Reddit: Somalia Of The Internet
September 12, 2014 2:23 PM   Subscribe

In response to criticism over the banning of infamous subreddit TheFappening, where private photographs of women (both celebrities and not) were being circulated, Reddit chief Yishan Wong released a controversial op-ed stating that Reddit considers itself "not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community." T.C. Sottek, writing for The Verge, asserts that if this is the case, then Reddit is assuredly a failed state.

If Reddit wants to be thought of as a government, we'll call it what it is: a failed state, unable to control what happens within its borders. At minimum, Reddit is a kleptocracy that speaks to lofty virtues while profiting from vice. It might be forgivable if we were talking about taxing cigarettes and booze, but we're not talking about that. What we're talking about is more like sexual assault, condoned by a state that earns revenue from it.

(H/T to Ellen Seidler over at Vox Indie.)
posted by NoxAeternum (272 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : ?
posted by Fizz at 2:25 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dang, way to streeeeeetch that metaphor in the opening . I can't wait for an article describing what kind of vegetable reddit would be and if it were delicious.
posted by Dmenet at 2:27 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


WTF, what did Somalia do to deserve this comparison?
posted by oceanjesse at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2014 [42 favorites]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : ?

San Francisco.
posted by Talez at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2014 [10 favorites]




Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : Heirloom Tomato
posted by clawsoon at 2:31 PM on September 12, 2014 [34 favorites]


Reddit Shrugged ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:32 PM on September 12, 2014 [25 favorites]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : ?

I know y'all are going to want to say Switzerland or Sweden or something, but let's be honest: it has to be a country where when you tell people where you're from, you nearly always get blank looks.

Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : Benin
posted by echo target at 2:32 PM on September 12, 2014 [75 favorites]


"We will try not to interfere - not because we don’t care, but because we care that you make your choices between right and wrong."

And because we're busy swimming in a bathtub full of the money we made serving you these pictures. And, you know, right and wrong, or something. I know: Free Speech! That's the ticket.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:34 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Uruguay! We're foward thinking and nice to live in but no one has heard us or cares.
posted by The Whelk at 2:34 PM on September 12, 2014 [68 favorites]


Talez: "San Francisco."

It does cost more to post here.
posted by brundlefly at 2:34 PM on September 12, 2014 [60 favorites]


Reddit has some terrible parts, but it also contains some of the brightest spots on the internet. You can pry it from my cold, dead hands.
posted by the jam at 2:34 PM on September 12, 2014 [33 favorites]


Reddit has some terrible parts, but it also contains some of the brightest spots on the internet. You can pry it from my cold, dead hands.

So, you're arguing that a) it's impossible to divorce the latter from the former, and b) the benefit of the latter outweighs the damage and pain inflicted by the former?
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:36 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Uruguay! We're foward thinking and nice to live in but no one has heard us or cares.

who is our luis suarez though
posted by poffin boffin at 2:37 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Maybe Yishan was right: it really is all about the user being able to choose between right and wrong. The users can downvote things that deserve to be downvoted, so maybe all of these silly women should have just downvoted their naked pictures on the internet.

What a profound vision of moral character and community.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:37 PM on September 12, 2014 [34 favorites]


Reddit : Red Delicious :: MetaFilter : Braeburn
posted by komara at 2:39 PM on September 12, 2014 [16 favorites]


Somalia? A comparison to the US might be more apt. A set of states/subreddits in a federation, each state claiming its own special unique rights, and the government at the top saying "You all hate us because of our freedom!" Occasionally launching strange pointless wars againat other internet nations. Strong maintainence of internal secrecy, but happy to hoover up the secrets of others.

But occasional moments of undeniable brilliance.
posted by Jimbob at 2:40 PM on September 12, 2014 [64 favorites]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : the far flung Isles of Langerhans
posted by valkane at 2:40 PM on September 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


"Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : ?"

Lichtenstein. Or maybe Mann.
posted by klangklangston at 2:40 PM on September 12, 2014


So, you're arguing that a) it's impossible to divorce the latter from the former, and b) the benefit of the latter outweighs the damage and pain inflicted by the former?

Sounds like a US analogy more than a Somalia analogy to me.
posted by el io at 2:42 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


And because we're busy swimming in a bathtub full of the money we made serving you these pictures. And, you know, right and wrong, or something. I know: Free Speech! That's the ticket.

Reddit as a whole is doing poorly financially. They may have reversed this recently (?) but at least until a year ago they were losing money. They made something like $1000 directly (i.e. "reddit gold" purchases) from TheFappening.
posted by Jpfed at 2:43 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : Benign

Fixerated that.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:44 PM on September 12, 2014


You choose what to post. You choose what to read. You choose what kind of subreddit to create and what kind of rules you will enforce. We will try not to interfere - not because we don’t care, but because we care that you make your choices between right and wrong.

Virtuous behavior is only virtuous if it is not arrived at by compulsion. This is a central idea of the community we are trying to create.
I mean that's a workable philosophy if the repercussions of the choices of the lowest common denominator of redditors were limited to people voluntarily on reddit but that's not what is happening. Reddit's dog is shitting in all our yards, and Wong is saying "well I guess it's just a bad dog. Let me know if it bites anyone."
posted by griphus at 2:45 PM on September 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


Reddit : Guitars :: Metafilter : Double guitars
posted by compartment at 2:45 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : Sealand
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2014


Uruguay! We're foward thinking and nice to live in but no one has heard us or cares.
posted by The Whelk


Oh come on - every knitter in the world loves you.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 2:46 PM on September 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


But really, the platform/government thing just shows that they need some liberal arts majors to give them a basic education on how states function. It's just an idiotic claim.
posted by klangklangston at 2:47 PM on September 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


So, you're arguing that a) it's impossible to divorce the latter from the former, and b) the benefit of the latter outweighs the damage and pain inflicted by the former?

The level of obsession over reddit takes me back to a microcosm of my university days where for a year there was tremendous levels of wailing and gnashing of teeth over how history should treat Margaret Sanger.
posted by MillMan at 2:47 PM on September 12, 2014


As someone who has been on Reddit since the early days, I agree that redd. It was never really great, but the Mob Mentality has grown exponentially.

Alas, the Eternal September
posted by tnecniv at 2:48 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


On the plus side I have definitely started appreciating reddit's utility as a digital quarantine zone. I'm sure there's perfectly good conversation to be had in there but I'm not so wanting for it that I'd expose myself to the environment for prolonged periods of time.
posted by griphus at 2:49 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I honestly wonder how Reddit would fair if they unilaterally deleted ALL of the NSFW/NSFL subs. Is there really that much traffic in boobies that they can't make a go of it without such things?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:50 PM on September 12, 2014


But really, the platform/government thing just shows that they need some liberal arts majors to give them a basic education on how states function. It's just an idiotic claim.

Starting with the sorts of responsibilities that states have to those within their borders.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:50 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reddit: Ian Paisley :: Metafilter: Donald Sinden

RIP Donald.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:50 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


So, you're arguing that a) it's impossible to divorce the latter from the former, and b) the benefit of the latter outweighs the damage and pain inflicted by the former?

I think you're putting words in his mouth, but I will agree with those statements.
posted by Edgewise at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reddit has some terrible parts, but it also contains some of the brightest spots on the internet.

"Ignore the bad odor and go about your business, citizen..."
posted by Pudhoho at 2:54 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Citizens of all other democracies could learn so much from Reddit. About gaming their votes.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:56 PM on September 12, 2014


The thing is, you need to judge each subreddit on its own merits. There really isn't 'one' reddit to love or hate.

And given the way subscriptions work, it's entirely possible to never see the stinky parts.
posted by mikelieman at 2:57 PM on September 12, 2014 [20 favorites]


Hacked Celeb Pics Made Reddit Enough Cash to Run Its Servers for a Month

What specious, sophomoric, crap. each individual is responsible for his or her moral actions Well, duh, Reddit, and you, as the publisher, are responsible for publishing what you do. Users may post it, but you provide the platform and make the profit.
posted by theora55 at 2:57 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


I know y'all are going to want to say Switzerland or Sweden or something, but let's be honest: it has to be a country where when you tell people where you're from, you nearly always get blank looks.

True story: The MC of the trivia night I usually go to has a regular spiel about how we're not supposed to use our phones, or, "Google, or Bing, or, Lycos, or MetaFilter," and it confused the hell out of me for months (and I'm too weird about stuff like that to have asked him about it). Then one day he switched to saying, "Lycos, or MetaCrawler," and it became clear where the confusion lay.
posted by Copronymus at 2:58 PM on September 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : ?

I don't know, I've never been to a country where every twenty minutes, no matter what you're talking about, somebody changes the subject to how terrible Somalia is.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:59 PM on September 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


So, you're arguing that a) it's impossible to divorce the latter from the former, and b) the benefit of the latter outweighs the damage and pain inflicted by the former?

I'm not sure the goodness created by the existence of Reddit would be replicated elsewhere if it disappeared, but the badness is already replicated elsewhere. Across a huge swath of the internet in fact. If Reddit shut down today, it would be a net decrease of positive effects, without a net decrease in negative effects. (B)

That's not to say that Reddit can't do a better job of decreasing it's negative effects (A)
posted by the jam at 2:59 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


reddit : news :: MetaFilter : analysis
posted by mikelieman at 3:01 PM on September 12, 2014


And given the way subscriptions work, it's entirely possible to never see the stinky parts.

Which is a large part of the problem. Just because you don't see the sewage doesn't mean it isn't there, or that it's not having negative effects on the environment.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:03 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


you need to judge each subreddit on its own merits. There really isn't 'one' reddit to love or hate.

There's an umbrella Reddit sheltering /r/theFappening (and /r/jailbait and /r/beatingwomen...), in part with the goodwill earned from /r/politics and the like, and it's very fair to judge the umbrella for not being at least a little discriminating in its choices. It's not like /r/theFappening is a necessary evil to keep traffic flowing through to see the more rarified content.
posted by fatbird at 3:03 PM on September 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


Okay, for the sake of argument, I'll play devil's advocate.

I honestly wonder how Reddit would fair if they unilaterally deleted ALL of the NSFW/NSFL subs.

But then what? Certainly NSFW content is the tip of the iceberg.

I mean, honestly, openly racist speech is more offensive (to me) than (consensual taken) boobie photos.

So, okay, shut up the Nazi's, that's all good and solid.

What about the pro-lifers? Well, that's just a political position you might say... But there is certainly a terrorist element among them (#notallprolifers). I mean posting the address of a reproductive health professional is more problematic to me than posting a boobie (or two) [note: this may go against their 'doxxing' policy, I have no idea].

What about pro-choicers? Prolifers would suggest that if you are pro-choice that you are advocating violence upon the unborn. That you are advocating for a holocaust of pre-born children. If you are going to disallow Nazi's, one might argue, why would you allow people that want to kill pre-born infants?

So what about the MRA folks? I mean, it's pretty much just an organized hate group (one might argue) - I mean it doesn't seem fair to kick out the nazi's and leave those folks festering about, stinking up the place...

Okay, well, lets back up here a bit... No boobies... What the hell is wrong with boobies? Aren't you just buying into the shaming of bodies when you say there is something wrong with an exposed breast? I mean the sinful skin - isn't this just essentially a religious puritan stance? Violence (and advocacy of violence) is fine, but some skin is somehow awful (again, for the sake of argument, talking about consensual pics here).

.... So.....

I guess what I'm saying if that you want to provide a platform for speech, where the only type of speech disallowed is illegal speech, and you are going to try to be consistent in this policy... You are going to end up with a lot of terribly offensive, awful, awful speech - no matter what your political persuasion/beliefs.

So the US analogy might hold pretty strong, actually.
posted by el io at 3:03 PM on September 12, 2014 [32 favorites]



I guess what I'm saying if that you want to provide a platform for speech, where the only type of speech disallowed is illegal speech, and you are going to try to be consistent in this policy... You are going to end up with a lot of terribly offensive, awful, awful speech - no matter what your political persuasion/beliefs.


They already make decisions. They already drew a line. You can't have advocate for pressing up or down arrows on another part of reddit.

It's hilarious to hold up Reddit as a bastion of free speech when one of the rules that will get you banned in no time flat is the equivalent of voter drives.
posted by zabuni at 3:07 PM on September 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


Which is a large part of the problem. Just because you don't see the sewage doesn't mean it isn't there, or that it's not having negative effects on the environment.

I think the analogy breaks down, since there's no toxic effects to me if I don't think about the nasty, nasty ideas.
posted by mikelieman at 3:07 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure the goodness created by the existence of Reddit would be replicated elsewhere if it disappeared, but the badness is already replicated elsewhere

The goodness is not created by Reddit, it's just a platform for it. Why would the good behavior have a disproportionately harder time relocating to another place on the internet? People posting good stuff and having good faith conversations are welcome in a lot more places than people plotting how to ruin people's lives.
posted by aubilenon at 3:09 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Except, el io, we're not discussing consentually posted nude pictures, for starters.

But beyond that, free speech absolutism tends to restrict, not enhance discourse. It's defending the heckler's veto.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:09 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I don't know, I've never been to a country where every twenty minutes, no matter what you're talking about, somebody changes the subject to how terrible Somalia is."

Djibouti? Ethiopia? Kenya?

I don't think this analogy holds up very well.
posted by klangklangston at 3:09 PM on September 12, 2014


I don't know if reddit is a failed state... the entire metaphor of it being managed is the wrong one I think. Reddit is a web 2.0 version of Usenet. That there is nominally someone in charge is misleading - its appeal is that it's regionally moderated, if at all. The Reddit admins know that the key to their popularity is that it's basically chaos in terms of moderation.

But Reddit is the new Usenet. With every pro and con. That is all.
posted by GuyZero at 3:10 PM on September 12, 2014 [39 favorites]


I think the analogy breaks down, since there's no toxic effects to me if I don't think about the nasty, nasty ideas.

I think the women who have their images posed nonconsentually would disagree with your argument.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:11 PM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Best $5 I ever spent.
posted by Fizz at 3:11 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Users may post it, but you provide the platform and make the profit.

While Reddit needs revenue to pay server bills, unlike usenet, I don't think it's wildly profitable, if at all. I doubt it could pay back its investors if liquidated.
posted by GuyZero at 3:12 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]



I think the women who have their images posed nonconsentually would disagree with your argument.


The reddit that shows up on my computer doesn't have these pictures. The usenet 2.0 analogy is PERFECT. It's like life. Any appearance of control is an illusion.
posted by mikelieman at 3:13 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Which is a large part of the problem. Just because you don't see the sewage doesn't mean it isn't there, or that it's not having negative effects on the environment.

So, exactly like society itself?

