Reddit is a community. It’s defined by the thousands of people who contribute to it every day. It has a brand, but it’s shaped by those voices far more than by a marketing team.
In April, Reddit’s reputation took a thumping when its users were tagged as reckless, overenthusiastic online sleuths after the bombing at the Boston Marathon. In October, an interview on Gawker revealed the identity of “the biggest troll on the Web,” the creator of Reddit’s infamous “Jailbait” section.
When sites such as Reddit take those kinds of PR hits, it’s up to the community to make up for it. Reddit earned a big win over the weekend when a redditor noticed a sign in a window at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles that read, “Send pizza, rm. 4112,” and put the community on it.
Room 4112 was the hospital room of 2-year-old Hazel Hammersly, who has stage 3 neruoblastoma. Hazel’s mother and grandmother had put the sign in the window as a joke, a way to pass the time. They had no expectations that any pizza would come, but more than 20 pies arrived after a photo of the sign was posted to Reddit. The family and the nurses had a really nice pizza party.
Eventually, so many pizzas arrived that Hazel’s family asked that people stop sending them.
Instead, the family asked folks to donate to “Hazel’s Fund,” which helps pay for the young patient’s treatment, or in some other way to cancer treatment. Redditors obliged, and they made other offers, too. One community member asked:
“What is her favorite movie, toys, cake (if she can have it) etc. I run an amazon shop and have some cards laying around. Time to give her some fun stuff to do :)”