Where do you get your George Mason University news? Well, I get mine from Broadside — cough, cough — but for a growing number of students, it comes from the new GMU subreddit.

This summer, computer science major Craig Haseler (usename cahaseler) found the page in a sad state with around 15 members and hardly any traffic. He decided to take up the position of the subreddit’s moderator. He had a friend draw up a Mason version of the Reddit alien and began posting any and all Mason-related stories he could find.

After the word spread via Facebook, the site took off. Today, the GMU subreddit has 268 active users and is growing. Haseler’s suitemate, computer science major Amar Sahai (username penultimatum) became the second active moderator.

In addition to being essentially an aggregate of campus news and discussion, “We are also willing to help fellow Patriots who ask for help in whatever regard,” he writes in a post.

The two have organized several successful Mason redditor meet-ups on campus with an average turnout of 15 people.

Reddit is a social media website that allows people to post links.

The posted links are then voted up or down by users. The newest, most popular posts show up on a user’s front page. A subreddit is a page of aggregated content relating to a specific topic or group. On Mason’s subreddit, you can find links to campus events, students’ blog posts, news and hot topics. It also offers a discussion forum for matters such as parking, plagiarism and campus police.

“Mason needs ways for students to communicate about sensitive issues,” Haseler said. “We were discussing the ‘Free Abdi!’ police incident as it happened. We had a former student anonymously share her experience with the sexual assault services on campus. This kind of discussion can’t really happen anywhere else in our lives.”

When asked about the strangest post ever on the GMU subreddit, “Mason gets blown away” was the overwhelming favorite. It linked to a photo of a female student committing, according to username hambandito, “statue-atory rape.”

Even though Reddit is a national company that makes money from providing this service, moderators work out of the goodness of their hearts. Similar websites like Patch, and applications like Foursquare, are growing in popularity because they help users to stay engaged in their local communities, which is rare in an age when people are constantly plugged into events that are happing all over the world.
What’s the best thing about the GMU subreddit? “Anonymity,” said username Man-EatingSquirrel. “I can say whatever is on my mind whilst protected by the pseudo-anonymity of the Internet. It’s kind of like being Batman.”