It's really bizarre to be reading these vaguely pro-censorship posts in this thread - I can't imagine this conversation happening here 10 years ago. Outrage porn has changed things, I think.
posted by MillMan at 3:15 PM on September 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


I honestly wonder how Reddit would fair if they unilaterally deleted ALL of the NSFW/NSFL subs. Is there really that much traffic in boobies that they can't make a go of it without such things?

Hey, now, let's be fair. Reddit is happy to share photos of all kinds of female body parts without the consent of the photos' subject, not just breasts.
posted by NoraReed at 3:16 PM on September 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


Except, el io, we're not discussing consentually posted nude pictures, for starters.

I was sort of explicitly addressing the suggestion that all NSFW/NSFL content be deleted.

Illegal content is almost the least of their problems (IMHO): the legal system can/may/will force them to deal with explicitly illegal content.

And linking to illegal content is something that happens on metafilter as well - sure, it's not hacked nude pictures (morally reprehensible), it's more often a movie/tv show/documentary on youtube (for which there is no evidence that the copyright holder authorized it's publication on youtube).

I'm just playing devils advocate here, honestly. My reddit account exists only because of the metafilter subredit (which i posted in when it was created and then haven't used since). So, in summary, I blame metafilter for my reddit usage.
posted by el io at 3:19 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's really bizarre to be reading these vaguely pro-censorship posts in this thread

He said, on one of the most actively moderated discussion forums on the Internet.
posted by fatbird at 3:19 PM on September 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


The reddit that shows up on my computer doesn't have these pictures.

Great. Can you say that for the reddit that shows up on other people's computers? If your answer is no, then you can see the problem with your argument.

The usenet 2.0 analogy is PERFECT. It's like life. Any appearance of control is an illusion.

This isn't the defense you think it is. The reality is, people are being hurt in very real ways by the conduct of these subreddits, and to argue that Reddit has no responsibility for that happening is just alien to me.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:20 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm just playing devils advocate here, honestly.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAA
posted by NoraReed at 3:20 PM on September 12, 2014 [32 favorites]


It's really bizarre to be reading these vaguely pro-censorship posts in this thread - I can't imagine this conversation happening here 10 years ago. Outrage porn has changed things, I think.

Only in that it's illustrated that free speech absolutism is just as bad as any other sort of absolutism.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:22 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think if the security on your phone is so laughable that your photos can be ripped without your consent, the problem isn't on the internet where those photos end up. Isn't AT&T, Verizon, Apple and Google more responsible than reddit?
posted by mikelieman at 3:22 PM on September 12, 2014


It's becoming harder to support Reddit like it's becoming harder to support the NFL. I appreciate the basis of Reddit's desire to remain editorially neutral, but their notions of being a new form of government or whatever excuse nothing and instead look like the hastily slapped together rationalizations they likely are.

The bottom line is that enabling the creation and dissemination of content that consists of stolen nude photos and other porn of questionable provenance (just to take one example) on the basis that not doing so would somehow threaten the ability of people to engage in purposeful political conversations cheapens the entire idea of freedom of speech in the first place. Freedom of speech is not enshrined in the US Constitution and other similar documents in order to enable criminals and abusers to further their aims. Freedom of speech is not a get out of jail free card that excuses poor judgement and a lack of consideration for the internal states of other people.

I think it's possible to make a "technically correct" argument for Reddit's innocence here on the basis that it is possible to filter out the worst of Reddit's content via the subreddit feature, but in doing so, I think you have to make the admission to yourself that it is exactly that: an argument about technical correctness in a constrained space, not about the world at large. It is technically true that by not seeing this content you are not supporting it actively yourself, but at the same time, it's your water floating their boat when the analytics run every night and they figure out how much money they made that day. Reddit doesn't care what subreddits you see, just that you're on the site and commenting.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:24 PM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


"The reddit that shows up on my computer doesn't have these pictures. The usenet 2.0 analogy is PERFECT. It's like life. Any appearance of control is an illusion."

Oh, so reddit admins can't ban subreddits or users?

The analogy is not perfect — while Reddit may want to be Usenet 2.0, they're owned by Conde Nast and are a central authority, not a bunch of anarchic servers linked by a single protocol.

"So, exactly like society itself?

It's really bizarre to be reading these vaguely pro-censorship posts in this thread - I can't imagine this conversation happening here 10 years ago. Outrage porn has changed things, I think.
"

Well, exactly like society if you're privileged enough to avoid getting the shit on you, sure. But that's not much of an argument. And I don't think it's really arguable that Reddit as a whole is really unwelcoming to minorities in a way that other communities aren't. (There, the usenet analogy is kind of apt: I remember it as incredibly sexist. But I haven't been on Usenet since high school, so I can't say what it's like now.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Reddit has a legal responsibility to remove illegal content when they are made aware of it.

As for morally repugnant speech; that's very much in the eyes of the beholder.
posted by el io at 3:24 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : ?

San Francisco


Drones?
posted by Vibrissae at 3:25 PM on September 12, 2014


I think if the security on your phone is so laughable that your photos can be ripped without your consent, the problem isn't on the internet where those photos end up. Isn't AT&T, Verizon, Apple and Google more responsible than reddit?

Uh are Google employees distributing random nudes people email each other?

Serious question. For a friend.
posted by griphus at 3:25 PM on September 12, 2014


The problematic nsfw content there isn't necessarily illegal, but rather nonconsensual. (There's vastly more consensual nsfw content, like links to videos of specific porn actors or whatever, but that's never going to be the problematic content.)
posted by Dip Flash at 3:25 PM on September 12, 2014


The reddit that shows up on my computer doesn't have these pictures. The usenet 2.0 analogy is PERFECT. It's like life.

And there are lots of bystanders who turn a blind eye to the wrongs perpetrated on the site and don't do anything to stop it because "It doesn't show up on my screen - I'm not affected by it".

You're right. Very much like life. Unfortunately.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:25 PM on September 12, 2014 [20 favorites]


But beyond that, free speech absolutism tends to restrict, not enhance discourse. It's defending the heckler's veto.

There's definitely a wider range of "discourse" across reddit than Metafilter - but that's obviously not a fair comparison because of size and the way reddit encourages self-segregation. Reddit is more than anything else a microcosm of the internet as a whole, which seems pretty much what it intends to be. But while I'd take the whole crazy/brilliant/awful open internet thing we've got over an internet of metafilters only any day it doesn't seem unreasonable to look askance at a big company profiting off the awful while trying to take the moral high ground. You're not saving free speech, the whole crazy/brilliant/awful open internet is right there.
posted by atoxyl at 3:25 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Isn't AT&T, Verizon, Apple and Google more responsible than reddit?

The photos at the center of theFappening had been collected over years by hackers dedicated to buying their way into a private ring, the price of admission being new originals. They were collected from a variety of sources, and not directly from anyone's phone.
posted by fatbird at 3:25 PM on September 12, 2014


In conclusion, Reddit is a land of contrasts.
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


"I think if the security on your phone is so laughable that your photos can be ripped without your consent, the problem isn't on the internet where those photos end up. Isn't AT&T, Verizon, Apple and Google more responsible than reddit?"

That's a terrible tu quoque argument. Reddit is still responsible for much of the distribution of the photos.
posted by klangklangston at 3:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


This isn't the defense you think it is. The reality is, people are being hurt in very real ways by the conduct of these subreddits, and to argue that Reddit has no responsibility for that happening is just alien to me.

I don't think it's a defence, but I think the comparison to Usenet is pretty apt. Usenet used to be absolutely the centre of child porn activity. Dozens of binary newsgroups. People were being hurt by it in very real ways. Simultaneously, it was the centre of activity for discussion of Linux and system administration. This fact is undeniable. The only difference that I can see at all is that Reddit has official, actual corporate leadership, while in Usenet the leadership / decisionmaking was amorphous and distributed too. Which means Reddit has more of a chance to do something about this - if they want to.
posted by Jimbob at 3:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


I see your point in general mikelieman -- and I use Reddit regularly as well -- but notwithstanding that there's a lot of good content that you can quite easily avoid on Reddit, I would wager that that is evidence that Reddit COULD take a harsher and more stern stance on the dregs of its mini-society without diminishing the utility of the site to the vast (and I mean VAST) majority of its normal users -- and I would wager that such intervention wouldn't even be noticed by them.

It's not an either-or situation of total laissez-faire treatment versus the thought-police, and there is no stance that the Reddit owners can take that will please everyone. But I think unambiguously abusive and corrosive content should be dealt with quickly. It's a fantasy to believe that Reddit -- or any society -- will self-police adequately.
posted by chimaera at 3:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


But Reddit is the new Usenet.

No. Usenet was a network of machines speaking open standards running at the cost of the operators of those machines. Reddit is run by one site controlled by a for-profit company that makes advertising revenue from it.
posted by junco at 3:27 PM on September 12, 2014 [33 favorites]


The reddit that shows up on my computer doesn't have these pictures.

Right, true, and since the posting of female nudes without consent technically doesn't affect you in any way, it's not a huge big deal for you personally to say "I can avoid that shit and it's not a problem for me." That's a choice you get to make as a guy on the internets.

If I found out that someone I knew as a friend or acquaintance IRL was posting shit to creepshots, or that isanyoneup thing that is now gone, or doing anything like that which deliberately violates women's consent for male pleasure, I would never again be in the same room as them, alone or otherwise. I would warn other women in our friends circle about them. I wouldn't hang out in places where I knew they would be, even if there was other people there that I liked. I would maybe feel kind of uncomfortable being around other people who knew about this person's behavior and didn't have a problem with it. That's basically how I feel about reddit. I don't want to deal with the grotesque moment of realization that the person I have been enjoying talking to about, idk, a book series or a movie or video games or whatever, is actually a gross creeper who would not think twice about violating my or any other woman's consent.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:27 PM on September 12, 2014 [35 favorites]


You know, we have laws against child pornography, and enforcing those doesn't affect system admin discussions.
posted by mikelieman at 3:28 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


So that excuses Usenet? If Reddit suddenly restructures into a peer-to-peer network, you'll be okay with the content on it, junco?
posted by Jimbob at 3:28 PM on September 12, 2014


el io: “As for morally repugnant speech; that's very much in the eyes of the beholder.”

This is only true if the term "morally repugnant" has no objective meaning whatsoever – that is, if there is no such thing as morality. But I would argue that there are indeed things that are objectively morally repugnant, and I believe I can give a rational basis for doing so.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2014


You know, we have laws against child pornography, and enforcing those doesn't affect system admin discussions.

I agree. This is not a defence of Reddit I'm trying to make. I'm just trying to say, we've seen this kind of internet information structure before, and this one actually has more of a potential to be controlled.
posted by Jimbob at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The only difference that I can see at all is that Reddit has official, actual corporate leadership, while in Usenet the leadership / decisionmaking was amorphous and distributed too. Which means Reddit has more of a chance to do something about this - if they want to."

Right, and this is a really salient difference, especially for a claim of "government," which Reddit has made explicitly. Usenet was pretty much anarchy; Reddit is a monarchy that fancies itself an anarchy.
posted by klangklangston at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


I think if the security on your phone is so laughable that your photos can be ripped without your consent, the problem isn't on the internet where those photos end up. Isn't AT&T, Verizon, Apple and Google more responsible than reddit?

Klang got there first but this is a laughably bad argument.

You know, we have laws against child pornography, and enforcing those doesn't affect system admin discussions.

And I don't even know what this means.
posted by atoxyl at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2014


No. Usenet was a network of machines speaking open standards running at the cost of the operators of those machines. Reddit is run by one site controlled by a for-profit company that makes advertising revenue from it.

Meh. ISPs ran usenet nodes - they profited from their customers. And also made the decision to subscribe to (legally) problematic usenet groups. There was (a level) of curation/decision made by the ISPs, and there was a profit to be made.

My understanding is Reddit isn't technically profitable at this point (I could be wrong, but that idea is certainly pervasive).
posted by el io at 3:30 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think if the security on your phone is so laughable that your photos can be ripped without your consent, the problem isn't on the internet where those photos end up. Isn't AT&T, Verizon, Apple and Google more responsible than reddit?

No, and this argument reeks of victim blaming. Just because the victim may not have taken all the precautions the could have does not absolve the criminal from the culpability of their actions whatsoever.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:30 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


"But I would argue that there are indeed things that are objectively morally repugnant, and I believe I can give a rational basis for doing so."

I don't think that an objective standard of repugnance is possible, really. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things that are widely, rightly seen as repugnant, nor that there aren't rational reasons to regard them as such.
posted by klangklangston at 3:31 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Meh. ISPs ran usenet nodes - they profited from their customers. And also made the decision to subscribe to (legally) problematic usenet groups. There was (a level) of curation/decision made by the ISPs, and there was a profit to be made. "

Right, and that's still different from Reddit's centralized architecture. That's not a rebuttal.
posted by klangklangston at 3:32 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reddit is unusual because it has a corporate face and that there are "default" subreddits presented to a first time visitor whereas sites like Tumblr [owned by Yahoo] maintain an editorial distance - even though there is plenty of sewage on Tumblr.
posted by vapidave at 3:32 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is only true if the term "morally repugnant" has no objective meaning whatsoever – that is, if there is no such thing as morality. But I would argue that there are indeed things that are objectively morally repugnant, and I believe I can give a rational basis for doing so.

Well, okay, we can all agree in this thread that pictures taken or distributed non-consensually (of naked people, right? fully clothed nonconsensual pictures are fair game, I assume) are immoral.

But the arguments about Reddit being the cesspool of the internet don't begin nor end at non-consensual pictures. And people of good faith can argue what constitutes morally repugnant.

Personally, I view advocating of violence to be morally repugnant (including the death penalty), but plenty of folks I know feel otherwise ("this one is a just war").
posted by el io at 3:33 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


You're reinforcing the "Reddit isn't usenet" argument, el io. There WAS no central authority over Usenet. It was a distributed set of fiefdoms (whoever sets up an NNTP box) and they, individually, had control over the usenet groups to which their machines would be subscribed.

Reddit is nothing, NOTHING like that. They have absolute central authority and management and are trying to pretend that they're nothing more than a common carrier. And that argument doesn't hold water.
posted by chimaera at 3:33 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


So that excuses Usenet? If Reddit suddenly restructures into a peer-to-peer network, you'll be okay with the content on it, junco?

One can believe that what it would take to prevent [objectionable content of choice] from being shared by any individual anywhere is not worth the cost and at the same time think this isn't especially relevant to the critique of reddit.
posted by atoxyl at 3:35 PM on September 12, 2014


I don't think it's wildly profitable, if at all. I doubt it could pay back its investors if liquidated.

reddit has no assets. It is all outsourced, its database and apps run on Amazon S3 and other subcontractors.

