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‘I Fundamentally Believe That My Time at Reddit Made the World a Worse Place’ (nymag.com)
433 points by smacktoward on Apr 19, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 592 comments



Many of the comments here are picking apart pieces of subreddit drama or are discussing specific Reddit positions, but I think that's missing the forest for the trees. The VC grow-at-all-costs model seems to be resulting in monopolistic business practices and more negative externalities than positive ones.

Msatodon/GNU Social/Qvitter right now is a thriving social network run by instance owners that federate their instances. Or you can run your own instance if you want total control of everything. Secure Scuttlebutt is a growing social network run in a fully distributed (as opposed to federated) model.

The cat is out of the bag, and if you're complaining about social media today I see no reason not to embrace modern social networks.


> The VC grow-at-all-costs model seems to be resulting in monopolistic business practices and more negative externalities than positive ones.

Bingo. The essence of it was captured by: "I think a start-up needs to think about the monetization and how it can work with the users instead of against the users."

The VC-mindset monoculture doesn't help ("majority [...] are all the same archetype").


Some programmers see a problem and say "I know, I'll add federation". Now you have 7 problems.

More seriously, I'm not seeing how federation solves any social network problem better than subreddits did? In either case, the quality of the discussion will depend on the moderators, who can be good, bad, or evil.


Federated social networks give you the ability to change allegiance or fork. Don't like a particular moderator on an instance? Leave to another instance, or start your own. Things can get problematic if other instances refuse to federate your own, but if you maintain even a bit of social capital, most instances will not block an instance with a single user. There's a growing culture (and a set of actions in the ecosystem) of letting people know when you've changed instances, because instances are becoming easier and easier to run and more and more people are trying to run their own. But if you don't want to deal with it, join one of the large already existing instances.


But the problem with Reddit doesn't seem to be that subreddits don't have enough independence and ability to make their own choices?


Federation makes a lot of moderation decisions easier. If an instance chooses to stop federating with another instance, it's not like the entire other instance disappears and those users now do not have a place to discuss their ideas, all that happens is that their ideas cannot spread into the Federated network they were cut off from. Likewise if an individual is banned from one Fediverse, then they can join one more hospitable to their beliefs. Probably the worst case scenario would be if an instance were to go down (or get hacked), in which case the users would have to find another instance to go to, but they could probably sign up at another instance that they were previously federated with.


That's a good point. But this sounds a lot like user blocking tools?

At one time, making sure that users could block other users on the same social network might have seemed like it might enough to prevent abuse and keep social networks out of the moderation business. Users that don't get along can just block each other. Good enough?

Maybe not. You say you know the "worst case" but that might not be imaginative enough? There are apparently people nastier than that, and they're creative, and they gang up.

I suspect that if federation really got going, there would be plenty of abuse. Not sure what form it would take. Chain mail? Phishing? Something new? Who is going to be in a position to fix it? How much drama will this cause?


Phishing combined with botnet attacks across multiple instances could probably pose a big problem for the network, but here's where the second facet comes in to play: instance operators are not incentivized to grow their userbase at all costs. Performing actions that might please their core userbase but may make it harder for new users to sign up, or other hurdles are something that instance operators won't shy away from, when Reddit (as evidenced in TFA) would probably tread more lightly in fear of angering users.

Even in the above botnet+phishing situation, nothing is stopping instances from cutting federation off completely and then banning suspected users, a move that a growth-oriented network would think many times before instituting.


Cutting your users off from communicating with their friends seems kind of drastic? Suppose that happened with email, the original federated network?

Though there are email blacklists for known spammers, and it can be hard to administer a new email server. You wouldn't want to block Gmail, though.

Speaking of which, I'm not seeing why every instance operator would decide not to grow. It seems like, if the federated protocol is successful and allows it, new large providers would spring up like Gmail and Hotmail.


> Cutting your users off from communicating with their friends seems kind of drastic? Suppose that happened with email, the original federated network?

> Though there are email blacklists for known spammers, and it can be hard to administer a new email server. You wouldn't want to block Gmail, though.

Most people typically find an instance with people similar to them. Most of my followers/followees are on the same instance as me. While blacklisting an instance can be problematic, it's also probably not that big of a deal for most. Moderators are more willing to take actions like this when each user does not contribute to their bottom line.

> Speaking of which, I'm not seeing why every instance operator would decide not to grow. It seems like, if the federated protocol is successful and allows it, new large providers would spring up like Gmail and Hotmail.

Hotmail and Gmail came about because running your own email is difficult (I used to run my own email). You have to setup SPF records, DKIM records, on top of which many mailers send non-standard mail out, which you have to make sure your rules accept these non-standard pieces of mail. Right now the ActivityPub standard is well defined, and most instances already follow the server-to-server API. Spam is also a huge problem in the email world because of the ease of sending an email. You don't need a mailserver to send mail to an address, but you need to setup an instance and have other users specifically follow you to send spam toots, or Fediverse messages. On top of this is a community interest in creating software (like Pleroma) that is easy to install and administer. All of these combined decrease the friction for lay (for multiple definitions of lay) users to run their own instance, which makes the gulf between a (not-yet-existent) commercial instance and a personal instance a lot smaller. While there will be a space for commercial providers which use ads or subscriptions to pay for their instances, the ease of personal setup makes centralization a lot less of a tendency for the Fediverse than it did for email.


> That's a good point. But this sounds a lot like user blocking tools?

Except that it's not at a per-user level, but at a per-instance level. Sorta like groups.

Instance A could decide that they don't like the moderation policies of instance B, and then not federate with them. This means all users on B are blocked from all users on A.

Rather than individual users having to play whack-a-mole, they can come together.


