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Reddit’s CEO edited comments that criticized him (theverge.com)
423 points by rmason on Nov 24, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 436 comments

A little bit of backstory from r/outoftheloop on this issue :

To explain what's happened to anyone not wanting to dig through the threads, Spez, the CEO of Reddit, has admitted to editing some comments on The_Donald. Specifically, he changed mentions of his name in insults to the usernames of The_Donald moderators. According to his comment, he did this for about an hour before stopping. His comment states that he was very stressed over dealing with the removal of r/pizzagate and being called a pedophile for it, resulting in him going out of line and making edits to comments. He also says that he won't do it again, and that the community management team is angry with him.

The Reddit admins have had a strained relationship with the moderators and users of The_Donald, for multiple reasons. For a lot of users there, this validates some beliefs about the admin's treatment towards them, specifically that they make an active effort to censor their content. Other users on the site feel like this sets a dangerous precedent, as it demonstrates the admins can and have edited comments without disclosure. Further users feel like, while Spez made a mistake, he was unfairly treated and harassed by TheDonald and his response was an understandable outburst.

Now, people around the site are wondering what the repercussions of this will be. Some question if Spez will be removed from his position over this. Some wonder if the admins will come forward and admit they've edited comments in the past. Others wonder if a significant population from The_Donald will migrate to Voat, a Reddit alternative.

Posting "fuck /u/spez" has become something of a meme, and every time you write out someone's username like that, they get a PM. This, combined with the accusations of paedophilia that the lunatics at /r/pizzagate were making, understandably seem to have caused him to snap.

According to a leaked Reddit moderators Slack chat right after his editing spree, he turned off PMs for mentions a long time ago.

This is the leaked Slack for anyone interested: http://archive.is/ZmULb


And I thought that I work in an unprofessional company on a useless project. I feel a lot better now.

This reads like a chatlog from minecraft server for teenagers.

To be fair, this Slack chat isn't reddit's internal company chat. This is a group with default sub-reddit moderators (random volunteers not associated with reddit the company) and a few reddit admins.

But yes, it's pretty awful and highly unprofessional. spez's comments in the chat are unprofessional and concerning as well.

if only there was a way to turn of notifications when a person says your name....

Ohh wait... there is.


> Others wonder if a significant population from The_Donald will migrate to Voat, a Reddit alternative.

Oh let them please do that. Rats belong in the sewer

And I have no qualms about what Spez has done. Internet trolls deserve it.

Without being in the loop of the pizzagate drama, it's really hard to see this as "okay" (the actions that Spez took). I can understand frustration and wanting to edit comments as payback to people that have wronged you, but this is a pretty dangerous action by an administrator. If he wanted to close the thread(s) or disallow posting on the_donald, sure, it's a visible action and I could understand that. I could even understand removing comments he finds offensive (even if it's not right, I can understand it and it's a visible action). But surreptitiously editing a comment is not okay, because while this is a relatively minor use of that power it's not unthinkable that other admins with that power might use it for less minor things.

Here's the problem: thedonald is a subreddit full of both real trump supporters, AND trolls who're acting surreptitiously to rile up the real supporters and piss off everyone else; which is also spilling over and affecting other parts of reddit, including /all.

The problem for the reddit admins is how to control and contain it and punish the trolls without affecting real people, or being overly censurous.

So for someone who's basically being sniped at by hundreds of guerilla warriors who can make thousands of other people dance as their puppets, it's not surprising they'd reach for a similar tool in frustration when attacked directly, wrongly and frivolously.

They shouldn't though, if they want to be credible and the site they own/market. Now this is lost.

Was reddit ever really credible?

They made sure in the media they are.

imo he's gained credibility

"I don't care what he did so long as it was against those I disagree with."

You're thinking too shallow. :)

It took people harrassing him personally, and at scale, for him to snap. And even then he did not ban anyone, but did what amounts to a prank. And even then he did not hide it, but owned it and apologized.

At every turn of this he showed himself to be a greater man than most of us.

Banning them would have been better.

Silently editing their comments shows that reddit has very poor data management practices. It shouldn't be possible for the CEO to edit content like that.

There's no forum where the people running it don't have trivially easy access to do what he did. The point is that he has clearly shown what kind of thing it takes to push him that far, and it's clearly not done trivially.

E: I'm trying to say, your perspective is off. Reddit is an internet humor place. Just because it's big enough to have a CEO doesn't mean it's suddenly run with all the seriousness and as tight as a bank.

Thats a fair comment, but my point about calling this a prank being absolute BS still stands...


I dont mind that you reply to multi-with-one....

Sure, I am agitated - but given that if anyone who has ever worked for me on any system who had root access to a publicly used (by many millions of people) changed content from the ACTUAL USERBASE based on their ego being hurt, they would be fired on the spot. A statement would be made saying that we are assessing our data-access policies and auditing who has access to what.

You state I am "over reacting" but are you not aware that the entire premise of credibility in data driven companies is based on access to data? Have you ever been through ANY audits ever?

I am going to make a simple foundational audit question to you:

"Who has access to the financial information of the company"

"Well, our VP of IT, the CFO, the CEO are the only three"

So... this CEO of reddit has been known to abuse his power in his own companies product to edit the contents of that product (userbase comments with interests in various topics which is a sellable marketing package)....

So... whos to say if he reacts like this that he wont edit the financials/user-base counts/whatever he has access to if he isnt happy with the data?????

THIS IS A FUNDAMENTAL trust issue with him... to blow it off as a prank is abhorrent.

Does this not make sense?

reddit is not a bank, it is an internet humor forum where sometimes people also talk about the real world

he edited posts that said "fuck you" to him

you're overreacting

you can take this if you like, or disagree, i don't care to discuss it further

this is one of the least significant possible hills to make a stand and die on :v

While I expect this issue to blow over, you are right that defending the CEO's actions by saying he was "frustrated" or it was a prank or whatever else is ridiculous. Imagine the CEO of Google editing YouTube comments.

I don't know if these analogies are totally apt or not, though; it sounds like the CEO here is also a moderator of a forum and may have edit privileges by virtue of that; it's not like he's executing SQL queries to rewrite the comments in place, I assume, he's just abusing "editorial" powers in pretty much the worst way possible (quietly changing content to say the opposite).

> I assume, he's just abusing "editorial" powers in pretty much the worst way possible

The platform shouldn't provide editorial powers that allow you to edit others comments. Removal of comments and banning of users is sufficient. There's no legitimate need to have that functionality built it.

> You're highly agitated and not thinking clearly it seems. Try and do whatever helps you calm down normally.

This was unnecessary and condescending, and there's no call for it.

It was a simple fact and he admitted himself it was. Though, if you know of a more graceful way to communicate this, please let me know.

>but did what amounts to a prank.

This is the stupidest comment I have read.

"Don't worry bro, I only shot you as a prank!"

"Don't worry bro, I only slept with your wife as a prank!"

This isa CEO of an incredibly far reaching site who was personally EDITING the posts of users on his site because his ego was hurt.

This is ridiculous!!!

"Don't worry bro, I only shot you as a prank!"

Have you ever heard of "false equivalence"?

"I just committed a mass edit on posts on one of the largest public forums on the internet with 100's of millions of users who want to share their perspective and opinions - where that site I did these edits on is where I am CEO -- and I was upset, within the context of how my ego was hurt -- but it was just a prank"


You need to take some time to evaluate you're understanding of "false" equivalence.

/u/spez is falsely equating his actions with a "prank"

>> And even then he did not hide it, but owned it and apologized.

Only after he got.

Lets hope Zuckerberg doesn't snap then, but I'm sure "dumb fucks"* will find an apology for that too.

*his words, not mine

As long as he follows up in the same mature manner, it'll be unfortunate, but forgivable. :)

Also, calling someone a dumbfuck and pretending you didn't just do that because it's "just a quote" is not the greatest a look a person can aim for. ;)

I'm not even sure who he's quoting as calling "dumb fucks"

Mark Zuckerburg, referring to Facebook users.


> *his words, not mine

Who's words?

The people he did this to were jabbing him in the eye with a sharp stick because reddit took action against them for falsley accusing people of being pedophiles.

His action was wrong. But it was provoked.

That was my point with comments like "imo he's gained credibility"

There are other comments celebrating what he did because it was again /r/the_donald "trolls."

Lot's of people don't care what actions you take so long as its against a group/individual that they don't like. That is short sighted thinking IMO.

I think the distinction is behavior, not "people they don't like". Witch hunts are against the guidelines of reddit; that's not a secret. Whether you support Trump or not isn't relevant, if you're on a witch hunt. Likewise, posting personal information has, from almost the very beginning of reddit, been the one cardinal sin. The sin that'll get you banned or a subreddit closed down.

