Thoughts on Quality Submissions to /r/MapPorn

A perennial problem facing most subs on Reddit is how to garner quality content. There is no broad formula to keep the front page full of good submissions. The idea of what is quality content is subjective and not everyone agrees on it. For this reason I’ve chosen to take a hands-off approach to the content on this sub.

The moderators can only do so much to encourage good submissions. I’ve always been clear with myself that moderating this subreddit is only a hobby and it’s not a full time job. This means there will be periods of time where I won’t visit it. I’d like this subreddit to be self-maintaining, but that’s not always possible.

Complaints about the quality of submissions are evergreen. Redditors have come to expect continuous fresh content. I’ll occasionally go on binges where I’ll find good maps, post them and repeat. This helps keep the sub from growing stale, but alas there is only so much I can contribute and life gets in the way of making this a full time job. It is not my objective to provide the bulk of the content on this sub, it’s up to the community to contribute the content that they want to see.

Trends frequently come and go on /r/MapPorn and that is fine. These trends include topics like etymology maps, subjective maps of each American state, comparisons between locations around the globe, travel maps, weather patterns and many more. They all follow the same pattern:

  • Post with a clever idea gets massively upvoted
  • A few more posts take the idea and improve upon it
  • /r/MapPorn gets flooded with these posts to the point where nearly 50% of the new queue has these posts
  • Users start to turn on these posts and start making snarky comments
  • Frequent emails to the moderators asking for heavy moderations of these posts
  • Eventually the posts gradually diminish
  • A new clever map idea comes and the cycle is repeated
This was the highest upvoted submission for February, 2018 and sparked dozens of similar maps.

I don’t like to use a heavy hand when moderating these trends. These trends are part of the rhythm of /r/MapPorn. When we get mod mail decrying stale trends I generally agree with them. That said, I’m hesitant to remove posts. Some users get fed up with them and that’s okay. The trends always taper off and fresh content is added. If you don’t like the frontpage of /r/MapPorn, be patient.

I’ve always felt that as a moderator it is not for me to determine aesthetic. For better or worse, it is up to the community to decide. When people complain about ugly maps, I always recommend that they contribute and upvote the content they like and hide the content that they don’t. It is very easy.


There are plenty of good resources for finding quality maps on the web. /r/MapPorn owes a great debt to David Rumsey and the David Rumsey Map Collection. This is a nearly inexhaustible source of great high quality maps available to the general public. When I’m looking for a map this is one of the first places I will check.

In addition, there is a curated list of Twitter accounts that often post quality maps. This is a great place to find more fresh and current maps. Lastly on the /r/MapPorn FAQ there are more suggested resources for finding quality maps.

/r/MapPorn is encouraging users to make their own maps. There is explosive growth in mapmaking software and it’s easier than ever for users to make their own beautiful maps. We have a small but informative Guide to Making Maps. We also host a monthly contest for Original Content maps. I think if more users tried making their own maps, they wouldn’t be as grouchy about the content.

It is up to the community to decide what kind of content they want to see. I will do my best to foster this mapmaking community, but I can only do so much. If you want to see better content, instead of being part of the problem, be part of the solution.


Follow the discussion on /r/MapPorn