourished. /r/twincitiessocial continues to be active and very focused, and /r/twincities has been resurrected as the most relevant community available for general discussion of the Metro area.

I’m proud of what those communities have accomplished, and happy to have them now under the guidance of a smarter person.