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How a Reddit forum has become a lifeline to opioid addicts in the US (theguardian.com)
285 points by urahara on July 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 368 comments

What I find fascinating and disappointing is how much the opioid crisis isn't being talked about or addressed proportional to other societal issues.

Billions of dollars of private research being poured into self-driving cars by our greatest minds and millions of dollars in lobbying against gun laws all in the name of preventing unnecessary human deaths... yet according to Ben Bernanke (and his references), opioid overdose killed more people in 2015 than automobile accidents and firearms related crimes combined [1].

I'm curious whether the disproportionate concern has more to do with the perception of drug addicts as weak and deserving of their fate or because they're not a group that can be profited from politically or commercially or is overdosing just not as easy to solve as gun crime or automobile deaths?

Personally, I find all those excuses to be sad and bullshit so I'm hoping it's something else entirely.

[1] https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/es_2017...

I'm reminded of this Twitter exchange, in which Alan Kay graffiti'd YCombinator's "Make something people want" poster to say "Make something people need" and Paul Graham retorted that "making something people need but don't want kills startups".


The point of business is to create a customer. For that to happen, there has to be someone out there who has voluntarily decided they want to use (and ideally pay for) your product. The same goes for political movements - to build a mass political movement, you need a critical mass of people who voluntarily decide that this cause is worth investing time and money into.

By definition, addiction means that your voluntary choices are going to serve the furtherance of your addiction. So there's no customer there, and no profit potential, unless you're a drug dealer. Social interventions like drug treatment clinics could perhaps work, relying on the desires of loved ones, but it's very hard to help someone else unless they make choices to help themselves. When your brain chemistry has been altered so all it wants is more of the drug, that's not a given.

It's a hard problem. Unfortunately history hasn't been kind to populations with mass drug abuse; when I think of countries with a societal drug problem [1][2] or even subpopulations within a larger nation with widespread drug abuse [3][4], the cultures involved all basically collapsed. For countries, the general pattern involved top-down reforms -> military defeats -> revolution -> conquest by another power. For subcultures within a larger nation, it's the total marginalization of the group in question, assimilation into the larger population of the remaining productive members, and then long-term decay and blight on the remnants of the subculture.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Nazi_Germany

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_epidemic

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_and_Native_Americans

> making something people need but don't want kills startups.

And this is what government and regulation are for in my view.

Except in the case of opioids, government and regular ARE the problem. If they were legal and available through a regulated supply, most of the OD's would never happen. They happen because someone gets a dose of the drug that's 10-100 times stronger than the one they had yesterday.

That's no different than people going blind/dying from wood alcohol during prohibition.

The solution is to legalize and regulate, but I'm not holding my breath.

Yeah, seriously. Not everything can or should be addressed by for-profit businesses, or start-ups in particular.

While I agree that a lot more funds for treatment are needed to fight the opioid epidemic, it is really a fundamentally different problem that road fatalities. The only thing they really have in common are the fatalities.

The opioid crisis seems like a symptom of our social problems (hopelessness in the rust belt, unscrupulous over-prescribing of pain meds) that has fatal consequences.

Short of a drug that provided a permanent cure for opioid addiction itself, I'm not sure what sort of solutions can be pursued by scientific/tech research, as opposed to addressing the root social causes.

I'm interested in what ideas others might have though.

> I'm interested in what ideas others might have though.

I'm not from the US, but I think there is enough people already, all pointing out in the same direction:


Over the past decade, pharmaceutical companies have spent more than $880 million on lobbying and political contributions at the state and federal level. That’s more than eight times what the gun lobby and more than 200 times what those advocating for stricter prescribing rules spent over the same time period. The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids

The United States alone holds over 45 percent of the global pharmaceutical market [1]. And less then 5 percent of earths population. Welcome to the society of pharmaceutical addiction.

[1] https://www.statista.com/topics/1719/pharmaceutical-industry...

You're comparing a measure in dollars with a measure in people. Yes, per capita expenditure on prescription medication is high in the US. Most other countries have a national health care system which negotiates the price for the whole country. The US market is where pharmaceutical companies expect to recoup their R&D costs, which makes drugs more expensive in the US than anywhere else. This effectively means that the US subsidizes drug prices for the rest of the world in exchange for determining which drugs are safe for humans (via the FDA) and getting slightly earlier access to newly developed drugs.

I would restate that to the "US market is where pharmaceutical companies like recoup their executive officer costs, which makes drugs more expensive in the US than anywhere else. The US subsidizes executive salaries for the rest of the world..." http://www.ibtimes.com/healthcare-pharma-ceos-paid-more-top-...

> You're comparing a measure in dollars with a measure in people.

I'm not parent, but I'm sure this is intentional as the consequences of such a scenario are easy to extrapolate...

> The US market is where pharmaceutical companies expect to recoup their R&D costs.

They could do this in two ways - having high margins on their drugs, and/or selling a lot of drugs. It is no surprise to see pharma lobbying against tight laws on prescriptions, or anything that gets in the way of the 'market' getting access to their products. Not coincidentally, the opioid crises means they get to sell more drugs.

I think that they have both high margins on drugs (my gut estimate would be ten times what the rest of the world pays, but it looks like it is ordinarily only 2-5 times [0]) and they're selling a lot of drugs. It is disingenuous to claim that the US consumes 9 times more prescription drugs than the world average. The reality is probably closer to 2-5 times more drugs and that these drugs are 2-5 times more expensive by virtue of being sold in the US.

[0] https://www.vox.com/a/health-prices

Price difference may be a valid argument.

On the other hand in my home country we had some big pharmaceutical companies (compared to the size of the country) exporting drugs world wide. I thought that for example the pain killers I knew as I child would be used everywhere on the world. When I moved to Germany I realized that I was wrong. There are tons of different drugs for the same purpose with the same ingredients sold by different producers. Therefore only becasue you in the US buy some expensive - and highly addictive - pain killers you are not automatically financing the R&D of pain killers sold in Europe by Europian companies to the Europian people.

Let me be a smart ass and improve your calculation:

45% of drug revenue is generated by 5% of earth's population:

45% / 5% = 9

but you do not compare this number to 1 but to

55% of drug revenue is generated by 95% of earth's population:

55% / 95% = 0.58

So a US citizen spends 9 / 0.58 = 15.54 more on drugs as a non US citizen. Even if price difference is a valid argument, this number is still too high.

That, and criminalizing drug use. When people can no longer get access to or afford pharma drugs, they shift to illegal drugs. Once they are hooked on that, they are criminals, and they hide their problem, out of shame and fear or prosecution.

This. Anecdotally I know a friend whose doctor offered a potentially addictive medication, when the doctor knew or at least was told the friend drank frequently. The friend did not fill prescription for fear it would become addictive.

Did the doctor just say "Here, have these drugs" or did he/she prescribe the "potentially addictive" medication for a medical issue that should have been treated with that medication? Just not taking medication that your doctor thinks is necessary is not a good choice; you rarely know more than your doctor about the risk/reward profile of the medication.

That's not true at all. Drug companies bribe prominent doctors with multi-million dollar payments to convince other doctors that drugs are safer and more widely applicable than they actually are. If you refuse to take an opioid painkiller for fear of developing addiction, you are empirically demonstrating that you know more care more than your doctor about the risk/reward profile of the medication.


Hydrocodone costs like $3. Drug lobbying is a problem, but not this one.

What if you are actually in pain? In that case, it might be fully rational to take the potentially addictive opioid painkiller, despite the possibility of developing an addiction.

I agree that the lobbying is a huge problem, but exposing/stopping that is a sociopolitical approach to the problem, not a scientific/technological approach. I am skeptical that the latter can do much for this problem, but I'm curious if others have ideas on that front.

> Short of a drug that provided a permanent cure for opioid addiction itself, I'm not sure what sort of solutions can be pursued by scientific/tech research, as opposed to addressing the root social causes.

Just give them the opiates for free in supervised facilities and let them have otherwise normal, albeit constipated lives. It works and costs very little.

Every time I bring this up people look at me like I am insane for suggesting such a thing.

What people don't think about is the extra societal costs associated with drug addition: thefts/violent crimes, prison costs, unproductive time from seeking the next high, etc. Cutting out the middleman would solve a great deal of these issues, and save the taxpayer money too.

It seems the moral issue of giving "free drugs" to addicts is just too much to bear, unfortunately.

How much do you give out then? At some point you'll be giving someone a dose so high they are guaranteed to die. Obviously no one can do that because of legal justifications. However now you have to set an arbitrary limit to what someone can receive. The user may not agree with this amount and will seek to acquire more. Thereby resorting to the same tactics as before it was given away. I don't think it's as simple as you want it to be.

I honestly believe drug addiction is a symptom of a greater issue in someone's life. There is no person who wakes up and says "I think I'll get addicted to heroin today"; it becomes a means of escape and relief from something that gradually turns into its own monster and creates a terrible cycle of dependence.

By cutting out the time and money needed to "feed the beast" while providing professional help, they can break this cycle and move towards bettering themselves when they don't have the nagging of addiction voicing itself at every turn.

Of course its not simple and perhaps there will be people who refuse to better themselves. My biggest point is that it not only will save money from going underground, but allow potentially productive members of society to have a means to break the cycle.

The vast majority of heroin addicts today started with prescription painkillers. Many of them went into a doctor's office and took the pill that was prescribed to them by a trusted community member with a diploma on the wall. The problem was that these doctors were frequently either directly corrupt or under the unwitting influence of false advertising from Purdue Pharmaceuticals.

When I had my wisdom teeth pulled and was prescribed an entire bottle of Vicodin, when I didn't even need a single one, that wasn't a greater issue in my life. That was medical malfeasance and a just society would execute the principal architects of it.

I think this is definitely the problem in the United States. In my country they don't just willy nilly prescribe opioids. The best you get is ibuprofen. For example, after a terrible shoulder injury or tooth extraction, that's all you get. It helps with the pain, but doesn't remove it 100%, doesn't get you hooked though. Of course they give IV opioids after surgeries and such, but even then something mild and in small doses, and only for a certain period time. I remember still feeling pain after an appendectomy, but they refused to give me any more tramadol and just switched to IV ibuprofen. It's just not a thing as a prescription medicine. Except maybe for terminal cancer patients or something equally drastic.

Going off on a tangent, what my country might have a problem with, is benzos, however. They're prescribed like psychiatric vitamins.

Please check "The Rat Park drug experiment" [1][2]

[1] http://www.stuartmcmillen.com/comic/rat-park/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Park

What does the manufacturer of OxyContin (Purdue) have to do with you being prescribed Vicodin? And the world generally agrees that a just society wouldn't execute anyone. And the greatest issue in your life was that you were prescribed some pills you didn't need to take, just in case you had been in pain? That's a pretty good life.

A just society executing the principal architects sounds similar to Italy recently prosecuting the seismologists for incorrectly predicting earthquakes.

I agree that there is a problem with over prescription of opioids, but this problem isn't solely due to a simple conspiracy of drug makers. I think that sort of rhetoric is unhelpful.

What you fail to see in drawing your analogy is that seismologists aren't being incentivized to give specific readings. Pharmaceutical companies are loading the gun and they know it.

I see your point with the pharmaceuticals and they have a share of blame, but I would argue that the analogy has merit as the prosecution in the seismology case would not have pushed for punishment if the scientists were merely wrong.


From my reading (and I will admit I do not see the logical reasoning at all, which I think is why the case was later overturned) the judge thought that they were guilty not of failing to predict it, but of giving an inadequate message. Presumably, to me this implies some sort of laziness, or intent to not make more of an effort despite knowing better.

I will admit that I am biased being a doctor dealing with this daily, but I think that blaming this solely on the pharmaceutical companies is easier to do than looking at what is happening to our culture, expectations of pain, the way we deliver healthcare, how we grade healthcare (for example read about Press Ganey's Fifth Vital Sign).

Why do you think they kept taking them after they ran out?

> At some point you'll be giving someone a dose so high they are guaranteed to die.

This is not how opioid pharmacology works. Tolerance to the desired effects (analgesia) increases but so does tolerance to the problematic effects (respiratory depression).

Opioid use -- even chronic and long-term use -- is not a death sentence. The phenomenon of so many opioid-related deaths referred to as the "opioid epidemic" is an extremely recent one (compared to the timescale that humans have been using opiates for pain relief) and is a product of drug policy/enforcement, not of the inherent evil of opioids.

No, at least opioids don't work that way. There is no dose so high as to be guaranteed to be fatal -- it's entirely dependent upon an individual person's tolerance. There is effectively no ceiling opioid dose.

There is also, IIRC (though it's been a few years since I was last researching this) for many people a limit on the tolerance one builds up (though it certainly gets very high). I recall something about addicts in the Netherlands—which has a program like the one suggested—eventually hitting a stable dose and staying there.

> Short of a drug that provided a permanent cure for opioid addiction itself, I'm not sure what sort of solutions can be pursued by scientific/tech research, as opposed to addressing the root social causes.

People have actually been trying vaccine approaches to opioid addiction for a while, but it's tricky since opioids are small molecules which inherently don't give you a lot to work with as far as antigen presentation.

Apparently there has been some promising evidence recently though. See Derek Lowe's blog below for details.


Short of a drug that provided a permanent cure for opioid addiction itself, I'm not sure what sort of solutions can be pursued by scientific/tech research

Along with its therapeutic cousins Cannabis and MDMA, look what else we have on the list of substances for which federal research funds are banned (Schedule I):


> Ibogaine causes long QT syndrome at therapeutic doses, apparently by blocking hERG potassium channels in the heart.

Yea. That doesn't necessarily sound good:

> Clinical studies of ibogaine to treat drug addiction began in the early 1990s, but concerns about cardiotoxicity led to termination of those studies. There is currently insufficient data to determine whether it is useful in treating addiction.