But that's not good enough per the article. The guy advocates for active moderation, for surveilling users and making sure they are "good" enough. I guess the interviewee would argue that federation is bad because you can't ban people and control the "toxicity" that way.


Switter was back online with a new CDN within a day because it's run from and (previous CDN aside) hosted in places where sex work isn't seen as a crime. They grew to tens of thousands quickly because they could tap into the existing federation, so they didn't need a marketing budget or sales team like Twitter.

People can make their own thing under their own geography-bound laws while still connecting with a global network. That's really neat.


> Mastodon/GNU Social/Quitter right now is a thriving social network

I'm going to have to disagree with this. Compared to Twitter, Facebook, even G+, they are miniscule. Are my friends there? How do I know which of these federated instances to check for my friends in the first place. And what about my company's CEO? Or IBM's blockchain engineering team? Or British Airways customer services? Or the actors in the TV series I like? NONE of them are there! So lets not pretend that these are going to replace social media - they will be the playthings of a handful of starry eyed geeks and FSF libertarians, nothing more.


I still can't get over the fact that their official mobile app stops rendering comments past a certain level of nesting. There's no indication that anything is missing, no "continue this thread" link, nothing... the comments just aren't there. I don't understand how one of the world's largest social media platforms could have a mobile app that silently hides content from the user. Just blows my mind.


It feels like increasingly they are shifting away from focusing on the comments and discussion, to trying to get readers to click, consume, leave and keep scrolling (to generate more impressions).

I'm saddened by this, and in digital battlegrounds (and I'm not using that term lightly) like /r/politics or /r/worldnews where it has been very obvious for a long time that hostile foreign nations are conducting operations there, it can result in a lot of the important meta-chatter being pushed down, or troll comments being gamed to the top without the accurate counter-response being visible anymore. This results in further distortion of the truth (or at the very least exposure to multiple sides of an argument).


Next thing you know they'll have a UI "refresh" a la Digg.


Their mobile website is equally bad. A gigantic pop-up takes up half of the screen to tell you to use their app.

Third party apps make Reddit so much more usable.


I always use https://i.reddit.com. It's their years-old mobile site and it's super fast and reliable.


Wow, thanks for that link. I was having the same problem as the parent comment, I definitely don't want their app but I also don't want a giant pop-up in my face every time I load the mobile site.


It’s really amazing how many major websites don’t give a shit about perf. Their old school mobile interfaces end up giving the best user experience.

Perf is user experience. It’s a feature!


How long is that gonna stay available for mobile users?


I've been using it for like 10 years.


I'm more worried that they will eventually switch it off in favor of the new mobile site.

There is no guarantee that this will keep working indefinitely.


> I still can't get over the fact that their official mobile app stops rendering comments past a certain level of nesting. There's no indication that anything is missing, no "continue this thread" link, nothing... the comments just aren't there.

More than that, half the time I go into a reddit profile on my desktop and try to click a link to a comment, it just doesn't work. Literally does nothing. They changed the rendering a short time ago from straight links to some type of JS, and now profiles are broken half the time.


I don't understand what you mean... The official reddit app on iOS show comments as deep as you want, as far as I can tell. They default to collapsed the further you go deep/down in subcomments, but have buttons that say things like "6 more replies".

Beyond a certain level they stop indenting, so the actual hierarchy is no longer clear, but that's necessary because there wouldn't be enough horizontal space otherwise. But the content is still all there, as far as I can tell.

Do you have screenshots?


If you have the mobile app, you can see for yourself. Here's an example:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskOuija/comments/89rukm/hey_vsauce...

If you're not by a desktop, you can verify the missing comments by viewing the link in mobile Safari (in an ironic twist, Reddit's mobile web view is actually more functional than their native app).

I wonder how many people are out there, like you, who have no idea this is going on. The terrible thing about silently hiding comments is that there's no indication that anything is missing, so most people don't even realize it's happening. The only reason I know about this is because my subreddit, /r/AskOuija, often has deeply nested comment threads (due to the nature of the subreddit). Reddit's broken mobile app is actively interfering with the functionality of my subreddit, resulting in a lot of redundant comment replies from people using the mobile app (since it appears to them that these nested comments have yet to be replied to).


> mobile web view is actually more functional than their native app

Thank goodness for that! Reddit isn't so complicated that I need a special app for it. It's a website and it works well as a website. It could be better but there's nothing happening on the site that a browser can't natively handle just fine.


In the thread you linked, someone replied:

> Mobile people stop replying it’s there just u can’t see


Holy.. didn't knew about that. WTF


I don't know what to tell you, but I see the full thread on my iOS reddit app:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/tqoooN7gJ7zNKZLB3

Maybe it's an Android thing?


There are more replies to the first thread that you’re not seeing. Note the “Continue Thread” links in the web view:

https://ibb.co/nPtibn


I finally get it. Thanks for enlightening. You're right, that's... just completely inexcusable! I'm kind of shocked. Not even a message. Wow.


If you're on iOS, I recommend Apollo for reddit, I actually was using Alien Blue for the longest time because I also hated the official app, but I switched to Apollo a few months ago and it has been great.


The non-mobile version of the sites works really well on mobile browser. What does the apps add to the browser experience?


>Were there moments in which Reddit chose to double down on something and made it that much harder to work toward a solution?

>> I don’t know. I’m trying to think about your question.

>Is there something recent that you’re thinking of?

>> I can’t remember the specific instances right now, but there was a bunch of press about things that were going on on Reddit and Discord, and they both reacted and banned the subreddit.

>> I’ve got a lot of advice for start-ups, and it’s not very fucking complicated. It’s just: Think about the impact that you want to have on your users and on the people consuming your content and do the right thing. They know what the right thing is.

Sounds like this guy has a lot of vague complaints but not much in the way of concrete solutions, other than "do the right thing" which in his mind is extremely obvious and yet undefined.


