One of my secret pleasures (and feel free to chime in if you’re a geek like me) is looking through various colorful guides and infographics, from what plants are edible in forests to hypothetical explanations on how best to survive the zombie Apocalypse that 2020 promised but never delivered.
The multi-million-member ‘Cool Guides’ community on Reddit is the prime place to go to for (yup, you guessed it!) cool guides. From aesthetically pleasing and very informative ones to quirky and funny ones, you’ll find a bit of everything to keep those noggins of yours learning and yearning for more, dear Pandas.
Bored Panda had a lovely chat with redditor Dadschool, who founded the r/coolguides subreddit way back in 2014 and is still its head moderator to this very day. Having started the sub with no real expectations of forming a community around it, he filled a niche on Reddit that had been empty. "I had a bit of a compulsive habit of saving every guide I came across on Reddit with the idea that I'd somehow reference it when I needed it later. There weren't really any subs for general guides so I made one and uploaded all my guides at once. I think a lot of people have a similar affection for bitesize trivia and hoarding generalist knowledge." You'll find the rest of our interview with the founder below.
Upvote your fave guides as you scroll on down, drop us a comment with your thoughts below, and go and join the r/coolguides subreddit if it’s right up your alley. But a quick note of warning before we begin: this is a community mostly for guides; infographics are in a bit of a grey area.
The founder, Dadschool, was very humble about his role in expanding the community. "I can say it is only able to be this size because moderators like @etymologynerd and @robinsparkles18 are as active as they are, and the time they take out of their day to check in," he praised his colleagues. With a leader so supportive, no wonder that the mod r/coolguides mod team stands shoulder to shoulder, come hell or high water.
"The unique thing about Reddit is that subreddits really are independent and are autonomously moderated communities. I think our subscriber ranking is something like 190 across all of Reddit and it's not like there's monetization options after you break 200 or conversations with Reddit corporate. We're the same mod team we were a few years ago, excited that we broke 100k, and checking Reddit throughout the day to make sure no one uploaded the same damn apple guide uploaded 100 times that week," the founder claimed that things are still pretty much as they've always been.
Dadschool revealed that the biggest challenge that he and the other moderators face is reacting in time to remove hateful and troll guides as soon as humanly possible. However, that's not always possible because they all have day jobs; moderating is something that they do during their spare time. "We all are working professionals so it's easy for something to slip by and stay out there for way longer than it should and that's always a total bummer—a total lose/lose for the community."
Nowadays, the founder of r/coolguides is a tad more lax about infographics than when he first founded the subreddit. These days, he's more keen to let the community decide what direction it wants to go via upvotes and engagement. He trusts the community. "I see the moderator role as more akin to a landscaper: pruning [troll] posts, removing harmful posts, and moderating for content diversity. Subscribers are much better judges of content quality and validity than moderators and I think it's important to trust them in that role." He added (and this is a feeling that I completely agree with): "I will admit, however, that the majority of guides I enjoy most myself rarely break 50/100 upvotes."
Just A Little Something For The Upcoming Holiday Season
For those of you Pandas who are raring to post a guide on r/coolguides, head moderator Dadschool is all for it: "Go for it!" Just remember to avoid reposts, so have a look through the newest posts. "We do try to maintain some content diversity, so don't upload all ten of your favorite ab workout guides at once. If you have the source, be a buddy and list that too in the comments or title to give credit where it's due!" he gave some advice for newcomers.
The University of Bath has some excellent advice on how to create a proper guide that’s useful for your readers. Yes, it's a guide for creating guides: we're officially in meta-territory now.
They suggest that you address the reader directly, rather than in the third person (i.e. ‘you Pandas should upvote this awesome article’ instead of ‘Pandas may upvote this absolutely amazing article at the very bottom of the page’).
What’s more, you should aim to write concisely. Plainly. Simply. Structure and break up the content to make it easier to read. Give your guide some flow and make it easy for the reader to understand what’s what.
Meanwhile, some of the things that you should avoid are incredibly technical terms in the title and headings. Also, omit useless words and info. Less. Is. More. (Unless you absolutely have to add in those extra words for whatever unavoidable reasons.)
The ‘Cool Guides’ subreddit celebrated its 7th birthday, a magical milestone if there ever was one, just over a week ago on March 20.
Since having been founded in 2014, the community now has nearly 2.1 million members and continues to grow. Despite the vast number of members, the team of moderators remains compact, numbering at just 5 (as far as we can tell from their page on Reddit—there may be more who choose to remain more mysterious and secretive).
According to the mods, their online page is for “picture based reference guides for anything and everything. If it seems like something someone might print, physically post, and reference then it is a good link for this sub.”
However, this doesn’t always include infographics. The mods explain that infographics are learning tools, whereas guides are reference tools. Sometimes, the area between the two becomes blurred.
If you do end up posting what the mods deem to be an infographic, they might decide to remove it. “An infographic is more educational in layout and content, finding something specific on an infographic is not as easy because it is designed to inform through more narrative structures. If your guide is more of a visual essay than a structured table or list, then chances are that is an infographic. Sometimes infographics can masquerade as how-to guides.”
U.S. Flag But Each Star Is Scaled Proportionally To Their State’s Population, In Roughly It’s Geographical Position.
The subreddit also has a no-tolerance policy for any content that’s dangerous, harmful, hurtful, or destructive. It’s supposed to be a wholesome and informative community that adheres to morality, the rules of Reddit, as well as common legal structures.
“Guides depicting harmful, dangerous, or destructive content will be removed. This includes guides describing the creation of dangerous items/materials and/or guides that are designed with the purpose to harm or hurt others do not fit the culture of this sub and will be removed.”
So, dear Pandas, which of these guides did you find to be the most useful (or, let's face it, the most intriguing because we all like looking at pretty pictures)? What's the most useful guide you've ever seen in your entire life? Is there a guide for something that you'd do pretty much anything to read through? Share your thoughts with everyone else below.