I’m fascinated with the Youngstown subreddit.
Do a Google search of “Reddit Youngstown,” and the first result you’ll find is a link to a community interested in all-things-Youngstown, users who love reading stories and sharing information about our region.
A subreddit is merely a forum for a specific topic on Reddit.
You’ll know you’re in a subreddit when “/r/” is in the web address. So, for the Youngstown subreddit, the web address is www.reddit.com/r/Youngstown.
There are subreddits for just about any topic you can imagine. Health. Jobs. Trump. Top subreddits focus on topics such as “science,” “worldnews,” “todayilearned,” and the most popular forum, “funny.”
Youngstown’s subreddit has more than 1,400 members. Posts from visitors to the region ask about parks and hiking trails, shopping and restaurants, concert venues and other entertainment, and community members respond.
Some members share links to and comment on stories from local media, such as The Vindicator.
The first post you’ll find on most subreddits is from a forum moderator.
“This thread is meant to discuss events happening this week in the Youngstown area as well as any other general discussion topics regarding the city,” the Youngstown subreddit reads. “If you have an event you would like to promote, you are encouraged to comment about it on this thread. Make sure to include important details such as date, time and location.”
Moderators of Youngstown’s subreddit are also guides, ensuring the content we find fits the purpose of the forum.
Moderators help members, cautioning those who create posts with missing information. They might also remove content that inappropriate for the forum.
A word of caution for new Reddit users: Searching the word “Youngstown” in the Reddit search engine will provide you with a more eclectic collection of posts and forums, and some content you may not want to see.
When you create your account, set filters for your news feed. Otherwise you’re bound to see adult-related material. Reddit defines these kinds of posts as NSFW (not safe for work) content. Of course, Reddit could easily expand that definition to “not safe for home” or “not safe anywhere,” but I digress.
Want to shut off adult posts?
When you set up a Reddit account, click on your profile name and select user settings. From there, you’ll find a menu of options for managing your account, including “feed settings.” If you want to avoid the adult post, shut off “adult content.” This will eliminate some (but not all) of the seedy posts.
When I posted my own question about this column, it was a moderator who replied almost immediately, although plenty of community members posted their reasons for being active subreddit users.
Many of them simply encouraged readers to join.
Watching over an online community requires a good, patient moderator. In the case of a Reddit group, this often means the community needs more than one moderator.
When I posted a query to the Youngstown subreddit community about this column, two local moderators were the first to reply.
Meet Zach Perkins and Zack Ziegler, two of Youngstown subreddit’s dedicated moderators. They come from slightly different backgrounds, but the one thing they have in common is their passion for Youngstown.
I asked about what keeps him interested in the community. Perkins, a senior at Cardinal Mooney High School, noted that the subreddit is one of Youngstown’s largest online communities for discussions related to the area.
What really interests him is the positive nature of those discussions.
“Even if community members have different political beliefs, they usually don’t attack each other too harshly but have civil arguments instead,” Perkins said.
Ziegler, a freelance graphic designer and Austintown-Fitch graduate, believes subreddit members do a great job of posting information about the area from a variety of sources.
“There’s content from media outlets like CNBC, the Business Journal, and of course, The Vindicator,” Ziegler said. “There’s also plenty of original content in the form of photos, memories, questions and suggestions. All of these sources can be found in one simple spot. As we grow, so will the content from areas outside the Valley.”
Some subreddit members use the community to meet other people with interests similar to their own. “It’s a good way to meet new people,” Perkins said. “If your new to the area or just have a question, you’ll get a quick response to it on the Youngstown subreddit.”
Ziegler agrees. He also thinks it’s one of the best ways community members can help the network.
“We have plenty of residents and visitors asking for recommendations on housing, restaurants and the night life that usually result in a lot of responses,” Ziegler added. “From incoming YSU students to travelers stopping in Youngstown for the night, looking for a bite to eat, we do our best to answer their questions.”
Most moderators don’t know each other personally. They’re simply dedicated to cultivating a positive online community. So it surprised Ziegler to learn that his fellow moderator, Perkins, was a high-school senior.
“He’s very aware of the area around us and well educated on current events,” Ziegler added. “I think the rest of the [subreddit] could learn a thing or two from him.”
Zielger and Perkins want the community to grow and flourish.
“We have a weekly events post, and we encourage anyone to add to it, whether it’s a high-school play, a local band or even people looking for that extra card player,” Ziegler said.
To learn more, to join and contribute, or just read the posts, visit the Youngstown subreddit at www.reddit.com/r/youngstown.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.