Created by 'Gifted Virgins', Dank Subreddit r/Bakchodi Soon Became a Haven for Trolls
The inside story.
It should come as little surprise that Reddit, the popular message board is now the third most popular website in the US, beating out Facebook. The site has long had an Indian presence as well, with perfunctory AMAs from politicians to celebrities. While the main site has become a staging ground for hatred and bigotry, the India related subreddits have puttered about under the radar.
Bakchodi, crudely translatable as "pointless talking", is the name of the Indian circlejerk subreddit. It currently has over 12,000 subscribers compared to /r/India’s 130,000. It began around seven years ago by a bunch of bored Reddit users of Indian origin, myself being one of them. We used to fuck around in the only Indian subreddit back then, /r/India. We took part in upvote threads, where we would post random inane stuff, which seemed funny and stupid. A thread would often mimick people writing sarkari letters to express grievances, about current issues, just generally looking at the Indian subreddit in an ironic way.
We came up with a bunch of new words which were misspellings of common words—for example government became gobarmint (cow dung and mint). We would often talk on Google hangouts and cringe over some of the content on /r/India. Some of these users even became /r/India moderators much later and surprisingly, the other way around.
As user bakchodi, an engineer who didn’t want to be named stated in an interview for this story, “This was back in 2011-12 when there were under 10,000 subscribers and there wasn’t a lot of activity. But it was nice to run into desi people on a predominantly American site.”
He added over an online chat, “The more popular memes were the slightly right wing ones and commenters assumed identities of hindutva right wing people which would mock mundane stuff and elaborate conspiracy theories alike. But over time it attracted the attention of a lot of people who joined in seriously. It was like an identity shift but it had already happened.”
There’s a popular internet adage, Poe’s law, that pertains to cases where the views intended to feel like an obvious exaggeration or parody are interpreted as genuine.
Shadowbannedguy1, another old user turned lurker explained further, “/r/India isn't exactly what you'd classify as 'woke', they're anti-establishment, and they have discussions accordingly.” One of the co-creators of /r/bakchodi who didn’t want to be named (and wouldn’t share his handle) said the subreddit came about when “a few of us who pretty much knew each other IRL (in real life). I hadn't realised how big it would get, and how people would latch onto the lingo in non-bakchod discourse. Like the whole ‘kulcha warrior’ or protector of culture, is part of common verbiage in normal sub-reddit’s like /r/india. I was shocked to see it still in use. /r/bakchodi was meant as ironic satire, but now it's being used to disparage people. We would call ourselves ‘kulcha warriors’ because we were fighting for Indian ‘kulcha’, which a lot of times was just literally kulcha.”
whatsinaname39, a female user on the site told me, “I was following /r/India and /r/bakchodi since the beginning. I liked the shit talking aspect of [/r/bakchodi] when it was a smaller community.” She described the community as a place to let off steam, but not in a way that was particularly offensive, “For example being politically incorrect IRL would be taboo but you could do that with friends because you know they get it and get that you don't endorse those views.”
She admitted she rarely if ever reads that subreddit now. “I'm not sure if that's because the quality has gotten worse or if I've just outgrown that kind of humour. Maybe it's both? It certainly doesn't feel like a "safe" space.”
When asked about /r/India, she said, “I don’t really mind /r/India because it's a decent platform for both news and varied opinions on the current political, social, economic climate of the country. Definitely not entirely unproblematic but I still prefer it to Facebook discussions and the like.”
I asked a female moderator of /r/India her stance on /r/bakchodi. “It was created by gifted virgins with a great sense of irony and a taste for offensive. Some of my closest reddit friends are bakchods. These are the only people from reddit I’ve met in person. Bakchodi is [now] a cesspool because the mods either got married, got jobs or quit reddit for rocket science. By then the r/Indianews people had infiltrated bakchodi and they were posting their hate content in the guise of funniz. And now we are here.”
I asked the co-creator why he left, “During the ‘Nirbhaya’ case, there was like a bus on the banner, and the mouse icon was an iron rod. It was probably a backlash to the media hype during that time, but that "hype" was absolutely justified and should have kept running. I was like this has gotten out of hand, and I stopped being regular since then, that was messed up.”