Crowd Source

Crowd Source, a bottom-up clearinghouse for new and trending web content, calls itself the “front page of the internet.” Which is true enough, since Reddit is one of the most-visited websites in the world.

If you’re a site regular—a Redditor—then you know how it works: Users post text, links, images and videos into joinable forums called subreddits, which are organized by topic. Other users then upvote or downvote (or completely ignore) those posts, increasing or reducing their visibility. The most popular posts can ride this process to the top of the homepage, sometimes receiving more than 100,000 upvotes and thousands of comments, which are also ranked according to votes.

sponsored by

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Denoted by the prefix “r/,” subreddits range from r/WorldNews, which is just what it sounds like, to r/OneTrueGod, which casts Nicolas Cage in the role of the Almighty. r/Fitness, where physical training enthusiasts share and debate the merits of particular exercises and approaches, is practical and results-driven, while r/SubredditSimulator, where the posts and comments come entirely from bots, is thoroughly meta. Most every human interest and impulse—nature, sex, schadenfreude, puppies—enjoys countless possible outlets. Satisfying both writers and readers, r/LifeOfNorman crowdsources cleverly mundane episodes in the fictional life of “a remarkably unimportant individual” named Norman, telling a “collective story” that’s still unfolding nearly eight years after it began. In just the past few days, r/WallStreetBets, a brash, ragtag group of amateur securities investors, made national news by catalyzing a populist short squeeze on the stocks of GameStop and some other embattled companies, sending prices soaring and wiping billions off the balance sheets of elite professional traders not used to getting juiced.

In other words, with an estimated 130,000 active subreddits, Redditors can join the broadest communities or pursue the narrowest interests. They can hunt down truth or escape reality. And if a user can’t find the exact subreddit they’re looking for, they can go ahead and create it.

On December 22, 2008, user eddie964—in Reddit parlance, u/eddie964—did exactly that. A longtime New Havener who now lives in Bethany, u/eddie964 says that, at the time, he was fairly new to Reddit and was simply doing what a lot of newer users do: poking around looking for subreddits he might want to join. Failing to find a forum focused on the Elm City, he remembers figuring, “Well, what the heck? I might as well start one.” Thus, r/NewHaven was born.

But it wasn’t the most eventful birth. “For quite some time, it didn’t go anywhere,” he says. Reaching 100 members took “at least a year,” he recalls, and was celebrated with a post to the forum. Now, a decade or so after reaching that fledgling milestone, r/NewHaven’s membership has grown to nearly 12,000, which u/eddie964 attributes to the city “redefining itself” and becoming more appealing to Reddit’s primary user base: “young people” and “tech-savvy folks.”

r/NewHaven remains small enough within Reddit’s massive ecosystem that many local Redditors may not know it exists. Nonetheless, the subreddit has channeled a steady flow of activity. In a recent span of seven days, users published 37 posts, to which other users gave an average of 29 net upvotes and eight comments. Some of those posts sought local dining and housing recommendations. Another showed off a digital reproduction of the 360 State apartment building, painstakingly constructed using the world-building video game Minecraft. Multiple entries highlighted the worrisome case of 18-year-old New Havener Brandon Jenkins, who went missing in December. Another shared a music video featuring local rapper Kevlar Kohleone.

“You know, it’s interesting,” observes u/eddie964, who still moderates the subreddit alongside u/brewski and u/email_with_gloves_on. “I think the content that you find there now is pretty much what I had envisioned being posted there right from the beginning… It feels to me very community-oriented,” where “a lot of people who are involved in their community, who are interested in what’s going on,” are “just posting what’s relevant to them.”

For locals looking to enjoy, improve or recommend their city—or simply keep an ear to the ground—the stream of content flowing through r/NewHaven is a wellspring.


Written by Dan Mims. Image features the top of r/NewHaven at the time of publication.

More Stories