Reddit is not the “general population”, thankfully

Uh, I would be wary of any study that thinks it’s proving something about the world with a sample made up from the users of Reddit. Mining Reddit data for whether the “general population” still “prioritizes white, male authors” (ftr, my hunch is, it probably does) is like saying you’re going to test cleanup workers at Fukushima for radiation and then extrapolating that the rest of world is glowing green. I mean, you can tell just by the authors listed that this study is skewed… Who with half-a-mind actually reads or listens to Orson Scott Card anymore?

A new study from SuperSummary, an online resource that offers study guides to fiction and nonfiction, highlights how white male authors remain among the most celebrated and discussed.

The study explores the r/books forum on Reddit, which has close to 18 million members. What books and authors are mentioned the most? What topics get the community fired up? Although Reddit isn’t representative of any single group, that’s a part of the appeal for exploring it as representative of the average reader. There are certainly book industry folks in the subreddit, but the bulk of the community is the end user of books, as opposed to someone within the process itself.

Over a million comments and posts between January 29, 2008, and January 27, 2020, were analyzed using Reddit’s own API and Google’s BigQuery tool. Using bestseller lists, forum opinions, and other similar resources, SuperSummary developed a list of 250 popular and well-known authors, while they did the same for individual books, which came to a list of 300 titles.

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