>>Sounds like this guy has a lot of vague complaints but not much in the way of concrete solutions, other than "do the right thing" which in his mind is extremely obvious and yet undefined.

Maybe he's operating on the same principle espoused by Justice Potter Stewart's "I know it when I see it" threshold test[1].

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


That's an uncharitable interpretation of what are, I think, pretty clear words on his part.

He says he doesn't know how to fix existing broken entrenched sites like Reddit and Twitter but does have suggestions for sites that are just getting started.


How well did those things work out for him?


Sounds like it's "don't be so stuck on 'free speech' that you let nazis and trolls dictate the dialogue"; strong moderation is what's been missing. Banhammers from on high, and damn the whiners.


I agree, but will go further to claim that the entire interview was horrible. So little information was conveyed in soo many words. He either had nothing to say, couldn't articulate what he had to say, or both.


Reddit wouldn't be so toxic if the vote counts were hidden, but echo chamber validation is the ultimate badge of honor there. There is so much in this document that applies to all things Reddit (please note that I wrote it inspired by my time on Reddit): https://github.com/prettydiff/wisdom/blob/master/Avoiding_Tr...


I'm not sure hiding vote counts is sufficient, since comments are still displayed based on them. The 'Theory of Reddit' sub did some pretty compelling analyses showing that the first 3-5 votes almost completely predict eventual vote direction, and that the top comments in a thread will consistently be the first handful of upvoted comments.

Which also explains complaints of the shape "Reddit hates X one day, but loves X the next!" Whoever shows up first with an idea people don't hate ends up becoming the dominant voice of that specific conversation.


A subreddit solely dedicated to auditing the quality of moderation on various subs would go a long way to give reddit the tools to remove problematic moderators. Ultimately the quality of the mod makes the quality of sub.


The problem is that the reddit culture is that upvotes/downvotes solve all and that moderators should be invisible.


It's a difficult statement to agree with when the subreddits usually considered best-in-class are very heavily moderated.

Though of course some of the worst shit-shows are also heavily moderated.

At the end of the day, heavy moderation is not unlike absolute monarchy, it's a high-risk high-reward management system.


This exists, but in a really basic and incomplete-looking form.

http://reddit.com/r/dsmr/wiki

http://reddit.com/r/blueribbon/wiki


I read about one strategy on my favorite subreddit. A user admitted to posting memes and cheap content there, then going into /new and downvoting every other post and upvoting his own with a couple alternate accounts.


This was done on a large scale by Quickmeme a few years ago. Now the site is banned site-wide. https://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/1ux68h/why_ar...


I don't actually comment in reddit threads with more than 15 comments for this reason: there's no point, no one will read it. And if they do, they won't care.

The vote thing is true. If I'm the first to comment I'm usually at the top, or near the top, of the thread.


They should remove comment votes. Why we care so much about what people are thinking? When we had usenet we weren’t so mad about others opinions...


Fundamentally the problem, I think is anonymity. On the Internet no one knows you're a dog.

I have both pseudonymous handles on reddit and also I go by my own name. On Hacker News I only go by my own name. And I have found that it made me a much, MUCH better person when posting. So now I post on reddit about 95% of the time under my own name as well.

When you have no skin in the game -- such as your reputation to uphold, no superego to hold yourself in check -- a person's id reveals itself. And it's not pretty.


Maybe you "become a better person" when you post under your real name, but Facebook, which has a real name requirement, is a cesspool, and this community, where most people use pseudonyms, is relatively civil.

You can have an identity and "skin in the game" without using your real name. You can also use your real name and not care/be aware of the consequences of things you say online.


Agreed, but note that for a lot of people on Facebook, their primary audience are friends, family & acquaintances; people who will mostly tolerate your (contrarian) views, whether you display tact or otherwise. People are the center of conversations on FB.

This contrasts with a place like HN which has no concept of friends and family -- the center of everything here is the comment box. That's a great trade-off as it allows us to focus attention on debating contrarian ideas, and less on the one who is airing it.


We've seen with facebook that have real names doesn't improve the level of discourse that much.

I think it's the protection (or at least the apparent protection): you can't be a jerk in person in a public place without exposing yourself to immediate negative repercussions. That's why online forums with harsher moderation are usually much better (one of the best examples being /r/askhistorians).


Indeed I 5hink it's the missing direct personal contact.

It takes a lot of, say, training, to learn to use communication media, too. You just can't have a chat as if face to face, in writing. And most people aren't well educated at authoring, either. At the worst, some wouldn't even know how to lead a conversation anyhow. Online forums just expose that. And I think we as a society at large, are still figuring this out, since 50 to 100 years, so it's a mess.


> We've seen with facebook that have real names doesn't improve the level of discourse that much.

Yeah, okay. How about: real names + no private gardens.


What does "private garden" mean here? People have no problem showing up on public Facebook groups, visible to all, and posting racist stuff in their real names.


I think, and totally admit it is pure speculation, that the hate foments in the private garden until the person is brainwashed enough to believe their hate is a normal and acceptable viewpoint. It is at that point that it leaks out into the public groups, visible to all.


> Fundamentally the problem, I think is anonymity. On the Internet no one knows you're a dog.

No, anonymity is not new to the internet and is actually one of the beneficial aspects, since it makes people more likely to say what they think, and less likely to be a target for others. Lots of anonymous BBS are moderated just fine. Meanwhile, Facebook can be very vitriolic.

The fundamental problem is the assumption that moderation is not needed and free speech is everything. It seems to have gotten popularized by Reddit in particular.

Nobody who has spent lots of time on BBS, IRC, and other typically moderated spaces would think anonymity is even relevant.


Would you have used your real name if you were gay in 1950?

