Head moderator of Reddit’s science community says chemists need to be more active online

A picture of Nathan Allen, moderator of Reddit’s science community.

Excerpt from this article:

Now Allen, 42, is one of the most powerful science communicators in the U.S. as head moderator of Reddit’s science community, called the science subreddit(www.reddit.com/r/science). The science subreddit has almost 18 million subscribers and is growing by the equivalent of the Chicago Tribune’s print circulation—about 500,000—every month.

By day, Allen is a synthetic organic chemist at MilliporeSigma in Milwaukee, where he lives with his wife and two daughters, two and five years old. Leading the science subreddit is a volunteer position he does on the side.

And Allen keeps doing it because he feels passionately that more scientists—especially chemists—should be making sure science is fairly represented on the internet and in the larger world.

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When Pixels Collide: How a million strangers on the Internet turned a blank canvas into art

Excerpt from this article:

Last weekend, a fascinating history of humanity played out on Reddit.

For April Fool’s Day, Reddit launched a little experiment. It gave its users, who are all anonymous, a blank canvas called Place.

The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one.

Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.

Ermahgerddon: The Untold Story of the Ermahgerd Girl

Excerpt from this article (remember this meme? I can still remember the sleuths on Reddit trying to identify her…):

It was a picture of Goldenberger when she was much younger, around 11 years old, wearing unfortunate pigtails, an ugly vest, and a grotesque expression: eyes wide, eyebrows pitched sharply skyward, chin drawn inward, mouth agape, and retainer-clad teeth bared like a hissing harpy or cat. In her hands, she proudly displayed three books from the Goosebumps series…

The picture had been captioned, in characteristically thunderous Impact font:

ERMAHGERD GERSBERMS

…Three years after first becoming an unwitting meme star, Goldenberger, who works as a nurse in Phoenix, still occasionally experiences the surreal, stupefying jolt of being ambushed by her own face online.

…Ordinary people blessed by the meme gods react in different ways to their overnight Internet stardom. Some sense an opportunity and try to monetize their celebrity. Others hire lawyers and send letters pleading or demanding (usually fruitlessly) that the offending images be removed.

For her part, Goldenberger never felt unduly embarrassed about her sudden and unexpected celebrity. If the photo had been an authentic depiction of an authentic moment—an actual artifact from her awkward tween years—she may have felt different. To her, though, it was clearly fiction: just a picture of a kooky made-up character.