The heads are rolling today
July 10, 2015 3:31 PM   Subscribe

"Ellen Pao is stepping down as Reddit’s CEO, a move that comes amid mounting pressure after a series of management mishaps that has angered its very vocal online community. Steve Huffman, Reddit co-founder and its original CEO, is taking over immediately."
posted by Chocolate Pickle (576 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
A complete shitshow.

Nothing about Reddit will change and yet hundreds of users will laud the new male CEO for doing a great job.

Pao didn't do much, what she did was generally positive, like shutting down fat-shaming subreddits, but that was too much for the harassment-as-entertainment crowd. And when you tick off people who view harassment as entertainment, well... it's not surprising how that ended.

Also, it turns out that "AMA Victoria" wasn't even fired by Pao. Nice work Internet Justice League.
posted by GuyZero at 3:37 PM on July 10, 2015 [153 favorites]


My take is Ellen Pao went into this with no illusions about her job: do unpopular things and be unpopular so she could step down and leave the unpopular policies in place while a more popular person took over. The pace may or may not have been accelerated by the outcry over the AMA Admin's firing, but I'm pretty sure this is all going according to plan.
posted by Mooski at 3:38 PM on July 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


I sort of wish they hadn't done that. Yeah, I know the online petition had 200,000 signatures, but out of 160+ million users... It wasn't a lot. This will just embolden the asshats.

But whatever. Reddit is not a place I ever go, so...
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:38 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


What is the real story on Victoria? Did that ever come out?
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:38 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


If her parting statements are true, the initiatives that drew the most ire from the community were dictated by investors/board members and she was stuck between two fantastically different roadmaps for Reddit: one with first focus on monetization, and the other with first focus on community.

I think we will discover over the coming months that those roadmaps are mutually exclusive.
posted by Phyltre at 3:39 PM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sorry to say but the harassment of Ms. Pao is unlikely to stop.
posted by guiseroom at 3:40 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


one with first focus on monetization, and the other with first focus on community.

I think we will discover over the coming months that those roadmaps are mutually exclusive.


The complete opposite is true: you can't build amazing tools without money. They needed a good monetization strategy to pay to clean things up.
posted by GuyZero at 3:40 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can't help but think that caving to a bunch of twelve-year-olds having a hissy fit is not the way to demonstrate your management chops or win future votes of confidence.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:41 PM on July 10, 2015 [40 favorites]


No doubt the gamergaters will somehow spin Pao's departure as a victory. In the ugliest possible way, of course.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:41 PM on July 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


Sorry to say but the harassment of Ms. Pao is unlikely to stop.

I can hear the "we did it reddit!" from here.
posted by Karaage at 3:43 PM on July 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


This Buzzfeed article is a surprisingly good appraisal of the larger moral landscape of Reddit in which this occurs, ironically in one of Buzzfeed's most reliable story generators.

TL;DR: Reddit finding the bed it made uncomfortable to lie in.
posted by fatbird at 3:45 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


It is possible that she did not do well in the position. Hiring anyone with her professional background (a garden-variety VC worker w. no C-level experience or experience w. online communities) was a curious thing.
posted by ambient2 at 3:46 PM on July 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


I posted this Storify of people smarter than me in the other reddit thread, but it's more relevant here.

No doubt the gamergaters will somehow spin Pao's departure as a victory. In the ugliest possible way, of course.

I checked KiA a few minutes ago because I apparently hate myself and they already are. Also, they're doing a really bad job of trying to have a No Reddit Day.
posted by NoraReed at 3:49 PM on July 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


Also, it turns out that "AMA Victoria" wasn't even fired by Pao. Nice work Internet Justice League.

Do you have a source? I want to know the truth!
posted by oceanjesse at 3:51 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ellen Pao was always "interim CEO"; she was promoted to the job in the wake of the surprise firing of the previous CEO, Yishan Wong. The Reddit announcement, the Bloomberg article, and comments from Reddit insiders are all at pains to paint this as an orderly hiring of a new CEO that was planned for awhile. Specifically, unrelated to the shitstorm from last week after Vanessa was ousted. It still looks like crazy bad timing at the very least, but maybe it's just what was planned all along.

As for the future of Reddit I think it's most interesting that the company raised $50M last November and now two of the original founders are back in leadership positions. It's an odd sort of circling back.
posted by Nelson at 3:52 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The situation with firing Victoria was definitely mishandled by someone in that there was no visible transition plan in place that was going to work out for the AMA people. Hell if I know if you can rationally blame the CEO for that but it is a, "The buck stops here," sort of position. That's part of why they get paid so much, sometimes they have to fall on the sword.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:52 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Do you have a source? I want to know the truth!
You can't handle the truth!
posted by Pendragon at 3:53 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


She did OK at a shitty job, so that's something. Hopefully, she's getting so much money she can fuck off and fight crime as a private vigilante (Ellen POW!) and not have to worry about the shitbirds on Reddit anymore.
posted by klangklangston at 3:54 PM on July 10, 2015 [21 favorites]


It is possible that she did not do well in the position.

Sure is hard to tell through the background radiation of Reddit's culture of racism and misogyny though.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:55 PM on July 10, 2015 [66 favorites]


Do you have a source? I want to know the truth!

There was a comment by kn0wthing, there's tweets... and ugh, I can't find the original comment now. But it happened! grassy knoll!
posted by GuyZero at 3:55 PM on July 10, 2015


Underneath the announcement is a comment by /u/DylannStormRoof (yes, that is really his username):
Pao! Right in the kisser.
It got massively upvoted. The user is apparently a mod of a subreddit devoted to racism with a name I feel dirty having just read.

There are indeed be many good parts to Reddit and many good people there, but this utterly unacceptable nonsense seems to creep into every corner of the site. And some people are obviously into it, because the subreddit in question has 15,000 subs and this comment got upvoted thousands of times.

Personally, I think it's not wrong for Ellen Pao to step down, because the comments she made last week showed a real lack of understanding in how to manage a community (hint, you don't talk to the press before you've talked to your own community), but this is also something a lot of people have been cheering on directly because she's an Asian woman in tech, and that's disgusting.
posted by zachlipton at 3:55 PM on July 10, 2015 [74 favorites]


Certainly, GuyZero, but the firing of multiple community-facing employees with no clear recognition of the community's grievances until the community pitches a fit is not a good monetization strategy. In spite of all the interstitial turmoil and hate, mods made a clear case that many core Reddit functions were slowly going derelict.

Reddit does rely on community moderation. Administration ignored that, and there was backlash. The second narrative--fantastically tasteless personal attacks on Ellen Pao--confuses the picture, but the community did not simply decide that they did not like the CEO one day in a vacuum.

As I have lamented before, it is unfortunate that several running issues within Reddit have been conflated into a single event. How Reddit will make money continues to be a problem, but the need for Reddit to turn a profit doesn't automatically make all routes to that end palatable.
posted by Phyltre at 3:56 PM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Folks, I'm going ask that we skip the very general reddit vs mefi or "there is terrible stuff on reddit" vs "there is good stuff on reddit" debate here. You can check the most recent previous reddit post, or many other posts under the reddit tag, if you want a few hundred comments that go over that. Let's keep this thread to the more specific stuff about Pao, what her resignation means and so on. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:56 PM on July 10, 2015 [66 favorites]


That's part of why they get paid so much, sometimes they have to fall on the sword.

if CEOs get paid extra because sometimes they become scapegoats, then women and POC CEOs should get paid extra
posted by NoraReed at 3:56 PM on July 10, 2015 [95 favorites]


Ellen Pao's job was to be the female minority face of a bunch of business decisions that reddit's investors demanded. Nothing that happened is going to change. She drew the predictable shitty fire and quit, like a piece of human chaff.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:57 PM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


I agree with Mooski. Pao could have simply been a scapegoat. Perhaps some of these "unpopular changes" leading to user revolts were executed with her serving as interim CEO so the community would have someone to blame. Now, in reddit's eyes, Pao is out and things are back to normal--except all the changes are still in place.
posted by mikeo2 at 3:58 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think John Gruber sums up my opinion about Pao's departure better than I can:

"Reddit: a terrible, childish community posting on a site owned by a terrible, dumbass company. Good luck to the next CEO."
posted by fremen at 3:58 PM on July 10, 2015 [36 favorites]


mods made a clear case that many core Reddit functions were slowly going derelict.

A point that somehow never came up over years until a bunch of harassment sub-reddits got shut down.
posted by GuyZero at 4:00 PM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


I think it's clear that reddit isn't making enough money, and is kinda scrambling around trying to find a way to bring in revenue and appease shareholders.

Frankly, it might be better off if it was a non profit company.
posted by gryftir at 4:07 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


if CEOs get paid extra because sometimes they become scapegoats, then women and POC CEOs should get paid extra

Heh, well it's more than just taking the hits. It's a general ability to be the sort of person who can convincingly take credit for both the good and bad things even when they had very little to do with it. What we can hope for is a day when companies who only care about dollars and cents realize the best leaders, whatever they look like, will make them the most money. Those leaders will put credit and blame where they belong and reward them justly.

I don't know what Reddit needs in leaders. They need to clean up the hate speech but the community goes ape shit when they try even baby steps. It simply may not be possible to have Reddit be as profitable as the owners want it to be without first shrinking the userbase (sending the idiots off to Voat) before growing it again. Given that Pao's comments on the resignation said the owners are trying to grow right now...I don't think they get it. This band-aid has to be ripped off as soon as possible. Get it over with.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:11 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I've been pretty vocal here defending reddit but this thing stinks. The "community" or whatever lashing out over stuff like banning r/fatpeoplehate should be embarrassed and ashamed. For the record, the Elen Pao Hate stuff was the first reddit shitshow I ever encountered leaking on to my front page. I truly hope these idiots do abandon reddit for voat as they threatened because I would rather not see their tantrums spilling over into the content I actually like ever again.
posted by Hoopo at 4:17 PM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


From what I can tell, it's not a black-and-white situation, or rather set of situations. A large, significant chunk of redditors have some seriously sexist attitudes AND Ellen Pao screwed up majorly and should probably step down. Both of those things can be true and neither one cancels out the other. Why do people always frame it with the false choice, Coke or Pepsi?
posted by zardoz at 4:18 PM on July 10, 2015 [29 favorites]


if CEOs get paid extra because sometimes they become scapegoats, then women and POC CEOs should get paid extra

Wasn't there a post on the blue a while back about women being given CEO positions as sort of a Hail Mary pass for management, when they had nothing to lose by hiring an outside? Even as interim CEO, Pao seems to have been that kind of hire as much as the scapegoat suggested upthread.
posted by immlass at 4:20 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yep, the Glass Cliff.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:24 PM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


Why do people always frame it with the false choice, Coke or Pepsi?

Because never once does anyone ever name one thing that Pao did that was actually bad.
posted by GuyZero at 4:24 PM on July 10, 2015 [27 favorites]


Oh hey the comment in question I mentioned earlier:

Ellen is a class act. I have gotten to know Ellen well as we’ve worked closely together over the past eight months and I’m impressed by her hard work and integrity as she’s strived to do what’s right for both reddit the company and reddit the community. I have admired her fearlessness and calm throughout our time together and look forward to following her impact on Silicon Valley and beyond. It was my decision to change how we work with AMAs and the transition was my failure and I hope we can keep moving forward from that lesson. Today was another step. I'm really excited to be working with Steve again and appreciate what Ellen did during her time here.

Emphasis mine.
posted by GuyZero at 4:29 PM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


Whatever Pao's alleged screwups were, they are infinitesimal compared to the reaction of reddit's vocal userbase and the silence from everyone else, including the rest of management.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:30 PM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


Will Reddit actually be able to become a profitable company and maintain their "free speech" at all costs stance? They've got some amazing, one-of-a-kind subreddits with passionate and intelligent communities, but flip it over and there's that seamy underbelly where some of the most vile discussions on the internet take place and are allowed to remain, uncensored, resulting in people overlooking the good because of the bad. What company in their right mind would want to associate themselves with virulent racism, sexism, and hate in this day and age? How is Reddit ever going to attract advertisers?

Pao, as interim CEO, was probably doing exactly what they wanted: laying the hammer down and enacting the unpopular decisions that need to be put in place in order to make the company more attractive to advertisers and outside investors. If they were going to scapegoat her and let her go anyway, they should've at least waited until she finished the job. Steve Huffman doesn't stand a chance; he's in a no-win scenario. The fact that he was a co-founder is not going to shield him from what Reddit has become. The inmates are now running the asylum.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:33 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Everybody can be wrong.

I mean, I'm wrong right now giving a shit about what happens at Reddit.

This happens and we move on - hopefully to a brighter tomorrow where fewer jerks steal the moments of joy from our lives.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:33 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


wow. kn0thing could have made that clear a little earlier.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:35 PM on July 10, 2015 [22 favorites]


> never once does anyone ever name one thing that Pao did that was actually bad.

The jury in the Kleiner Perkins case disagree.
posted by the bird at the bottom of the tree at 4:38 PM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


I think the changes she made/wanted to make would have been swallowed by the community if she'd given them a spoon full of sugar to help it go down. Instead, the community got shit. A revamped search that no one wanted and didn't behave like the rest of the site. No improvement for mod tools. Firing well liked admins who were trusted by and worked with the community, without stable backfill plans.

The only thing I can think of she did that was positive for the community, which actually improved it, was reigning in the doxing going on in /r/fatpeoplehate. But it wasn't communicated that way, or communicated clearly at all.

Buh bye, Ellen. The world doesn't need more CEOs who think they can run a company without understanding or respecting the least bit of it.
posted by sbutler at 4:40 PM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I don't know if the fatpeoplehate ban should be held up as an example of Pao really fighting against the seedy side of the site. This is the explanation for it:

Reddit's policy, according to the admin, is based on specific instances of harassment rather than general offensiveness. "We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas,"

This policy is simply not even close to far enough for a community site. Pao took a job with a site that has a page called Coontown. She left the job with that page still there. Not exactly a crusader for big change over there, even if the idiots react as if she was.

wow. kn0thing could have made that clear a little earlier.

Busy making his popcorn.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:43 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


After a evenly-gendered and diverse jury did not agree with any of her five claims against Kleiner Perkins, and given her relative lack of management experience, I'm surprised that any company would then subsequently bring on someone so controversial in such a prominent leadership role. It suggests that what it means to be a CEO at tech firms these days can also be part of a larger marketing or branding strategy, to some degree. I'm not a Reddit reader and don't follow the drama, but whatever failures on her part to lead effectively, part of the blame in this outcome certainly seems to be on the people who made the questionable decision to gamble on her.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:46 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I note E. Pao also repeated the "popcorn is delicious" comment. It is indeed delicious.
posted by curuinor at 4:47 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION: I put together something on What Has GamerGate Ruined on the reactions to this whole thing; will probably add more links (from this thread and elsewhere) as the situation develops.

Buh bye, Ellen. The world doesn't need more CEOs who think they can run a company without understanding or respecting the least bit of it.

To be fair, she has no reason to respect reddit. And if you don't want to blend in with the massive sexist response to this, you might want to avoid the calling-a-woman-you-don't-know-by-her-first-name thing; a lot of people use that the same way they might use terms of endearment like "sweetie" when interacting with women who haven't consented to being called that as a gendered way of putting them down.
posted by NoraReed at 4:47 PM on July 10, 2015 [88 favorites]


I feel like the past couple of months Reddit really has been tone deaf for users, and when they do communicate, instead of via the site, they talk to the New York Times?

Pao has attracted unwanted hate, but circling back to a founder perhaps just ends them up in the place they started several years ago. It remains to be seen if they can provide their mods and communities with the tools they need to flourish, and figure out how to monetize it at the same time.
posted by nickggully at 4:48 PM on July 10, 2015


This current fire-storm was started when Victoria was fired. If that happened without Pao's knowledge then she ihad no idea what was going on and is incompetent. Even after that, Pao could have re-instated Victoria to correct it.

Then gasoline was poured on the fire when it emerged that Pao had terminated an employee with leukemia because he was sick.

The final fuck-up was Pao's "We screwed up." message, where she entirely failed to use the first person and actually apologize, in a futile attempt to spread the blame across Reddit as a whole.
posted by w0mbat at 4:50 PM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


E. Pao also repeated the "popcorn is delicious" comment.

That sort of dumbassery really just sums up why in this case the "Reddit community" had the pitchforks out. Sure, the culture there is annoying and grating, but for heaven's sake if you're in a leadership position you have to rise above those sorts of juvenile comments.
posted by Nevin at 4:52 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Will Reddit actually be able to become a profitable company and maintain their "free speech" at all costs stance?

You mean their "free speech at all costs to the users but we will cave instantly the second corporate gets a little bad press" stance.
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Then gasoline was poured on the fire when it emerged that Pao had terminated an employee with leukemia because he was sick.

The story that Reddit said wasn't true but couldn't comment on it due to confidentiality?

Whatever Pao's faults are, that particular story is just straight-up slander. No one has any clue what actually happened there.
posted by GuyZero at 4:57 PM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


That sort of dumbassery really just sums up why in this case the "Reddit community" had the pitchforks out. Sure, the culture there is annoying and grating, but for heaven's sake if you're in a leadership position you have to rise above those sorts of juvenile comments.

This kind of community-pandering is something reddit is usually really into, though. It's something they've always done; it's the attitude behind giving violentacrez that trophy, etc.

You mean their "free speech at all costs to the users but we will cave instantly the second corporate gets a little bad press" stance.

If this was true, they'd have banned subs like r/mensrights and KiA a long time ago.
posted by NoraReed at 4:58 PM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Then gasoline was poured on the fire when it emerged that Pao had terminated an employee with leukemia because he was sick.

Hm. She backtracked on her mistake, and then reneged on that by firing him again the next day. If Croach's story is true as written, she seems like an awful person but, more importantly, an awful leader who would deserve to get canned.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:58 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The story that Reddit said wasn't true but couldn't comment on it due to confidentiality?

Whatever Pao's faults are, that particular story is just straight-up slander. No one has any clue what actually happened there.


Yeah that one definitely deserves an "allegedly" at this point.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:58 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Then gasoline was poured on the fire when it emerged that Pao had terminated an employee with leukemia because he was sick.

It was alleged. The distinction does matter in terms of understanding the events, even if it ultimately turns out to be true.
posted by howfar at 4:59 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


After a evenly-gendered and diverse jury did not agree with any of her five claims against Kleiner Perkins, and given her relative lack of management experience, I'm surprised that any company would then subsequently bring on someone so controversial in such a prominent leadership role.

I don't think that's quite fair. I actually think it's a really good thing that she wasn't excommunicated from the industry because of the the KPCB suit, not that her prospects will be improved by having the last eight months on her resume.

It also seems clear to me that she did not understand that the CEO of Reddit needs to both run the company and to manage an incredibly difficult community, and that the latter is, in most ways, more important than the former. When the community was revolting, she was radio silence on the site (while her employees cracked jokes) until she turned up giving quotes to the New York Times and Time.
posted by zachlipton at 5:18 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


but for heaven's sake if you're in a leadership position you have to rise above those sorts of juvenile comments.

I think you missed the whole subtext of the comment: "Whew, I'm done. This is me, being a regular person instead."
posted by ctmf at 5:19 PM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Amazing what easy scapegoats women of color become in the service of lots and lots of white men.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:21 PM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


I don't think its scapegoating when you're the CEO. The bucks stops here and so on. It's scapegoating when a VP takes the hit.
posted by Justinian at 5:24 PM on July 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


"Woman" has more entropy as a feature, probably, than "of color", in this case. Although there exists evidence of discrimination against Asian people in the highest echelons in many parts of tech-land, my experience with the YC people would have it that this is not the case, even behind closed doors. G. Tan and J. Kan are partner there, for example.
posted by curuinor at 5:26 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Amazing what easy scapegoats women of color become in the service of lots and lots of white men.

Not sure what her salary was, but she is paid better than a white man like me. Not that she deserved harassment and abuse that she got, most of which is nominally criminal behavior in Canada.

I think you missed the whole subtext of the comment: "Whew, I'm done. This is me, being a regular person instead."

That's a good point, but I still say that even if your "community" behaves like a bunch of dicks at the best of times, there's no reason to foster that sort of assholish behavior, and it seems pretty clear that the corporate culture of Reddit - there are only about 50 employees - seems to represent the very worst of low-EQ, left-brain tech workplaces.
posted by Nevin at 5:26 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


That sort of dumbassery really just sums up why in this case the "Reddit community" had the pitchforks out. Sure, the culture there is annoying and grating, but for heaven's sake if you're in a leadership position you have to rise above those sorts of juvenile comments.

She repeated the comment. kn0thing originally said it - the guy who, it turns out, was also behind the AMA firing. Why isn't there a petition to fire him?

CEO or not, I doubt she could overrule a decision from one of the founders.
posted by graventy at 5:30 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


Don't worry about Ms. Pao. I am told by inside sources speaking on condition of anonymity that her severance package includes an extra hour in the ball pit.
posted by sourcequench at 5:31 PM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


It also seems clear to me that she did not understand that the CEO of Reddit needs to both run the company and to manage an incredibly difficult community, and that the latter is, in most ways, more important than the former.

Sort of, I dunno.

I keep circling around thoughts about the old Mefi favorite, "If it's free, you're the product." So part of me wants to say, "These dumbasses are your products. The population of mras and gamergaters and racists is a Reddit product. As CEO, it's your job to make sure nobody takes the free product away like Reddit did to Digg."

If you are committed to preserving that product, then you need someone who can speak directly to that community better than Pao managed.

But then, there's a big huge OTOH that smashes all that to bits. The portions of the Reddit product I named are poison dressed up in the larger candy wrapper that is the friendlier faces of Reddit. There is basically no non-evil way to sell poison candy bars. Asking a CEO to do it is an impossible task. The product is simply defective and it needs to come off the shelves.

No more half measures.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:32 PM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


She repeated the comment. kn0thing originally said it - the guy who, it turns out, was also behind the AMA firing. Why isn't there a petition to fire him?

misogyny
posted by NoraReed at 5:32 PM on July 10, 2015 [65 favorites]


Not sure what her salary was, but she is paid better than a white man like me.
We know. #notallmen. Etc. But she was (very probably) paid a lot more than the cabal of white dudes she worked for and may have been scapegoated by.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:33 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


And I do think she was scapegoated: her new replacement? That's the dude that let /r/jailbait begin. This toxic culture flourished under the founders' watch.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:35 PM on July 10, 2015 [32 favorites]


Not sure what her salary was, but she is paid better than a white man like me.

I'm not sure why this counters the point about women of colour being scapegoats. One of the fundamental issues about structural misogyny and racism is that they function across class boundaries. Indeed, that's the whole point of the comment you're responding to: that a woman of colour is a disproportionately likely to be a scapegoat no matter how much personal power she might have acquired.
posted by howfar at 5:35 PM on July 10, 2015 [47 favorites]


She repeated the comment. kn0thing originally said it - the guy who, it turns out, was also behind the AMA firing. Why isn't there a petition to fire him?

It wasn't just a petition to fire her, it was scores of people talking about killing her, comparing her to Hitler, and much, much worse. Ugh, what a shitshow. I hope she moves on to something better.
posted by teponaztli at 5:37 PM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


It wasn't just a petition to fire her, it was scores of people talking about killing her, comparing her to Hitler, and much, much worse. Ugh, what a shitshow. I hope she moves on to something better.


Perhaps politics?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:39 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lobbyist.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 5:41 PM on July 10, 2015


that a woman of colour is a disproportionately likely to be a scapegoat no matter how much personal power she might have acquired.

Although I've already said it a couple of times, there's no doubt that Pao was the victim of criminal sexual and racial harassment.

However, Pao is more than a woman of colour. She possesses and wields agency very few other people have in American society. She is an intelligent person and we can reasonably assume that she knew what she was getting into with the Reddit gig.

To suggest that she was outmaneuvered (and therefore turned into a scapegoat) is insulting her intelligence and ability.
posted by Nevin at 5:42 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


the whole point of the comment you're responding to: that a woman of colour is a disproportionately likely to be a scapegoat no matter how much personal power she might have acquired.

What are the metrics used to measure scapegoating? Anyway, I'm surprised she even got to be even the interim CEO of Reddit. Actually I'm surprised she's managed, after that very public lawsuit, to find work at all. I would think companies would be avoiding her like the plague out of fear of future litigation.
posted by MikeMc at 5:47 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hiring at these sorts of places at that level goes by personal relationships more than anything else, to my understanding. So a definite chance she would have found it easier to get the CEO position than a midlevel position at such a place.
posted by curuinor at 5:49 PM on July 10, 2015


To suggest that she was outmaneuvered (and therefore turned into a scapegoat) is insulting her intelligence and ability.

Scapegoating is, by its nature, arbitrary. I don't really understand why being subject to it would imply that one had been outmanoeuvred.
posted by howfar at 5:49 PM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


Actually I'm surprised she's managed, after that very public lawsuit, to find work at all. I would think companies would be avoiding her like the plague out of fear of future litigation.

What? That (alone) wouldn't bother me. If you can pretty easily demonstrate your workplace doesn't put up with harassing and discriminatory nonsense, you have nothing to worry about. I mean, people sue us all the time with frivolous bullshit, but they don't win. It's a cost of doing business.
posted by ctmf at 5:53 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I was assuming that to call Pao a scapegoat would also make her a victim, and she is no victim. There are 50 people (or so) working at Reddit. It's a small organization (apart from the volunteer mods and the "community" itself). Pao was the CEO and responsible for company culture. Although she received a torrent of misogynistic and racist abuse, she was not a scapegoat. She owned Reddit.
posted by Nevin at 5:54 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


She could have gone in totally aware that she would likely be a scapegoat, and still be intelligent and capable. Bringing that up while previously commenting on how she makes more than a white man and being dismissive of her comment seems like a grudge.
posted by halifix at 5:55 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Board owned Reddit. And she was a victim of torrents or misogynistic and racist abuse. She's still receiving it.
posted by NoraReed at 5:57 PM on July 10, 2015 [23 favorites]


Her imbecile corporate duckspeak after the Outrage proved one thing. She is ready to be CEO of some other dumber corporation.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:58 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a dumber corporation than Reddit?
posted by ctmf at 5:59 PM on July 10, 2015 [21 favorites]


impossible
posted by young_son at 6:02 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean, people sue us all the time with frivolous bullshit, but they don't win.

Well, somebody involved in this story recently sued their employer and didn't win, I'm just surprised that the Reddit board wasn't gun shy about hiring her.
posted by MikeMc at 6:05 PM on July 10, 2015


40 million dollars in legal fees could buy a whole lot of food for the homeless.

Good luck, Ms. Pao.
posted by clavdivs at 6:05 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I was assuming that to call Pao a scapegoat would also make her a victim, and she is no victim. There are 50 people (or so) working at Reddit. It's a small organization (apart from the volunteer mods and the "community" itself). Pao was the CEO and responsible for company culture. Although she received a torrent of misogynistic and racist abuse, she was not a scapegoat. She owned Reddit.