The internet is not where politics are decided, but at the very least that’s where a good part of the debate happens. Use real names and you’ll be able to blackmail people into approving things they disapprove. What about publishing everyone’s votes, while you’re at it? No, people need a safe space to experiment debating about good and bad ideas without risk.

Real name policies are only about the ability to blackmail and coerce.


As a thought experiment - would slavery in the US have ended sooner or later if we had anonymous internet from the 18th century on? I'm not implying there is any clear answer, but I think it is a simple way of immediately seeing much of the nuance of this issue that you might miss at a cursory consideration.

Self censorship due to social pressure certainly keeps some people (as has been mentioned Facebook shows clearly enough that lots of people simply don't care) from discussing things that they would not feel comfortable discussing under their real name. And those things that they might not feel comfortable discussing can be negative, but they can also be positive. In either case, I think it's probably a net positive for society when people can discuss things they actually feel instead of things that they think others think they should feel, even though those others might not even feel that way! Shouldn't society operate in a way that we think it should operate instead of the way that we collectively think everybody else thinks we think it should operate?


I disagree. Anonymity allows you to express unpopular views that you wouldn't be able to in real life. But the existence of downvoting basically defeats that, except in unpopular echo chambers, of course.


What if your unpopular view you wouldn't express in real life is something abusive towards others? i.e. trolling.


Who decides what is "trolling"? I think there should be moderators but that it's possible to see what moderators have done and impossible for them to actually delete posts. That way each person can decide if they are happy with the moderation being done.


You get banned.


Then you just make a new account?


I'm not saying anonymity doesn't have its place. But that I think it's a major factor in the particular problem being discussed here.


Have you not seen facebook comments on a news article lately? People have no problem being awful under their real name.


Yes, but that needs to be balanced by the distorted form of reputation people get even when they are polite and thoughtful due to the lack of any emotional channel in text-based web forums. Add to that the fact that in real life, people have many sides to their personalities, which are inhibited or eccentuated in different contexts; but the impression the web gives of people lacks those contexts.

Then, consider the good that anonymity has allowed for; think of all the things people have able to speak out about anonymously which would have gone unsaid.


> Then, consider the good that anonymity has allowed for; think of all the things people have able to speak out about anonymously which would have gone unsaid.

Of course.


HN has a different audience and moderation so i m not sure its just your name. When people are posting with real name, it changes the dynamic, the post becomes part of the social signaling, which can lead them to refrain from saying some truths, or to support things they don’t really believe but align well with their real life identity.


Pseudonyms are just a symptom, I guess. A name is another channel for communication. For real names, origin was usually intimitly tied to identity. John Doe or Lisa Muller is as much a pseudonym as JDog123 would be, without further references. Real Name policy much relates to overlap between internet and local interactionnand discoverability. If I don't need to be discovered by non locals (as defined by my off-line reach; which today is a false schism, but anyway), I can use my name for artful expression.

There are cases where I don't want to be discovered, too. The latter, Obscurity (hiding), shouldn't be confused with the former, Security (literally without worry or need).


That's a great point. In the end it's an identity problem. This is one place where I think that blockchain technology might actually help. (Jesus, now I'm one of them.)

There has to be pseudonymous/anonymous channels for information, but the bile has been so intense lately that it makes me think that the majority of communications need to be positively identified.


There are some subreddits where they are hidden for a period of time (not sure how long, but it's quite a while). I wonder if anyone has analyzed those?


A formal statistical experiment was done in /r/politics about the impact of hiding vote counts temporarily but it did not find statistical evidence that it made an impact on discourse: https://htmlpreview.github.io/?https://github.com/mitmediala...


Low-effort comment, but: I really appreciate your content, both here and on Reddit. It's refreshing to see anyone doing any of this sort of analysis, and it takes a lot of effort to do it, and you do it really well and at a rate that's mind-boggling.


Thanks! I do have other cool things planned with the Reddit data pipeline too, so stay tuned! ;)

(for clarification, the linked statistical analysis isn't mine)


Was /r/politics given a vote-hiding feature that other subreddits didn't have? Votes and downvote buttons are typically hidden with custom CSS that users can disable, which would completely invalidate these results. Votes can be hidden for real for a short time, but cannot be disabled completely.


/r/politics is aggressively left-wing, so much so that I'd doubt anyone interested in real discourse is trying anymore. I'd think an experiment like that would need to be done on a clean subreddit that isn't bringing in any baggage, or a pre-existing ideology-based ban list, to test its validity.


r/politics said it didn’t make much difference, but they left it that way anyhow. The feedback based ranking implicitly supports echo chambering, but there’s not much of a way around that.


> The feedback based ranking implicitly supports echo chambering, but there’s not much of a way around that.

Traditional topic-based forums are better, because you can't suppress unpopular-but-correct opinions by downvoting. Even if you don't care about Fake Internet Points (and the reason they exist is because we do, gamification works), if you state something that goes against the prevailing hivemind your opinion will literally be hidden unless users go out of their way to find them.

(and yes, I browse HN with showdead=yes for the same reason)


Same here. I read all of the gray comments, because it means the comment was something unpopular enough to downvote.


what does showdead do?


Shows posts that have been flagged from mods, users, or shadowbanning and hidden from the normal display.


> but they left it that way anyhow

If it makes little difference either way, perhaps they left it on to quiet those who would keep suggesting they try it even though they already have.


> There are some subreddits where they are hidden for a period of time (not sure how long, but it's quite a while)

I think there's a subreddit-level setting for that, but the max is only something like a couple of days.


0-1440 mins

Just checked - Reddit mod /r/askelectronics


Vote counts on HN are hidden - doesn't stop a lot of toxic behavior on here.

The problem is down votes are not a good comment tool. Especially combined with hiding and such. Upvote only systems are much more resilient to the kind of gaming mechanics you see here and on reddit.