That's what spez was responding to. He did it in a terribly immature way that I could never condone (unless it were really funny, like this, in which case, I think it's hilarious). But, it was not a random "I don't like this group" situation, and to frame it that way is to manipulate the narrative. The behavior in question was a witch hunt, and against reddit rules; the witch hunt started because a subreddit was banned for posting (tons of!) personal information and launching a witch hunt against a random restaurant and bar and its owners. Again, that's clearly against reddit rules. Those rules are reasonable, and if someone doesn't like them, they should take their shit elsewhere.

It's not about not liking The_Donald. Nobody likes The_Donald, but reddit has always been more than fair in dealing with all of their bullshit; the vote brigades (against reddit rules), the orchestrated abuse of other subs and moderators and users, etc. Large swaths of them probably should have been banned months ago. But, Steve has always been slow to ban. Probably to a fault. When you fail to ban folks like this you breed a community of people like this, who feel entitled to be abusive without response.

You're describing a seemingly natural human reaction. However - the CEO shouldn't be reacting like this - he needs a PR team to spin it however he wants to spin it - but he shouldnt single-handedly, with one action, literally destroy any semblance of credibility the 8th largest site in the US even has.

FB was allowing employees to simply READ any comments/posts/PMs between users and recall what a shitstorm that was... but now imagine if Zuck was personally freaking editing posts about him? (or if he had a team of ppl doing it for him and then admitting to it/bragging about it on corp comms???)

/u/spez may have truly done a really big hit to reddits future.

Can we get @DANG's opinion?

> /u/spez may have truly done a really big hit to reddits future.

Oh man, if Reddit takes a stand and says "we're not going to treat trolls and non-trolls the same anymore", I would feel a ton better about spending time there.

How does one define a troll vs. a non-troll?

You also have to consider that, as incredibly ridiculous and batshit crazy as it is, a high percentage of the /r/pizzagate people 100% believe it's true and that they're uncovering a massive criminal ring.

> Here's the problem: thedonald is a subreddit full of both real trump supporters, AND trolls who're acting surreptitiously to rile up the real supporters and piss off everyone else

Shouldn't the mods clean up after the trolls who don't abide by the subreddit rules? If a post stays up for days, it is safe to assume the mods condone it whether it was posted by a 'troll' or a 'real person' - this goes for any subreddit.

There's a site that gives you a thing you can use to show deleted posts in reddit threads, called uneddit.com

Try it on thedonald.

I don't quite follow the argument that you are making - are you saying they mods are overwhelmed? The whole point of having mod(erator)s is to moderate - subreddits are their own communities with the mods in charge. They are responsible for setting the ground rules and enforcing them, if you have a different understanding of how Reddit works, please let me know.

I'm saying that i personally don't think the mods there give a single damn about cleaning anything.

If you try to clean up after the trolls they'll just shitpost at you even more. Short of nuking the entire subreddit there's nothing to do.

so what is the point of having moderators?

Regardless of anything - the CEO of reddit's personal reddit user-account SHOULD NOT have the ability (assuming he is using his reddit login creds (surely hes got 2FA etc..)) to modify comments like this....

Every black-hat should be trying to get access to /u/spez's account to see if they can pwn reddit as a whole. But I am hopeful that reddit has that account compartmentalization and security under control.

How would you propose that a root level administrator of a server, for a site running code he original wrote, be prevented from modifying the content of that site?

That wasn't quite what I meant:

1. the actual reddit account /u/spez would presumably be just like any other account (meaning no god-mode, where he can edit shit) - that should be compartmentalized to system level accounts for cassandra, mysql etc... such that /u/spez cannot (via the web-account login) access an option to modify content thusly. The reason for this is to assume that /u/spez's account is prolly being attacked by brute force continuously.

2. we should assume that their DB practices, hosted on AWS, have both logging and alerts such that there should be a log of any DB statements submitted are logged.

3. that logged events stat who did what when

4. It's actually far more common to not have a CEO's account having root access to everything -- this is why you create a company. We are far more advanced than that. While Zuck may have "authority" to access any single system that FB has, I doubt he knows every single password - and that he would rely on his officers and teams to access/modify anything (given their current maturity level asa company)

I'd bet my life that if you put a gun to Tim Cook's head - he would not be able to login and gain access and them modify your icloud account.

1 - I don't think he used his /u/spez account on reddit to make this change. I think he hit the lower level parts of the system. I can't imagine he wanted to spend hours manually editing things.

2 - How do we know it wasn't logged? I assume it was.

3 - Same as above. I assume it would have been traceable had that been necessary. But, Steve posted about it. No need for spelunking in the logs.

4 - Tim Cook didn't/couldn't build iCloud from the ground up. Zuck hasn't been a primary coder on facebook in years, and nearly always had a lot of help. Steve built almost all of reddit in the beginning, and even now, seems to still be involved in the code.

really? no qualms about secretly editing user comments to say something different?

have you ever heard of how slippery certain slopes can be?

I just clicked one of the Voat links in this thread and I had an _even worse_ mobile experience than Reddit. Hard to believe!

All I saw was a white background and one character (or two!) per line on the left. What garbage.

Is administrators editing users' posts as a norm of the internet something you would be comfortable with? Are spez's actions acceptable in a vacuum, or should they be a norm of internet moderation in your eyes?

It should not be the rule, but when you call someone a pedophile and breed a feud of hate and misinformation under their nose don't expect your welcome to last

And no, Reddit is not a democracy, there's no free speech there. Still, it is much, much more tolerant than facebook. But a limit exists

There should only be 3 options to moderation that are acceptable

1. Removal of Post outright

2. Editing of post WITH ATTRIBUTION or Acknowledgement of edit

3. Banning of user/thread/topic/etc with full and open disclosure

This habit of Redit and other sites have of "hidden" moderation needs to end

The Practice of silent moderation, silent editing of post, shadow bans, etc should not be acceptable to anyone that values free Speech

And before you go off on your moronic tangent about Reddit not being a democracy. Yes Reddit can legally choose to censor anyone they want, or do anything they want really on their platform, that is not the topic of debate. The topic of debate is around do YOU a presumed reddit user want to continue to support such a site. Do you want to visit an ecochamber of heavily censored topics and discussion?

Reddit became popular on the back of having very very very few limits on expression, the reason people flocked to it was because of open and uncensored discussion. If the site Admin's want to turn it into a Democrat echo chamber free of any alternative view points they are free to do so. I am also free to fucking call them censorious fuckwits if they do

Some how I have a feeling you would not hold the same opinion spez did this to a community you approve of, or on topic you approve of

//and for the record, and I should not have to say it but I feel I need to which is telling in itself, I did not vote for, nor do I support Donald Trump. I have been for more than 20 years a Libertarian, and voted for Gary Johnson in 2016

I think Shadowban has an important role in spammers and (heavy) trolls. It should not be discarded

Free speech has a limit, unfortunately, because large groups can't police themselves. And then the trolls take over (either on the internet or outside, see Antifa)

> Do you want to visit an ecochamber of heavily censored topics and discussion?

No, but if you go to the_donald that's what you get. Or do you really think they don't censor certain discussions?

> Some how I have a feeling you would not hold the same opinion spez did this to a community you approve of, or on topic you approve of

The topic or community is irrelevant, because it was directed to a troll. A message like "F U $ADM" has no place in any subreddit

>>Free speech has a limit, unfortunately,

Sorry no. The second you limit speech it is no longer free speech. This is a concept people have a hard time grasping.

People that say reddit is not free expression are correct. It is limited expression. There used to be fewer limits, than today, and reddit seems to want to massively increase those limits even more.

>because large groups can't police themselves

Based on your subjective view on what they should and should not say they cant.

>No, but if you go to the_donald that's what you get. Or do you really think they don't censor certain discussions?

Dont know, never once visited, dont care what they do

We are not talking about the Policies of a indivual subreddit. Most subreddits are not for Free Expression, most are topic based and heavily censoured to ensure the topic of discussion stays on topic. For example posting political threads on /r/sysadmin is not allowed, I have no problem with this as the rules are fully disclosed, open, and I know what I am getting into when I subscribed

You see I have no problem with Moderation. I have extreme problems with SECRET moderation.

>A message like "F U $ADM" has no place in any subreddit

I would tend to agree, and would have no problem the SPEZ removing the posts. But redirecting F U $ADM to F U $MOD secretly is not the solution, it is childish and should not be viewed as acceptable.

>I think Shadowban has an important role in spammers and (heavy) trolls.

