Thursday, October 16, 2014

/r/snowboarding - The biggest snowboard site you've probably never heard of and probably couldn't find even if you had

Somewhere within the baffling internet behemoth that is reddit there's a large and active community of snowboarders. We thought we'd find out what the hell was going on so we interviewed one of the 'mods' who goes by the moniker of david_z to find out more...

Reddit calls itself  'the front page of the internet' and it's probably a fair claim. It's homepage is constantly updated with the latest memes and it's the site that "inspires" most of stuff you'll find on sites like BuzzFeed, or Unofficial Networks a few hours later.

What's it's not though is welcoming and easy to use for first timers. Every once in a while we suddenly receive a huge spike in traffic from reddit and after several years of procrastination we decided it was about time that we finally tried to figure out what the hell was going on in there. After a number of hours of blundering through the unfamiliar depths of it we eventually found ourselves in the /r/snowboarding section where we almost immediately and inadvertently created a shit storm of anger about our flippant use of the word 'hipster'. Still, when people aren't being horrifically anti-semantic it was clear that this was a really active community of snowboarders with some really interesting stuff going on. But we're inherently lazy so rather than doing more homework ourselves, we decided to contact one of the moderators, david_z to get him to explain things...

Who are you and how long have you been a redditor/snowboarder?

My name is David Zemens. I started snowboarding a bit in maybe 1994 and bought my first board in 1996. There were a few years when I didn't really ride much, either it was an awful winter or more likely I was in college and was too busy drinking beer or whatever, but I've been riding for about 20 years give or take.  Which makes me feel old.

I've been on reddit apparently for 6 years. I would've guessed longer than that, though.  I started participating in the /r/snowboarding community probably in 2010.

Old man Zemens, his soul-patch double and his hoverboard

What does a reddit moderator do exactly and how is a moderator anointed? 

Mods are anointed by other mods. A long time ago I was apparently active enough or posted interesting enough stuff that the other mods thought I’d be a good mod and that’s that.

Basically mods just maintain the community, curate the user submissions, delete spam, and babysit internet fights, although thankfully snowboarders are usually pretty chill enough that we don’t worry much about the latter. Occasionally trying to steer the site in particular direction, or away from certain things.

What other sections of reddit to you use, other than The Fappening of course?

My lawyers have advised me not to discuss The Fappening.

I don’t do a lot of other stuff on Reddit any more. I used to participate in some of the politics groups, economics, etc., but all that shit just makes me mad. I have fairly radical political beliefs, so all that tends to do is upset me, and I don’t have enough hours in the day to fight with idiots on the internet. I'm a lot happier now that I spend (or waste, depending on who you ask) my time doing snowboarding stuff.

A happier Zemens and his teeth double

I hear that you are a big fan of pictures of people on ski lifts and pictures of snowboard boots. What's with that obsession?

Hahahah yeah that’s the memes.

So the “boot” thing came up like this. A few years ago someone snapped a cell phone pic, basically they sat down to strap in and took a pic looking down the hill. It’s basically a picture of their boots.  A boot selfie.  And they submit this picture to reddit like to say “Hey look at me I’m snowboarding”. 

Now you’ve got 40,000 people, most of whom snowboard 3 days a season and they all upvote stuff like this. It’s “me too!” content, copycat content. If one person does it, no big deal. But it never stops with just one.  You end up with 20 or 30 of these cluttering up the sub and it goes on for weeks. Seriously!

You want a good laugh go over to /r/longboarding and see the sort of pics that get played there. I don’t want /r/snowboarding to devolve in to that.

It's ironic really, because I was searching David's blog for accompanying pictures for this post and I was overwhelmed by this sort of thing...

His site is mostly gratuitous crotch shots.

You also have a blog, what's the thinking behind having all the different outlets?

I had been on reddit prior to starting my own blog at, so when I started my site back in 2009 or whenever it was, it was just natural for me to check out the /r/snowboarding. At the time, I think there were only a few hundred users, so it was still really small. I've never gone overboard on self-promotion, especially since I also moderate it, but like other social channels it can be a good way to share your content.

I’d love to have traffic like /r/snowboarding (100k uniques per month) on my own site that’s probably never going to happen, so my own site is just my forum for op/ed or my take on snowboarding current events, I do gear reviews, you know all the usual stuff.

Reddit is a place to just give back a little bit, I can find some new ideas for content but it’s also a place I can answer questions in a format that doesn't require writing an entire article, drafting copy, finding stock images, coming up with a headline that’s “viral” enough or SEO optimized, etc.

Blogging is a pain in the ass, in comparison...

Who are the most active or most interesting people on the snowboarding subreddit?

Not sure if these are the most active or interesting and I probably am not paying enough attention to usernames but a few always stick out. Phunkstar always posts good videos and has a knack for digging up old videos I think. Also super knowledgeable about snowboarding history. Bladepsycho is another mod, the newest mod since half of them don’t do shit anymore I added him to help out. Irahi, surflessinseattle are usually good. Chulksmack360 too, he posts his own videos which are pretty funny.

After literally some research, here are three of our favourite things from /r/snowboarding

Some lad getting lamped, submitted by manbearpig1204

Classic Shaun White Quote - submitted by Shredgod

And trending right now...

Scott Stevens spinning around all nicely - submitted by theRippedViking

If you want to take a look through the best rated posts on /r/snowboarding of all time, here's the link.

How does reddit compare/differ from the dedicated snowboard forums? 

The layout and functionality is different from most, it’s very 'democratic' in the way that what rises to the top is the content that people have voted up. This is really neat because someone with deep pockets like a Burton or Transworld can’t just come in with a big ad spend and bump everyone else’s content to the bottom of the feed.

And it’s a great way to share or promote content like your crew’s videos or a set of stills that your photog friend snapped during last week’s rail mission, or hell even to help answer questions for some n00bs who are just getting in to snowboarding.

I think part of what draws people to /r/snowboarding is that you are someone who snowboards – maybe a lot or maybe a little – but you’re already on reddit and subscribing to other interests, whether it is funny GIFs, or Python or smoking bowls or snowboarding, with reddit you get it all in one place. But as a result of this I think the population on forums tends more enthusiast, whereas reddit maybe more novice.

Why would people use reddit rather than a forum?

Reddit is like a super-forum. There’s sub-communities or sub-reddits for any topic you can think of, even The Fappening.

One thing that reddit does pretty well is crowdsourcing information.  Last year (which reminds me I have to update some of these…) we started a crowd-sourced travel guide where people can post a review of any resort and then it’s easy for you to find out information. It’s sourcing that information and collecting it all in one place.  Forums can do this too but sometimes forums languish, or the threaded nature of them devolves in to something else, here we can keep it focused pretty tightly and sidebar any real interesting contributions.

At the moment the snowboarding sub, like the snowboarding forums, has an abundance of questions from people who are just getting into snowboarding. What could it offer to more experienced/addicted snowboarders?

I’ve always wanted it to be a place that doesn't alienate the novice riders but also provides value to the more experienced riders without being elitist about it.

There’s a lot of traffic on this sub that’s pretty much untapped right now and it would be great to involve other industry people.  

One thing I was able to finagle somehow, and we’ve done it twice now, is that we had an open forum with Dave Lee from Signal Snowboards. He came on for a few hours to do a Q&A [It's called an 'Ask Me Anything' (AMA) on the reddit]. People were totally stoked on that. I can’t thank him enough for doing that.  I wish we could get more “insiders” involved like that.

I still want to see more original user pics, vids, hell even stories would be cool. 

Who else would you want for an AMA? If someone wanted to offer themselves as an AMA how do they get involved? 

This comes up sometimes. I think obviously the riders right now that people get really stoked on would be huge: Scott Stevens comes to mind. Halldòr, naturally. I would like to see maybe Danny Davis and I’ve heard some other people mention that one, too. I’d love to see some more female involvement too, there’s chicks out there killing it, Jess Kimura or Danyale Patterson, or maybe that Czech girl whose helmet exploded in the Olympics would be cool perspective to have. It’s not just men in snowboarding even though it seems like that sometimes.

Any iconic riders would be sick to have, too, someone like a Jussi who just retired or Jamie Lynn or Terje, Peter Line is usually good for some laughs… there’s interest in those “old” guys although probably not as much as for the younger, more active riders.

Basically that's anyone. If you are snowboarding-famous please give it a go and contact David

How the fuck do you actually use this site? It's easily the hardest site to get involved in. What would be your tips and advice to help other get involved?

Reddit? It is basically a crowd-sourced aggregator. Users submit and vote on content, higher scores get more visibility, lower scores kinda disappear.

How to use it is a little trickier... and this is probably good advice for any community: spend some time – a few days or a week or whatever just getting the lay of the land.

Getting involved, just ask questions, answer questions, start discussion topics, post anything that you think is interesting. Sometimes you’ll post something that you think is tits, but nobody cares, or the dumbest thing rises to the top. Don’t fret about internet points and don’t take it too personally if something you submitted doesn’t get a ton of upvotes. They are not convertible to currency and are of no use to you in the real world.

The /r/snowboarding (aka Shreddit) icon

And finally, what is your vision for the future of the Shreddit sub?

It would be rad if videos showed up FIRST on /r/snowboarding, like if this site would become the place to find the latest vids.  This probably wouldn’t extend to exclusive premieres or pro full parts, but the mags all share a lot of “amateur” rider parts or crew videos that they’ve found by scouring the internet. I’d love to see people submitting all of their videos to reddit, first, like that would be the place to submit your video immediately after you uploaded it to Youtube.

More involvement from brands and personalities would be great, too. Like I said there’s 45,000 people there with a self-professed interest in snowboarding, and it’s something like 100,000 unique pageviews per month, during the winter season. That’s pretty considerable air time, and it’s free, if you do it right.

I think these things in particular would help make it a bit more relevant to the more “core” snowboard crowd. Even if you don’t want to help out on advice threads, everyone gets stoked for video parts and interacting with pros and industry insiders.

I think with that, David 'The Crotch' Zemens, has hit the nail on the head. If you've got a video to post, fancy doing an AMA, want to argue about the definition of the word 'hipster', or you just want to have a lurk then this is where you can find it.

Photo from the title is by shiznifterflifen

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David's blog - Agnarchy. It's a bit like this one, but lazier.

Gary Harbon, from Carmarthen, built a snowboard, out of carbon.

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