Pao being rich doesn't magically erase the abuse she's getting, and honestly the entire story looks like a glass cliff. Yes, she makes more "than a white guy like you". That doesn't change any of this.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:05 PM on July 10, 2015 [25 favorites]


Ctmf. If only it were that predictable.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:06 PM on July 10, 2015


After a evenly-gendered and diverse jury did not agree with any of her five claims against Kleiner Perkins, and given her relative lack of management experience, I'm surprised that any company would then subsequently bring on someone so controversial in such a prominent leadership role.

Pao became interim CEO last November; the "evenly-gendered and diverse jury" announced its verdict the following March.

Anyway, I think it's clear Pao was in the wrong job, racist/sexist violent attacks notwithstanding. I also don't see why we have to believe kn0thing when he now suddenly insists it was his decision alone to fire Victoria. At this point, very little that comes out of the mouths of the Reddit admins should be accepted at face value. They've demonstrated too much childishness and incompetence just in the past week for it to be otherwise.
posted by mediareport at 6:20 PM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


The misogyny and abuse is extremely awful, but Ms. Pao hadn't exhibited any signs of competence and deserved to be let go.

Reddit has 10k categorized pages, they have a huge amount of information about each user - and have no real advertising inventory manager to capitalize on this, and no obvious development path to providing such a service.

How will they ever make money without anything to sell? How will dismissing apparently well-loved employees fix these issues?

The tone-deaf messaging and such are distinctly secondary to the fact that Ms. Pao did not seem to understand the technical fundamentals of the business or how to manage a development plan. Ms. Pao came from finance, a basically unrelated field, and then made no attempt to either learn how to manage a software development project or to hire someone to do this.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:24 PM on July 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Pao is ultimately responsible whether or not she personally pulled the trigger on Victoria. That's the job. Just like the Netflix CEO is responsible whether or not it is his idiotic decision to try to spin off "Qwixter" or whatever.
posted by Justinian at 6:25 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ick. I hate to see the idiots at Reddit getting their way, but I'm having a hard time feeling too bad for Pao, who I don't find a terribly sympathetic character.

I understand that they run a business, but it would have been nice if they'd found a woman/minority as a replacement. Alternatively, they could ban all the hate subs tomorrow. That would also be acceptable as a statement.
posted by Maugrim at 6:29 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can hear the "we did it reddit!" from here

there's already a "WE DID IT GUYS" post on /r/berkeley of all places
posted by zippy at 6:37 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


A lot of the discussion on metafilter has centered on the idea that Pao was trying to clean Reddit up. I would like to suggest that a lot of the mods who closed their subs in protest also want to clean Reddit up, or at least their parts of it. While Reddit as a whole has lax content standards, individual subreddits typically have a much higher bar. What the protestors were asking for was better moderation tools so they could better apply their own content standards and stop the brigading by the racists, misogynists, and other trolls. Reddit leadership was apparently unwilling or unable to give them the tools they needed to do that.
posted by chrchr at 6:37 PM on July 10, 2015 [29 favorites]


Yeah, some of them wanted that. But don't forget that one of the ones that went dark was r/mensrights.
posted by NoraReed at 6:42 PM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Total up the total number of upvotes and comments per day, assume they were all in favor of getting rid of Pao in the relevant threads, and you wouldn't break 10% of the total unique users per day.

KiA, they did it! They totally sold the internet on Reddit being against Pao.

Salty fucking shitters.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:46 PM on July 10, 2015


What the protestors were asking for was better moderation tools so they could better apply their own content standards and stop the brigading by the racists, misogynists, and other trolls.

One of the things I've seen when I've stumbled into the 'ugly' side of Reddit (racist, etc) is that they seem genuinely paranoid and gun-shy about being accused of brigading. While they often "point and laugh" at other subreddits, they appear to be aware of being under a microscope and zealously present a front of complying with the letter of the rules.
posted by theorique at 6:48 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Removing fatpeoplehate was the reason they despised her, firing Victoria Taylor was just the excuse.
posted by Beholder at 6:50 PM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Pao being ousted had nothing to do with her race or gender. Saying so is lazy and I'll-informed. It was all about a complete tone deafness to the community she was taking over. Simple as that. It would be like a free republic mod taking the helm of metafilter. She was totally clueless to the community and it showed. And she's rightfully gone because she had no business as CEO in the first place.
posted by holybagel at 7:07 PM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


Even putting the obvious racism and misogyny aside, I think being CEO of Reddit is a nearly impossible job. It's a bit like being manager of the England men's football side.

On the one hand, you're dealing with a group of highly problematic people with opaque and often contradictory motives. On the other hand, you have to cope with an intense amount of external scrutiny, and you will likely receive some form of negative response to whatever decision you make, regardless of its content.

That being said, I believe Harry Redknapp has just submitted his CV to Reddit's board of directors.


Unfortunately, he's submitted it via Royal Mail, as he's still not quite clear on this whole "email" thing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:18 PM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


Cant the reasons Reddit hated Pao be BOTH her gender/race and her actions? Reddit certainly seems not to care too much about picking one or the other.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:19 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


[One comment deleted. This thread has been going reasonably well, has mostly avoided the usual boring Mefi vs reddit thing, and it would be great if we could keep it on that trajectory.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:20 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Pao being ousted had nothing to do with her race or gender. Saying so is lazy and I'll-informed. It was all about a complete tone deafness to the community she was taking over.


For instance, being tone deaf to all the racist and misogynistic language being used in reference to her, or directed at her specifically?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:20 PM on July 10, 2015 [24 favorites]


Pao being ousted had nothing to do with her race or gender.

This had nothing to do with her ousting?

There are cases where Occam's razor is an evasion rather than an heuristic.
posted by fatbird at 7:23 PM on July 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


> This had nothing to do with her ousting?


That's not the front page of /r/all -- that is a selection specifically made up of people who hate Pao. Lies aren't necessary.
posted by the bird at the bottom of the tree at 7:27 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


was it the front page on june 10 bc i think that's when the tweet was from.
posted by twist my arm at 7:31 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hate to see the idiots at Reddit getting their way, but I'm having a hard time feeling too bad for Pao, who I don't find a terribly sympathetic character.

Here's the thing, you don't have to be sympathetic to be screwed over by a misogynist system. In fact, the idea that you do is part of that system.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:31 PM on July 10, 2015 [31 favorites]


Where were all the misogynists when Victoria was unceremoniously dismissed? There's tons of toxic assholes on Reddit, but there are also a lot of people who felt she was the right person for the job.
posted by dirtyid at 7:34 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


just because they made an exception and like one woman doesn't mean they aren't still misogynists.

that looks really, really likely to be the front page of r/all to me. look at the upvote numbers. it might not be the front page right now, but I had an eye on the site that day, and that matches what I remember.
posted by NoraReed at 7:38 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


That's not the front page of /r/all -- that is a selection specifically made up of people who hate Pao. Lies aren't necessary.

That's the front page of /r/all at the time /r/fatpeoplehate was banned and they were playing whack-a-mole with fatpeoplehate2...n. I specifically remember going to /r/all/ at that time and seeing it 100% dominated by such stories. I specifically remember the three /r/punchableface entries. That picture is a screencap of the frontpage from a month ago.

There's tons of toxic assholes on Reddit, but there are also a lot of people who felt she was the right person for the job.

Yup. There's also a lot of mods with legitimate grievances against the admin, and as CEO she was responsible for those grievances, whether or not she was the cause of them. Pretending that the legitimate grievances are totally unrelated to the flood of sexist, hateful bile directed at her is very convenient for the bile producers. And I don't think it's humanly possible to judge those grievances outside the larger context of unmitigated racism and mysogyny directed at her.
posted by fatbird at 7:40 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]



Pao being ousted had nothing to do with her race or gender. Saying so is lazy and I'll-informed. It was all about a complete tone deafness to the community she was taking over.


It's interesting you feel yourself qualified to pass judgment on why she was fired. I feel like you probably have little basis for making that statement. The... gulf between what people presumably outside the business world think the job of a CEO is, and what the actual job of a CEO is quite interesting.

I mean, you could argue an understanding of the community would be helpful for CEO of Reddit, but from a board perspective they would be far far more interested in experience and understanding in running a business - specifically, a high-growth tech/social media industry geared towards securing investment and growth. A board - any board - would only think about these 'communities' and people as gross numbers, nothing more. The idea there would be any interest in a ground-level participation/understanding is pretty preposterous, from my experience. The closest you'd get would be huge quantitative data sets, maybe some personas, and possible PR considerations.

The board would be interested in growth in user numbers, advertising, and monetization, not some tiny community squabbles - and they've demonstrated that over and over again.
posted by smoke at 7:40 PM on July 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


Where were all the misogynists when Victoria was unceremoniously dismissed?
This is the equivalent of the "I'm not a racist, look at all the black friends I have." defense.
posted by Karaage at 7:41 PM on July 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


> Here's the thing, you don't have to be sympathetic to be screwed over by a misogynist system. In fact, the idea that you do is part of that system.

That gives a pass to a potentially wide swath of bad behavior.
posted by the bird at the bottom of the tree at 7:41 PM on July 10, 2015


Pao being ousted had nothing to do with her race or gender. Saying so is lazy and I'll-informed. It was all about a complete tone deafness to the community she was taking over.

A lot of CEOs in other companies get brought on and make bold and controversial decisions: "Neutron" Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Reed Hastings, Ron Johnson, the list goes on. Sometimes their gambles paid off, and sometimes they didn't. Even then, all these guys were CEO for at least a couple of years and most definitely much longer. Pao was CEO for 8 months. I have a hard time believing that her being a woman didn't contribute to being seen as a meddling outsider that was "tone deaf" and "not knowing the community".
posted by FJT at 7:43 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


That gives a pass to a potentially wide swath of bad behavior.

As does focusing exclusively on an individual's bad behaviour without reference to the larger context.
posted by fatbird at 7:43 PM on July 10, 2015


Oh hey, Reddit's doing the thing again.
posted by brecc at 7:45 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think that Pao, as the interim CEO, was ever supposed to be at the helm for "years."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:45 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not disputing the fact that shitty people do shitty things on Reddit. I'm opposed to the notion that Ellen Pao failed because she was a woman and rampant misogynist is some overwhelming force that Reddit kowtowed to. There were many legitimate grievances against Reddit and as CEO she is the most visible target for retribution. I have no doubt she is a very talented administrator in other situations, but her management style and forceful implementation of reforms have predictably backfired in a community driven site with so many ideologies that required more nuanced approaches. Personally I think any CEO attempting to enact the changes that she did would get crucified. Reddit has demonstrated extreme stupidity in how it's managing recent reforms that would have required an escape goat to appease the community. No, it doesn't help that she's an Asian women with bad PR baggage.
posted by dirtyid at 7:47 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


That gives a pass to a potentially wide swath of bad behavior.

I don't understand this comment. Acknowledging that a person is being screwed over due to their race or gender does not equate to giving them a pass on objectionable behaviour. Do you mean something else? Because this comment, on the reading that seems obvious to me, seems to be based on a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of how strategies for dealing with prejudice, oppression and privilege function.
posted by howfar at 7:48 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hate this. I don't think anything can make me hate this less. I hate it because it makes the misogynists feel like they threw a tantrum and won.

This will be a thing on there forever, now. It had already leaked in to some of the "good" places, where now I'm sure we'll see this too.

It feels way too much like the Cersei walk scene from GoT. And they'll like it for the same reasons, and I find it uncomfortable for some of the same.
posted by emptythought at 7:50 PM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


Compare the reactions to yishan Wong and the previous reddit ceos and the controversial changes and dumb decisions reddit implemented during their reigns vs dumb decisions made during Paos reign. The difference in level of vitriol and personal attacks on Pao, holding her personally accountable vs the previous ceos clearly has to do with her gender.
posted by Karaage at 7:50 PM on July 10, 2015 [47 favorites]


I don't believe she's being screwed over due to her race or gender. I think reddit would be awful to absolutely anyone who did what she did. The misogynists have a louder voice at MeFi because they seem to be the only ones listened to. There are others talking, about legitimate problems they have with the board's behavior in the past year, but they're going unheard here.
posted by the bird at the bottom of the tree at 7:56 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


It has to do with her pissing off 200,000 assholes who knew which buttons to push for maximum offense. Yi Shan pissed a lot of people off a little with his soul spiel. Ellen presided over pissing off the worst people on Reddit a lot. Ultimately the toxicity problem that to be addressed, shitty elements like racist and misogynist will always exist on a website as large as reddit, but managing them should be more nuanced than displacing them with heavy handed tactics.
posted by dirtyid at 7:58 PM on July 10, 2015


It's interesting to watch this play out, particularly reading the buzzfeed piece linked above. Basically you have a startup, and all startups are pretty dysfunctional because they're mostly run by people who don't really know what they're doing and have no support to do it well. You have a board of directors that sounds deeply incompetent. And then a bunch of unpaid volunteers complaining about communication in echoes of the genesis of every bad metatalk thread ever.

I can't even imagine how you scale reddit without it turning into a haven for both the best and the worst of the web. It is barely economically feasible to run metafilter, as all of us who donated to its continued existence+moderation know. Reddit has to pay back investors and the expectations of the world, and that just seems completely unrealistic. So they try to scale with unpaid volunteers, who are going to get really toxic and pissy when they don't know what is going on or don't agree.

Basically, this job was always a suicide mission. Whether she was fired or quit, good for Pao for getting the fuck out of there. I hope she has an awesome weekend and never looks back.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:59 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


If that happened without Pao's knowledge then she had no idea what was going on and is incompetent.

Some of the statements here, like this one, confuse me. I've worked in pretty much nothing but tech start-ups for the last almost 20 years and I can assure you that CEOs have nowhere near the level of involvement in staffing and policy decisions that some people think. It's possible that firing Victoria never even crossed Pao's desk -- the CEO helps create the headcount number, not necessarily the actual names of employees.

I know that Reddit is a community (except when it's accused of being sexist and racist and then Reddit is just a loose association of forums, right?) and so its CEO should be community-minded, but there's still a big assumption here of just how involved a CEO is on day to day decisions.
posted by jess at 8:02 PM on July 10, 2015 [33 favorites]


I think reddit would be awful to absolutely anyone who did what she did

Remember, the hate bandwagon started with the decision to ban fat people hate. This wasn't the first time reddit banned a hateful and harmful subreddit - the banning of creepshots was similarly controversial among the reddit userbase and in no way was the personal outrage towards yishan at all the same. Ironically a million creepshot clones continue to live on even today. Imagine if Pao tried to continue that policy that yishan tried to enforce, people would use the same old tired arguments against her as well and ascribe it to the bitch ceo.
posted by Karaage at 8:03 PM on July 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


only on reddit would removing a tiny subset of horribly hate-focused subs that were even more focused on ruining the lives of the people they target be seen as a "heavy-handed" tactic
posted by NoraReed at 8:04 PM on July 10, 2015 [30 favorites]


I don't believe she's being screwed over due to her race or gender.

No one is saying this is the entire reason she was fired. But it's been pretty obvious since she started that it was a huge factor in her whole time as CEO--that graph of comment karma of hers starts long before the last two giant blowups about her, and make clear that she was hated from the beginning, and that hatred was expressed in racism and mysogyny, and undoubtedly coloured reactions to the various changes she did make.

Put another way: Mefites aren't going looking for shitty comments in order to claim racism and mysogyny, they're just paying attention to the "front page of the Internet" and noting what the most obvious face put forward is. Don't blame us for taking Reddit at face value. Seriously, when your argument is "but when you unsubscribe from the defaults and find a few, carefully curated subreddits, it's awesome," you're not making an argument that's favourable to Reddit.
posted by fatbird at 8:06 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


That sort of dumbassery really just sums up why in this case the "Reddit community" had the pitchforks out. Sure, the culture there is annoying and grating, but for heaven's sake if you're in a leadership position you have to rise above those sorts of juvenile comments.

As a former gaming forum moderator, I 100% believe a male mod/admin could have probably gotten away with a snarky comment like that at least some of the time. Whereas I've seen even relatively liked women get instantly turned on for even milder stuff than that.

In addition to what's been said about that banter being common with reddit admins, it's also pretty common to be snarky on nerdy forums as staff. Women just get hit back way harder for it and it gets taken really seriously to support that.
posted by emptythought at 8:06 PM on July 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


No one is saying this is the entire reason she was fired.

she wasn't fired, actually
posted by NoraReed at 8:08 PM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sorry to hear about Pao. And now I can go back to never thinking about Reddit.
posted by sutt at 8:11 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


only on reddit would removing a tiny subset of horribly hate-focused subs that were even more focused on ruining the lives of the people they target be seen as a "heavy-handed" tactic

Horrible and hate-focused, certainly, but "tiny" isn't really a meaningful word when one had an estimated 151,000 subscribers.
posted by Phyltre at 8:12 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


the CEO helps create the headcount number, not necessarily the actual names of employees.

You talk about Reddit like it was some giant corporation, it's not. They have 70 employees. 70. A Target store has more employees, the CEO of Reddit should be aware of pretty much everything going on at a tiny company like that.
posted by MikeMc at 8:13 PM on July 10, 2015 [19 favorites]


Whatever changes were implemented in Reddit's visions, goals and practices, you'd be a fool to think that Ellen Pao was the one ultimately responsible for it. She was brought in as an interim CEO to implement those unpopular policies. Not only is the vicious hatred against her absolutely directed at her race and gender, but it's incredibly myopic too. To the extent the pitchfork mob cares about encroaching monetization and corporatization of the site, they're going to be disappointed when they find it only getting worse. This changed absolutely nothing substantive in terms of how the site operates. All that's changed is those policies will now be enacted by a white male face that more closely reflects the userbase and many seem to be more comfortable with, so there will be much less pushback when there are legitimate grievances.

tl;dr If you have thoughtful problems with where the site is going, you don't want to direct your ire at Ellen Pao, and doing so lumps you in with a whole lot of irrational hate, death threats, and grossness. Place the blame on the founders and board members who have proven inept long before this.
posted by naju at 8:14 PM on July 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


hey so im a capricious white dude i can be reddit ceo

my first act is "no jerks"

wait i am fired?

comfort me, money
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:15 PM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


she wasn't fired, actually

Fair point. I'm assuming she was fired because 1) CEOs never actually get fired, they resign after a meeting with the board; 2) Pao leaving as a result of the recent drama seems pretty predictable as a way to draw fire off the company if they needed the breathing room.
posted by fatbird at 8:16 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


> My take is Ellen Pao went into this with no illusions about her job: do unpopular things and be unpopular so she could step down and leave the unpopular policies in place while a more popular person took over. The pace may or may not have been accelerated by the outcry over the AMA Admin's firing, but I'm pretty sure this is all going according to plan.

I think Mooski nailed it right out of the gate. Pao was given an opportunity to put something new on her resume in exchange for being the heavy to help implement policy intended to make the place more profitable. Come in, do the job, take the heat, get out. She did just that.
posted by davelog at 8:17 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


It was all downhill once they stopped using Lisp.
posted by alms at 8:17 PM on July 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


In fact, the idea that you do is part of that system.

Is that even an idea that actual people hold? Because it certainly wasn't what I was suggesting.
posted by Maugrim at 8:17 PM on July 10, 2015


I couldn't be CEO of reddit because I'm pretty sure I'd send everyone on a vacation to Hawaii, and while they're on the plane rm-rf the whole site (and backups) while listening to eurobeat nonstop.
posted by hellojed at 8:19 PM on July 10, 2015 [36 favorites]


Are they really thinking of monetizing? Because I have quite a bit of experience in that area, running websites that have advertising and make money, and the first thing an advertiser or ad network asks me when I try to work with them is "Do you have any content that is illegal, offensive, pornographic, or hate speech?"

They'd have to MASSIVELY cull the site (and probably expect World War III as retaliation) before any decent advertiser network would go anywhere near them.
posted by mmoncur at 8:20 PM on July 10, 2015 [19 favorites]


I think it's important to keep in mind that Reddit took in $50M in funding just last October. There are 70 employees. Assuming an average salary of $75,000 per employee, their monthly burn rate is $5.3M. Reddit made $8.3M in ad revenue in 2014, so let's assume a gracious 50% increase to $12.5M revenue this year. Let's also assume that they pull in $5M in revenue on Gold, which is extremely unlikely, but whatever, give them the benefit of the doubt, and let's also assume they spend $1M on AWS.

At that rate, they need to find new funding by November of this year, or they're out of cash. Sooner or later, Sam Altman is going to run out of suckers to pony up for this shitshow. Reddit, and by proxy Conde Nast, is figuring out really damned quick that community by itself just doesn't pay the bills. I'd be curious to hear what mathowie would have done if Metafilter ever got to 100M users.
posted by mark242 at 8:22 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mark: 100 million users times $5 signup fee is half a billion bucks.

They'd probably bring Jessamyn back as a mod!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:24 PM on July 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


CEOs never actually get fired, they resign after a meeting with the board; 2) Pao leaving as a result of the recent drama seems pretty predictable as a way to draw fire off the company if they needed the breathing room.

Frankly if I had several subreddit devoted to mangling photos of me in violent and racist depictions, then having that spread throughout other communities, then being doxxed and constantly threatened with violence on a daily basis resignation would be pretty high on my to do list too.
posted by Karaage at 8:26 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I couldn't be CEO of reddit

I could be, there would only be 2 subs r/OneTrueGod (the One True God is Nic Cage for you non-Redditors) and r/babyelephantgifs. Damned if I just can't get enough of those cute baby elephants (not even joking, I think my wife is sick of me showing her cute baby elephant gifs). I would be happy, get fired and collect a nice severance package and life would be good.
posted by MikeMc at 8:26 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Assuming an average salary of $75,000 per employee, their monthly burn rate is $5.3M.

You mean yearly burn rate, right? Unless I'm missing something? (75,000*70=5,250,000)
posted by randomnity at 8:27 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


You forgot to divide by months. That's the annual burn rate on salary.
posted by ead at 8:27 PM on July 10, 2015


It's heavy handed because horrible people don't follow policy changes, nor do the mods have the tools to enforce them effectively (another legitimate grievance). The administration hoped they could flush the shitty elements down the drain to VOAT or some other non viable alternative, but all the tactic managed to do was ensure the shit got smeared everywhere. Instead of fruitlessly appealing assholes to stop being assholes or ineffectually banning them, Reddit needs to update it's infrastructure so mods AND users can make a better experience for themselves, precisely the kind of tools the site has be avoiding. As for monetization, I doubt they'll ever succeed, the best Reddit can do is become a self sustaining utility site like Craigslist and forget about the billions.
posted by dirtyid at 8:28 PM on July 10, 2015


Adding: yes, I botched my math. They have more runway than that, but they definitely don't have ten years of runway.
posted by mark242 at 8:29 PM on July 10, 2015


I doubt they'll ever succeed, the best Reddit can do is become a self sustaining utility site like Craigslist and forget about the billions.

Or they could do a MySpace and sucker Rupert Murdoch into buying it. Or, they could charge for NSFW content like the various GW subs (you know, as a way to weed out minors).
posted by MikeMc at 8:32 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's the job. Just like the Netflix CEO is responsible whether or not it is his idiotic decision to try to spin off "Qwixter" or whatever.

And yet Reed Hastings is still in his job, and Pao is not.
posted by escabeche at 8:34 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Compare the reactions to yishan Wong and the previous reddit ceos and the controversial changes and dumb decisions reddit implemented during their reigns vs dumb decisions made during Paos reign. The difference in level of vitriol and personal attacks on Pao, holding her personally accountable vs the previous ceos clearly has to do with her gender.

I wish i could play this on infinite loop forever.

There was anger when creepshots got shut down and stuff, but it was nothing like there. There weren't huge lists of /r/fuckyishan subs, or image macros, or any of that.

Can you explain this difference in a way that doesn't involve misogyny, that isn't basically "but it's not the same because it's not!"

I can't. At least not in a way that doesn't sound like a little kid trying to say it isn't his fault the dog got out even though he forgot to close the door.
posted by emptythought at 8:34 PM on July 10, 2015 [42 favorites]


Given their current revenue they may well be profitable. That means as much operational runway as they like.

What they don't have is investors who will tolerate low rates of return from "just kinda profitable" business. They'll keep cycling management and strategies until it pays off at a serious rate, or implodes.
posted by ead at 8:36 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can you explain this difference in a way that doesn't involve misogyny, that isn't basically "but it's not the same because it's not!"

Creepshots had ~12,000 subscribers. FPH had 151,000. So 12 times as large a community. That's a pretty big difference.
posted by Phyltre at 8:39 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Came in to say the same thing as smoke and the last couple of commenters. The Reddit board is made up of people with real money invested in making Reddit profitable - that $50M came from real individuals who care deeply about getting it back at a multiple of what they invested at. That board is talking about internal rate of return and timelines to exit, not about whether /r/FPH is mad at their CEO or whether Pao had negative link karma. I'm not saying they care zero about the Reddit user community reaction, but that they only will care to the extent that it interferes with their plans to get Reddit profitable.
posted by BlueTongueLizard at 8:46 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


The fappening subreddit also has over 100k subscribers when it was banned. It also went through a temper tantrum. Still no hordes attacking yishan Wong directly for that. Maybe because he had a mealy mouthed excuse with the soul speech?
posted by Karaage at 8:48 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


The Fappening subreddit also only lasted for somewhere around a month and people were only there for the pictures. The pictures also didn't disappear when the subreddit did, unlike all the FPH content which was far more community-discussion oriented. Towards the end the image leaks were congregated into decentralized fileshares. The Fappening subreddit was just the easiest place to congregate, there was almost no cohesion whatsoever.

And just to be clear, I know this because I solely browse /r/all, not because I was a member or frequent viewer of any of these particular communities (I was not and am not.)
posted by Phyltre at 8:57 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


not because I was a member or frequent viewer of any of these particular communities (I was not and am not.)

A wise man once said "Let him who hath a free hand cast the first stone". Or something like that...
posted by MikeMc at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


And yet Reed Hastings is still in his job, and Pao is not.

Hastings wasn't an interim CEO. People are overlooking the fact that Pao was always supposed to be temporary.
posted by Justinian at 9:10 PM on July 10, 2015


Eh interim CEOs often become permanent. The interim tag might not mean much.
posted by chrchr at 9:14 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


interim CEOs often become permanent. The interim tag might not mean much.

It's like a probationary period with built-in plausible deniability if things go south. "It was always meant to be temporary."
posted by MikeMc at 9:18 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wait, so an interim CEO leaves a company, and this is reflective of a failure on her part?
posted by teponaztli at 9:23 PM on July 10, 2015


They said they were at breakeven in the AMA. Everything in their financing and stuff, they got a lot of sweetheart deals on because YC appreciates them, and they're deep with the VC community.
posted by curuinor at 9:28 PM on July 10, 2015


mods made a clear case that many core Reddit functions were slowly going derelict.

A point that somehow never came up over years until a bunch of harassment sub-reddits got shut down.


Maybe people have only paid attention to the complaining mods because a bunch of harassment sub-reddits got shut down, but the mods themselves have been complaining for years. Long before Pao showed up.
posted by Jpfed at 9:30 PM on July 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


That $50M came from real individuals who care deeply about getting it back at a multiple of what they invested at.