I'm not really sure this is some sort of miracle drug that the establishment just doesn't want us to know about.

I'm not really sure this is some sort of miracle drug that the establishment just doesn't want us to know about

The thing is, it doesn't matter if you're "sure" or not, because while it's on Schedule I there can be no federal funds used for research into whatever degree it may be a "miracle" (nirvana fallacy) drug. I hope we can agree that therapeutic substances have been derived from harmful ones.

Can't research be done on other countries? Has research anywhere, of any kind, determined ibogaine to be useful in the treatment of addiction?

Here's a relatively recent roundup of the state of research: http://psychedelictimes.com/iboga/the-evidence-for-ibogaine-...

I'm not inclined to trust the Psychedelic Times to be particularly neutral on the topic or scientific.

The yellow words are hyperlinks. Many of them go to outside websites.

It can be done in the US with proper licensing, "just" if you get the funds from elsewhere. Not a small hurdle by any means, but it's not like you'll be blackballed (you can see plenty of studies of schedule 1 substances on PubMed, which is run by the US government).

I don't necessarily agree with it being Schedule I, but at the same time it's not "one weird trick" that the establishment doesn't want you to know about either. It's not something that's only waiting to be packaged up and sent to drug trials to start getting used (but is held back because "the man" thinks it will upset the status quo).

The drug is toxic in humans but I think it also means we can't do comparative trials on the mechanism in mice. There might be something to discover about the mechanism that could be brought by a different drug that doesn't have the cardiotoxicity.

Is the cardiotoxicity worse than the side effects of the drugs they would replace?

I'm not sure there is an ethical way to find out.

> I'm curious whether the disproportionate concern has more to do with the perception of drug addicts as weak and deserving of their fate

This. The AIDS epidemic in the 1980's was the same. Tens of thousands of people dying every year, with more than forty thousand per year at jts peak, and more than 600,000 dead to date. Because of homophobia, the public at large didn't care about the victims - most people, if they took notice at all, only expressed groundless fear in catching HIV just going about their business.

Opiate addiction isn't a disease in the sense that there's a biological virus or bacteria that can be transmitted from person to person, so "normal" people think they can't "catch" it. And so without public sympathy for the victims, no wonder there isn't some mass political movement trying to get Congress to fund a proper response.

This is dead on, no pun intended. And it's made worse by the fact that even people who are personally affected by the overdose epidemic usually are culturally conditioned to shun the addicts (e.g. friends or family), and so instead of coming out and saying in public, "Yes, I have been personally affected by this horrible thing, we need to do something about it," you find that people keep this kind of thing quiet, because addiction and addicts are looked down upon. I think the analogy with HIV/AIDS is very succinct and relevant.

I fortunately don't have a ton of direct experience in this area. But spent alot of time with a recovering addict/alcoholic and drug counselor.

Maybe his point of view was out of date, but I recall that he saw kicking any of these problems was something that came from within. You had to want out strongly. My friends moment was when his kids didn't want to see him.

People shun addicts to survive, not out of cultural conditioning. The addiction comes first, and the addict will hurt anyone to get it.

A lot of money is being spent on this, but the obvious solution--providing addicts with known, tested opiates and safe places to use--is illegal. Addicts are most certainly a group that can be profited off. We have entire industries that do that, sometimes exclusively: sugar, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, big pharma, etc. In fact, it's this intention of our laws to encourage such profiting off of the suffering and deaths of addicts that I think is the reason no one is really trying to fix much. The other reason is, likely, that this is a rather unfixable cultural problem stemming from poverty, loneliness, and other cultural factors.

Methadone clinics, rehabs and other places like that, however, do profit off of addicts' recovery and may even have genuine intentions of helping (it seems to vary from place to place). Those profits are minor compared to the profit off of addicts' misery and death, however, and their efforts are not usually talked about much in the press. Laws also hold back such institutions from providing good treatment and dehumanize the addicts trying to stay clean. In many places, addicts are treated horribly and made to suffer intentionally by the staff, often having to wait around sick for hours just to see a doctor before getting a dose of methadone even though they've been on the program for years. They are made to line up daily or weekly for a dose when a regular prescription would do just fine, even after they've been on methadone for years. At many of these clinics, it's a wonder that anyone stays clean. There is no professionalism. Doses are messed up when addicts travel and they are left without their methadone. Staff end up stealing either money or methadone. There is no accountability. Not all clinics lack compassion and treat addicts badly, but many do. It's no wonder these places try to fly under the radar while the good clinics and rehabs are too busy helping addicts to be in the press or make much noise. If cancer or heart patients were treated this way, you can bet your ass there'd be a national backlash, but our society has been conditioned to have no compassion for addicts. This is the result. It's ugly and nasty.

Interestingly, when the DEA was trying to emergency schedule kratom late late year, one of the biggest groups lobbying for the scheduling were addiction recovery clinics. These groups also lobby heavily for kratom scheduling on the state level. They were instrumental, for example, in the effort to schedule kratom in Alabama (which incidentally saw a 30% increase in the number of opiate overdose deaths in the weeks after kratom was scheduled). It takes no imagination to understand why they would want to eliminate a cheap, accessible, safe competitor that works, like kratom.

For sure. This is why I question the idea of for-profit businesses helping rather than hurting and say it's a mixed bag. There really are some places that care about helping (especially outside the US and in rich areas in the US), but there are also plenty of places that do more harm than good. For-profit, free market capitalism's goals are hardly ever aligned with the goals of society and humanity.

Incredibly spot on. That's why I went on Suboxone instead, solely because it means I only have to go in once a fortnight. Nice regular prescription, but yeah the amount of travel I do is difficult with it, despite being on the program for 5 years.

Yup. From what I've seen as a family member of an addict in recovery, you can work your way up to 28 bottles of methadone and do guest dosing, but the amount of planning, waiting, preparation, and willingness to deal with fuckups is colossal. Colossal enough that it stresses me out and I'm not even the patient. And this is traveling a few times a year. Imagine ending up in a foreign country with not enough medicine because the people handing it out are too incompetent to count the days of your vacation and rush you out of there. That's how we found out how much of a difference in compassion there is between clinics in Europe and the US. The ones in Europe really went out of their way to treat the patients with cordiality and to help them, even though the patient was a foreigner. Free of charge. While the one here took dozens of phone calls just to figure out there was a mistake. I really hope attitudes start to change. It's so hard to see a family member struggling with this and of course, that's absolutely nothing compared to their actual struggle. It's great to hear about others doing well on their path to recovery. I wish you all the best!

In Sam Quinone's "Dreamland" (well worth a read) he talks about how the opioid epidemic stayed out of the public eye for so long, and he attributes a lot of it to the general perception of addiction as a moral failure, or weakness - parents don't talk about their dead children dying of addiction, because of the shame and judgement they feel [0]. So a lot of the deaths (and the suffering that can lead up to it) is hushed up. This tide is turning, now, as people are more willing to speak honestly and openly about how they and their families have been affected by addiction, and the realisation that anyone can be addicted to opiates, and it's not just a matter of not having sufficient backbone to resist their effects.

On the matter of self-driving car investment, vs opiate addiction treatment - car makers need to turn a profit, so they need something new to sell. A lot of people also commute daily, and don't enjoy doing so. So in the (distant) shiny future where your car drives you to work, they are building something that I think a lot of people will be willing to pay for, or use as a service.

[0] Addendum - it also avoided the public eye because of where addiction was happening, and who to. A lot of it started in smaller towns, often those struggling economically. The kind of places that don't get a lot of attention.

Well, I've been following the GOP Senate healthcare bill closely over the last month, and several GOP Senators have stood their ground amidst pressure from party leaders as well as the Whitehouse to protect funding for their Home State's opioid epidemic. It's been a frontline issue in nearly every article I've read regarding the GOP's difficulty in getting to 50 votes.

So while the public at large may be ignorant of this crisis (and honestly, on how many issues is even the most educated of us truly knowledgeable about?) the States' representatives that have these problems back home appear to be taking it very seriously.

> ... the States' representatives that have these problems back home appear to be taking it very seriously.

Rather, "several" out of 52 GOP senators are taking it seriously. Or do I misunderstand you?

A couple notes:

1. The opioid crisis is getting a lot of airtime in the media outlets that I read.

3. The opioid crisis is one of the biggest reasons why the Senate's Trumpcare bill is now dead, and was also a major topic of discussion in the weeks leading up to its unexpected loss this week. In short, its drastic cuts to Medicaid would have decimated opioid treatment in some of the states hit hardest, and Senator Capito of West Virginia, at least, would have voted against it because the $40-odd billion dollars that Mitch McConnell would've specifically allocated to opioid treatment would have been a 'drop in the bucket.' Here's some earlier discussion of this point: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/capito-says-opiod-treatment-...

So, all said, maybe find some new sources of news and discussion?

edit: here's a new wire article from the AP that just crossed my RSS reader: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/democrats-trump-action-opi...

What I was referring to was the proportionality, obviously it IS being discussed (I linked a prominent policy maker discussing it), so really what I'm saying is that the amount of airtime/attention given to stories on the opioid crisis was far less than the combined number of stories attending to gun crimes or self-driving car successes/failures.

I remember seeing a Vanguard episode on the "pain management" industry in Florida called the Oxycontin Express [1] back in 2009 (won a Peabody). And yet it's only in the last year or so that I've actually heard about it being addressed more publicly.

If you're telling me that I'm wrong and that actually more people, dollars, and attention are going toward saving people from opioid overdose than automobile accidents and gun crime, then I would be happy to be wrong and would want to see numbers.

Otherwise it sounds like you're telling me to tune my news inputs so I hear stories in a proportion that would please me better?

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGZEvXNqzkM

"isn't being talked about or addressed proportional to other societal issues"

Talked about, from my perspective, it is. Addressed, no, it most certainly is not being addressed.

> What I find fascinating and disappointing is how much the opioid crisis isn't being talked about or addressed proportional to other societal issues.

Actually, it is the opposite. Gun violence, opioid crisis, etc are given too much attention.

The deaths of opioid crisis and gun deaths are minuscule compared to the deaths cause by obesity, sedentary lifestyle, cancer, heart disease, etc.

Take the top two killers in america - heart disease and cancer ( about 600K deaths each ) vs gun violence + opioid crisis ( about 30K each ).

Heart disease by itself kill 10X more people than gun violence and opioid crisis combined.

Everybody dies from something so there'll always be a top cause of death. I think we accept diseases of old age like heart disease and cancer as an inevitable part of being human. Sure it'd be nice to cure them. It'd also be nice to have immortality.

You could go further and say brain death is the leading cause of death, affecting 100% of Americans. Let's put more effort into transferring our consciousness into computers so we can survive it! Again, it would be nice but seems tolerable to carry on as we are.

I believe at least one of the reasons why those are given more attention is because they are more likely to affect younger people and they seem more preventable. As opposed to cancer and heart disease which are more likely to kill older people and often develop over a lifetime.

i find it difficult to believe anyone could believe that the negative health effects of obesity and cancer in particular are under-reported

Not quite true. More auto accident deaths than opioid overdose deaths.

From your own link:

"According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015 52,404 people died from drug overdoses in the United States. 33,091 of those deaths involved opioids. In comparison, 35,092 people died in auto accidents in 2015 (Department of Transportation), and 12,195 people died from non-suicide firearm-related injuries in 2014 (CDC, 2015 data not yet available)."

What I find fascinating and disappointing is how much the opioid crisis isn't being talked about or addressed proportional to other societal issues.

I'm not surprised at all, and the only emotion I feel is complete disgust, directed at politicians that refuse to work together. It started the second Obama was elected POTUS and the opposing party declared they would not work with him, and that lasted the full 8 years.

There were two years before the mid terms but yes then it totally changed. People should hold the republicans accountable for that.

Your mistake is believing that people invest in self-driving cars as a sort of charity or social service in the same way as drug clinics. Even if that were the case, I think there's a reasonable case to be made that solving self-driving cars would be a better lives-saved/$ investment than opioids. Even if it was a comparable investment, it wouldn't make addicts as socially-productive a group as crash victims--this would take tens/hundreds of millions more in social services.

Even neglecting that, crash victims are more worthy (on average) than overdose victims, as they come into their fate largely on accident, while overdose victims largely make an informed choice to roll the dice. I don't like saying this; it sounds judgmental and it certainly won't be popular, but this is the logical conclusion. Fortunately, the choice between self-driving cars and combatting the opioid epidemic doesn't remotely hinge on this point.

> while overdose victims largely make an informed choice to roll the dice

Don't most people develop an opioid addiction after being prescribed insufficient pain medication by their doctor? After that, sure, once they realize that getting more opioids - much more than they ought to, medically or legally - is literally the only way to stop the daily pain?

I don't think it's most people, but I understand some do. Hence my wording. That said, I don't have any data to back that up.

Over prescription, not under perception is more often blamed.

There are a number of factors at work. One of them is existing factions. There are existing political power blocks that stand strongly against "solutions" to "the gun problem".

What do you want to see? What would you consider an ideal world here?

I know how you feel. It's utterly ridiculous that a society should so heartlessly abandon the most vulnerable among us who struggle so needlessly. We should do better! We can do better! We MUST do better! It's a moral imperative.

Yet, for all that, it's possible that resources are limited. And when resources are limited, questions of sustainability, achievability, returns, and cost-effectiveness become relevant. This is particularly true when there multiple goals to be chased - would you be happy if all Medicare funding for the elderly was stripped away in favor of treating opioid addiction?

Resources are not limited. It is plentiful, except that society sees the resource of human labor and love as only valuable when it is profitable.