The usenet 2.0 analogy is PERFECT.

Nope. USENET was unmoderated. That is why spam originated there, nobody could stop you from spamming except by cutting it off at the source. reddit is moderated. Most of the top subreddits are heavily moderated, and there are gadgets like modtools and automoderator bots.

The warlord analogy is appropriate, but they get it wrong. Subreddit moderators are the warlords. This can be a good thing. Some of the largest subreddits that are hostile to each other have reluctantly learned their lessons about subreddit drama and have unofficial mutual nonagression pacts. The big subreddits create a relatively stable presence that is the vast majority of the reddit experience.

Most people have no idea what moderators do behind the scenes. If you want to know, you must join the secret cabal that runs reddit (there is no cabal).
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:35 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reddit : Somalia :: Metafilter : Portlandia
posted by Nevin at 3:38 PM on September 12, 2014 [24 favorites]


Reddit has some terrible parts, but it also contains some of the brightest spots on the internet.

And given the way subscriptions work, it's entirely possible to never see the stinky parts.

The reddit that shows up on my computer doesn't have these pictures.



Let's please remember that the Bad Parts of Reddit don't necessarily quarantine themselves. Users from the r/niggers and r/greatapes world recently bombarded r/blackladies with a bunch of repulsive content, and the site mods were completely non-responsive. Mods eventually shawdowbanned a r/blackladies mod for not conforming to "site culture" (aka "daring to speak up about systemic harassment from racists"). While we can all limit the subs we personally visit, it's no true barrier to the assholes who insert themselves wherever they like.
posted by youarenothere at 3:39 PM on September 12, 2014 [30 favorites]


Yesterday Reddit banned the highly respected Derek Lowe, whom I consider our most sophisticated and capable analyst of the pharmaceutical industry.

You can pry it from my cold, dead hands.

If Reddit's so great, how come it froze your poor hands like that?
posted by jamjam at 3:40 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Meh. ISPs ran usenet nodes - they profited from their customers. And also made the decision to subscribe to (legally) problematic usenet groups. There was (a level) of curation/decision made by the ISPs, and there was a profit to be made.

My point is that Usenet literally had no method of centralized control that could control content posted to the network. You're right that ISPs could decide to carry certain hierarchies or groups, but there was no central authority that could ban users from posting to the net (though ISPs could block users from posting through their servers). Reddit has a centralized management and employees -- it's not a network, it's a single monolithic entity (at the technical and corporate level).

My understanding is Reddit isn't technically profitable at this point (I could be wrong, but that idea is certainly pervasive).

They're using ad revenue to contribute to the costs of running the business. They have paid employees who are morally culpable.

So that excuses Usenet? If Reddit suddenly restructures into a peer-to-peer network, you'll be okay with the content on it, junco?

What? I don't know what you think you read in my comment, but maybe you could try re-reading it.
posted by junco at 3:40 PM on September 12, 2014


Right, and that's still different from Reddit's centralized architecture. That's not a rebuttal.

The comparison of Usenet and Reddit isn't a defense or a justification, I would say it's more of a summation of their aspirations. Certainly they want to have their cake an eat it too - they want to skip moderation but run ads and collect revenue.

Personally I don't have a strong opinion how strongly Reddit should police their site. At the risk of sounding trite, I think the invisible hand of the market will sort it out as long as they don't get shut down by the long arm of the law first. As it stands there's no proof that Reddit is a sustainable business that could run without ongoing capital investment from outside.

What I don't get is what mods get out of reddit, other than the power trip. Admins are employees but the mods are just volunteers? Again, seems unsustainable in the long run.
posted by GuyZero at 3:41 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]




"the role and responsibility of a government differs from that of a private corporation, in that it exercises restraint in the usage of its powers."

This is completely backwards. The government restrains the private corporation, such as a plantation, from exercising its potentially abusive powers.
posted by Brian B. at 3:45 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


What I don't get is what mods get out of reddit, other than the power trip.

There are volunteer mods everywhere; tons of private interest message boards sustain themselves only because of volunteer work. If you are passionate about, oh, Mazda's and want to contribute to the Mazda community, and are going to spend hours a day on the message board anyways - why not be a mod?

It feels a bit more odd on a for-profit site (i remember being puzzled at AOLs army of free labor), but that will probably be the case as long as labor laws allow it.
posted by el io at 3:51 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reddit's dog is shitting in all our yards, and Wong is saying "well I guess it's just a bad dog. Let me know if it bites anyone."

also, the dog is a man jerking off
posted by Greg Nog at 3:52 PM on September 12, 2014 [27 favorites]


And he's not saying "Let me know if it bites anyone," he's saying, "The dog's right to bite is more important than your right not to be bitten."
posted by klangklangston at 3:54 PM on September 12, 2014 [29 favorites]


Regarding Reddit's dog shitting in all of our yards: Apparently it's reddit's claim that this is just part of the culture.

So the site is ran from the Netherlands?
posted by el io at 3:55 PM on September 12, 2014


"What I don't get is what mods get out of reddit, other than the power trip."

Favorites?

Well it depends on the subreddit. /r/askhistorians has a few hundred thousand subscribers and approximately fifty vetted moderators and they are absolutely brutal about deleting speculation and quips. Good faith would argue that they want people to benefit from their learning. /r/askscience has three and half million subscribers and is similar in this respect.
posted by vapidave at 3:59 PM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Does your dog bite?
posted by klangklangston at 3:59 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yesterday Reddit banned the highly respected Derek Lowe, whom I consider our most sophisticated and capable analyst of the pharmaceutical industry.

That is not true at all. He said his account was banned in /r/news. He updated and said he was unbanned. Being banned from a single subreddit is not the same as being banned from reddit as a whole. It is almost impossible to ban someone from reddit. Even sitewide shadowbans are easy to get around.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:00 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can't remember the exact quote, but in Dianna Wynne Jones' novel Castle in the Air, Jamal, the owner of a viscous dog who bites everyone but him, says that he will not restrain the dog because he believes in freedom. The dog is free to hate everyone except him, he will not get in its way. I had never realized just how well that fit reddit.
posted by Hactar at 4:03 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


why not be a mod?

maybe because you don't want to deal with hateful randos who you can't really keep out? seriously, the moderator tools are absolute shit for dealing with the kind of hateful piles of trash that often roll in with the wind. it's like a community-wide version of the hands-off, "not our problem" thing Twitter does about the organized harassment campaigns targeting its individual users; it's trivial for trolls/harassers/invaders/doxxers to keep making new accounts and nothing to do about it except make subs private until it blows over.

and then they DO moderate and ban for weird-ass reasons; before dorknet, a sort of ShitRedditSays feminist empire-adjacent group of subs with only a few hundred members, moved mostly to a reddit-clone offsite, they banned the main mod for it because he posted stickies at the top of all the pages saying Gone Home is a great game and we should buy it; they're VERY fast to remove doxxing of reddit members (going so far as to ban all links to gawker for a little while after the violentacrez fiasco, which I think we talked about here) but not of non-members, and though they might ban stuff like creepshots sometimes, it almost always lives on; creepshots is calling itself candidfashionpolice now and they're posting the same content only under the guise of homophobic caricatures of gay fashion experts.

I'm amazed so many people still do it because the combination of the shitty-ass tools reddit itself gives them and the toxic site culture makes it so that there's a lot of extra work involved to mitigate the shittiness. of course, it's also where a lot of the people already are, and there's a lot of little subjects that don't have as many active off-reddit forums, so while it's not exactly the only game in town, it might be one of a handful of not-great or not-active options.
posted by NoraReed at 4:14 PM on September 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


I've have sympathy with reddit's position.

I think it's interesting that there currently seems to be a battle between the big internet content producers (vox, gawker) and the more anarchic egalitarian sites (4chan, reddit). I'm not decided if it's about morality, or money, or if it's an expression of disdain from an intellectual elite.

I'm trending towards the latter.
posted by zoo at 4:14 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you mean the big producers are the intellectual elite, or the anarchic ones? And by "intellectual elite", do you mean the most intelligent people, or are you using "elite" to signify an unearned position?
posted by Greg Nog at 4:21 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


maybe but it's comparable to the disdain for sewage inherent in "please poop in the toilet and not the street", "why do these people keep pooping in the street" and "no you may not come into my home and take a shit on my carpet"

it does not take much elitism to not want to go places that allow people to gleefully smear feces onto every available surface and then celebrate this cesspool free-for-all as egalitarian because everyone is free to join them in their play
posted by NoraReed at 4:22 PM on September 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


/r/askhistorians has a few hundred thousand subscribers and approximately fifty vetted moderators and they are absolutely brutal about deleting speculation and quips. Good faith would argue that they want people to benefit from their learning.

I dunno about good faith - the experience of every other teacher on the planet is that teachers get paid. Even kids in Somalia pay to go to school. There isn't even reputational benefit as the mods are pseudonymous.

At the same time the mods apparently seem to do nothing about non-topical site issues, like abuse of member, etc. Maybe that falls outside the scope of the mods and onto the admins who seem pretty transparent about not dealing with it at all.

So let me reiterate that I don't see any sort of gain from being a mod - it takes work and there's nothing, not even some sort of longer-term reward or even fame. Ergo mods on reddit are crazy people who have some sort of point to prove and they need a willing forum to do it in.

Since there seem to be somewhat rational mods in the science and history subreddits and my theory says there are no rational mods we're at an impasse. The whole site makes no sense.
posted by GuyZero at 4:30 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]



Yesterday Reddit banned the highly respected Derek Lowe, whom I consider our most sophisticated and capable analyst of the pharmaceutical industry.

That is not true at all. He said his account was banned in /r/news. He updated and said he was unbanned. Being banned from a single subreddit is not the same as being banned from reddit as a whole. It is almost impossible to ban someone from reddit. Even sitewide shadowbans are easy to get around.
posted by charlie don't surf
Then I got a message from one of the moderators of r/News, saying that I'd been banned from it, and going on to say that I would likely be banned from the site as a whole. After having been on Reddit for seven years, that took me by surprise. ...
posted by jamjam at 4:31 PM on September 12, 2014


Well it depends on the subreddit. /r/askhistorians has a few hundred thousand subscribers and approximately fifty vetted moderators and they are absolutely brutal about deleting speculation and quips.

Yeah, no kidding, I got banned from there after posting two (accurate) answers without sufficient cites to sources.
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Then I got a message from one of the moderators of r/News, saying that I'd been banned from it, and going on to say that I would likely be banned from the site as a whole. After having been on Reddit for seven years, that took me by surprise.

And according to the rest of that paragraph he was reported for spam on r/news and then reinstated there when it was clear he wasn't a spammer. It doesn't mention actually being banned from Reddit at any point.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:39 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Then I got a message from one of the moderators of r/News, saying that I'd been banned from it, and going on to say that I would likely be banned from the site as a whole. After having been on Reddit for seven years, that took me by surprise. ...

In the next paragraph or so he then says that it was temporary ban or whatever and that he was once again allowed to post.

The issue was, or so he thinks, that he was banned by a spam bot for self-linking. He wondered why that was, since the last self-link was in February.

But AFAIK from RTFA, he is no longer banned on Reddit.
posted by Nevin at 4:40 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Or maybe I'm misreading that and he was temp banned from the whole site? I dunno, looks like kind of an unclear paragraph on that point.)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:45 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


As far as I'm aware Reddit doesn't do temp bans. If you can persuade the admins to unban you, they will, but I'm not aware of anything else.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:46 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The official Reddit response was just so absurd. It boiled down to "As we all know, governments have a responsibility to do nothing." Not even "no responsibility to do anything"; a responsibility to do nothing.
posted by Flunkie at 4:47 PM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Then I got a message from one of the moderators of r/News, saying that I'd been banned from it, and going on to say that I would likely be banned from the site as a whole.

The mods of /r/News do not have the power to ban someone from the entire site. Someone is exaggerating.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:53 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Since there seem to be somewhat rational mods in the science and history subreddits and my theory says there are no rational mods we're at an impasse. The whole site makes no sense.
Your theory seems to blithely ignore the entire concept of volunteerism. To the degree that your theory can be applied to anything, it can be applied to a whole lot of things, not just reddit.
posted by Flunkie at 4:56 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Clearly the /r/News mod has a uncle who works at Reddit and he can totally siteban you at will.
posted by Spatch at 4:57 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


The official Reddit response was just so absurd. It boiled down to "As we all know, governments have a responsibility to do nothing."

That's probably the opinion of the Conde Nast lawyers. If you actively moderate a site, you can incur liability for problems on your site. If you don't moderate, you can disclaim liability. That legal theory is unlikely to hold up much longer.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:00 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Your theory seems to blithely ignore the entire concept of volunteerism.

There is usually some payback for volunteers. Experience, reputation. In some cases it's charity - volunteering at a soup kitchen isn't that different from donating.

Reddit seems to have none of these. AFAIK no one will get a job by having been a reddit mod. And they're sure as hell not a charity.
posted by GuyZero at 5:02 PM on September 12, 2014


GuyZero, altruism is a real thing that actually exists in the universe. And is it really so difficult to imagine that perhaps a person who volunteers to be a moderator of /r/askhistorians just wants to make this community where people ask things of historians, which this moderator presumably enjoys being a member of, a better place?
posted by Flunkie at 5:06 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I used to moderate a couple of IRC channels, for basically no payback.

There's something of value in building something, even if you never parlay that into economic gain.
posted by mikurski at 5:07 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


For those who think that reddit should be much more tightly moderated (if not razed to the ground with salt sown into the earth, and Snoo hung in a gibbet in the town square), can you explain what kind of moderation you would like to see?