Perhaps, but...
Other investors include Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia. Other individuals include Peter Thiel, Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit, Jared Leto, Jessica Livingston, Kevin and Julia Hartz, Mariam Naficy, Josh Kushner, Calvin Broadus Jr. (a.k.a. Snoop Dogg) and CEO Yishan Wong.
$50m is back-of-the-sofa money in this bubble. a16z and Sequoia now have more money than sense, and the same could be said about some of the individuals here.

I don't think it's that far off MeFi members chipping in to keep things running where the return is that the site keeps running, except when squillionaires piss away money to keep a site the size of Reddit running for their own amusement, they call it a financing round. And I can see that going on for a certain amount of time, with even more executive conniptions, before the bottom drops out.
posted by holgate at 9:54 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is that even an idea that actual people hold? Because it certainly wasn't what I was suggesting.

Yes. Absolutely it is. It is an idea which, while it's not my place to say that everyone holds, many people do hold, and I have to cop to holding myself, and having to confront myself about on a regular basis. At its most obvious, you find it in victim blaming reactions to rape and gendered violence (I do this, and I mostly notice it and filter it and try hard to correct it before I speak), but another common place to observe it is in the way that the conduct of women who speak up online is measured and criticised to see how much of the hate they receive is 'deserved' (you may have heard of 'Gamergate'). It is manifest in many reactions to this story.

Holding this toxic and misogynist idea isn't something done by cartoonish misogynist monsters. It's something that well-meaning people like me do, and have to try to deal with. Failing to do that is one fragment of the web of personal failure that creates the sort of person that spews the woman-hating invective we see everywhere, but it's incumbent on us all to try to oppose this failure it wherever we encounter it, most notably in ourselves.
posted by howfar at 9:55 PM on July 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I don't see anyone here explaining to us why Ms. Pao was in fact an outstanding CEO for reddit. Indeed, I'm not even seeing anyone claiming she was competent.

The vile misogynists were no doubt very gratified by her fall, and that leaves a sour taste in everyone's mouth, but pending any evidence that Ms. Pao was actually capable of doing the job, it's quite unreasonable to claim that she was fired due to sexism, and in my opinion, diminishes the effectiveness of our complaints the next time someone who is actually competent is fired for non-performance related reasons like sexism, racism, ageism, etc.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:23 PM on July 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


And yet Reed Hastings is still in his job, and Pao is not.

Hastings recently announced a 7-to-1 stock split. Pao did not.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:32 PM on July 10, 2015


it's quite unreasonable to claim that she was fired due to sexism

For weeks there has been a movement by Reddit users to have Pao removed -- a movement that was in large part fueled by sexism and racism. It seems willfully obtuse to think that the Reddit user base's refusal to accept a woman of color as the company CEO wouldn't factor at all into asking her to step down, particularly given the timing.

And again, she wasn't fired. It's also possible that she got tired of being the subject of a hate campaign and stepped down. Lord knows I would have given up well before now.
posted by jess at 10:38 PM on July 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


it's quite unreasonable to claim that she was fired due to sexism

I don't think so, not more than any other speculation here anyway. I think contributors to this thread have made an unassailable argument that it should absolutely be considered a major possibility given the information we have at hand.

That doesn't mean I believe she did a great job, I have no damn idea what she did, but I don't see any reason to be convincingly persuaded the reason Pao is not CEO of Reddit tonight is not that someone did some math and determined "Defend the otherwise competent minority woman," was more expensive than, "Go with some guy nobody will complain about."
posted by Drinky Die at 10:45 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


God, everything to do with Reddit is like the worst of start-up culture mixed with the worst of Internet culture and shows how fucked up they both are.

Thank fuck I mostly stay in /r/knitting and /r/korrasami.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:19 AM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's worth stressing that the recent shitstorm involving subreddits going private is quite distinct from the previous shitstorm involving the banning of FatPeopleHate and friends. Different causes, different supporters, different motivations.

The latter drew a sustained and vicious reaction from the dregs of Reddit -- the trolls, racists, and homophobes of the banned subs -- nominally buttressed by a few free speech defenders on a "first they came for..." basis. These people managed to fill the front page with ugly personal attacks on Pao and shitty clones of their hate subs for 24 hours or so, but the broader community quickly got fed up with their tantrum and largely turned against them, prompting an exodus to 8chan and Voat.

The more recent flare-up was far more reasonable and substantive, a form of civil disobedience led by the volunteer mods of the site's largest subreddits in response to the tactless firing of a crucial and respected community liaison, and more broadly the years of frustrating neglect from Reddit HQ. The remaining Pao haters from the FPH debacle tried to co-opt the outrage, but most of the protest posts that filtered to the front page focused on how great Victoria was, not on insulting Pao. And even the posts mentioning Pao focused on more concrete claims like the circumstances behind other employee firings or criticizing the language of her media statements. The bigoted vitriol that characterized the failed FPH backlash has not been remotely as prevalent in this case, and it does a disservice to the legitimate grievances underlying the mod protest to equate them with the goons hurling sexist slurs from /r/ellenpaoisliterallyhitler or whatever.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:47 AM on July 11, 2015 [20 favorites]


Creepshots had ~12,000 subscribers. FPH had 151,000. So 12 times as large a community. That's a pretty big difference.

But how much has reddit grown since then? Another thing is uniques. Just because people aren't subscribing doesn't mean they aren't viewing. Subs aren't a measure of usage, views are. There's an easy argument to be made that sub was "embarassing" for obvious reasons whereas FPH was just a "joke" and relatively socially acceptable.

Both reddit having grown, and the well established ratio of a small number of people voting much less subscribing kind of sinks that one.

It's easy to say a lot of people were "ashamed" of browsing creepshots even if they were logged in users. What do you think the ratio is for say, gonewild? Views dwarfs subs even for people logged in.

There used to be somewhere you could view this, but i can't find it right now. The point is that subs != outraged users or general site users outraged on "principal". If you followed SRS or used the site at that time the blowback from creepshots and the whole VA thing was huge, hugeeeee. But it looked NOTHING like this.
posted by emptythought at 1:16 AM on July 11, 2015


In the last reddit thread, I realized from some of the comments that it could be useful if I unsubscribe from everything default and subscribe just to a few relevant subs. It's been dandy. The Sanders sub is quite good.

The rest of the cesspool needs to be cleaned up.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:33 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry but I don't consider reddit to be a startup. /r/spez is the incoming CEO. He's one of the founders of reddit. His account is 3,687 days old. That's ten years.

That's not a startup.
posted by disclaimer at 3:21 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think it's a startup, technically, in the sense that it never started. It's like a truck full of gold bricks out in the middle of the desert with a flooded engine and the spark plug wires swapped. Lots of people know it's full of money, but no one can get it to start or even figure out what's exactly wrong. So they keep cranking it, and jumping the battery over and over to crank it more because dammit if this fucking thing would start we'd all be rich.

It's a startup because there's tons of users, and there has to be a way to monetize that. It remains a startup until it doesn't scream cash cow even if the cash is all trapped inside a glacier that may never thaw.
posted by emptythought at 3:31 AM on July 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well they're still having to beg VCs for cash and still fucking up basic management tasks, so it's sort of like a startup.
posted by ryanrs at 3:32 AM on July 11, 2015 [22 favorites]


also the glacier is a nazi
posted by NoraReed at 3:40 AM on July 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Creepshots had ~12,000 subscribers. FPH had 151,000. So 12 times as large a community. That's a pretty big difference.

FYI, that's just the "official" creepshots thread that was banned three years ago. There's at least one major sub flying under the radar (even though it's been covered by a bunch of tech sites and is a top result in Google) with almost 55,000 subscribers. It's not hard to believe that in the alternate universe where the creepshot and jailbait subs were never publicized and banned that it would be as or more popular than FPH.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:04 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you use the Reddit Enhancement Suite plugin you can filter out an amazing amount of dreck. Of course the very existence of tool like that is a statement all by itself.
posted by tommasz at 4:56 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reddit's announcement was not badly phrased. Did anybody else here read to the end of it?

As a closing note, it was sickening to see some of the things redditors wrote about Ellen. [1] The reduction in compassion that happens when we’re all behind computer screens is not good for the world. People are still people even if there is Internet between you.

One thing missing here is that typing hurtful stuff onto a web forum is a weapon of the weak. If these people had decent jobs they would be too busy to do this crap. Masses of energetic weaponized young males is a big pile of nitroglycerine holding all of us up who are still standing. That is the problem and it isn't going away.
posted by bukvich at 5:37 AM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


They have 70 employees.

That's mind boggling if true, and explains so much about why Reddit is the way it is. I was all for fatpeoplehate being banned, but I don't remember mods locking up some of Reddit's most popular subs as a form of protest. That only happened after the firing, right?
posted by Beholder at 6:20 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]




Saying Pao is incompetent is ludicrous. It's possible to be competent and also be completely wrong for the job. At a previous company we had a VP that had the "mutual agreed resignation" ending like Pao had. Highly, highly successful at two previous companies, both of which he took from startup through IPO/buyout. But he failed to work for the culture or with the culture, and he eventually lost the confidence of the rank-and-file. Once he lost the rank-and-file, it was only a matter of time before the execs would, too.

But, again, highly successful elsewhere. I've met a ton of people who said they'd walk through fire for him. But man, he looked extremely incompetent at that gig.

Pao was brought in for two reasons: Someone needed to be the public face of trying to clean up a site that was 10% valuable, 90% toxic chemical plant; and she'd already been hardened by the years of the KP lawsuit. Maybe not the scapegoat, but definitely the lightning rod. And the Reddit community behaved exactly as you'd expect.

But she made a ton of mistakes, and management already had a poor relationship with the rank-and-file (remember the "move to San Fran or you're fired" move Wong pulled?), so any misstep internally hurt 3x. And yes, she made them, clearly.

The thing is, who really owns Reddit?

Here's another story: I wrote for a blog years ago, and our team built up a solid following locally. One day, the site went down. For two days. At the end of it, the blog had been redesigned by the leadership, without any heads up to us as to what was happening, without any consultation from us. We were livid. But then it hit me.

We didn't own the blog. We were using it, but it wasn't ours. But we'd been acting as if we owned it.

I see the last couple weeks of Reddit in that light: A whole bunch of people (the moderators) who think they own it, and in fact generate the value for it, discovering that no, they do not actually own it. But it's crazier than that -- turns out no one really owns Reddit. The executives don't create value. The investors "own" it financially but their only recourse is to demand a sale to get their money back. The users, well, we know the line.

The moderators and users need a cut of the action. They need to understand why fatpeoplehate ultimately takes money out of their pockets. Until Reddit figures out how to make the people who think they own the blog actually own it -- and put them on the hook for owning it -- Reddit will continue to belch out toxic crap like Union Carbide Bhopal or Deepwater Horizon until 8chan or Voat finishes eclipsing them.

As for Pao, she didn't deserve a second of the misogyny Reddit users produced. But she was wrong for the job. And I think she knew it. She will pop up somewhere else in the Valley and be perfectly fine. People like her never have to worry about work, because dealing with the crap she deals with makes her perfect for the Valley.

Reddit, meanwhile, is on a knife's edge. And I don't think hiring Pao even began to solve their problems, because their problems are cultural -- they can't expand past a HackerNews-with-cat-memes audience until they get rid of the toxic parts of the HackerNews-with-cat-memes culture. And as we've seen the last couple months, that culture is too blind to realize they make up a pittance of the overall Internet audience, and that their culture has moved from one of the bullied to being the bullies. Reddit is mostly male, mostly white, mostly Western. They're the Internet of 1995. The Internet of 2015 isn't mostly male, mostly white, OR mostly Western. But the Internet of 1995 is the ones with the power. And like the Baby Boomers gravitating towards far-right presidential candidates talking about "saving America," their world is dying, because they're dying, and trying to revive it is pointless because they'll be dead soon anyway.

Adapt or die. Ellen Pao wasn't the solution, and she was brought in to adapt. Bring back founders isn't the solution, because they won't want to adapt.

I guess dying is what is coming. Reddit will hang on, of course, a husk of what it was, but once its ability to amplify the toxic sludge of the Internet diminishes, 8chan or voat (or maybe 4chan, again) will have their days. a16z and Sequoia will take their writeoffs, Conde Nast will take theirs, and it'll muddle along like LiveJournal or Digg for another decade. But the lessons won't be learned, and the Internet of 1995 will keep trying to revive the past that never existed.
posted by dw at 6:57 AM on July 11, 2015 [37 favorites]


That being said, I believe Harry Redknapp has just submitted his CV to Reddit's board of directors.

first thing he'll do is accept a payment to shutdown certain boards, while at the same time pocketing some of that fee? And then constantly threaten to bugger off to Twitter or VK?

(still bitter)
posted by lmfsilva at 7:35 AM on July 11, 2015


...but that was too much for the harassment-as-entertainment crowd. And when you tick off people who view harassment as entertainment, well... it's not surprising how that ended.

Ellen's departure (or should we say, rebranding, as she's not leaving the company or anything) hopefully establishes some sort of high water mark for the reddit staff recognizing the importance of the mods and beginning to be more responsive to their needs, whether it's providing them better tools to do their volunteer work or something as simple as thinking about them when communicating big changes.

Metafilter fans should understand this well. While the moderation here is a lot less transparent than on reddit, you still "feel" it in play ever time you use this site and as much as anyone here might dislike reddit (especially if they've never logged in and customized it, but just glance at the messy fire hose that is the default view) that site requires the same thing to run...just orders of magnitude more of it due to sheer size and complexity.

During Ellen's tenure as CEO, reddit faltered on several big decisions and scores of little ones regarding this critical relationship, and without trying to pigeonhole individual "events" like the fappening, gamergate, the subreddit removals, or various staff changes I think it's a very fair judgment to say that her leadership was lacking even as an interim executive who was obviously chosen to implement some "bitter pill" solutions. This was obvious to any daily user of the site, perhaps especially so to those who completely avoid much of the content that bothers certain mefi users so much.

There are a lot of different issues surrounding reddit being conflated right now, and while media and blogs have certainly overblown the whole shaming-fat-shaming part of all this I think it's silly to try and boil it all down to that and it's also silly to generalize about reddit users as if they're some big homogenous crowd of like-minded jerks.

Look, the reddit community and the metafilter community are very different and they serve different purposes, but they are not entirely made of different people. I'm tired of folks pretending like that's the case and we're in some big softball league competing to see who's the most progressive and idealistic and wonderful sharer of ideas on the internets. That's also silly.

I completely agree with the assertion that this CEO change is more of a public relations move than a milestone in reddit history marking some huge change (or reversion) in how it will run. But casting about random aspersions on the entire reddit community is just as unhelpful as certain members of the reddit community vilifying a single executive as if she's some kind of comic book character acting alone with the entire rest of the (two dozen or so) reddit staff held in a dungeon someplace.

If there's one thing I'd like to say positively about both reddit and metafilter, it's that not everyone in either community says dumb stuff like this. But please, when you feel like you have to, think twice about it or something?
posted by trackofalljades at 8:06 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]




without trying to pigeonhole individual "events" like the fappening, gamergate, the subreddit removals, or various staff changes

GamerGate exploded in August 2014. The fappening folks were kicked off Reddit in early September. Crappy subreddits have regularly been removed, starting years before she joined. A large part of the staff changes were triggered by the decision to centralize the org in early October. Pao took over as CEO in mid-November.
posted by effbot at 8:28 AM on July 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Samantha Allen at The Daily Beast: “Reddit is not the front page of the internet. It’s the front page of the Internet for young men. That’s it. That’s all it ever was. And every statistic backs it up.”
posted by Going To Maine at 8:55 AM on July 11, 2015 [30 favorites]


They have 70 employees.
That's mind boggling if true, and explains so much about why Reddit is the way it is.


It's true. Most of the work of running Reddit is done by unpaid volunteer moderators some of whom "rebelled" after Victoria was fired. Reddit has been running on the efforts of volunteers for years, the mods want better tools and communication and it seems their patience is running out.
posted by MikeMc at 8:58 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's striking how much "incompetence" and "legitimate grievances" are being used exactly the same way as the terms "corruption" and "ethics in games journalism".

Presumably this has been codified in some prized "totally effective secret moves of rhetoric" strategies and tactics guidebook. Like the internet misogynist variant of peacocking and negging.
posted by ead at 8:59 AM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh wait that's also internet misogynists, hmm.
posted by ead at 8:59 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


L. Rhodes on her blog: “Just Another Human”
posted by Going To Maine at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2015


Presumably this has been codified in some prized "totally effective secret moves of rhetoric" strategies and tactics guidebook. Like the internet misogynist variant of peacocking and negging.

Given that it suitably comforts a lot of those who don't want to be complicit in the nasty racism and sexism by giving them a fig leaf to hide behind...
posted by qcubed at 9:19 AM on July 11, 2015


Metafilter fans should understand this well. While the moderation here is a lot less transparent than on reddit...

Are you aware that metatalk exists?

I suppose having moderators who are open about what they do is less transparent than a system which has basically nil moderation by staff, in much the same way that glass is less transparent than empty air.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:35 AM on July 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


If there's one thing I'd like to say positively about both reddit and metafilter, it's that not everyone in either community says dumb stuff like this.

Why do people keep going back to the #notallredditors derail? Talking about reddit as an entity and corporation is a valid criticism because it is ultimately an entity that tolerates behavior that everyone so far has agreed is horrific and is happy to host hate speech, pictures of underage women, and justify hurtful behavior.

Yes I know there are lots of lovely subreddits that are great where you don't have to see that stuff. Yes I know that #notallredditors are misogynists or members of r/coontown or creepshots (and its derivatives) and the hundreds of other subreddits aimed at demeaning and trolling minorities and females and activists. I am willing to reckon that you are also not one of those people. However, it is an inherent part of the community you call yourself a member, and derailing with the #notallredditors defense when someone happens to point out that the bigger entity you're a part of has problematic behaviors (even if maybe your own subcommunities don't) isn't helpful towards going to improve the entity you're a part of.

I am a regular redditor myself and I am active in several subreddits - but the last thing we should be doing when valid critiques are raised about the awful parts of reddit is to point out that there are good things about it and take personal offense rather than saying you're right, that is fucked up, we should do something about it. The fact that I've gotten downvoted into oblivion or receive death threats in redditmail when I point out that the pao hate is awful in reddit or that reddit as an entity shouldn't tolerate these sorts of awful subreddits gives you a hint as to what's happening over there.
posted by Karaage at 9:37 AM on July 11, 2015 [27 favorites]


Why do people keep going back to the #notallredditors derail? Talking about reddit as an entity and corporation is a valid criticism because it is ultimately an entity that tolerates behavior that everyone so far has agreed is horrific and is happy to host hate speech, pictures of underage women, and justify hurtful behavior.

Because MOST of reddit is not like this. You can be a part of many, many communities on reddit and never experience this.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:40 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, the second paragraph of my post acknowledges that old refrain, room.
posted by Karaage at 9:42 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I guess my point is that there are lots of horrible connotations to calling yourself an American, but that doesn't make me any less an American. While it doesn't mean I am less complicit in the evils that happen here, I do my best to make the communities I run around in better places.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:45 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fantastic! That doesn't make the critiques any less valid, nor does it mean the appropriate response is to dismiss the critique with a sullen "but not all americans.." or "i wish your country didn't engage in such critiques."
posted by Karaage at 9:52 AM on July 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


[Folks, again, I know that in a context where criticism of reddit comes up there may be a natural inclination to sort of get into the same old "yes reddit is..." "no reddit isn't..." hockey match but it would be more interesting to just skip that and talk more about the specific stuff this post is touching on.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


it doesn't mean I am less complicit

Exactly! And so when discussing the problem-in-which-one-is-complicit it is best not to change the subject away from the problem at hand.

Anyone living is complicit in many many problematic systems. It doesn't make you a monster or personally, uniquely responsible for fixing the problems. It does not mean that the problematic system is all-problem, no exceptions. It does not even mean the exceptions are a minority; they may be a majority.

It does oblige you not to derail conversations about the problem parts with reminders and caveats about the exceptions. Regardless of how broad and general the exceptions are, they're not the topic. And in this case, since derailment is the favoured tactic of the problem for hiding and defending itself, derailment actively magnifies your complicity. It moves you from bystander to apologist.
posted by ead at 10:05 AM on July 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Reddit's managerial policies remind me of somebody with a bear living on their lawn. They can't decide between feeding the bear and shooting the bear, so they've settled on poking it with a slightly pointy stick.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2015 [10 favorites]




their world is dying, because they're dying, and trying to revive it is pointless because they'll be dead soon anyway.

Everything is pointless. You're dying, I'm dying, everyone and everything is dying. With every tick of the clock we are all one step closer to the the cold void of death yet here we are pissing and moaning about Redditors. I'm going to go outside and enjoy the nice weather while I'm still alive.
posted by MikeMc at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: With every tick of the clock we are all one step closer to the the cold void of death yet here we are pissing and moaning about Redditors.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:28 AM on July 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


No. I know she was well-loved by many moderators, and I'm very sorry at how everything played out. It could have been handled much better.
However, she was let go for specific reasons, which I obviously will not share, and we will stand by that decision.
What we will absolutely do is make sure we have dedicate people internally to help manage the relationships between moderators and guests on reddit. I'm still getting to know everyone here, and I expect this will be an ongoing conversation between you all and I.


From the new (male) CEO.

Wonder if he'll be protested against as vehemently for not immediately bowing to the mob.

Also, yet again shitty subs like KiA went into a situation misinformed and half-cocked, mislead by their mods to fight the culture wars by proxy. That's what, six times in three months that they took over the front page and /r/all without actual factual backing in reality to support their actions?
posted by Slackermagee at 11:35 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


[T]rying to revive [their dying culture] is pointless because they'll be dead soon anyway.

Given that Reddit's users skew young I doubt they'll be going anywhere for some time. As noted in the Washington Post, “millennials are just about as racist as their parents.” “Dying” suggests a rather more rapid decline than we're seeing.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:36 AM on July 11, 2015


Wonder if he'll be protested against as vehemently for not immediately bowing to the mob.

“Chairman Huffman” doesn't have the same ring. Buttman? Suckman? I eagerly await the new childish namecalling that won't come.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:38 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


However, she was let go for specific reasons

Guess she was fired, after all.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:53 AM on July 11, 2015


That was in reference to Victoria Taylor, not Ellen Pao.
posted by cortex at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Guess she was fired, after all.

That quote is referring to Victoria Taylor, not Ellen Pao.
posted by jess at 11:57 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


However, she was let go for specific reasons

Guess she was fired, after all.


The "she" in this instance was Victoria Taylor, the former AMA liason person that this whole kerfuffle is (allegedly) about. Will the new, male CEO get the same shit from reddit's roving mobs as Pao until things are "set right". I doubt it
posted by dis_integration at 11:58 AM on July 11, 2015


Someone should just find voat so all the shitty people will go there like they said they would. Problem solved.
posted by gucci mane at 1:24 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


voat banned a bunch of bad subvoats recently! Now where will the scum congregate?
posted by Justinian at 1:32 PM on July 11, 2015


“Reddit’s Terrorists Have Won: Ellen Pao and the Failure to Rebrand Web 2.0,” Arthur Chu, The Daily Beast, 11 July 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wonder if he'll be protested against as vehemently for not immediately bowing to the mob.

Not only was he not castigated the way Pao was, he was literally responded to with praise for his openness for having given basically the exact same answer previously given by Pao. But I'm sure that has nothing to do with his whiteness and maleness at all. No, it's absurd to think Reddit has any kinds of issues with misogyny and racism. (/hamburger)

(And I say this as someone who very much likes Reddit for topic-focused discussion; of course, the only default sub I follow is /r/IAmA, and I don't fault anyone for thinking Reddit is a place for crazies and horrible people based on those defaults alone)
posted by tocts at 1:40 PM on July 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


ead: "It's striking how much "incompetence" and "legitimate grievances" are being used exactly the same way as the terms "corruption" and "ethics in games journalism".

Presumably this has been codified in some prized "totally effective secret moves of rhetoric" strategies and tactics guidebook. Like the internet misogynist variant of peacocking and negging.
"

ead: "Oh wait that's also internet misogynists, hmm."

qcubed: "Given that it suitably comforts a lot of those who don't want to be complicit in the nasty racism and sexism by giving them a fig leaf to hide behind..."

Can we not do this kind of shit right here? You're not just implying Pao is beyond all criticism, but painting everybody who criticizes any aspect of her tenure -- including many people in this very thread -- as misogynists.

Banning FPH & co. was the right thing to do. The people protesting that were shitbirds, their attacks on Pao were disgusting and vile, and the site's far better off without them. But Pao has also presided over a series of administrative and community relations trainwrecks, and it would be nice if people posting earnest criticism of her time as CEO in the thread about her resignation were not winkingly equated with trolling in support of gamergators, racists, and PUA assholes.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:59 PM on July 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


However, she was let go for specific reasons

Guess she was fired, after all.


This misconstruing in a thread about reddit is basically the perfect satire of an average upvoted reddit comment on any issue like this, though.
posted by emptythought at 2:03 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


voat banned a bunch of bad subvoats recently! Now where will the scum congregate?

For real? Which ones?
posted by Going To Maine at 2:06 PM on July 11, 2015


I'd have to go to voat to find out 'cause I don't remember the details, and I don't want to go to voat because it makes me feel dirty inside. But they were the jailbaity ones.
posted by Justinian at 2:51 PM on July 11, 2015


Vote for me for Reddit CEO


Sorry, but I only vote #1 quidnunc kid.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:57 PM on July 11, 2015 [9 favorites]




We three kings be stealing tha gold
posted by clavdivs at 3:24 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The condoning wife of an unrepentant Ponzi schemer who tried and failed at having her previous employer pay back the pension fund. She shouldn't have been hired as an officer of a company in the first place.
posted by knoyers at 3:30 PM on July 11, 2015


The death of reddit.

That article is pretty stupid. It's obvious the author doesn't know a thing about how reddit works. From the article:

As a sub-note of that last point, why, oh why aren’t the biggest and most successful subreddits run by the company or have their mods hired into contract/consult agreements where they’re on company payroll in some way? How can you honestly cede control at this level and think it’s a good idea?

So, users create subreddits, they become successful, and the suggestion is that the corporation should seize control of those successful subreddits. Yeah, that'll go down well. I suspect the author actually wants reddit to implode.
posted by amorphatist at 3:32 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're not just implying Pao is beyond all criticism

I'm implying that nobody who has chosen to criticize Pao during her tenure has done so in a remotely reasonable fashion. Nobody's "beyond criticism" -- I'm sure her board has plenty of criticism for her too -- but I am comfortable implying that this time, this place, this style of discourse and this person is not real criticism.

Or maybe I'm just not hearing the howls of indignation about unspecified "incompetence" and "legitimate grievances" all the other internet-property-running white men are subject to.
posted by ead at 3:37 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


So the new CEO wants to nurture all subreddits, including coontown etc, and wants to make deleted posts viewable.

I don't think anyone at Reddit gives a shit what happens.
posted by Yowser at 3:39 PM on July 11, 2015


But Pao has also presided over a series of administrative and community relations trainwrecks, and it would be nice if people posting earnest criticism of her time as CEO in the thread about her resignation were not winkingly equated with trolling in support of gamergators, racists, and PUA assholes.