If corporations found it profitable to ensure everybody was happy and living well, I can guarantee you that the vulnerable would be taken care of very well.

It is just a matter of perception. By graviating towards money and profit, we undermine the worth of all humans and hence you asking "would you be happy if all Medicare funding for the elderly was stripped away in favor of treating opioid addiction?".

Of course nobody would be happy! :)

> Resources are not limited. It is plentiful, except that society sees the resource of human labor and love as only valuable when it is profitable.

You're right! Resources are unquestionably plentiful! However, it's possible that plentiful might be slightly different from unlimited. If I wanted a billion PhD-educated engineers to colonize Mars tomorrow, I might run into limits, no?

It is just a matter of perception. By thinking about how to best utilize plentiful-but-limited resources, considering the value and independence of all humans, we think about how best to create a system in which all these wonderful and infinitely valuable humans self-organize for what's best for them. That way we can gravitate towards happiness and wellness!

I'd glad we agree on the value of humanity. I see human labor, human love, and human affection as valuable at all times and places. I also see that humans are plentiful-but-limited, time is plentiful-but-limited, and resources are plentiful-but-limited.

> Of course nobody would be happy! :)

Yeah. That's because it's obviously a bad way to distribute plentiful-but-limited resources like human labor and human love and human-run biochemical production facilities to make the greatest number of people as happy and well as possible.

> We can do better! We MUST do better!

"..and we will do better, and we will start this moment today!"

Who would win and lose by addressing the Opioid crisis or not? Consider their relative power (wealth) and organization/unity.

It's the same for basically every issue. Humans can be altruistic, but organizations rarely are.

Simply: change happens when expending power leads to a greater expected increase in (relative) power than doing nothing for a sufficient amount of power-brokers to overcome costs of change and opponents(those who expect to lose from the change). This is a structural issue, not human nature.

Blaming the addicts helps to reduce the cost of doing nothing. The good(?) news is that this is tending to hit wealthier people than past epidemics and so is getting correspondingly greater attention.

Rejoice! The problem is far worse than these sad, bullshit excuses.

>perception of drug addicts as weak and deserving of their fate

I think you're right but the reasoning is one step removed from the conclusion.

Drug addition is a poor people problem (in part because it takes resources and support to break the cycle).

Opiod (and meth for that matter) addiction skews rural and therefore white.

A lot of people take the attitude that poor rural white trash are poor white trash because they live in a dying town with no industry and refuse to relocate to somewhere they can more easily scrape by. The catch is that the people making these judgements generally have a very different set of values than the people they're judging.

When you take the attitude that the situation that leads one to easily become an addict is the fault of the addict then it's hard to have sympathy for addicts.

There's also a lot of (well meaning) "optimism to the point of stupidity" in assessing how effective firearms legislation is as an avenue to reduce violent crime and how easy it is to make a driver-less car that can effectively share the roads with vehicles operated by people

My company (https://pelorushealth.com) is a remote case-management/recovery coach app suit for people who are recovery from substance abuse, namely opioids and alcohol.

One of our biggest blockers has been the existing recovery industry. Addiction is so stigmatized that getting people to use an app on their phone, even after treatment, is problematic because they feel like the data could get out that they're an addict. This is another reason more research isn't done. These existing facilities literally don't collect data - much less use it in any relevant way.

Value-based payments and growing oversight from insurance companies is changing that somewhat. These facilities are starting to be required to report outcomes data - so from a business perspective we're good. But man this industry and it's privacy/secrecy are something else.

> our greatest minds

Self-driving cars actually would have a benefit for society in terms of higher durability for vehicle and optimal road selection leading to lower carbon emissions, lower traffic accidents, and less use of natural resources.

I am more annoyed by all the time and effort going into Google's and Facebook's ad-tech optimizations.

> millions of dollars in lobbying against gun laws

Wait, what? This is a "lobby"?

I thought the NRA with their even larger resources, backed by industrial interests, is the actual lobby. You know, the one who pushed forward those laws into insane directions, which you'll find almost nowhere else in the world.

The recent Nautilus article about why our brain hates other people[1] makes an attempt at categorizing how we view people along two axis. How emotionally warm we perceive members of another group and how competent we perceive them. The article than goes on to describe how we react to these categorizations. According to the article we are physically disgusted by people with both perceived low competence and low warmth. The effect is compared to seeing a maggot infected wound. The article uses drug addicts as the example of a group we perceive that way.


I'm not sure where you concern lies... you mentioned millions being poured into a fight against gun laws to prevent deaths?

Assuming that might have been misspeech, it's easy to see why autonomous vehicles have so much more interest. The interest isn't in preventing human death, the interest is there because not only is it a more fascinating problem to solve, but it saves everybody time and hassle. Lowering the number of deaths is just a great effect.

Focus on a problem isn't always about sheer concern, sometimes the focus is so much higher just because it's a problem more people feel they can contribute to solving. Parkinson's law of triviality...

Along those same lines, how about our modern day obsession with LGBT and racial issues. Yes, those are important, but I feel like the amount of time that is put into them is completely disproportionate relative to other very troubling issues(such as the opioid epidemic)

I agree to some extent. Many times when discussing these other societal issues we point to the levels of violence and conditions that affect one group proportional to other groups.

Young black males are disproportionately the victims of gun crime, pretty sure that is a well-known fact that I don't need to look up. I also believe the data is in on young white males disproportionately being the victims of opioid overdose [1].

Are opioids a white problem and guns a black problem? Or are both actually related to a different condition and it's actually a young male problem? What about if we looked at the socio-economic class of these people ignoring age, sex and race? Something common there?

I think that the focus on the racial/ethnic/sexual/gender makeup of the victims is less useful than some people want it to be.

If anything I'd say it's an economic and community issue, this Kutzgesat video goes into it somewhere [2]. If there were better community support systems for people of lower economic classes then I think we'd see far less overdose and gun crime.

One thing I will say though, and it is addressed in the first link somewhat, is the way drug enforcement is (and has been) conducted differently in different communities. That certainly exposes much of the systematic discrimination in drug enforcement which I do hold as almost as serious a problem as these deaths.

[1] http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/872062 [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg

>If anything I'd say it's an economic and community issue

And nobody with political power will admit it because it will make them the enemy of both camps on both issues.

Solving the self driving car issue seems possible, and you have a way to make money. I don't think it is possible to end the opium crisis so long as you have areas where there is nothing else to do and these people don't really.have anything else to aspire to. Even if you.solved it how are you going to make money on it? The addicts don't have the money, the local communies are already broke and it will take forever to get a federal grant.

>or because they're not a group that can be profited from politically

They already are being profited from politically via the War on Drugs.

Is the opioid crisis largely caused by prescription opioids getting people addicted?

It's really simple.

Addicts don't make good customers.

Well...depending on what you're selling they are probably excellent customers. Sorry, couldn't resist.

On a more serious note however, I understand what you mean. I think there's also the perception that significant cases of drug abuse, addiction and the crimes related to this are something that seems to happen far, far away for most people in a position to offer help. Something you see in movies and dramatic VICE documentaries, but not in your own backyard. If you're not confronted with the problem it's easy to not perceive it as one.

Autonomous cars have benefits beyond being safer, which would explain why the investment outweighs the deaths/year

Why don't you go solve it? Who are you waiting for? Maybe some of us wanna work on self-driving cars. I often see people lamenting about the world's problem. Waiting for someone else to solve it. If you find it so disappointing, go for it! You can do it!

Our society is one built upon the idea of specialization. And when the specialists fail, they are asked to correct course. Your attitude is unwarranted.

In the HN-popular utopian future where automation has made most people unemployed and living on UBI, we're supposed to be able to pursue our dreams without the pressure to feed ourselves. But in reality, many people don't have dreams or the motivation to pursue them and end up as drug addicts/alcoholics/gangsters which is just easier.

I used to laugh at the idea that people need jobs to feel fulfilled. I thought those must be quite helpless people who can't even make their own hobbies. But from personal experience, I found that dreams are for young people and people with demanding jobs. They're a grass-is-greener fantasy when they're out of reach but deteriorate into boring unrewarding work when you actually do them. Working for a company is especially fulfilling because you more productive than you can be on your own. You feel more useful. You feel important and needed.

So I think the idea of widespread happy unemployment isn't going to work. It might still happen but I think it'll be a tragedy, not a paradise unless we can find something else that takes the place of work.

> But in reality, many people don't have dreams or the motivation to pursue them and end up as drug addicts/alcoholics/gangsters

You seem to be suggesting that one can't simultaneously have a job and dreams and be an alcoholic/drug addict/gangster. This is sloppy logic

Edit: Your perspective also explains why society hasn't addressed alcoholism and drug addiction for so long: to you, the alcoholics and addicts are an entirely separate group from upright, hardworking, motivated, dream-pursuing "normal" people.

Fulfillment is a hard thing to quantify. Maybe unemployed people feel bad because they aren't doing anything, or maybe they feel bad because there is nothing for an unemployed person to do when everyone is working. Maybe they feel bad because other people make them feel bad for being unemployed, through their pity or indifference or even well meaning attempts to help.

You are completely right that it sucks to not have a job, but its possible that's a reflection of how social life is structured and not some biological Protestant work ethic. Right now "I work at X company" is shorthand for "I am a a productive member of society". That certainly benefits companies and certain types of people. But it's not the only imaginable value system. And I suspect that people who feel valuable are a lot less likely to find solace in bottle of pills.

I don't understand why there aren't more people aware of this potential tragedy. There are few substitutes for the feeling of being socially useful.

Do you think people will feel fulfilled in jobs that they know are make-work or easily automated, and know that they are employed solely because someone in power believes that people ought to be required to work, even if the work is useless?


I am almost ashamed to admit I have read these forums for years as a sort of exercise in voyeuristic schadenfreude. I just love reading about drug culture, watching drug movies, etc. Just like I love gangster movies. I can't explain it. A few things I have learned:

/r/glassine is probably the most interesting. They rate heroin bags in the Pittsburg area. It's supposed to be for everywhere, but it's mostly Pennsylvania

/r/opiates is a place where addicts confide in each other and practice harm reduction. They do not source. They tell hilarious, sad, amazing stories. Lots of personal confessions and "whole life of an addict" style narratives. Overall, a good community for addicts to find a safe space, instead of a place that hounds them for not being in recovery.

/r/stims is where the meth heads hang out. Occasionally you get these great "I'm on meth and here's everything in my mind right now" text barfs, but mostly I feel like this is an empty sub

/r/researchchemicals is where people discuss Shulgin chemicals and beyond.

/r/drugnerds is amazing. Papers. Lots of them.

/r/drugporn is where people post photos of their drugs, and then a week later the picture is taken down because Missoula Police saw it and arrested them through the GPS sig in the photo.

/r/noids is where people discuss synthetic cannabinoids, which are horrible. Never use these.

The rabbit hole goes very, very deep. Check /r/DarkNetMarkets/

Me too. Besides what you mentioned, I'm particularly fond of /r/mdma, /r/psychonaut and /r/rationalpsychonaut (for discussions about psychedelics sans spirituality and religion). Also /r/nootropics. And /r/drugs in general. Don't forget /r/trees, which is of course the gateway subreddit, but it's rather boring in comparison.

Trees is just a bunch of people posting their bowls and where they toked up on a hike. A lot of them likely live in legalized states. I'd say not even close. (The "gateway" thing was a nice touch though.)

/r/cocaine is another pretty decent one. Mostly people posting pics of lines but there's the occasional announcement of quitting where people get really supportive

r/trees often has stories about people getting clean from heroin and opiates by smoking cannabis. One example is this story, but you should be able to find many more: https://www.reddit.com/r/trees/comments/6oq6pp/clean_from_he...

Try some trip reports for Datura on Erowid. Interesting and scary. A substance that I don't need to try.

Not covered in this Guardian article: the somewhat scarier /r/opiaterollcall (recently banned) and /r/cripplingalcoholism (not scary, just a discussion forum).

I have been consuming reddit via the https://www.reddit.com/r/all/gilded/ feed and it is just WILD what kind of weird and worrying stuff is going on.

That was on my mind as well. The pessimist in me was concerned that this article will either get /r/opiates banned or will become a honeypot for law enforcement.

What took place in /r/opiaterollcall and why was it banned?

EDIT: Looks like it was a place to connect opiate buyers and sellers

When I stumbled across it a month ago by following a user's comment history, it looked like a very sparsely populated forum with monthly posts in each US state offering information about "friends" in each state or region.

To my recollection, each post contained replies listing a username and perhaps a region of the state where they were available, and each post had upvotes or downvotes as well as some replies saying how "friendly" each listed username was. All other conversation other than "friends" and ratings seemed to be swiftly deleted and users were encouraged to move to reddit private messages.

At the time reading the content naively I thought it was people looking to use heroin together more safely, but now I'm thinking it was probably people looking for heroin dealers.

Here's a screenshot of the subreddit rules (from Google cache): http://i.imgur.com/2PKOr7B.png

I don't think I took a good screenshot of the forum's contents before it was banned. I think it was active for several years.

One of the bigger subreddits for many years is /r/trees which "promotes" marijuana and they haven't banned that sub even though marijuana is illegal in most states and most countries.

Reddit has really gone downhill ever since they turned into a nanny forum where they arbitrary enforce rules.

Drug culture and drug markets are two completely different ball games. Banning the latter is hardly inconsistent behavior.

I remembered when I joined, /r/marijuana was a default subreddit...

“Around my area, I believe a lot of people use [opioids] out of boredom. There’s no jobs, no way to have fun besides video games and riding four-wheelers and motorcycles. There’s nowhere to go except a run-down mall over in another county.”