As in, give me specific examples of which subs you would unilaterally shut down, which you would permit to stay, and how you would enforce tighter moderation.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:20 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


this is a stupid premise re: definition of a failed state. a successful state is one that brings in enough money to cover its bills. by my standard, reddit and i are successful states (and metafilter has turned the corner), and america is a failed state.

i used to participate on reddit, but got tired of talking to stupid people (as with yahoo before that). i have no problem with its freedom of speech, it's the speakers i don't care for.
posted by bruce at 5:21 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reddit is owned by Condé Nast which means they are a big dollar target if they don't respond to DMCA takedown notices and that they are beholden to celebrity culture. Reddit may couch their "philosophy" as being free speech but they are a business. Businesses, as evolved, aren't immoral, they are amoral. A fair amount of their traffic - though the aren't profitable yet - comes from celebrity "AMA's" which are essentially pressers where anyone can ask a question about the new movie or album, so don't offend the celebs.
posted by vapidave at 5:21 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


can you explain what kind of moderation you would like to see?

i think a good deal of the problem would be solved by allowing public groups to allow new posters by invite only - alright person who has contributed well to other groups over a time period - fine - nasty person who trolls and does racist/sexist abuse - forget it

it's my understanding that to do this now, you've got to take a group totally private

also, do away with downvoting and keep upvoting
posted by pyramid termite at 5:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


this is a stupid premise re: definition of a failed state. a successful state is one that brings in enough money to cover its bills. by my standard, reddit and i are successful states (and metafilter has turned the corner), and america is a failed state.
The government of Somalia "covers its bills". Saying that America is a "failed state" is absurd, and doubly so when you're using a definition of "failed state" that does not include Somalia.
posted by Flunkie at 5:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


also, do away with downvoting and keep upvoting

no way remove upvoting downvoting is the best part!
posted by atoxyl at 5:36 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


"this is a stupid premise re: definition of a failed state. a successful state is one that brings in enough money to cover its bills. by my standard, reddit and i are successful states (and metafilter has turned the corner), and america is a failed state. "

hey look i made you a wikipedia link so you can know what you're talking about
posted by klangklangston at 5:37 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


give me specific examples of which subs you would unilaterally shut down, which you would permit to stay, and how you would enforce tighter moderation.

shut down - beatingwomen, creepshots, etc
keep - kittens and weed
enforcement - drones
posted by poffin boffin at 5:40 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


i have no problem with its freedom of speech, it's the speakers i don't care for.

...which is what makes Reddit a failed state... also the USofA (which has less freedom than advertised but more bad speakers)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:42 PM on September 12, 2014


also, do away with downvoting and keep upvoting

Some subreddits do this with their CSS stylesheet. It has no useful effect.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:47 PM on September 12, 2014


"I don't know, I've never been to a country where every twenty minutes, no matter what you're talking about, somebody changes the subject to how terrible Somalia is."

Djibouti? Ethiopia? Kenya?

I don't think this analogy holds up very well.


Yes, it's perfect. Metafilter is the Djibouti of the internet. It's small, relatively unknown, cash-strapped, and the Somali and Afar make up the two largest ethnic groups.
posted by pravit at 5:53 PM on September 12, 2014


We're much more like the The Duchy of Grand Fenwick - except we've drank all the wine and as a result, we don't export it.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:59 PM on September 12, 2014


Reddit : [Sticherbeast does an interpretive dance]
::
MetaFilter : [Sticherbeast does another, even more sensual interpretive dance]
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:00 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


defenders of reddit, please see http://www.reddit.com/r/ferguson
posted by young_son at 6:01 PM on September 12, 2014


and? That's not "reddit". Reddit is a collection of blogs. I can show you much much worse on Tumblr.
posted by vapidave at 6:07 PM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Twitter, too. And Facebook. And bookstores. And wherever people gather to talk, because shitty people talk, too.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:11 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Tumblr has community guidelines against things like encouraging hatred on the basis of race. If you can find similar or worse on Tumblr, I assume they would remove it.

That said, yeah a sub with 344 readers does not represent the views of a site with three million logged in users at any given time, but the choice to tolerate it when there is no compelling reason I can see to do so is certainly not a positive trait for Reddit if you ask me.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:11 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


oh klangie, i clicked on the wiki "failed states" you made for me, and when i got to "erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions" i had a berry fine short yukk, for which i give you thanks.

mr. flunkie, the only reason america seems to be covering its bills so far is due to our global reserve currency and our printing press. perhaps you've heard of "quantitative easing"? at its height, our central bank was buying $85 billion in federal debt/month. that's the no-cost, no political pain way of covering our bills without raising taxes or cutting spending. tell me, young padawan, can we keep doing this sustainably unto the indefinite future, because if so, you are right and i am wrong.

i don't know enough about somalia financials to comment knowledgeably; i've heard it's a chaotic place and i know it doesn't have the global reserve currency printing press.
posted by bruce at 6:18 PM on September 12, 2014


and? That's not "reddit"

if its not reddit, then why is it tolerated on reddit? if it is reddit, then they need to be held accountable for it. you just cant have it the most convenient way.

the problem is that reddit runs on a veil of corporate ad-sponsored, celebrity AMA endorsed legitimacy. its been one of the highest traffic sites on the internet for years. having what would obviously be a prime subreddit for what many people believe to be a significant event be such a vicious, vile thing is absolutely ridiculous. it legitimizes the views. normalizes hate speech. gives it a platform. and unsurprisingly as a result reddit has become MRA haven and literally stormfront 2.0. It is a cess put of epic, 4chan-level proportions, only with an even more insidiously clean "were all friends" facade.

you can handwave some randian "market forces" "freedom" bullshit all you want, but this is extremely, obviously toxic and we are seeing the results.
posted by young_son at 6:18 PM on September 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


I can't believe I'm saying this, but...

it legitimizes the views. normalizes hate speech. gives it a platform.

Their platform is the web. These people show up on reddit to the extent that everyone shows up on reddit due to the nature of the site. do you really believe that reddit somehow causes these people to hold these beliefs?
posted by GuyZero at 6:21 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


mr. flunkie, the only reason america seems to be covering its bills so far is due to our global reserve currency and our printing press. perhaps you've heard of "quantitative easing"?
Perhaps you might have noticed that I said nothing about whether America is (or even "seems to be") "covering its bills".

I did not say that America does not fit your personal definition of "failed state". I said that your personal definition of "failed state", which says that America is one and Somalia is not one, is absurd.
posted by Flunkie at 6:26 PM on September 12, 2014


do you really believe that reddit somehow causes these people to hold these beliefs?

By virtue of its prominence, it normalizes them. It's the same sort of dynamic we've been seeing with the conservative movement's embrace of extremists.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:27 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


it legitimizes the views. normalizes hate speech. gives it a platform.

Suddenly mid '90s AOL doesn't look so bad eh?
posted by MikeMc at 6:28 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't think extending the analogy of reddit as a government to reddit as a (failed?) state is a reasonable choice, as I don't think they are making the claim that they are staying afloat financially, or have absolute control of it's members, or things like that. I interpreted the claim as government to mean that they view their website as a platform with certain rules and restrictions, and that they have implemented their own constitution of sorts, which is the limits to their power that they are willing to use (4chan is built the same way). Members can self-create subgroups in which they have ultimate power,and self-elected members can decide what is considered quality content. It's no more than that. And while they take a hard stance against things that could get the site into legal trouble (child pornography, and releasing private info about people), they let it do what it does.

My guess is that, in the administrators' minds, this is partially idealistic, that they aren't willing to draw the line to separate good from bad. Additionally, it's not like they have the power to ban things from the Internet. Any subreddits they close already exist elsewhere on the Internet, and at least they have some ability to log users, in case someone posts something worse.

The biggest difference between Reddit and MetaFilter is that a determined user could read every single piece of content on MetaFilter. There's size limits to a community, and Reddit has blown past that years ago. It's be impossible to manage/moderate it in some way to enforce all users follow even a somewhat strict guideline. Can you imagine if MetaFilter had multiple posts every day with thousands of comments, as well as thousands of posts every day with multiple posts? This is part of the reason why I have trouble disparaging reddit as a whole.

I've been a member of reddit for a long time, and currently, my list of subreddits has one, maybe two, default subreddits on it, and I know not to read too deep into those comment threads. And sometimes I'm talking to other users about interesting topics to me, and decide to check their post history. And sometimes I find subreddits I don't agree with in the least. To me, this doesn't mean that reddit is a failed concept; it's a realization that people are complicated, and reddit makes it trivially easy to see other user's interests. You can't avoid these sorts of people in real life, you can only hide from that information, because these are the people that we interact with behind a cash register, or possibly at work, or maybe even here on MetaFilter.
posted by Skephicles at 6:29 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Their platform is the web. These people show up on reddit to the extent that everyone shows up on reddit due to the nature of the site.

you guys are are conflating multiple arguments to poor effect. reddit isnt "the web", reddit is a single site and therefore the operators can of course be held accountable for failure to sufficiently moderate its content. thats exactly what this whole conversation is about: disagreeing with Wong's nonsense response to his sites laissez faire unwillingness to take down stolen, illegal (and in certain cases underage) photographs of female celebrities.
posted by young_son at 6:30 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


As far as I understand it, reddit tends to hold a dim view of anyone posting personally identifiable information. Do these photos not count?

If not, why does reddit allow obviously data obtained through criminal means to be published? Is that acceptable?
posted by qcubed at 6:32 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The biggest difference between Reddit and MetaFilter is that a determined user could read every single piece of content on MetaFilter. There's size limits to a community, and Reddit has blown past that years ago.

And? MeFi's size didn't happen by coincidence - the ownership made deliberate decisions to limit growth to keep the site manageable. If Reddit has grown so much so fast, it's on their head.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:41 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


> [Reddit's] laissez faire unwillingness to take down stolen, illegal (and in certain cases underage) photographs of female celebrities.

I'm confused. I thought they were taken down?

just nitpicking, but Condé Nast no longer owns Reddit. wiki
posted by fragmede at 6:43 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


See, the "controversial op-ed" link:

This blog post is not an explanation for why /r/TheFappening was banned. It is an explanation for why we will not ban questionable subreddits, of which /r/TheFappening is one of them. What happened is that we wrote the blog post, and at approximately the same time, activity in that subreddit starting violating other rules we have which do trigger a ban, so we banned it.


Basically, they banned it but we are still talking about it because they said the content there is not cause for banning.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:47 PM on September 12, 2014


If Reddit has grown so much so fast, it's on their head.

That's not "on their head", it's by design. They just haven't figured out how to turn all of those users into cash yet. A company the size of Conde Nast doesn't buy a site like Reddit to turn it into a small, tightly moderated and carefully curated money loser.
posted by MikeMc at 6:50 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


MeFi's size didn't happen by coincidence - the ownership made deliberate decisions to limit growth to keep the site manageable

also MetaFilter is *highly* moderated. Posts must be approved before becoming visible and the comment threads are edited for both content and tone. I really didnt give this aspect enough credit until recently. The community and reasonable level of discourse here exists for exactly that reason.

As far as I understand it, reddit tends to hold a dim view of anyone posting personally identifiable information. Do these photos not count?

it holds a dim view when it involves the doxing of people that the hive mind likes. but countless instances (anyone remember the Marathon Bombing witch-hunts?) and notorious subreddits like /r/creepshots or the /r/thefappening (or even /r/gaming and /r/games during the Zoe Quinn fiasco) prove that when the hive-mind lynch mob feels either justified or horny, the view is decidedly less "dim." One might even call it "enthusiastic."
posted by young_son at 6:54 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


just nitpicking, but Condé Nast no longer owns Reddit.

Still the same owners (Advance Publications) but Reddit has been moved out from under the Conde Nast umbrella and made an independent division.
posted by MikeMc at 6:55 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some subreddits do this with their CSS stylesheet. It has no useful effect.

well, yeah, because you can just overwrite it with RES, which is basically mandatory to have reddit not fucking suck.

it'd be nice to be able to restrict voting to group members or a specific list or whatever (invited people, people with certain flair, whatever), because I think part of the reason that the SRSGaming thread about the GameGate nonsense went so badly was because people from outside were able to downvote and so suppress some comments.

Reddit is a collection of blogs.

this is just a basic pedant thing, but it's really forums, not blogs

If you can find similar or worse on Tumblr, I assume they would remove it.

Tumblr isn't that great about this, really-- they haven't had as much shit happen as Twitter, but they seem to have Twitter-equivalent levels of shittiness, but I've seen them basically shrug when people get targeted for abuse on there. The people who troll and abuse and shit on there do tend to come from 4chan and reddit, though.

As far as I understand it, reddit tends to hold a dim view of anyone posting personally identifiable information. Do these photos not count?

Apparently not, but they have a history of allowing people to post dox about non-redditors. But I think it's also a deeper issue about misogyny and them being willing to allow shit to be done to women that they wouldn't to men.

I'm confused. I thought they were taken down?

They waited long enough to make quite a bit of money to take them down. This seems to be a pattern with them; it's also what happened with creepshots.
posted by NoraReed at 6:56 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


As far as I understand it, reddit tends to hold a dim view of anyone posting personally identifiable information. Do these photos not count?

No. If there had been address, phones numbers etc... of the celebrities pictured those would have counted. Of course that all depends on the mods.
posted by MikeMc at 7:07 PM on September 12, 2014


If you can find similar or worse on Tumblr, I assume they would remove it.

Tumblr isn't that great about this, really--


I don't really use the site so I can't really comment on how effective their policies are overall but I've never been linked to anything over there as blatantly bad as that r/ferguson link.

I consider just having a policy against hate speech as at least a step forward compared to Reddit. All kinds of places online fail in their efforts to implement it but what makes Reddit so infuriating is they straight up refuse to even pretend to make any kind of effort whatsoever.

Put up a report hate speech link that someone from Reddit will evaluate. They won't be perfect, just like all the mistakes that get made and shit that leaks through when reporting on any of the mega-huge sites, but at least you probably aren't actively and happily hosting Stormfront any more. Not too much to ask, even of folks who value free speech online.

Basically,

Twitter, too. And Facebook. And bookstores. And wherever people gather to talk, because shitty people talk, too.

Yes, and white supremacists might gather to talk in the cafe in your bookstore. Doesn't mean you need to stock a giant section of hate literature to sell to them.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:07 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, and white supremacists might gather to talk in the cafe in your bookstore. Doesn't mean you need to stock a giant section of hate literature to sell to them.

I can buy all kinds of hateful crap at my neighborhood bookstores, let alone on Amazon. I couldn't tell you off the top of my head if I could buy, say, The Turner Diaries at any of those places, but to be honest, I don't particularly care. The stereotypical "Fox News reading shelf" is much scarier to me.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:24 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


you guys are are conflating multiple arguments to poor effect. reddit isnt "the web", reddit is a single site and therefore the operators can of course be held accountable for failure to sufficiently moderate its content.

But what would be sufficient? Personal information (the closest thing you can get to "illegal text") is banned, and they've banned links to suggestive pictures of underage kids. Reddit itself doesn't host content, so as far as I know, they do everything required by law.

Apparently not, but they have a history of allowing people to post dox about non-redditors. But I think it's also a deeper issue about misogyny and them being willing to allow shit to be done to women that they wouldn't to men.

The no-dox rule is relatively recent, only implemented a couple years ago, I think? And I think it's less about "allowing" dox posts, than it is impossible to ban posts from a bunch of people posting the info, until a lot of people have read it anyways. And I think it's less that the admins are misogynist, and more that the average poster to the more toxic subreddits is misogynist.