But nobody has really been able to specify anything that Pao was actually responsible for- as far as I can tell, all of these terrible controversial things were either instructions from the board or stuff that Ohanian actually did (like Victoria's firing). If people are being equally critical of Ohanian, sure, we can talk about it being general outrage with the direction of reddit, but nobody seems bothered by his role in this at all. Which is why the disproportionate criticism and protest looks so racist/misogynist.
posted by dialetheia at 3:52 PM on July 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's obvious the author doesn't know a thing about how reddit works.

Chuq Von Rospach is old-school Usenet cabal; he knows a thing or two about online communities.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:11 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're not just implying Pao is beyond all criticism, but painting everybody who criticizes any aspect of her tenure -- including many people in this very thread -- as misogynists.

Okay. I await the massive, overwhelming, enormously racist and sexist invective and complaints over the recent announcement by the new CEO that he's going to make moderation harder.

But, let's be more real here. I don't know why qualifiers such as "a lot of those" or "some" always seem to be ignored by those who seek to take umbrage. When I say some men are sexist, or a lot of white people are racist, invariably I hear shut like, "Can we not do this kind of shit right here?" attached to some odd, irrelevant defense.

Mind you, a lot of those people will suddenly turn around and see an example of a minority misbehaving, and generalize to that whole minority just as easily.

I believe that some people have legitimate gripes. I'm not saying Pao is beyond reproach. What I am saying is that Ohanian and Huffman aren't going to get the same level of shit, probably because they're "default" when it comes to the many users of Reddit: the GenX/Millennial white guy. The one that thinks that they're "obviously not" bigoted because they're oh-so-brogressive.

There's a reason I keep using qualifiers. I'm not saying All Redditors are bigoted assholes. I'm not saying All Critics of Pao are nasty shits. I'm not even saying that all of those who agree with them on certain matters are that bad. #NotAllCritics of Pao are doing it from a place of racist, sexist hostility.

But if you think I'm talking about you when I say that a lot of bigots are hiding behind "acceptable" terms, well, that's on you.

Or, as someone who talked about shade on Twitter once pointed out--if you think someone is throwing shade your way, favoriting that Tweet obviously makes it not about you.
posted by qcubed at 4:15 PM on July 11, 2015 [18 favorites]


AMA with Steve Huffman the new CEO.
posted by Justinian at 4:22 PM on July 11, 2015


I love that after all this consternation, they have no intention of bringing Victoria back anyway, or even talking about hiring someone to replace her role. Nothing Huffman said on this issue is any different from anything Pao said, as far as I can tell, and yet all of the problems are somehow solved now that she's gone.

Okay. I await the massive, overwhelming, enormously racist and sexist invective and complaints over the recent announcement by the new CEO that he's going to make moderation harder.

Seconded! This seems like the exact opposite of what moderators were asking for - people wanted more and better tools, not fewer tools and less control.
posted by dialetheia at 4:39 PM on July 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


@Jeevesmeister: "New Reddit CEO is a hardcore libertarian who just made a passionate defense of letting the 'coontown' subreddit stay, yikes"
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:42 PM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Okay. I await the massive, overwhelming, enormously racist and sexist invective and complaints over the recent announcement by the new CEO that he's going to make moderation harder.

Calling the deletion portion of that an announcement is a bit over the top. It was a one line rant about wanting to read deleted content followed by some spitballing that there should be some mechanism to see them. It's a clearly bad idea I think is unlikely they will follow through on because if they majorly piss off the mods in a way that shows they aren't communicating well again they are in for some hurt.

The "more control over unpaid mods thing" is not more control. They have taken control of subreddits before when it makes sense to do it.

I don't understand the claim that not having secret bans makes it harder to go after abusers and harassers. I must be missing something there.

I don't think he has really done anything likely to make people angry yet. The thing to remember though is that Pao was already hated before she, allegedly, did anything just for existing as a minority woman in her position. I don't think you need to point to any of Huffman's actions to make it clear Pao was never really given a fair chance by a large contingent on Reddit.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:59 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the claim that not having secret bans makes it harder to go after abusers and harassers. I must be missing something there.

Oh wait, I forgot, it's Reddit. Normally I think shadowbans are pure shit in just about every case besides spammers. But for Reddit, where alts are instant and free and IP bans from mods isn't a thing...a shadowban seems like one of the only things that can actually work for a while, and even then it's temporary.

As long as they don't have IP bans, it would be a huge mistake to not let moderators shadowban from their subs.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:06 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


That Chu article is really good, here's a couple great quotes from it:
The problem is that Reddit has been trying to sell a false bill of goods to investors all this time—something that Ohanian and Huffman and other true believers still cling to against all evidence.

This is the idea that you can build a functional community without having to spend any money or effort to manage it—that it just happens spontaneously through the “wisdom of crowds.” The Web 2.0 dream has always been to outsource all of the hard jobs to your users—that unpaid enthusiasts will do all the work of creating your content, curating your content, and promoting your content out of love, and all you have to do is pay some techies to keep the lights on.
And from the conclusion:
This is the face of Web 2.0, folks. This is the boondoggle they’ve been selling to all the Web 2.0 investors—that the “social web” is an untapped oil well when in reality it’s a seething underground pool of excrement and bile.

Pao tells us that upon her resignation she bluntly told the board that it was impossible for her to meet their six-month growth goals—either in terms of attracting new users to Reddit from among the normal, decent portion of the human race, or in terms of attracting revenue from advertisers who want to reach said new users without wading through a sea of racist memes and semen-stained photographs.

Some say that the “failure to meet growth goals” is a lie to cover that she’s actually leaving because of incessant harassment. I would argue that those are the same thing—that the reaction to Pao neatly demonstrates why Reddit’s attempt to monetize its social web have failed, why all attempts to monetize the social web have been extremely rough going—because the social web itself is poisoned.

Either way, Reddit is fucked.
posted by overglow at 5:10 PM on July 11, 2015 [30 favorites]


Seconding that Chu article. It's the best thing I've read on this fascinating mess so far.
posted by naju at 5:13 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


a shadowban seems like one of the only things that can actually work for a while, and even then it's temporary.

A spammer or someone else with nefarious purposes can easily check if they have been shadowbanned - they only need to enter into their web browser's incognito mode and see if the comment they just made is still visible.

Shadowbans only impact people that don't think they would ever be shadowbanned.
posted by ymgve at 5:15 PM on July 11, 2015


It was a one line rant about wanting to read deleted content followed by some spitballing that there should be some mechanism to see them. It's a clearly bad idea I think is unlikely they will follow through on because if they majorly piss off the mods in a way that shows they aren't communicating well again they are in for some hurt.

He mentioned the same idea (keeping deleted content readable somehow) in another comment too: "They can ban what they want, but I'd like to make it transparent what was actually banned. Some sort of "garbage can" or something." Mods in some of my subreddits are upset about this idea because it would make it much more difficult to mitigate things when people get doxxed, and would encourage people to shit up their subreddits, making more work for mods.

Reading that AMA, it's amazing how cavalier he is about decisions that reddit made after he left. Like this comment about fuzzing upvotes and downvotes: "Will definitely consider it [changing things back]. I want to hear the reasoning for why they were removed in the first place. Perhaps there is a better solution to that problem." Like, you are the CEO now apparently - maybe ask someone on the team before publicly questioning their reasoning without bothering to look into it?

I don't know. I've stuck with reddit through a lot, but this decision really looks like trying to appease their belligerent core userbase throwing Pao under the bus and putting one of their old bros in charge again. And these early comments from Huffman are really not encouraging, even if you're right that he doesn't really mean what he's saying somehow.
posted by dialetheia at 5:16 PM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think you are right that he is being way too cavalier. Probably trying to overcompensate for a lot of the criticism that Reddit does not communicate well. I think he means what he is saying, I just think he is eventually going to ask the team like you say and get smacked around by reality a bit.

A spammer or someone else with nefarious purposes can easily check if they have been shadowbanned

Yeah, I know, that's why I said it is only a temporary solution and a very poor one. It's just that it's currently the best available option.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:22 PM on July 11, 2015


I'm also curious what reddit mods think of the idea of having an appeals process for bans and elimination of shadowbanning. The appeals process just seems like a pointless waste of time (i.e. opportunity for trolling/rules lawyering) since people just make new accounts anyway, which would be especially true if shadowbans weren't allowed anymore.
posted by dialetheia at 5:23 PM on July 11, 2015


I would argue that those are the same thing—that the reaction to Pao neatly demonstrates why Reddit’s attempt to monetize its social web have failed, why all attempts to monetize the social web have been extremely rough going—because the social web itself is poisoned.


Facebook took in $12billion in revenue last year, maybe that counts for rough going by the author's standards. Anyway, Facebook is the counter example that entirely refutes "the social web itself is poisoned".
posted by amorphatist at 5:25 PM on July 11, 2015


Some sort of "garbage can" or something."

I've seen it done, and it was very effective. All deleted comments go to /r/trash or some place like that. No more [deleted] cluttering up the rest of the place. Everyone masochistic enough to browse through the zillions of deleted comments can do so at their leisure, to see exactly how much work the mods are doing. Some kind of exception would have to be made for doxxing and things that could bring legal trouble, I suppose. I imagine it might work even on something as huge as reddit.
posted by sfenders at 5:37 PM on July 11, 2015


@drewtoothpaste: "'We can't do it immediately,' apologized the new Reddit CEO, 'but we hope to have all women removed from the site by the end of 2015.'"
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:42 PM on July 11, 2015 [19 favorites]


qcubed: "I don't know why qualifiers such as "a lot of those" or "some" always seem to be ignored by those who seek to take umbrage. When I say some men are sexist, or a lot of white people are racist, invariably I hear shut like, "Can we not do this kind of shit right here?" attached to some odd, irrelevant defense. [...]

There's a reason I keep using qualifiers. I'm not saying All Redditors are bigoted assholes. I'm not saying All Critics of Pao are nasty shits. I'm not even saying that all of those who agree with them on certain matters are that bad. #NotAllCritics of Pao are doing it from a place of racist, sexist hostility.

But if you think I'm talking about you when I say that a lot of bigots are hiding behind "acceptable" terms, well, that's on you.
"

To be clear, I was responding to a comment that was indeed characterizing all criticism of Pao's administration as misogynistic and invalid, and did so by quoting multiple people in the thread, including me.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:50 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


He mentioned the same idea (keeping deleted content readable somehow) in another comment too:

There are already ways to read deleted comments if you really want to.
posted by MikeMc at 5:54 PM on July 11, 2015


On non-preview, that specific comment didn't explicitly call all criticism invalid, but could certainly be read that way, and ead confirmed that's how they meant it downthread.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:54 PM on July 11, 2015


The problem is that there has to be some amount of postings that are permanently disappeared. At a minimum, we're talking about would threaten the site's existences and finances, stuff like child pornography and content that has been the subject of a DMCA takedown request. Reddit cannot exist as a US company and simply never permanently remove anything.

Given this, you've already sold your libertarian soul at birth and we're just haggling over the price. Even if you take the compromise position that ordinary moderation should still only hide posts while true deletions are reserved for admin actions under special circumstances, you now require an army of admins (who have previously been uninterested in anything to do with moderating the site) to swoop into situations they don't understand and take action.

And of course there are still archive sites, which keep the deleted content around anyway.
posted by zachlipton at 5:56 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yishan Wong conspiracy theorizes. Sam Altman smirks.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:06 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wow. Reddit continuing to be gross I expected. Reddit adapting itself to be even more accommodating to the needs of trolls and harassers I did not expect.

I guess as far as they are concerned there is literally nothing that can be done that would drive off the "it's okay if you hold your nose!" crowd, and any activity is good activity.

I wonder if they'll sneak CP back in through the backdrop while they are at it.
posted by Artw at 7:33 PM on July 11, 2015


I guess as far as they are concerned there is literally nothing that can be done that would drive off the "it's okay if you hold your nose!" crowd, and any activity is good activity.


If there were any real competition, I suppose they'd be concerned.
posted by Maugrim at 7:44 PM on July 11, 2015


I think his absence made him miss the whole realization that the libertarian "let the market decide!" utopia doesn't really work in practice. After reading his AMA, the vibe I'm getting is that the changes that were made since he's been gone, well no wonder it's not working. The only think he seems to care about is organized groups acting in concert to game the voting.

I'm betting he doesn't actually think moderators are necessary at all. The spam will just get downvoted! If CP gets upvoted, well it's just what people wanted, who am I to decide?
posted by ctmf at 7:48 PM on July 11, 2015


So long, Reddit

I have been a Redditor on and off since its very beginning. Reddit is a business. And, it seems, a manifestation of the sincerely held extreme libertarian views of its founders on the subject of free speech.

These are nice theories to debate. The practical reality is that Reddit seems to have overtaken Stormfront as the world’s largest White Supremacy community. And thus, every page view turns into some fraction of a dollar that powers a server that hosts hate.

Hate for me and my children. Hate for my great-grandparents coming here. Hate that goes beyond talk, and becomes shootings and burning of churches, and “standing your ground” against teenagers. To others, hate is just “disagreement.” Or just “appalling talk.” Or just “people of colour with thin skins.”

I grew up worshipping in a historically black church. There’s another just down the street from me. There’s also a Mosque and a Buddhist Temple, mind you. So when people talk about hate, it may merely be “offensive speech” when you, your children and your neighbours are not the people they want to exterminate.

But it is more than that to me.

I have no trouble distinguishing those who visit /r/programming and /r/javascript from those who inhabit /r/coontown. I like almost everyone I’ve interacted with on Reddit. But while the inhabitants may be different people, the landlord is the same person, and keeping the lights on in /r/javascript is also keeping the lights on in the Chimpire.

I don’t need to debate whether someone is legally allowed to have a certain type of hateful speech, or whether its effects go beyond merely being “appalling” or “offensive.” What I know is this: Choosing to build a for-profit business around hosting such speech is a choice, and choosing whether to support that business is also a choice.

posted by Artw at 7:57 PM on July 11, 2015 [35 favorites]


Chu's article is great. Specifically the point he makes about when it was revealed that "incompetent" and "tone-deaf" decision that's been repeated in this thread about Victoria Taylor's firing was specifically Ohanian's decision, not Pao's:

And, surprise surprise, it was an own goal scored by Ohanian, who wasn’t the one being blasted with death threats, rape threats, and images of himself being photoshopped into porn; who was, in fact, so clueless about the seething hate mob on Reddit that he—not Pao—made a callous joke about “popcorn” when the backlash against Victoria’s firing started.

Yet people complained about the fact that Pao made a popcorn joke as unprofessional AFTER SHE RESIGNED. Nothing about Ohanian starting the joke. Several scrambled, even in the face of this revelation, to nonethless fault Pao with the "buck stops at the CEO" remarks or that she should've reinstated Taylor as evidence of why she was "bad."

The new CEO has already stated he has no intention of reinstating Taylor. Where are the comments tearing into him for his or Ohanian's "incompetency" and demanding his resignation if misogyny had nothing at all to do with the legitimate critiques of Pao?
posted by Karaage at 8:28 PM on July 11, 2015 [27 favorites]


So long, Reddit

Reg is a legitimately great guy that I've had the pleasure to work with and his opinion is worth more than a million /r/coontown posters.
posted by GuyZero at 8:41 PM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm a big fan of his JavaScript books, glad too learn he is a good person as well.

(Even if he is a filthy Coffeescripter)
posted by Artw at 8:51 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]




NYTimes 10.7.15 reporting ekp resignation malwrited rectify fullwise unnote correction

English pls?
posted by naju at 9:16 PM on July 11, 2015


I don't really understand. The Times routinely posts stories quickly and then updates them into more fleshed out articles. Is there something unusual in the diff I'm not seeing?
posted by zachlipton at 9:21 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everything in dw's comment is fantastic, but this got me thinking:

They're the Internet of 1995.

Not necessarily the web of 1995, which was still pre-lapsarian, perhaps because the only way to be an offensive fuckwit in public on someone else's website was via Matt's Script Archive guestbook.pl. The 1995 web was tightly, geekily circumscribed, but it was in certain ways less oppressive because everything was created in its own distinct space, and creating those spaces took effort. Usenet still contributed a lot to the totality of the internet in 1995 (along with MUDs and MOOs, if we're thinking about interactive spaces). But if you threw yourself into newsgroups in 1995, post Eternal September, you did so knowing what they were and what was growing up to replace it.

Yishan's line about Conde Nast buying Reddit too early is kidding on the square: what makes Reddit a kind of evolutionary curio among web properties is that it became a bought-out corporate entity with a valuation and is still that, and perhaps that could have only happened under a fundamentally clueless corporate ownership that still somehow has enough money to keep it going, perhaps because its core member demographic includes a) enough moderators with a shitload of time on their hands and b) enough members who have shitloads of money burning holes in their pockets.

The obvious contrast is with 4chan, which remains moot's property, though he's detoxing after over a decade of running the damn thing. In that context, the fact that Reddit is a corporation with a CEO and a board of directors is absurd.
posted by holgate at 9:26 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a big fan of his JavaScript books, glad too learn he is a good person as well.

I seriously cannot make heads or tails of his books. Believe it or not when I worked with him he was a really solid Java dev team lead.
posted by GuyZero at 9:26 PM on July 11, 2015


JavaScript Alonge is great because it comes at JS from exactly the opposite angle you would expect to, like I think you're half way through before there's a named function, so it explores a whole different set of approaches and that's really fun.

Sorry, derail.
posted by Artw at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2015


English pls?

To translate from the Newspeak: "The July 10, 2015 NY Times article reporting on Ellen K. Pao's resignation was written incorrectly. Fix it entirely. Do not include a 'Correction:' notice."
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:23 PM on July 11, 2015


What was incorrect about the original article? The Times rewrites articles like this every day. It (sometimes, anyway, they aren't always great at this) appends corrections when the facts were wrong, but they don't include corrections when the article is simply improved. Can you point to specific things in the old article that were factually incorrect?

All I see here is a quickly-written factual article to respond to a breaking news event, followed a few hours later by a longer story in a more literary style, with additional context filled in, more suitable for print publication.

Looking through all the diffs, it is vaguely interesting that the Times went back and forth a couple times on whether to call the "culture of Silicon Valley" "sexist" or "male-dominated."
posted by zachlipton at 10:34 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I won't link to anything, because it's mostly on invite-only subs for moderators, but there is a hell of a lot of pushback against the new CEO's proposed moderation changes. If he implements 1/3 of the changes he talked about, the outcry will make the blackout look like nothing.
posted by peppermind at 10:38 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


the outcry will make the blackout look like nothing.

Among mods maybe. But among users? They got what they wanted.

I'd be amused to be proven wrong, but I really think it was easy to get an Internet mob to rally around ousting an evil insert_favorite_slur, and that when it comes to rally users around "they didn't like, put enough buttons in the mod control panels and fucked stuff up" the "how dare they!" Crowd will be tiny and quiet.

That, in context, sounds like a bunch of posturing from a middle school kid telling his friends how they're totally going to tie up the bully and push him in the ravine if he doesn't give their game boy games back.

Riiiiiight.
posted by emptythought at 10:57 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The parts of reddit that are tolerable are that way because of good mod teams, for the most part. Good luck monetizing the site if the mods walk away, and leave "the worst of the web" to fester on it's own.
posted by peppermind at 11:11 PM on July 11, 2015


A lot of CEOs in other companies get brought on and make bold and controversial decisions: "Neutron" Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Reed Hastings, Ron Johnson, the list goes on. Sometimes their gambles paid off, and sometimes they didn't. Even then, all these guys were CEO for at least a couple of years and most definitely much longer. Pao was CEO for 8 months.

Whatever the reason for Pao's exit, there are plenty of CEOs who have been sacked after 8 months or less -- particularly at unprofitable companies where the board brought them in to turn it around. And why not? Six months is a lot longer than I'd give a new employee if I felt they weren't working out.

In any case while racism and sexism certainly don't help the matter, no CEO who's company is surviving on venture money gets up in the morning certain that they'll have their job come sundown.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:49 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Braithwaite's post is on point. And it's right for him, and an understandable stance.

I'll probably be reducing my own visits to Reddit, but I don't know if I can cut all Condé Nast publications out--Ars Technica is too good of a resource. The curse of modern conglomerates bites.
posted by qcubed at 12:18 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where are the comments tearing into him for his or Ohanian's "incompetency" and demanding his resignation if misogyny had nothing at all to do with the legitimate critiques of Pao?

I'm sure you can find them if you look hard enough. Just like how you could have probably found the one righteous person in Sodom or Gomorrah.
posted by qcubed at 12:23 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


A lot of CEOs in other companies get brought on and make bold and controversial decisions: "Neutron" Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Reed Hastings, Ron Johnson, the list goes on. Sometimes their gambles paid off, and sometimes they didn't. Even then, all these guys were CEO for at least a couple of years and most definitely much longer. Pao was CEO for 8 months.

Steve Jobs and Ron Johnson were both fired. Steve Jobs didn't get "brought on": Apple wouldn't exist without him, obviously. A lot of people want to make this about misogyny and sexism - and plenty of cretins on reddit are on hand to provide evidence any time that's needed - but I don't see that being the main thing at work here. Pao was a talentless hack, her family's private fortune is due to her husband's criminal activity, it seems to be a family tradition that the way to get ahead is to sue your way to the top. She's an unsympathetic character seemingly without redeeming qualities, and if she were to somehow become the CEO of MetaFilter I'd be appalled before she ever made a single decision. With a site like Reddit (or MetaFilter) where the userbase is the asset and the users feel strong attachment to the site and/or the perceived raison d'etre of the site, it's important that the users trust, and ideally, like the leadership. I haven't always agreed with every direction mathowie has taken this place, but I imagine there are few users who would disagree that he's a fundamentally good person, of good character, with good intentions, and a personable individual. I'd lend him twenty bucks, and let him babysit my daughter, and I've never met him IRL. That was the first problem with Pao. She has the perception of not being a decent human, and untalented at that (has she done anything of note?), and who wants that leader?
posted by amorphatist at 12:34 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd be really curious to hear the backstory of who/how Pao got hired as interim CEO. Why would she ever make the long list, let alone the short list? Obviously it's got a lot to do with the machinations of the VC world (which is quite small and most incestuous, I'm two Bacon steps removed from her, I have a little familiarity with how things go down), but... why? Who made that decision, and what were the factors? The supporting documentation for that choice would make a hilarious read.
posted by amorphatist at 12:40 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was the first problem with Pao. She has the perception of not being a decent human, and untalented at that (has she done anything of note?), and who wants that leader?

And the violent sexual and racist imagery frequently used to express this perception strongly indicates that Pao's gender and race were profoundly involved in creating that perception.

I'll use an analogy to try to explain. The fact that black people are wildly disproportionately imprisoned for possession of cannabis is a result of racism. The fact that the vast majority of those people were actually in possession of cannabis does not make it not racist.

Even if all the negative perceptions of Pao are well founded, the criticism was still misogynist and racist.
posted by howfar at 1:55 AM on July 12, 2015 [25 favorites]


Just read about this horrendous shitstorm elsewhere, suddenly felt the urge to come here (which of late I don't do so much) to say I still wuv MeFi <3.
posted by _dario at 3:01 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pao was a talentless hack, her family's private fortune is due to her husband's criminal activity, it seems to be a family tradition that the way to get ahead is to sue your way to the top. She's an unsympathetic character seemingly without redeeming qualities,

She has the perception of not being a decent human, and untalented at that (has she done anything of note?), and who wants that leader?

Without looking it up further, how much of this type of information and character judgment do you already know about the previous reddit ceos and the current reddit ceo? Have you ever given thought to those CEOs and attacked them for their failings for a fraction of the time you've thought about Pao?

Do you even know what the previous reddit ceos looked like, much less their character, talents, family income sources, spousal jobs, full legal history, and whether theyve done anything of note such that you can make a character judgement that has nothing to do with misogyny?

Do the rest of the cretins and misogynists and hiding behind the same ridiculous standard you're setting for leadership of a site you happen to use know? Do you have a full biography of every leader of every site you use?
posted by Karaage at 5:38 AM on July 12, 2015 [42 favorites]


Much of what we know of Pao comes from the legal documents in her lawsuit, which truly do paint an obvious picture of a deeply unlikable human being who did not have the personal or professional skills to be CEO of a company like Reddit. That the folks who most gleefully went through those documents publicly were the vocal sexist asses in the worst subreddits doesn't change the reality of what the documents revealed about Pao, which wasn't flattering, to say the least.
posted by mediareport at 6:26 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dunno. She was running a website. A lot of these totally-not-sexist criticisms of her personal character and value as a human being sound more like they apply to an arms dealer or the CO of a death squad. Is this really necerssary? Because it doesn't do a lot to support the idea that misogyny had nothing to do with this situation.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:34 AM on July 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


I would never say that misogyny had nothing to do with this situation. It was a huge factor driving reactions to the mess, and to Pao from the get-go.
posted by mediareport at 6:40 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Plus they all seem happy that she has been replaced by an unfrozen caveman.
posted by Artw at 6:48 AM on July 12, 2015 [15 favorites]


Much of what we know of Pao comes from the legal documents in her lawsuit, which truly do paint an obvious picture of a deeply unlikable human being who did not have the personal or professional skills to be CEO of a company like Reddit.

I didn't ask how people knew these things about Pao. I asked whether all the other leaders of the site people happen to use are subjected to the same amount of scrutiny and goal post shifting to determine whether they are "talentless hacks" or "suited to running a company like Reddit."

Also, realize that lawsuits are adversarial proceedings. The defense counsel's documents "paint an obvious picture of a deeply unlikeable human being" because they are paid millions of dollars to to precisely that. How much time have you spent studying the allegations she's made about the partners of her former employer? Did you similarly come to the conclusion that they too, maybe were "deeply unlikeable human beings?"

That isn't to say that the documents don't have kernels of truth and I fully realize the jury ultimately disagreed that she had met the requirements to prove the elements of her allegations of sexual discrimination. That doesn't mean her entire account is untrue, nor does it mean the entire account of the defense's narrative is true.

Just because you've read a troll's cherry picked account of Pao's character from a lawyer's document that was paid to paint her in a poor light doesn't make you somehow personally knowledgeable enough to go off and declare her character to be one way or another. Again - how deeply are you scrutinizing the character of the other CEOs?
posted by Karaage at 7:05 AM on July 12, 2015 [34 favorites]


Yeah - one of the interesting things about discussions about reddit is that they provide an interesting sort of litmus paper reveal about attitudes on other web forums as well - we saw this with GamerGate, and we're now seeing it here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


More broadly, I think the interesting question about reddit is how a Chief Executive Officer does or indeed can execute the board's strategy. The Financial Times has a useful piece on that - Huffman is likely to get a much smoother ride from the site, since he is not an icky girl - sorry, I mean "talentless hack" - but he is facing the same challenge that Pao is facing, and which at least in the official version is what led to her resignation, that being to increase user numbers and presumably also have some way to monetize them.