Shadowban is a common knowledge at this point, writing a script that checks if the account is shadowbanned is trivial. At this point it only hurts actual users.

> I think Shadowban has an important role in spammers and (heavy) trolls. It should not be discarded

I agree; anyone who disagrees has never moderated anything.

It's asymmetric warfare; moderating a single troll costs about ten times the effort that troll puts in, and it scales geometrically from there.

As someone who used to admin/moderate a medium-large forum for over five years, let me voice my strong disagreement. It's taking the easy route.

You're really only punishing those who aren't clever enough to (trivially) detect or circumvent a shadow-ban. And those are actually exactly the people that you didn't need to resort to shadow-banning for in the first place. And there's no excuse for that (I'd like to hear, why would stupid people be more deserving of punishment?).

Another important task was keeping ourselves, the mod-team in check, keeping tabs on each other (because emotions), to not abuse their powers like this, taking the easy way.

Part of that was setting stone-hard rules that were never, ever, to be broken. Obviously, one of those rules was "don't ever edit someone else's post without attribution". We were sure to drill in that rule, calling it out even if it was a "friendly" or helpful edit--partially for the principle of it, but also because not attributing friendly edits still erodes trust.

Oh and if moderating a single troll costs ten times the effort they put in, you probably need to upgrade your mod tools.

How did you deal with trolls when you were a moderator? Any troll who can get around a shadowban can get around a regular ban as well by registering new accounts.

If shadowbans defeated 50% of trolls and made the forum 50% better, I'd consider that progress.

Really depends on the type of troll you're dealing with.

First off, it's important you don't do this alone. Trolls get under your skin and if you get emotional, you're going to make bad calls. Have at least three other mods that you are in constant communication with (via forum-PMs, IRC or other messaging). They also help lighten the load of doing boring non-automatable parts of cleanup jobs. Try to set hard and clear rules of how to act before the situation occurs.

So, there's the crackpots (on a spectrum from deserving-compassion-because-mentally-ill to dangerously-obsessed). There's the spammer-trolls (commercial non-human spambots, human marketers, but also people with a grudge that want to flood threads out of spite, both manually or using tools). Then there's the "classic" trolls that use psychological tricks to push hot-buttons and try to sow discord and strife in the community. There's probably a few more categories but most trolls are some combination of the above.

I'm not really counting users with "objectionable speech" such as racists or (perhaps forum-specific) controversial topics. If it's controversial but (somewhat) on-topic, it's for the community to deal with. If it's off-topic (perhaps for a particular subforum), it's your basic moderator-janitor clean-up job to delete, split, or move. If that's too much work, either man up about it (clean-up is going to suck sometimes, you can't automate everything, but maybe you can automate more), or confer with the other mods whether to treat this troll as a spammer. It probably helped a lot that a good number of the regular users of "my" old forum are very experienced in the ways of the "classic troll", yet level-headed and relatively good people, so the community has a healthy "immune system". But if the community itself can't actually deal with that kind of noise (at least "don't feed the trolls") and relies purely on the moderators to shelter them from "objectionable speech", then you're going to get an echo chamber either way, and I didn't sign up to moderate that :-) Unless it's a forum that mainly hosts under-age kids or other vulnerable categories, that's different. I don't have experience with that, but it's reasonable to expect that bad actors will cause you disproportionate amounts of effort to deal with (shadowbans or no).

Trolls also come in categories of "being really really annoying", "being dangerous to forum users" and "actually damaging the forum itself". Being very clear (among the mods) about which category a troll (currently) falls under already helps showing the path how to deal with them.

I've got to be honest here, if a troll clearly is of the "damaging" type, then IMHO all bets are off and yeah sure you can also use the unethical methods of sanctioning, including the shadowban if you must. The threshold for this is somewhere among the "spammer" category, but if it's someone that turned from "objectionable" to "grudge spammer", discuss and think long and hard and probably reconsider to find a different way. I don't think the shadowban is the most effective tool in this case, a slowban (increasing page-load times) usually works a lot better. Note that I also consider the slowban an "unethical" tool, for the main reason you're not telling the user it's activated. That's the biggest problem I have with such, if the user doesn't know they're being sanctioned they don't know to change their behaviour either, by being better or by leaving. If you apply a "hidden" sanction to a user, you MUST do it with the sole intention that you NEVER EVER want to see this person on the forum again, a very serious decision to make, be very certain that the other methods of banning (account ban, IP ban, or other creative options to prevent them from re-registering) were tried several times and did not work, and that this method WILL work in making them leave. It can't be set-and-forget either, monitor and check if they actually leave, if a user is in shadowban-land for a month and is STILL writing posts, that's ON YOU, you are wasting the life of an actual person, that someone who is apparently not entirely right in the head if they don't notice nobody reads their shit. That is a very sad situation and you should consider this. These are hard decisions to make and that is when you need the mental support of the rest of your mod-team. I find that a slowban is much less likely to lead to this situation. Another thing, why again I think that in nearly all cases you should NOT do this, is if the person is not as stupid as a bag of nails and they find out. In case of a shadowban they find you've wasted their time and effort for a very long time, and they have a very good reason (imho) to be very angry about that because it's a dick-move. Some will then double-down on their efforts.

... okay this post is taking quite a bit more time than I expected and I haven't even really gotten to the "what to actually do"-parts :-)

I can continue answering your question (another day) if you like, but please first let me know that you've actually read the above, because I'm answering a 3-days old post, HN has no reply-notifications, and I don't want to spend my time writing to the void (... which would be strangely appropriate, given the subject that prompted this, hahaha ;-) )

For reply notifications, check out http://hnreplies.com from our very own dang

I think you are confusing Dan Grossman (https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=dangrossman) with Dan Gackle (https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=dang).

The odd coincidence is that up until seeing this message, I had been wondering whether 'grzm' (https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=grzm) might be the reincarnation of 'gruseom': https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=gruseom.

Unless you're extremely paranoid that someone might suspect who you are, and this was a cunningly placed false flag?

Nope. I'm new here. Nice to meet you, nkurz! and I definitely confused dang and dangrossman. Thanks for the correction!

LOL I just found out who gruseom is/was. That's funny :) That you might even entertain the thought I consider a compliment.


You're not very good at moderating things if you need shadowbans.

>It's asymmetric warfare; moderating a single troll costs about ten times the effort that troll puts in, and it scales geometrically from there.

This really makes no sense.

Moderators are always in the advantageous position.

> The topic of debate is around do YOU a presumed reddit user want to continue to support such a site.

Yes. Absolutely.

As it's being reported the user called spez didn't remove the posts or ban the users or any of the normal things. Instead they committed the same act, calling someone [else] a paedophile but added misattribtion (fraud, libel) and admin abuse to what had already been done.

Hasn't Reddit claimed it is a place for public and free speech as reason for not shutting down some subreddits?

Admins manually editing posts they see as offensive would seem to create a liability for the owners as they can't then argue they don't control/monitor content.

If someone calls me a paedophile on Reddit (again! it's a not uncommon juvenile taunt) will I be allowed to edit their post, presumably not.

I don't think anyone imagines Reddit is a democracy but the administration should nonetheless adhere to reasonable moral conventions such as flagging moderated posts and giving the same powers to censor personal abuse to all users.

I'm missing the point.

I think the point being made is his actions are understandable in context.

And I think that is incorrect, and spez's actions are inexcusable.

Ah, ok, so you're saying if i managed to convince a a few youtube personalities that you're a child trafficker and they talked to their audience and invited them to attack you over it, and the thousands hound you for a month over it on every possible venue you might frequent, including actually calling your home for the lulz, you'd be an emotionless rock and vulcan overlord with not so much a twitch as a reaction, despite things being actively and effectively disrupting for your personal and professional life for a month.

Is that it?

What part of "free speech" do you not understand? Is I think how the rest of this argument goes, ad infinitum.

/u/spez is free to say whatever he wants.

He is not-excused of literally editing another persons' post.

If I am in a room with you and you say something verbally, and I say a contrarian/different view - it does not edit YOUR statement just made.

/u/spez editing others' comments is not "free speech" its the opposite.

I'm not going to respond to comments that aren't specific about what Huffman did. He didn't randomly edit comments. Be specific, and I'll respond. Or, you know, argue with someone else on HN. I'm of no particular importance here.

Man, i can't tell which one of us you just brutally owned.

