Every thing’s a Joke Till It’s Not

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At first glance, Reddit is a huge collection of forums run by a single private company. It’s in a gray area between small, intimate communities with shared expectations and norms and the mega-platforms that tend to obliterate things like that. Its job is to get people together for free, generate communities and content, and then assign a value to that content so that it can be sorted and shown to millions more people, some of whom are seeing ads.

You might find interesting links on Reddit and watch fun videos. Maybe it’s a place to hang out with a small group of friends or post to a community of millions. More likely, it’s a place you’ve heard of and maybe visited before, where you know people do a lot of things, most of which don’t affect you until they do. Like other social platforms, Reddit has grappled with harassment, hate speech, and abuse, and sometimes banned communities whose influence affected them.

For people studying social platforms like Reddit, WallStreetBets – a clear example of an island Reddit community pushing into the bigger site and beyond – recalled one particular recent precedent: The_Donald, the subreddit that has been around for a few years was long. the venue and central organizational platform for supporters of Donald J. Trump.

To be clear, these precedents aren’t necessarily about ideology or broad style. Some commentators have suggested that the activities advocated by WallStreetBets and Trumpism are part of the same anti-elite populist phenomenon, but if Trumpism is educational here at all, it is a reminder that self-described anti-elite movements can turn out to be found out that this is much more complicated.

WallStreetBets may look like a wall of slang, memes, jargon, and inside jokes that is largely male populated, and it is. But it’s also a financial forum that subscribers share with other, simpler financial forums. (All of the top 20 subreddits WallStreetBets subscribers share stocks with are for stocks, finance, betting, or cryptocurrency. The first one that isn’t between PersonalFinanceCanada and poker is a community called FrugalMaleFashion.) There is a long and complicated series rules that go beyond the rules enforced by Reddit itself, some broad (no market manipulation) and some narrow and exclusive (screenshots of your “positions” must be “equity or losses greater than $ 2,500 or $ 10,000 for options or stocks ” demonstrate).

Its unwritten norms are more numerous but are just as strictly enforced. You are with them or against them; There are other subreddits for doubters. Express skepticism and you will be branded a hedge fund investment. To expect a debate or serious discussion is to miss the point: this is not a social community or consultative space, but a group effort serving a purpose. For the past few weeks, the only way to get familiar with WallStreetBets has been to be fully immersed, soak up comments on “tendons” and “diamond hands” and “hold the line” until you mustered up the courage, the most popular of the group publish slogan for yourself: “We like the stock.”