Even if the Polandball comics are used for politicking, would it still be meme politicking? The three concepts are used to argue that a successful meme needs to be rapidly replicated (fecundity) with a sustainable replication pattern (longevity) while maintaining its original form (fidelity) (Dawkins 149).

Therefore, even with an influx of new users, Reddits platform specifics should ensure the countryball format will not radically change, get hijacked for political ends or become meme-ified through low-effort copy-paste-mutations.

As such, the cultural differences between various countryball platforms will most likely differ significantly. Illustratively, the colors of a countryball should correspond perfectly to the respective countrys flag: Not surprisingly, the strict rules (of which the prohibition of MS Paints circle tool should be noted) are considered as overly strict by some. Prochzka, Ondej. Reddits r/all page overtly displays the intertwining of memes and politics, as one is likely to stumble upon on subreddits filled with political memes like r/PoliticalHumor or r/FULLCOMMUNISM. Another moderator undergirds this claim by stating that comics containing newsy commentary attracts visitors: Another moderator attests that event-related comics like content satirizing Trump's presidency are gateways that bring in a lot of viewers, while a different moderator states that these events do not even have to be major international topics: While a third moderator is more restrained in stating that the real-life drama has to be pretty severe to cause mad wild spikes in traffic, he does agree that political events like Trumps presidency have provided incentives for an increase in traffic (i.e.

For instance, on the content aggregator Reddit, visitors would quickly stumble upon the following comic: The above comic could be any random internet comic, but in fact is emblematic for a branch of cartoons containing sphere-shaped characters denoting a specific country, satirizing national stereotypes, geopolitical events and international relations.

However, the relation between the severity of international drama and the increase in countryball traffic seems not fully causal because Polandball comics are rarely directly commenting on specific geopolitical events. Indeed, the fact that r/polandball is a mostly self-contained sphere was highlighted by the moderators, with one describing they are not the arbiters of the medium nor gatekeeper[s] of what constitutes polandball as a genre. It is much more like a comic strip rather than a meme. The mutation on the replication can be by meaning, keeping the structure of the meme or vice versa. When further exploring r/polandballs data, after the 2016 US Presidential Elections on November 8th, one might expect a similar traffic spike to the post-Brexit activity, but the following chart shows more dispersed traffic: This implies another reason for countryball interest: activity is tied to the quantity and quality of the comics, rather than on the severity of the geopolitical happenings.

Especially the political usage of countryball comics becomes more likely since there are no gatekeepers to restrict the partisan appropriation of the images, and as such, the question of the tools an internet platform offers becomes a highly political matter.

Its clearly distinguished from rage comics and memes.. This does not automatically speak for the spread and mutation of the countryball comics on other platforms, but since we have concluded that r/polandball is the countryball-making machine of the internet, its characteristics are sure to spread further than its own hub. Another moderator states that the countryball format allows for a lot of freedom to go about format, content matter, and style, arguing that: The fact that a countryball comic has to feature original content can be seen as a difference to the small mutations typical for internet memes. Previously, logged-out users would land on a frontpage that was curated by the Reddit administrators, where, as the administrators described, they cherry pickeda set of subreddits to appear as a default set, which had the effect of editorializing Reddit. However, r/polandball has been steadily growing prior to the introduction of r/popular, and the influx does not exactly align with the platforms changes timewise, so maybe more cultural and political (and more interesting) reasons are not far-fetched after all. Are countryball comics even memes? To remain a place for high quality countryball content, redditors who want to submit their own creation need to let their first comic be approved by the moderators only after such an approval does the user gain rights to submit new comics.This rite of passage is no mere feat, as the rules page states that standards are higher for approval comics so you need toimpress the mod handling your request with afunnyandoriginaljoke. The Selfish Gene.

Polandball can constantly adapt to a changing geopolitical climate. Media theorist Limor Shifman argues that creating, consuming or rating visual internet artefacts, such as memes, videos or gifs, are modern-day forms of political participation. One of such reasons is for the growth is that a recent increase in international political controversies has created a larger inspiration pool for poignant countryball comics, as well as generating an increased interest in geopolitical satire overall. Polandball would be a highly successful meme at that, since it trumps even the infinitely popular distracted boyfriend meme in terms of longevity.

In any case, overtly-partisan political subreddits do not appear, such as r/The_Donald, r/neoliberalism, or r/LateStageCapitalism. London: The MIT Press, 2016. r/The_Donald is known for terms like cuckservative, SJW and libtard). We even saw it with something as esoteric for most people as stories about rising sea levels affecting Pacific island nations. Well-received content becomes more visible as it moves up in a list of posts, powered by a ranking algorithm that takes into account the amount of up- and downvotes and the posts time of submission.

In the eyes of the r/polandball moderators however, the subreddits rules are intended to keep the space friendly and high-quality, or as one moderator unsubtly puts it: there are rules to prevent everything going to shit. Such fluxes of commentary memes are indeed visible on multiple internet platforms. While memes might often be considered apolitical and just for fun; such meme politicking creating or spreading memes for various political ends - is used to humorously push a specific political agenda.

While being a well-known term, the exact definition of a meme remains relatively fuzzy. Subreddits are often referred to with r/ prepended to their names, inspired by their URLs (e.g. An internet meme is a unit of information (idea, concept or belief), which replicates by passing on via Internet (e-mail, chat, forum, social networks, etc.)

Polandball of course is prone to be 'misused' for political soapboxing thanks to its format. For instance, r/Anarcho_Capitalism shares its Reddit commenter neighborhood with r/The_Donald and r/Libertarian, while r/LateStageCapitalism shares visitors with r/lostgeneration (lamenting the [economic] problems of an educated young workforce), and r/COMPLETEANARCHY (of which the name speaks for itself). On June 23rd 2016, a majority of the citizens of the United Kingdom shocked the global political stage by voting to leave the European Union.