What is meant by "gaming mechanics you see here"? Could you be more specific? Of course, voting does affect what gets posted, but that's the point. If your authentic voice doesn't appeal to HN voters, then develop another voice that does appeal to us!


Isn’t that how you get a popularity-driven echo chamber? If only certain points of view will get upvoted or avoid downvotes, only those points of view will be posted or get discussed.


Yes it does encourage some posts and discourage others. At times it might seem that is based on "points of view", but more often it's about form, logic, salience, or substance. Preferences probably vary on those measures, but keeping the discussion within tighter bounds in these senses is just a part of HN.


That’s completely compatible with an upvote only system. So I don’t see your objection?


I post here a lot and my posts get downvoted and upvoted a lot. I don't see any "gaming mechanics", whatever that is. If you have a reason to believe that stuff is happening, please share that with the rest of us.

Also, you overstate this "compatibility". For humans, loss hurts more than gain feels good. Voting with negative as well as positive reinforcement is simply more effective at changing comment styles.


I think you might be confused as to what I meant by gaming mechanics. I'm not positing a vast network of deliberate bots or bad actors or anything.

I'm talking about gaming in the abstract psychological and problem theory sense.


Yes I'm very confused but since you can't explain I won't worry about it.


Well I did, in the previous comment.

Feel free to research & teach yourself basic game theory if you like but it’s too much to fit into a HN comment either way.


That blob is (ironically) extremely ideological/generalising. Doesn't mean I don't disagree with it though, maybe just the approach/tone.

I believe you may be grouping strong (and maybe not always right) opinions with flat out chaotic evil trolls (whom there are actually extremely few).

It's been intruiging to grow up witnessing the appearance of the term "troll", initially designated to IRC and other net spammers, to it's present and increasingly meaningless, nebulous definition of "mean people on the internet". It's a big difference, which your linked blob quite interestingly evidences :D


Reddit would also be better if karma wasn't known.


Just goes to show that whenever there is money involved there has to be some 'incentive' or motivation for users / creators.


Both reddit and hacker news would be much better off with no voting at all.

Strong moderators are the only thing I've ever seen keep online forums at a high quality level. Voting is the weakest kind of moderation.


I strongly disagree. Whether the points are displayed or not, voting is what revolutionized forums. I find voting forums almost universally better than non-voting ones, because voting sorts by relevance by default.

I still dread the (lack of) content quality that I've come to associate with phpbb forums (and their ilk).


The problem with the upvote/downvote system is that it's too simplistic. If you have an opinion that goes against the status quo, a lot of people will downvote your comment simply because they disagree with what you said on some emotional level.

Of course, past a certain number of downvotes, you post will be buried, so you have basically an echo chamber.


That might have it's use, too.

Echochamber sounds bad, resonant frequency response sounds neutral, and it's needed for harmony. The real problem then is kakophonie, noise, and choosing the instrument to play on with a nice timbre, noise floor, etc. The internet is large and finding the right venue and audience is difficult.

There is value in being told to have hit the wrong tone.

This is why shorter messages and twitter are important, it allows a finer grained ... censorship? (Zensur in German also means grade, shool mark). That's why many people, I at least, discuss online, looking for light conversation, so emotional feedback should be welcome as ''the basic unit of exchange in communication''.


People can sense when there's harmony in music, but what about an opinion? To me, the real problem is lack of emotional distance.

I was in a thread where a woman declared that all men are inherently abusive/violent toward women. I pointed out to her that this is not only a ridiculous statement, but also quite insulting. How can we make such sweeping generalization?

I was down-voted and told that my feeling didn't matter. Soon, other angry people joined in and my reply was buried. My comment went against a certain narrative.

But did I "hit the wrong tone"? I don't think so.


> To me, the real problem is lack of emotional distance.

I don't understand. True, objectivity is an ideal. But language is inherently subjective.

At that your annecdotal evidence, for example. Ironic, isn't it?


It's not ironic. My feeling don't matter in the discussion with the women, she just said my feeling don't matter, probably to invalidate what I said to her.


> ridiculous

> insulting

Of course you appealed to emotion.

Also you assumed her gender, big mistake on the internet.


"High Quality Level" is a relative measure though. It's really easy for a heavily moderated discussion forum to become an echo chamber for the moderator's views.


> I had conversations with Jason [Citron] a year ago about the problem of white supremacy on his site, and he said, “I don’t want to invade their privacy by going into their channels and reading what they’re doing.” And I said, “They’re gonna cause deaths because you’re not doing that.” And he said, “You really think so?” And I said, “Yeah.” And sure enough they didn’t do anything, and sure enough deaths were caused because of the shit going on in their channels.

I'm not sure I can agree with this kind of moralizing. It's the same argument that blames gun manufacturers for school shootings. Clearly the latter argument is absurd, and yet very intelligent people subscribe to the former argument. So either some step is missing here that differentiates these two arguments, or we should be focusing on the real problem.


More than agreeing or not with this line of thinking, I find the bigger problem is how selectively it is applied. People will point out that if we ban guns, we wouldn't have to worry about school shootings. Even if we ignored the logistics of such a challenge and agreed on the conclusion, why is the same logic not applied to things like alcohol and all the harms that results (drunk driving, alcoholics ruining their lives, etc). And some people do that (I think MADD would be one case, especially for the subset of their members wanting to ban all alcohol); yet even in that case those people selectively apply the same reasoning about something else.