Put up a report hate speech link that someone from Reddit will evaluate. They won't be perfect, just like all the mistakes that get made and shit that leaks through when reporting on any of the mega-huge sites, but at least you probably aren't actively and happily hosting Stormfront any more. Not too much to ask, even of folks who value free speech online.

The creator and moderators of every subreddit gets to decide what to not allow. Hate speech is deleted and/or downvoted on most subreddits. If the admins decided they wanted to close every single hateful subreddit, it's not a one-time pull of the switch, as users will recreate those subreddits, or in my opinion worse, would take serious efforts towards posting offensive material to other subreddits.

What's the metric for success? Less bad subreddits, less outwardly hateful members? They can still discuss their ideas through other mediums or private messages, they can still affect the ranking of posts by voting on them.

Is it because the existence of these subreddits somehow legitimizes the views of the members? I'd argue that the misunderstanding is that reddit doesn't want to legitimize anything (besides the views they explicitly campaign for, like pro-Net Neutrality). It's only a medium to express fact and opinion, and should be taken as such. Reddit doesn't have one view on anything; it only contains every possible view on anything.
posted by Skephicles at 7:38 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Taking any efforts whatsoever to confront hate speech or sexually abusive content is successful compared to setting yourself as a champion of freedom online by actively publishing it. When r/ferguson is taken down as quickly as it would be if it was reported on Facebook instead of being welcomed, that's another potential level of success. You can't stamp out all hate speech on a mega-huge site, you can drastically reduce it. That's a good measure of success.

Reddit doesn't have one view on anything; it only contains every possible view on anything.

Choosing everything means they choose to publish horrific content. They choose to do that. They will be judged on that choice.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:05 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


and though they might ban stuff like creepshots sometimes, it almost always lives on; creepshots is calling itself candidfashionpolice now and they're posting the same content only under the guise of homophobic caricatures of gay fashion experts

Holy crap, I just took a look at that and it is for real. Somehow in my rose-colored glasses world I had thought they had not just shut down the actual creepshot subreddit, but had banned repeats. Ha ha, clearly not.

I sort of get the idea of being all for unfettered free speech, but functionally what they are doing is supporting abusive content, both directly towards women members and in the extensive array of NSFW material lacking consent. I read Reddit only very minimally, but I doubt you'd have to dig all that hard to find things that are way worse than the creepshot stuff.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:11 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of those pornos which would call themselves art films, because they included titlecards of Shakespeare quotes.

(I certainly agree that they should ban the repeats, in case it isn't obvious.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:14 PM on September 12, 2014


> Posts must be approved before becoming visible

What? No. Askmes posted under your handle don't get held and approved; neither do posts to the blue. For the time being, there's a metatalk queue because of the staff ensmallening. Anon questions to ask have always had a queue.
posted by rtha at 8:50 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I literally cannot understand how anyone can think a site that allows this shit to exist isn't worse than 4chan in every measurable and meaningful way. That said...

feloniousmonk: I appreciate the basis of Reddit's desire to remain editorially neutral

Which comes directly from the back side of the horse. They're neutral, except for the fact that you're free to post the info/leaked photos/etc of anyone who isn't clearly a reddit user, but if you do any of that to the person who posted that info you're instantly banned.

This seems internally consistent, but it really isn't. There's nothing neutral there since it basically isn't any different from a stolen CC number swapping site at that point, but with sexually explicit photos of women/minors/etc.

They've clearly taken a side here, and it's the one of the "creepshots" types.

Charlie Don't Surf: Most people have no idea what moderators do behind the scenes. If you want to know, you must join the secret cabal that runs reddit

Actually there is. It's "defaultmods" or something like that, and it's a closed/private sub. I've seen various leaks from there over time, and some pretty fucked up general decisions of what to allow happened in there. Discussions of banning people from tons of subs who called out fucked up things, etc. Pretty sure some people have gotten shadowbanned basically through votes there.

qcubed: As far as I understand it, reddit tends to hold a dim view of anyone posting personally identifiable information. Do these photos not count?

If not, why does reddit allow obviously data obtained through criminal means to be published? Is that acceptable?


I've been on reddit for a very long time. Like almost as long as i've been on here. The rule is basically, and i've gotten called a lot worse than a spin doctor for saying this:

1. photos of naked women? Fine, it makes my weiner pointy!
2. any info, even if it's publicly available about a man, especially in the man is a warrior of free speech who posted things like those photos? BAN, UR DOXING OMG. It doesn't matter if the photos were illegally obtained. Hell, for a long time it didn't matter if the photos were of underage girls even when there was evidence people were trading straight up child porn(oh god, the damage to my inbox on calling out that one).

The admins, and the major sub mods have supported this general party line over and over and over. At this point, i actually think it's pretty silly to distinguish between the large sub mods and the admins when they basically act in concert, and the admins often act like a disinterested parent who will hand their kid whatever they want just to make them go away.

It's the selective enforcement, in a repeatedly demonstrable pattern that shows that this isn't a real rule. There's a definite "driving while black" thing going on here, and it was only made even more explicit recently with the whole /r/blackladies thing where they pretty much directly said "they can harass you as much as you want, you aren't allowed to do shit back".

Also, seriously, so much garbage like this.
posted by emptythought at 9:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think both the original op-ed and the response demonstrate why presenting an analogy as an argument is stupid, but people do seem to love their analogies.

Analogies are only really useful to the people who came up with them as a method of arriving at their own conclusion. If I find myself resorting to analogy in an effort to explain my reasoning then I have to stop because what I end up doing every time is explaining and then defending the analogy and not the reasoning, leading me to suspect that the analogy has replaced the reasoning.

In summary, the Internet is like a bunch of tubes and Reddit is like Somalia but you shouldn't let that stop you from visiting Somalia because with a few exceptions Somalians are lovely and it would be a shame to miss out on all that.
posted by um at 9:39 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think an awful lot of the statements in this thread could be edited, replacing "reddit" with "the internet", and would come out equally true or false, equally sensible, equally troubling.

If reddit were killed tomorrow there would be two dozen clones in a week. Heck, there are probably that many tiny, ignored clones extant right now. The only thing that makes reddit special or different is its critical mass. And that can change without making a difference, it can change because of an effort to make a difference, rendering that effort moot.

Reddit has "central control" in name only, its simply too large to police with the resources available, and that has been and will be the case about the internet in general for the foreseeable future. It is ultimately a consequence of making communication so cheap. Heck, powers *exist* on the general internet, but experienced internet users will mostly agree that attempting to control it is hopeless.

I don't know what the answer will be. Not every shitty situation has an answer. There are jerks in the world, the net has made it easy for them to collaborate. That was, in a sense, the whole promise of the net, after all.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:42 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's really bizarre to be reading these vaguely pro-censorship posts in this thread

He said, on one of the most actively moderated discussion forums on the Internet.


Moderating != censorship.

Similar, with overlap, but different.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:44 PM on September 12, 2014


Maybe the solution is calling out celebrities who do reddit AMAs. I don't interact much with social media, but I suppose twitter would be the venue for such callouts?
posted by ryanrs at 9:51 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


"But what would be sufficient? Personal information (the closest thing you can get to "illegal text") is banned, and they've banned links to suggestive pictures of underage kids. Reddit itself doesn't host content, so as far as I know, they do everything required by law."

It's always weird when libertarians or minarchists want to argue that people respond to incentives, then argue against policy based on the idea that people don't really respond to incentives anyway. While it's true that banning subreddits like TheFappening faster wouldn't keep the material from existing through Reddit (and the imgur fantasy of "not hosting" is disingenuous; it's frequently the same people posting galleries), it does disincentivize the general lazy crowd, and this is something where merely making it harder to find is something that decreases the amount of harm it can cause.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reddit is not a cesspool. The generic default subreddits like /r/funny and /r/videos are a cesspool, primarily due to their subscription counts numbering in the multiple millions. Any online collection of pseudonyms that large will tend to base-level idiocy; just look at any large newspaper's comments section. Subs like /r/adviceanimals and /r/fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu (despite a proud early history) are now full of barely-literate juvenile trash, the /r/pics sub is regularly astroturfed by corporate brands, and smallish communities blanch when they're added to the default list. Heck, I just had a nauseating time reading through the comments on this awful "comedy" video post (while also doing my small part up/downvoting comments and leaving counterarguments where appropriate, something I wish more decent people would do instead of just ignoring the awfulness).

There are also of course concentrated pits of bile -- the racist subs, the misogynist ones, the borderline illegal NSFW crap. If I were King of Reddit I'd zap these, but I understand the ownership wanting to take the strictly objective path of only banning unambiguously illegal material and nothing else, to avoid having to be high moral arbiter of hundreds of thousands of controversial grey areas. This might be easier for them if they'd be consistent in this, instead of letting contentious subreddits stand, delete them when the media brings the heat, and then justify it with some grandiose post-hoc bullshit about free speech and the human spirit. Posts like this should become the new company line -- honest, matter-of-fact, no PR blather.

But beyond the incompetence of the admins and the churn of the defaults, there's still incredible value in Reddit's countless niche communities. I love discussing the minutiae of favorite songs with /r/Radiohead. I enjoy helping people find random stuff in /r/TipOfMyTongue. I have a nice time finding great content for daily featured subreddits like satellite footage in /r/AerialPorn and high-resolution fine art in /r/BattlePaintings. There are plenty of havens expressly dedicated to feminism, progressivism, social justice, intelligent discussion, and calling out the garbage and astroturfing/fakery of other subreddits.

These are all quiet, industrious subdivisions far away from the front-page sturm und drang, and no more odious or offensive than any other niche forum on the web. They might face harassment from outsiders, but that's true of any website, and the mods have the tools to ban trolls same as the racist and reactionary subs can silence their own critics. The best solution is being a more active and forceful voice for decency across the site, not abandoning it to the trolls -- I refuse to forsake these worthwhile community spaces just because of the behavior of jackasses in some far-off unrelated node. It's like abandoning your favorite web forum in the early 2000s because the corporate staff behind vBulletin or PHPbb wasn't doing enough to denounce and chase down objectionable use of their forum software. Help be the change you want to be -- however small the contribution may be, it's better than nothing.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:53 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Apologies for the flurry of edits to that last comment; I accidentally posted a half-finished version with a lot of broken links and had to fix them quick.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:00 PM on September 12, 2014


The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas seems incredibly pertinent here.
posted by mikurski at 10:38 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some of the comments above excoriate reddit for letting hate speech flourish, which hate speech I want to distinguish from the direct harassment of real people.

I also want to say one other thing about hate speech.

As someone who has had hate speech directed his way, I find attempts to protect people from hate speech more repugnant and frightening than hate speech itself.
posted by mistersquid at 10:56 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


The world is a bad place because it contains bad people.
posted by yonega at 11:05 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, subreddits aren't nearly as self-governing as some people on this thread suggest. Witness recent events in r/indiegaming who had a whole bunch of new mods come in - one of whom was also a mod of r/thefappening. They imposed a whole bunch of new rules especially around linking to your own work in what looks like a pretty transparent attempt to get people to pay reddit for ads...
posted by Zarkonnen at 12:54 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Help be the change you want to be -- however small the contribution may be, it's better than nothing.

Why should I endure a horrifically bigoted site culture in order to create more content for reddit to sell ads on while they continue to also profit on violent hate speech? I spent a ton of time on reddit a few years back and I just got exhausted with the MRA shit that was EVERYWHERE (I got banned from TwoX for refusing to keep being nice to their pet MRAs and I know some of the mods in SRS subs and do NOT envy their work), the evopsych bullshit, the transphobia that's even on the LGBT subs, the constant barrage of randos with hate-boners for everything social justice who have to be put down like whack-a-mole. It's work just to plow through all that shit.
posted by NoraReed at 1:08 AM on September 13, 2014 [26 favorites]


Why should I endure a horrifically bigoted site culture in order to create more content for reddit to sell ads on while they continue to also profit on violent hate speech?

This is pretty much what I've been thinking for a long time, and I've never really spent time on Reddit. Why would you want to continue going to a site, when doing so means the owners earn advertising income while doing the bare minimum to stay legal in the face of people using their site to do... well, all of the above?
posted by mikurski at 1:47 AM on September 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Why would you want to continue going to a site, when doing so means the owners earn advertising income while doing the bare minimum to stay legal in the face of people using their site to do... well, all of the above?

The reddit sports communities are actually pretty good and they're what got me to overlook everything else for as long as I did. But yeah, it's time to consign reddit to the dustbin and let whoever's coming next become disappointingly, disgustingly sexist and racist. They could have been something, you know.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 4:31 AM on September 13, 2014


I saw Remarkably Clueless Manifesto back in '92, great show
posted by thelonius at 7:58 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


What does "To Publish" mean in the 21st Century? Did *I* publish this text, or did MeFi, or Time Warner or...

If I take a screencap of the resulting rendering on my browser and post it to Facebook, did I publish my content, or.....
posted by mikelieman at 8:17 AM on September 13, 2014


What I really don't get is why Reddit is so free-speech absolutist when we live in an era where it's ridiculously easy to self-publish a website. Reddit could have banned the Fappening bullshit and left them to set up their own website. You don't need a degree in computer science to start up a free premade web application. There's wordpress, 4chan clones, and even Reddit's own source code. Heck, they could even just dump an open directory of the images and call it a day. And before you argue "But then you're transferring the responsibility to stop them on the webhost and domain name registrar!" keep in mind you can host a website from a personal computer, and just send your IP. If you want to be stealthy, you could even set up a Tor hidden service.

Of course, that didn't happen. Reddit offered these jerks a free board to communicate and share the images, and took ad revenue for their trouble. Reddit helped them and profited where they should have refused the money.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:02 AM on September 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


"The world is a bad place because it contains bad people."

To the extent we are able to restrain bad people and do nothing, yes.
posted by klangklangston at 9:08 AM on September 13, 2014


I think Anil Dash's rule still applies:

If your website's full of assholes, it's your fault.

If Reddit's management thinks the the good stuff depends on allowing the bad stuff, I don't know why. If they banned the worst I don't believe it would reduce the best, not even a little bit. Maybe they're just lazy. Maybe the defiance gives them a little rush of power.

I had to block some crap before I considered Reddit useful to me. How is that a good thing?
posted by beerbudget at 11:32 AM on September 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


I really don't understand the angst that Reddit causes. It's a message board like hundreds before it and there will be hundreds after.

There are good communities and those communities take time to build, whereas toxic communities take very little time to build at all. That's the damage that would be caused if the site were deleted permanently out of the blue.

If your concern is that you're making money for a corporation, just block the ads.