Among the most popular subreddits are r/funny, a collection of a wide variety of humorous content, r/AskReddit, where redditors ask and answer provoking questions, and r/todayilearned, where redditors post intriguing facts. A striking piece of evidence for this claim is the fact that the most repeated and meme-y Polandball joke is officially forbidden on the subreddit: the rules page states that the moderators will not review [the] comicif the joke is some version of"Poland cannot into space". Cohesive Aspects of Humor in Internet Memes on Facebook: A Multimodal Sociolinguistic Analysis. Ostrava Journal of English Philology, vol. 1, June 2010. and 'New Leadership' those will go through the roof. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is Pepe the Frog: once an innocent caricature of an amphibian, Pepe was appropriated by Trump supporters and alt-righters, mostly on 4chan, resulting in the meme becoming an unofficial mascot of the alt-right. If this seems insignificant, the subreddits relevance is also demonstrated by the fact that a large amount of countryball comics are first posted there and later copied onto other platforms.

Also, the moderators organize Lesser Known September, an annual event during which comics containing the most-used countryballs are denied publication. If these real-world events indeed cause an uptick in traffic, it would be fair to argue that an increased interest in countryball comics (or at the very least in r/polandball) is a corollary of increased international drama. We certainly noted the swift towards a more hateful and uncivilized 'culture' when it comes to online communication. His research focuses on both juxtaposing and bringing together theory and technology of digital media, mainly through using digital methods to research political movements on online platforms. If you follow this line of argument, then an internet meme must sustain longevity, but only up to a certain point indeed, defining a meme now becomes rather vague. When analyzing what other subreddits r/polandball commenters are also active on, the r/polandball commenters do not seem to be particularly extreme: Most of the shared subreddits are either non-political and mainstream, such as r/AskReddit, r/todayilearned or r/pics, or non-partisan politics-related subreddits such as r/worldnews, r/europe and r/politics (although the latter has been criticised for being overly left-wing).

animation). On the platform, user FALCO poked fun at the Polish poster Wojak for his broken English. Polandball has been going on for a long, long time, and as you can see it's still hugely popular. Another platform-related reason is the fact that the moderators dropped their no X-posting policy in February 2017, which means that it was again allowed to post comics originating on r/polandball on other subreddits, increasing its the platform-wide visibility. It's clearly distinguished from rage comics and memes. To keep the quality of the content high, all comics have to comply to it. Apart from the obvious serious political consequences, an event of the magnitude of Brexit was also sure to generate a swarm of playful satire on the internet. For instance, in Carlos Dazs attempt to combine multiple frameworks to create a definition for an internet meme, the fact that the artefacts are passed on is deemed crucial: In formulating this definition, Daz draws from Dawkins three aspects of successful memetic mutation: fecundity, longevity and fidelity.

I asked the subreddits 23 moderators, of which five replied, about this recent success. However, the fact that the countryball comics have maintained a considerable audience for more than seven years raises the following question: is an internet meme still an internet meme if the memetic spread has plateaued and the digital artefacts in question have transformed into a consistently popular format? This claim is largely supported by the by the r/polandball moderators.

These political ties do exist on other subreddits. Classic jokes persisted and were reused, such as the joke that Polandball cannot into space, which allegedly was first brought up by FALCO.

On Facebook, the POLANDBALL page has gathered over 400.000 likes, and other Facebook pages such as USABall, EUBall and Germanyball also gained a fair share of followers. You have to actually make real original content rather than copy and pasting an image and putting text on it or the rage comics crap where you just copy and paste a bunch of stuff together and sort of cobble together lots of old jokes. The r/polandball rules page explicitly prohibits these slight adjustments: DO NOTcopy+paste images from the internet or elements within your comic (outlines, eyes, props etc.) On an even broader level, it can be argued that r/polandballs increased popularity is in part due to the subreddit profiting from a broader trend of meme politics.

In the current day, Polandball is especially interesting in light of (1) an alleged increase in geopolitical drama, (2) memes being used for political meme-ing and meme warfare, which awkwardly positions the countryball comics who have been satirizing politics for a longer time and (3) Polandball in comparison to omnipresent regular internet memes. Making pb-comics takes time and effort compared to re-arranging and implementing images from the webz like what happened to Pepe for example, so I doubt we will see Polandball getting 'adopted' this way from one (radical) side or another.

Read the Official Polandball Tutorial.

Reddit is growing in general, but the spike in traffic on r/polandball remains notable. Through its combination of intuitive platform mechanisms, a massive user base and strong sense of community, Reddit has become a cultural juggernaut in the contemporary digital media landscape.

As such, the refusal to consider countryball comics as internet memes might serve the exact opposite argument, when considering Dawkins original definition. According to Shifman, political events fuel the creation of memes, arguing that any major event of the past few years has generated a flux of commentary memes. Any time some topic becomes popular in the news and social media we see an uptick in comics about it. Sal Hagen is a Research MA student in New Media at the University of Amsterdam. As captured in the word viral, the aspect of replication has remained a defining characteristic when referring to the digital sort of meme. Indeed, the r/polandball moderators seem right in claiming that no [political] side is really more dominant than the other and the commenters in general behave accordingly to the dismissal of politicization of the content aimed to despise other countries or cultures. When taking Brexit as an example, traffic (in this case the amount of comments) indeed spikes after June 23rd 2016, the day the British citizens voted to leave the European Union: Another visualization supports the hypothesis by pointing to the actual words used in these comments: Here, it is apparent that in the month of Brexit, EU and UK are popular, being the second and third most used words in the comments on the subreddit, respectively.

There always have been pb-comics transporting an offensive or even racist agenda and there probably always will be.

unregistered] users doing just that.