Look at those who ignore the harm of buying drugs from unverified sources, where you may be paying money to a supply chain ran by the cartel. People are tortured and killed to get the drugs delivered, and if one doesn't verify (or if one insufficiently verifies) then they are funding such activities, but many are willing to ignore that. But change from drugs to escorting and you'll find some of the same people now saying that it should be banned because without sufficient verification it is possible to paying people who are coerced or forced into doing it. The overall argument has valid points and problem points, but the discrepancy of when it is applies makes discussing the validity harder when it seems people aren't being transparent about their motivations to begin with.


> Even if we ignored the logistics of such a challenge and agreed on the conclusion, why is the same logic not applied to things like alcohol and all the harms that results (drunk driving, alcoholics ruining their lives, etc).

Indeed, and we already tried that, and it led to the rise of organized crime. But I think it's important not to get sucked into "slippery slope" style reasoning. There can be good reasons why banning alcohol would be problematic, but banning guns would not. It depends on the surrounding culture. For instance, if enjoying a drink a few times a week was universal, but almost no one owned a gun.

> The overall argument has valid points and problem points, but the discrepancy of when it is applies makes discussing the validity harder when it seems people aren't being transparent about their motivations to begin with.

I think it's largely because people see symptoms, and look backwards in the causal chain to something they think they understand and can blame as "the" problem. People are pretty weak with nuance on tough and emotionally charged issues.


>For instance, if enjoying a drink a few times a week was universal, but almost no one owned a gun.

1 in 3 own a gun in the US. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/one-three-americans-own...

1 in 2 had a drink in the last month: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-co...

From that same source, 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related diseases, making it the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.

Culturally, guns and drinking are the same order of magnitude in the US. From a death count though, alcohol dominates.


The concentration of gun ownership varies markedly across regions though. Not sure that's true of drinking, which I expect would be pretty universal.

In any case, at worst your data suggests that banning guns in the US would be just as impossible as banning alcohol turned out to be, which very well could be true.


I have another take (I have an alcoholic relative and know quite a few people who don't drink at all) on this.

An alcoholic has many chances to turn his or her life around. It's a long, slow story. It's not inevitable. With the right support, it's possible to stop drinking and lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

Contrast this to the kind of events that result in deaths from guns in the US. The recent school shooting of course springs to mind. A bunch of kids were shot and killed. They had no chance. None.

It's not just the end statistics but the method at which we arrive at them.


> A bunch of kids were shot and killed. They had no chance. None.

Why did you compare an alcoholic that harms none but themselves with people who were shot? Wouldn't a drunk driver killing people be a more apt comparison?


The thing is, you don’t really need to theorise about how to stop school shootings. It’s been done. It just required people to prioritise children’s lives over a minority hobby.

(I’m from a country where owning a gun is legal, but controlled, and has no school shootings. We used to have less control, and school shootings happened.)


>The thing is, you don’t really need to theorise about how to stop school shootings. It’s been done.

It's still theorizing because there are no comparable countries to the US that have done it when it comes to the number of guns already out there (300+ million) and the importance of the 2nd amendment to many of the citizens.

>It just required people to prioritise children’s lives over a minority hobby.

If you see it as a "minority hobby" rather than a right, this makes complete sense. Would you also suggest banning protests in response to violence and death at protests because it's even more of a "minority hobby" than gun ownership?


1st point:

It’s been done for hundreds of millions of people and hundreds of millions of guns, and it’s regulation not removing all guns, which is already done in the US, you can’t get a rocket launcher, so why am assault rifle?

No banned guns, just licenses, gun safes, regulation on types, reasonable ownership limits (all farmers I know in Aus have 5+ guns) - that’s all it takes to stop mass shootings.

If it’s a hobby that’s fine, that’s a valid application reason for example, you just have to prove you like guns and go to a range or subscribe to a gun magazine and you can buy them. That 30 minute hurdle provides a barrier to enough people.


Civilians can't buy assault rifles in the US. What civilians buy is a hunting rifle that looks like an assault rifle.


I love guns and have no wish to see them further restricted but this is a terrible argument. The features that are used to define a civilian 'assault rifle' unquestionably make them more dangerous than a hunting rifle.

The military didn't decide to start having pistol grips on their rifles because it looks cool, vertical foregrips originated in the military and it wasn't because they look cool. I own a .308 rifle with a pistol grip, folding stock, foregrip, bayonet lug, threaded barrel and a 20 round magazine and none of these features are needed for hunting but they are damned convenient for killing people.

You can try to tell me that it's no more deadly than a hunting rifle but there are reasons that the seal team 6 don't go in with hunting rifles and full auto fire isn't the only reason.

I think it's important to recognize that these rifles are more than just hunting rifles and also that we should still be allowed to have them because the second amendment is NOT about hunting.


I agree that the 2nd amendment is not about hunting, but I also think it's important to point out that "assault weapons" are a political target because they look like military assault rifles, not because of their features. People who know nothing about guns are judging them by their superficial appearance.

The features you mentioned:

A 20 round magazine is unrelated to "assault weapons". Those are available for handguns and for hunting rifles without pistol grips as well.

The deadliest war in history, WW2, was fought with rifles without pistol grips (only a few thousand were produced near the end). Not having pistol grips didn't stop soldiers from killing unprecedented numbers of people.

And how many mass killers actually used bayonets or a folding stock?


The backwards thing about the second amendment is that the USA is easily the closest western country I’ve been to to a police state. Contrast the militarisation of the police in the USA with a far more “free” country like New Zealand (with significant gun regulation).

Just like the 2nd amendment militia arming would have been useless against the German government (like the BEF which had many tanks and planes and heavy weapons) it’s useless today against heavily armed state and modern military equipment (drones, tanks).


> it’s useless today against heavily armed state and modern military equipment (drones, tanks).

Tell that to the Afghans.


Seems like you can, in fact, buy a rocket launcher. A quick google search showed that there are a number of sites on which to obtain one.

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-get-rocket-launcher-gu...