As for the hateful commentary, I rarely see it. The subs I go to remove it or it gets downvoted into oblivion almost immediately. Or you can just ignore it, like I have on the internet for years. If it's something objectionable but presumably honest, I debate the point if I'm so inclined. If you're the type of person who is easily or primed to be upset, then you're going to get upset. Just as you would when interacting with strangers in your everyday life. I don't think there's anything that can be or should be done about that.

I actually find Reddit encouraging on occasion. The healthy communities I participate in do their best to be welcoming, even when they're not the groups you'd necessarily expect to be accepting. Some even go so far as to try and diversify their membership. It never works, but still.

With regards to the hate speech, that's part of the price you pay for a relatively open forum? It always has been. I'm not convinced that chasing the racists off, if that's even feasible given the nature of Reddit, helps anything. They're still racist and hateful. They'll just go somewhere else. I'd as soon have them out in the open so they can be ridiculed. (I would however like to see the creepshots deleted but I don't think that's going to solve that problem either.)

Metafilter is great because of the choices made in planning the community, but Reddit can be great too, in its own way.
posted by Maugrim at 11:39 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I do use Reddit too and just stay away from the bad stuff, what makes me vocally criticize the management is for climbing up on the internet free speech cross and expecting to be appreciated for it. You publish hate speech when you could make an effort to remove it, you aren't a freedom fighter, you're an asshole.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:43 AM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


What does "To Publish" mean in the 21st Century? Did *I* publish this text, or did MeFi, or Time Warner or...

If I take a screencap of the resulting rendering on my browser and post it to Facebook, did I publish my content, or.....


what if the world were made of pudding, what does pudding actually even mean
posted by poffin boffin at 1:30 PM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


If your concern is that you're making money for a corporation, just block the ads.

That's kinda like arguing that because porn objectifies women, it's okay if you pirate it because then you're stealing from bad people so it's good, right?
posted by mikurski at 1:37 PM on September 13, 2014


I suppose it is, in the sense that my contribution or lack of contribution is of very little consequence either way.

Blocking ads denies Reddit of some revenue if that's your concern. I frankly don't share the objections that some people here have to Reddit, so what little encouragement or monetary value my presence on the site provides them I consider a fair price to pay.
posted by Maugrim at 1:57 PM on September 13, 2014


>As far as I understand it, reddit tends to hold a dim view of anyone posting personally identifiable information. Do these photos not count?

No. If there had been address, phones numbers etc... of the celebrities pictured those would have counted.


Also, they're women.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:39 PM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


"I got banned from TwoX for refusing to keep being nice to their pet MRAs"

That's hilarious. Nice work Sis. I've been there on TwoX for 5 years and managed to not get banned.

1,011,478 other subscribers have also managed to remain unbanned.
posted by vapidave at 4:33 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's like abandoning your favorite web forum in the early 2000s because the corporate staff behind vBulletin or PHPbb wasn't doing enough to denounce and chase down objectionable use of their forum software.

No, it's really not like that. If Matt launched GreatApesFilter or CreepShotsFilter I'd be out of here in a second, no matter how much I value the discussions on the other parts of the site. And I'd think less of the people who stayed.
posted by bonaldi at 5:24 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Except it's not like that, either. If Matt allowed users to create subsites, and a user created greatapesfilter, and THEN Matt allowed it to stay, they would be equivalent. Reddit is a framework. The users hang the content on the framework. I don't think offensive content should be regulated there, because I don't believe you can regulate offensiveness. I do think you can regulate oppression, and that it should be more regulated than it is at present, and I hope they take steps. But I'm not hopeful.

I use reddit for a lot of things, from technical reference to historical research and genealogy. I don't post much and I don't socialize with the user base, because I think it's full of teenage boys with low social skills, and I wouldn't interact with them IRL so why would I on the Internet?
posted by disclaimer at 5:42 PM on September 13, 2014


Reddit is a framework. The users hang the content on the framework.

This is the "guns don't kill people" defence of Reddit, and it's just as hopeless. You use reddit for lots of great things? Yep, and guns are used for animal control and starting races. But America has a gun problem, and the internet has a Reddit problem.
posted by bonaldi at 6:02 PM on September 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


Reddit is a framework. The users hang the content on the framework.

Yes, and it's also a framework over which the owners have previously exercised editorial control, indicating that the feasibility of managing content on their site, at least reactively, is not in question.

I don't think offensive content should be regulated there, because I don't believe you can regulate offensiveness.

Of course you can. Not perfectly, and not pre-emptively, but most other community discussion forums do it every single day, and their good-faith effort is usually sufficient. You can let the community decide offensiveness through flagging and reporting mechanisms, you can have an editorial/mod staff policing the site, or you can have both, along with a policy about what you want and don't want. Metafilter does extremely well at this.

Reddit's a lot bigger than Mefi, but they also have legions of volunteer moderators. All they need to add is a layer of paid mods who 1) respond to flagged content and nuke/don't nuke based on previously decided guidelines, and 2) have a hammer to wave at subreddit mods who don't effectively police their own subreddits. It needn't even become much more restrictive than it is now, where the paid mod staff is journalists who decide to raise sufficient public fuss about an offensive subreddit to cause the top level at reddit to actually exercise some control, because suddenly it's a PR problem. All they need to do is look at obviously shitty subreddits and nuke them. It's a lot easier to defend a laissez-fair editorial policy when you cut before the line separating you from /r/creepshots/.

Seriously, reddit has no obligation to provide community mechanism to the racist shitbags behind /r/greatApes/, who can easily create their own site elsewhere--Stormfront still exists despite vocal opposition. Waving the free speech flag is a cover for nothing but their own fucking laziness at giving a fuck about the larger community that made their success possible.
posted by fatbird at 6:43 PM on September 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


What I really don't get is why Reddit is so free-speech absolutist when we live in an era where it's ridiculously easy to self-publish a website.

Because it's not about free speech, it's about indemnification. Look at how many people are making the argument that it's not Reddit's fault that there are all these bad communities.

There's already discussion that CDA 230 (or at least the expansive post-Batzel interpretation) is overly permissive and could do with some review in light of this and other incidents dealing with unauthorized posting of pictures of individuals. And we're already seeing the pushback on the idea, with the argument that if the protection of CDA 230 is relaxed, that free speech will be chilled. I tend to look askance at the argument, though, because it seems that the people pushing it don't seem to care that the current system is chilling speech quite well - a lot of people are finding the online environment to be abusive because this behavior is seen as the "price for free speech", and are choosing not to participate to avoid the abuse.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:51 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


My entire reddit experience is distilled through meta-subreddits like ShitRedditSays, circlebroke, and subredditdrama, along with some specific ones like AskHistorians and r/Portland that serve some worthwhile purpose to me. With this approach I can keep up on all the terrible things on the site and also have it be useful.
posted by gucci mane at 9:09 PM on September 13, 2014


This is the "guns don't kill people" defence of Reddit, and it's just as hopeless. You use reddit for lots of great things? Yep, and guns are used for animal control and starting races. But America has a gun problem, and the internet has a Reddit problem.

Reddit doesn't kill people if misused. There is an order of magnitude of difference between being killed and being victimized by hate speech and leaked pictures.

My entire reddit experience is distilled through meta-subreddits like ShitRedditSays, circlebroke, and subredditdrama, ...

I've never understood why people go to those subs. Everyone's complaining about all the terrible stuff on Reddit; why would anyone go looking for it? To what end?
posted by Maugrim at 11:07 PM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


SRS is there partly to call attention to some of the shitty stuff over there but is mostly just a recreational outrage circle jerk. That can be fun now and again if you feel like the outrage is justified, but for me it always starts to feel like mental poison when you get to into it so much you are searching it out every day.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:52 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's hilarious. Nice work Sis. I've been there on TwoX for 5 years and managed to not get banned.

Wow, that's patronizing; I'm sure as hell not your fucking sister. I know a lot of folks though SRS who are banned for similar reasons, though.

Apparently it's been added as a default since then, and that's always a great was to completely ruin a community AND artificially inflate its user count, so, uh.

I've never understood why people go to those subs.

Funny people, being able to use "this is terrible, right?" to avoid being gaslighted and a greater network of pretty decent subs. It's got a pretty high burnout rate, though; I'm one of the folks that mostly moved to the SRS offsite reddit clone, which is far less active but has way, way fewer antags trolling and using downvotes as a silencing tactic.
posted by NoraReed at 12:18 AM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Reddit doesn't kill people if misused. There is an order of magnitude of difference between being killed and being victimized by hate speech and leaked pictures.

Wait, you're DEFENDING reddit keeping things like r/creepshots and such up because "well, at least they're not dead"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:39 AM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait, you're DEFENDING reddit keeping things like r/creepshots and such up because "well, at least they're not dead"?

No, that's pretty obviously not what I wrote.

Funny people, being able to use "this is terrible, right?" to avoid being gaslighted and a greater network of pretty decent subs.

Pardon?
posted by Maugrim at 2:09 AM on September 14, 2014


Maugrim: No, that's pretty obviously not what I wrote.

You seem to have omitted the part where you explain how:
But America has a gun problem, and the internet has a Reddit problem.
Reddit doesn't kill people if misused. There is an order of magnitude of difference between being killed and being victimized by hate speech and leaked pictures.
is not functionally equivalent to:
"well, at least they're not dead"
posted by tonycpsu at 8:47 AM on September 14, 2014


Virtuous behavior is only virtuous if it is not arrived at by compulsion. This is a central idea of the community we are trying to create.

In other words, the author assumed there are no human rights, nor standards of virtue. There is no need for a constitution, charter, or rule book to accompany their power to restrict. These decisions are driven by arbitrary demands, perhaps money. As critics rightly point out, we still see this going on, in the slums of the so-called third world, where drugs and children are openly sold, so long as the dealers and pimps pay tribute to the gang lord. What is sociologically interesting is the justification. Compulsion is exactly what we are talking about, and it's unavoidable in any context, What matters is who is compelled to do what. For example, people are compelled by their addictions and neuroses to have something illicit perhaps, and an unregulated supplier routinely compels many of the victims to participate, which includes theft and extortion. With no rules, entrepreneurs are compelled to exploit all parties if they want to profit in the race to the bottom. This pretty much describes social evolution. These days, however, post-feudalism, the vast majority of people who enjoy the right to vote prefer that everyone is compelled to honor their rights as humans and locally as citizens. And virtuously so, or there would be no human rights and citizenship to speak of.
posted by Brian B. at 9:13 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I objected to the use of a metaphor in which gun violence, which kills 30,000 plus people in the U.S. each year, is compared to hate speech and the distribution of leaked nudes on the internet.

That is not "defending Reddit by saying, "well, at least they're not dead."

It not a defense of anything. The perceived defense was generated by someone else who added the "at least" proposition on their own.

I can point out how ridiculous, and tasteless, comparing murder and suicide to Reddit is without defending Reddit's bad behaviour at the same time. Approach someone who's lost a loved one to gun violence and run the comparison between Reddit and gun violence by them. I don't think they'd be impressed.

If you want to see me defend Reddit, I did so in my initial post.
posted by Maugrim at 10:05 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maugrim: I objected to the use of a metaphor in which gun violence, which kills 30,000 plus people in the U.S. each year, is compared to hate speech and the distribution of leaked nudes on the internet.

It wasn't a comparison of Reddit and gun violence, it was a comparison between how the defense of Reddit's harmful effect on the Internet closely mirrors how people defend the harmful effects of guns in the U.S. The two things being defended don't have to be equivalent or even similar in order for the comparison of how they're being defended to be valid. Trying to make this about that comparison being insensitive to victims of gun violence totally twists the meaning of the original statement beyond recognition.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:39 AM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is the "guns don't kill people" defence of Reddit, and it's just as hopeless. You use reddit for lots of great things? Yep, and guns are used for animal control and starting races. But America has a gun problem, and the internet has a Reddit problem.

The impact of the initial statement is contingent on the association between the violence caused by guns and the damage caused by Reddit. There is no useful comparison between weapons designed to kill and a website.
posted by Maugrim at 11:14 AM on September 14, 2014


You're employing circular logic. Reducing it to "a website" assumes away the existence of harmful effects of that website that others have alleged. But you're attached enough to the idea that a website can't possibly be harmful in and of itself that I doubt anything someone says here is going to change your mind.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:39 AM on September 14, 2014


existence of harmful effects of that website that others have alleged

If you are successful, people will come out of the woodwork insisting that you remove "offensive" or "dangerous" content.

It fascinates me that people who consider themselves progressive have exactly the same censorship streak as fundamentalists down to using the same vocabulary.
posted by rr at 12:04 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seriously, reddit has no obligation to provide community mechanism to the racist shitbags behind /r/greatApes/

I'd posit that Reddit has only two obligations:

1. Comply with applicable laws and regulations

2. Maximize revenue for their owners

Anything beyond that is simply "It would be nice if Reddit...".
posted by MikeMc at 12:10 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pardon?

People like SRS because its members are funny, its greater network of subs is decent and having a place that confirms that the shit you're seeing is egregiously terrible helps keep you from getting sucked into the "casual racism/sexism/etc is ok" groupthink. You post something there and you get support from other people who also think it is awful.

Also it's sort of fun to be part of a group who mostly sits around making dildo jokes but that a lot of ignorant, bigoted fuckwits think is a part of some huge conspiracy to ruin the internet.
posted by NoraReed at 12:15 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you are successful, people will come out of the woodwork insisting that you remove "offensive" or "dangerous" content.

Oh noes, the slippery slope of people saying that maybe virulent racism and misogyny might not be okay for human society after all.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:28 PM on September 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


what next? will we have to stop hunting poor people for sport?
posted by poffin boffin at 12:29 PM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


"If you are successful, people will come out of the woodwork insisting that you remove "offensive" or "dangerous" content.

It fascinates me that people who consider themselves progressive have exactly the same censorship streak as fundamentalists down to using the same vocabulary.
"

The hell are you even on about?
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Interesting info i saw floating around, apparently reddit closed a huge round of funding right after they banned thefappening.

As in, they might have actually just left it up like they have with a lot of other things in the past if it wasn't for that. Draw your own conclusions, call me an asshole, whatever... but from their past behavior it wouldn't surprise me.

Sources: Here and here(which i think might have already been posted, but the main point is the bit brought up in the URL).
posted by emptythought at 1:03 PM on September 14, 2014


I'd posit that Reddit has only two obligations:

1. Comply with applicable laws and regulations

2. Maximize revenue for their owners


Perhaps, but there are many exceptions to those, noting that maximizing revenue for someone else may be at odds with their own business model. I would suggest that they should not be hypocritical, to demonstrate integrity, which also counts with judges and investors. For example, if the photos were of them, would they take them down? Likely, since their reasoning so far contains many elements of autocratic or arbitrary reasoning.
posted by Brian B. at 1:07 PM on September 14, 2014


1. Comply with applicable laws and regulations

Which they are whiny babies and sidestep or absolutely refuse to do when that involves harassment of women or minorities.

