Reddit's r/gonewild community is a pretty good microcosm of the site as a whole, an illustration of the extreme positives and negatives that its huge userbase are capable of. The subreddit's description says its a "place for open-minded adult Redditors to exchange their nude bodies for karma; showing it off in a comfortable environment without pressure." In an in-depth report, Gaby Dunn at The Daily Dot writes, r/gonewild "is supposed to be a supportive, sex-positive community. But that's not always the case." Despite a longstanding, unspoken rule at Reddit that users should never "doxx" other users (reveal their true identities), there's a contingent of users who dig through r/gonewild posts specifically for the purpose of exposing the poster's identify — and the nude (and usually anonymous) images posted to r/gonewild are often posted all over the internet linked to the poster's offline persona.
Of course, common sense says that you shouldn't post anything online that you aren't ready to get linked back to you in some way — anonymity is hard to come by. But these kinds of attacks on r/gonewild posters are emblematic of the misogynistic culture found on Reddit. When Gawker recently posted an exposé on infamous Reddit user Violentacrez, who was a lead member of the now-defunct r/creepshots subreddit, the community responded with outrage over the outing of one of its own members by the media. However, as reported by The Daily Dot, r/gonewild posters are frequently harassed and doxxed, particularly when they decide to pull down their photos.
Yet another dark side of Reddit
Despite those issues, r/gonewild is actually one of the more supportive havens for women posters. "The dark side of GoneWild's supportive atmosphere is that it's one of the few places on Reddit where women can participate as women without being sexually harassed, accused of being crazy or stupid, or worse," says Stephen Bruckert, who has been researching misogyny on Reddit for the last year or so. Elsewhere on the site, there's a large culture of "slut-shaming" — essentially making a woman feel guilty for her sexuality.
"The women of [gonewild] are an unfair punching bag for the rest of the site."
There's also a trend for users to try and dig up "gonewild" pics whenever a female user posts a (non-nude) photo of herself, as if there's an expectation that a female posting on the site must be sharing nude pictures to be part of the community. "Reddit is host to a huge amount of slut shaming, which is ironic considering whenever a woman posts a non-nude picture of herself on the rest of the site, ‘checking for gonewild' is practically a Reddit tradition," said Bruckert.
Overall, Dunn and The Daily Dot paint a no-win situation for Reddit — there's an ingrained culture that says users should only contribute to the site by posting nude photos, but once they do they are considered "pathetic attention whores." As disturbing as Reddit's mob mentality can be, the smartest thing for posters to remember is probably not to share anything they wouldn't want linked back to their real-life personas — especially when there's so much evidence of how Reddit's community can react.