Has reddit topped out at about 170 million monthly uniques? Almost certainly not - if nothing else, more people are getting online all the time, and the Earth's population is also increasing. Just maintaining steady-state would lead to rising visitor numbers, especially with a decent Android client. However, those increasing numbers would not be in a very desirable demographic - which is a problem reddit is consistently wrestling with. Some of the most engaged users are at the same time driving away the kind of users advertisers generally want to target. So, it's not just growing user numbers, but also growing revenues - either through advertising or through some alternative to advertising. The Zack Exley quote in that FT article is notable:
People think if you are a company on the internet you should be able to return mega profits. Actually, if they asked their users to pitch in, they could be nicely profitable, just not bringing in gazillions of dollars.
The problem being that it's an article of faith that the reddit model - an incredibly lean team essentially running maintenance on a machine that produces and markets its own product effectively gratis - should bring in gazillions of dollars. It's the perpetual motion machine model, effectively, except in this case it creates perpetual money. Reddit is supposed to be like Uber or AirBnB, in that sense.

Which is presumably why Steve Huffman is talking about both increasing the user base of reddit hugely, and also about the need to "build out" the team - he needs to unlock more funding from the board to make new hires, which will push reddit - which is currently just about breaking even, but only by outsourcing the vast majority of its community management onto unpaid moderators, and not apparently having the programming resource to build tools for those moderators - into the red, in pursuit of far higher revenues in the future. Which is certainly possible, but I don't think a map exists that goes from there to here right now.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:17 AM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


who did not have the personal or professional skills to be CEO of a company like Reddit

To pick up on running order squabble fest's comment: what are the personal or professional skills required to be CEO of the specific company that is Reddit? Because Reddit clearly hasn't worked it out.

Reddit is supposed to be like Uber or AirBnB, in that sense.

Except that Uber and AirBnB lubricate the relationship between the few people running the corporate entity and the many people doing the heavy lifting with... money. At scale, money is a pretty good way for the few to enforce policies that the many will then follow. You can clearly get by without money in certain situations, as shown by Wikipedia's non-profit underpinnings and use of social capital -- though that has its own well-documented problems. But Reddit doesn't work like that, and will never work like that.
posted by holgate at 12:31 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


I guess what it rewards people with is the joy of seeing their own little community grow. That has the downside that everything comes down to the judgement of whoever has volunteered, and not everyone has good judgement, and the values of the community in question, and some communities are made up of awful, awful people.

That would be unstable enough, if it was just a platform for individual communities and some of them went bad, but then you have a whole set of meta-community values on top, and those actually seem to lean heavily towards supporting bad judgement and awful people. And then you've got the people who actually run the thing, who will occasionally do things like swoop in and shut down CP boards, but drag their feet like hell about and give every impression they'd sooner be on the side of awfulness.

I don't think a less awful Reddit is an impossible ideal, but it would really need to get a handle on those meta-community issues and all signs point towards it doing the exact opposite.
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Except that Uber and AirBnB lubricate the relationship between the few people running the corporate entity and the many people doing the heavy lifting with... money. At scale, money is a pretty good way for the few to enforce policies that the many will then follow. You can clearly get by without money in certain situations, as shown by Wikipedia's non-profit underpinnings and use of social capital -- though that has its own well-documented problems. But Reddit doesn't work like that, and will never work like that.

Right - but I think that's how Reddit imagines, or at least imagined, itself. AirBnB and Uber connect consumers with providers, and take a cut. Reddit, I think, sees itself as providing people who wish to consume content and community with people who wish to provide content and community. That works as a business if your consumers are libertarian multimillionaires rewarding the community-builders and content-producers for the sweat of their brows, by freely distributing gold on which you make almost pure profit, having once set up the system.

However, if you want to scale beyond libertarian multimillionaires you have to open up the possibility that many or most consumers will never or hardly ever buy gold for themselves, much less other people.

So, your second route to money is advertising, which is the way content sites generally make money. But the system you have created, which allows people to create whatever community they like, has given your site a reputation for being a haven of misogyny, white supremacy, homophobia, creepshotting and so on. So, it turns out that most of the people who want to advertise on reddit community pages are other reddit communities. And, since the rewards of running a reddit community page are largely non-monetary, this drives down the amount you charge for advertising.

If you can massively increase user numbers and/or increase the value of users, to reddit and to advertisers, that improves those numbers. Otherwise, or additionally, you need another revenue source to show investors. Merch? A built-out e-commerce offering?

One major benefit of reddit is that it's very cheap to run, but issues like the recent unpleasantness endanger that benefit's perception, because they highlight the down sides of this very lean structure and also imply heavily that further investment will be required to drive growth. That's what Huffman is explicitly saying, but at the moment it isn't clear what kind of growth-generating products might be created by further investment.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:04 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


One major benefit of reddit is that it's very cheap to run, but issues like the recent unpleasantness endanger that benefit's perception, because they highlight the down sides of this very lean structure and also imply heavily that further investment will be required to drive growth. That's what Huffman is explicitly saying, but at the moment it isn't clear what kind of growth-generating products might be created by further investment.
posted by running order squabble fest

Eponysterical? It's eponysterical somewhere in there.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:34 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


You may be confusing me with my cousin, running costs squabble fest.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:57 PM on July 12, 2015 [17 favorites]


> @Jeevesmeister: "New Reddit CEO is a hardcore libertarian who just made a passionate defense of letting the 'coontown' subreddit stay, yikes"

> So the new CEO wants to nurture all subreddits, including coontown etc,



Huffman (new CEO) on ‘CTown':
The content there is reprehensible, as I’m sure any reasonable person would agree, but if it were appropriately quarantined, it would not have a negative impact on other specific individuals in the same way FPH does.

Ellen Pao on ‘CTown':
We’re banning behavior, not ideas. While we don’t agree with the content of the subreddit, we don’t have reports of it harassing individuals.

There may be other ways in which Huffman will provide a change of direction, but I can't see his comments about 'CTown' as any sort of bellwether.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:40 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


To pick up on running order squabble fest's comment: what are the personal or professional skills required to be CEO of the specific company that is Reddit? Because Reddit clearly hasn't worked it out.

Reddit is not a startup anymore, or at least not a hand-to-mouth startup anymore. They have a board thick with VCs. They're expected to make The Leap.

The leadership, though, is still stuck in the "can we keep paying our 12 employees" phase of a startup. Pao was a Hail Mary hire, but she clearly wasn't the right CEO for a post-Series B startup desperate to become not just a going but a growing concern for their investors.

Usually when startups reach this point the VCs find "adults" to help fill in the holes in leadership. a16z and Sequoia both have CEOs, EVPs, etc. sitting on their bench that the firms can deploy at a moment's notice to save their investments.

The fact that a16z and Sequoia haven't done this is telling. It says they're treating Reddit as not worth getting involved in. Admittedly, they're not Conde Nast level investors in this enterprise, but they're pretty much treating their money like it's already thrown away.

Regardless, Reddit needs veteran leadership to step in, cut deadwood, realign the culture, and turn the company into something profitable. There are people in the Valley who can and have done this. But can they do it while fixing -- or at least attenuating -- Reddit's broken user/moderator culture? Doubtful. They'd need someone who's successfully taken a community-driven organization to market. The only one that comes to mind is Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson (or one of his VPs). And I doubt he can save the place.
posted by dw at 4:06 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


There may be other ways in which Huffman will provide a change of direction, but I can't see his comments about 'CTown' as any sort of bellwether.

I do think it's interesting that Huffman's comment has 1,281 points, while Pao's has -4,054 points despite expressing very similar sentiments. (Maybe redditors love the word “quarantine”? Somehow I doubt that that's the case.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:13 PM on July 12, 2015 [14 favorites]


Redditors do love the word quarantine. The whole ideology that problems can be compartmentalized is something that appeals to a simplistic vision of libertarianism. One manifestation of privilege is the power to ignore things when it is convenient to do so.
posted by polymodus at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


A man's toxic waste dump is his own concern, and worrying that it might leak into groundwater is socialism.
posted by Artw at 4:29 PM on July 12, 2015 [15 favorites]


Reddit is not the front page of the internet: interesting demographic data that matches up with what I'd always assumed, but is nice to have laid out in detail.

I don't think a less awful Reddit is an impossible ideal

No do I. It might be the equivalent of the Vietnam war 'destroying the village to save it', but if it were my decision to make, I'd delete purge and ban all the Awfulness, hire good people as supermoderators, and institute and enforce policies to make sure that it was gone for good, and invite people who wanted to continue it to go elsewhere. A radical, ethical restructuring.

It would probably destroy the site, and would at least decimate traffic in the short term (and thus be something investors would not go along with, presumably), but it would be worth it. A Reddit that still had all that is good about it -- which so many here at MeFi over the years have spoken up about -- but no more of the vileness that is getting harder and thankfully harder to paper over? That'd be a great thing.

Not going to happen, though, I don't think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:31 PM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Would it really destroy /r/IAMA and the specialist Reddits and all the stuff people say they visit it for? I really don't think awfulness is inherent in them, even if I think "ignore all the awful and everything is rosy!" is dumb advice.
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2015


I don't think so, no. Amputating the gangrenous leg to save the patient might be risky and painful, but might be the only way forward. Clearly the people who run it don't seem to think so -- if numbers start to fall as a result of the massive press attention to the Bad Stuff recently, though, they may just change their tune.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:56 PM on July 12, 2015


They give every impression they think the bad stuff is valuable - maybe even more so than "good" Reddit, so I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Artw at 6:06 PM on July 12, 2015


Reddit, I think, is really weird about the issues that is stands on. It already doesn't promote absolute free speech, as there are things they won't allow (like doxxing, for example), that seems to be a noble exception that they embrace fully, for socially good reasons. Why not extend other reasonable exceptions, ones that arguably prevent more harm, for other socially good reasons? For example, perhaps disallow these things, along with the obvious ones they already do, such as CP, sexualizing of minors, and things that lead to harassment of specific individuals:

1. Forums that promote racism.

2. Forums that are intentionally shaming, perhaps especially towards minority groups.

3. Forums that sensationalize gore or violence.

You might have some staunch libertarians who defect based on a policy like this, but I don't think it's the kind of defection that wouldn't continue to find some equilibrium over time. It might actually bring in more people.

Since it's already been proven that they can't promote an absolute libertarian perspective, based on updated and more restrictive policies that creep in as they get negative press, just go with it a bit further and sell it under the notion of wanting to be a place that continues to promote other notions of virtue that also need to be balanced with a notion of free speech. When absolute values come into conflict with each other, it makes sense to ask which value should be subservient to another to promote the greater good. To make some absolute notion of "free speech" the pinnacle of virtue in a private company has not only been shows to be something that they aren't already doing, but arguably they are supporting social harm by not being more careful in the way they assess which values should perhaps be weighed just as carefully. Harm isn't always what you do, it's sometimes caused by choosing to take no action, as well.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:18 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would do Reddit enormous good to raze the terrible stuff and set new standards in place to prevent it from coming back. It'd be a lot of work, it'd piss people off, and doing it right would require hiring people. But it would be worth it.

It would be a lot of work, because it would mean rooting out not just literal extant subreddits but their immediate scattered offspring and the culture driving that. It's not enough to say "this thing you're doing has gotten out of hand"; it has to be a commitment to saying "this thing you're doing is fundamentally not okay".

It would piss a lot of people off, both those core awful folks who like the place because it allows them to engage in terrible behavior, and a lot of otherwise reasonably well-meaning people who, because of an internalized misguided belief that defending the facilitation of that terrible stuff is a fundamental and unsurpassable moral good, are enabling those terrible folks and the culture they're fomenting. Pissing off the abject racists and misogynists et al won't upset too many people, but pissing off the folks who are convinced that they're morally obliged to tolerate and make excuses for the racists and misogynists will be more of a community problem. A lot of people convinced of the righteousness of holding their nose and defending awfulness on libertarian principle would consider, and loudly declare, a purge of that terrible shit to be The Death of Reddit. A lot of folks would leave, and take their good intentions with them.

And it would require hiring some high-level moderation management staff. Ideally it'd mean hiring a lot more in-the-trenches moderation staff as well, but setting that aside as probably financially out of the question, even bringing on a crew of folks specifically trained and equipped to provide serious professional guidance and support to and liaise with the existing army of volunteer moderators would make a tremendous difference. Recognizing that moderation work is as hard as it is vital to a functional and empathetic community and actually supporting that above and beyond a bare minimum would let Reddit's moderative ethos cohere into something more than the balkanized, catch-as-catch-can stew that it seems to be now.

Beyond all that, though, it'd look like negative growth. Because it would be negative growth. Because all the easy metrics would drop—you'd lose traffic from racists. You'd lose traffic from misogynists. You'd lose traffic from a whole host of terrible motherfuckers and their gawkers and hangers-on. You'd lose subscriber numbers. You'd lose the metric juice of a lot of otherwise well-meaning people who've tricked themselves into believing that any of the foregoing would be a bad thing even though they find the behavior in question loathsome.

Numbers would go down. They'd go down and there's no guarantee that they'd go back up. Reddit could end up just being a smaller site, with fewer tens of millions of active users and nothing like an upward-trending graph to show shareholders. It might be a stronger, tighter, kinder, more empathetic, and far, far better place, but numbers would go down. And the fact that that makes the idea a non-starter puts the lie to the idea that anyone actually leading the site considers it a community in any meaningful sense. And that's incredibly frustrating.
posted by cortex at 6:31 PM on July 12, 2015 [62 favorites]


Yup, that's pretty much precisely what I was trying to sketch out. We are of one mind on this matter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:46 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


We’re banning behavior, not ideas. While we don’t agree with the content of the subreddit, we don’t have reports of it harassing individuals.

At the risk of a jet propelled shark jump, and i promise i'm not trolling, this is almost word for word the defenses i've heard of the confederate flag from libertarian-y/not super explicitly right wing people. Basically in the vein of "well they're like, doing their own thing over there. how does it affect you? or anyone else?".

He seems to follow the same basic not-touching-you line as a lot of nerdy white guys. Which is that intimidation by presence is not harassment or anything stifling.

This is a really hard thing to explain to some people, irritatingly. It's very similar to the whole "well if you didn't actually hit them it's not assault!" thing similar dudes field.
posted by emptythought at 6:49 PM on July 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Numbers would go down. They'd go down and there's no guarantee that they'd go back up....(and the whole larger comment)

Basically, the argument that would have to be made is "if we saw off the back third of the ship, the rest won't sink".

Other than high user/traffic numbers what does the site have right now? It's already been shown that many companies and advertisers won't touch it anymore. Less users you can sell stuff too but that people are willing to try to sell stuff too seems like more of an asset. It's like a birds in hand/bush conundrum.

The church of userbase size and market share seems to be an unassailable truth you can't go against with SV companies... but it's like, would you rather have a lot of something that will eventually be worthless or less of something you can spend right now? It's like taking the lump sum payment of a lottery Vs the long term payouts.

I understand with the culture being what it is how saying fuck you and running users off is intractable, but it just seems so short sighted and stupid. It reminds me of how motorola completely ruined their RAZR brand(and basically ran the company in to the ground) because it was too radical of a decision to stop selling it and move on, vs steve jobs' apple being willing to cancel the ipod nano when it was a raging sales success and basically go "fuck you, this is the new thing".

I mean looking at how bad of an idea it is to keep max traffic and users just to placate the userbase while running a ship full of garbage almost makes it feel like a pump and dump scheme. Someone is lining their pockets while this ship sinks.
posted by emptythought at 6:56 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


intimidation by presence

That's a rather problematic concept.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:09 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is a good point to make (and has been made before) that with the ludicrous number of page views they get, they should be making equally ludicrous bank with ads, but that with the horrorshow reddits in play, ad networks are (one assumes) not at all keen to get on board.

But it seems like a reasonable napkin calculation that even if they lost (say) 30% or more of their traffic by having a Great Reddit Refuckulation and jettisoning the Stink, being able to monetize the rest of the site with even relatively unobtrusive advertising would be a massive, massive new source of income, which would easily pay for staffing up and some much-needed mod tool development and so on.

It's not a difficult calculation to make, and leads one to wondering if it's really about libertarian ideology, or if there is some reason that not making money on the site is somehow the preferred outcome. It seems like it would be an easy case to make to investors -- smaller overall traffic numbers, but (possible) orders of magnitude more ad revenue. Maybe they just figure that the site would completely die without the nasty stuff, in which case, man: it must be hard to sleep at night.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:09 PM on July 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Amputating the gangrenous leg to save the patient might be risky and painful, but might be the only way forward.

This metaphor assumes that the worst parts of Reddit are wholly divorced from the rest, and I'm not certain that that's the case. I believe there was an analysis linked on MetaFilter a while back showing that there's a decent amount of overlap between the members of subs that reddits can showcase and subs that reddit doesn't want to admit to. That said, I would imagine you could do a cost-benefit analysis of user contribution (upvotes, comments, submissions, activity, etc.) to approximate just how much "good" activity on r/iAMA would be lost by dropping the worst subreddits. (Not that they shouldn't be dropped! But this method might at least determine whether it's possible to burn the village in order to save it, or if we just have to burn the village.)
posted by Going To Maine at 7:12 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the GamerGhazi mods wrote a pretty good thing about some comments Huffman's made. (TW: Racist slurs in names of subs discussed.)
posted by NoraReed at 7:14 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


This metaphor assumes that the worst parts of Reddit are wholly divorced from the rest, and I'm not certain that that's the case.

Yeah, I'm not even sure it would even be possible. More's the pity. But I think the moral imperative would be to try, nonetheless.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:20 PM on July 12, 2015


In this thread on Hacker News, they link to a dataset of every reddit comment. It's 170GB. Were I more bored, I would try to mine it just to take the top 100 noxious subreddits and see how much the posters in those subreddits spread out into the rest of reddit.
posted by fatbird at 7:53 PM on July 12, 2015


You'd have to make the somewhat unsafe assumption that one account = one person, though.
posted by Artw at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, you'd have to handle it differently than 1 account = 1 person. Even a ratio of comments to nasty subreddits (SRn), to comments to popular subreddits (SRp) by accounts posting more than a threshold number to nasty subreddits, would be an interesting number. But for a subset of accounts posting significant numbers of comments in both, you could probably make some reasonable assumptions that didn't depend on it being someone's only identity.
posted by fatbird at 8:07 PM on July 12, 2015


I've seen analytics about what subs people post in, where it inputs one subreddit and shows you where else its users post by percentages, but now I can't find them again
posted by NoraReed at 8:09 PM on July 12, 2015


This metaphor assumes that the worst parts of Reddit are wholly divorced from the rest, and I'm not certain that that's the case.

And if the worst subreddits were shut down -- with a forceful attempt to change the culture in the way cortex suggested -- there's no guarantee that their posters would simply shrug and decamp to voat or 8chan or whatever cesspit welcomed them, as opposed to making life hell for the moderators of /r/fluffybunnies and the Reddit management team.
posted by holgate at 8:33 PM on July 12, 2015


I think rather than taking subs private, a more effective protest would be a series of no moderation days. Just do nothing, but don't let anyone else do anything either. Take the keys and go home.

I think the whole site would be radioactive within a week.
posted by ctmf at 8:53 PM on July 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


If I were running reddit, I'd be looking at the numbers:

- what percentage of traffic comes from the slimy subs?
- what percentage of user overlap is there between slimy subs and non-slimy ones that represent large portions of traffic?
- what percentage of not-logged-in users (who generate probably 90% of the ad revenue) are visiting the slimy subs?
- based on previous incidents, what percentage of "non-slimy" users can we expect to leave the site in solidarity if we remove the slime?
- what is the estimated cost to handle whatever retaliation will happen when we do it?

If they're not idiots they've already looked at those numbers. And most likely, the conclusion they've reached is that "cutting out the gangrene" wouldn't work.

...which makes me wonder what horrible truths they've learned...
posted by mmoncur at 10:00 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think rather than taking subs private, a more effective protest would be a series of no moderation days. Just do nothing, but don't let anyone else do anything either. Take the keys and go home.

I think the whole site would be radioactive within a week.


A Reddit version of The Purge. I like it!
posted by Apocryphon at 10:03 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


How much time have you spent studying the allegations she's made about the partners of her former employer? Did you similarly come to the conclusion that they too, maybe were "deeply unlikeable human beings?"

Yes. I didn't follow the trial closely but read enough about it at mainstream news sites like the Guardian (not "cherry-picked by trolls;" I rarely visit Reddit for anything) to know that pretty much all the men in that trial came off as deeply unlikeable, from the married serial sexual harasser Pao says she felt pressured to have an affair with to the boss who said he was working to increase diversity while simultaneously writing comments about female employees always wanting children. But yeah, you're right; my comment was too harsh, and was probably colored by my feelings about the botched way Pao handled the Victoria mess. I'll retract the comment about the trial clearly showing Pao to be someone who was deeply unlikable and who lacked the skills to be CEO. That was thoughtless and unfair and I apologize for being rude there.
posted by mediareport at 10:26 PM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it would appeal to the Atlas Shrugged types.
posted by ctmf at 10:51 PM on July 12, 2015


I think rather than taking subs private, a more effective protest would be a series of no moderation days. Just do nothing, but don't let anyone else do anything either. Take the keys and go home.

I think the whole site would be radioactive within a week.


One of the larger subs (League of Legends) did a no-moderation week two months ago, it actually went really well. Users were more vigilant about downvoting stuff that they didn't like to see, and upvoting stuff they thought should be seen, and it certainly didn't feel any less usable than before, though someone who frequented the sub more would be able to elaborate further...
posted by xdvesper at 11:05 PM on July 12, 2015




That's a rather problematic concept.

I'm confused as to how or why?

Letting those subs stay is essentially letting a bunch of guys in white hoods lean on their pickup truck outside your bar.

Just because they're not technically inside doesn't mean they're not staring down random people who go in and out, and even occasionally one of them comes in to take a piss and yells shit at people.

Just because they usually keep to themselves doesn't mean that anyone who is uncomfortable with that doesn't have a point just because "they're not talking to you" or whatever.
posted by emptythought at 1:32 AM on July 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


They give every impression they think the bad stuff is valuable - maybe even more so than "good" Reddit, so I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Artw at 6:06 PM on July 12 [+] [!]


Yep. The really offensive ones are peanuts compared to their porn traffic.
Though, I suspect those have different patterns for "subscribers" and "commenters".

They drive a ton of NSFW traffic, and have never been able to figure out how to draw the line. Couple that with private subs, and they have quite a bit of engagement out of the realm of the "family-friendly" defaults.

Shit, they could probably ban /r/knitting, /r/science, /r/books or whatever and not dent their traffic.
posted by lkc at 1:55 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


> He seems to follow the same basic not-touching-you line as a lot of nerdy white guys.

Actually, that quote is from Ellen Pao, who's neither white nor a guy. It's hard to tell the difference, but Pao's comments are massively downvoted, a fact which is of course entirely unrelated to her race and gender.

> One of the GamerGhazi mods wrote a pretty good thing about some comments Huffman's made.

While his as-yet-murky approach to deleted comments might be problematic, I've no idea why that post led with Huffman's approach to racist subreddits which is, as per my comment above, essentially identical to Ellen Pao's.

Speaking of Ghazi, anyone know if is there a balanced one-pager on Brianna Wu's recent demodding/banning there?
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:39 AM on July 13, 2015




God, what a shitshow. The top rated comment is unintentionally hilarious:

No, she didn't really understand how reddit even worked. The idea of laying an ad platform over the top of a user generated content site with volunteer moderaters was never going to fly.

If that's the case, exactly what does this person think Reddit's board is even trying to do? Because if you're not paying attention, Reddit is a for-profit company with clear intentions to monetize their user generated content overseen by volunteer moderators, and if you don't think advertising is a part of that, you're delusional.
posted by tocts at 11:21 AM on July 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Bitcoin.
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: PlasticsBitcoin.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:05 PM on July 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'll retract the comment about the trial clearly showing Pao to be someone who was deeply unlikable and who lacked the skills to be CEO. That was thoughtless and unfair and I apologize for being rude there.

Thank you. I don't want to look like I'm picking on you, but again, it's the answers to the rest of my questions that I'm more interested in - specifically because you continue to hang things on Pao that you have no firm evidence should be hung on her:

But yeah, you're right; my comment was too harsh, and was probably colored by my feelings about the botched way Pao handled the Victoria mess.

Ohanian himself admitted that he was solely responsible for Victoria's firing. Yishan Wong, the former Reddit CEO, has come out and said that it's entirely Ohanian's fault and offers critiques of his behavior. And now, the new CEO has said he has no intention of rehiring Taylor, and Ohanian remains in the same position as before.

Yet you keep repeating that it's Pao's fault with no critique at all of Ohanian or the new CEO or speculate as to whether they're competent for their jobs.

In fact you go out of your way to hang it on Pao by saying stuff like "I also don't see why we have to believe kn0thing when he now suddenly insists it was his decision alone to fire Victoria" which, strikes me as unfair and a predisposition to hold Pao to the ridiculous scrutiny and standards that other leaders apparently aren't held to. Perhaps it's because you haven't heard any critiques of Ohanian or Huffman or Wong that has been repeatedly echoed by loud misandrists, fairly or unfairly..

I trust that your critique of Pao isn't one that comes from misogyny; however, I think your comments are illustrative of how easily the narrative can be shaped and influenced by selective reporting and the loudest misogynists who have a tendency to dominate the conversation. We like to think we're not influenced by misogyny because we don't want to be misogynists ourselves, but that also behooves us to try and examine critically information being presented before leaping to criticize as well and end up parroting untrue things, even if our intent doesn't come from misogyny.
posted by Karaage at 12:11 PM on July 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


/r/Modtalk on the resignation: http://i.imgur.com/y2CNTpj.png

And on the comments Huffman made: http://i.imgur.com/veyZVy7.png
posted by Drinky Die at 12:26 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


The idea of laying an ad platform over the top of a user generated content site with volunteer moderaters was never going to fly.

Did a redditor actually say this? Because the ad system pre-dates Pao's tenure.

I mean, fuck. That people are so willing to contradict facts to demonize Pao.
posted by GuyZero at 12:27 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ohanian himself admitted that he was solely responsible for Victoria's firing. Yishan Wong, the former Reddit CEO, has come out and said that it's entirely Ohanian's fault and offers critiques of his behavior.

It's almost like the Reddit hate squad was manipulated by Ohanian and others into doing their political bidding.

So now we see the real reason why /r/Coontown and others hang around -- they're the Tea Party of Reddit. Easily manipulable. Of course, the problem of the Tea Party remains -- were they to really take control of the organization, they will drive this into the ground.

Shitshow is too mild a word.
posted by dw at 12:46 PM on July 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


At the very least, their server costs and skeleton staffing must cost a ton of money. It's delusional to think that can happen without some source of revenue. The "reddit gold" is an interesting alternative to ads but I have no idea what percentage of the site's operating costs it accounts for.

If they really have 60 staff and an open-source code and 50 million in VC then it boggles my mind they are talking about months of time to roll out the requested moderator tools. What the hell are those 60 people doing? I mean, pb would have had it done within minutes on a platform I am led to believe is cobbled together from obsolete haywire. Maybe he will be headhunted as reddit's new CTO.
posted by Rumple at 12:53 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did a redditor actually say this? Because the ad system pre-dates Pao's tenure.