Edit: Ok, i got it, and i salute you, good sir. :D

By his own admission he's had user mentions turned off for years. Avoiding trolls isn't nearly as hard as people here are making it seem. If you don't want to deal with trolling, don't become the CEO of reddit immediately after their ridiculous community ousted Ellen Pao. The mainstream media and an awful lot of the internet (including the majority of users on this site) paint Trump supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, uneducated, etc. on a daily basis, but calling spez a pedo is somehow beyond the pale? And that justifies him editing user posts to appear as if they've said something they haven't?

>The mainstream media and an awful lot of the internet (including the majority of users on this site) paint Trump supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, uneducated, etc. on a daily basis, but calling spez a pedo is somehow beyond the pale?

Racism, sexism, homophobia and lack of education are not crimes, and never imply criminal activity that police actively investigate.

Pedophilia is not a crime but implies a proclivity towards actions that are a crime and that police actively investigate.

Yes, implying or directly accusing someone of harboring an innate proclivity for sexually abusing children does exceed in severity accusations of racial, gender, or anti-gay bias or lack of education. That people who proudly and on national media flaunt these attributes in themselves is evidence of such.

People in the mainstream media and online do defend pedophilia though [1-4]. If both aren't crimes, I see no meaningful difference in the accusations.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/06/opinion/pedophilia-a-disor...

2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/08/2...

3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sex-between-students...

4. https://reddit.com/r/pedofriends

> Avoiding trolls isn't nearly as hard as people here are making it seem

If you truly believe this then you're amazingly ignorant. I'd rather believe you're trolling on this matter than imagine someone this ignorant.

Also, feel free to answer on this, but i don't believe i'll be arsed to respond to you further.

If you truly believe internet randos are some unstoppable force of human nature, then you're amazingly ignorant, and probably cripplingly sensitive. That must suck, sorry about that.

Define the "limit".

Why should I?

If somebody invites me to their house, is it ok to torch it? According to you it must be ok then, since it was not explicitly forbidden

Comparing users talking on reddit to being invited into a home is pretty ridiculous on its face.

Accusing people of being pedophiles is not just 'talking.'

The trolls are intentionally trying to convine people that their political enemies are pedophiles to dicredit them.

Is accusing people of being racist, sexist, homophobic, uneducated, etc. not just 'talking'?

Because an entire election cycle just completed where one side used those words to discredit their political enemies.


Lets draw some parallels;

* "No, judge, I was not speeding through that intersection" | JUDGE: "Well, hang on a second - my edit to your ticket states that you were... Takem 'em away boys!"

WTF: im livid that anyone on HN would defend literally debasing the credibility of any system with a single freaking action of a CEO/Employee with such an obvious abuse of a root-level position....

I am so angry about this I can't even articulate it well...

When did it become a norm?

That has literally nothing to do with the question. Considering whether an action is acceptable only in an instance, or universally, is an extremely basic way of determining if it is morally correct. Do you think spez's actions can or should be made a norm?

Kant called this the categorical imperative: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative - a philosophical statement about morality:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law."

Correct (in the philosophical sense)

However hindsight is 20/20 and you can't make rules for everything

Wanting to make everything an universal law is missing the trees for the forest.

Because things change and situations change and what has worked before may not work anymore or have a detrimental effect.

Violence might not be moral, but it works.

Fine and all, but what exactly is the law here?

Thank you. That's exactly what I was thinking of, it's just late haha.

Is Falsely accusing people of being pedophiles for political gain an action that should be made a norm?

Do you actually think most people are questioning whether or not their witch hunt was the right thing to do? Jesus christ.

from the trolls perspective, and only in that context, it should be funny though. he should be their hero now. they should give props for beating them at their own game. hugs all around.

instead now is the time when everyone gets serious. it will be hard to separate the principled outrage from the faux manipulative outrage. a new poes law of sorts.

Precisely this. CEOs should have the right to remove vile content from their website. I don't see how this is such a revelatory or unprecedented move - doesn't this capacity to modify content exist on virtually all digital platforms?

Big difference between removing posts and re-writing them. You don't see that?

The only point of this controversy is to make the CEO's life miserable.

The capacity to do this has always existed and the circumstances are incredibly trivial.

Covertly editing their posts is basically lying about what they said.

We used to trust that when reddit said a user wrote X, they actually did write X (excluding hacking). This was a violation of that trust.

Downvotes, seriously?

Because of the actions of their CEO, reddit was falsely telling everyone who viewed the relevant comments:

> Fluid_Mechanics [score hidden] some time ago

> Fuck /u/spez

While knowing that Fluid_Mechanics had not written that.

(Names have been changed to illustrate the point.)

Lying, and a violation of trust, seem like appropriate terms.

literally, not basically


He also edited the comments in a way that they didn't seem edited. Reddit adds the "Edited" message after a 5 minute old comment is edited by anybody.

I'm waiting to see who will first set up a system that stores all of reddit's posts and then checks them every X minutes/days for silent edits while posting a reply to it letting everyone know, or provides an API to check an individual post.

That already exists - there are plenty of "undelete" sites spidering and archiving comments on Reddit as soon as they are made.

and did they catch this?

I genuinely don't understand why that subreddit hasn't been suspended.

The same reason youtube and twitch (and youtubers and streamers) seem to have so much difficulty with moderating chat

Yes, getting rid of the hate and the stupid is something the owners of the site (and the content creators) want. It gives them a horrible reputation (and can impact business, as Twitter discovered). But that is still their userbase, and getting rid of the userbase drastically decreases their value.

So it is a balancing act. And the trump subreddit would be a disaster to remove as everyone would REALLY get on them for being "too political"

> But that is still their userbase, and getting rid of the userbase drastically decreases their value.

Only if they wait so long to clean house that their user base consists mostly of the folks who give them a horrible reputation.

The most valuable online communities are those that aggressively clean house along the way. Losing a small amount of jerks is more than made up for by the non-jerk users who feel comfortable enough to join and stay.

That's why HN has grown as fast as it has. That's why the advice for normal people interested in Reddit is "unsubscribe from the defaults and find niche subreddits." Because the niche subreddits moderate aggressively.

That's why web forums beat Usenet in the first place.

I'd argue that, while most of reddit value is in the niche and heavily moderated subreddits, it's not where most of the eyeballs (revenue) is. If they start moderating heavily, deleting the jerk subredits, they are risking the ire of most of most their user base.

I bet they checked it a long time ago: How many of the users that hang out or lurk in those "jerk" subredits also participate in more civil subs? If those people where in their own jerky Venn circle with little superposition with the rest of reddit, I think they would have deleted those subs by now.

Pretty much. Saying Reddit should be like HN is like saying that every car needs to be a four wheel drive monster able to handle actual offroad driving.

HN is largely a tech site geared toward mid-late twenties individuals (the start-up culture, really). Reddit is a social network geared toward late teens to mid twenties (males). Yes, there is overlap, but not to a significant degree.

No insult intended;

Uh... you know that there are vast VAST circles of "startup culture" that are much older than late-teens/mid-late twenties.

Where the heck do you think fucking silicon valley came from - you think all the people who built all this stuff are dead, gone and not connected to the pulse of technology?

so, I assume you're quite young - but may have a poor understanding of tech history. All the +30 people are still here.

You're right. In fact, late 30s and early 40s is generally when people traditionally started companies.

But when I say "start up culture" I basically mean "silicon valley startup culture" and HN is basically that and its fan club. Mostly the latter. It is the difference between being part of "the gig economy" and just a part time/contract worker.

Yeah, there are some older people around here, just like there are at reddit and the like. But just reading and engaging in threads, it is very clear that this also skews pretty young.

And a large part of it is that the people who are in their 30s and beyond tend to either not have time to hang out on a message board and discuss things with kids in college (in my defense, I am between projects and killing time).

That is a good insight...

I know that as I grow older (I am 41, working in tech my entire life) I lurk a lot more and more.

I am top mod of a subreddit of ~400K subscribers... I participate less and less as I get older - even if I have really strong opinions, I tend to just sigh and let the younger gen mods deal with it...

vocal minority and all that...

Someone will one day do a thesis on this phenom and put a name to it

Not only that, usually hate and stupid is born by different people, where the stupid ones are gullible and numerous but earnest, and the hateful ones are trolls pushing the stupid ones for their own purposes; and punishing one groups effectively is hard without affecting the other unduly.

Isn't that life in general?

There are also several subs that I don't care for. We could get everyone to help put a list together and remove everything except for r/oddlysatisfying

Reddit tolerates subs that promote all out illegal behavior, so suspending the_donald for being obnoxious would be a bad move. If you have hate speech or whatever you handle that by banning the user not the sub.

slippery slope.

He out trolled the trolls then fixed it and fessed up. No big deal. Pretty funny in fact.

There's a bit of cognitive dissonance in this view, i don't think its funny from the point of view of the commenter.

Imagine that happened if the political viewpoint of the commenter aligned with something you were not against? Or what if there are edits that Spez isn't mentioning that are more intrusive than what he's admitted to? A commenters own text isn't his own.. It's a slippery slope.

I understand your point, but at the same time I don't feel like anybody thought they didn't have the capability to do such a thing. If you have control of the site and control of the data, it's not a stretch to imagine they can edit anything they want.

I'll be honest and say that if I was actually worried about such a thing happening, I'd go somewhere else. The bottom line is that Reddit doesn't exist to serve /r/the_donald - and that's not a shot at /r/the_donald, just that clearly it's priorities and Reddit's priorities are fairly different. If I was involved with something that I thought the admins weren't ok with, then I would take it somewhere else because I'd be well aware it's the admin's site to mess with in anyway they please. Even if they 'promise' not to do anything, there's no guarantee. Other sites that align more with their views could give them much better guarantees of that sort.

I'm in agreement with you though, to a point - I think it was a horrible move on Spez's part and I don't really find it funny. But while I (along with probably everybody else) didn't personally think something like this would happen, I didn't ever hold the opinion that it couldn't happen, just that the admins were smart enough not to do something like this, and that the admins had no reason to bother with my posts (And none of my posts are really that important anyway). If I had reason to suspect that the admins didn't like my stuff being there and was concerned about it, I'd go somewhere else. It's no different then why I wouldn't store sensitive information only on Google Drive - Google has full control over it and could take it off on a whim if they really wanted.


Sam... you're breaking the guidelines all over the place in these threads. Come on, regardless of how strongly you feel, you know what the rules are.

You're saying that if someone you disagreed with changed your words of protest, it'd be all cool and good?

"Words of protest" is an interesting way to put it. They were bare insults, contextualized by (barely validated) paranoia.

The analogy of the rioter among peaceful protesters doesn't really apply to the circumstance, but it's poetic given the situation.

Thats NOT what is being debated.

Who cares if you might be "literally hitler" for example.

If you call me "literally hitler" should I be able to edit your post to say, instead, "literally awesome!!!1"?

I was responding to the parent.

Debate is fruitless when the chief facts are mischaracterized in an attempt to soften their impact.

Edit: It looks like the parent edited their comment. That's unfortunate.

It depends on what reddit is trying to be.

If it wants to be anything goes like 4chan, then it's funny and not a thing to care about.

But reddit has always been trying to be more palatable and have better signal:noise than that style. Reddit is a pretend "raw and unfiltered" for users used to facebook, but very much in a safe-for-tv "dangerous" way. They want to be the channel surfing portal for the internet, and that means curbing the actual rough-edges.

And Steve, in the process of trying to get his userbase to straiten up, fly right, and be good unpaid content farm worker bees, can't maintain his own composure.

I don't find it funny at all.

editing user comments with admin rights, is a bad precedent

> Now, people around the site are wondering what the repercussions of this will be.

They should make it harder for anyone other than the user to edit their comments. Maybe sign the messages and store the signature so a flag shows up if the signature doesn't match.

Or users themselves could sign their messages and put the signature as part of the message. Is there an add-on for this?

A "strained" relationship is putting it lightly. They were dealing with actual harrassment and are now finally fed up, and planning to deal with the subreddit in a more final way:


Quarantining it altogether is under consideration, but as mentioned in the link above, this will need further planning.

Didn't follow this whole saga but I know before Nov 8 the Donald's subreddit felt quite harassed by the mods. Allegedly they first kept changing the front page algo's just to keep the_donald off of there, then they disabled voting at times for the_donald. The_Donald was so big they could push any thread they wanted to onto the front page. Reddit has never seen such a thing I think. The thing is, it's no secret that the political views of the_donald don't match the mods.

During the last year and especially the last 6 months, it was widely known that /r/politics was basically a front for CTR. Pro-Trump posts and even Pro-Bernie to some extent were like a dog who speaks, very rare. Personally I think that the mods tried to counter balance the_donald by making sure that /r/politics was as biased in favor of Hillary as they could.

My guess is, this was the last election cycle where Reddit matters at all for Republicans because it's clear the platform doesn't like free-speech for the sake of free-speech.

mods are non reddit employees who volunteer to run subreddits.

admins are employees who work on the platform.

mods have no power to edit the algo.

voat is really good, but they lack API :<

What an amazing multi-level clusterfuck.

You either need to ban /r/TheDonald, or just accept it for what it is, hold your nose, and walk away. I believe that I'd choose the former, but if I had the power to do so I might feel differently.

But this is the worst possible thing. It makes Spez look horrible, it undermines trust in the site and the admins, it confirms all the nutty things the alt-right believes about Reddit, etc. It makes actually dealing with any of the underlying issues much harder; anything that the admins do which is or might look anti-The_Donald can now be spun as "another example of their bias". And since we've already got such a glaring example of that bias, the claim is now plausible in a way it wasn't before.

Should have just quietly banned the sub and moved on. Or not banned it and ignored it. Anything but this.

Can you please explain why you think /r/TheDonald should be banned? Should they be banned just because they have different political view than you do? Or is it because such opinions are not allowed on reddit as whole? This touches something that is bothering me when sites like reddit look like they are apolitical but clearly that is not the case. They picked side (which is completely fine) and in very non transparent way are punishing anyone who doesn't share their opinions (which is not). For the other side it then looks like its all part of hidden conspiracy when in fact it is just people running the site who cannot accept that not everybody shares their view on the world.

I think they should be banned because last times subs were banned the message was pretty clear: If your sub's influence starts to leak elsewhere on Reddit (with its users acting collectively being the key), you'll be banned.

The "fat people hate" sub seemed to be banned, not even for its subject matter, but because it's users were spreading their mess into other subreddits as a group. From what I've seen, the same thing is happening with The_Donald

/r/nfl should be banned because paytonface.jpg has leaked?

this ideas of "things we like can leak" but "speech that annoys us should be quarantined" is dangerous.

personally I find t_d somewhat useful to peak inside and see what the community is thinking on a given day. i can go read the liberal media for a while, see how Sessions is a racist, then peak into t_d and see the rebuttal. maybe if /r/politics was neutral /r/t_d wouldnt be necessary, but personally I like being able to see what each thought group is up to.

furthermore, you have admin sanctioned sections, like /r/srs, which are designed to mock opposite views.

the admins have tried again and again to suppress a pro-inscere type of speaker who speak in mocking hyperbole and not-literally. now they have grouped into one place, with an ideology (of anti pc speak) that took over a country.

you could argue the liberal pc "polite discourse" tolerance (of everything non white) was winning on reddit. but it didnt last.

t_d is now the anti-liberalism counterculture. the majority suppressing a counterculture they dont like never goes well. the ideas spread and last, and breaking up the places they congregate can make them more sympathetic victims. admins are treading on dangerous ground, and have been for a while.

I'm not saying things can't leak, I'm saying there's a pattern of leaking things leading to bans when the users related to those leaking things act together to cause the leaking (I'm not even saying that's right).

I think they look at it as emergent behavior from popularity vs encouraged behavior from the attitude of users in a sub, but I also they think they aren't above being biased in how they determine what they act on

IIRC the "fat people hate" sub was banned because they started doxxing people, which the admins considered crossed the line. It should have been banned earlier though.


So if a sub like /r/randomactsofpizza starts getting popular and discussions of pizza donation spread throughout reddit, they should ban it?

If hordes of users acting on behalf of the subreddit started posting asking for donations in every moderately popular subreddit they'd actually probably be banned.

I'm not going to pretend the threshold for where this "pizza subreddit" would be considered a problem might not end up higher than the one for a sub about a figure Reddit's core demographic appears to dislike, but the core principle is the same

Not at all.

First, I don't think it really makes sense to say a subreddit has opinions as such; it's simply a place for people to post thing. And while the user's do have opinions, nobody is suggesting the user's themselves be banned. Which brings me to...

Second, it's not about opinions. There are much more fringe groups than that sub, and in any case, politically I'm probably significantly closer to the median The_Donald poster than the median Reddit admin. It's not about opinions, it's about tolerance and disruption. Because...

Third, Reddit is a business and a community which thrives on promoting free, open, tolerant discourse. Just looking at the political subs there are communists, fascists, anarchists, libertarians, and everything in between, all happily posting away in their little corners, and occasionally participating in discussions that bring out proponents of different views. And then you have The_Donald. The issue isn't their strange, outrageous views (which aren't so much "outrageous" as "what you get if you cross standard American conservatism with standard European conservatism, put it in a blender, filter through the eyes of a 16 year old, and sprinkle with american flags and memes"). You're talking about a site with actual unironic advocates of actual literal dictatorship on it, come on.

