THE BOSS (RIAA): WHAAAAAAAT?
RIAA LAWYER: Calm down, boss.
THE BOSS (RIAA): I will NOT calm down. You are telling me that all our carefully crafted plans were nullified by a few people running web sites!
RIAA LAWYER: Well it wasn’t a few of them, boss. It was an awful lot of them. And Reddit and Wikipedia basically led the charge, and they’re both HUGE.
THE BOSS (RIAA): Wikiwhat?
RIAA LAWYER: Wikipedia. An online encyclopedia that allows readers to edit pages.
THE BOSS (RIAA): And the other one is… ?
RIAA LAWYER: Reddit. They… uh… post links to things. And then they talk about how much they hate the links they posted.
THE BOSS (RIAA): Really?
LAWYER: As near as I can tell.
In truth, it’s not really fair to say that Reddit and Wikipedia led the charge. There were a lot of groups involved, and there had already been a “censorship day” back in 2011 (though not a full-on blackout). That said, I think it’s absolutely fair to say that Reddit was a huge contributor to the blackout, and they deserve a lot of credit for supplying an enormous amount of momentum. Wikipedia took longer to jump in, but when they did I think that became a game-changing, defining moment in the SOPA/PIPA blackout.
The mainstream press tended to focus mostly on Wikipedia going black, and Google’s censorship logo. The computer press tended to focus mostly on Wikipedia, but some did note Reddit’s role.
The funny thing (to me) is that most of the mainstream groups supporting SOPA and PIPA are going to have a lot of trouble wrapping their heads around sites like Reddit, and I imagine the initial conversations are going to be a lot like the one above.