Sizable numbers of people get into opiates out of boredom? I thought this was driven by people with chronic pain.

About 8% to 12% of people prescribed opioids long term will become addicted to them.

The US prescribes far more opioids than any other developed nation.

These two combine and there are a bunch of people without addiction, but with spare pills. Those pills have a market value, and so they get sold. Or relatives of the patient find the pills and take them.

Then there's also the issue of getting addicted to prescribed pills.

A lot of people with chronic pain are also bored (can't work).

A lot of people get into DRUGS out of boredom.

When drugs can be used to change how you feel people often will to escape negative feelings. Replace boredom with depression, anxiety, pain, it's all similar.

It's all about escapism.

I can't recall a similar degree of concern and push for treatment during the crack/cocaine epidemic in the 80-90's and the meth epidemic of the 00's. What is it about the opioid/heroin epidemic that differentiates it from those prior?

It's because opioids are legal. Anyone can obtain them with very little effort and they don't have to worry about being 'caught'. The only way to get meth or crack was to engage in an illegal transaction. Now you don't have to be a criminal to be an addict and I think that scares people (Although nothing has really changed other than society's view of it).

It's no longer 'very little effort' to get a doctor to write for an opioid.

Every single one of these threads or news articles blathers on and on about how all these clueless/evil doctors are hand-in-hand with Big Bad Pharma just tossing opiate prescriptions at everyone who walks in the door. At this point it's ridiculous, because the few outfits who did anything like this stopped or were shut down years ago.

The pendulum has swung in the other direction-- doctors have been inundated with the 'crisis' message and are terrified to prescribe any strong pain or anxiety meds to anyone. It was once routine for me and others I know to be prescribed hydrocodone for conditions like painful seized muscles, root canals or severe strep throat. We were apparently all in the ~80%+ who used it as intended and stopped. It worked great! No one I know has received an opiate for those conditions in a very long time. They all tell you just take ibuprofen now, which is completely insufficient. So what to people do instead? They drink or turn to illegal drugs. Functionally banning drugs does nothing to fight addiction, and in some cases can make it worse.

Sorry to rant, but I have both seen and experienced the hell of untreated pain due to skittish doctors. The cowardice and misinformation resulting in such direct harm really angers me.

The few articles I read on the subject are actually quite clear that the current crisis is due to the increased control on prescriptions, and some talk about the side effects on people with actual needs:



"The simplistic idea was, 'Oh, this is all about prescription opioids, and therefore that's all we need to do: reduce the supply of prescription opioids and we'll reduce all these deaths and people won't become addicted,'" said Alexander Walley, a physician and director of addiction consultation services at Boston Medical Center.

"Well, what we're seeing now is that even as you reduce access to prescription opioids, you're seeing an explosion of heroin use and heroin overdoses ."

Still, it's hard for someone that has not experienced these conditions to understand how prescribing these highly addictive substances could be justified.

Is it the only form of treatment ? How is treatment handled in other countries ?

> It was once routine for me and others I know to be prescribed hydrocodone for conditions like painful seized muscles, root canals or severe strep throat. We were apparently all in the ~80%+ who used it as intended and stopped. It worked great!

I think this is exactly the kind of drug abuse people want to get away from. Some people also used heroin or meth and managed to stop. This doesn't mean it's OK to abuse opiates for things like "seized muscles, root canals or strep throat" ... WTH? Opiates are used to manage severe pain, not this I've-torn-my-nail-a-bit-I-need-opiates-now.

Pain is a part of life, stop being a princess and deal with it.

It's now disportionately impacting white people, and in the 80s-90s it was disproportionately impacting black people which the US govt and media used to paint a negative image. So now it's hitting closer to home, so it's getting more attention and treated with a lot more sympathy.

It's a war backed by pharmaceutical companies. They influence how doctors treat pain.


Here's something... curious. Poppy production was virtually wiped out in Afghanistan: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/20/world/taliban-s-ban-on-pop...

Then we invaded. Now it's high: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Afghanis...

A lot more people die from heroin than die from cocaine. In fact most cocaine overdoses stem from mixing with heroin.

I wonder if marijuana legalization is inversely correlate with this issue? As in, the areas that have legalized marijuana have seen a drop in opiates?

The fact that fentanyl (which is 100x more powerful than morphine) is so readily available/mixed with common drugs across the United States is excruciatingly horrifying.

What is the solution to this opioid epidemic?

As an outsider not well-versed in this topic, my guess is that the root cause here is hopelessness, struggle, and boredom caused by poverty and unemployment.

The solution then would be to employ people and give them a sense of purpose, or at least get them out of poverty.

I'm a huge proponent of a universal basic income (UBI), though I'm not sure that a UBI would fix this problem. Thus it seems as if some sort of government jobs program may be necessary. Giving people meaningful well-paying jobs in science and technology would do wonders in getting people off these ridiculous addictions.

> The solution then would be to employ people and give them a sense of purpose, or at least get them out of poverty.

The jobs are gone. Now it's time to stop marginalizing and treating jobless people like parasites. This would help more.

i stopped smoking thanks to r/stopsmoking. 500 days and going strong.

I quit coke thanks to /r/stopspeeding (and some other things in real life). 71 days sober

r/stopdrinking is also a very supportive community.

Along with r/leaves, a marijuana cessation subreddit.

Note also: /r/quittingkratom/

This one is interesting because many people use kratom to wean off opioids.

In other news, Hansa Market, a Dark Web Marketplace, Bans the Sale of Fentanyl[1]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/business/dealbook/hansa-m...

There are tons more of these forums and Reddit is probably the least trafficked out of all those I know about.


TED: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong


/r/darknetmarkets was a really interesting place after the Alphabay shutdown too. A lot of opioid addicts very scared about their supply and withdrawal symptoms.

I just scoured that sub for 30 minutes and all I saw was people bragging out their pills, showing off their heorin, and fantasizing about using Fentanyl....

Kratom saves lives.

If that's true, then perhaps you should put some links to good resource explaining what it is and where to get it? Also maybe something indicating why and how it saves lives, any studies on people who kicked opiates using kratom and can attest to it's life-saving properties?

I know people who use kratom and they have good things to say, but I've known people who say the same thing about x, y, and z supplement/nootropic whatever.

Here's an example of some research into kratom's use as an aid in opioid withdrawal: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3670991/

Yes, some people seem to go overboard no matter what the chemical. There are some sad stories in there of people that can't control themselves. Sort of highly, highly addictive personalities. There are some similar stories for people quitting caffeine, for example: https://www.reddit.com/r/decaf/

That doesn't really fit with my experience. I was a heavy user of alcohol, cigarettes, and occasionally even tried cocaine. Quitting all of those had extremely minimal effects on me physically or mentally.

Getting off Kratom resulted in something like a flu that lasted 2-3 weeks. And I wasn't taking an especially high dose, and I had only been using for 3 months.

Where were you getting your kratom? Were you buying it from a vendor that also provides documentation from a testing facility to demonstrate that there were no adulterants? There are people participating in the kratom supply chain that adulterate the kratom that passes through their hands. Testing has shown kratom sprayed with opiates, or kratom adulterated with opiate potentiators (both herbal and not), and even stuff like kratom with green tea added to give it a better smell and flavor. For example, those teenagers that died in Sweden were found to have been taking kratom that was sprayed with O-desmethyltramadol (ODT) [0].

I purchase all of my kratom from a vendor that also provides documentation to prove that they're selling unadulterated kratom. Lots of vendors are resisting this, because they know the lengths some unscrupulous southeast Asian distributors will go to to get "the most fire kratom" to sell to American vendors (and lie about what they're selling). And there are known instances of American vendors realizing that they've been sold an adulterated batch, and then continuing to sell that kratom in order to not be holding a loss. I appreciate your recounting your experience, and I'm sorry to hear it was troublesome, but having used kratom for going on ten years now, and regularly taking extended breaks to keep my tolerance from building, my own anecdote is the opposite from yours: I experience little to no withdrawals whatsoever, and I take a relatively high dose. I understand kratom affects people differently, but the testing that's been done, and things added to kratom by the Indonesian or Vietnamese distributors' own admission shows that what people are buying could be anything.

As more vendors realize that regular testing and publication of the results is what consumers want, I believe we'll see fewer and fewer of these kinds of stories.

[0] http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/drug-profiles/krato...

Unadulterated kratom still affects mu-opioid receptors, just as other opioids, and so stopping taking it will cause opioid-like withdrawal symptoms.

Yes, but the point I'm making is that we can't know if he was taking some potent opiate along with his kratom. Kratom is used by many specifically because of its quick and mild withdrawal symptoms, which is why people on strong opiates use kratom to come off of their hard opiates. That's why it's suspect when people talk about lengthy, strong withdrawals, which are very uncharacteristic of unadulterated kratom. And buying from "a reputable vendor" doesn't mean anything if they aren't testing what they're selling. I know of at least one extremely popular and highly-rated vendor that knowingly sold adulterated kratom in the United States, and I have the test results documentation to prove it. So while I can say with certainty that what I'm putting in my body is not adulterated, these other people with (wildly outlier) anecdotal stories of very hard withdrawals can't say the same thing. And in fact, the anecdotal evidence -- uncharacteristically strong and/or lengthy withdrawals -- would seem to point to having consumed something with some kind of adulterant opiate or potentiator (or both) added for potency purposes. The fact is, this happens far more often than people are willing to admit, and of course everybody's counterpoint story comes with the "it wouldn't happen to me" fallacy. But the fact remains: I can prove that I'm consuming unadulterated kratom (and having almost no withdrawal symptoms with a fairly high, regular dose). These other people cannot.

That's a great point. I just bought it on Etsy from a supplier with high reviews, but they supplied no documentation of any kind.

What vendor knowingly sold adulterated kratom? Just curious.

I made a promise to myself that I would not mention specific vendors in my posts here -- for good or for bad, in order not to take away from my message -- but it was one of the two most talked-about and recommended vendors that you hear about in r/kratom. And it makes sense that people would recommend a vendor whose product contains stronger opiates or potentiators, because the effects are stronger. The thing about kratom is that the vast majority of consumers are new to it, because they only just heard about it from the publicity it received when the DEA tried scheduling it. So you have a ton of people that have no experience with kratom whatsoever, gauging the "quality" of a vendor's products based on how it makes them feel, and ignoring some of the warning signs, or flatly not researching it beforehand. Only a significant minority of kratom consumers are using it to come off of hard opiates. Most people (like me) are taking it for its pain-relieving and mood-stabilizing effects. I suppose some minority of users are trying kratom to test the "high", too. But kratom doesn't get you "high" (unless it's adulterated). And unfortunately, some consumers are landing on a kratom vendor that's unknowingly or knowingly selling kratom with something extra thrown in. It's a sticky situation, because testing is not the norm. Thankfully, kratom is cheap enough that it often doesn't make economic sense to adulterate kratom. But in the ever-increasingly competitive market for Indonesian distributors, more and more are willing to take those extra steps to have kratom that stands out from the crowd, and let there be no mistake: There are some cheap adulterants, especially with China next door. The fairly new, explosive growth of the kratom industry is completely changing some of the poorest regions of Indonesia for the better. But as with anything like this, there are scumbags getting into it, looking for a golden ticket. We've been very lucky so far that adulteration is not the norm, but those days may be coming to an end, as demand starts to skyrocket. That's why I'm so big on testing, because gambling that "chances are, it won't be adulterated" is not a viable option.

Kratom is a like a cult. Kratom users get very emotional and angry when you tell them it's kind of like an opioid, but especially these subreddits show that that's pretty much the case, even in lower doses.

A lot of countries (Japan for example) already banned Kratom for exactly that reason and I wouldn't be surprised if the US follows soon.

The problem arises when they stop at kratom. The ideal pathway is opioids > kratom > kava, or alcohol > kava

It's amusing that they describe kratom replacement of opiates as days sober, though. Or maybe I'm misreading it -- maybe he used kratom to wean off opiates, and then stopped using kratom as well. My experience of kratom did not feel like being sober (and in fact felt a lot like opiates).

If someone is struggling with opioid addiction and switch to kratom, they don't get that same fuzzy feeling, they just feel... better.

Granted, people can switch to Kratom and take a huge dose to try and catch a buzz but most people that want to use Kratom to actually stop will take a maintenance dose. No different from using Suboxone to taper down.

Where did you purchase your kratom? If you bought it from a head shop or another shady vendor selling very expensive products, you were probably taking more than kratom.

Online, from a reputable vendor. Long ago.

I hope one day "reputable vendor" comes to mean a kratom vendor that tests their kratom and publishes the results. This is a particular crusade of mine.

I'm definitely in support of the idea that a purchased product should match the advertising; recreational drugs (alcohol and weed, too) are no exception.

>The obvious counter-argument is silencing them strengthens their argument and makes them a martyr. I don't buy that argument at all, it's far more dangerous to allow them to indoctrinate and appeal to all the fringe disenfranchised youth which they've become frighteningly effective at. In any case it's clear reddit can be used for good like in this article, I'm just not so sure it's a net positive to society as another poster argued.

This is the road to censorship, burning books, and confiscating servers. Some people are fine with censorship, because they imagine people who think like them as the censors.

You can only fight ideas with better ideas. Kicking them out and silencing them, says to them you can't compete. You can't offer them an argument as to why they should tolerate foreigners, other races, etc. It seems obvious to you now, but the ideals of tolerance and equality took years and years of discourse to dominate public consciousness.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14805545 and marked it off-topic.

> You can only fight ideas with better ideas.

The problem with this is that human beings will reject ideas that don't agree with what they want to hear, like the populations of coal towns in Appalachia that want to blame "Liberals" for their lot in life because they've hitched their wagon to the (dying) coal industry and don't want to change.

