Fresh of the heels of feeling its own might in the fight against SOPA and PIPA, a civic-minded Redditor who goes by the handle “ajpos” has decided to start a section 527 political action committee.
It’s called Test Pac, it has its own Tax ID number and it purports to represent “the special interest group that represents the views of Reddit’s users,” which we guess means boobs, the free flow of information, weed, and cats. In that order.
However, as Reddit’s general manager Erik Martin informed us, it’s not Reddit’s first “unofficial” PAC. Under the subreddit /r/rpac, you can also find threads about Hive PAC (another recent organization inspired by the SOPA Opera), as well as The OSDF, or Open Source Democracy, an older initiative.
Betabeat Gchatted with Mr. Martin to find out whether Reddit was having its political coming of age and whether Redditors are on board.
Do you think this PAC is a positive step for Reddit in terms of exercising its political power?
Absolutely and as far as I know there are now 3 “unofficial” Reddit PACs.
How would you characterize the community’s response? Obviously there’s a lot of nitty-gritty details to work out.
The response is, as with all things on the internet, chaotic. But it’s chaotic good.
In his post about Test PAC, ajpos addresses concerns about diluting other Reddit efforts. Do you think that’s something to be worried about, or is any representation good representation when your interests aren’t being voiced?
You see things like all the unofficial PACs, people active in /r/runforit, new campaigns against bills in the EU. I think trying to reign everyone in a concentrated way would be exactly the wrong approach. The advantage of the Internet community is our distributed and fragmented approach. A ton of ideas get presented, good ones rise to the top.
Is Reddit having its political coming of age moment? Or is the public just now taking note?
A little of both.
Are there Redditors that don’t want to see their community take the spotlight? Or has the threat of SOPA/PIPA sort of obliterated that sentiment?
Sure. Reddit is a community of communities in many ways, so the appetite for attention and activism varies, but I think everyone now sees the power that individuals and communities can have.
Dumb question, but the PAC is also referred to “Test PAC, Please Ignore.” Is the “please ignore” a reference to something?
Heh. It’s sort of a Reddit inside joke. One of the top Reddit posts of all time was “Test post, please ignore.”
Ha! Why was it so popular?
Because it said “ignore.” Fitting I think. You can’t tell the Internet what to do.
So, I think anyone who is trying to tell the Internet what to do now that “it has all this power” is not only mistaken, but counter productive.
I was wondering about that, like I’m sure there are those who object to being monitored by the Federal Election Commission?
The best thing we as people who are working behind the scenes (or groundskeepers as we often refer to ourselves) can do is to make sure there are places where, as much as possible, the best ideas can rise to the top, and the most people can participate, and encourage more things like Test PAC or people running for local office because they see /r/runforit or politicians coming onto IAMA or their local subreddits etc.
But what we don’t need is some Internet version of MPAA. Maybe the companies do, but not the communities. There’s a difference.
You don’t want to switch from the disenfranchised to the monolith.