Essay on Institute of Network Cultures: “Polandball is of Reddit”

Polandball is of Reddit: How r/polandball Transcends Memes through Carefully Curated Geopolitical Satire

Sal Hagen recently published a longform essay on the Longform website of the Amsterdam-based Institute of Network cultures. It discusses r/polandball: a peculiar subreddit devoted to the creation of comics mocking geopolitical events and national stereotypes. These Polandball comics originated on the German forum Krautchan in 2009, but spread throughout the Web in the 2010’s. r/polandball, according to one of its moderators, nowadays is the hub where most Polandball comics are generated, making it the ‘comic-making machine of the Polandball-world‘.

In a 2017, where Internet memes continuously permeate more mainstream forums and social media networks, the Polandball comics are an oddity in relation to other memes: their memetic spread is intentionally impeded, its creators have to follow scrict rules, and unlike ‘regular’ memes, a countryball comic cannot simply be made by small adjustments of previous images.

“Polandball is of Reddit” focuses on these peculiarities and attempts to both shine a light on the uniqueness of r/polandball as well as frame the comics in the larger field of meme-theory. Ultimately, it shows how Reddit’s affordances simultaneously restrict and reinforce the creative capacities of its users, and concludes Polandball comics, in a strict sence, are not even memes to begin with.


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