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Some people say that you should take for granted for opinions on Reddit, because comparing it to academic journals is like comparing kindergarten to university. But I don't understand. Well, it's true that it is incomplete from a scientific point of view, but most active users in a specialized subreddit likely know what they are talking about. It also has the same peer review mechanism like Stack Exchange, and you can always visit users' profiles to evaluate their expertise. Saying a frequent redditor is not necessarily an expert is like saying top users in Academia Stack Exchange are not necessarily academics I think.

So if you can trust (to a certain degree) ideas from TED talks, Wikipedia, or Stack Exchange, then why should Reddit be an exception?

PS: I think the keyword specialized subreddit hasn't been implemented enough in the answers. Yes, all of the points are applicable in a generic subreddit, but I'm talking about subs that the fact one is in there means that they must have a certain level of knowledge, or else they can't never find out the sub. Any random person can create accounts, upvote, and write hilarious comments, but only those who actually have the knowledge can write serious ones and show the holes in my knowledge.


Related:
Are TED presentations academically credible?
Are there instances where citing Wikipedia is allowed?
When should we ask questions on Reddit? (quite a misleading title in this context, but anyway)

closed as off-topic by Solar Mike, David Ketcheson, iayork, user68958, Azor Ahai Mar 18 at 18:54

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    Do not confuse review and peer review. Peer review is an evaluation by other, typically already-established experts in a field, while the alternative is open to anyone with an opinion, well-informed or not. Upvotes on Stackexchange and Reddit indicate that many people agree with you, but do not necessarily indicate that anyone who knows what they're talking about agrees with you. – Nuclear Wang Mar 18 at 16:24
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    I don't really understand what you are trying to ask here. Also "some people say" is quite vague. If, based on your post history, you are asking why posting your theory on reddit is not the same as publishing your theory in a peer-reviewed journal, then I don't understand what you are treating reddit as the exception. Posting on SE or creating a Wiki page is also not similar to publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. – Bryan Krause Mar 18 at 16:43
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    For all you know, the self-identified "expert" on reddit is a three-headed monkey. For all you know, I am a three-headed monkey. (Plus, majority votes don't compensate for expert review. Or do you want your doctor to write your prescriptions based on an opinion-poll among those in the waiting room?) – henning -- reinstate Monica Mar 18 at 16:45
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    @Ooker I've never browsed r/neuro, so I can't speak to that one. r/linguistics is pretty good, in general. It has a strict mod policy, but that doesn't mean mods remove wrong posts right away, before someone may have seen them. r/languagelearning (I'm an acquisitionist) is a dumpster fire – Azor Ahai Mar 19 at 16:49
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    @Ooker It seems like most of your arguments in the comments in favor of reddit is that you've found it a decent place to get some feedback at least from some of the users. I don't think anyone here would argue against that: any public performance has a chance to get you some useful feedback. Even people who have no idea what they are talking about can sometimes give great feedback if it gets you thinking in a different direction. That's completely separate for whether you can get something similar to peer review, however, or whether your reddit-popular theory might be "good" scientifically. – Bryan Krause Mar 19 at 23:04
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Well, it's true that it is incomplete from a scientific point of view

Why did you write anything after this sentence?


This is probably a bit flippant. But seriously. It's "incomplete from a scientific point of view", according to your own words. Why do you need anything further to justify the fact that reddit is on a completely different level than academic journals? You are focusing too much on the identity of the writer, when you should have been focusing on the actual content. Science isn't about who wrote what; it's about the research. People can publish anonymously in top journals, if they are so inclined and the editors agree.

Not to mention that reddit (and this website) is a popularity contest. Any random person can create an account and upvote everything. Does writing a hilarious answer filled with private jokes make you a great scientist? No. Does it garner a lot of upvotes on reddit? Yes. Do you not see the conflict here? Calling this "peer review" is laughably naive. Reddit users don't go through the painful process of checking all the details of a comment before deciding to click on that arrow button.

So if you can trust (to a certain degree) ideas from TED talks, Wikipedia, or Stack Exchange, then why should Reddit be an exception?

Just like with TED talks, Wikipedia, StackExchange, and journal articles, you should use your own judgment when determining what to trust and not believe blindly anything that is told to you. It's also true that if something is presented in the form of a funny anecdote on an anonymous website, you should proceed with extreme caution. I don't even understand why it's up for discussion.

PS: I certainly hope that you don't trust blindly anything written by top users here. StackExchange "reputation" is simply a measure of how much time one has wasted on this website. People who have never done any kind of research or teaching have garnered thousands and thousands of points asking braindead questions and parroting well-known talking points without really understanding what they are talking about.

  • I think the keyword specialized subreddit hasn't been implemented enough in the answers. Yes, all of your points are applicable in a generic subreddit, but I'm talking about subs that the fact one is in there means that they must have a certain level of knowledge, or else they can't never find out the sub. Any random person can create accounts, upvote, and write hilarious comments, but only those who actually have the knowledge can write serious ones and show the holes in my knowledge. This very answer is an excellent example that content is much important than the origin of account – Ooker Mar 19 at 6:02
  • @Ooker finding a specialized subreddit requries a certain level of interest; not of knowledge. I subscribe to plenty of specialized subreddits (and, sure, probably know much more about their subjects than the average reddit user does - but the average reddit user is not the relevant point of comparison). I'm entirely unqualified to contribute to research on the vast majority of their subjects. – Chris H Mar 19 at 15:33
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    @Ooker and, fwiw, my experience with those where I am qualified is that the ratio of users who know what they're talking about might improve in comparison to larger subreddits, but even in small specialized subreddits there are enough readers who don't know what they're talking about that all but the very worst cranks often get upvoted. – Chris H Mar 19 at 15:52
  • @ChrisH I agree with you. My experience is that the people upvoting me don't have the necessary background to fully understand what I say. However, in their defense I see that some users seem to be knowledgeable in fields I don't know of, so I have some respect to them. When they say that my work is interesting, I think it has some grain of truth in their. I'm not sure if this is correct or not. – Ooker Mar 19 at 17:54
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Activity is a poor metric of expertise. Great experts can be very shy, and a person with the biggest mouth can be over-confident about their knowledge and abilities. Personal factors are diverse and individuals on the internet are often unreliable.

What matters is whether there is a system in place to recognise, support and promote best practices. In academia, such system is called peer review.

Academic papers are verified by peer academic before they are published. TED talks are peer-reviewed before they are shown to the audience. Peers are responsible for the quality of peer review because the failure can be traced back to them, and because they deeply value the integrity of their field.

SE has a very good peer review system. There is no pre-moderation, but wrong or unhelpful answers tend to be voted down very quickly. For controversial topics, the system ensures that important opinions are heard, but not drown in the infinite stream of small less relevant comments.

Reddit has similar vote system, but it does not work similarly well. Perhaps, it is because the average smaller size of a comment is much smaller on Reddit and it encourages people to be more impulsive and less pedantic. Redditors often reward fun and humorous comments, but not necessarily helpful and detailed.

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    SE has a very good peer review system [citation needed]. Every dweeb can vote on an answer. Not every dweeb is invited to referee scientific research. – henning -- reinstate Monica Mar 18 at 16:48
  • @henning Sure, but ultimately what matters is what fraction of the community are unhelpful or ill-informed. Surely, we all have met an unhelpful reviewer in our academic publishing at least once. – Dmitry Savostyanov Mar 18 at 16:52
  • I agree with that, and probably the userbase at physics.se has more expertise than on some physics subreddit. That may change, however, without any formal credentials to restrict access. – henning -- reinstate Monica Mar 18 at 17:32

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