Quick single: r/CRICKET
Last month, Jarrod Kimber hosted an AMA that was heavily upvoted, building major karma.
Gibberish? No, it is reddit-ese – the jargon of reddit, the service with the red-eyed alien logo that calls itself ‘the front page of the internet’.
There is a sub-reddit – a folder or page – dedicated to cricket (r/CRICKET). It has around 23,000 subscribers, with precisely 77 of us logged on at this moment in time.
Like most interesting things on the web, reddit isn’t easily encapsulated. It acts as an aggregator: drawing together links in one place to all the major news stories of the moment. It’s a forum, where debates, ding-dongs and discussions prattle away. It has wiki features, where questions can be posed, from the highly specific (What happened to Mike Whitney?) to the endearingly naive (Tips for attending my first Test match). It’s crowd-sourced: the prominence of posts depends upon the reaction of redditors. Linked to which, it’s a game: collect as many karma points as you can for the posts you link or comments you contribute.
At its very best, r/CRICKET is Jarrod Kimber hosting an ‘Ask Me Anything’ post about cricket writing. I’ll come to its less good side very shortly.
Last autumn, I invited other cricket bloggers to take part in a survey. One of the topics covered was how bloggers promote their material. Reddit came last of ten listed options bloggers might use – below even LinkedIn, Google+ and direct contact with readers. This seems to be a missed opportunity for a couple of reasons.
The first is that reddit can be a very rich source of readers. Last month, about 40% of views of Declaration Game emanated from Twitter, drawn in by over 60 tweets I sent promoting my wares. Almost 30% of views came via reddit – generated by just two posts with links to Declaration Game blogs. This high rate of converting posts to readers comes about because of the ‘democracy’ of reddit. Every post submitted can be seen by every redditor – unlike twitter which limits your tweets’ exposure to your followers (and those of anyone who retweets you). Posts on reddit submitted by redditors with high karma get no more favourable treatment than posts submitted by newcomers. What happens to those posts, whether they stay buoyant and visible high up the list of posts, depends on the reaction of redditors.
The second reason that the limited use of reddit by cricket bloggers is wasteful is because of the cricket sub-reddit’s weakness. Too often, the page of top posts reads like a summary of recent cricinfo or Wisden India articles. For a site with the potential to be highly pluralistic, it tends to draw from a very narrow range of publishers. Partly, this is because few people who write about cricket (professionally or as a hobby) make use of reddit. It is also because self-promotion is frowned upon by reddit. Modest amounts of self-posting are tolerated, but the ethos is very different to twitter.
My contention is that r/CRICKET is an interesting side-road of cricket’s journey across the web. It could be greatly improved if the diversity of imaginative, personal and independent blogging activity was represented there. To do that, blog readers and writers need to engage with reddit and post the pieces they enjoy (perhaps not this one, though).
Remember, if it’s good enough for Jarrod Kimber…