It would be a bit of a hassle for me to dig around and pull examples, but it's a well known thing if you've spent time on SRS and several other subs that it's basically

1. be a woman, post any info about a man even if it's publicly accessible on another website or even a news article people are mad about = banned from the entire site/shadowbanned

2. be a man, post basically any info about a woman even if it involved a lot of digging and is say, pieced together from various online profiles and more googling therein.(ie, classic doxxing) maybe banned from a single sub, probably not, some sort of "knock that off!" and a sub ban at worst.

Basically, when it's man vs woman harassment their response is "hey try and not do that so obviously guys ok?" even is several illegal things are going on. Like subs full of content from cracked cloud services/photobucket/etc.

And yes i realize i'm repeating myself here, but this is so categorically not true and i'm tired of people bring it up as if it is.
posted by emptythought at 1:08 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm referring to at least one specific instance here, in which violentacrez got interviewed and then any number of people who posted even a link that interview got banned. This is when links from gawker got banned in a lot of subs. And links to that interview got referred to as "doxing"

And yet anyone who you know, actually doxed or posted "leaked" or cracked-to-get photos of people just sailed on into the night.
posted by emptythought at 1:38 PM on September 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


For more info see this and this.

This was the easiest one to dig up. I remember several more blatant example ones, but since google seems to not really index most subreddits and the reddit search is super hit or miss that was the only one i could easily find some info on. a LOT of people got banned just for posting that, and a number of the people saying "fuck you" to them and calling for their bans/the bans of the link in general were part of communities that consistently "doxed" people, including the ones that VA himself ran.
posted by emptythought at 1:42 PM on September 14, 2014


If you are successful, people will come out of the woodwork insisting that you remove "offensive" or "dangerous" content.

It fascinates me that people who consider themselves progressive have exactly the same censorship streak as fundamentalists down to using the same vocabulary.


Ah, the good old "price of free speech" argument. We have to tolerate abuse and hate because otherwise it's a hop, skip, and jump down the slippery slope to Newspeak. There can be no consideration that perhaps there's a middle ground, where speech is evaluated on its merits.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:43 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, i have to wonder if how hard it is to find things that have happened in the past on reddit isn't by design. How little of the site is google indexed(i think it's only like, the past X days of posts in a sub?), how their search has been half broken for years and no efforts have been made to fix it, how 3rd party reddit-specific searchers have been broken by changes to site architecture(some of which, i remember the people who made them posting about how the changes seemed to be minor and only made to break those search tools).

It's really hard to find direct links or even discussion about super shitty things that have happened, or even just patterns of constant low level shitty behavior. And even if you can like i did with the "woman posts pictures of herself after assault, gets called liar, washes face on video" thing above you'll note that several of the links in it were deleted after the fact. Like not immediately during the shitstorm, but afterwards as a coverup to "prevent drama" or some such justification.

A lot of the shittiness of reddit is sort of hard to prove unless you're just sitting there in a lawn chair watching it happen. The evidence is often either buried under a mostly unsearchable mountain, or deleted afterwards.
posted by emptythought at 1:48 PM on September 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


[Couple comments removed, cool it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:51 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would suggest that they should not be hypocritical, to demonstrate integrity, which also counts with judges and investors.

I would think that many of the things on Reddit that people find offensive (or down right repulsive) would fall under their second obligation. Enough bad PR and/or lawsuits would definitely have an impact on revenue. Reddit isn't just "some dudes in a garage" anymore. It's a division of a multi-billion dollar media conglomerate and those are people that have the final say. S.I. Newhouse Jr. could replace the entire Reddit workforce with the stroke of a pen. That's the direction the vitriol needs to be directed.
posted by MikeMc at 1:51 PM on September 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


You're employing circular logic. Reducing it to "a website" assumes away the existence of harmful effects of that website that others have alleged. But you're attached enough to the idea that a website can't possibly be harmful in and of itself that I doubt anything someone says here is going to change your mind.

How is the logic circular?

I'm not reducing it to a website. It *is* a website.

I never said that there were no harmful effects, just that those effects are in no way comparable to the 30, 000 dead. Which is true no matter how angry hate speech and creepy pictures make you.
posted by Maugrim at 2:55 PM on September 14, 2014


People like SRS because its members are funny, its greater network of subs is decent and having a place that confirms that the shit you're seeing is egregiously terrible helps keep you from getting sucked into the "casual racism/sexism/etc is ok" groupthink. You post something there and you get support from other people who also think it is awful.

Also it's sort of fun to be part of a group who mostly sits around making dildo jokes but that a lot of ignorant, bigoted fuckwits think is a part of some huge conspiracy to ruin the internet.


I guess. Still, patronizing a website you ostensibly hate for it's shitty comments in order to chat with other people about the shitty comments seems very strange to me. Wouldn't a better answer be to not go to the site?

If everyone reasonable leaves Reddit, and it ends up being a bunch of racists and trolls saying racist, trolly things to each other, doesn't that solve the problem? With the exception of the creepshots and so on which can maybe be tackled by other means?
posted by Maugrim at 3:10 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


The impact of the initial statement is contingent on the association between the violence caused by guns and the damage caused by Reddit. There is no useful comparison between weapons designed to kill and a website.

This wasn't a metaphor, it was an analogy. And as others have tried to explain, that's not the same as comparing or equating the two. I was pointing out the form of the defence is logically the same.

The impact is contigent on the widespread understanding that the argument in defence of guns is a bad one, and so therefore when you apply an argument of exactly the same form in defence of reddit, it's also a bad one.
posted by bonaldi at 4:21 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I never said that there were no harmful effects, just that those effects are in no way comparable to the 30, 000 dead.

For this to be true you must prove that the anguish caused by each of those 30,000 deaths is greater than the anguish caused by each of the bad actors on Reddit.
You can't. Because you can't quantify an individual's feelings of loss and powerlessness, no matter the cause, and measure it against the grief suffered by another.

Not in the real world, outside a hyperbolic oxygen chamber.
posted by Pudhoho at 4:49 PM on September 14, 2014


Still, patronizing a website you ostensibly hate for it's shitty comments in order to chat with other people about the shitty comments seems very strange to me. Wouldn't a better answer be to not go to the site?

I guess for some people the good outweighs the bad enough for them to stay, and the SRS can be a sort of antidote to some of it? But there's a reason the burnout rate is so high and that a bunch of the SRSters moved offsite.
posted by NoraReed at 8:34 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


"People like SRS because its members are funny..."

I used to sub SRS but never found their members funny. Some of the graphics are entertaining but mostly it seemed repetitive with the usual "shitlord" comments. reddit has already been drug in here by the nature of this thread so can you provide a link where an SRS member was funny?

Have some upliftingnews while you search.
posted by vapidave at 9:10 PM on September 14, 2014


well, you might not be aware of this, but humor is actually subjective, so it is possible that what you find funny isn't funny to other people and vice versa, and responding to something like "some people like to go there because they find it amusing" with "PROVE IT" kinda makes you look crazy
posted by NoraReed at 9:24 PM on September 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Some of the graphics are entertaining

I do chuckle at this nearly every time I see it.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:52 AM on September 15, 2014


SRS can be very funny indeed, but it can get claustrophobic if you read too much of it within a narrow span of time.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:57 AM on September 15, 2014


MetaFilter is *highly* moderated. Posts must be approved before becoming visible and the comment threads are edited for both content and tone. I really didnt give this aspect enough credit until recently. The community and reasonable level of discourse here exists for exactly that reason.
Ugh. This is the reason I spend more time at reddit than metafilter these days. It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:24 AM on September 15, 2014


I'm willing to moderate the way I talk about certain topics on metafilter so I can discuss them with other people whose conversation is similarly moderated. I have plenty of opportunities to say whatever I want about anything outside of metafilter.
posted by empath at 6:29 AM on September 15, 2014


This is the reason I spend more time at reddit than metafilter these days.

Whatever floats your boat, but 1) posts don't require approval (except for metatalk now to keep the workload manageable), and 2) comments are occasionally deleted for crossing boundaries of civility or topic-relatedness and that's it, and usually only in response to being flagged a lot by other users. It's not a free-for-all, but all you're really losing is the ability to be grossly uncivil or tangential. Don't paint this as a bunch of people voluntarily surrendering to the thought police.
posted by fatbird at 6:47 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.

Fair enough, but it amazes me that adults would tolerate childish antics on any forum. I understand that people should be able to state their opinions, but their unchecked emotions don't need to be coddled, they have little to do with truth value and signal an attempt at destroying discussion and seeing how far their mental illness will bluff for them. For example, demanding to be taken seriously in an offensive narcissistic rant is doing the poster a favor by not allowing it, showing more respect for them than they are able to do for themselves. Maintain a brand of discussion is a laudable thing, as ideas need time to develop, trust and respect.
posted by Brian B. at 7:37 AM on September 15, 2014


It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.

That's the ironic thing about free speech absolutism - ultimately, it results in less free speech. You may say that the limits that moderation puts on speech has a chilling effect, but I will point out in return that when you throw moderation to the wind, what happens is that the the most powerful and ruthless voices find their way to the forefront, drowning out and driving out others. That's a lot more chilling.

We tend to romanticize the frontier as an ideal for freedom, but for many people who built a life on the frontier, gaining a connection back to established civilization and the laws thereof was freedom, in many ways.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:38 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.

Actually, it's more like "overgrown teenagers being held to adult standards for a change", but fair enough.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


MrMoonPie: “Ugh. This is the reason I spend more time at reddit than metafilter these days. It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.”

Ha. Good luck with that. Reddit is a hell of a lot more moderated than Metafilter is – they just pretend they have free speech, and then nuke everything from orbit when that doesn't work. I could name half a dozen people and subreddits right now that have been totally permabanned from Reddit. I could maybe name one or two Mefites who have been actually permabanned (or as close to it as anybody can do) but that was many years ago; it really doesn't happen here.
posted by koeselitz at 10:49 AM on September 15, 2014


It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.

I've visited Reddit's front page a few times and found several posts that looked interesting - some with thousands of comments.
Sadly, when I opened them up, I discovered over 90% of the comments were wildly off-topic variations of 'hurf-durf', etc...
They weren't so much a derail as an avalanche of bullshit that wiped out the tracks. It's a dreary and oppressive scene.
Rather than grind down my scroll wheel like an art gum eraser, I ditched the whole mess and went off in search of kitten videos.

Reddit doesn't seem to offer much except offensive content and unrestricted chaos; and not much in the way of moderation unless you arbitrarily piss off one of the mods.
The situation doesn't strike me as 'adult' in any way. I've got no gripes about the moderation here - and I sure as shit don't feel bossed around by anybody.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:45 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


mccarty.tim: What I really don't get is why Reddit is so free-speech absolutist when we live in an era where it's ridiculously easy to self-publish a website.
Let me get this straight: As long as there's somewhere else you can publish, it's not limiting free speech to forbid freely speaking?

Nope. Free speech means freedom to say ugly, unwanted things in the most public forums imaginable. It does not mean the right to say those things in your diary and on your shithouse walls.

If I can afford the print space, I could ostensibly publish a 900-point ad consisting of "FUCK YOU" in the NY Times*, and no legal entity in the US could stop me.

*And, since I don't plan on admitting I got those words from somewhere else, the Gray Lady is the perfect venue....
posted by IAmBroom at 2:43 PM on September 15, 2014


koeselitz: MrMoonPie: “Ugh. This is the reason I spend more time at reddit than metafilter these days. It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.”

Ha. Good luck with that. Reddit is a hell of a lot more moderated than Metafilter is – they just pretend they have free speech, and then nuke everything from orbit when that doesn't work. I could name half a dozen people and subreddits right now that have been totally permabanned from Reddit. I could maybe name one or two Mefites who have been actually permabanned (or as close to it as anybody can do) but that was many years ago; it really doesn't happen here.
Apples and oranges. To say that Reddit banning some distributors of CP and illegally-obtained nude photos is harsher than Metafilter banning people who can't control their potty mouths when they get angry... No, it's not.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:45 PM on September 15, 2014


Pudhoho: Reddit doesn't seem to offer much except offensive content and unrestricted chaos; and not much in the way of moderation unless you arbitrarily piss off one of the mods.
That is a wildly inaccurate description of most of the forums.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:48 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Free speech means freedom to say ugly, unwanted things in the most public forums imaginable.

Well, traditionally it means freedom from government suppression of your right to do those things; it's not, according to the framing of the first amendment of the US Bill of Rights, generally the business of government to say that e.g. having an ugly and unwanted opinion is something you should be jailed for.

What is not provided for is any kind of immunity or carte blanche to say anything you want anywhere you want regardless of whose space you're saying it in. The Bill of Rights does not lay out a program by which other people are required to facilitate your sense of entitlement to speak; the distinction between a public place and a private space becomes very quickly important to this sort of idea, much in the same way that the freedom to swing a fist and the freedom to not have a nose punched come into conflict as soon as we start talking about absolutist notions of personal autonomy.

More briefly: that the federal government cannot throw you in jail for being an unpleasant dinner guest says nothing about whether the host can tell you to get out of his dining room. Any conception of freedom of speech that pretends otherwise doesn't have much use in a discussion of functioning society; it's a spherical cow model of discourse, possibly useful philosophically but not so much in direct day-to-day practice.
posted by cortex at 3:18 PM on September 15, 2014 [12 favorites]


HEY WHATEVER MIDLEVEL EXEC TEAM AT CONDE NAST IN CHARGE OF REDDIT'S BUDGET this shit is wrong and you know it and nobody wants to live in the seedy 70s Times Square so DO THE RIGHT THING.
posted by bigbigdog at 4:05 PM on September 15, 2014


I figure when you get down to it, it's probably six or eight people at Conde Nast that control this. And I bet everyone of them is actually human.
posted by bigbigdog at 4:08 PM on September 15, 2014


That is a wildly inaccurate description of most of the forums.

It was my experience with the front page - which I understand is a sample of what lies beneath.
Maybe it was lousy sample, but it was still lousy.

That experience, along with the horseshit gaming by the admins before r/jailbait, creepshots and the stolen celebrity nudes were removed -
the unfettered incursions by members of subs dedicated to racism and misogyny into other subreddits expressly for the purpose of harassing their members -
the fact that this scurrilous behavior is defended as free speech and not simply banned and rewarded with the enormous horselaugh such a suggestion deserves...
Well shit, I don't care about those other forums. How of their members either joined in the "free speech" circlejerk or just stood by silently?