Not only did they say it, it's the top rated comment in that thread, and it is currently upvoted to the point of almost +4,000. In case you've forgotten, the new CEO recently made statements nearly identical to what Pao previously said about moderating for behavior and not beliefs, which garnered him upvotes to the tune of +1,800. Pao's statements? Hovering around -4,000 on the same sentiment (and that doesn't even get into the replies, which focus on her gender, how she must hate men, 'Chairman Pao', etc).

But of course OMG CNN IS LYING ABOUT REDDIT HAVING A PROBLEM WITH WOMEN AND MINORITIES!!!
posted by tocts at 12:57 PM on July 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


The "reddit gold" is an interesting alternative to ads but I have no idea what percentage of the site's operating costs it accounts for.

This tracker says they make around $2,500/day. No idea how accurate it is.
posted by effbot at 1:59 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: PlasticsBitcoin.
upvotes.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:03 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The difference in position and discussion in Drinky Die's comment and the general Reddit community (or the internet, since they flood comments sections anyways) is really striking.
posted by halifix at 2:12 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given the current situation, where an ex-CEO is spreading (quite possibly true) shit about /u/kn0thing, Reddit's executive chairman, along with a mountain of other nonsense, it's hard to imagine why anybody would want to do business with Reddit right now. I don't think I'd even take them on as a client for janitorial services at their office, if I happened to offer that kind of thing, given the dysfunction with management over there.
posted by zachlipton at 3:33 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


oh wow. i hadn't seen that. what's the other side going to counter with? a song and dance routine from paul graham?
posted by andrewcooke at 3:48 PM on July 13, 2015


Ohanian responded (briefly) to Wong, but since his comment stands at -1,780 points, it's not hard to understand why people are missing it. Ellen Pao complained about having similar issues with her comments disappearing due to downvotes when she tried to respond to complaints.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:18 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Almost as if that's poor design...
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


wow, the executives are really putting on an amateur hour level show here - i don't even think ted mack would want to do business with them
posted by pyramid termite at 5:35 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why's that thread locked?
posted by ctmf at 6:33 PM on July 13, 2015


Wow. Wish I had some context. Why are these major reddit figures hashing this all out publicly? It feels like we shouldn't even be privy to that conversation. Did Yishan leave on bad terms? He seems to be speaking the truth, but I don't know enough about any of these people.
posted by naju at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I get the sense that this ship is sinking in real time.)
posted by naju at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reddit is like an alternate reality were Zuck was fired from Facebook by the Winkiloves. Remember that the current leadership of co-founders are the MBA's and suits; the code was originally done by Aaron Schwartz who was summarily fired after they sold to Conde Nast.
posted by humanfont at 7:48 PM on July 13, 2015


who was summarily fired after they sold to Conde Nast.

Well, not quite. Condé Nast acquired Wired Digital in mid-2006, reuniting it with the print magazine that had been bought by them in 1998. It was Wired Digital that acquired Reddit in October 2006. As part of the deal, Aaron Swartz moved to San Francisco along with the other founders to be housed in the Wired Digital office, and immediately hated it. He stuck around for a short while, then stopped showing up, and then he got fired.

Why do I nitpick the detail here? Partly because you fast forward to 2015, and Reddit's senior management is still trying to get all of its staff to work from a single office in SF, and still failing to do so. Partly because of a line in Swartz's blog post the day after the acquisition:
“What’s reddit?” the girls asked as they tried shirts on. “Oh, it used to be a website.”
posted by holgate at 8:43 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why do I nitpick the detail here? Partly because you fast forward to 2015, and Reddit's senior management is still trying to get all of its staff to work from a single office in SF, and still failing to do so. Partly because of a line in Swartz's blog post the day after the acquisition:
“What’s reddit?” the girls asked as they tried shirts on. “Oh, it used to be a website.”


Can you explain it to me like I'm daft? Because that's exactly what I am at the moment, having not had my morning tea yet. What's the connection here?
posted by daniel_charms at 9:00 PM on July 13, 2015


Thanks for clarifying that Holgate. Even in the month or so before the acquisition, I have a sense from a few data points that he wasn't really feeling that committed to Reddit at that point. Around that time, he was poking around visiting colleges a bunch and I guess was seemingly looking to move on anyway.

His role as to Reddit's origin story is also complicated and controversial, but also not really relevant here.
posted by zachlipton at 9:04 PM on July 13, 2015


Oh, it was Swartz who said this ("It used to be a website"). Never mind, I get the point now.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:08 PM on July 13, 2015


Why do I nitpick the detail here? Partly because you fast forward to 2015, and Reddit's senior management is still trying to get all of its staff to work from a single office in SF, and still failing to do so. Partly because of a line in Swartz's blog post the day after the acquisition:

I'm parsing this as you saying that Swartz hated the office because it was totally corporate, and that Reddit's problems, correspondingly, can be tied to attempts to go corporate going awry. But Reddit's problems, in many ways, stem from its failure to adhere to corporate norms. The worst parts of Reddit are very much a product of the free hand that's been given to the culture You might not have gotten redditgifts if it was being run with a heavy corporate hand, but you surely wouldn't have gotten r/jailbait or r/Coontown either.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:13 PM on July 13, 2015


There are no corporate norms for what Reddit is.
posted by rhizome at 9:25 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Never mind, I get the point now.

Yeah, my takeaway is that once the paperwork was signed, and probably some time before that when the deal was being negotiated, Reddit stopped being a fun website project to Swartz and became a corporate entity, a business unit, a component in someone else's digital strategy. This was the era of Web 2.0 acquisitions: Upcoming, Delicious, Flickr, etc. Not many of the smaller 2.0 acquisitions have good stories attached to them, at least not as good as the ones for MySpace and YouTube, other than the founders got sufficient cash to do good things and sufficient experience to avoid repeating their mistakes.

The relevance? What I suggested upthread: that Reddit's continued existence as a corporate entity in 2015 is really weird, a kind of zombie.

Reddit's problems, in many ways, stem from its failure to adhere to corporate norms.

Well, yes and no. Reddit's problems, in many ways, stem from the fact that it has survived nearly a decade with corporate backing, including some pretty lean times midway through that period. There's still a scaling limit to the darker bits of the web that survive on donations and god-knows-what, but having Condé fricking Nast as your owner is what gets you to the point where you can host an AMA with the president of the United States and /r/terriblethings.
posted by holgate at 9:37 PM on July 13, 2015


Reddit Chief Engineer Bethanye Blount Quits After Less Than Two Months On the Job
“Victoria wasn’t on a glass cliff. But it’s hard for me to see it any other way than Ellen was,” Blount said. She added though that “I wouldn’t say my decision to leave was directly related to my gender.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:54 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's a pretty damning indictment of the leadership there:
Blount said she left because she did not think she “could deliver on promises being made to the community.”

“I feel like there are going be some big bumps on the road ahead for Reddit,” Blount said. “Along the way, there are some very aggressive implied promises being made to the community — in comments to mods, quotes from board members and they’re going have some pretty big challenges in meeting those implied promises.”
Management just made some pretty basic and reasonable promises to the community, some of which weren't only implied promises but were rather clear. When the head of engineering quits because she doesn't think she could deliver, not to mention Reddit's continuing problem with the fact that women exist, that's terrifying.
posted by zachlipton at 10:00 PM on July 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I have to wonder how much of Reddit's userbase would take a “popcorn is delicious” attitude towards the site imploding.

That said, I'm pretty sure that there are plenty of Redditors out there who'd be glad to work for the them. Qualified ones? Harder to say.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:02 PM on July 13, 2015


SV is such a continuing shitshow by and large that I wouldn't read too much into that departure yet.
posted by rhizome at 10:06 PM on July 13, 2015


Fun fact, BTW: Condé Nast ain't owned Reddit for almost five years now.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:21 PM on July 13, 2015


Beginning to wish Fucked Company was still around.
posted by Artw at 10:28 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ohanian himself admitted that he was solely responsible for Victoria's firing. Yishan Wong, the former Reddit CEO, has come out and said that it's entirely Ohanian's fault and offers critiques of his behavior. And now, the new CEO has said he has no intention of rehiring Taylor, and Ohanian remains in the same position as before.

This is the truth, but i have a feeling that the General Internet Canon is going to default to it being Pao's fault. There's already tons of news articles about the reddit situation attributing it to her. That concept has already leaked in to this thread, and has shown up everywhere i've seen any discussion about this.

It wouldn't be the first time that the real architects of something shitty going down on reddit basically walk away from the explosion putting sunglasses on and not only face no repercussions, but don't even have to accept any blame and the record goes down without their names even being involved.


It's also kind of impressive to me. I've seen huge staff drama and blame-game stuff go down on fairly large gaming forums, complete with rallying the userbase to hate someone or just conveniently letting the blame fall on them in silence in such a way that even if guilt is admitted in passing, the mob is too loud and angry to hear it.

Reddit however, as an organization, is better at creating this kind of drama and hate both within the organization and throughout the userbase than shitty gaming forums full of 14 year olds.

I'd be sort of impressed if they didn't also manage to do so many horrifying things.
posted by emptythought at 11:52 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Moderators: You can now have two stickies in your subreddit, and link submissions can now be stickied

You can now have up to two stickies, instead of only one

As I mentioned in the /r/ModSupport thread, this is something I was pretty opposed to myself because I don't want subreddits to start looking like those old phpBB forums where you have to scroll past a whole page of stickied posts and announcements to get to the actual content. People convinced me that two stickies had a lot of really useful applications though, so you now have access to 100% more stickies (if you want, you definitely don't need to use more than one if you're already satisfied).


r/Coontown, neccesary for free speech even if objectionable. Three stickies...a bridge too far.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:09 AM on July 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


Fun fact, BTW: Condé Nast ain't owned Reddit for almost five years now.

Technically yes but the majority shareholder is still Advance Publications, who are Conde Nast's owner as well.
posted by PenDevil at 2:05 AM on July 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ellen Pao becomes a moderator of /r/CasualConversation.

mrdrm1000: We need to get her in on this convo. Show yourself /u/ekjp!
ekjp: What's up?
TheFrozenEmpire: Bruh
ekjp: Bruh

That is so Reddit.
posted by um at 5:24 AM on July 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


You were looking for r/SeriousConversation. That's down the hall.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:52 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can now have up to two stickies, instead of only one

And an extra TWO hours on the ball pit.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:36 AM on July 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


r/Coontown, neccesary for free speech even if objectionable. Three stickies...a bridge too far.

Yes, the programmers who are working on adding additional tools for mods, as promised by the admins, are adding new tools for mods.
posted by smackfu at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2015


Yes, the programmers who are working on adding additional tools for mods, as promised by the admins, are adding new tools for mods.

It's less who is doing them, and more the arbitrariness of the rules. Terrible racism is just fine, but too many stickies is a problem. Where's their free speech now?

Anyway, looks like the knives are getting drawn out. They just posted plans for a new Content policy:

The overwhelming majority of content on reddit comes from wonderful, creative, funny, smart, and silly communities. That is what makes reddit great. There is also a dark side, communities whose purpose is reprehensible, and we don’t have any obligation to support them. And we also believe that some communities currently on the platform should not be here at all.

Neither Alexis nor I created reddit to be a bastion of free speech, but rather as a place where open and honest discussion can happen: These are very complicated issues, and we are putting a lot of thought into it. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time. We haven’t had the tools to enforce policy, but now we’re building those tools and reevaluating our policy.


People in certain subreddits are already panicking.
Seems like a change from what they previously said. From last year:

We uphold the ideal of free speech on reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to, but because we believe that you - the user - has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and that it is your responsibility to do so. When you know something is right, you should choose to do it. But as much as possible, we will not force you to do it.

A lot sure changes in a year.
posted by zabuni at 3:42 PM on July 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is a pretty good piece: The Death of Reddit:


So in my world, Reddit’s board in its entirety ought to be announcing their resignations along with Pao, but it won’t happen. She’ll be the fall guy here, when in fact Reddit was fatally broken when they brought her in, they hired the wrong person when they brought in Pao, and now that they’ve removed her, they have an even bigger crisis on their hands and aren’t any closer to being able to fix any of it. Pao probably should have known she was the wrong person for this role, but the bigger failure here is the board that hired her — there’s plenty of fail to spread around here, though
posted by Rumple at 3:57 PM on July 14, 2015


The most upvoted comment on the post is a quote from Ohanian calling Reddit a bastion of free speech on the web. "Checkmate, CEO!" is what it makes me think. And I'd laugh at the dumbness of the response, except that if u/ekjp had posted that same thing the top comment would be unprintable.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:02 PM on July 14, 2015


Gizmodo shines some light into one of the more despicable subreddits, the highly triggering /r/rapingwomen.
posted by Rumple at 4:08 PM on July 14, 2015


Oh my god, i forgot about that. And the various picsofdeadwomen or whatever the name is type subs that have tons of people openly discussing masturbating to them or murder fantasies.
posted by emptythought at 4:18 PM on July 14, 2015


Gizmodo should really make this a running feature.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:29 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


That shit is still there? Dear god, I thought they'd finally gotten rid of it in one as part of their reluctant foot dragging efforts to sporadically tackle this shit, but I guess not.
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on July 14, 2015


As long as they aren't judged to be doxxing or harassing anyone by apparently arbitrary standards that inexplicably allow KiA to stick around, it is totally okay for people to hang out on their website talking about their rape and murder fantasies
posted by NoraReed at 4:35 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


So weird to find a reason to think less of them when I thought all the reasons had been found.
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]




"a bastion of free speech"

Reddit. Beloved by the founding fathers (in theory) because, like them, it was a bastion of free speech ... for white men.
posted by dis_integration at 6:10 PM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


"a bastion of free speech"
☐ Not REKT
☑ REKT
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:24 PM on July 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Watching this is kind of like watching a Penny Arcade Krahulik Crisis. They had a perfectly reasonable line forward, but no one around to point it out to them:

"When we started, we proclaimed Reddit to be a bastion of free speech. We thought that meant allowing the most offensive speech possible, but over time we've come to see that the issue of free speech is more complex than that--specifically, that allowing the most offensive speech possible isn't the be-all-and-end-all of protecting freedom of speech, and now we're re-evaluating just what this means for us as a provider of a platform for speech."

I did like the clear statement that
There is also a dark side, communities whose purpose is reprehensible, and we don’t have any obligation to support them.
A lot of the libertarian defenses of reddit's permissive policies amount to begging the question that reddit disallowing certain subreddits is censorship, which is the worst thing ever. spez's statement acknowledges that reddit facilitates the speech that it permits, and is thus somewhat complicit in it, and has no obligation to be.
posted by fatbird at 6:35 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well this content policy business will certainly make for some crazy drama.
posted by humanfont at 6:36 PM on July 14, 2015


David Auerbach: How to Detox Reddit
Reddit already classifies hateful subreddits as 18-plus, along with subreddits devoted to pornography and gore. What’s needed is another category, labeled with no ambiguity: “hate”. Subreddits that support, encourage, or fail to moderate hate speech will be tagged with the hate label, which will accompany them whenever they are mentioned on the site, either as a superscript title (“/r/coontownHATE”) or as part of the name itself (“/r/hate/coontown”). Moreover, users who moderate or post to these hate subreddits should have their own accounts tagged with “flair” markers that follow them wherever else they post. One pseudonymous /r/coontown moderator would show up as DylannStormRoofHATE wherever he posted, carrying the stigma wherever he goes on Reddit. (Hate mods would not be allowed to moderate nonhate subreddits.) If I were to post anything on /r/coontown (no plans to do so), no matter how innocuous, I too would be stigmatized with a hate marker that would follow me around on every other subreddit.
posted by alms at 6:50 PM on July 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Would this really detox Reddit or just force everyone to make (more) disposable alts? It seems like enforced flair would give a much stronger pretense of being a "quarantine" without actually quarantining anything.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:52 PM on July 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The downside there being that as soon as eyes are off then the hate boards would become bastions of doxing, organized harassment, CP and all the other things that a lid is supposedly kept on now.
posted by Artw at 6:58 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sadly Auerbach's plan, like his earlier plan for ending Gamergate, depends on people behaving in a way human beings generally don't. Gawker Media was never likely to perform saikerei and fire its staff in the hope that it would appease the "moderates", and people whose joy comes from spreading hate and misery are probably not going to keep politely to one User ID and community and allow that ID to be blocked off from the people they are seeking to upset.

As we discovered during Gamergate, in fact.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:27 PM on July 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile, former former CEO Yishan Wong is going hilariously rogue.
But... the most delicious part of this is that on at least two separate occasions, the board pressed /u/ekjp to outright ban ALL the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow. Ellen isn't some "evil, manipulative, out-of-touch incompetent she-devil" as was often depicted. She was approved by the board and recommended by me because when I left, she was the only technology executive anywhere who had the chops and experience to manage a startup of this size, AND who understood what reddit was all about.

[...]

Well, now she's gone (you did it reddit!), and /u/spez has the moral authority as a co-founder to move ahead with the purge. We tried to let you govern yourselves and you failed, so now The Man is going to set some Rules. Admittedly, I can't say I'm terribly upset.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:54 PM on July 14, 2015 [36 favorites]


The downside there being that as soon as eyes are off then the hate boards would become bastions of doxing, organized harassment, CP and all the other things that a lid is supposedly kept on now.

These options are already available off of reddit. If this were a net positive for them (and negative for us), then the denizens of the hate subreddits would have already left for independent venues. Reddit gives them convenience and credibility. Just like the hate label Auerbach proposes, which would force dedicated users to maintain two accounts, it strips both from them, which is really what they want. Stormfront has been around a long time; it can work, but it's not popular. Reddit's not keeping the lid on anything; they're just not bothering to police the party.
posted by fatbird at 8:05 PM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Holy cats the yishan updates are amazing. This is turning out better than I expected and validates the entire issue I've had with the narrative being controlled by the misogynistic idiots and others going along with it but making it about her competency.

The You did it reddit! knock is delicious.
posted by Karaage at 8:15 PM on July 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Holy shit. The ironies are piling up. Ellen Pao was basically the only one defending her own hate mob.
posted by naju at 8:15 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


ahahaahahahaahahahahahaha
hahahahaahahahahaahahahaha

Oh God, this is so good.
posted by schroedinger at 8:51 PM on July 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


im all out of popcorn but this chex mix tastes good
posted by NoraReed at 8:57 PM on July 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


Meanwhile, former former CEO Yishan Wong is going hilariously rogue.

SO. MUCH. POPCORN.
posted by GuyZero at 9:09 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm all out of schadenfreude. Nothing left but fremdschamen.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:10 PM on July 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


This just gets better and better. "You did it reddit!" is so flawless goddamn
posted by gucci mane at 9:22 PM on July 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yishan on Victoria's firing:
I'm glad redditors have started to piece together all of this. Here's the only thing you're missing:

It travels upstream, except when it comes from the CEO's boss.

Alexis wasn't some employee reporting to Pao, he was the Executive Chairman of the Board, i.e. Pao's boss. He had different ideas for AMAs, he didn't like Victoria's role, and decided to fire her. Pao wasn't able to do anything about it. In this case it shouldn't have traveled upstream to her, it came from above her.

Then when the hate-train started up against Pao, Alexis should have been out front and center saying very clearly "Ellen Pao did not make this decision, I did." Instead, he just sat back and let her take the heat. That's a stunning lack of leadership and an incredibly shitty thing to do.

I actually asked that he be on the board when I joined; I used to respect Alexis Ohanian. After this, not quite so much.
posted by ryanrs at 9:40 PM on July 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


I've got $5 each for yishan and ekjp if they want to move over here.
posted by ctmf at 9:45 PM on July 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Someone in SRS posted this photo of someone on r/SuicideWatch being harassed for their weight, because someone posted their progress photos in FPH.

Nuke the site. Get rid of all those subs.
posted by gucci mane at 9:51 PM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


10/10 Yishan
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:11 PM on July 14, 2015


Digging through some recent yishan posts is well worth it.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:18 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although Yishan's posts are amusing, it also seems to me: isn't this enormously unprofessional behavior for an ex-CEO (of any company) to be displaying?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:30 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, considering that Yishan's previous Reddit claim to fame was calling out an ex-employee on an AMA while he was still CEO, I'd say that this appears to be par for the course with this guy.
posted by mhum at 10:36 PM on July 14, 2015


isn't this enormously unprofessional behavior

that's what makes it so fun!
posted by ryanrs at 10:54 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


(but seriously, this company is run by clowns)
posted by ryanrs at 10:54 PM on July 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yishan has already acknowledged that he's conventionally un-hireable at this point. Probably better for him to let the popcorn spew forth in an effort to get his name everywhere and find someone to hire him unconventionally.
posted by zachlipton at 10:59 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Someone in SRS posted this photo of someone on r/SuicideWatch being harassed for their weight, because someone posted their progress photos in FPH.

Wow, that used to be one of the good subs that i actually respected for helping people. There didn't even used to be very many downvoted comments like that. They'd all be deleted.

Is that cherry picked? Like, why does it say "undefined" points. Is that some moderator view?

I mean i know reddit is shit but i'm stunned to see that in that specific place.
posted by emptythought at 10:59 PM on July 14, 2015


All the red comments in that screenshot were deleted, the screenshotter used a third-party comment undeletion service to view them.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:17 PM on July 14, 2015


I mean, I know I'd totally would not look askance if a former POTUS started showing off all the skeletons in the executive closet, regardless of how "unpresidential" it is.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:36 PM on July 14, 2015


I knew Yishan somewhat well way back when, we were undergrads in the same program. Nice guy to have as a friend, but also reeeally likes messing with people. I can't imagine anything more fun for him than trolling the shit out of the entire internet, and I'm pretty sure he is enjoying this immensely and cares not at all if it makes him unhireable.

Also he once taught my cat to climb a tree so rock on, Yishan.
posted by Stacey at 3:59 AM on July 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


please explain how how he taught your cat to climb a tree?? this is very important and relevant to the current discussion
posted by NoraReed at 4:33 AM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


that might have sounded sarcastic but it is not. i 100% want any and all cat-related anecdotes for anyone even peripherally related to the subject of a thread at any time possible. that is what i signed onto this website for
posted by NoraReed at 4:34 AM on July 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yes, ma'am! Although I think this is the only Yishan cat anecdote I have. If I recall correctly, his own pet preference is for bunnies, and I never met his bunnies.

Okay, so the cat. In my junior year, I acquired or was acquired by Schroedinger (then and now), leash-trained him, and used to spend a lot of time walking him around campus and getting thrown out of various buildings where cats were not allowed. Yishan and I were not close but shared some classes and had several mutual friends, so we knew each other a bit, and at some point he joined us on one of our walks because who would not go for a walk with a kitten?

Schro has never been very good at being a cat; he was raised with ferrets and does not really know how to cat. Among other things, he does not know how to jump or climb. He sort of understood that trees were interesting and would sniff at them and stretch up against them but could not climb them. So at some point, I do not remember why, Yishan decided this was unacceptable catting, climbed up into a low branch of a tree, and spent several minutes coaxing Schro to come up the tree to him. I seem to recall the project was not fully successful, but that Schro did eventually make it a few feet up the tree, where he clung for a while, looked around, decided the whole thing was a terrible idea, and demanded to be carried home.

So whenever I see articles about the Former CEO of Reddit, I like to think of him as the guy who climbed up into a tree to teach my cat how to cat.
posted by Stacey at 5:31 AM on July 15, 2015 [41 favorites]


isn't this enormously unprofessional behavior for an ex-CEO (of any company) to be displaying?

now imagine the reaction if Pao did it!
posted by Karaage at 8:11 AM on July 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


If even half of what Wong mentions is true, there is no popcorn.gif that will be able to fully describe the shitshow that is about to go down.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:21 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


there is no popcorn.gif that will be able to fully describe the shitshow that is about to go down.

A few years ago, I got blocked by a store owner on Facebook after her store and another store were taking potshots at each other, and I posted this on my wall.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:47 AM on July 15, 2015


Stacey, is that cat still around? Because having been officially mentored by a former CEO, and being virtually guaranteed not to post idiotic things online, I think he might be the most qualified candidate we have for the new CEO of Reddit. Get Conde Nast on the phone!
posted by mmoncur at 8:58 AM on July 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


He is. Schroedinger just turned 16 on Sunday. I have instructed him to live forever, so assuming he does as I've commanded, he could be the new immortal god-CEO of Reddit for all eternity. However, he does have some weird medical conditions, so he's only interested if Reddit has good employee health coverage, because he is uninsurable on the open pet insurance marketplace.
posted by Stacey at 9:06 AM on July 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm the cat u/yishan taught how to climb a tree AMA
posted by Going To Maine at 9:23 AM on July 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


However, he does have some weird medical conditions, so he's only interested if Reddit has good employee health coverage, because he is uninsurable on the open pet insurance marketplace.

Thanks, Meowbama.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:43 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sarah Jeong's written a good piece on how reddit's commitment to "free speech" is a punting of responsibility that led to it being consumed by aggressively terrible users. She has a book out now that explores similar territory, though it doesn't bring up Reddit so much because that's all been happening in the last few weeks.
posted by sparkletone at 9:56 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bring Ellen back petition.
posted by halifix at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I see they are betting on her being utterly insane.
posted by Artw at 11:42 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Trolling has broken through and now it's mainstream.

Earnest is the new sarcastic.
posted by GuyZero at 11:49 AM on July 15, 2015




I couldn't really get with the Ellen Pao hate train before, but now that I know she voted AGAINST dogs in the Reddit office, I'm all aboard. That is just a bridge too far.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:39 PM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


To be fair, she did say that she didn't have strong feelings on it, but that people who are allergic to dogs shouldn't have to deal with them. (And my dog is an actual dingo mutt, so normally I'd be inclined to agree with you.)
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 12:42 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


isn't this enormously unprofessional behavior for an ex-CEO (of any company) to be displaying?

That's why the lulz are proportionately great. Always fun to see someone drop the corporate mask and get a little bit nuts. (Though based on other comments in this thread and elsewhere on the internet, I'm not sure Yishan was ever all that "corporate".)
posted by theorique at 1:57 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is the new normal in my opinion re: CEOs just being themselves
posted by sweetkid at 3:48 PM on July 15, 2015


Relevent.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:02 PM on July 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Purge Reddit so that it's only made up of ex-CEOs.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:54 PM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


@ashfein: "a group of crows is called a 'murder,' a group of lions is called a 'pride,' and a group of men's rights activists is called a 'subreddit'"
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:58 PM on July 15, 2015 [30 favorites]


I guess "broad brush" would be sexist...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:14 PM on July 15, 2015


Ellen Pao in The Washington Post: “The trolls are winning the battle for the internet.”
posted by Going To Maine at 8:45 AM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


That editorial of hers has some good points, but this line is pretty rich: "In February, we committed to removing revenge porn from our site, and others followed our lead."

A few months ago, I started cleaning up after my dog when it would shit in the park. Then I noticed other people doing that too, following my lead.
posted by exogenous at 8:58 AM on July 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


"a group of crows is called a 'murder,' a group of lions is called a 'pride,' and a group of men's rights activists is called a 'subreddit'"

[Anita_Popcorn.gif]
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:59 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who would follow Reddit? the Chans?
posted by Artw at 10:28 AM on July 16, 2015


New CEO announces new content rules.