It's like the Simpsons Principal Skinner meme. "Could I be wrong about something? No! It's definitely everyone else that is wrong!"

Also, ideas don't woo people in and of themselves. Why do you think that charismatic leaders can swap entire populations to follow horrible ideologies that offer simple and easy solutions to their problems by throwing other people under the bus to pave the way to a better future for a select few?

Empty charismatic leaders only work when there is no good alternative offered. People are rational, they rejected Clinton because her policy was a continuation of Obama's 8 years. And in those 8 years the quality of life in Appalachia has not improved.

Coal to them is a dream, its the last time people in their family and towns had money to spend and were happy. Telling them their glory days ruined the planet is not a way to convince them of anything.

The problem with Appalachia is that nothing short of basic income will save them. No rational investor is going to build any new manufacturing there. And even if they extract natural resources, it will be done with 1/1000th of the workforce and the value will flow right to the pockets of a large corporation with shareholders far, far away. So in effect almost every major politician is lying to them (and they know it) so they are willing to try anything.

(Focusing just on Appalachia is going off on a bit of a tangent, but in any case...)

This is the issue. There are no good solutions for Appalachia, but they don't want to hear that because the reality isn't as good as the fantasy that people like Trump want to sell them (that the "good ole days" are coming back).

Placing blame on "Liberals" and hitching their horse to Trump is living in a fantasy land rather than dealing with their situation rationally. The reality, is that those towns are basically dead. They are slated to become modern-day ghost towns unless someone can figure out a way to bring a new industry to those areas. "Liberals" didn't bring about this situation, the realities of coal did. Maybe the "Liberals" didn't do anything of note to help them, but that's different than saying that this situation wouldn't exist if only the "Liberals" hadn't been in power.

To bring this back to the topic at hand, it's an example of how it's easier to sell a positive fantasy than a negative reality (or even a long-term positive reality that has an unpalatable -- e.g. need to move away, retrain -- short-term reality). So this idea that we need to "fight ideas with ideas" fails in the face of realities like this. The best ideas don't always win. People will fling themselves off of a cliff just because someone convinced them that the landing will be soft (even if it doesn't make any logical sense).

>Maybe the "Liberals" didn't do anything of note to help them, but that's different than saying that this situation wouldn't exist if only the "Liberals" hadn't been in power.

Agree, but to return to the topic of depressed rural/ex-industrial areas and Appalachia specifically - That's not the sentiment. The sentiment is '8 years of Obama delivered no improvement and only a continuation of the decline' and the response to that isn't 'hitch a horse to Trump' it's 'At this point what harm is there in a risky gamble? Spin the wheel and roll the dice'.

Appalachian fatalism is a thing. It's not helped by American elections being rigged as a two-party affair. Combine these and it should be no surprise that many end up pushing their chips all-in and taking what might be a 50/50 chance.

But the odds aren't even that bad, from the perspective of these people. What do these people have to lose from this gamble? Economically? Already fucked. Socially? Reproductive Rights/LGBT Rights/Foreign Relations are nowhere near the top of their list if they are on the list at all.

You're spinning an enormous segment of the population as irrational actors, but they are not.

> You're spinning an enormous segment of the population as irrational actors, but they are not.

From their frame of reference, maybe. On the other hand, if the only industry supporting your town is a dying industry, then you have a couple of possibilities:

1. Move elsewhere that has economic prosperity.

2. Get another industry to move in that will help prop up the town's economy.

3. Repair the dying industry.

Option #3 is likely the hardest, and the most likely to fail, yet it seems to be the only option that people in Appalachia want to hear about.

> This is the road to censorship

I think it's dangerous to conflate government sanctioned censorship with moderation on a privately owned website.

There's a pretty direct parallel between local mods and a local government official when the online community and local government are semi-democratically run.

If you're constantly posting threads highlighting successes of the market in /r/communism you will quickly find yourself kicked out of there. If you are constantly writing letters to the editor about conflicts of interest and unethical dealings in local government then local government will screw you at every turn until you leave town.

In places where local governments have little control over people (e.g. the middle of nowhere Montana) there isn't much of a parallel. In places where you need a building permit for a garden shed you had better not "piss off the mods".

Then why is yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre illegal? With your reasoning you should just be able to 'fight that idea with saying "No there is NOT a fire" but it's too late, the damage is done.

The origin of that phrase is a supreme court case where the court ruled that the First Amendment didn't protect you from passing out pamphlets encouraging men to resist conscription during World War 1. The "fire in a crowded theater" line was just a metaphor used to underscore a ruling I imagine most people today disagree with, and wasn't legally binding in any way.


Falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded theater is illegal because the First Amendment has exceptions for lying (i.e., asserting an objective falsehood with intent to deceive).

Yelling fire in a crowded theater after lighting a match is not lying. The problem is not lying, it is recklessness. The only problem with lying is that it is also sometimes reckless.

This is only because we live in imperfect bodies that can die before the discussion can be finished. This is not an argument against free speech, this is an argument about the speed of human communication.

Is that really illegal or just a cliche?

>You can only fight ideas with better ideas. Kicking them out and silencing them, says to them you can't compete.

Lol okay dude hop onto stormfront and engage in some civic discourse, offer some arguments, see how that goes.

Racism is a lot older than a message board. Many of your ancestors were racist. But at some point they were won over, either by rational discourse or evolution.

Tribalism is our natural state, we gravitate toward those who act & look similar and away from the different. It takes thought and discussion to fight against this instinct. With kids growing up just being told racism is bad, many don't go though the intellectual work of actually proving it to themselves.

Seeing these arguments in public is important. It may help convince someone living in a racist bubble why its wrong. But I doubt seeing some racist joke or tirade will actually convert a nonracist person to racism. On the other hand a deleted post does absolutely nothing.

I think Reddit is interestingly a net social positive. For all the bad things that come out of it you can often see users helping others in a pretty significant way.

I used to think so. I enjoyed Reddit a lot, despite people complaining about it. Then /r/the_donald happened.

Now I tread carefully because you never know what kind of propaganda is being spread around.

People say stick to the subreddit. But I think that's silly. If the core of Reddit is rotten, then the subreddit themselves will be affected. It has happened to places I visit like /r/environment. There is a constant barrage of non-environmentally friendly comments. Not enough to change the overall makeup of the subreddit, but enough to make you wonder who is on the other side of the screen voting or down voting on stories.

Then there are places like /r/technology, which is almost intolerable to me at times.

People say I am paranoid, but like with anything, if you know a place well and visit it for years, you can sense when things change.

And yes my opinion is subjective, but this is a subjective topic.

Reddit has been demonstrated time and time again that it is subject to, and vulnerable to, blatant manipulation and propganda. Whether it's a celebrity endoresement masquerading as an interview, threads defending corporations and/or their actions, the manufacturing of consent, the anti-democractic activities of shill accounts, or being subject to blanket disinformation, Reddit is a net-negative to society in my opinion.

You know, even the military monitors reddit to keep on top of new trends and ideas. It has really become a social force, and that's why I agree with you, it is ripe for manipulation.

> Reddit is a net-negative to society in my opinion.

I did not agree with this before, but after /r/the_donald, I am re-considering my position.

I do not get this opinion at all.

Just because there exists a thing you do not agree with does not mean it should not exist. It seems like many people on HN are for free speech as long as it's speech they agree with. There will always be people who do not think like you and do not believe in same things as you, but you are not helping any situation by no platforming them. Join the debate and use your words, like adult human beings, don't use force (even if it's virtual and not physical)

I wouldn't call what the_donald is doing free speech. I have absolutely no problem with the opinion of people subscribed to the_donald, however their post frequently hit the frontpage and there is never any discussion because everyone with opposing views are banned. The is no "debate" to join.

>I wouldn't call what the_donald is doing free speech

What would you call it?

The reason the posts hit front page is because people keep voting them up. You can disagree by downvoting. While they could very well be banning people who express opposite opinions so are plenty of other ideologically driven subreddits. You can join one of the dozen opposing subreddits for discussion about the topic(s) in hand. I still see no reason to take away their platform.

I do not subscribe to their opinions completely, but I can also see merit in some of the opinions from that camp just as I can see the flaws. Same goes for more left leaning opinions. Bad thing is that everyone gets so emotional and rallied over their own opinions they completely refuse to listen to the other side and budge even an inch. This just creates bunch of echo chambers on either side where no real discussion can be had.

> however their post frequently hit the frontpage

Not anymore. Since reddit made numerous changes, I don't think I've ever seen one of theirs make the front page. Pretty funny that the site had to change the core of their operation to target them.

>It seems like many people on HN are for free speech as long as it's speech they agree with.

Sounds exactly like Reddit

So it's much like traditional print media, just a lot faster and with fewer filters.

And more easily manipulated with automated techniques.

>anti-democratic activities of shill accounts

Can you clarify why the actions of shill accounts are inherently anti-democratic? I don't really see the connection between the concept of Democracy and paid posters on a social media website.

Propaganda. It's a highly effective tool for manipulating public opinion by API. What do you think all of this talk about hacking the election is about? It wasn't just publishing private emails.

Fair point. I buy that when its a campaign or government entity buying bots (please god someone pass better anti-lobbying laws), but how do we content (legally) with Russian bots flooding these forums?

The core of Reddit has become rotten not from the_donald; the site admins are 100% at fault. Trying to make their site 100% advertiser friendly has subsequently killed all transparency in what votes do, how subreddits are ranked, and killed a lot of discourse that was not corporate palatable.

I still enjoy the smaller subreddits. Unfortunately anything political becomes brigaded, but things like /r/gamingsuggestions and local city subreddits still make the site worthwhile to me.

"things like /r/gamingsuggestions and local city subreddits still make the site worthwhile to me."

Local city subreddits are one of the best things about reddit. National politics sometimes leak in, which is when they're at their worst, but, overall, it's probably my favorite thing there.

Maybe for the smaller cities it is different but I've stopped visiting /r/boston because every single thread someone brings up politics and it becomes a flamewar between left/right.

Yes, you're right, I think. I am active on /r/stlouis and /r/nyc and the former is a far better community.

> Unfortunately anything political becomes brigaded, but things like /r/gamingsuggestions and local city subreddits still make the site worthwhile to me.

I believe that some kind of accessible and open platform will eventually take the place of place in the local discovery field.

How is /r/t_d different from /r/theredpill or any of the other racist/sexist/terrible subs? I haven't really seen any overflow in a lot of the not-default subs, but it could also be the subs I visit. I mostly stick to subs for games I play, programming, and a couple BP support subs.

For me, the crucial change of how I curate my subs happened when 2x became a default. I hated the sudden influx of bad posts, mansplaining, and terrible/abusive comments.

t_d is different because they actively organize to interact with other subs, whereas TRP, mensrights, etc mostly operate in their own worlds. T_D is sort of like /pol/ in that they see themselves as propagandists and influencers more than just participants in a movement.

That makes more sense, less like the hate subs, and more like SRS. I guess I'm less exposed to it than the average Redditor.

Mmm not really like SRS either, from what I know of it. SRS will link to things and mock them, but t_d is more interested in actively swaying peoples' minds. So they astroturf, race-bait, "just asking questions!" and concern troll pretty assiduously outside of their own home sub.

Nothing you're saying is untrue, but is no less true than any other internet forum. There were discussion cesspools on CompuServe and USENET and Myspace. Facebook has its shady groups too, and 4chan is worse than any of these. There's nothing about "reddit" that makes it much different, other than its size.

Good and bad people everywhere. It sucks.

>If the core of Reddit is rotten, then the subreddit themselves will be affected.

This is a pretty broad claim.

While I don't disagree that toxicity can spread to different subreddits, that doesn't automatically mean it will spread to all of them, especially if the subreddits have solid rules and moderators to enforce them.

Take /r/baseball, for instance, it's a great, topical subreddit and I've pretty much never seen serious political commentary anywhere on it, even during the worst of the recent election.

Ok sure... I can see how /r/baseball is immune from politics. But what about the example I gave, like /r/environment, or even more niche /r/CampingandHiking -- The other day there was story about federal recreation land on there and it was overrun with negative comments for a brief while.

So yes, places like /r/programming and /r/netsec is still pretty insular. But it's like asking me to visit a bad neighborhood, because there is a good restaurant there. At some point it's just not worth the risk.

I think at a certain point it becomes a mod issue rather than a site issue. I visit /r/tattoos and the mods are quick to get rid of comments that don't adhere to rules and because of that you get comment that are constructive, with even those who say they don't like a tattoo will explain why.

I have a hard time articulating it, but I feel like what’s happening with /r/the_donald and like minded subreddits is more a reflection of the real world reaching our online communities than the communities rotting by themselves or because of pure admin mismanagement.

Perhaps we thought our little islands of posh culture would stay on their own when reality is taking a dive ?

/r/politics is similar to /r/the_donald but it is the exact opposite (it could have been called /r/the_hillary)

/r/politics does not outright run itself as a safe space for a particular group though, unlike /r/the_donald. Any criticism on /r/the_donald gets you a ban, whereas any criticism on /r/politics just gets you downvotes, which are entirely consistent with how the sub should be run.

I'd argue that being forth right is a better approach. While they won't often ban on politics they do enforce a timeout when your comment gets down voted having a similar effect.

That's how the website works, that's not anything particular about the /r/politics mods.

Its actually a feature you can turn on and off as a moderator.

Are you talking about spam filter settings? Otherwise no, such a setting does not exist.

it's not just /r/the_donald that has that no criticism rule. I recently noticed that r/latestagecapitalism has that same rule. The number of subreddits where dissenting opinions are not allowed appears to be growing.

