You can mark it down as “they just don’t get me.” There was really no chance that they would, anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that the panel at SXSW on Reddit was a debacle. Then again, did anyone think it wouldn’t be?
The panel consisted of Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo, Gawker‘s Adrian Chen and Skepchick‘s Rebecca Watson. They aren’t fans of the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” and it showed. Those who expected it to be a discussion about a Reddit culture that is growing in prominence and maturing in form were disappointed. Those who knew that it would be a not-so-veiled bash session from panelists who had an axe to grind got exactly what they expected.
Where was Reddit? C0-founder Alexis Ohanian had a reported scheduling conflict and had to bow out as the fourth panelist. Did he know what was coming? Did he look at the panel and realize that it would be a 3-on-1 ambush, or did he really just have a conflict that prevented him from going to one of the biggest interactive media events of the year? Why did Reddit not send a representative?
The answer is that nobody really cares. For better of for worse, SXSWi has returned to its roots before there was even an interactive portion to where the first few days of the festival are really one big party. Yes, they get big names in there (I almost stood in line for an hour to hear Sean Parker and Al Gore last year but decided I’d rather get an epic fish taco from the food truck – no regrets) but as Buzzfeed points out, the festival is not a place where kings are crowned, anymore.
Reddit doesn’t need to be popular at SXSW and if anything, being the bad seeds that often do good things in the world best fits their personality. Those who hate the site will not be swayed. Those who join the site and see the highest level of quality shared content mixed with the most engaging dialogue between users of any social site on the web are often hooked within minutes. Reddit is the anti-hero, the Han Solo that shot first, and the misunderstood child with superpowers that the rest of the internet tries to quash.
Many will ask why Reddit didn’t have a representative on the panel about them. What they really should be asking is, “Why would Reddit care about this panel in the first place?”
Here’s Imgur founder Alan Schaaf asking questions of the panel: