Q&A: In conversation with the mods of r/Ryerson

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By Adrian Bueno

Reddit is home to thousands of internet communities who generate daily discussions and content to share for internet points. In case you didn’t know, Ryerson happens to have their own subreddit, r/Ryerson, where a community of over 10,000 and growing post campus related questions, memes and rants. 

The forum provides an anonymous alternative to your typical Facebook class group, and promotes more room for open discussion. While the majority of posts on the subreddit involve serious questions or discussions, the page is still be prone to trolls and ‘shitposts.’

To cut through all of the clutter, r/Ryerson has their own team of moderators who ensure the subreddit is in tip top shape. The Eyeopener caught up with three of subreddit’s moderators, to chat about the r/Ryerson community, why they mod and the unexpected troubles that come with the job.

Why do you mod r/Ryerson?

u/Sakoori-kun: At first, I was given the role because I was one of the most active users at the time. Nothing much has changed since then, but I find moderating the sub keeps me up to date on the things that go down on campus. When I started moderating, I think the sub was around 2000 readers. Now, we’re at 10,000. 

u/ThingsThatMakeMeMad: Initially, I moderated the subreddit because all the other mods had graduated and were inactive. As the community grew, I saw the potential. I began actively trying to improve the experience and getting people to stay. Just about every decent sized university has a subreddit, and I realized that if someone has to run this place, it may as well be me. I had hoped to have a well-moderated and active community of Ryerson redditors. Our traffic stats are currently roughly 3000 unique users daily, and 22,000 daily page views. I would say it’s working!

What are things people don’t realize that come with the job of modding the subreddit?

u/Sakoori-kun: People don’t realize we’re not Ryerson officials. We don’t work with Admissions or the university’s marketing team. We get a lot of admissions-related inquiries on the sub and in our modmail from people who think we work for Ryerson and they expect (or demand) answers. We’re just students or alumni of Ryerson and we’re doing this for free. I don’t think Admissions would be very happy if we were pretending to be them and give false statistics or false information on behalf of them. Even though this sub isn’t officially affiliated with Ryerson, I feel like [the mods] have to make sure the sub doesn’t land the university in hot waters because of some [not] tasteful posts or comments. A lot of the decisions I’ve made as a mod have made some of the users angry, but I’m just trying my best to make sure the sub doesn’t get shut down overnight by Ryerson’s administration. 

u/HaC3rPr0: A lot of people don’t really realize that being a mod is not just moderating comments and posts, but also working on updating the feel and style of the subreddit. I was first brought on to update the CSS of the subreddit and then was given full mod powers. I recently was demoted to just CSS again because I wanted to take a break from modding but still wanted to help with the reddit’s CSS. 

What are your favourite and least favourite things about modding the subreddit?

u/Sakoori-kun: I love the discussions that happen on the sub these days. When I first started, the post frequency was usually 1 post a day, so it was difficult to get any sort of activity. Now, I can barely keep up with the posts that get created on almost an hourly basis. 

u/HaC3rPr0: I think the community is the best thing. We started as a small community of around 5000 users and now we’ve doubled in around 2 years. It’s a great place for students to discuss things and have fun. [My least favourite thing] I would say is the politics. We have students from both sides of the spectrum on our servers and sometimes things get pretty heated. The worst moment was when our abortion student leaders posted an incident where a fight happened on campus. A Canadian alt-right subreddit, r/metacanada, caught wind of the post and brigaded our subreddit. We banned them but they said some vile comments and then cried censorship on their subreddit when they got banned for advocating violence. 

u/ThingsThatMakeMeMad: [My favourite thing] is the sense of community the subreddit presents. I recall a few years ago, I got absolutely destroyed by the Linear Algebra final, and there were people in the subreddit discussing how difficult it was the very next day. It’s pretty cool having an online community made up of people who share the same campus, often the same profs and classes. I’ve even met up with a few of the people from the subreddit and become friends with them. At the end of the day, it’s still the internet and it can be dangerous at times. A couple years back someone started repeatedly posting a picture of a student, and proceeded to call her demeaning terms and posted about how she was a “b*tch” and “wh*re.” As a moderator I can remove the post but oftentimes, people will see it before I get a chance to, and it just reminds you how unsafe the internet can be at times.

What are some of the day-to-day problems you face as mods?

u/Sakoori-kun: A major annoyance about moderating the sub is just the sheer amount of questions that get posted. There are quite a handful of questions asked every day that could be answered with a simple internet search. Another issue are threats that get posted on the sub. There have been 2 separate occasions in which I had to call both Ryerson Security and Toronto Police Services regarding posts on r/Ryerson with a user threatening to harm themselves. I knew my report might not be taken that seriously, but I also couldn’t just sit around like a bystander either if these threats were real. I still wonder if those users have gotten help or if someone was able to reach them before they did something terrible. 

What’s the backstory of your favourite meme on r/Ryerson?

u/Sakoori-kun: I think my favourite memes were all the zesty ones we got after the whole RSU credit card scandal broke out. I have never seen the sub so active and united until that scandal came to light. Still waiting on that forensic audit though. 

u/HaC3rPr0: The computer science and engineering kids make the most interesting memes. I don’t know the backstory because I’m an art kid. My favourite moment was when the computer science kids were able to make the #1 search result for “almost invented linux” for a teacher.

How would you describe the community?

u/Sakoori-kun: I think nowadays, the active user base is just a bunch of meme makers. It’s not a bad thing though because I love good memes. A lot of the users tend to look out for one another as well. I’ve noticed quite a number of mental health-related posts and a lot of our active users share their experiences and offer words of encouragement. It’s really nice to see that there are people out there who care about their fellow peers, even if they’re protected by the anonymity of a Reddit username. 

How would you describe the representation of r/Ryerson by program? Demographically?

u/Sakoori-kun: I’ve done some bad statistics on it before. Overall, the sub is more popular with computer science, business and engineering majors than others. I’ve noticed a surge in Redditors from FCAD recently, which is nice to see, but I feel a little lonely being one of the few physical science majors on the sub. 

u/ThingsThatMakeMeMad: I’ve met up with a few people from the subreddit and added a few more on instagram and it seems to be pretty diverse in terms of religion, ethnicity, gender and program. That said, I do think Computer Science students are extremely overrepresented.

How do you deal with the varying personalities that frequent the subreddit?

u/Sakoori-kun: We try our best to remain neutral and leave posts and comments up, even if we don’t personally agree with the viewpoints. I think the upvote and downvote system Reddit has is sufficient enough to moderate radical viewpoints that users don’t agree with. I’m aware some users don’t agree with this method, but we try not to suppress free speech by removing everything that’s controversial. It’s mostly up to our discretion at the end of the day on what posts we should and shouldn’t be removed. 

u/ThingsThatMakeMeMad: As long as discrimination isn’t taking place, and there isn’t a law or school policy being broken, the mod team tries to have a hands off approach to the subreddit. Anyone rude or condescending is usually downvoted, and we try to let downvotes handle things just so that we aren’t unfairly censoring users.

For someone unfamiliar with r/Ryerson, or just Reddit in general, what could they get out of browsing/posting on our school subreddit?

u/Sakoori-kun: It depends on what you’re posting about, honestly. New users should be prepared to handle potential trolls and do some sort of research before posting. Don’t be too shocked if your frequently asked question gets removed. If you can find the answer on the first page of Google’s search results, your post will likely be removed. Posting interesting pictures and articles about Ryerson as well as memes is highly encouraged. I want to see the cool stuff that happens every day on campus and the neat historical stuff of the past.

u/HaC3rPr0: For someone unfamiliar with r/Ryerson, I think I can compare it to a Ryerson program Facebook page, but you remain anonymous. You’ll find memes, the latest news and events, and you’ll get to meet new people from different programs.

u/ThingsThatMakeMeMad: It’s a community where the user base is from the same University as you. As a result, there are tons of relatable posts. It’s an excellent source of news, memes and advice for anything related to Ryerson. Who knows, you may even meet people that you wish to befriend like I did.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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