There are dozes of anti trump subreddits which will ban you for not conforming. It's same with most if not all ideologically driven subreddits. They always have not pinned "go to r/<our-ideology>Debate if you are not conforming" type thing. To me every one of these echo chamber subreddits should be prevented from appearing on r/all (which is how people get exposed to these subreddits most often)

That simply isn't true. The most obvious evidence of why: there was a huge, endless, sprawling debate about Sanders vs Clinton. I wouldn't deny that /r/politics leans to the left, but it's a big stretch from that to a subreddit dedicated entirely to promoting a single candidate at all costs.

And that debate frequently ended with HRC people being called corporate shills and whatnot. Meltdown after Sanders loosing was sweet though!

No it's not. This exactly the kinda of propaganda you should be aware of.

/r/the_donald specifically exists to spread false information, and to dox and harass people.

/r/politics is opinionated because of it's user base. It's not intentionally a propaganda machine.

And /r/the_donald would say just the opposite. The thing about propaganda – why it works so well – is that it's presented as authentic civil discourse. There's no clear cut demarcation between the two types of speech.

One could argue that /r/the_donald uses the banhammer to maintain order (the narrative), and /r/politics uses shill comments+downvoting to do the same.

What you just described sounds to me like an authoritarian court versus a democratic forum.

That is, excepting the "shill" name-calling -- it leads me to believe that you are in fact speaking on behalf of r/the_donald. If that's true, then I know why the term was used. If not, what leads you to believe that anybody involved in discussion in r/politics are "shills".

> If not, what leads you to believe that anybody involved in discussion in r/politics are "shills".

Because Hillary had hired people to do exactly that:



Remember someone leaked a private Slack chat of Reddit admins where one was boasting of receiving their CTR check.

I think you're reaching a little here. The parent comment stated that r/politics uses shill comments and down votes as a control measure to align with a narrative.

If that is true, supported by the articles you referenced:

-- r/politics has over 3 million subscribers, with an average of 30 - 40 active users during the daytime. -- if every one of those users was a "shill" commenter then every single one would have earned $0.30 for their efforts. That's not counting other forms of social media.

I have to admit some skepticism toward the assertion that the entire subreddit is a controlled narrative. Instead, it seems that there will be those who adamantly support the people they're paid to support, and that those users are in the minimum. Instead I think it's just a general consensus what the popular ideals are in there vs. r/t_d. Besides, not sure if you've been around there much but I certainly don't see much love lost for HC.

> The thing about propaganda – why it works so well – is that it's presented as authentic civil discourse.

so many people don't realize this. if you can tell it's propaganda on the face, it's shitty propaganda.

Communities that run against reddit's primary demographic base (college-aged, democrat-leaning male atheists with an interest in computers) must be liberal with the banhammer or they will be overrun. There is no other coherent way to hold a discussion contrary to the site's zeitgeist; you get too many trolls, invaders, and impostors. Many subs that try to run contrary to reddit's narrow primary demographic end up having to go entirely private; most serious conservative and religious subs have done this.

Point being liberal application of the banhammer should not be interpreted as proof of the mod's intent to run a "propaganda machine" as much as a necessity of holding a discussion within parameters that presume certain reddit-unfriendly positions.

> /r/the_donald specifically exists to spread false information, and to dox and harass people.

Can you substantiate that? I went there a few times after election and didn't see any doxing or harassing. There were gays, trans, immigrants people of all walks of life all seemingly having fun with their frog image or whatever they call it, and don't remember seeing a lot of harassment. I didn't follow but maybe you're saying it is hidden somewhere or they are subversive and just pretend to be nice?

And what's even worse: /r/politics doesn't look like a parody (like the_donald does) so some people take it like it's a neutral place for discussion :P

What’s /r/the_donald, and how did it »then happen«?

/r/the_donald is a subreddit devoted to donald trump. Reddit didn't ban it.

It follows the "safe-space" "you're not allowed to dissent" model pioneered by some "leftist" subs, and will ban people for having perfectly legitimate dissent.

It managed to exploit some loopholes in how reddit works to take-over the front page. The most interesting one was "stickying" new posts so they were shown on their front page. They did this to a new post pretty frequently. This let them

* Coordinate which posts got to the front page of reddit


* Exploited the reddit algorithm for determining "hotness"

For a while, 8 out of every 10 posts on the front page were from /r/the_donald.

It marks the first major incidence of the community engineering tools (that I believe were pioneered by subs like /r/shitRedditSays) being used by the right.

It follows the "safe-space" "you're not allowed to dissent" model pioneered by some "leftist" subs, and will ban people for having perfectly legitimate dissent.

Exactly -- and why I lasted only a week on Reddit. It's nothing but a collection of echo chambers. No matter how sincere and thorough I would try and make arguments, if they're weren't in line with the herd I'd get downvoted to oblivion (no counter argument except insults) if not outright banned (never had been banned before). It's no fun participating when the only accepted input is "me, too!"

Every subreddit is different. You can't judge the whole site based on one subreddit's rules...

reddit works much better if you unsubscribe from all the default subs, then subscribe to ones that interest you. Discovery is a bit harder but much of the reddit 'culture' is absent if you choose wisely.

Wouldn't the solution be to un-follow /r/all? I've never seen a post from the subreddits-which-shall-not-be-named...

/r/all isn't even a thing you can subscribe to or even see unless you explicitly link to or type reddit.com/r/all into the address bar.

It used to be the front page while logged out was /r/all, but that was replaced with /r/popular a while back (which has a completely non-transparent filter applied to it)

It's a safe dwelling for a mix of sycophant bots, Trump supporters/red-pillers, trolls, and possibly Russians (depending on who you ask).

Warning: once you see it, you can't un-see it.

To add to this, the ecosystem around this is what really enables their commentary to spread into threads with only the slightest relation to their hot topics(immigration, black people, islam, etc). There's a variety of IRC channels, Discord servers and other sites(4chan, gab, twitter) that are participating and orchestrating their activities on Reddit. I think that's the larger effect the above person describes.

Even though they are generally heavily downvoted, I worry that their one-liner soundbites and gotchas will reach more people with weaker critical thinking skills.

Well put. In short, it's(they are?) insidious.

(Lots of downvotes here but no comments, so I gotta ask. What do people who disagree actually think?)

Rule of charity. If you don't understand why hitler wanted to kill all the jews, or more importantly why people voted for him on that platform, you can't keep it from happening again.

No "these people are evil" is not an acceptable answer.

The people who voted for trump may be wrong, but they are still perfectly understandable humans, doing what they think is right. Or at least what they think they have to do.

I don't think OP has said "these people are evil".

It's understandable that people who post in the_donald are heavily biased and even think they are doing the right thing.

This American Life had a podcast where they interviewed these people at the DeploraBall, and one of them even said that he "Memed Donald Trump into the presidency". For some it seems this is part of their identity.

True, but that kind of dehumanization doesn't help anything, and I don't think it's a very good explanation of the problem.

What do you mean by dehumanization? How is that happening?

But Trump voters != r/the_Donald. Calling one a cess pool doesn't imply calling the other also.

I am guessing they hate the sub so much they are negatively responding to what could be a positive characterization "safe dwelling" or disputing that entirely.

I doubt it - more likely they are only too aware of what it is, but seek to legitimise it, so downvote comments such as that.

Similar to another one in this thread saying "it's just the same as /r/politics", it's important to normalise the_donald in the eyes of potential subscribers and to imply that what goes on in there is no different than in any other political subreddit. The difference, of course, could not be starker.

Not sure why you're being downvoted. Every bit of what you're saying is true.

A bunch of really hateful, and racist people came to reddit because of /r/the_donald. Unfortunately they did not keep to their subreddit. You can see influences of their hateful ideology in other subreddits.

They also game the reddit voting system so their stories and comments are constantly being featured in /r/all -- so much so reddit had to take action.

Their purpose is to troll, and they are damn good at it.

Indeed. Pick a thread even vaguely related to race(usually black people) or religion(usually Islam). Most of the time they are heavily downvoted so they'll appear near the bottom(sort by "controversial"), but every now and then one of their hateful copypasta screeds is upvoted near the top. I guess their brigade gets to it first in that case.

Also, Reddit can't ban them because of the inevitable "LIBERAL WEBSITE BANS PRO-DONALD FORUM" headlines.

So, even though a massive amount of their userbase pushes for genocide against "Mdslimes" or "Kbabs", Reddit admins let them exist.

And before r/the_Donald there were also subs like r/fatpeoplehate, which also served as a festering pit of hate that spilled into the rest of the site. But the_donald definitely brought it to another level...

This is silly. I follow a number of subreddits on topics ranging from baseball, local news (city subreddits), credit card churning, maps, history, and many others. None of them have been affected by /r/the_donald.

I take it you don't browse many comment threads, then. Anything vaguely related to black people or Islam and they are virtually guaranteed to show up, spreading their soundbites and gotcha's.

For anyone who doubts this: next time you see a vaguely or directly racist comment on Reddit, go check where that persons posts.. 75% of the time they're directly from /r/the_donald.

I'd venture that >90% of the time they post in T_D and the various other hate subs.

"I take it you don't browse many comment threads, then. Anything vaguely related to black people or Islamd and they are virtually guaranteed to show up"

Of course I read the comments. Two comments, here:

1) We don't have a lot of conversations about race or Islam or intersectional feminism (or whatever) over on the credit card churning sub (for example). Not everything is political.

2) Of course, we do have a lot of these conversations on /r/stlouis, some of which, I'm sure, include comments the Hacker News contingent would find obnoxious. But, you know what? They're fine. We get through it. It doesn't dominate every thread. People are downvoted when they're particularly vitriolic. And it's mostly names I recognize from other threads (not outsiders brigading). It's really not a big deal, like, at all.

I agree with you and think the hubbub around r/the_donald is amusing. In my opinion, r/the_donald is a "beautiful" example of mob trolling. If a subreddit doesn't interest you, just unfollow it. If you are browsing /r/all, you're probably procrastinating anyways!

> I agree with you and think the hubbub around r/the_donald is amusing. In my opinion, r/the_donald is a "beautiful" example of mob trolling. If a subreddit doesn't interest you, just unfollow it.

The problem with having something r/the_donald on reddit is that its posters don't stay in r/the_donald. They go out to other reddits, and post hateful shit.

It's like having a shared space for clubs, that also includes a local chapter of the KKK.

It'd be fine if they just played dungeon and wizard dressup and complained about black people in the confines of their club room every Tuesday.

The problem is that they spill out, and start burning crosses and handing out beatings to the other users of the shared space. Pretty soon, the entire community turns into a dumpster fire, and people who don't want to deal with that bullshit leave.

The owners of the space can then pat eachother on the back, and congratulate themselves for encouraging freedom of expression.

Yep, I agree. The users that infiltrate other subs don't announce they're from the_donald, but their rhetoric is still the same.

Someone wrote a script that would res tag the_donald posters in other subs, and it's very noticeable how they're the ones derailing discussions that just involve a keyword like immigration, Islam, Europe, race, healthcare, or other hot button issues for them.

Are they derailing the discussion, or simply offering a different perspective?

Like it or not, Trump won, so there is obviously a large quantity of people who subscribe to the positions you've labeled "hateful". Why should your interpretation of their opinion override their ability to share their thoughts on the topic? Subreddit mods have the ability to constrain the discussion within their own parameters. What else is needed?

I particularly dislike the attitude of "Let's tag people who post in this sub". How are you supposed to know if you have common ground if you can't even post in that sub without getting labeled or banned?

Derailing a discussion is the same anti-patterns as using fallacious arguments when it comes to "offering a different perspective."

Some notable ways they derail discussions are:

- Oppression Olympics: Saying the U.S. meddles with other countries' elections so it's not so bad that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. "Happens to everybody."

- Whataboutism: Deflecting or changing the subject to be about Hillary Clinton or President Obama.

- Oversensitivity: "They're just memes, lighten up snowflake." "Nobody takes this seriously haha."

As for res tagging, it's extremely apparent that their patterns of behavior they exhibit are fairly uniform. This is probably a side effect of the strict way with which mods of the subreddit ban anyone who doesn't conform to a certain mindset. It creates a strong signal about users who aren't interested in genuine discussion, but are incredibly biased and self serving.

Which subreddits are you talking about? I frequent r/boardgames, r/javascript, r/webdev, etc. and I can't remember every seeing overflow from r/the_donald or the like. Maybe you are going to the wrong subreddits?

You're subbed to the wrong subreddits. You could be getting a lot more out of reddit than you are. The comments here make it sound like 95% of all conversations are about race and politics, but if that's what you're seeing, then that's really just a reflection of what you're reading.

There are subreddits about everything. Most of them don't include conversations about police shootings or Islam.

Yes, the guys wearing white hoods will probably not collectively crap all over the knitting club. That doesn't make the overall situation any better, nor is it a good idea to have them make up a large part of the site's userbase.

(And the only reason it seems that they aren't a problem is because moderators of more specialized reddits have to delete their posts, and ban the posters.)

Some customers aren't worth keeping.

You seem to concede my point, but then proceed with your argument that it's still a problem, anyway. I don't know how to respond to that except to say that I hope nobody actually listens to you. Reddit has some great communities and people shouldn't be scared to participate in them.

ironically, the_donald is just one subreddit while there are literally dozens of specifically anti-the_donald subreddits that people complain about having to unfollow

There are just as many if not more trump/hate subreddits. Some of them were always that way, some have been taken over.

Off the top of my head:

* /whiterights * /uncensorednews * /justiceserved * /conspiracy * /hillaryforprison * /physicalremoval

Most of the time when you notice overt bigotry on reddit, the user frequents t_d or one of those subs, or the similar clones that are now all over reddit.

There's an absolutely incredible amount of overt white nationalism and calls for violence and even mass ethnic cleansing on Reddit today.

