Online Communities That Are Not for Me

By Zhenyi Tan

I’ve come to realize why I’ve never been able to fit into the Reddit community. Because Reddit is basically a bunch of reply guys replying to each other.

You find reply guys on all social media, but Reddit seems to be specifically designed for them. On Reddit, you’re pushed to join in by commenting and replying. If you don’t, you’re a lurker, and the people there don’t like that. In some subreddits, your posts might even get removed if you don’t reply enough.

This environment allows reply guys to thrive, creating a hive mind. (The Reddit hive mind is a well-known phenomenon.) Thanks to the hive mind, the most reply-guy-ish comments get upvoted to the top, rewarding these users and encouraging more of the same behavior, creating a self-perpetuating cycle.

Similarly, Stack Overflow, in its pursuit of the best answers, has inadvertently become a platform for mansplainers. You know the kind: those who can’t just give you a straightforward answer, but have to give you a long, overly elaborate reply, even if that’s not what you asked for.

And just like Reddit, their reward system leads to simple answers being downvoted and mansplain-y answers being upvoted by users, which ends up encouraging even more mansplaining.

And don’t get me started on behaviors like questioning your intentions, dismissing your question, or saying it’s a bad idea without giving a good reason, or giving you an answer that doesn’t relate to your question followed by a rant that also doesn’t relate. This meme image shows this perfectly.

And do you know why Hacker News is so toxic? Because it’s the worst of both worlds—it’s designed for both reply guys and mansplainers.