TL;DR: New content prohibitions:
  • Anything that incites harm or violence against an individual or group of people
  • Anything that harasses, bullies, or abuses an individual or group of people (these behaviors intimidate others into silence)
...and something like Auerbach's idea:
Similar to NSFW, another type of content that is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it, is the content that violates a common sense of decency. This classification will require a login, must be opted into, will not appear in search results or public listings, and will generate no revenue for Reddit.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:17 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]




This classification will require a login, must be opted into, will not appear in search results or public listings, and will generate no revenue for Reddit.

Okay, great, but that doesn't stop the fact that the sludge monsters you just locked in the basement keep seeping through the crack under the basement door in sufficient quantity to ruin the rest of your house...
posted by sparkletone at 1:24 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


This comment is a good example of what I mean. Banning a rape subreddit? Fantastic. But they're leaving the white supremacists there and they still get to go around making racist jokes that get massively upvoted. Really comprehensive solution you've got here.
posted by sparkletone at 1:34 PM on July 16, 2015


Similar to NSFW, another type of content that is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it, is the content that violates a common sense of decency. This classification will require a login, must be opted into, will not appear in search results or public listings, and will generate no revenue for Reddit.

Wow, this is really interesting. It's actually a lot more than I expected, even if it's not as much as I would have liked. Will stuff like /r/KiA count as "violating a common sense of decency" or being a source of harassment? Or any of the redpill/manwhateversphere subreddits?
posted by dialetheia at 1:39 PM on July 16, 2015


Similar to NSFW, another type of content that is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it, is the content that violates a common sense of decency. This classification will require a login, must be opted into, will not appear in search results or public listings, and will generate no revenue for Reddit.

What I'm seeing from this is 1) we want to silo/quarantine content from mainstream Reddit, to the extent possible and 2) we don't want that content to be associated with Reddit the company. But we're not going to ban it, and a simple opt-in is all you need.

They're going so far to stamp out harrassment and abuse - why not prohibit hate speech as well? If they're taking a "you know it when you see it" approach, and implementing reclassification as they see fit, then they are differentiating between content. The simple next step would be to prohibit the content that shocks the conscience, rather than reclassify. Why are they hesitant to do that?
posted by naju at 1:41 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


From what Yishan was saying, I was hoping for this to be a drastic "everything has changed" moment. But I don't expect a whole lot to change, as good as it sounds on the surface.
posted by naju at 1:44 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The optimistic read is that they hope they're turning up the temperature of the water slowly enough that frogs they're boiling don't go jumping all over the place .... But I am not optimistic.
posted by sparkletone at 1:44 PM on July 16, 2015


You turn up the temperature of the water slowly when your goal is to cook the frogs. If your goal is to get the nasty slimy frogs the hell out of your kitchen, you need a different strategy.
posted by zachlipton at 1:48 PM on July 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Similar to NSFW, another type of content that is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it, is the content that violates a common sense of decency. This classification will require a login, must be opted into, will not appear in search results or public listings, and will generate no revenue for Reddit.

And will be kept on an FBI server.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:53 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why are they hesitant to do that?

They still want to monetize the hatespeach, they just don't want to be associated with it.
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


They still want to monetize the hatespeach, they just don't want to be associated with it.

They're explicitly saying they won't be making money off pageviews of these hate speech reddits that they're reclassifying... The comments those assholes post elsewhere? FAIR GAME, apparently.
posted by sparkletone at 1:56 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The KKK meets in the basement. But, don't worry, they don't pay rent.
posted by zyxwvut at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


I love how much horseshit everyone is calling on Huffman's attempt at claiming that there's not really a contradiction between the new "we didn't create Reddit to be a bastion of free speech" line and the previous "a bastion of free speech on the world wide web" comments. "The common wording is unfortunate"?? That's really the best you can do?

This is getting gruesome, and delicious.
posted by DingoMutt at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2015


u/spez has confirmed that r/RapingWomen will be banned, so if you want to see a hateful subreddit going into its death throws you can head over there right now.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:03 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Serious question: if "the content that violates a common sense of decency ... will generate no revenue for Reddit," then why even host it? All that I can come up with is that it would serve as somewhere to direct the people being indecent elsewhere on the site, but that doesn't seem like much of a reason.
posted by exogenous at 2:04 PM on July 16, 2015


Where is the GIF of Ellen Pao & Yishan having popcorn together?
posted by Going To Maine at 2:07 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


then why even host it?

Come for the revenge porn, stay to get home theater advice and see some high-CPC ads!
posted by GuyZero at 2:08 PM on July 16, 2015


if you want to see a hateful subreddit going into its death throws you can head over there right now.

I have the popcorn, but not the desire to ever have it in my web history. Guess I'll have to catch the recaps somewhere else.
posted by nubs at 2:09 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


u/spez has confirmed that r/RapingWomen will be banned, so if you want to see a hateful subreddit going into its death throws you can head over there right now.

Yeah good of him give them a heads up so they can reconstitute somewhere less blatant and resume what they were doing.
posted by sparkletone at 2:09 PM on July 16, 2015


The KKK meets in the basement. But, don't worry, they don't pay rent.

They can rent elsewhere, but we make them take the hoods off.
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope this settles the REDDIT IS THE MODERN USENET lie for good so I don't have to feel punching a wall every time someone writes it any longer.
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why not just say, "We were naive when we positioned Reddit as a 'bastion of free speech,' and as we've grown, we've learned a lot about the limits of that philosophy. We still want to include as much speech as we can while simultaneously managing the potential harms to other members of the community that comes from that speech"?
posted by klangklangston at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


buuuuut klaaaaaaaaaaang, how could speech be harmful? DOES NOT COMPUTE.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:14 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's a plaaaaaaaaatfoooooooooorm.

/falls off cliff
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've got a talking egg in a fedora right here that says Twitter is exactly the same!
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on July 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


So, /r/all is full of crudely-photoshopped porn of Ohanian and Huffman, caricatures of them based on physical characteristics and ethnic background, rants about their attractiveness and worth as sexual orifices, comparisons to genocidal dictatorships, and unfounded accusations. Right?
posted by zombieflanders at 2:22 PM on July 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Hm. The answer to this question is interesting, in terms of the separation vs. banning:

But this is also why I prefer separation over banning. Banning is like capital punishment, and we don't want to do it except in the clearest of cases.

Not sure on what exactly would make things "clear", but I think rather than trying to create a hard rule here, they are leaving themselves a grey area to work in around problematic topics, rather than just having the binary options of "keep or delete".

I'm also wondering (and I could be really reaching here) if part of the reason they might be keeping a few of these in the basement is to assist with potential legal efforts/investigations? Rather than scattering the frogs from the pot, they keep them together while something else is happening?
posted by nubs at 2:22 PM on July 16, 2015


*u/spez has confirmed that r/RapingWomen will be banned, so if you want to see a hateful subreddit going into its death throws you can head over there right now.

Yeah good of him give them a heads up so they can reconstitute somewhere less blatant and resume what they were doing.*

Actually, most of it's talking about how they're going over to 8chan and voat. Which nicely emphasizes why there's no reason for reddit to tolerate this: because there are other places people can go. I mean, even if Reddit still had a jailbait-level free speech seal of approval, it'll never have 8chan's child-porn-level free speech seal of approval.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Banning is like capital punishment

No, it's nothing like capital punishment. It's exactly like saying that you don't want to be associated with someone or some group.

Which, as it turns out, is a right protected by the First Amendment.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's also a weird comparison because Reddit has made creating alts a wonderfully simple process.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:26 PM on July 16, 2015


Actually, most of it's talking about how they're going over to 8chan and voat. Which nicely emphasizes why there's no reason for reddit to tolerate this: because there are other places people can go. I mean, even if Reddit still had a jailbait-level free speech seal of approval, it'll never have 8chan's child-porn-level free speech seal of approval.

But on the same token, 8chan has neither the visibility nor the veneer of respectability of Reddit.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:27 PM on July 16, 2015


Banning is like capital punishment

Is it fuck.
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm also wondering (and I could be really reaching here) if part of the reason they might be keeping a few of these in the basement is to assist with potential legal efforts/investigations?

Doubtful. Law Enforcement is weirdly hostile to places that allow criminals to announce themselves. See, e.g., Craig's List.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2015


But on the same token, 8chan has neither the visibility nor the veneer of respectability of Reddit.

This is true, but I just can't imagine any website giving something like r/rapingwomen a veneer of respectability. The MRA subreddits, certainly, I balk at the idea that anyone considers Coontown respectable, even its members.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2015


Let's not forget there are plenty of people who've never heard of reddit or don't even know what a reddit is. So there's no real veneer of respectability when the only news they hear about it refers to web forums promoting sexual assault and hate speech.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:47 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


"u/spez has confirmed that r/RapingWomen will be banned, so if you want to see a hateful subreddit going into its death throws you can head over there right now."

This is one of those things where I don't want to actually try to wade through the bullshit to have an informed opinion, so I'm kind of hoping that someone who is more embedded in the Reddosphere can tell me: My understanding was that r/rapingwomen was set up to parody and call attention to all of the cryptorape/red pill/PUA/sexual violence subreddits by pretending to endorse shit that was deeply fucked up but with hyperbolic tones, like if a PUA posts advocating getting a date drunk so she'll be easier or less believable to the police, it would be highlighted as promoting raping women. But I don't know how much of that is 1) disinfo bullshit from trolls/lulzers 2) a genesis that r/rapingwomen moved away from as "satire" became indistinguishable from endorsement, 3) something that was never really true to begin with and I wasn't willing to investigate on my own.

I can understand the utility of a meta-reddit subreddit that would be based on highlighting the rape culture underpinnings of a lot of other "innocent" posts or comments, and if that's what r/rapingwomen was, I can see a quasi-legitimate free speech argument for it. But it's been a long time since I was any part of the trollosphere, to the extent that I didn't know about 8chan until GamerGate (I just thought it was some goofy B to 8 transposition), so I don't want to stake any claims based on my understanding.
posted by klangklangston at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2015


will generate no revenue for Reddit
In other words, we'll pay to host the hatespeech out of the kindness of our Reddit hearts, awwww.

Banning is like capital punishment
Definitely delusional to think that there is no Life outside of Reddit.

The only thing giving Reddit a fig leaf of respectability is the Very Important People doing AMAs there (Adam Savage even did one a few days AFTER Victoria was fired). If SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE on the Web could provide a competing venue, the 'front page of the internet' would fold like tissue paper (where the Bad Redditors could wipe their asses).
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:49 PM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


But I don't know how much of that is 1) disinfo bullshit from trolls/lulzers 2) a genesis that r/rapingwomen moved away from as "satire" became indistinguishable from endorsement, 3) something that was never really true to begin with and I wasn't willing to investigate on my own.

I was just there for about 30 seconds. All you need to do is look at the illustration that takes front and center to answer whether or not it's satire.
posted by schroedinger at 4:33 PM on July 16, 2015


The Coontown Breakdown [Part 1]: A Brief Analysis of the Habits of Coontown Users

They post the code to do this kind of analysis for other subs as well.
posted by NoraReed at 4:50 PM on July 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Okay, great, but that doesn't stop the fact that the sludge monsters you just locked in the basement keep seeping through the crack under the basement door in sufficient quantity to ruin the rest of your house...

Pretty much. If you're a white, straight, cis dude - and obviously it helps if you're a GamerGate culture hero - then this may look like a very elegant solution.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:56 PM on July 16, 2015


I've never heard of it until this thread, but to be most charitable, /r/rapingwomen appears to be the sort of trollbait from 12 year olds that assumes no consequences or effects, assumes that no one can seriously be hurt if you say outrageous horrible things, as long as your intent is not serious. It's "for the lulz" 4chan bullshit with a one-upping mentality. And like everything else with that mentality, it ends up attracting and enabling people who do horrible things in real life, so at some point it ends up turning into actual rape apologia.

There are two common responses to this sort of thing:
1) You take it seriously, in which case you don't "get it", and you've fed the trolling, which they thrive on, thus perpetuating the cycle of awfulness
2) You don't take it seriously, and to show you're down with the lulz, you post your own over-the-top horrible shit, thus perpetuating the cycle of awfulness

Or you can shut the whole thing down because there's nothing good that can come of it. Good riddance. Now they just need to do the same for everything similar, instead of this "reclassifying" nonsense.
posted by naju at 5:08 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh my goodness, that breakdown is the most glorious thing I've ever seen. Here's looking at intrepid Internet users with stomachs made of enough iron to drag the the disgusting inequity of reddit into the light once and for all.

If anyone is preparing a dissertation or scientific article in a field related to all of this, all the work just got done for you. But you need to act fast before they turn the lights on and scatter the roaches.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 5:09 PM on July 16, 2015


"Most glorious" is a smidge effusive - but it could definitely become that with some additional digging around. It looks like the fellow behind is the developer of Agile.js
posted by Going To Maine at 5:18 PM on July 16, 2015


All the Reddit base wants is:

- the ability be able to say anything they want
- with absolutely no real-world consequences for themselves
- while ignoring any real-world consequences it has on others
- have it preserved and visible indefinitely
- pay nothing for it
- also, no ads.
posted by bitterpants at 5:42 PM on July 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


TIL that if you grab a sampling of recent users of /r/CoonTown (more or less the very depths of the cesspool of avowed racists on Reddit), you find that literally the number one place on Reddit that they get upvotes for their submissions is /r/KotakuInAction (a.k.a. GamerGate's home base). And it's not even close -- it's like 20% of their upvoted submissions.

This is my shocked face.
posted by tocts at 5:56 PM on July 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


#NotYourShield!
posted by Artw at 5:59 PM on July 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Karma is tricky, though. A few popular posts can really skew things. I'd like to see number of posts made (i.e., where do they spend their time.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:24 PM on July 16, 2015


Has anyone run a similar breakdown of /r/KotakuInAction itself?
posted by Artw at 6:26 PM on July 16, 2015


The Coontown Breakdown [Part 1]: A Brief Analysis of the Habits of Coontown Users

Naturally, the first (only) comment is by a white supremacist.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:39 PM on July 16, 2015




Once again, come for the white supremacist posts, stay for /r/recipes!
posted by GuyZero at 7:36 PM on July 16, 2015


You know I do believe under the new rules they have to ban r/socialism and similar for inciting violence. I think their mods should get a grace period to implement a non-violence rule.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:38 PM on July 16, 2015


Oh, I don't doubt for a second that any new rules will primarily be used to play silly buggers in the name of "fairness".
posted by Artw at 7:39 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Personally I'm very much anticipating the day when /r/coontown passes Stormfront's traffic. So that we can henceforth refer to reddit as "the internet's largest white supremacist website!".
posted by Justinian at 7:44 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


http://www.reddit.com/r/ShitRedditSays/comments/3dko2h/meta_reddit_announces_it_will_subsidize_network/

Lots of good links in that post illustrating why subsidizing a hate group is a terrible idea.

This is fucking stupid. Reddit's admins and employees are too chickenshit to kick off literal hate groups from their site because "my freeze peaches!!!!"
posted by gucci mane at 10:13 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh and Justinian, as mentioned in that link, it's only a couple of weeks away at current growth rates that reddit will literally be the largest white supremacist site on the net. The new rules state that to see those forums you have to register. How many neo-Nazis were just checking it out before, and now will be registered?

Other big websites clamp down on these sorts of groups, reddit is literally paying to keep them around. It's funny until someone inevitably dies and we get to see reddit part of an FBI investigation.
posted by gucci mane at 10:17 PM on July 16, 2015


@alexlifschitz:
Fuckin' SJWs, with their hysterical demands like "please ban racists" and "dear god why are you sheltering racists, that is the opposite"
posted by NoraReed at 10:44 PM on July 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's disappointing that all of the complaints I've seen on Reddit regarding the wishy-washy nature of this new policy is from a "oh noes what if the SJWs win" perspective - people worrying that somehow Reddit is going to start restricting too many subreddits due to the harm they cause. I would imagine the opposite is going to happen - far too few will be banned or even placed on this new restricted list, and the criteria for "inciting harm" or "harassing, bullying, or abusing" will remain depressingly arbitrary and nebulous. Besides the loathsome low-hanging fruit that is r/rapingwomen, have ANY other forums been named as candidates for actual banning (or restricting, other than r/coontown)?

This seems like a move meant to appeal to advertisers while keeping the userbase happy, but I don't really see it succeeding on either front.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:32 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Note that the africanawiki post has been updated due to an error in the code affecting the comment karma count.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:39 AM on July 17, 2015


if you grab a sampling of recent users of /r/CoonTown (more or less the very depths of the cesspool of avowed racists on Reddit), you find that literally the number one place on Reddit that they get upvotes for their submissions is /r/KotakuInAction (a.k.a. GamerGate's home base)

Ah, thanks for explaining that: I didn't really understand what the "Submission Karma Breakdown" graph was showing. It seemed odd to me that KiA was by far the biggest segment in that graph (and far bigger than the biggest segment in the other graph) but that it went almost entirely uncommented-upon in the Observations.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:28 AM on July 17, 2015


It's kind of surprising to me that KiA would be active participants in racist subreddits like "CT". My guess is that they are trolls who gravitate toward the thing that they are told is "the worst", rather than actual practicing racists. But, who knows? Reddit is a weird place.
posted by theorique at 12:09 PM on July 17, 2015


Dave Futrelle at We Hunted The Mammoth: Reddit to White Supremacists and other bigots: We’ll host your forums — at our expense!

Other big websites clamp down on these sorts of groups, reddit is literally paying to keep them around.

But, of course, this isn't even the half of it. Reddit isn't a charity funded by donations or something, it's a business, funded by revenue, so if prices are lowered for one set of users, it's not at the expense of the business itself so much as it's at the expense of other users. When a family restaurant has a Kids Eat Free promotion, it's not the restaurant hosting children at their expense, it's the parents of the children and all the other diners who are paying more than they otherwise would have so that kids can eat free.

Since they announced they would generate no revenue from the hate subreddits, but would continue to allow them to operate, it follows that if you use Reddit but not the hate subreddits, if you buy Gold or merch or whatever, you are the one that subsidizes them. They've managed to destroy the argument that sure, there's the crap, but if you don't go to the default subs and instead go to r/LetsTalkKnittingAndNotAboutHatingBlackPeople or r/AstronomyWithoutMisogyny or whatever, it's a nice community.

If you use Reddit, you are now funding some of the worst hate groups on the internet.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:27 PM on July 17, 2015 [36 favorites]


That's such a great metaphor. REDDIT: HATE GROUPS EAT FREE
posted by NoraReed at 12:30 PM on July 17, 2015 [21 favorites]


It's kind of surprising to me that KiA would be active participants in racist subreddits like "CT". My guess is that they are trolls who gravitate toward the thing that they are told is "the worst", rather than actual practicing racists.

I cannot possibly imagine why this would surprise you. I'd bet a vast sum of money that they are indeed "actual practicing racists" as well. Now what that means to you, I don't know, but to me, visiting /r/coontown is basically the dictionary definition of practicing racism. I have no idea why some people get in such a hurry to excuse these assholes on "lulz" grounds but I assure you, it's an ineffective and pathetic defense at best. If people are active on those subs, they are actual practicing racists.
posted by dialetheia at 1:15 PM on July 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


People are already thinking it's unethical to continue using the site. I guess if reddit wants to continue being the largest site for harassment and white supremacists then fine, people should leave, but it's already set up with awesome communities and people shouldn't have to leave, reorganize, and put in more work trying to get their users back because the admins decided to continue hosting and subsidizing a bunch of hate groups.
posted by gucci mane at 3:00 PM on July 17, 2015


Reddit needed to decide if it really wanted to be a free speech platform or if it wanted to be a corporate-owned profit-generating enterprise. And they needed to decide that years ago. It should have been stupidly obvious that those are incompatible goals and I don't know why it wasn't.
posted by Justinian at 3:27 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure. Censoring is costly and would create a lot of problems of its own with their user base. With free speech, they don't have to do hardly anything.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:30 PM on July 17, 2015


It's more deciding between troll pit / something regular people can stomach. "Free speech" elevates trollish behavior too much.
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


But they didn't go the free speech common carrier route, they tried some weird obviously-doomed-to-fail hybrid where they appear to have been making decisions randomly with no particular rhyme or reason. That's what confuses me. I could have understood "we're a platform, we don't censor for any reason whatsoever" but not the strange mishmash of nonsensical rules they actually ended up with.

That's what's confusing me; that there doesn't seem to have been any particular underlying philosophy or basis for what speech they allowed and what speech they banned. Every attempt to explain it ends up making them look even stupider.
posted by Justinian at 4:11 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think they should just have gone with: we're banning the following subs and contributors because fuck em. Here's a used tissue from reddit employee toilets if you want to cry for Coontown.
posted by humanfont at 4:58 PM on July 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


Humanfront for new CEO!
posted by Artw at 5:19 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Censoring is costly and would create a lot of problems of its own with their user base.

I'm not convinced that's true.

Reddit already outsources moderation within subreddits to unpaid volunteers, and while it might be nice to have paid employees looking more closely at comments across the whole of Reddit, even just a blanket "subreddits that exist for the purpose of fronting hate groups will be banned" would catch a huge majority of the problems with very little effort required. They don't even need to watch that closely -- people will tell them when these things pop up. They just need someone to actually look at it once in a while and say "yeah, this appears to be a sub for a hate group, deleting now".

(Granted, yes, people would be angry about it, but there's a world of difference in effort between the low-hanging fruit of "delete obvious racist hangouts" and "actively moderate hundreds of thousands of comments per day")

That's what's confusing me; that there doesn't seem to have been any particular underlying philosophy or basis for what speech they allowed and what speech they banned.

The rhyme and reason is pretty simple: Reddit has made a bunch of poorly-considered policy statements in the past about "free speech" that they don't want to admit they were wrong about. So, they keep twisting themselves in knots, trying to put forth policy statements that don't strictly contradict what they said before, while nonetheless trying to back away from those prior statements. Unfortunately, this sort of chickenshit approach is by definition hamstrung before it even begins, because some of their prior statements were too broad and sweeping to easily work around.

If they had any integrity whatsoever, they would just say "we were wrong, and we're changing things", but, well, there you go.
posted by tocts at 6:08 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


People are already thinking it's unethical to continue using the site.

QFT. I'd like to use Reddit. I see cool stuff there and I'd bookmark it and visit lots, if I didn't know it was also full of really creepy shit seemingly about three clicks away. I have more money than most 16 year olds. Maybe commercially driving people like me away is stupid.
posted by howfar at 6:17 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


A good summary of just how awful r/Coontown is. Warning, lots of horrifying links.

In an interview to the New York Times earlier, you said of Reddit, "We have an opportunity to be this massive force of good in the world.”

If you think hosting the speech of subreddits like coontown, even caged in the basement of Reddit, makes you a force for good in the world, you really misunderstand who they are and the effects their speech can have.

posted by Drinky Die at 7:52 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Reddit already outsources moderation within subreddits to unpaid volunteers"

That's not true. The way this is phrased implies that it is the Reddit admins who make the subreddits and find volunteers to moderate them when in fact it's the volunteer moderators who make their own subreddits in the first place. Calling that "outsourcing" is weird.
posted by I-baLL at 8:19 PM on July 17, 2015


The way this is phrased implies that it is the Reddit admins who make the subreddits and find volunteers to moderate them when in fact it's the volunteer moderators who make their own subreddits in the first place. Calling that "outsourcing" is weird.

So Reddit outsources both the creation of subreddits, and their moderation ?

I remember a bazillion years ago, when I used to work tech support and moderation for a game company forum (including a private NNTP server and the wider usenet group) - the AOL moderator decision came down, and that meant big changes to how the forums were run and the community managed.

Anyway, point is - that company had to substantially change how moderation and community management were handled, bringing most of it in house. That decision also meant the death of many AOL communities. It was a huge change. Anyway, it's sort of funny to see Reddit running into the same problems that AOL did - relying largely on volunteers who, as it turns out, have wildly divergent goals to what the company might desire.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:43 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Man, now Gawker is self-immolating. Who's next? It's like a who's who of internet douchebaggery.
posted by Justinian at 9:09 PM on July 17, 2015


The Gawker thing is just amazingly stupid.
posted by Artw at 10:05 PM on July 17, 2015


"So Reddit outsources both the creation of subreddits, and their moderation ?"

That's like saying that Metafilter outsources their FPPs.
posted by I-baLL at 10:33 PM on July 17, 2015


Wired: Reddits future is the future of the Internet.
posted by Artw at 11:03 PM on July 17, 2015


That's like saying that Metafilter outsources their FPPs.

From a commercial perspective that seems a reasonable way to describe it. The difference is that Matt built a company that adds a huge amount of unique value to the experience through a diligent and overall effective approach to the difficult task of moderation. Outsourcing is not, in itself, bad, but you have to, at some point, do some sort of productive labour that makes you commercially viable. Metafilter has never made a lot of money, and it's had to (and will probably continue to) battle to keep the lights on, but it is a functioning small business because its employees do something that there is demand for, sufficiently well and efficiently.

Doing the above is a huge achievement, given the realities of the market. Reddit has not achieved this, and is still in the red after all these years, despite turnover above $10m. It would not be unreasonable for it to look at whether it can make itself profitable by increasing the quality of service and improving perceptions of its brand, by bringing moderation under proper management control.

Running a business isn't a sin, but no one owes Reddit a living just for having set up a forum hosting platform that lots of people like. There is clearly additional work needed to generate a profit. Or, at the very least, to prevent the brand from turning so toxic that people stop pouring in money to keep it afloat in recognition of the potential value of its assets.

Emotionally it may seem weird to talk about "outsourcing", but commercially it's just realism.
posted by howfar at 11:06 PM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


But they didn't go the free speech common carrier route, they tried some weird obviously-doomed-to-fail hybrid where they appear to have been making decisions randomly with no particular rhyme or reason. That's what confuses me. I could have understood "we're a platform, we don't censor for any reason whatsoever" but not the strange mishmash of nonsensical rules they actually ended up with.

But they never could have just said "we're a platform we don't censor" as an American company on US-hosted servers with American executives and board members. Even with the CDA, Reddit would be open to enormous liability if they didn't censor anything. You have to deal with DMCA complaints or you'll be sued for copyright infringement. You can't have a well-known subreddit that exists to facilitate the sale of illegal drugs. You can't have a subreddit devoted to Islamic terrorists plotting the destruction of Washington DC. Heck, you can't even have apartment listings containing discriminatory language.

So unless you move to Cambodia and run your site a hidden service on Tor (and if you seriously annoy people way too much, the Cambodians will give you up anyway), you're going to be censoring. At this point we're just arguing over the price. Even 4chan has figured this one out. 8chan is seemingly small enough and run by a guy determined enough to stick it out for a while (the fast-moving ephemeral nature of the site, coupled with an utterly unusable UI, help a lot here), though even its rules ban "content illegal in the United States of America."

Now, Reddit has done a phenomenally bad job of actual defining its content rules, but this shouldn't come as a surprise. Content policies are actually really hard, especially when you have a, shall we say, challenging community. Since Reddit has made absolutely no investment in its community over basically the last decade (that being one of the more legitimate and less vile reasons this debacle happened in the first place), of course they haven't bothered to put any thought into their rules.
posted by zachlipton at 11:07 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Is Cambodia known for hosting questionable content or was that a random reference?)
posted by Drinky Die at 11:14 PM on July 17, 2015


I was mainly thinking of anakata with Cambodia, though it's somewhat random. Less about hosting questionable content and more about sometimes hosting questionable people.
posted by zachlipton at 11:27 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


" That's like saying that Metafilter outsources their FPPs."