I would highlight https://reddit.com/r/europeannationalism/ as the very worst of it.

They've also taken over the mod teams of extremely large and supposedly politically neutral subs like https://reddit.com/r/uncensorednews/ (every single mod there is also a mod of /r/europeannationalism).

Check https://reddit.com/r/againsthatesubreddits/ for a running log of much, much more.

And for every one open nazi, there's a dozen more concern-trolling, brigading, vote-manipulating, and quietly recruiting more people towards the fucking genocidal far-right.

It's getting so bad that at it will soon be hard to defend Reddit's admins from charges of complicity.

This is what leads me to believe most of these complaints about the_donald are misinformed or worse. It is impossible to browse the site not logged in without seeing some kind of anti-Trump astroturfing on the front page.

(And I say astroturfing, not as a throwaway attack, but because the voting and usage patterns on those subreddits are very anomalous and smell of manipulation)

Meanwhile, the_donald is the one and only pro-Trump page on the site that has any kind of popularity.

Reddit has always been a liberal echo chamber that thrives on self parody though...

I am not sure how the existence of these anti trump subs leads you to believe that views that r/the_donald is racist and hate filled are misinformed.

Also, I disagree with your last point since there are many altright subs, and r/conspiracy has become extremely pro Trump for some reason.

I know they're misinformed, because I look through there every now and then.

I'll ask the same thing I ask every time this topic comes up: Where's the hate? Link some. I see posts praising LGBTs, I see plenty of criticism of Islam (usually in relation to Islamists' poor treatment of LGBTs or worse),

but "hate"? Racism? No. That is hyperbole at best. Anytime I see overt racism, it's downvoted into the negatives. Given that my observation conflicts with the narrative, and that verifying it is trivial to check, I have to assume most people repeating it are just going on what they were told by friends or media, rather than their own observations.


is +73 positive enough? I wanted to give at least one example but its a bit hard since the work comp doesn't load reddit and my cell has terrible reception here.

However, this is mostly about me wondering if you're being honest about this. I have seen this rhetoric before (show me a link!) and it usually isn't long before someone does actually link something. Usually, excuses are made why they don't count.

I find it very doubtful someone never showed you the racism/hate straight from the source when demanded.

>is +73 positive enough?

No, because that indicates the post didn't resonate with the user base there. Front page the_donald posts usually start at 5000 points and up. That tells me that the sentiment isn't really shared all that much. On much smaller communities with much lower average scores, this would be more significant.

On top of that, unless you install a third party addon or disable CSS (most users will not), you can't downvote posts there. That means the average user can't react to posts they dislike beyond reporting it if it breaks the rules.

On top of that, many the_donald users will chain-upvote everything on /new/ without even looking at it in an attempt to counter botting. I can't give you a link here, as this came up in a discord conversation.

I certainly hope you don't think these concrete problems are "an excuse". The score of a post is the only signal you have to determine what the community at large thinks about it.

Judging a community of 460K (with 13K online during off peak hours like right now) using a nine-day old post with a minuscule score isn't terribly honest. Your example post, if anything, is a counter example to the point you were trying to make.

There is a third exception: being on mobile reddit. Admittedly, while the average user in general is more likely on a phone than a desktop nowadays, I don't know if the average The_Donald user is. I very much would doubt it, but I'll let it stand and stand by my admission I wasn't in the greatest position to post a link.

So instead, How about +4614?


While cousin marriages are a problem, they definitely aren't half in the middle east. 50% is only reached in Pakistan and one African country that I'm not sure why its included in the first place


Apparently deleted - your link goes to a 404.

The claim in the headline there is "half of the Muslim world", not "half of the middle east" as you commented.

Deeper in the thread there's a link to https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2015/07/17/half-of-worlds-m... with some statistics as well as spitballing at a cause (Koran is okay with cousin marriage would seem to be a big one) - and if you're having babies with your cousin, that is objectively inbreeding.

At best, this is arguably a statement of fact, and not "bigoted" or "hateful". Neither is a general sentiment that Islam is negative or hateful.

That's not true at all, the thread title very much says Arab not muslim. That is specifically a term for the middle-east. Also, that article seems to pull the numbers out of its ass without any proof. I'll stick with the actual numbers I posted, which means it is not a statement of fact. It is an exaggeration at the expense of Arabs.

Which is basically where your argument falls apart for BOTH links I posted. Because that's how The_Donald gets away with bigotry: it posts vague "factoids" that overblow a situation to let users make the desired conclusion but create plausible deniability once the users start posting them. You know it wasn't that long after before someone posted something like this: https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/6p7do4/hard_fac...

Turns out, when your sub is constantly suggesting a whole demographic of people are retarded without literally saying it, the users eventually make the connection and start believing it. Ironically that may be breaking down soon when such a ridiculous post like that managed +710, probably due to recent events causing desperation. (Also before you say "buts that's only Somalis!" OP was kind enough to elaborate in the comments that he's talking about Arabian immigrants too).

Either way last post, feel free to have last comment. This thread is probably dead now and now I can definitely tell you're not honest. This conversation is basically pointless.

I admittedly waste quite a bit of time on Reddit and am no fan of the_donald but I totally agree. Unfortunately that doesn't suit the narrative being pushed here.

I don't think of Reddit as a single entity, but as a platform for communities(subreddits). The differences between subreddit communities are vast, ranging from 100% toxic to 100% positive.

I started thinking of Reddit that way, but once you start thinking about it that way, it's a pretty crappy software solution. A platform for diverse communities with a single SSO solution and frictionless cross-community posting combined with limited moderation features, poor ban capabilities, and easy discovery?

That's not a good software recipe for a community to become empowered or build their own space at all.

I think this is a core issue with reddit. They're trying to be a self-hosted platform at the same time that they're trying to be a single coherent community of "redditors" with a default, universally-applicable front page.

This leads to conflict when one person feels their identity as a "redditor" is under attack by the success of a sub that is diametrically opposed to their political or religious perspective, which leads to invasions, trolling, doxxing, harassment, and lots of other types of nastiness.

Crappy it may be, it sure beats the hell out of setting up & hosting your own message board!

Its already proven itself to be a great recipe for communities and empowerment...it's literally the best the world has ever seen. Hacker News even uses it's format...

On the other hand, PG built Hacker News specifically to get a reddit-like that has it's own culture, identity and moderation policies.

User numbers don't agree with you.

>That's not a good software recipe for a community to become empowered or build their own space at all.

Keywords: become empowered or build their own space

The argument was not "that's not a good software recipe to cause high traffic."

My view of reddit has changed similarly. I think of it as something similar to vBulletin or bbPress with r/all or r/popular as a flagship gateway to subreddits. And recently I purged all my subreddits and started from scratch to build a better reddit experience geared towards self improvement and a more wholesome experience. No more toxic communities. I look for niche communities with civil discourse and common interests.

Good call - I've done the same myself. As someone who grew up heavily invested in niche forums, I've found subreddits becoming their replacement in my adult life.

I don't know if you are interested in board games, but I have found r/boardgames to be incredibly wholesome and nice. It's just a pleasant place to visit.

How do you find these less popular subreddits?

It's organized well for finding information but it lacks the "human" element in a social community. You're just anonymous person #4214 who's interested in cars or football.

In the good old days with forums, people were recognizable with avatars and signatures. People chatted about everything, not just the topic at hand, so the personality of each person had a large spectrum. The communities were small enough where people formed an identity and reputation. Many times they even connected their real life identity in "post your picture" threads.

Reddit has effectively killed many forums without replacing that human community aspect and it's kind of sad.

This is an interesting thought. The nicest communities on reddit I've encountered tended to be small or to have a small "core" group that all knew each other and were highly visible in the community. /r/running for example, when I regularly read it, had daily threads where the main people chatted about all sorts of things. It felt very homey, reminded me of when I read obscure usenet groups as a kid.

I wonder if there's space for forums with purposefully limited membership where people could get to know each other on that more intimate level. I know you could always set up your own private forum for your friends, but maybe as a service.

No different than anything involving humans. I think people hate Reddit or twitter because raw humanity is mostly good but sometimes awful.

I dislike Twitter because the medium is so crappy,and has crappy effects on discourse. By contrast every summary dismissal I've heard of reddit revolves around overgeneralizing from portions of raw humanity, as you say.

Reddit does pretty well as a conversational medium, but not for a medium to retain information.

Unlike a traditional forum with long-running threads that get bumped to the top, many subreddits suffer from newcomers asking the same questions every other week (there's only two stickied threads, and people usually don't bother with the wiki). In addition, the notion of karma encourages unwanted behavior like recycling content.

The ease of use of Reddit can't be emphasized enough, though. Before, you'd need to find a host for your forum, then set up phpbb. And users would need to sign up for a bunch of different forums. Now, one can set up a new subreddit in seconds, and users can join without going through a new account flow each time.

Perhaps it's also worth talking about imageboards.

Imageboards also suffer from newcomers asking the same questions, though this is mitigated by third party archive sites and encouragement to use them, to the point in which a common reply to a newbie question will be "search the archive". There are only about 15 pages of threads (with about 10 threads on each page) active at a time, which is significantly less than on a subreddit. You cannot reply to deleted threads, but individual threads can reach around 350 replies if they're baity/good.

Imageboards have no notion of karma, except social. You usually (save for boards with in-thread IDs) can be an expert on one topic in a thread, then ask a newbie question later on, letting you also play devil's advocate. This is because you can be anonymous. But if you want to attach your name to your posts, you can do so securely using a code which nobody can replicate unless they also know the password to generate it that you know (a tripcode). People who use tripcodes are frequently derided (such as by being called "tripfags").

Imageboards are relatively easy to use. You post a thread using a form at the top of each board page, and reply to a thread using the same form at the top of the thread page, which is accessed by clicking "Reply" displayed next to an individual thread on the board pages.

Imageboards usually host multiple boards. 4chan for example has a board for most topics people are interested in, from anime, technology and toys to papercraft, transportation and the paranormal. Within these boards, it is common to have "general" threads in which they act like miniature boards, threads created for just one topic, however they are not moderated, as they are set up by regualar users, so they can go off-topic. For example, /g/ (the Tech board) has a frequent general thread called "/tpg/ - Thinkpad general" in which people can talk about IBM Thinkpad laptops. Multiple people can create topical threads with the same subject line.

Other imageboards let you create your own board, the most prominent example of which is 8chan; by creating a board you become its moderator and administrator, subject to the global rules of the website, of course.

Imageboards, like Reddit, have a feedback loop in which commenting in a thread will bump it to the top of the board, so people viewing the first page of the board will see that thread. Unpopular threads tend to fall in ranking until they are eventually bumped off the board by a new thread. To avoid participating in the feedback loop, you can "sage" a thread, which is to post in it, but not bump it to the top.

But most importantly I will reiterate - imageboards are anonymous, there are no accounts, and there is no barrier to participation except maybe feeling bad because you haven't lurked enough.

I'm not the first to talk about the virtues of imageboards over traditional forum stoftware (phpBB, Reddit, etc.): https://wakaba.c3.cx/shii/shiichan

And this is of course ignoring that you can use an imageboard to host a personal blog, by only allowing a pre-defined administrator tripcode to post, and to set new replies to not bump threads. It's a real shame the flourish of earlier imageboards died, as they were often home to quality discussion.

I dislike Twitter because I don't fucking get it. I feel like everybody here in the Bay Area "gets it" but me. They're all telling eachother their twitter handles, posting announcements on twitter, asking questions and actually getting answers there, wtf, I don't understand! I probably should have taken the time to engage with it in the beginning so I could know the basics of how it works, how to speak to followers, etc. Now I'm somehow just an old techno-phobic fart at 26.

I'm right with you. I have no regrets about not getting in on it though. I have enough time sucking scrolling addictions.

Most of my major life breakthroughs have been supported by communities on Reddit. Career, health, hobbies, you name it. Lots of irrational hate on there, but the irrational love is why I keep going back.

Every anonymous, troll-heavy forum will eventually chase out the moderates and only the most vile people will remain.

Saying that it's just humanity is unfair to the people who used to like a forum and then left it behind when it was no longer worth fighting for.

Various subreddits are slowly being taken over by racist agitators who know how this works.

You basically justified the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. You have to take the bad with the good, because we don't all agree on what's good.

I agree in general, but some communications platforms (like Reddit, and like Facebook...and probably like HN) can be more or less accomodating of "echo chambers" that validate and magnify extremist viewpoints. On the other hand, similar effects can nourish minority cultures and communities...it's a hard problem.

I agree that free speech is a good thing, and I think that "You have to take the bad with the good, because we don't agree on what's good" is a broadly useful philosophy. But systems which take in both bad and good, and strengthen the bad more than the good, are themselves bad.

If the extremes were banned, then the promoted neutral/centrist view would become extremist on it's own.

Cross-subrreddit trolling and genuine spills at least minimises echo chamber effect somewhat. If that was limited or non-centrist subreddits/users were banned, the centrist (or whatever was supposed to be OK) echo chamber level would go off the charts.

First amendment only applies to what the government can do. Private companies like Reddit, Facebook and Google have no responsibility to let you speak on their platform.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."


The key word is "congress" which can be broadly interpreted to mean the government, but not private corporations or individuals.

Free Speech != The First Amendment

The First Amendment is just a law which prevents the US government from restricting Free Speech. Free Speech itself is a principle which can be applied anywhere.

You're absolutely right, I didn't mean to imply that Reddit is in any way bound by the First Amendment. I meant to say that with free speech, you get the good, the bad, and the ugly.

What bad things have come out of it?

This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, but the sheer number of people and crawlable public content it is an ever-growing training dataset for AI. This has potential to be dangerous.