So when you say:

> They picked side

I'm not seeing it. In fact I think they're trying so hard to avoid even the appearance of having picked a side, that they're erring on the side of taking The_Donald's side, and in so doing they're harming the site.

It's not about opinions.

That particular sub-reddit is a mixture of real people, and trolls who pose as trump supporters to egg the supporters on, as well as scaring and pissing off people against trump. The result being that with little effort and prodding on their side they get to see glorious internet mudfights.

However due to the way they're doing it, it's hard to tell which is which. That puts reddit admins in a bind and they have to balance things. Do they keep distance and let subtle trolls go unscathed? Do they take harsher measures and hit actual trump supporters? How much of this spills over into other reddits? How to handle the /all pollution? Letting it get in there just increases the mudfights, but if they take steps they'll be accused of censorships.

I've been browsing The_Donald lately out of curiosity, and it's like 99% memes based on news articles and links to news articles.

I see very little there that is objectionable, certainly nothing that seems worthy of shutting it down.

Certainly there is a lot of 'things to piss off people against trump', but how is that different from any other political site/sub?

It runs afoul of brigading due to the sheer scale.

If it managed to stay entirely within the subreddit then the admins would never need to be concerned with it and none of this would've happened.

Brigading is a pretty meaningless term when the whole site is build upon linking to other sites. It's pointless to make a distinction between a link to an external site and to reddit itself.

Well it's a good thing you are not on the reddit administration.

You did not address my previous post in any way.

Ok, have a more serious post: I disagree with you strongly, but lack the drive to explain in detail.

I suppose this is what Trump's supporters call "low energy".

/r/srs can covertly brigade because they are pro pc tolerance.

/r/t_d cannot brigade because they are anti-pc obscenity.

it has turned into speech policing. and trying to squash it, with half assed attempts, is making things worse.

Because TheDonald is a mix of racism, sexism , it's not a political view and it's affecting the whole site now.

Absolute free speech can have real consequences, here's a sad example from the Rwandan Genocide (copied from Wikipedia):

> The Power groups also believed that the national radio station, Radio Rwanda, had become too liberal and supportive of the opposition; they founded a new radio station, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLMC), which broadcast racist propaganda, obscene jokes and music, becoming very popular throughout the country.[89] One study finds that approximately 10% of the overall violence during the Rwandan genocide can be attributed to this new radio station.

But the same can be said about the infamous "SRS" and yet the admins have taken zero actions against it.

SRS isn't on r/All 24/7. SRS doesn't fill up 90% of /rising. SRS is only "infamous" for being a deflector for criticism of far right subreddits. No one has heard from that subreddit for years.

There are much more active subreddits that side with SRS if you want to go there, like circlebroke. There are also much more extreme subreddits than the_donald, like TheNewRight. Nobody is talking about banning those subreddits. This isn't a partisan argument. The_Donald is (purposely) interrupting how reddit works. I'm not an American and I have no dog in this fight, but the_donald is ruining reddit for a lot of us.

SRS users are actively undermining and destroying other subreddits, either by infiltrating the mod team and gaining their trust, or abusing reddit's bureaucratic process and having the existing mods removed for inactivity.

This has been happening for years, and the admins are complicit in it. As far as 'ruining reddit' goes, SRS/SRD are among the worst offenders for sure.

Don't go to r/All?! (Or maybe adminst could "ban" it from r/all without banning it completely.)

They drastically reduced the amount of articles from the same subreddit that can be on /r/all at the same time. The page used to be >90% Trump before the change (and >90% Sanders or >90% Obama during their respective campaigns, but of course the admins never bothered doing anything to stop that)

and >90% ron paul before Obamas rise

Ah, but SRS is hate speech for a cause the reddit staff believe in, while other subreddits are hate speech for a cause the reddit staff don't believe in. Huge difference.

SRS also migrated to SRD, so they can stealth brigade subs with little backlash

SRS is reddit's favourite bogeyman, but it is, and always has been, just a place that pokes fun at the rest of the site.

The admins aren't even on their side (their political leanings are assuredly different); SRS were just never as bad as people claim, and so the admins never had a reason to ban it.

There is no racism on the_donald. In fact, the sub prides itself on it's non-racist attitude.

Then they must be disillusioned because the sub is indeed racist.

A small extract from r/The_Donald:

> There are already loud voices saying Paris isn't Paris anymore, with more african/middle eastern faces than french ones, it's not surprising. (+124 points)

> So much cultural enrichment, how would our nation ever survive with out such multiculturalism and diversity? (+44 points)

> No mention of race or religion? Guess that only means one thing.

on another one:

> Arabic? Don't you mean Swedish?

I just took a random thread, there's probably 100s of others.

A trivial search finds this thread: https://m.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5dtubi/fuck_actua...

Even if you think whining about how liberals are treating Blacks laxly with affirmative action isn't racist, there's someone saying he favors people creating racially homogenous communities in the US.

it's not hard to selectively represent a group.

look at them cheer for a samoan hindi woman, and openly mock the idea they are racist and sexist - https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/search?q=tulsi&sort=top&...

(if you are looking at this post months in the future, you will probably need to remove the 'month' search restriction.)

hindu? hindi is the language

r/TheDonald should be banned for stupidity. It's not "politics". It's not "the other valid point of view". They did not choose stupid, stupid chose them.

/r/AynRandIsGod would also be wrong, but it would be legitimately wrong. Same for r/PracticalCommunism.

Let's maybe not ban opinions because somebody declares them as stupid. There are lots of stupid satire magazines for instance.

We're not. Stupid things can go make their own websites. Reddit isn't a public service.

I'll start worrying if server hosts were doing this, but if Reddit doesn't want a reputation of "slightly better than 4chan", it should try cleaning up a bit.

Reddit is where you meet people. Reddit has bigger power in directing attention than most advertising networks. Directing attention for private communication is definitely censorship.

I actually think legislation has to be brought up to date here. We seem to favor communicating on privately owned websites, but people still seem to have an expectation of freedom of speech. Law should definitely reflect this common expectation.

They clearly and routinely fall outside the bounds of acceptable discourse, which are already wide on a site like Reddit.

Edit: and routinely

What are the bounds of acceptable discourse in Reddit?

Oh, here's a thing you could've googled: https://www.reddit.com/help/contentpolicy/

Thanks for pointing it out.

I was sarcastic to you because your question was answerable in ten seconds of googling, which suggests to me an insincere line of questioning.

Well, acceptable discourse is often used as a vague pretext for censorship. And Googling of "acceptable discourse Reddit" doesn't have much useful result. It's good to clarify the specifics.

They should be same as everywhere, and when your community becomes fixated on a conspiracy involving Hilary Clinton, Podesta, and a pedophile sex ring you should stop and ask:

"How far have I strolled from the herd?"

So basically they have different views, and thus bannable.

This is psychological gamesmanship. I punch you, you punch back, I win. I punch you, you don't punch back, I win. The only way for me to lose is if you punch back with such force that I can't punch again. Open and inclusive only works when there is an underlying good will or mutual benefit.

This really puts China's censorship into perspective.

There's just too many forces that want to make sure China doesn't become a superpower that spreading fake news would be a huge weapon against the government.

Even "real" news would be spun in a way that could hurt the rising stability of the Chinese people so I can see why the government would rather just ban the foreign instigators.

The sad part is he could have punched hard enough that they couldn't punch back, and it probably wouldn't have stirred up that much of a fuss. Simply mass ban instead of find and replace.

Could go one step further and just ban the entire subreddit and move on with his life.

Right, and they pulled the punch in order to appear fair and impartial. You cannot be fair and impartial against people trying to destroy you or take over - something many internet communities and media establishments need to learn.

You would seriously ban a subreddit with bad jokes and a 14-year old's idea of a cult of personality while far, far worse subreddits promoting pedophilia, bestiality, and rampant racism exist?

Since when did terrible jokes and politically incorrect opinion become reason to ban something?

They doxxed and physically harassed reddit moderators of subreddits they didn't like.

The whole sub?


You're right, that does sound like a poor reason to ban a subreddit. Then again, maybe that's unrelated to why I would lean towards banning them?

Why not ban it all? It's not like these people are contributing good content to the site.

I can't believe I've actually had to defend my anti-censorship stance on HN of all places

Being banned from Reddit is not being banned from the internet. You can setup PHPforum and run your own community. Reddit is a community of people, and a subset is making it worse for almost everyone else.

Places like Something Awful r Digg will ban people for being shitty and bad for the community. The community being, circularly, the set of people willing to use the website with such rules.

