THE SECRET RULES OF THE INTERNET: The murky history of moderation, and how it’s shaping the future of free speech [Potentially NSFW - language & content]
You may have heard about n-grams, which identify particular strings of text in a large corpus (an n=3 n-gram could be "plate of beans"). You probably have played with Google Ngram search which lets you look through millions of books to see the first use of the phrase, or when it was most popular (though be warned, recent research shows some limitations, such as the false popularity of a certain expletive in the 1700s). The newest is the Reddit ngram search by 538, which lets you chart the rise and fall of things progressive and regressive. I await more insights in the discussion...
On /r/SubredditSimulator, all the posts and comments are made by bots. These bots generate text using Markov chains trained on humans' comments from different subreddits. Their posts are at times ordinary, surreal, revealing, and even self-aware. [more inside]
When the Internet’s ‘Moderators’ Are Anything But [New York Times] The title suggests a steward of civility and decency. But online, unpaid moderators can become a force for mayhem. [more inside]
After last month's vow to curb targeted harassment and make the site a safer platform for all users, the admins of Reddit began making good on that promise yesterday by banning five offensive subreddits deemed guilty of doxxing, brigading, and otherwise tormenting others, including /r/fatpeoplehate -- a militantly anti-HAES forum whose attacks had recently extended to the admins of popular image host Imgur. In reaction, the 150K subscribers of FPH and their sympathizers in other fringe subreddits went on a rampage, creating countless clones (all banned), filling the front page with hate posts, and disregarding the veneer of free-speech activism to viciously slander Reddit CEO Ellen Pao personally. The dissenters advocate a mass exodus of the hate subs to Voat.co [obligatory_wonka.gif], a moderation-free clone of Reddit that has already crashed under the traffic. Ongoing coverage by the enlightened popcorn-munchers of SubredditDrama. [more inside]
Based on such continuous disappointment you'd think that trust in these grandiose, empty promises would wane - yet articles like this are more popular then ever. How click bait articles work (this will amaze you!)
"Advertising is not well. Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
The Atlantic attempts to explain how Reddit's Ask Me Anything became a "mainstream delight." [Previously]. [Even more previously]. [Even more previously than that]. [more inside]
Imgur began as a photo sharing site to be used by Redditors. It now outpaces Reddit in total traffic. What's next for the site?
An Atlas of Cyberspaces An archive of late 90s cybergeography research: Conceptual (Neuromancer/Snow Crash/The Matrix), Geographic, ARPANET, Usenet, submarine cable systems, early African fibre optics, Cospace screenshots and a ton of 90s web visualisations. via silentservant in /r/techonolgy (reddit).
"It feels strange to be active and highly visible on the Web for 15 years but it was only when I joined Facebook that someone from elementary school or high school ever contacted me." In which on Ev Williams's platform, Mr Haughey compares his experiences of Facebook and Twitter. [more inside]
A woman opens an old steamer trunk and discovers tantalizing clues that a long-dead relative may actually have been a serial killer, stalking the streets of New York in the closing years of the nineteenth century. A beer enthusiast is presented by his neighbor with the original recipe for Brown's Ale, salvaged decades before from the wreckage of the old brewery--the very building where the Star-Spangled Banner was sewn in 1813. These stories have two things in common. They are tailor-made for viral success on the internet. And they are all lies.
At reddit we care deeply about not imposing ours or anyone elses’ opinions on how people use the reddit platform. We are adamant about not limiting the ability to use the reddit platform even when we do not ourselves agree with or condone a specific use. We have very few rules here on reddit; no spamming, no cheating, no personal info, nothing illegal, and no interfering the site's functions. Today we are adding another rule: No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors. - After much complaint, Reddit gets rid of /r/jailbait and selected subreddits with similar content.
Social news site Reddit recently held their "Best of Reddit 2010" awards honoring key players in the site over the last year, including the progenitor of the Rally to Restore Sanity, the clever drive-by cartoonist Sure_Ill_Draw_That, unofficial image host Imgur, and feel-good story of the year "Today you, tomorrow me." But perhaps most interesting was the winner for Best Big Community: FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU! Originally inspired by 4chan's popular Rage Guy meme, F7U12 (for short) is a clearinghouse for user-made web comics, slice-of-life affairs that tell a story or share a common frustration using a small collection of crudely drawn yet highly evocative facial expressions. Several have become small memes in their own right -- the wily Trolldad, the doormat Okay, the prideful Fuck Yea, the melodramatic Gasp. And one comic, inspired by the warped text randomly generated by reCAPTCHAs (previously), has given us Lord Inglip -- god of a dark religion now rivaling FSM whose cryptic commands marshal loyal armies of gropagas, falcows, Sellicks, and... canary into exploits both monstrous and inconvenient (timeline, wiki). Obey him -- or else! More fun with F7U12: rage face origins, rage faces in real life, Twitter feed, search comics, create your own (alternate).
Reddit founders Kn0thing and Spez have left the building. The social media juggernaut's founders Alexis (Kn0thing) and Steve (Spez) have declined to renew their contracts, prompting much discussion and speculation on reddit itself, and the incubator that helped it start up, Ycombinator.
Apologies in advance for yet another reddit link, but I thought these were worthy enough to post for the uninitiated. Reddit, a link aggregator site, is often dismissed as another digg, 4chan, or fark, perhaps justifiably so. Users, however, know there's some excellent subreddits (among the thousands) lurking beneath the main page... [more inside]