Six times Reddit wasn't completely awful

Caine Monroy Image copyright Nirvan Mullick
Image caption Redditors surprised nine-year-old Caine Monroy, and inspired a global movement

Oh, dear - Reddit isn't having a great time of late.

A huge row over "fat shaming"; a popular staff member let go to howls of disapproval and a protest; a chief executive hounded/trolled/forced out of a job (delete depending on your point of view).

Not good at all.

But all of those dramatic twists can be traced back to one core truth: Reddit's users care incredibly deeply about the site and its community. Anything perceived to tip the site's balance of freedom into anarchy or sterilisation is what stirs the most anger.

Why? Because on its day, Reddit is the perhaps the most powerful, feelgood website on the internet.

Writing in the Washington Post, the divisive and now departed chief executive Ellen Pao said that as well the abuse she received, she was "blessed with the most astonishing human responses" in support.

And it's perhaps telling that, despite it all, she remains a Reddit user.

So at a time when all that is awful with Reddit is under intense scrutiny, here's a look at what makes Reddit remarkable.

1. When it made a little boy's cardboard arcade famous

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Media captionAlastair Leithead reports

Caine Monroy was, is, a young boy with a magical imagination. While his dad worked away in a Los Angeles car parts shop, a bored Caine started to build an arcade out of cardboard boxes and little else.

This film tells the story of how film-maker Nirvan Mullick discovered Caine's arcade, and discovered that he was the very first customer. Determined to see Caine's efforts get the attention they deserved, he posted this thread to Reddit.

"Please let everyone in LA know (except Caine)," he wrote, encouraging a huge surprise for Caine - hundreds of Redditors turned out to play at the arcade one Saturday morning in 2012.

Since then, Caine's Arcade has become a global phenomenon.

Riding on the film's success, Mullick was able to launch the Imagination Foundation, a non-profit group that promotes creativity and entrepreneurship in schools. Its key initiative is the Global Cardboard Challenge, a day in which people around the world host events for children to build things out of cardboard. Last year, events were held in more than 46 countries.

2. When it held a world-record breaking Secret Santa (again and again)

Image copyright Reddit Gifts
Image caption The gift's sent during Reddit's Secret Santa are...unique

Secret Santa schemes can sometimes be a bit tedious - buy something cheap for a work colleague you don't really know. But on Reddit, the idea took on a new, global meaning.

Last year, its Secret Santa scheme, first started in 2009, saw 200,000 gifts sent around the world.

After users sign up to the scheme, they are matched with another Reddit user - and encouraged to have a look at that person's posts on the site to see what their interests may be.

Then, gifts are sent! Here's a round-up of some of the standout things Redditors sent each other last year.

Even Bill Gates got in on the action, sending this Redditor a big helmet thing (?!) and making a donation in her name to a charity.

And here's a gift from Verne Troyer, of Austin Powers fame.

3. When it helped send the Jamaican bobsleigh team to the Winter Olympics, and sponsored a Nascar racer

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Reddit users' donations saw lovable Doge on this bonnet

Most will be familiar with the heartwarming movie Cool Runnings, a film (loosely) based on the real-life efforts of Jamaica in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

In 2014, the Jamaicans qualified again. And, as in 1988, they had to raise their own cash in order to get there.

Step forward Reddit's Dogecoin community.

Dogecoin, based on the barmy Doge meme, is a virtual currency - like Bitcoin, but with a sense of humour.

This plea, posted to the Dogecoin subreddit, resulted in $30,000 worth of donations to the team.

The two-man team of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts ranked 29th overall.

Bobsled wasn't the only Dogecoin-backed sporting success. Fans of Nascar will recognise the car driven by Josh Wise, emblazoned, as it is, with the adorable little doge on its bonnet (pictured above).

The Dogecoin Reddit community took just one week to raise the 67 million Dogecoin needed to sponsor the car - that's $55,000.

4. When it sent a sick little girl far too much pizza

Image copyright ashortstorylong
Image caption Send pizza... and they did

When the parents of two-year-old Hazel Hammersley put up a sign on her hospital window saying "send pizza", they didn't think anyone actually would.

But of course, once a Reddit user saw the message, the inevitable happened.

Soon, so many pizzas were being sent to Los Angeles Children's Hospital that the whole floor Hazel was staying on was enjoying a pizza party.

And eventually, flooded by pizzas, the hospital had to say "no more" - and instead encouraged donations, which it received in abundance.

Reddit likes a bit of charitable pizza giving - there's an entire subreddit devoted to it.

Restoring faith in humanity, it says - one slice at a time.

5. When 300 Redditors went to a 10-year-old's birthday party

Image copyright Technicolor-Cakes
Image caption Camden Eubank gets his birthday cake

Camden Eubank, who has just celebrated his 10th birthday, suffers from apraxia, a condition that causes a speech delay.

Home-schooled and not blessed with friends, Camden's birthday party risked being a lonely affair.

His mother posted a plea on Facebook which, after being posted to Reddit by a mystery user, compelled hundreds of Redditors to make the trip for the party.

Others sent gifts.

"Presents came from Brazil, Germany, China, Canada… there's names on there I couldn't even tell you where they are," Camden's dad, Wayne, told local news station WDBJ7.

6. When Barack Obama popped in for a chat

Image copyright WHITE HOUSE
Image caption Barack Obama gets stuck into his AMA session

It's hard to pick one AMA session - that's Ask Me Anything - to single out, so let's just go with the highest profile.

In August 2012, US President Barack Obama took to Reddit to take user questions.

But while Obama may be the most important person to take part in an AMA, there are plenty of others that deserve attention.

There's the man with two penises, who went on to write a book.

David Attenborough was brief but insightful in his AMA a year ago.

And don't forget Bill Murray, the Monty Python lads, and Jon Stewart.

Each is a window into celebrity personalities that we don't often see.

Woody Harrelson, however, didn't quite get it.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

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