Currently, the largest discussion area for atheists on the Internet is on Reddit, where thousands of "Godless Redditors" meet to discuss news, politics, philosophy and other topics with fellow atheists every day. The group, located at reddit.com/r/atheism, provides a great platform for sharing relevant links and images as well as carrying on discussions with fellow atheists worldwide.
What is r/atheism?
r/atheism is part of a popular social media website called Reddit. Reddit is a social media site where users can post links from all over the Web. The result is an aggregation of news, articles and images geared toward specific interests and users. Users can also make posts directly to the Reddit page by creating text files, which can then launch discussions. To make the site easier to navigate, Reddit is divided into a number of topic sections, or subreddits. One such subreddit is r/atheism. Some other examples are r/funny, r/worldnews and r/science.
Every link is open to comments from other members. Members can also up-vote and down-vote comments and topics. The more up-votes a topic has, the higher its "karma." Posts with high karma show up at the top of the page, so you can easily see the most popular comments and posts with minimal searching.
How Reddit Works
If you're new to Reddit, the site may seem a little daunting. It's a combination of social media site and discussion forum, and it's a format that has launched plenty of viral content since its invention. The reason for Reddit's popularity is obvious: It has a huge population of active users who are eager to participate in discussions about a wide variety of topics.
The main Reddit site is divided into a number of subreddits, which are like targeted forums. The r/atheism page is one such subreddit. Within any given subreddit, you can post new topics or participate in preexisting topics. Each post can be voted up or down by users, which helps to keep relevant discussions toward the top and hide comments that are deemed unhelpful. In this way, Reddit users, or "redditors," serve to moderate their own communities.
Here's a video that can walk you through some of the basics of how the site works:
Like most places on the Web, Reddit has its own rules and guidelines. Most of them are common sense and apply equally well to all social media. Others are more specialized to the format. You can read all of Reddit's suggested dos and don'ts here, but some of the highlights are below:
- Read and follow the individual community rules of any subreddit you may wish to participate in. Some subreddits have specific rules about what type of content can be posted.
- Downvoting something simply because you disagree with it is bad form, especially on a topic as contentious as atheism. Try to hear everyone out and only downvote a topic if it truly warrants it.
- When submitting content that refers to something on the Web, always try to link to the original source rather than secondary sources. This gives credit to the original creator and helps to prevent you from spreading misinformation.
- Avoid reposting material that was deleted. If moderators removed it once, it was likely for good reason.
- Avoid excessive self-promotion. Occasionally promoting your own site, blog, book or other material is fine, but excessive promotion will be punished. In general, it's best to follow the "one in 10" rule, which states that for every 10 posts you make, nine of them should be informative or helpful in some way; the 10th can be self-promotional. You want to spend your social media time chatting, not blasting members with advertisements. Reddit explains the reasons for this in great detail here.
By and large, Reddit is meant to be a neutral user-driven source of news and information. Although it's completely acceptable to post personal opinions in comments and solicit those opinions in new threads, the primary purpose of the site should always be to enrich the community. This is equally true of the r/atheism subreddit.
Joining the Discussion on r/atheism
The r/atheism subreddit is the largest discussion forum for atheists worldwide, and it's a fantastic source of news and discussions that are relevant to non-believers everywhere. Before joining in the discussion yourself, take the time to read the subreddit's guidelines. In addition to following Reddit's rules, r/atheism members should know the following:
- Topics not relevant to atheism may be deleted by moderators at any time
- Images should be posted within a "self" text post; you can host these images on Imgur
- Meta posts can be restricted and removed if they begin to hamper relevant atheist discussion
- Users must treat each other with civility and respect, regardless of differing opinions
When you first join, it might be a good idea to spend some time lurking and reading threads rather than jumping in to post immediately. This will help you get a feel for the community and show you how threads are moderated and which content is most appreciated. Once you feel comfortable with the Reddit format, you can begin sharing relevant information and chiming in on discussions that interest you.