Sure. But there is a lot of post-processing that happens to make the site experience amazing.

And because of that, Metafilter is not a business has returns to scale. A bigger Metafilter = more admin staff in proportion, but probably worse than that, cause of need for other support as headcount grows, with all that implies for costs. Reddit does not want to be a business like that. Reddit wants to have lower costs per unit as it grows. And that's incompatible with decent paid moderation.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:41 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


So as an incentive become a "problem" subreddit and you get an ad-free, hosted forum for your hate group at no charge. It's a win-win situation!
posted by PenDevil at 9:26 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can see the gaming subreddits going that way.
posted by Artw at 9:53 AM on July 18, 2015


Reddit wants to have lower costs per unit as it grows. And that's incompatible with decent paid moderation.

Reddit already has just about the lowest-possible operating costs per-user and highest efficiency (though not revenue) per-employee, so this would seem to be a non-sequitur.
posted by rhizome at 11:20 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Verge: Reddit Needs a Real Leader
posted by nubs at 12:43 PM on July 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


That's a really sharp link, nubs; thanks.
posted by mediareport at 4:39 PM on July 18, 2015




Mike Masnick seems to be rediscovering the idea that the Internet can carry information with more than one protocol! Maybe we could call the one he wants to see NNTP or something.
posted by Justinian at 2:05 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


When a family restaurant has a Kids Eat Free promotion, it's not the restaurant hosting children at their expense, it's the parents of the children and all the other diners who are paying more than they otherwise would have so that kids can eat free.

I think this is a poor metaphor. The point of "kids eat free" is to get parents to eat at a restaurant, and that means attracting 1.5 paying adults to a place that, ipso facto, is a family-friendly restaurant. If those 1.5 parents feel comfortable about taking their kids to a restaurant, they are likely to go, and go again.

A better metaphor would be a restaurant where police officers ate free in a town where cops were known for being corrupt. Regardless of whether the intent was to provide favoritism to the police or just a simple gesture to honor law enforcement officers, either way it means eating at said restaurant means you are, however indirectly, subsidizing corruption. And that restaurant will always attract those involved with that corrupt org.

The game of indirect support often descends into silly hair splitting -- if you eat at a restaurant owned by atheists and you're Christian aren't you supporting the Devil, you horrible person? But I think in this case, there's a very real problem of people subsidizing these hateful subreddits. If you're not going to ban Coontown even though you know and admit it is a hate sub-group, why are you giving it freeridership?

I wonder if the solution would instead be to eliminate anonymity on these groups. Make them post with their real names. The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is in full effect with these trolls; sunlight wouldn't get rid of them, but it would slash traffic considerably.
posted by dw at 3:13 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to believe that eliminating anonymity would improve internet comments and then every newspaper in America started using Facebook for their comments and they were still as horrible as ever, even though they were all attached to real names and faces. So I just don't know.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:43 PM on July 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


I used to believe that eliminating anonymity would improve internet comments and then every newspaper in America started using Facebook for their comments and they were still as horrible as ever, even though they were all attached to real names and faces. So I just don't know.

Newspaper-quality would be an improvement on r/Coontown-quality, and as a society we're pretty bad at holding people accountable for the terrible things I say on the Internet. (Indeed, I'd say that for better or worse, folks are generally prone to not want people to be held accountable for the terrible things they say on the intenet.)

Frankly, I think that requiring all accounts to have verified email addresses would help a bit, and making accounts have a verified credit card -even uncharged- would help even more. And really - reddit should explain how they're going to earn money from the hate they're subsidizing. If you're going to support it, you should at least get paid.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:12 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the solution would instead be to eliminate anonymity on these groups. Make them post with their real names. The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is in full effect with these trolls; sunlight wouldn't get rid of them, but it would slash traffic considerably.

Traffic is the goal - while Reddit (the company) officially disapproves of people saying nasty things on their platform, they are probably fine with the "growth metrics" delivered by subreddits containing racist and other questionable content, as long as they don't have to read it or police it. I suspect for a long time it's been a "hold your nose and don't look too closely" issue. Hence, the rules about brigading - if you want to create a nasty community, that's one thing; if it bleeds out into other people's communities, that's a much bigger problem.

Real name policies, while they might appear to solve some problems, would generate others. No one could create backup identities and pseudonyms, for one. Part of Reddit's ethos is premised on easy identity creation, and comical or single-purpose usernames are part of the culture and practice there. Making identities more permanent and persistent would certainly change the habits and behaviors of users on the site. Whether that would happen in a way that put more money in company's coffers remains to be seen.
posted by theorique at 5:08 PM on July 19, 2015


But I think in this case, there's a very real problem of people subsidizing these hateful subreddits. If you're not going to ban Coontown even though you know and admit it is a hate sub-group, why are you giving it freeridership?

Isn't it just a matter of whether the ugliness intrudes into real lives, which they do have as a policy for shutdown? The thing about all of this and Reddit is that it's a waste of time to talk about anything other than where you would draw the line. Reddit says they draw it in a handful of places, in what ways isn't that enough?
posted by rhizome at 6:59 PM on July 19, 2015


Incidentally, linked from the Protocols Instead of Platforms article: Fix reddit with bitcoin, which seems to me to illustrate (a) to bitcoin evangelists, every problem is soluble by applying bitcoin, and (b) Reddit is mostly a playground for its leaders' libertarian enthusiasms-du-jour. (Oh, Yishan likes bitcoin THAT'S COOL let's hire a bitcoin guy WAY COOL let's build bitcoin into our very infrastructure OH WAIT what if we made our own cryptocurrency HEY LET'S GIVE IT AWAY TO THE USERS THIS IS GOING TO BE AWES-- oh never mind he resigned.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:06 PM on July 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Isn't it just a matter of whether the ugliness intrudes into real lives, which they do have as a policy for shutdown? The thing about all of this and Reddit is that it's a waste of time to talk about anything other than where you would draw the line. Reddit says they draw it in a handful of places, in what ways isn't that enough?

I don't think anyone here would disagree that the place where Reddit draws the line is entirely subjective; one of the reasons that r/Coontown keeps coming up is because Reddit has said that they aren't going to shut it down. It's a great test case, and an example of how Reddit needs to draw the line much more tightly.

The notion that subreddits only go over the line when they start “intruding into real lives” takes us into a fuzzy realm. Dylann Storm Roof and Anders Breivik, for instance, both visited Stormfront a lot. Stormfront has disavowed both individuals and claims to not support any kind of actual race violence. Nonetheless, despite saying that it doesn't want people to go and attack non-whites, people who want to commit racist violence sure do seem to hang out there. I'd say that, given the correlation, we can reasonably lay at least some of the blame for these killings at the forum's feet. (Correlation isn't causation, but I'm okay to risk confounding the two here.)

r/Coontown traffics in highly charged language, and one of the mods literally is u/DylannStormRoof. I have no doubt that if real world violence occurred that could be tied back to some frequent r/Coontown poster, the mods would disavow him in a heartbeat. I have pretty good conviction that Reddit would respond by killing the sub, but it isn't 100%, and I have little faith that they would squash a new private sub called r/RaccoonVillage that would spring up after the original was closed.

r/FatPeopleHate is another great example. It wasn't banned because of its gross content; it was banned because its members brigaded other subreddits. If its members had been good redditors it would still be here today.

But r/FatPeopleHate contributes nothing to the Reddit community, and is quite arguably detrimental to Reddit as a whole. If Reddit wants to grow its user base, it needs to get your Mom and Dad on board. And if it wants to keep them, it needs to be impossible for major media outlets to bring up subreddits like r/Coontown and r/FatPeopleHate.

Did r/FatPeopleHate have real world effects? Probably not on many specific individuals, but it's not hard to see it as a microaggression breeding ground (at a minimum). There's a case to be made for shutting it down on those grounds, but no one made it - *and both u/ekjp and u/spez went out of their way to make that clear.

Reddit can do whatever it wants, and it can redraw the line as many times as it wants. But the longer it faffs about and doesn't tell those elements to go home, it has a problem. (I believe that 4chan has more traffic than Reddit, and if it wanted it could instead swing hardcore the other way.But 4chan does 4chan pretty well, and Reddit has gone to a lot of effort not to be a 4chan. So they're kind of stuck. The purge is still coming, because the board still wants Reddit to be respectable. They're just kicking the can further down the road.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:57 PM on July 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Promoting free speech is a pretty noble thing, but I think what actually happened here is that they thought it was too hard in the early days to decide what to say no to, because it wasn't always clear to them where the line should be drawn. And just haphazardly banning websites without a clear criteria has a way of irritating the clientele. So this has been their problem from the beginning, I think, that although there may have been a rough very-early standard of not allowing some things (per Spez), when it grew too big, how do you consistently differentiate between things that might be towing opposite sides of some hypothetical line? This was a hard thing for them to figure out, and they didn't do it in the early days, instead deciding not to rile the community and lean on the idea that they'd let it be a free platform.

Free speech sound noble, but it's also hard to mitigate the purity of that principle when you have a website built on discussion. Now, they are pretty screwed. You can't take a community of now millions of people and suddenly change the rules without some big repercussions, and they'd rather avoid those repercussions. So they are relying on solutions that are neither noble nor totally effective as some half-way middle-route of dealing with the problem. I'd like to see someone in charge say that we are going to take a noble stand on the stuff that is vile and get rid of it, even if it makes some people angry. It'll have consequences, our revenue will drop, some people will leave, and we need to hire more people on top of that, but we'll build from there. But as someone pointed out previously, some of the moderators from the more popular reddits also moderate some of the more vile ones, and it probably feels overly risky to do the surgery right.

So they are stuck in a situation in which they want to champion the moral virtue of pruning the site, but the real virtuous move that they seem to be hinting at and never fully embracing hits too close to the overall welfare of the site, and they've chosen the middle road for probably some sort of "greater good" evaluation of what would happen to do otherwise. It's disappointing, but they are far enough down the road of having done nothing so far that it's a corner that they've painted themselves into, and I sort of understand it, although there's certainly the moral culpability in not having done anything sooner that got them into this mess.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:33 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


On the other end of the “Reddit must change” spectrum, Slate is running an article backing the see-no-evil approach: “My Reddit Utopia: Everything you think you know about ‘the front page of the Internet’ is wrong”

Not much new for folks who see the debate hashed out on MetaFilter, but interesting to see it getting aired on Slate.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:54 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


The notion that subreddits only go over the line when they start “intruding into real lives” takes us into a fuzzy realm. Dylann Storm Roof and Anders Breivik, for instance, both visited Stormfront a lot. Stormfront has disavowed both individuals and claims to not support any kind of actual race violence.

The sort of people who would actually perpetrate ideological (as opposed to opportunistic), race-based violence are likely to gravitate toward forums that provide support for their ideologies.

Free speech sound noble, but it's also hard to mitigate the purity of that principle when you have a website built on discussion. Now, they are pretty screwed. You can't take a community of now millions of people and suddenly change the rules without some big repercussions, and they'd rather avoid those repercussions. So they are relying on solutions that are neither noble nor totally effective as some half-way middle-route of dealing with the problem.

Free speech in the abstract is great - the wisdom of the commons, the sharing of different points of view, converging on agreement through vigorous and gentlemanly debate.

In practice, it means managing trolls, bigots, and other antagonists.
posted by theorique at 2:08 PM on July 20, 2015


I want to break out this old meme, but at the same time I think even compared to Fox it would be too much of a stretch to call the site that deliberately hosts r/Coontown, "Not racist."
posted by Drinky Die at 3:06 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


But 4chan does 4chan pretty well, and Reddit has gone to a lot of effort not to be a 4chan.

I think this, in a way, sums up the issues with Reddit. 4ch is 4ch and nothing will change that. They have no aspirations at anything other than being a kiddie pool under a pipe that sometimes leaks clean water, other times rancid industrial waste, and very rarely sweetly perfumed rose water (you can take Mr. Bones Wild Ride from my cold, dead hands).
But Reddit has pretty high aspirations - it calls itself "the front page of the internet" (which I won't argue - if something interesting happens, it's bound to find their way there). But to be that, it can't have racists, misogynists or similar cultural backwater assholes steering the ship. Keeping with the "frontpage" thing, it's like having a newspaper with serious intentions with the "everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard" motto, but then becoming known for publishing the most toxic letters to the editor page in the history of printed press.

Their effort (or lack thereof) in not being 4ch has resulted them in being worse than 4ch.
posted by lmfsilva at 4:19 PM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reddit isn't the front page of the internet. It's a platform as a service that lets anyone spin up something that's roughly equivalent to metafilter, featurewise, in less than two minutes. Some people use that to create communities that are more interesting than metafilter. Some people use it to make Coontown. And sure, reddit is a business, but I don't think it's making any money. It's just that when investors see the numbers that reddit is pulling they fall all over themselves to get a piece of it. "It's losing money on every new user." "Sure, but we can make it up on volume!"
posted by mullingitover at 8:37 PM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reddit isn't the front page of the internet. It's a platform as a service that lets anyone spin up something that's roughly equivalent to metafilter, featurewise, in less than two minutes.

I didn't say it was, that's their claim. I just don't think it's worth disputing because I've lost count on how many items on my feed have a "a user from Reddit posted..." on the first paragraph or "via r/boardrelateddtothetopic" at the bottom (and fair to say there are issues with content attribution, like in Tumblr). I'm sure Google and Facebook are way ahead in terms of being the FPotI, but Reddit for the time being is one of the top content farms on the internet.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:53 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Scott Alexander: Freedom On The Centralized Web:
Advocates of net neutrality like to worry about a “two-tiered” Internet, where the companies that can make sweetheart deals with the ISPs are easy for everyone to access, and everybody else can only be accessed with a bit more money and a bit more trouble. Well, I worry about a two-tiered marketplace of ideas. Write decent erotica, socially approved erotica where everyone has heterosexual sex and then goes to church afterwards, and you can sell it on Amazon, collect profits using PayPal, talk to your friends about it on Facebook, and advertise on Reddit. Write weird erotica, the kind that other people might find offensive, and you might have to start your own website, take payment via some inconvenient method like Bitcoin, have trouble advertising it by word of mouth, and not be able to talk about it on literary discussion forums. [...]

Declare that you’re going to stop holding witch hunts, and your coalition is certain to include more than its share of witches. [...] Already, we see why the typical answer “If you don’t like your community, just leave and start a new one” is an oversimplification. A community run on Voat’s rules with Reddit userbase would probably be a pretty nice place. A community run on Voat’s rules with the subsection of Reddit’s userbase who will leave Reddit when you create it is…a very different community. [...]

The worst possible end-game for this is the two-tier marketplace of ideas mentioned above, with an unfortunate twist – everyone knows that the second tier is inhabited entirely by witches, and therefore being on the second tier is sufficient to convict you. Unpopular ideas are gradually forced out of the first tier by media smear campaigns, and from then on everyone believes the effort was justified, because it’s one of those second-tier ideas that you only find in the same sites as the racists and trolls and child pornographers. You’re not a second tier kind of person, are you? No, we didn’t think so.
posted by Rangi at 7:47 PM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, I guess that Alexander doesn't understand how the marketplace of ideas works.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:52 PM on July 22, 2015


Scott has some great ideas.

This ain't one. First it is the wordiest statement of Gresham's Law ever made. Derrida could make a clearer explanation. Second, a law in Economics ain't like a Natural Law in Physics. Anything can happen anytime and if you think otherwise you maybe could get a job as a professional economist.
posted by bukvich at 6:03 AM on July 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thus the old joke:
An economist and a normal person are walking down the street together.
Normal person: “Hey, look, there’s a $20 bill on the sidewalk!”
Economist: “That’s impossible- if it were really a $20 bill, it would have been picked up by now.”
posted by Chrysostom at 7:26 AM on July 23, 2015 [14 favorites]




They are really on a roll.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:55 AM on July 28, 2015


In early July, Reddit parted ways with admin Victoria Taylor.

That is obnoxious weasel-speak, re/code
posted by phearlez at 9:59 AM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, the women are jumping ship in droves... have any men left/been fired?
posted by Deoridhe at 5:15 PM on July 28, 2015


Well, I believe that this woman's husband is u/kickme[somenumber], who was previously in charge of reddit gifts & then fired during an earlier round of layoffs. So yes, dudes have been fired as part of the new grand vision, but these days it’s the women who are disappearing.

I’m hoping it’s going to turn out that the new policy was a trap, and that now that the subreddits have been tagged /u/spez will blow ’em up. It’s a nice dream.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:32 PM on July 28, 2015


A nice dream, but not a likely one. Responding to the (now deleted) question "How do you feel about hosting what may soon be the biggest white supremacist forum on the internet?", Steve Huffman responded:
Horrible, actually, but I don't think you can win an argument by simply silencing the opposition.
To reddit's cred(d)it, a whole bunch of people have responded, essentially asking if he really thinks "black people are subhuman" is an argument he feels needs to be hosted and engaged with on reddit, or indeed whether "are black people human?" is a question that has not already been answered to the satisfaction of non-awful people in general.

It's... unfortunate phrasing, let's say. Ironically, it's possible that reddit is not actually the best platform for the CEO of reddit to communicate.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:05 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's... unfortunate phrasing, let's say. Ironically, it's possible that reddit is not actually the best platform for the CEO of reddit to communicate.

I dunno, I think his phrasing is pretty clear. That said, I think that any forum where the CEO's comments can be downvoted to invisibility pretty much doom it as a good communication medium for locally unpopular opinions.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:18 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]








Good decisions and at the same time I'm hear with my head in my hands like, "Why the fuck did this take so long and have to be like pulling teeth?"
posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 PM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Good decisions and at the same time I'm hear with my head in my hands like, "Why the fuck did this take so long and have to be like pulling teeth?"

Because the reason they pulled these wasn't because of their content, but because it was getting bad enough that they were having hiring problems because of it. Which, to be fair, is more conviction than I expected from people willing to otherwise consider working for Reddit.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:36 PM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, really, who would work there after what happened to Pao? That has to be the obvious consequence of the year right there. Even if you are in tune with the Reddit crowd on most stuff the ease with which you can become a non-person to them if the worst elements there have a problem with you is terrifying.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:46 PM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


The attacks on the new policy are so predictable they could have been written by spambots. Of course the haters go right for the "but SRS and againstmensrights are hate groups too" whine.
posted by humanfont at 6:13 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, they are right to a degree. Reddit, as always, can't just come out and say the problem is that the banned subs are hate groups. They post some BS about, "Existing to annoy other users on Reddit."

I'm not a fan of SRS, this is known. But even people who are fans, you gotta admit annoying Redditors is pretty high on the list of why a lot of people go there. That's the fun of it.

Just say it, admins, "We don't want to host hate speech."

It's the most easy thing in the world to say if you just darn say it!
posted by Drinky Die at 6:17 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, no, this can be milked for more footdragging and halfassedness.
posted by Artw at 6:39 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I almost want to go back and copy some of the vile shit directed at Pao and post it verbatim with her name changed to his. Just to highlight that nobody's doing that now, for some reason.
posted by ctmf at 7:51 PM on August 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


SRS is reactive. It will die down if these new content policies reduce the amount of stuff for srs to get riled about.
posted by humanfont at 9:16 PM on August 5, 2015


Because the reason they pulled these wasn't because of their content, but because it was getting bad enough that they were having hiring problems because of it.

Citation? I buy it, but wouldn't mind some evidence. My quick & lazy google search shows that the recent kerfuffles have been getting high profile coverage but not that they'd yet been having hiring problems. That high profile coverage could lead to hiring problems, but that isn't quite the same thing.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:58 PM on August 5, 2015


Citation:
We didn't ban them for being racist. We banned them because we have to spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with them. If we want to improve Reddit, we need more people, but CT's existence and popularity has also made recruiting here more difficult.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:55 PM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just to highlight that nobody's doing that now, for some reason.

Apparently it's /u/spez -> speznaz.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:25 PM on August 5, 2015


"The attacks on the new policy are so predictable they could have been written by spambots. Of course the haters go right for the "but SRS and againstmensrights are hate groups too" whine."

they are the same

both use words to post

ban words
posted by klangklangston at 12:19 AM on August 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


We didn't ban them for being racist. We banned them because we have to spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with them.

That is day-ruiningly depressing.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:58 AM on August 6, 2015


We can hope for them doing the right things, but we can never hope for them in a preemptive manner or without a degree of halfhearted apologies to the trolls.
posted by Artw at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2015


SRS is reactive. It will die down if these new content policies reduce the amount of stuff for srs to get riled about.

And if I learn to fly by flapping my wings I'll save money on airfare.
posted by phearlez at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Isn't SRS mostly "a redditor says this dumb and offensive thing"?

Because Redditors saying dumb and offensive things is not going away.
posted by Artw at 9:46 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


This discussion of whether or not r/WTF will be quarantined (spoiler alert: no) seems to capture the arbitrary and flaccid nature of this new "policy." The quarantine is for any subreddit that with content deemed "extremely offensive or upsetting to the average redditor" ... but apparently that doesn't include WTF? First spez says that's because r/WTF tags its posts as NSFW, but then when asked if a quarantined subreddit could be un-quarantined by marking everything NSFW, spez says no, that won't work ...

So basically ... a subreddit will get quarantined if it's dedicated to offensive and upsetting content. Unless it isn't quarantined for that. And sometimes an NSFW tag will save a subreddit from quarantine. Unless it doesn't.

I don't think "policy" means what they think it means ...
posted by DingoMutt at 10:46 AM on August 6, 2015


Yeah, but on the other hand this also seems like a bunch of people demanding a detailed set of rules they can then game and subvert and play sea-lawyer with, when the real criteria is simply "don't be an asshole."

See also: MeFi's fairly limited set of "thou shalt not" black and white rules. Does that cause heartache sometimes? Sure.
posted by ctmf at 3:41 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


We didn't ban them for being racist. We banned them because we have to spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with them. If we want to improve Reddit, we need more people, but CT's existence and popularity has also made recruiting here more difficult.

There you go. Reddit can claim that they are "pro-free speech" or "don't like 'hate speech'" or "ban behavior, not ideas" or whatever the flavor of the month is, but ultimately there's one inviolable criterion - do not bring shame or drama or extra labor to your host.

The unifying thread of all subreddits that have been permanently banned is that they were powerful magnets for negative publicity - a couple of years ago, it was 'jailbait', which is an indefensible nightmare when it gets into the news; next it was 'n-ggers', which was unashamedly racist; then it was 'fatpeoplehate', which apparently alienated certain powers in the Reddit universe; finally, it's this recent wave of racist subreddits, which were drawing a lot of Gawker hatred.

Were these subreddits "bad"? Yes, of course - if they weren't shockingly offensive to a large number of people, they never would have gotten so much attention (the articles just write themselves - "Popular website that did Q+A with the President hosts racist and violent content!!"). But if these offensive corners of Reddit had been ignored by the Gawkers and SPLCs, I suspect they would have remained a obscure, dirty little secret.
posted by theorique at 6:48 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


fatpeoplehate was banned for conducted brigades, not because it was getting bad press.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:00 PM on August 6, 2015


Hmmm.
posted by Artw at 7:02 PM on August 6, 2015


Yeah, but on the other hand this also seems like a bunch of people demanding a detailed set of rules they can then game and subvert and play sea-lawyer with, when the real criteria is simply "don't be an asshole."

See also: MeFi's fairly limited set of "thou shalt not" black and white rules. Does that cause heartache sometimes? Sure.


You know, that is a good point, and it's one that I've also been turning over because while I can appreciate the parallel, there's something that still seems critically different here. I think what doesn't sit right for me is that here at Metafilter, the mods seem pretty open about the fact that they don't have all the answers and won't apply black-and-white rules ... and I think (though admittedly I'm biased, and am in no way wanting to start a MF vs. Reddit derail here) they're honest about what the general guiding principles are. Obviously a skim through Metatalk would prove that not everyone agrees, but I still come away from even contentious Metatalks feeling like the mods are being honest and up-front with us about their decision-making process - even if we can't predict with 100% accuracy what will happen in any specific situation. In discussions like the r/WTF one I linked above, u/spez and company leave me feeling like there's this big open secret that really money is their bottom line* and all of the "policies" they claim to be operating under only serve to rationalize their decisions without giving the user base a clear idea of what reddit wants to be about - there just seem to be too many unanswered counter-examples that lend credence to the idea that it really ISN'T a matter of "don't be an asshole" for them.

I understand that users will rules-lawyer and continue to play the "gotcha!" game no matter what spez and company say, and of course I realize that there are issues of user base size, investor expectations, etc. that reddit has to contend with, but some of those "gotchas" people have raised are things that do seem worth addressing. Even if the answer were "yes, we've made mistakes and will continue to do so, and yes, this is a work in progress, but our goal is to be steered by [these principles]," I think that would really help address the problem that (to me, at least) something about the way reddit admin are currently communicating continues to feel incompetent at best or deceptive at worst.

(*and I don't think profit is a bad goal for them to have, but it's difficult to have confidence in leaders who seem to be trying to convince the user base that this isn't the case).
posted by DingoMutt at 8:10 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure at the end of the day this is just about reddit setting up coherent rules for itself (although that plays a part). I think reddit still wants the flexibility to move stuff around as they have subjective impressions about what is working for reddit and what is not; what is causing more work than is necessary, and what is not; what causes public pushback in the media, and what does not. The new policies are meant to give guidelines to the community to provide a front-facing justification, but they also want a more subjective crafting of the way that reddit looks to those who founded it, run it, and care about what it looks like from the outside. They want something that they are proud of, the public will appreciate and not disparage, the constituency will embrace, and which holds to a set of values that have historically been publicly valued (like free expression). It's noble, but it is kind of like laying a carpet in a room that is a little too big for the room. You can probably get three corners down well, but it will cause the fourth corner to pop up and probably buckle a bit.

So, they have objective criteria set up publicly to help provide some framework, which can be genuinely helpful but also provide a screen for subjective decisions about what they do and do not want, and to what extent they want things to have a particular influence or effect on reddit's appearance. Along the way, they are trying to straddle a notion of free expression, but that ultimately becomes subservient to appearances that are determined in ways that don't always bow to objective criteria. I absolutely agree that reddit should have a subjective ability to say, eh, we just don't like that kind of hateful looking thing here. They should be able to say, that kind of thing causes us to dedicte way more man-hours than it's worth. Or, that kind of thing is bringing negative media attention to us in a way that is damaging. What isn't working so well though, and I don't like so much, is that it's trying to hide that behind an smoke screen of objectivity, and it's being shown pretty quickly to be inconsistent. I'd like for them to admit that it's sometimes a bit more subjective than the actual policy, and to say there are guiding principles but sometimes they are going to make judgment calls that fall into gray areas because of concerns that don't always fall nicely into a content policy.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:28 AM on August 7, 2015




Kotaku (which was the subject of many redditors' vitriol) on why ten former trolls stopped being jerks.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:38 PM on August 7, 2015


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