If you are going to make that point, you must concede the equal potential for it to be the opposite of dangerous (vergy very good :P )

Boston bomber(s) witch-hunt, springs to mind. Not to mention the whole jailbait expose.

Reddit has some fantastic and fascinating communities and really interesting cult-like ones (/r/nofap)

However I'd like to point out the admin policy towards hate groups and speech on reddit is in my opinion incredibly dangerous and damaging to our society. They will take action against subreddits like FPH (fat people hate) because of "real life" actions, meawhile there are thousands of highly upvoted calls to violence daily. Is this just a reflection of our society? Probably but I'm always interested to see which sites allow what. Here's what Jack Dorsey had to say about it regarding twitters ban on hate speech "Abuse is not part of civil discourse. It shuts down conversation and prevents us from understanding each other. Freedom of expression means little if we allow voices to be silenced because of fear of harassment if they speak up"

As a minority I've stopped using reddit and know many others like me, the ones that stay stick around to drop in "As a [insert minority group]...it's totally OK that this racist meme is highly upvoted with racist comments - because its a joke ha ha" posts

The obvious counter-argument is silencing them strengthens their argument and makes them a martyr. I don't buy that argument at all, it's far more dangerous to allow them to indoctrinate and appeal to all the fringe disenfranchised youth which they've become frighteningly effective at. In any case it's clear reddit can be used for good like in this article, I'm just not so sure it's a net positive to society as another poster argued.

Is it fair to say it's their responsibility to police society when they just run the platform? Probably not, but I do know there's a big problem here and it's causing immense damage daily, racism and xenophobia are on the rise.

You seem to recognize reddit is mostly a set of somewhat independent community, yet view it as a problematic site for ‘minorities’. Did you face significant hurdles when only participating to subreddits that had decently behaved users ?

I think at this point reddit is almost a good representation of the internet, and getting out of reddit because of shitty subs feels like taking distance from internet because of 4chan and YouTube comments.

You can participate in only certain subreddits, but you'll still get a lot of trolls. As far as I'm aware, this is more of an issue in trans and feminism related subreddits. This is the reason for having certain "safe spaces" like r/creepypms. Outright banning people who don't go along with the topic is far easier than policing discussions.

Brigading in reddit has always been an issue and it's likely not going away for a very long time. That's also a cause of inter-subreddit mixing that can lead to abuse.

You're mostly correct that if you stick to the smaller and more moderated communities, you'll avoid a lot of the crud.

Edit: and to be further on topic, the r/opiates subreddit also gets a lot of outsiders going in and flinging abuse at the users there.

parent explicitly mentions people making racial jokes and mentioning racial stereotypes. This occurs even in every large subreddit, well-behaved or not. They likely aren't even malicious on the part of the people who say them, but nevertheless, they are damaging comments to make, and I wouldn't blame people for leaving reddit because of them.

that said there are plenty of small communities that are pleasant, sure. But some people would rather go elsewhere than take the time and effort to curate their subs, and that's perfectly reasonable.

Indian user here. I avoid majority of Reddit's default sub because of this reason. Just yesterday, I accidentally came across on comment in /r/askreddit where they openly called Indian men as vulgar and rapey. When another Indian user questioned it, he was downvoted heavily. Honestly, 12 hours later, I am still angry. I think I will leave Reddit for good this time.

I can relate man. It's soul crushing and hard to accept you just have to not participate to protect your sanity.

right, exactly! this kind of casual discrimination that people pass off as a joke. Obviously not a reddit-exclusive phenomenon; it's commonplace IRL, but it's especially noticeable in large subs where people are encouraged to make pandering, low-effort comments that appeal to the lowest common denominator

What counts as a large subreddit? I mostly go to r/boardgames and r/javascript and r/webdev and I can't remember a single racial joke/stereotype. Maybe these are small subreddits or I'm just not looking at the "right" posts?

I guess I mostly had the defaults and other similarly sized subs in mind. But to me a subreddit is large and low quality when crowd-pleasing memes and joke comments bury thoughtful discussions.

Honest question. Why do you care what people post online? The great thing about reddit is that you get to choose which communities you subscribe to. Your mentality is the equivalent of "I can't go to bed. Someone on the internet is wrong".

I think your basic premise is wrong - that "racism and xenophobia" are on the rise. You can't measure the number of people who aren't racist because you don't hear them. And before you argue that "not saying anything is being complicit" it's just not true. As a "minority" I just don't care what someone on the internet posts. It doesn't have power over me.

>As a "minority" I just don't care what someone on the internet posts. It doesn't have power over me.

Yeah but you have a President and his son, aides, etc. who use the subreddit and similar places on the internet to get their information from. The President himself has retweeted stuff a few hours after it became popular on 4chan, T_D, etc. and has posted completely fake stormfront/4chan/coontown infographics about black crime that he still essentially stands by.

The information sources of many of the most powerful people in the world comes from these sites, so they certainly have an impact.

Because the hate has spilled over into the good communities as well. Hatred and bigotry used to be contained in places like /the_donald and /WhiteRights but those users eventually browse /popular and leave their vitriol there as well.

Having been on reddit for a decade it's sad to see it go from a tech/intellectual community to what it is now. I want real discussion, not arguing with racists. Seems reddit offers less and less of the former each day.

> Because the hate has spilled over into the good communities as well.

Is this really an issue? Are they going to /r/programming and dominating the conversation? Because I'm just not seeing it.

I think that the quality of a community is inversely related to the size, which explains why reddit "used to be cool". But the reason I still use reddit is because you can subscribe to communities you want - and there are still many good ones.

That said, there is room for improvement on the moderation side. I think a "peer-moderated" community would be awesome. Say for example, when a comment is flagged - a random but deterministic set of peers will make a judgement call. A "deterministic peer-jury" could be a useful mechanism for communities to grant voting/commenting/moderation rights.

The bigger issue in my opinion is controlling the discussion via sock puppets and underhanded moderation.

Yes, it's a HUGE issue. Maybe not in /programming yet, but pretty much any thread dealing with a controversial topic (say, the killings of African-american citizens by police in the US) will be plastered with overt bigotry and hatred.

It simply didn't used to be this way. The discussion used to be what I'd go to reddit for, now it's the part I avoid.

I would challenge you to go to /the_donald and find a single example of hatred or bigotry. I think you will be unsuccessful.

I agree, pretty much entirely.

I am Micmac, Irish, and African American. I don't care if someone is racist. I don't care if they say racially charged things. I care only when it manifests physically.

I don't believe I've the right to control the thoughts or speech of others. I don't let them control my emotions. I do not cede that power over me.

> meawhile there are thousands of highly upvoted calls to violence daily. Is this just a reflection of our society? Probably but I'm always interested to see which sites allow what.

Unfortunately, yes. Look at the comments for any news story about a protest. Half the commenters are shouting that the protest should be non-violent, while the other half are shouting that the police should beat and cripple the protestors. There is also intersection between these two groups.

Or the people posting copy-pasta about how violent the Religion of Peace is, all the while advocating for glassing the countries it is prevalent in.

Generally, calls to violence are taken quite seriously, but calls to the worst form of violence - war - are considered political.

Violent, hateful, disgusting speech has no place in civil discourse but it's irreplaceable in public discourse.

That's kinda the problem. As a species, our entire communications spectrum can't be forced into either bucket. It has to exist in both.

The kind of things I wouldn't tolerate at all around my family I'm fine tolerating around my friends. And the kind of things I wouldn't tolerate from a friend I'm fine tolerating as part of the public discourse. In fact, the last thing we want to do is use either minority or majority power to silence what folks consider "intolerable" speech. That way lies dragons.

It's a difficult if not impossible spot for social networks to be in.

The commenter you replied to may have a point. Just because vile speech has a place in public discourse, doesn't mean it is good to present that speech in a very public way.

Reddit is among the most widely-used websites in the world -- 7th, by Alexa's rankings. Reddit lives up to its motto of being the front page of the internet.

Imagine one of the top-10 newspapers in the United States were occasionally publishing stuff from /r/The_Donald on its front page, and had content from various hateful sub-reddits a few pages back. You could argue that this imaginary publication harms society.

Of course, Reddit is not the New York Times. So different standards apply. But the argument that Reddit -- and thus its administrators policies -- may be harming society, seems to hold some weight.

If 20 people were to stand up on a soapbox with a megaphone in times square screaming about /r/redpill, /r/fatpeoplehate, etc concepts they would be removed if legal, and if not legal a huge countermovement would appear to try to force them out. On Reddit you get both the megaphone and the safe space, but are still just as easily accessible to the public as anywhere.

Its "real" freedom of information, without many of the mechanisms that larger society uses to fight back against it. Instead it is just ignored and left to fester and grow until it pops into the public forum at the point where huge efforts are required to fight it. I feel like the internet is a great way to get differing views out, but not a great way to build any cultural agreement.

this is a great perspective and post, thanks

>Imagine one of the top-10 newspapers in the United States were occasionally publishing stuff from /r/The_Donald on its front page, and had content from various hateful sub-reddits a few pages back. You could argue that this imaginary publication harms society.

CNN and Infowars have the same number of subscribers on Youtube. Now, I'm no fan of CNN, but Infowars is a unique kind of gross in my opinion. To the extent that subscribing to a youtube channel connotes social value, apparently the world has decided that Infowars is approximately equal in value to CNN.

YouTube subscribers is not a good measure of the reach, nor the social value, of a publication. YouTube is rife with crazy, conspiratorial, and provocative stuff, so you'd expect fringe outlets like InfoWars to do well there; people who like InfoWars are more likely to be active on YouTube than fans of CNN.

Most people view CNN through TV or CNN.com; I suspect a much greater proportion of InfoWars's content is viewed through YouTube.

The number 1 most popular newspaper in the UK basically is publishing stuff you'd see on The Donald. As are many of the tabloids.

And let's not forget that it used to be quite common in many major cities for porn and prostitution providers to publish their own "newspapers" for street vendors to peddle.

It's a difficult spot because social networks try to maintain a fiction that they're a public forum where free speech must be respected. As far as I know there is no legal precedent that this is so, and they're free to ban users/cull posts from their web sites as they see fit. Additionally, I'd say they have a responsibility to prevent their site from being used for certain purposes, though the boundaries of what's acceptable are tough to define.

Reddit is not like an ISP, who can (until recently) claim that they're not responsible for traffic passing through their network, as reddit has no reasonable claim to be a "dumb pipe".

though the boundaries of what's acceptable are tough to define.

After denying it, you just explained why it's a difficult spot.

By the way, website are in fact not legally responsible for that traffic, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act[1], which the courts have upheld against sites like eBay, Google, Craigslist, Backpage and MySpace.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communicati...

Thanks for the link!

I only know as much about Section 230 as I just read at that link, but it seems that this doesn't provide protection for things like calling for violence against a religious/sexual/race group. I concede that the exact boundary of what is a call for violence is hard to pin down, but I don't think that makes it OK to throw up your hands and say "Anything goes on my site!"

> it seems that this doesn't provide protection for things like calling for violence against a religious/sexual/race group.

That's the job of the Constitution, as the SCOTUS made clear in Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which an actual KKK leader was being charged after participating in an armed rally and talked about getting revenge on various races and on those who supported them, like the President and Congress:

"(..) the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

I think there's plenty of middle ground between "Providing a platform for hate speech is A-Okay!" and "We must silence those bigots at any cost!" At the moment, I'd say reddit is too permissive of hate speech. I acknowledge that this is a personal opinion, but I assert that it is a valid opinion.

They're a public forum with none of the traditional social controls, because people can say anything behind a screen of anonymity. Its a public forum with almost 0 institutional memory, and true arguments can be avoided with the click of a mouse that wouldn't be possible in person.

I'm very frustrated that this is getting downvoted. If you are going to downvote, please at least post a counter-point or something!

I created a Reddit account a few years ago. My initial attempts to engage Reddit went really badly and I walked away for a long time. I resumed using Reddit a few months ago and I am very selective in how I am interacting with it.

I have health problems. Every single health "support group" (email list or forum) I have ever participated in has been a shit show. A recent attempt to post to a health Reddit reminded me of that. So, I started my own health related Reddit.

I participate very little. I am trying to figure out how to create things that I want to have for myself, basically.

I realize this is hard. I have been thrown out of a few different forums over the years and have simply walked away from others because of bullshit. But I am trying to find a path forward and not just throw in the towel and let the assholes have the internet because it is the path of least resistance. It may be the path of least resistance, but it impoverishes my life and I suspect it impoverishes the lives of a lot of other people as well.

It's often said that the admins simply only shut down a subreddit once its negative publicity is enough to start hurting the website's brand or ad revenue in some way.

Yep. They turn a blind eye to all of it because they profit from it.

If I weren't so politically burnt out right now I'd call for a Reddit boycott.

Either way this thread has reminded me to block it and delete my account because I'm done with that site after 10+ years.

100%. They're not the only ones either, it's become the industry status quo for platforms to allow these groups to operate openly - Discord has the same policy and houses some of the largest organized hate groups online. You can make the case that this way at least they can keep tabs on them and give any relevant information to authorities when crimes are committed.

To be clear I'm not trying to rail on the founders of these orgs, I can't say for sure that I'd do much better in their position, it's a business first after all.

That's what happened with FPH. They started calling out Imgur staff, that's what got them banned.

I came across one of Reddit's hate groups once and just couldn't believe my eyes. It felt like a swarm of psychopaths planning some isis-style chaos without anyone to stop them. This is the reason I don't use Reddit.

Yeah the nofap group is insane – calling them a cult is spot on.

I concur r/nofap is an amazing sub-reddit where random people are genuinely offering encouragement to each other. It's great.

Well said.


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