Reddit.com is one of the largest online communities in the world. Members submit story links or blog posts to the community. The community votes on whether they like or dislike content. The community received more than 40 million a month. It’s now home to one of if not the largest secret Santa gift exchange in the world. This is my first year participating in Reddit’s Secret Santa this year and I was able to get an inside look into the worldwide culture of anonymous gift giving.
I am a redditor. I was introduced to the website by a friend last winter and soon became an addict. I vote, submit and read posts in Reddit’s many categories, called subreddits. My next step- joining Reddit’s Secret Santa. It started as a simple gift exchange for Reddit members four years ago.
“So I made a post to askreddit, the subreddit, and then we created our secret santa subreddit and over a week or two we started writing the code and making what would become RedditGifts,” Daniel McComas said, creator of Reddit’s Secret Santa.
McComas created the gift exchange as a way to celebrate his favorite holiday. By its second year the program became so popular Reddit decided to take over the exchange
“After we were acquired we started our secret Santa for the third time and had close to 40,000 people sign up,” McComas said. “We broke a world record. It was overwhelming and exciting.”
Now in its fourth year, McComas expects 60-thousand users to send gifts to people they’ve probably never met.
I’ll send my gifts to a woman in western Canada, who is most excited about giving gifts, she says in her profile. Though she does give me some hints on what she’d like.
She wants something that expresses me and some tourism brochures or a newspaper from where I live.
In my package I have a Murray State Blanket and some brochures of Murray I got from the tourism office. There are also a few books written by my favorite authors, Jesse Stuart, Wendell Berry and Edward Abbey.
Lee Raine directs the Pew Research Center's Internet Project, which studies the internet’s social impact. He says communities like Reddit establish themselves by having an impact on real life events.
“This is a way now, especially in instances of this kind of altruism, where the community can announce to the world that these things matter to us,” Raine said. “And we’re not just defined by the things that maybe the public currently understands about us. We’ve got a bigger mission in the world and we’ve got a bigger heart than you might think we have.”
Like any large group of people there are a few bad apples. Redditgifts bans members who sign up and don’t deliver. But that’s only a small minority. And the exchange lets people rematch.
As for me, I am much more interested in the giving than the receiving. Like anyone else, I just don’t wanna be jipped.