The argument generalises to Abrams tanks, Minuteman missiles and nuclear bombs.


> Would you also suggest banning protests in response to violence and death at protests because it's even more of a "minority hobby" than gun ownership?

He didn't suggested banning, he suggested controlling them which is extremely different.

I don't know for your country (but I'm pretty sure it's the same), but in mine protest are controlled too. You need to give your plan well in advance and it need to be approved first. You never seen a protest becoming illegal and people getting arrested for it?


>He didn't suggested banning, he suggested controlling them which is extremely different.

And which is the next step for someone who does want to ban it. At least in the US the discussion has reached the point where one side no longer trusts the intentions of the other side, so anything that could eventually help a ban (such as a registry) is seem as being for the purpose of eventually helping a ban. This isn't without reason either, given that many past compromises are now seen as not enough and begun being presented as errors in previous laws that need to be fixed.


It's not a hobby to everyone, some people survive by subsistence hunting.


I think they should have clarified in urban environments, people outside of cities use guns is basically every country, even japan.


We've already tried to ban guns in (many) cities while allowing them outside those cities. Criminals just leave the city to buy guns.

Now people in cities want to solve that by forbidding people outside the cities from owning guns.


Nobody in any sane country has or city has banned guns. It’s just regulation like cars or planes or doing electrical work or cutting up fugu


How shall we define banned? Obviously no government anywhere has completely banned guns - they all arm at least some portion of their police and most allow bodyguards to carry guns to protect the wealthy and powerful.

I used the word banned meaning "made impossible for a large number of people to own legally". Governments that theoretically allow permits but rarely grant those permits in practice have effectively banned guns.


At least for cars there is no regulation. Using them on public property (public roads) has certain regulations, but not for use on private property.


Which is why he said controlled not banned.


A gun if fundamentally designed to kill. That's the only reason it exists. Yes you can use it to eat cereal, I guess, or you can dip the nozzle in paint and create wonderful art, or maybe you can load an AR-15 with 30 rounds and shoot at a giant wall of cheese to make hipster Swiss cheese, but most people realize why guns exist - to end life. Human life, or animal life, but some form of life.

I hear various arguments how somehow a bunch of rednecks armed to the teeth are the reason why the Government hasn't yet come and locked me away in a FEMA Death Camp, but I don't buy it.

Alcohol does not exist to end life. It can be used to end life, yes, either through abuse, or by someone driving intoxicated - but that's not why it exists. It can, and is, used safely, by millions of adults world-wide.

I can go into a room and see someone "brandishing" a shot of whiskey and not be concerned for my safety. If I walk into a room and see a bunch of nutters brandishing guns, I'm getting the fuck out. At best, they're a bunch of insecure-in-their-masculinity macho-wanna-be's - at best. No normal person looks at someone obsessed with firearms and thinks "that's just a normal person with a normal hobby like my aunt Tilly who collects stamps" - nobody.

This is why this whole argument how guns are awesome and we shouldn't be afraid of them but should encourage them and, hell, let's arm teachers and doctors and soccer moms and even the kids' lacrosse teams, why not, it's just like giving them a glass of wine - is starting to sound more and more hollow.

It was, after all, a lunatic with a gun who killed a bunch of people at that Vegas concert, not a guy with a beer keg and some Jaeger bombs. Unless I'm not quite remembering the facts.....nah, pretty sure it wasn't Jaeger bombs.


> A gun if fundamentally designed to kill. That's the only reason it exists.

That's the reason it was invented, that's not the only reason it still exists. According to stats cited above, 1 in 3 Americans have a gun. Why aren't two thirds of you dead if guns only exist to kill?

The truth is, people have fun shooting guns. Just like they have fun in archery contests, despite the fact that bows and arrows were also invented only to kill.


> A gun if fundamentally designed to kill. That's the only reason it exists.

Yes, and people need to kill other people sometimes to defend their lives and the lives of their loved ones. You may not like this reason, but that's the truth.


Guns are a bad analogy because manufacturers have no control over their use post purchase. If gun manufacturers could take back their guns (ban users) when somebody threatened illegal violence the analogy would be closer, and it would be quite reasonable to expect them to do so.


Who you're selling to can make a big difference. An extreme Example is Heckler and Koch that supposedly exported G36 illegally to the conflict zones of Mexico. But there are also legal examples, for instance weapon manufacturers lobby for laxer laws, including how weapons need to be handled after they are bought.


> If gun manufacturers could take back their guns (ban users) when somebody threatened illegal violence the analogy would be closer, and it would be quite reasonable to expect them to do so.

Except creating a new profile on reddit is trivial, so "banning" is a weak threat at best.


In doing so you lose your social connections and any moderator privileges you have; so it's not without threat.


Just make XYZ_2, XYZ_3 etc. Communicate on different platform whose username is which. Have new usernames assigned original privileges of their owner.


It’s a more effective deterrent than doing nothing at all.


> It’s a more effective deterrent than doing nothing at all.

Is it? You seem pretty certain of this, so how can you be sure banning just wouldn't galvanize them further? Your line of reasoning is exactly why Fox news was created, and now look where the US is.


The idea that these "hate speech" venues have caused deaths is thrown around quite often, but I wonder if a connection has been found in even a single case. Gaping chasm between rhetoric and reality.


>I wonder if a connection has been found in even a single case.

I'd argue that the psychopaths who're attracted to such forums have their hateful beliefs reinforced and amplified by them. Whether or not they would've ended up killing people even if they'd never started hanging out on those forums is hard to say, but it seems pretty naïve to me to assume that those "hate speech" venues didn't have an effect on them.

See the many murderers who've been active on Stormfront for example.

White Homicide Worldwide, SPLC (2014) [pdf]: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/d6_legacy_file...


