ELI5: A Subreddit That Explains You Complex Stuff Like You Are Five

Shouvonik Bose
·4-min read

“Why is light affected by gravity if photons are massless?”

“So how does the the human brain ignore the second the?”

“Why can people walk many miles without discomfort, but when they stand for more than 15 minutes or so, they get uncomfortable?”

These are some of the questions r/explainlikeimfive has answers to.

Dumbed Down Answers

What makes these answers special is the fact that people try to explain these phenomena as if they are explaining them to a five-year-old. However, this is jargon for explaining a particularly complex concept in a layperson explanation of the same.

What captivates me is the fact that this community actually comes together in explaining someone who actually needs the knowledge.

A user answering why some programs need to be installed before using and some don’t
A user answering why some programs need to be installed before using and some don’t

This subreddit is not here to help one with their homework or assignment or projects, but actually to help someone understand basic observations in the real world. They do it for the sheer dopamine rush and exhilaration of teaching someone a new concept and making the world a better place, one answer at a time.

A user of ELI5 can ask questions or give answers in the community. The method to format your question is simple. You just have to type “ELI5:” and then continue with your question.

The Subreddit Origins

ELI5 was first used on Twitter way back in 2010. On 28th July 2011, the subreddit, r/explainlikeimfive was born. Their bio reads, “Explain Like I’m Five is the best forum and archive on the internet for layperson-friendly explanations. Don’t Panic!” which does practically defines the subreddit.

The reason why ELI5 is a famous concept is the ease of teaching a concept
The reason why ELI5 is a famous concept is the ease of teaching a concept

Soon after its inception, ELI5 became a trend in the world of academia and people who want stuff to be explained in layman’s terms use this.

ELI5 subreddit is actually one of the most stable subreddits out there, with one of the mods (u/Petwins) saying, “We are unfortunately a rather conservative sub(reddit) (in the dictionary, not political sense) so we have our fair share of stories about trolls, mega trolls, and such but the sub(reddit) itself has stayed remarkably stable over the years.”

Best of ELI5

Apart from the introductory questions to the article, some of the most upvoted questions of the subreddit are:-

“Why is 12 hour time even taught? Wouldn’t it just be easier to remember 13:00 instead of 1:00 pm?”

where the answer brought the origins of the 12-hour system –

“The 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night system spread throughout Europe and the Middle East and has defied multiple attempts to change it over the centuries.”

Also Read: Khan Academy’s Salman Khan: Journey From Harvard To Being World’s First Super Teacher With 20 Million Students Globally

“How come you can be falling asleep watching TV, then wide awake when you go to bed five minutes later?”

where they talk about neural signals that are activated during activity and are further dumbed down by writing

“The brain is like a group of people talking to each other. When you’re watching TV, the part of your brain that watches TV says “Shut up guys, I’m watching TV,” so you can focus without thinking about cake or math. As a result, the others sit silent, grow bored, and fall asleep, until only the TV watcher part of the brain is left. Left by himself, he too gets bored and falls asleep.

When you’re in bed, assuming you aren’t counting sheep or something, the entire brain is kind of in a free-time mode, and any part of the brain can speak up if it wants to.

They start talking to each other, and even if one of them starts to drift to sleep, the others wake it up either by deliberately talking to the sleepy-heads or just by being noisy.

Eventually more and more of the parts of the brain fall asleep from the sheer exhaustion no matter how loud the others are, and thus the last one passes out and you are asleep.”

This shows the prowess of the users of r/explainlikeimfive and their innate nature to help others understand the day to day activities in the simplest of manners.

Image Sources: Google

Sources: Author’s own experience

Find the Blogger: Shouvonik Bose

This post was tagged under: explain like I’m five, reddit, best subreddit, knowledge, teaching concepts easily, reddit browsing, academics, technology, why do we fall asleep doing nothing, Hotwheels and programming

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