Reddit is quickly becoming my favorite site on the internet.
Either they are asking President Obama to go “halfsies” on a pizza during an AMA, becoming zealots themselves in their quest for global atheism, or they are solving mysteries. Today it’s the latter, and they feel like they’ve got a pretty good bead on a gargantuan one. One at least as big as that mysterious safe they’re always posting about, anyhow — the Boston Marathon explosions.
Since the FBI put a call out to the public for any clues/help in producing leads (hell, probably before the FBI put out the call), Redditors have been busy starting a subreddit, /r/findbostonbombers, and compiling photographic evidence in an effort to shed some justice on the whole affair. And now they think they’ve got their men.
Starting with the photo remains of a shredded black backpack with silver piping on the shoulder straps that the FBI thinks might have contained the second pressure cooker bomb that exploded, Reddit scoured crowd photos and have found some pretty compelling shots of a man holding what appears to be a very similar backpack right in the vicinity of the blast zone. This man, though he is wearing a blue fleece jacket, has been unceremoniously dubbed “blue robe guy” by the Reddit crowd, and there are some pretty clear images of his face to at least give the FBI someone to talk to about the day in question.
The other man so far is less clear and does not have a catchy nickname, but Redditors have singled him out for wearing a brown backpack — one that allegedly compares to the one associated with the first bomb.
While there is a certain danger in the public playing detective and leaping to opinions or pointing fingers, there is a beautiful system in place on Reddit’s forums: smart, logical stuff gets voted upwards towards the top of the page, while impassioned snark or troll spam gets downgraded out of existence.
The crime-solver game is nothing new to Reddit — they’ve got an entire other subreddit (of which /r/findbostonbombers is just one small piece) called the Reddit Bureau of Investigation, in which there are numerous active crimes that are being crowdsourced and group-thinked towards some sort of cohesive ending. Whether the Boston leads reveal anything concrete is yet to be seen — but at least its interesting. And on the internet, that’s something.
For other stories of Redditry and/or the Boston Marathon bombings, check out these links: