Internet Web Culture

Today I Learned: 10 Amazing Facts For Geeks Discovered On Reddit [Weird & Wonderful Web]

Dave Parrack 21-09-2014

Humans are learning from the day they are born, with babies absorbing everything they see, hear, touch, and experience around them. This innate desire to learn doesn’t simply disappear when we leave childhood; it carries on well into adulthood, and, hopefully, until the day we breathe our last breath.


The Internet offers a golden opportunity to learn something new every day 6 Ways To Learn Something New Online Everyday The Internet is a double-edged sword - it can be used to procrastinate the day away, or it can be used to learn something new everyday. Here at MakeUseOf, we're particularly focused on the latter.... Read More . From Wikipedia 7 Ways To Learn Something New Every Day With Wikipedia Wikipedia is packed full of content. At the time of writing there are over 4 million articles contained within the English language version, with more being added all the time. All of these pages are... Read More to Google mashups 8 Google Mashups To Have Fun With And Learn Something New About Our World Let's just say, that Google developers are a thriving lot thanks to open APIs of many of its products from Google Maps mashups to YouTube. One of their online meeting places is the Google Developers... Read More , from subreddits 5 Best Subreddits To Learn Cool Stuff Reddit is more than just a time sink where you can look at pretty girls, read about nerdy stuff, and procrastinate as you build a memory of random trivia. Reddit can be used to learn... Read More to blogs, there are an incredible range of tools available to those who want to learn. My personal favorite of all of these is one particular subreddit: Today I learned (TIL).

Today I Learned (TIL)

Today I Learned, or TIL for short, is a subreddit dedicated to disseminating interesting facts that would otherwise go ignored or unnoticed. These must be non-trivial facts backed up by a reliable source, with opinions and politics removed from the equation.

This section of Reddit The Awesome Guide to Reddit Wonder how your friends always find cool stuff on the Internet before you? They're probably using Reddit, the self-proclaimed "front page of the Internet". Read More is therefore full of interesting facts and intriguing stories which deserve to be more widely known than they are currently. A countless number of amazing facts have been shared to the Today I Learned subreddit over the years, but below are just 10 that have blown my mind and may blow your mind as well. All chosen to appeal especially to geeks 10 Famous Geeks Who Changed The World (Not Who You Think) If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants. So, said the genius called Isaac Newton. What was true of one of the most brilliant minds of history should be... Read More .

Contract Killer

Today I Learned a guy faked his own death in order to get out of a Verizon Wireless contract. Unfortunately, the ruse failed, and Verizon got its money. But surely, as a corporation which care about its customers, if someone hates your service so much they’re desperate enough to draft a fake death certificate, you should take pity on them and cancel their contract. Nope. Because profits.

Running Out Of Steam

Today I Learned 37 percent of all registered Steam games have never been played. Which, at the time the original article was written, equates to 288 million of the 781 million games registered on the platform sitting untouched and unloved. Remember this statistic the next time you’re tempted to buy all the games during the Steam sales 5 Ways To Make Sure You Get The Best Deals On Steam Games Steam is known for being super convenient for managing one’s video game library, and it’s also useful in a few other ways, but did you know that with a bit of effort you can obtain... Read More . You won’t play them all, so why bother?

Gaming The Cure

Today I Learned players of an online game called Foldit resolved the structure of an enzyme in just three weeks. The enzyme causes a nasty disease in monkeys, and researchers had been working on the problem for 13 years. There are other similar success stories in the original article too, so feel free to point naysayers in its direction the next time they condemn gaming as a waste of time and energy.

Neverending Nintendo

Today I Learned Nintendo has so much money in the bank it could survive until at least 2052 even if it made a considerable loss every 12 months between now and then. Nintendo has, or at least had (in 2012) $6.7 billion saved for a rainy day, which means that no matter how badly the Wii U Nintendo Wii U Review and Giveaway Despite the increasing shift to mobile gaming, consoles are still very popular devices for playing immersive, graphics-intensive games; and that won’t change anytime soon as long as the major console makers continue to improve with... Read More sells — and it has struggled, quite frankly — Nintendo will be sticking around for a while to come. Which is heartening news for all those who love Mario, Zelda, et al.

Windows Pinball

Today I Learned Pinball was removed from Windows because it had a nasty bug that no one at Microsoft knew how to fix. Pinball was included as a free game in Windows 95 through to Windows XP. And then it disappeared. The 64-bit version of the game was broken, and uncommented code made it impossible to debug the program. So, Microsoft chose to simply drop Pinball instead. Unless you’re still using 32-bit Windows XP 4 Ways To Bulletproof Windows XP Forever Windows XP is slated to be exterminated for good by Microsoft in April of 2014. It is the last stage of a multi-year effort to kill off the operating system. Windows XP is one of... Read More , of course.

Third Rock Radio

Today I Learned NASA has its own online radio station which plays rock, indie, and alternative music while updating listeners on the latest news from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. An inspired name, great music (if you like that sort of thing), and mission updates from NASA. What more could you possibly want?

Domain Trade

Today I Learned Microsoft traded the domain for the domain. The lucky recipient of the former was a guy called Bob Kerstein, who was using the latter to run a business. And why did Microsoft own the in the first place? Because of Microsoft Bob 3 Stupid Computer Inventions That Never Took Off A stroke of genius can lead to ideas that may or may not work out when they hit consumers. iPods, Twitter, RSS, and so on, are some ideas that have flourished favorably in today’s world.... Read More , its short-lived and much-maligned graphical user interface.

Sleepless In Budapest

Today I Learned that a man survived for 40 years without sleeping. Paul Kern was a Hungarian soldier shot in the head during World War I. He survived, but lost part of his frontal lobe, and with it, the ability to sleep. Despite this abnormality, Kern moved to Budapest and lived out the rest of his life without incident. And watched a lot of Netflix The Ultimate Netflix Guide: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Netflix This guide offers everything you need to know about using Netflix. Whether you're a new subscriber or an established fan of the best streaming service out there. Read More . Probably.

Abandoned Supercollider

Today I Learned there is an abandoned supercollider in Texas. The idea to build a supercollider was first mooted in 1983, and construction began in 1991. The U.S. Government then chose to abandon the project in favor of funding the International Space Station (ISS), but not before a whopping $2 billion had been spent in Texas. Had it been completed, this would have been more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland. So, the creation of a black hole capable of wiping us all out would have been even more likely than it is now.

Cunningham’s Law

Today I Learned that Cunningham’s Law states, “The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.” There isn’t much more to add to this one, except to say Ward Cunningham — a computer programmer famous for developing the first wiki — clearly understands the way things work online better than most.

What Have You Learned From Reddit?

These are just 10 of the many amazing facts disseminated via Reddit in recent years, but there are plenty more. Whether you’re a regular visitor to TIL or are only just discovering it now thanks to this article, please let us know in the comments below what you have personally learned from Reddit. Like you, we want to learn. So teach us.

Image Credit: Casey Fleser via Flickr

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  1. John Williams
    October 22, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    TIL about TIL for the first time. That's one more thing I'll make use of from this MuO mine of useful stuffs.

  2. Henk van Setten
    September 22, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Dave: I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. Didn't mean to do that. So: let me say sorry.

    Still, I maintain that internet is slowly degrading into one big recycling mill, rehashing the same old stuff over and over again. Is that in any way useful? Is that something to be proud of? Maybe you should take a little time to reflect for a moment on how best to use your writing talents.

    Any time when instead of recycling ancient "mildly interesting" tidbits you write some truly original content (which I'm sure you can and did at other occasions) , you will recognize again that this is a much more satisfying thing to do -- both for your readers, and for yourself. And perhaps (as a bonus) it will also improve the dented reputation of MakeUseOf.

    As for Reddit, certainly after the celebrity photo leaking affair, personally I fear it's too late for them. As a site they're unethical, useless, and totally lost. I cannot imagine why you would want anyone to bookmark them.

    • Dave P
      September 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      I wouldn't say you hurt my feelings, but I appreciate the apology regardless.

      I don't agree with you about the Internet turning into a recycling mill. If pointing readers to a website or app is recycling then MUO may as well not exist. But then how would people know these things exist?

      This article is all about the TIL subreddit. I could have written 1000 words about how it works and who the mods are behind it, but I believe that would have been utterly boring. So, I made the conscious decision to present the content in this way, pointing readers in the direction of TIL while also pinpointing 10 facts that would appeal to MUO readers as seen on the subreddit.

      Since when has MakeUseOf got a "dented reputation?" Click through the archive and read posts from the earliest days of the site and you'll see how much the quality of writing and content has improved. And there were more lists of websites about this, that, and the other posted then than now. We don't create websites and apps, we merely point readers towards websites and apps they may not have previously been aware of.

      It's a shame you didn't enjoy this article, and I would urge you to avoid Weird and Wonderful Web from now on as it's clearly not aimed at you. But there is plenty more content on MUO that is likely to be aimed more in your direction.

      PS: The celeb nudes originally leaked on 4chan, not Reddit, so I'm not sure the latter should be blamed for that incident. The discussion that followed on Reddit -- about the nudes, how they were obtained, and the issues of censorship -- made for fascinating reading. Which is surely to the credit of Reddit and the people who use it.

  3. Marsha
    September 22, 2014 at 6:11 am

    It was interesting to me. What amazes me is, what made it interesting to Henk? This is my first time here and I would like to say, I like it. And thanks! I found this site from a search on minimizing mobile data bandwidth. I just got my first smartphone. I want to be smart too.

    • Dave P
      September 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks, Marsha. I'm glad you enjoyed this article.

      There is plenty of content here on MUO for all, so I just hope Henk sticks to reading the technical stuff that clearly interests him more than these fun posts.

      I'm sure you're already a smart cookie, but we mainly exist to help people learn new stuff, whether it's about a certain subreddit or how to minimize mobile data, so we hope you stick around for a while :)

  4. kumkurau
    September 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    App for today i learned that

    [Broken Link Removed]

    • Dave P
      September 25, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Nice. I'll let the promotional link remain seeing as you quoted me ;)

  5. Peter F
    September 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Not sure others are having a hard time with this article.

    I really enjoyed it and don't consider it "click bait" at all.

    The fact that NASA has it own radio station is a joy to learn and Cunningham's Law brought a smile to my face -so thanks for that!

    I think some people are just having a bad day!

    • Henk van Setten
      September 21, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Not a single one of the items announced here as "Amazing Facts" is anywhere near amazing. And 3 out of the 10 even aren't facts...

      Also, the term "discovered" in the title may suggest at first glance that these are newly discovered things, which none of them are.

      So yes, I consider the title a form of pure click bait. Or would you say it's my own fault to expect Amazing Facts when a title promises me Amazing Facts?

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      I'm glad you enjoyed this article, Peter, and thanks for reading. The old adage that you can't please everybody all of the time has never been truer than now.

  6. Henk van Setten
    September 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    And these items -- 4 of them gaming factoids, 2 urban legends, 3 did-you-know things of minor interest and even less importance, and 1 Cunningham joke -- have to pass as "Amazing Facts", and as "Discovered?"

    This would be laughable if it wasn't so sad. This post illustrates the shameless depths of vapidness and superficiality to which internet has sunken today.

    Reddit itself is already a cheap way to lazily recycle old stale content (instead of doing something new and productive yourself) and now MakeUseOf simply repeats the process here: re-recycling the already-recycled. And under a click-bait title, too...

    This kind of wretched nonsense really makes me wonder if it's worth the trouble to keep looking here for a few truly informative and valuable items hidden between all the junk posts.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      It's a shame you didn't enjoy this article, Hank. But others clearly did.

      In writing it I scoured the archives of the Today I Learned subreddit, and in doing so "discovered" these amazing facts. You may not find them amazing, but I did.

      I could have changed the title to '10 Mildly Interesting Things Disseminated Via Reddit' but I'm sure you'll agree it doesn't quite have the same ring to it. I can assure you this isn't clickbait, as the title isn't misleading and doesn't pose a question. If you read the title and decided you're not interested in the content then you can leave it well alone.

      It's entirely up to you whether you keep reading MakeUseOf. You could just avoid the content you don't appreciate and let others read the articles they enjoy. We use categories, tags, and sections to help readers determine what they want to read.

      It's never nice to have work one spent several hours lovingly crafting dismissed as "junk," but there we go. I'm sure some people enjoyed reading this, found it entertaining, and have bookmarked TIL as a result. So I'll choose to believe this isn't as worthless as you believe it to be.

  7. Raja
    September 21, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Information is passed downin tonnes of ways.Books , research papers internet even movies all pass down our information to others.If we all thought about learning the way you think we all would have still been cavemen.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly with this statement!

  8. The Amazing Colonel Sanders
    September 21, 2014 at 11:22 am

    "Humans are learning from the day they are born, with babies absorbing everything they see, hear, touch, and experience around them. This innate desire to learn doesn’t simply disappear when we leave childhood; it carries on well into adulthood, and, hopefully, until the day we breathe our last breath."

    Why should we keep learning until death? It's not like the information is passed down.

    • Dave P
      September 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      You feel free to stop learning at whatever age suits you. I cannot see myself stopping reading or absorbing new information until I pop my clogs.