Reddit has one of the largest and most active communities of users on the Internet, but the team of employees working at Reddit has always been very small. This is due, in large part, to the fact that Reddit relies on its users for all of the content that appears on the site.
That’s about to change, however. The team Reddit just debuted its first foray into original video programming, Explain Like I’m Five.
The series is based on the excellent, though still largely underground, subreddit r/explainlikeimfive, in which users help each other understand complex topics (like the debt ceiling and the Higgs Boson) in language even a five-year-old would understand.
In true ELI5 fashion, the episode breaks down existentialism and the work of Friedrich Nietzsche into something that feels a lot like a kindergarten lesson. There are even real five-year-olds!
Other episodes of the web series (which are already live on YouTube) cover topics like the stock market and the crisis in Syria. YouTube is pitching in cash to fund the whole thing.
The past year has seen a lot of ups and downs with regards to Reddit’s image. An army of Redditors banded together to help strike down SOPA and there are occasional stories of incredible generosity (like then Reddit gave a bullied bus driver way more money than she probably needed), but there are also stories about subreddits full of quasi-child pornography and women photographed in compromising positions without their consent.
It’s cynical, though perhaps not inaccurate, to suggest that the primary goal of this new original video initiative could be to generate some positive press.
Reddit general manager Erik Martin said that only three episodes of the Explain Like I’m Five series are planned, but that more could be shot if the first run is successful. He also said he’s open to producing more original videos based on other subreddits in the future.