What's so special about Reddit that it doesn't need to cultivate the community?

If a group of friends get together all the time and then one of them is being a jerk all the time, that person stops getting invited. It's not censorship, it's unfriending.

reddit has subreddits so conflicting communities can form. if you want a sense of community, dont browse /r/all, and subscribe to the bubble you want.

reddit was founded as a platform that promoted free speech, not a limited subset of liberal speech.

I'm aware of the origins, but this is a prime example of the CAP theorem for communities:

Pick 2:

- little moderation

- low amount of drama (for lack of a better word)

- high diversity of topics

Reddit wants to be all 3 (just like Twitter), but there are reasons even 4chan has a huge amount of "janitors". It's pretty impossible to not have to deal with crap when you've decided white nationalists need a place to talk, and it should be on your site.

i disagree. reddit is a great balance because they have editorial control of the front page, and then they have all. subs have moderators that can choose varying levels of moderation, sort of a "let the states decide" style compromise. high moderation leads to great subs like /r/askscience and /r/askhistorians. reddit can have both high intersubmoderation and low standardization of what ideas are moderated. you can ban subs that have mods who refuse to enforce site rules. but once you start removing subs because their political beliefs dont match consensus, you get an echo chamber.

reddit should take every opportunity to work on the algorithm and make it so the front pages surfaces the best content possible. they can make sure posts they dont like never reach the front. but once they inject editorial control of all, their ideals are compromised.

the drama is caused by mods who want all the other mods to have the same beliefs, so they dont have as much crap to clean up. if you dont want to be a janitor, dont volunteer. alternatively reddit could pay for janitors? reddit could drastically reduce drama if it had better moderation tools, and better community tools. they could take their metareddits so much further. if you read the chat logs, the default mods dont like other people on 'their' site, who think different, and act differently.

I think you'd have to defend an anti-censorship stance pretty much anywhere that's somewhat "liberal" these days. Never before in my life have I seen so much fussing 24/7 over the availability of other people's words. (Note this is subtly different from fussing over the content of other people's words, which is fine.)

But it's not censorship when the "good" guys do it!

Why do you say that? It's quite possible they had a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential elections, which I think is quite an achievement of reddit as a whole and possibly more than any other subreddit has ever done. The toxic content is only a part of it.

If he did this without indicating that he did so, then I'd argue that this is a very deep breach of trust, irrespective of the nature of the comments. He could have deleted them, or flagged some 'bad words' and indicated so.

This is an issue of integrity, so it's one of those 'fireable offences' type things.

I have no idea who this guy is, and certainly, many 'big corp' CEO's get away with much worse ... but it's definitely a problem.

Anyhow. Not good.

Pretty dumb move, he may end up resigning over this. Also there's no reason a CEO should have this level of access.

He's the admin, if someone should have the right to edit comments it's him.

Because the buck stops with someone and there are several reasons (security vulnerabilities, legal, copyright) to have text removed

'securities, vulnerabilities, copyright' - yes, he can remove comments, or edit them, so long as he is indicating he is editing them.

But editing them without notice, putting words in other people's mouths is a serious breach.

some of the arguments i've seen about it make sense - how do users know that this hasn't happened before? reddit comments have made it into court apparently, and now that it's public knowledge that reddit's higher ups can silently edit comments, that's a huge deal.

in my opinion, it's made me lose a lot of trust (not that I had a ton anyway) for the entire site.

Yes, I believe that at least the edit mark should be set

Not just an admin, but a founder of the site. I can fully understand his being driven to drastic measures, watching a site he'd built being used against him. General criticism is one thing, but accusations of paedophilia are horrific.

It's odd because Reddit is basically about 'voices' so this is in a way a 'core issue'.

That said - it's 'by young people for young people' - and the CEO is pretty young it seems.

If I were the board - I'd cut the kid some slack, make him apologize, put some process/measures in place, 'be better' and move on. My hunch is the guy was just emotional about it, and had a lapse of judgement. People make mistakes.

If this were a bank, or a 'real' news site, or if the guy had serious issues with reality, I'd sack him, but for this ... no. Learning lesson.

Oddly - if it were their last CEO - that ex-VC ... I'd probably sack her, she should have known better ... she's super educated, been on a lot of boards, a lot of exposure to companies, CEO's, a lot more experience/maturity, I'd kind of expect a much higher standard. Then again, I'm being totally speculative about all of this.

He's in his 30s, it's a bit disingenuous to call him 'kid'. Being young has nothing to do with this lapse of judgement.

I only saw a photo of him, I assumed he was young, I guessed wrong.

That said - I think youth and experience has everything to do with errors in judgement. It's why most CEO's are a lot older than the interns :)

I can see myself making that mistake at 24. Easily. And any one of my younger staff doing the same thing.

Ah yeah of course I agree with you that inexperience and mistakes are correlated, I was just saying in this case, youth is not an excuse.

It's my bad, your inference is correct, I misread :)

> much works

Much worse?

Aww, that sucks :( Huffman always seemed like a measured and fair individual. I appreciated the way he communicated with the community when he took back the reins.

The act itself seems petty, the larger issue is the breach of perceived trust ... The_Donald finally made the frog boil over. Don't wrestle with pigs, they like it and you get dirty.

I do however have a hard time seeing a better replacement for spez so I hope him and reddit learned a lesson and put some measures in place to ensure this doesn't happen again. Everyone is allowed one major fuck up in my book as long as it isn't systemic, they admit it, and don't repeat it.

This seems to be another sign of reddit isn't quite mature enough both when it comes to leadership and technology to handle the scale of popularity they've grown to. They have all my respect but the league they're operating in provides a new set of unique challenges.

From a technical standpoint, it would be interesting if posts and comments could be signed so tampering wasn't possible and prevent even the temptation of doing so. Hard nut to crack in a user-friendly way though when everything is server-side.

Introducing- the Insult Blockchain- so in 10.000 Generations your ancestors know you called that guy a maggot

Reddit has long enjoyed a level of perceived subversiveness that helped it seem cool. It almost paradoxically seems that reddit has become too edgy for the mainstream by housing /r/The_Donald, and now way more Big Brother than subversive after this. If it has to embrace one philosophy going forward, it's going to get a lot more sanitized and will lose a lot of its original allure.

From the fact that those slack logs were leaked, and from reading their contents, there's some significant internal turmoil among Reddit admins that this has only enflamed further. They REALLY want to ban /r/The_Donald. They are extremely frustrated with spez.

Then if /u/spez resigns, the biggest advocate (ironically enough) for not banning /r/The_Donald will not be in the way anymore. Recognizing this, it's possible that spez stays on for the wild ride of banning T_D and then leaves it to the next CEO to run the new reddit husk.

I'm not sure how reddit ever worked, however. Maybe it'll survive this just fine.

Most decent content on Reddit isn't from stuff like T_D, it's from local subreddits, community subreddits, fan subreddits and the like.

Just because these people are heavy users doesn't mean they're high value users. Clearly the opposite.

If reddit actually needs T_D in order to generate revenue, it's probably better off if it doesn't survive once they finally ban it.

I'm curious, why do you find it good that a subreddit like r/the_donald gets banned?

What would be particularly bad about banning it?

Not sure, I don't feel either way, but I was explicitly asking why someone felt strongly about it.

it will just evolve stronger. when 4chan banned gamergate it bleed over into twitter and reddit, and parts of it become the donald. The new alt-right is much stronger and diverse than people think due their filter bubble, and thats why this will become far worse no matter what anyone does.

Perhaps, but it won't be anywhere near as active on reddit.

That's hilarious. I've always found spez to be a genuinely good guy, on every front. I don't find this "disturbing" or whatever other thing people want this to be. People were being dicks to someone who's never done anything but try to make reddit a nice place for as many people as possible; he lost his cool for a minute and made a funny hack (a very specific hack, that required someone to have said "fuck /u/spez" to be changed, and the only effect was to change the target of the pointless insult). He rolled it back and fessed up an hour later. Big deal.

The reddit I want to see is the reddit Steve wants to build. It's doubly hilarious that the people getting so riled up are the same people who rant about "PC culture" and people being too sensitive. If ya get your knickers in a bunch about this, I think you have revoked your right to call anyone "too sensitive" ever again.

> It's doubly hilarious that the people getting so riled up are the same people who rant about "PC culture" and people being too sensitive.

What are you basing this on? This happened on /r/The_Donald, and that sub tends to have people who dislike PC culture. So it's likely true that the groups you're talking about have a lot of overlap, as an accident of population samples.