Remember in Lonesome Dove, when Call and McCrae hung Jake Spoon along with the murderous thieving gang because he'd ridden with them after they committed their crimes?

Yeah, that.
posted by Pudhoho at 4:27 PM on September 15, 2014


It was my experience with the front page - which I understand is a sample of what lies beneath.
Maybe it was lousy sample, but it was still lousy.


The stuff on the front page attracts the worst of the worst commenters.
posted by empath at 4:42 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


This wasn't a metaphor, it was an analogy. And as others have tried to explain, that's not the same as comparing or equating the two. I was pointing out the form of the defence is logically the same.

Fine, it's an analogy. Are you denying that the meaning and impact of the statement isn't at least somewhat contingent on the well known violence attributable to America's gun problem? That, "But America has a gun problem, and the internet has a Reddit problem." doesn't rhetorically link the consequences of the two in the mind of the reader? Because it seems pretty clear to me.

For this to be true you must prove that the anguish caused by each of those 30,000 deaths is greater than the anguish caused by each of the bad actors on Reddit.
You can't. Because you can't quantify an individual's feelings of loss and powerlessness, no matter the cause, and measure it against the grief suffered by another.


You have got to be kidding.

Welp, the dead people are dead so they can't feel any grief or anguish. And the people on Reddit are alive and experiencing grief. Guess you've got me. Being insulted is *worse* than being murdered.

On a similar note, my stubbed toe is worse than civil war because, let me tell you, I am *aggrieved.* What? You can't prove that it's not?
posted by Maugrim at 5:17 PM on September 15, 2014


Pudhoho: Remember in Lonesome Dove, when Call and McCrae hung Jake Spoon along with the murderous thieving gang because he'd ridden with them after they committed their crimes?

Yeah, that.
Ah, judging people based on the groups they happen to be part of, even if they aren't guilty of the crimes. Got it.

Nope, nothing wrong with that.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:42 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't "happen" to be a member of metafilter; I signed up, I paid my $5, I participate willingly, I send traffic here and even click the ads sometimes. That's not "happen to" no matter how you stretch it.
posted by rtha at 6:45 PM on September 15, 2014


The stuff on the front page attracts the worst of the worst commenters.

This is absolutely true, and the front page (or rather, the top posts) of r/all, which contains all subreddits (so people can see what's going on even on ones they aren't subscribed to), tends to attract a really disproportionate amount of shit, so if a smaller sub ends up hitting r/all, it will often get completely FLOODED with comments from people who aren't familiar with the sub it's posted on and who do not care about the sub's rules, making more work for the moderators. Back when I spent a lot of time on reddit, one of the subs I found amusing was r/creepypms, where people posted the absolutely batshit creepy shit people sent them (and often their amusing rejoinders), which could be great fun, and also tended to offer great support and advice when the stuff went beyond "creepy" and into "threatening". It has a strict no-arguing-about-how-creepy-it-is policy, among other rules, and anytime something went to r/all, the poor mods had to deal with a flood of jackasses.

Also, though I'm not sure the gun/reddit problem is a great analogy, there is a commonality between the two of them: they both have a chilling effect on the free speech of people with radical political opinions and of people in marginalized groups. Knowing that expressing your political views, especially if they are particularly left-wing and/or radical, might get you shot is likely to make people with those views speak out about them less; the same tends to follow for people who are in marginalized groups who will be taken less seriously as victims of gun violence, who end up with that chilling effect on many of their rights, including free speech and assembly (but also, somewhat ironically, their right to bear arms, since a black person is more likely to get shot by someone who saw them as a threat because of their weapons than a white person). The chilling effect that reddit has on speech is similar; talking about feminism online-- even off reddit-- can bring a torrent of harassment from users who have gathered on that site, as often happens in response to /r/tumblrinaction posts.

I don't think this is the most salient reason to be in favor of gun control, but it's a pretty good reason to dislike reddit.
posted by NoraReed at 7:40 PM on September 15, 2014


The chilling effect that reddit has on speech is similar; talking about feminism online-- even off reddit-- can bring a torrent of harassment from users who have gathered on that site, as often happens in response to /r/tumblrinaction posts.


As a post-Zionist Jewish-American who doesn't buy into the 'party line', these things aren't confined to reddit, or even online. The "chilling effects" happen IRL right in the Synagogue and around the dinner table.
posted by mikelieman at 2:07 AM on September 16, 2014


Yeah, I hear that. I think there's a range, though, of stuff you can't say because you might get ostracized to stuff you can't say because you might get killed.
posted by NoraReed at 3:46 AM on September 16, 2014


Are you denying that the meaning and impact of the statement isn't at least somewhat contingent on the well known violence attributable to America's gun problem?

Well, yes, I am. The violence is irrelevant to the meaning which is all about the shape of the argument. It probably has some rhetorical help on the impact side, sure, but that's just a pretty frock.

If it helps, I could equally have said this is like the "subprime lending doesn't crash banks, poor people crash banks" argument. It's just nobody except awful bankers have heard of that argument, so it doesn't scan as well.
posted by bonaldi at 4:31 AM on September 16, 2014


I'm not a banker, awful or otherwise, and I'm very familiar with that very common analogy.

Either way, reasonable minds may disagree about how shitty Reddit is as a company. As a mere user of Reddit, I have personally found it very easy to curate for myself a broad, interesting, and poop-free collection of subreddits.

The comparisons upthread to "Stormfront 2.0" are beyond silly: at most, people are saying that Reddit would be willing to host a Stormfront 2.0 subreddit. If you think that's comparably bad to actually being Stormfront 2.0, then I see where you're coming from, but that is nonetheless a different kind of activity and state of being.

Incidentally, I am genuinely bemused to discover that /r/stormfront comprises videos of storms, which the very occasional comment vaguely referencing Stormfront-type catchphrases. I can't be bothered to tell whether it's a joke by white supremacists, or on white supremacists.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:24 AM on September 16, 2014


As a mere user of Reddit, I have personally found it very easy to curate for myself a broad, interesting, and poop-free collection of subreddits.

Which is great - for you. Meanwhile, the sewage is still there, overflowing and making an absolute mess of things. And in a way, Reddit being willing to host these groups is more problematic, because the prominence of the site acts to legitimize and normalize the behavior.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:03 AM on September 16, 2014


Sticherbeast: “The comparisons upthread to ‘Stormfront 2.0’ are beyond silly: at most, people are saying that Reddit would be willing to host a Stormfront 2.0 subreddit. If you think that's comparably bad to actually being Stormfront 2.0, then I see where you're coming from, but that is nonetheless a different kind of activity and state of being.”

Being willing to host a particular kind of subreddit is absolutely not a "different kind of activity and state of being" from being willing to to host a particular kind of website. Stormfront is run by people who are willing to host a website with racist and fascist stylings. If the people who run Reddit are willing to host subreddits with racist and fascist stylings – and indications point to "yes" – then yeah, they're the same as the people who are willing to host Stormfront on that count.

I mean: I'm sure there are people involved in the hosting of Stormfront who tell themselves they're not racist – an ISP, maybe even some of the tech people, etc. And I'm sure they get up every morning and look in the mirror and say the very same things that Yishan said in that blog post – 'I'm not really helping to host racist content, I'm just supporting free speech, I'm just giving people a voice, they have their own responsibility for whatever they choose to do with it.' And it's just as much a self-serving, Pilate-washing-his-hands lie when they say it as it is when Yishan says it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:07 AM on September 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Being willing to host a particular kind of subreddit is absolutely not a "different kind of activity and state of being" from being willing to to host a particular kind of website.

What? No. Stormfront is not a general-interest website with thousands of subboards. Stormfront is an openly, avowedly racist site, devoted to the propagation of a certain particular racist worldview. If people believe that Reddit's hosting of racist content makes it morally comparable to Stormfront, then that certainly is an opinion a reasonable person could have. However, there is no reasonable argument that Reddit itself is literally the same kind of website as Stormfront.

Comparisons to Pilate washing his hands are about the moral equivalence to an authority figure performing inaction. The whole point is that we do not confuse inaction with action, or with neutrality.

...

There does seem to be an intractable disagreement within this thread as to how much damage is done to society by Reddit. If the argument really is that Reddit policies towards certain offensive content is actually worse, because it might legitimize and normalize certain behavior, then it is both relevant and necessary to distinguish between the real difference each website, as opposed to the idea that Reddit itself "is" Stormfront 2.0.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:23 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Reddit as a whole is not literally the same as Stormfront. In the category of, "Totally willing to publish hate speech that preaches that non-white people are sub-humans," the management of Reddit and the management of Stormfront are precisely the same.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:40 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Publishing something is not neutrality or non-action.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sticherbeast: “If people believe that Reddit's hosting of racist content makes it morally comparable to Stormfront, then that certainly is an opinion a reasonable person could have. However, there is no reasonable argument that Reddit itself is literally the same kind of website as Stormfront.”

I didn't say that Reddit itself is literally the same kind of website as Stormfront. I said that it has plenty of Stormfront elements, and they are allowed to flourish happily – and therefore the decision to host Stormfront is morally equivalent to the decision to host those Stormfront elements of Reddit.

“Comparisons to Pilate washing his hands are about the moral equivalence to an authority figure performing inaction. The whole point is that we do not confuse inaction with action, or with neutrality.”

The intractability of the phrase "performing inaction" is the whole point of the Pilate reference. Pilate made a show of "performing inaction," as though he could absolve himself ritually of the consequences of his own action. In the same way, Yishan Wong sits there and says that it's not his job to discern right from wrong, "it is your responsibility to do so." As I said, I'm sure the ISPs who host Stormfront tell themselves the same thing. It's just as much a silly "performance of inaction."

If you host a website – or a subreddit, or whatever you choose to call a "website" – you are the publisher, and you are responsible for the stuff that goes on there.

“There does seem to be an intractable disagreement within this thread as to how much damage is done to society by Reddit. If the argument really is that Reddit policies towards certain offensive content is actually worse, because it might legitimize and normalize certain behavior, then it is both relevant and necessary to distinguish between the real difference each website, as opposed to the idea that Reddit itself ‘is’ Stormfront 2.0.”

Look, I was an active, daily Reddit user for more than a year. I am happy that, as a "mere user," you had a fine time and had no trouble avoiding the shit. I wasn't so lucky. It sucks to see an otherwise nice subreddit be overrun by sexists, racists, and assholes of every stripe. It sucks even more to see that happen over and over again. And I suspect my experience is closer to the common experience of Reddit than your experience of Reddit as a place where it's easy to avoid the filth. At the very least, it's becoming harder and harder every year.
posted by koeselitz at 8:45 AM on September 16, 2014


Nobody was saying there was anything fishy about somebody trying to draw a moral equivalence between generating and hosting racist content. Indeed, the whole point of drawing a moral equivalence between two different actions is that one recognizing how those actions are different in other ways: the actions really were the same, then there would be no "equivalence".

There is no point in trying to reiterate to me why you believe there is a moral equivalence between Reddit and Stormfront: I have already stated multiple times that this is an opinion which a reasonable person could have. There is no reason to believe that I believe otherwise.

What I was responding to was the statement that Reddit had "become...literally" Stormfront 2.0.

It ought to go without saying - again - that I am not criticizing people who are drawing only a moral equivalence between the two.

The intractability of the phrase "performing inaction" is the whole point of the Pilate reference. Pilate made a show of "performing inaction," as though he could absolve himself ritually of the consequences of his own action. In the same way, Yishan Wong sits there and says that it's not his job to discern right from wrong, "it is your responsibility to do so." As I said, I'm sure the ISPs who host Stormfront tell themselves the same thing. It's just as much a silly "performance of inaction."

Um, yes. That argument was already quite clear, and I had already said as much. It is unclear why, or to whom, you're trying to re-explain it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:57 AM on September 16, 2014


Ugh. This is the reason I spend more time at reddit than metafilter these days. It amazes me that adults really do like being told what's OK to talk about, and how to talk about it.

Um, you can use different sites for different purposes? I mean I am pretty much a classic american free speech absolutist - you know, not the business of the government to restrict speech period - and I think on the level of, say, the internet as a whole this:

That's the ironic thing about free speech absolutism - ultimately, it results in less free speech. You may say that the limits that moderation puts on speech has a chilling effect, but I will point out in return that when you throw moderation to the wind, what happens is that the the most powerful and ruthless voices find their way to the forefront, drowning out and driving out others. That's a lot more chilling.

is not particularly true. But the reason it's not is that people are able to form their own spaces with different rules. And while reddit nominally is intended to facilitate just that, I think anyone can see that for reasons already discussed certain (toxic) cultural trends are actually able to affect all but the most obscure subcommunities. Indeed you do give up being able to say *some* things on Metafilter, but I don't think you will get a better discussion about a lot of things anywhere.
posted by atoxyl at 12:56 PM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


More briefly: that the federal government cannot throw you in jail for being an unpleasant dinner guest says nothing about whether the host can tell you to get out of his dining room. Any conception of freedom of speech that pretends otherwise doesn't have much use in a discussion of functioning society; it's a spherical cow model of discourse, possibly useful philosophically but not so much in direct day-to-day practice.

Extending that analogy... If you are at a restaurant and there is an awful discussion occurring at your table, you can always leave. But if that discussion gets too loud, the restaurant may ask you to leave.

Reddit will never ask you to leave.

So, will people quit dining there? Will the loud people saying awful things at the restaurant make people decide to quit dining there?

Or are we, at the end of the day are we a bunch of folks eating at a nice local Italian place complaining how awful Olive Garden is and how they should go out of business because Olive Garden has loud obnoxious customers? (oops, wrong thread, analogy spreading too thin).
posted by el io at 10:35 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or are we, at the end of the day are we a bunch of folks eating at a nice local Italian place complaining how awful Olive Garden is and how they should go out of business because Olive Garden has loud obnoxious customers? (oops, wrong thread, analogy spreading too thin).

Except you're forgetting that some of the people at this particular Olive Garden aren't just "loud and obnoxious", but are using this particular branch as a place to plan illegal activity and encourage each other into further illegal activity because the owners are all, "eh, so what if they're talking about how they broke the law, I'm not gonna turn them in because they're just showing pictures of what they did."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:43 AM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am impressed with whoever did the CSS on /r/metafilter
posted by exogenous at 10:03 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I imagine that law enforcement would be tickled pink to find out that bank robbers are planning their heists at the local Olive Garden... It's easier to sit next to the bank-robbers and eavesdrop than to figure out which living room to bug.
posted by el io at 12:33 PM on September 23, 2014


« Older S is for Stand, Still, Stay, Silent and especially...   |   Police Within Reach Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments