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We Are The Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  532 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Reddit hails itself as “the front page of the Internet.” It’s the fourth most-visited website in the United States–yet, millions of Americans have no idea what it is.

We Are the Nerds is a riveting look deep inside this captivating, maddening enterprise–whose army of highly engaged (obsessed?) users have been credited with everything from solving cold case crimes to seedin
Hardcover, First, 256 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Hachette
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Ashley Reid This book is about the creation of reddit. It includes info about how A small idea from some college students turned into "one of the sixth most-viewe…moreThis book is about the creation of reddit. It includes info about how A small idea from some college students turned into "one of the sixth most-viewed websites in the US" and some of the problems they had to deal with to make it what it is today.(less)

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Start your review of We Are The Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet's Culture Laboratory
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Basic Premise: The history of the website Reddit -- from its founding to the present day.

Short Plot Synopsis: This book tracks the founding of Reddit and follows its founders (Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian) through the site's infancy, trouble adolescence and (hopefully) long adult life.

The Good:

* I never visited Reddit before reading this book (in fact, I didn't fully understand what Reddit was exactly), yet I was completely interested the entire time I was reading this book. I think that's a
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
At times a more thorough than interesting account of the people behind Reddit, and amazing to see how small the team was for so long, as Reddit continued to grow.

The book summarises the Violentacrez controversy, references the controversial/horrible sub Reddits (a few more of which were banned early 2018) and covers The_Donald and the site’s hate group platforms.

Not a lot of space is given to how staff and leaders actually felt about some of the worst Reddit moments. Possibly because it’s not a
Beth Dean
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I love stories of tech startups. There's something so compelling about the genius and somewhat naive optimism of the founders. Scenes of them coding in humble basements, apartments, and garages are as exciting as suspense movies to me. (The system has been breached! Abort! Abort!)

Reddit's birth has surprisingly less drama than I would have thought, though it does have its fair share. I believe being part of Y Combinator, a tech startup fund that nurtures and guides its recipients, helped them fi
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounding up. The book markets itself as a story about the founding and growth of reddit, but it's really more the stories of the reddit founding crew with updates periodically about where reddit was at the same time. This book could've been 250 pages and focused solely on reddit but instead it's 450 pages. There was a lot about Paul Graham ("PG") at the beginning, then some reddit, then mostly Aaron Schwartz, reddit, Ohanian's political career, reddit, Huffman's internal struggles, reddit, e ...more
Michael Huang
The details behind the -- as the title says -- "tumultuous life" of one of the most visited websites in the US. It tells how the founders didn't even think about doing such a site but was egged on by incubator; how after hiding the bad part of their business, they managed to sell it to Conde Nest who has no idea how the site really works and left the employees alone; how one crazy CEO after another wreaked havoc to the culture of the company; and how porn and hate speech were fiercely protected ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was kinda sad to finish the book.

a great mix of narrative arc and non-fiction.

CLC does such a good job of being dispassionate that I was never really sure how she felt about anything reddit did or didn't do.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A fantastic and comprehensive history of Reddit, from its inception until today. It will make you happy, sad, laugh, frown, cringe and admire these individuals who build the front page of the internet from, basically, their basement.
Brian Gimlett
This inside look into the creation and evolution of 25th most popular website in the world, Reddit, explores the limits of free speech, and humanity at its best and worst. I would up-vote this on any reading lists you might be keeping.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a Reddit user. The most I've viewed Reddit is when a thread comes up for one of my web searches. I always wrote it off as a relatively unoriginal idea. Little did I know just how significant its traffic and influence has become. It's currently the 6th most trafficked site in the US. Wow! In addition to this phenomenal growth, the story behind Reddit is fascinating. The company and site's beginning, the endless internal politics, community politics, ownership battles, etc. are all there f ...more
This isn't the kind of book I'd typically be interested in, but this one caught my eye, and I'm glad it did. Lagorio-Chafkin does a nice job of personalizing and humanizing a veritable phone book of big tech industry players and weaving the many twisted, varying threads of their stories into an interesting, informative, and relatively seamless narrative. Chloe Cannon is a competent narrator, but her habit of mispronouncing "and" as "end" and "can" as "ken" is extremely annoying.
Jane Trucksis
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm that old lady at the office who always has to call IT to have them change my passwords when they expire. I'm the one who says I read something "on the computer" instead of "on the Internet." And if what I read is more than two paragraphs, I have to print it out first, since it doesn't feel like really reading to me if I read it on a screen.
So I thought that reading a book about Reddit would be a tough slog. I thought I'd be confused by the terminology, that it would be over my head. Boy, w
Furious Gazelle
TL;DR: This book heavily focuses on the business side of startups and the personal lives of the Reddit founders. If you're not already interested in one of those two things, this is probably not the book for you.

In this thick tome, Christine Lagorio-Chafkin faithfully traces Reddit’s history from its 2005 inception to the present day. We Are the Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet’s Culture Laboratory reads like a real-life version of HBO’s Silicon Valley. Caveat: real l
Karl Reef
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
As I hoped, this book helped to provoke thinking about Reddit from a broader perspective. It was also a pleasure to read and surprisingly breezy given its length. Chapters jump around in focus while remaining well-paced and never veering too far from the central narrative.

-It was insightful to get a sense of how Reddit, as a company, reacted to and adapted to its role in events like the Boston marathon bombing, Gamergate, the Fappening, the Nov. 2016 US election, the 2017 Charlottesville car at
Olivia Barrow
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I first picked up this book, I thought, "Woof, how can it possibly take 500 pages to tell the story of Reddit?"

However, it was a fast and well-worthwhile read, that connects many pieces of Silicon Valley lore that I was peripherally familiar with, but hadn't fit together in my mind (e.g. the origin of Y Combinator, Ellen Pao's life after Kleiner Perkins, and how Serena Williams came to marry the cofounder of Reddit.)

Reddit's story is ridiculous. The company should never have succeeded. An
Miguel Martinez
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it
When this book was published, Reddit was the fourth most visited site on the internet in the U.S. It's the third now. Yet, not a lot of people I know have even heard of it, and they spend a lot of time on social media sites. You would think they would know what Reddit is. Myself a frequent visitor, I picked up this book from a recommendation from r/books, a subreddit community, as part of their book club selection. I was hesitant at first because I was afraid that the book would be more of an in ...more
Deane Barker
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully complete history of Reddit, from the childhood lives of founders Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, through the (ultimately tragic) life of Aaron Swartz.

The book has short chapters, and is mainly episodic -- each chapter covers some moment in the history of Reddit, and they're all there: the rise of /r/The_Donald, Spezgiving, the Boston Bombers, the Fappening, and on and on. In reading it, I was struck at how far Reddit has come. It's been around for over a decade, and as the title re
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
We Are the Nerds is not the type of book I usually read. I much prefer fiction to non-fiction. However, the premise of this book caught my attention. I'd never visited the Reddit website and I knew next to nothing about it but was curious to learn how it works. This book looks at the people responsible for the development of Reddit and how Reddit grew from a small start-up to what it is today.

Although I thought We Are the Nerds to be overly long and occasionally bogged down by details that seeme
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

“We are the Nerds” is the story of Reddit and its founders. Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman were part of the first Y Combinator group, a program created by Paul Graham to encourage and potentially fund new startup companies, especially in the tech field. During that summer, they created Reddit, which has grown to become the fourth most visited website on the Internet. This book explores all of the bumps in the roa
J Eyre
We are the Nerds retells the birth and progress of reddit, one of the internet's most popular websites. Created by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian during a program designated to help young people start tech companies, reddit grew rapidly and unexpectedly. Conde Nast eventually acquires Reddit and Huffman and Ohanian become millionaires overnight.