I do not rant about PC culture or people being too sensitive, and I think spez massively fucked up here. A lot of the commenters on this thread think the same, more strongly than me. Do you just casually assume that those commenters rant about PC culture and people being too sensitive?

I also think that getting annoyed when you can't say what you want to say is a large factor in disliking PC culture; and getting annoyed when admins edit other people's comments seems entirely consistent with this. They want to be able to express themselves in a certain way, and stealth-editing their comments is the exact opposite of that.

"What are you basing this on? This happened on /r/The_Donald, and that sub tends to have people who dislike PC culture. So it's likely true that the groups you're talking about have a lot of overlap, as an accident of population samples."

Sometimes, I generalize as a tool for understanding large groups of people. Generalization is a useful tool; it isn't always right, but the preponderance of folks on The_Donald have, as a big part of their identity, being "anti-PC". And, the preponderance of folks getting really riled up about this are people who are participants on The_Donald subreddit.

So, sure, I probably swept up some innocent folks in my generalization. It happens sometimes. Luckily, I hold no political power, no power to censor anyone, and no power to cause anyone harm with my generalizations. All I can do is make fun of people on the Internet.

"I also think that getting annoyed when you can't say what you want to say is a large factor in disliking PC culture"

More accurately, it would be "getting annoyed when you can say what you want to say, but other people are allowed to say you're an asshole for saying it", because no argument about being politically correct ever involved police knocking down your door for being an asshole on the Internet (unless "being an asshole" also includes "making actionable threats to someone's health", which might bring a police response). Free speech is a thing, and it applies to people making racist/sexist/homophobic comments, and the people who reply angrily to those racist/sexist/homophobic comments.

If your generalization is an accident of population samples, and doesn't apply when you control for that, I'm not sure how you think it's useful.

If you think that anti-PC people are simply scared of being called assholes, you missed the time when someone got fired making a joke about dongles. And the time when someone else got fired for saying that Donald Sterling shouldn't have been fired for things that he said in his own home. And the time when Bahar Mustafa was arrested, although I acknowledge that a subset of anti-PC people seemed to celebrate that. And the time when a cake chain got successfully sued for not wanting to bake a cake they disagreed with. Just off the top of my head.


> a very specific hack, that required someone to have said "fuck /u/spez" to be changed

This is untrue. E.g. he edited https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5ee6gs/announce... too. The post he was commenting on has before-and-after archives you can look at.

One of the reddit employees/admins leaked Slack conversations... it's all over Twitter now.


It looks more like a chat with what I assume are external/non-paid sub-reddit moderators.

Yeah, almost all of those accounts look to be the volunteer moderators for the default subreddits.

I think it has become impossible to run a social site without any central moderation today. You will attract a certain group of people, and they will act more and more horribly and brazenly (generally harassing third parties) until you just have to delete something. Then they will accuse you of censorship, and the rest of the community will side with them, not you. The harassment will turn on you. Eventually you will snap, and then you are in a world of trouble. It doesn't matter how much free speech cred you have built up over the years. It happened to the founders of Reddit, Twitter and even 4chan.

Of course I am painting site admins as too innocent here. Ultimately they brought it on themselves by letting the community norms fall off a cliff. Back in 2000-2010 being the rough underbelly of the internet was fun, but that period is definitely over.

All that's needed is to ban "meta mob" type content. Shit like SRS, kotakuinaction, subredditdrama, hell even /r/cringe, etc. That shit is toxic and frankly destroyed reddit.

Except those subs exist for a very real and tangible reason.

When the Orlando shootings happened /r/news censored it for almost that entire day deleting threads and banning people.

These alt subs only caught traction when the mains started pulling shady stuff

Here's the original discussion (currently 477 points, 444 comments):


Flagged off the front page. ..

Actually, it was the anti-flamewar filter that pushed it off, as dang explained later in the thread.

"It set off the overheated discussion detector (a.k.a. flamewar detector), which lowers the rank of a thread. We do turn that penalty off for particularly substantive discussions—which, though this may surprise you, I'm not sure this one is. Not every Reddit drama shitshow is uniform in its excellence."

"Edit: ok, we've reduced the penalty"

Apparently not enough to get it visible to the front page again, though.

Of course it was. The story was on the front page for over 5 hours, including 4 hours after we reduced the penalty. No moderator has touched it since.

HN's software causes stories to fall off the front page after a while. If you didn't happen to see a story while it was there, that doesn't make it "apparently" suppressed.

Why "of course"? Did you set it specifically so that it would be on the FP? It certainly wasn't within an hour of you writing that comment.

(I'm in Europe, so I was checking the frontpage many times while you guys were asleep.)

Eventually it did make it, that was quite a lot of hours later, and it only lasted for a handful of hours.

Edit: it strikes me now that there is a need for an hourly HN frontpage archive. Does this exist?

> Why "of course"? Did you set it specifically so that it would be on the FP? It certainly wasn't within an hour of you writing that comment.

Yes, we set it specifically so that it would be on the front page. That was the point. And it was on the front page for hours after we did that.

Yes, it was there for at least two hours, I think I can attest to that. In a full day. You guys really made a brilliant job of showing the moderation here isn't partisan.


I found an hourly mirror of the HN front page.

The story is present in these snapshots.





But not after that. (Timestamps are bit ambiguous, but it seems like California time. Or failing that, Texas time, one hour apart.)

This matches the "including 4 hours after we reduced the penalty" statement.

My conclusion is that you set it to be enabled on the front page for four hours in the middle of the night, California time. So was it also not immediately set when you updated that comment - presumably?

Here's a log of the HN front page for 2016-11-24 (so far) in 10-second intervals. The first field is UTC seconds and the subsequent 30 fields are story ids: https://gist.githubusercontent.com/anonymous/7a1e8916930cfdd...

Because it uses UTC, this file contains the entire lifecycle (so far) of the story we're talking about.

  cut -d' ' -f1-31 gistfile1.txt | grep 13027031 | wc -l
3866 10-second intervals means the story spent almost 11 hours on the front page. I posted that we'd reduced the penalty on the story at 1479955509. So by my calculation, it spent over 9 hours on the front page after we reduced the penalty. But perhaps I've made an error and you'll find it. Also, we don't "set" things to be on the front page for a given number of hours. If I say we reduced a penalty, that's what I mean: we reduced the penalty, and the usual software mechanisms (time decay, votes and flags) resumed their usual course.

Now I need to ask you for something in return. You frequently post comments making false insinuations about the moderation here. I'm fine with answering questions and dispelling doubts, but only for people who are asking in good faith. I'm losing that feeling in your case, because these comments of yours are both common and nasty. Would you please stop doing this? Apart from it being a bummer at our end, it undermines the integrity of the community. Good-faith users have a right to know that we don't do the things you routinely accuse us of, but the cost of replying to such accusations is orders of magnitude greater than that of slinging them in the first place, so there's a huge asymmetry here.

Thank you. This reassures my faith in you in this area.

Regarding the favor in return:

I think like 80% of our encounters have not been regarding "false insinuations about the moderation here" but rather, relatively speaking, more straight-forwarded cases of me edging my contributions towards the types of content that you don't desire to have on your site. Which I suppose is your prerogative, but not something I necessarily agree with.

Beyond that: I could and should try to limit these kinds of (moderation) queries to when I think it really matters, and only then. This would have been one of those cases that really mattered, so I am glad that you did clarify this.

I think at least in the beginning I was kinda surprised that there was someone who was actually bothering to respond to my often flippant remarks - I was used to Reddit.

I'm glad to read this and super glad it worked in this case.

It would be great if you would do those things. Even just not being flippant would help a lot. In return, we're more than happy to answer questions (edit: and also to fix mistakes and reverse bad calls when we make them). We don't see all the comments, though, so to make sure we see a question it's best to email hn@ycombinator.com.

It was not flagged off the front page. It spent many hours there, and this repost is unambiguously a dupe.

The_Donald sub has ruined Reddit for me. I can't go into any remotely-political post without a bunch of weird alt-Right commentary that's been upvoted through the roof with poster's comment history filled with r/The_Donald shit.

Who cares if these people go to Voat or back to 4chan...

Fight back against the white supremacists and neo-Nazis and racists and write nationalists, both in real life and online. You think they're ruining a website? They took control of the USA. The might take control of France. I can't imagine how tired you'll be of them after they've run the world into the ground.

Echo chambers are boring

The problem is that in a post yesterday about the same topic, there seemed to be a lot pizzagate supporters here in HN.

it would be a shame to visit a community that challenged your worldview.

you really want to only read things that confirm your beliefs? i actively try and read mostly things I disagree with to see if they can change my mind.

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