A Case of a Particular Subreddit: Dawn of Law Among Anonymous People

The law doesn’t protect people. People protect the law. People have always detested evil and sought out a righteous way of living. Their feelings, the accumulation of those peoples feelings are the law. They’re neither the provisions, nor the system. They’re the fragile and irreplaceable feelings that everyone carries in their hearts.

– Akane Tsunemori (Psycho-Pass)

Law is a system of rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour (that’s what wikipedia said). It is likely that one will learn and stumble upon many kinds and many instances of law that govern one’s behaviour for one’s whole life. One can find influence of law almost everywhere; from traffic law on the road to copyright law on one’s personal computer. Given the sheer power and coverage of law, it is not strange to be awed by the very presence of its existence. Law is just mere words, but society agreed on it, give power to an institution to enforce it, and abide to it.¬†How can people create something that bind themselves? Why would they limit their freedom by developing law? How can law exist in the first place?

A subreddit I stumbled upon give an interesting example.

Oh, and before I go further on the topic, let me give little explanation on what are Reddit and Subreddit.

Reddit, stylized as reddit, is an entertainment, social networking, and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links, making it essentially an online bulletin board system. Registered users can then vote submissions up or down to organize the posts and determine their position on the site’s pages. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called “subreddits.” The subreddit topics include news, gaming, movies, music, books, fitness, food, and photosharing, among others.

-Taken from Wikipedia

The subreddit I’m going to talk about here is the subreddit made by fans of an idol group from Japan called Sakura Gakuin. These fans, called Fukei-s, posted all things related to Sakura Gakuin, from music videos to photo book scans. These anonymous fans come from many areas in the world (I, myself, from Indonesia), though they do seem to have to be able to comment in English. And it is also noteworthy to mention that quite some number of them are fluent in Japanese, as they have translated and subbed many Japanese videos and articles.

It all started around ten days ago:

first note of SG ban

A Fukei (a member of this subreddit) posted a trailer video for the upcoming sale of the latest SG BD/DVD, and another Fukei made comment suggesting all Fukei-s should restrain themselves from posting videos that might leak the content of the BD/DVD. You can see that this Fukei’s suggestion was not forceful in any way, it even ended with a question mark; asking others whether they will support this idea, far from declaring he was standing in the side of righteousness. This suggestion is unlike popular opinion that anonymity takes people’s responsibility, making people prone to do bad things.

And as you can see on the first reply of his comment, he received supports. It then cultivated into this post:

second note of SG ban

Here, you can see that the previously commenting Fukei started a post to properly discuss or, if I may use the word, “codify” the idea. You can see that the post received quite a lot of comments, 62 to be exact. These anonymous people were, possibly unconsciously, participating in a process similar to legislature process of modern democracy. What we usually see on TV or papers, were happening inconspicuously in an anonymous setting. The 30-day period and the details were all formulated here and it sounded a lot more serious than before.

The rule then got supported by the moderator and the law was enacted.

third note on SG ban

Once just a comment has turned into a law, enforced by those who can punish in the form of post deletion.

fifth note on SG ban

And if you look at the right bar of the subreddit page, you can see a list like I show above. You can see that the fifth rule is the new addition to the rule.

This example is very interesting. It shows a development of law originating from people’s belief on something. And if you remember, it rooted from their care for Sakura Gakuin, which probably has no slightest idea of the event happening in the subreddit, or the subreddit at all. It also shows how people interact in a society and putting order, even when it is not seems to be necessary, as if it’s their nature.

The law is everywhere, but it’s not just because it’s everywhere, it might be because we need it everywhere; and you, as well as I, have role in making sure it is good.




Anton’s note: A debate of whether this is a law or a rule will happen. I, personally, find the moderators are social institution trusted to govern and post deletion is punishment, thus requirements to be defined as “law” are there. But I understand because it didn’t go through proper law development process, it might be considered as just a “rule” and not “law”