Once a year thousands of redditors around the globe do the unthinkable: They shut down their computers and meet up in person, trolls and all.
Cotton candy machines, Frisbees and barbeque are all on the agenda.
This is the fourth Global Meetup day organized by the social media, aggregation site reddit. Last year there were more than 10,000 participants at over 350 global meetups in 70 countries. Reddit is the most popular in the US, but also has a big following in Australia, Canada and Scandinavia.
Planning for the meetups is left almost entirely to the site’s users who organize through geographically based blogs within reddit called subreddits. Seattle’s main subreddit, /r/Seattle is the 8th most visited subreddit with over 35,000 subscribers. Seattle ranked just behind San Francisco, where reddit is based.
Redditors offered to pitch-in for the event though a Google spreadsheet, whether it be a generator, hammocks, a 3D printer or Philly Cheesesteak mixings; volunteers have jumped for the opportunity to contribute.
There’s even a spreadsheet aimed to organize ridesharing to the event—with a warning reading, “You’re asking for a ride from, or offering a ride to, someone from the INTERNET. If this doesn’t scare you a little, it should. Be careful, be safe and be excellent to each other.”
A Reddit user, Careless — who goes by Adam in real life — is an organizer for this year’s Seattle meetup. He said activities at the meetup will be “completely un-structured and based on what people want to do.”
Online trolls are a big issue in the Reddit community — the sources for this story both asked not to use their last name for fear of being targeted. But apparently trolling doesn’t carry over into in-person meetups.
“Will there be social awkwardness? Yes,” Adam admits. But, “people are almost universally incredibly friendly and nice at the meetups.”
Last year’s Seattle meetup brought in about 150 people throughout the day. He said this year’s turnout really depends on whether Seattle’s weather will cooperate.
Adam said the Seattle gathering doesn’t interact with other meetups around the globe, but he wishes to see more interaction between geography-based subreddits in the future. He proposes a rivalry with /r/Chicago.
This year reddit has set up QR identification badges for all accounts. You’ll be able to scan other redditor’s codes and later track who you connected with once your back online.
David, who regularly goes to reddit meetups in New York and Singapore, was reluctant about attending his first meetup.
“Between work and a certain apprehension at spending time with what I thought would be a bunch of awkward neck beard tech people, I never showed up,” he said via email.
But when Dave did attend his first meetup he found the experience to be a positive one.
“Reddit started as the center of our conversations, but from that anchor point we were able to weave various engrossing conversations that spanned politics, religion, beer, food, and Game of Thrones, to name a few topics,” he said.
For more information visit the Seattle’s Global Meetup planning page.