Today I want to draw attention to an online tea community that is quite active, highly diverse, and has a continuous influx of tea newcomers. These factors combine to make it an excellent place for advancing tea culture online. This is the Tea Subreddit:
Subreddits, like the tea one, are small sub-communities of Reddit, focused on a particular topic. They are relatively loose, open communities, yet still have a certain degree of cohesion to them.
Reddit is a social sharing website, a little bit like Digg, but distinctly different, which involves sharing links, up and down voting of items, and discussion. I first learned of Reddit through a friend who mentioned tangentially knowing one of the people involved in the development of the site.
In spite of being superficially so similar to Digg (both allow sharing, up and down voting, and commenting), the two sites are radically different. I find that Reddit is distinguished from other similar sites by its peculiar culture, and I have been unable to fully understand or explain why its culture is so different. Both sites have their following (Reddit is the more popular of the two), and I enjoy both sites, but I find that I strongly prefer using Reddit.
The main distinction that I notice between the two sites is that Reddit seems to generate far more discussion. A link that becomes popular on Reddit will almost invariably have dozens to hundreds (even sometimes thousands) of comments, whereas on Digg, links regularly make the front page with no comments at all, and many of them have only a handful. The discussion on Reddit is what distinguishes the site, in my opinion.
But I also find the discussion on Reddit to be consistently more respectful and positive than the discussion on Digg. I don't know how or why, but Digg often gets overwhelmed with negativity and hostility, whereas this seems to happen much less often on Reddit. I also tend to be much less interested in the stories that show up on Digg's homepage (although I usually stay off the homepages of both sites).
What I like about the tea subreddit:
The tea subreddit is highly eclectic. It's a place where just about any topic pertaining to tea can come up...you'll find die-hard practitioners of Gong fu brewing, even a few serious collectors of Pu-erh, a healthy dose of loose tea enthusiasts, and a massive supply of casual tea drinkers, many of whom are quite open to learning more about tea.
Of all the online tea communities that I've come into contact with, this is the one where I see the most interaction between people with differing levels of immersion and experience in tea culture. I'm particularly excited about this, because one of my main intentions with RateTea is to do exactly this, to draw in casual tea drinkers and help push them in the direction of high-quality single-origin artisan teas.
I'd encourage you to participate:
If you are going to spend time on online communities with the goal of advancing tea culture, I would encourage you to participate in the tea subreddit. Not only are you highly likely to get something out of it, but you can also help by giving guidance to the numerous newcomers who post there.
What do you think?
Have you ever visited the tea subreddit? If so, do you also find that it is a useful place for advancing tea culture? Have you used both Digg and Reddit, and if so, have you also found, like me, that Reddit tends to have both more discussion, and more respectful discussion?