We are the nerds follows reddit's earliest years as company. We are the Nerds also follows the personal lives of Ohanian and Huffman, even as they tem
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018bookbook
This is a book about the founding and evolution of Reddit but it's also a book about Huffman and Ohanian. Learning what went into making Reddit and the though process behind the great and questionable things that have been done to the site made me appreciate it more though there were times I wanted to delete my account and never look at the site again. By the end, I was back to being a happy redditor, secure in the knowledge that Huffman and co are (probably) steering things in a positive direct ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive and largely loving history of Reddit and its two founders. I feared it was too long before I started it, but the narrative moves right along and in the end the length wasn't an issue. The thing that really sticks out here is how Reddit, which was founded around the time of Facebook, never really grew up or turned into a viable business. This seems mostly due to the way it was managed. The company's development also seems to have been stymied by fear of its users. Reddit has always ...more
Justin Weiss
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a really hard time judging this book on its merits, because the biggest reasons I loved it won’t apply to most readers.

I’m the same age as these guys, also helped a startup grow from tiny to large over the late ‘00s and early ‘10s, and experienced a lot of these events through the reddit of the time, so reading this book brought back a ton of memories. For me, it was worth the read just to have a chance to remember about a lot of things I had almost forgotten, and helped me put into cont
Saheb Singh
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me longer to finish this one than I'd presumed. I've been a "redditor" for the better part of 5+ years now. There's something fuzzy that the site, and its various communities emanate through every internet related up/down. Via extensive research and a clear cut timeline - the author manages to convey the very same fuzziness as Reddit.

A must read for every Reddit lover & a viable check out option for admirers of internet culture, the book excellently captures the impact one site could have
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reddit is a social media company that, compared to Google or Facebook, we know nothing about. Yet, it has helped shape culture in many ways over the years. This book tells you how it did that, taking you all the way back to Reddit's creation in 2005, to how, when, and why it was first formed, and it shows you how it has evolved over the years, up until the early days of 2018. It also narrates the life of its founders, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman, as well as of associates like Aaron Schwartz ...more
Nate Morse
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the story of what goes on behind the front page of the internet and how it got to where it is now. It is mainly split up into how the site got created and who worked on it, occasional high/low points in the sites content including with how it dealt with it's seedy porn underbelly and its more recent problems with white supremacists.

It was interesting to me to think of this wildly successful site that was growing a user base at amazing rates, and learning that behind the scenes they were
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always wondered what it would be like to start a tech company that became a huge success. Now I know! We Are The Nerds makes me feel like I'm really there. The writing pulls you into the story, with characters and situations that are so interesting, it reads like a novel.

As a tech person, I have friends who started less successful companies. As I read, I tried to figure out the difference between what they went through and what the Reddit people went through. It turns out there are a lot of si
Sasha Boersma
So dense - it was written by a journalist, but fascinating. It was difficult for me to separate how much I disliked the guys who founded Reddit from the author’s work, but she was only covering the story so 4-stars instead of lower ;)

But the short of the story: white guys who could afford going to a good college met a wealthier white guy who made a suggestion and off the guys went getting more of other people’s money to make a thing that earned zero revenue until someone figured it out and anyon
Apr 14, 2020 rated it did not like it
Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman might have founded Reddit, but it wasn’t their idea.

Reddit left the starting gate quickly, but growth was slow – and at first, artificial.

A cofounder made life at Reddit difficult in its early years.

Reddit showed such great potential that it was bought by media giant Condé Nast.

To an outsider, Reddit looked like it was doing great, but in reality, it was close to implosion.

Fear of alienating Reddit’s users initially dominated the company’s decision-making.

my feel
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting account of a website beloved by many. I had no idea that Reddit was owned by Condé Nast for a time and in the recent times of the unicorns, it's absolutely crazy to me that Reddit initially sold to Condé for such a paltry sum! To me, the book focused a bit too much on recent years (about 45% of the book covered 2015-present) and gave a bit too much in-depth detail of some parts of it's history. Overall, the book was interesting and I learned a lot about a website that I d ...more
Muhammad Nawawy Arasy Padil
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
“We Are the Nerds” is most compelling when it tells the story of a third young man who played a founding role at Reddit. Aaron Swartz was brilliant, troubled and impossible, but he saw the tech economy more clearly than well-medicated people. “In the old days the new money was made through theft and abuse of office,” he wrote. “Now any random computer programmer — or even the people who hung around them — could find themselves saddled with a pile of cash.” In early 2013, hounded by the governmen ...more
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