You could argue that, but there's no real evidence for it and it's been studied with music, television and video games. All have been blamed, using the argument that you'd have to be naive to assume that killing people in a video game doesn't have an effect on someone's likelihood of killing people in real life, or listening to angry music makes you more likely to hurt people.

The list of murderers who've listened to 2Pac is quite long, for example.


I don't know about the other media, but the effects of TV are both disastrous and thoroughly demonstrated. IQ, SAT scores, obesity, teen pregnancy, violence, tobacco… Depending on what you watch and how often, all can be increased. All won't show on each individual, but the statistical effect is far from negligible.

As for video games… that's a tricky one. I recall an anecdote about two teens holding up a bakery at gun point. The baker at some point made a move that was a bit too sudden, and the teen shot him in the forehead. One possible facilitator is very similar to a soldier's training: simple conditioning about shooting the bad guys as soon as they threaten your avatar in your favourite FPS. For all I know the teen didn't even intend to shoot.

Of course, it takes more than a lifetime of violent video games to actually point a gun at someone. But a tiny nudge can sometimes push you over the edge. By the way, I expect the nudge will get bigger with VR. (So will the benefits, I expect.)


While awful, one of the problems with that facilitator is that you don't shoot the enemy when they threaten you in an FPS. You shoot them when you see them.


Correct, I'm not sure how well that would translate. Probably not very well.


Correlation does not prove causation. Maybe people with those lifestyles happen to enjoy TV more than others.


> Correlation does not prove causation

The host of scientists who conducted their studies know this. Which is why they did many such studies (some of them very large scale), controlled for confounding variables, modified the parameters across time in both direction (watching more and watching less this and that kind of show), and of course reproduced most of the results.

Go tell them "correlation does not prove causation", and they will laugh in your face. We're long past correlation by now. Causation itself has been thoroughly demonstrated.


Thanks for the explanation, I will look into it. I could see how media may be a reinforcing cycle for some, similar to how people may be susceptible to alcoholism differently.


Another causation / anti-causation question is what effect porn (possibly specifically rape-fantasy porn) has on rape rates. There are two obvious arguments that point in opposite directions. The first is that rape-fantasy porn acclimates the user to the idea of sexual violence and makes the user more likely to commit it; the second is that rape-fantasy porn gives the user a safe outlet for their baser desires and makes them _less_ likely to commit actual rape. AFAIK we can say that access to porn, and all kinds of porn, has increased a great deal, while rape rates have gone pretty steadily down, during the last few decades; a graph on Wikipedia shows annual U.S. rape rates going from 2.5 per 1000 down to 0.5 per 1000. This doesn't prove the second theory—I think violent crime in general also went down—but it at least shows that, if the first theory is correct, the effect it describes is much smaller than everything else that affects rape rates.

I can think of arguments for why white-nationalist forums would decrease the likelihood that the white nationalists who find them would go and kill non-whites. (a) Such a person might feel relieved to find that there are others who feel similarly, and therefore not feel like their cause has no one working for it and they need to do something spectacular and terrifying to attract attention. (b) They might have few friends in real life, and they can't fully show themselves to the ones they do have, so they have no truly close friends. But on the forum, they meet fellows who share their beliefs and feel they can trust, and then they make what feel like close friends. And now they'll know that, if they kill someone, that carries a high risk of getting thrown in jail and cut off from their friends; that extra disincentive might be enough to stop them. (c) On that note, the most visible and admired participants in the forum are not going to be those who go out and kill people, because (I assume) people can't continue posting when they're in jail. The general incentives of the forum probably point towards being a blowhard who doesn't do anything.

This is why I will only accept the conclusion "Letting white nationalists gather on a particular forum will cause more white-nationalist-perpetrated killings" if I see a decent study showing it.

(I think one of the official basic arguments for freedom of association and of the press is that, if you prevent people with grievances from associating and publishing their views, they will go underground and then get violent.)

(Incidentally, I do like it when one of my possible conclusions is that, in order to reduce the likelihood of people doing terrible things, the solution is to work to raise everyone's standard of living, so they'll be too comfortable to want to risk losing what they have.)


> I'd argue that the psychopaths who're attracted to such forums have their hateful beliefs reinforced and amplified by them

I agree. I think the echo chamber effect is well documented at this point, and it's something that's happening even in mainstream media.

I would still hesitate to say that we should lay the blame on these forums though, or undeniably conclude that that's where we should be making changes to prevent such problems. If we hold free speech as a principle in high regard, we shouldn't so easily sacrifice it.


>I would still hesitate to say that we should lay the blame on these forums though, or undeniably conclude that that's where we should be making changes to prevent such problems.

I wouldn't say lay the blame on the forums for the actions for their members, however I do think it would be somewhat justified to lay the blame on forums for knowingly allowing these hateful ideologies to spread to more and more people due to their lack of action/moderation. It's been shown that banning hateful subreddits reduces the amount of hate speech on the site by users who used to post on those banned subreddits.[1] It's hard to say if those users simply took their hate speech to some other website, but even if they did their sphere of influence would then most likely be much smaller than it was on reddit.

>If we hold free speech as a principle in high regard, we shouldn't so easily sacrifice it.

This is a difficult topic but I think that there definitely should be some limits. After all we're talking about what rules private companies should have for what kind of content is allowed on their websites (i.e. what content they are okay with hosting on their servers) and not what kind of content the government should allow/disallow.

A viewpoint I found interesting (and reasonable) in regards to limiting speech is Karl Popper's paradox of tolerance.

"Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant."

[1] http://comp.social.gatech.edu/papers/cscw18-chand-hate.pdf


> It's been shown that banning hateful subreddits reduces the amount of hate speech on the site by users who used to post on those banned subreddits.

But as you say, it doesn't necessarily reduce hate or hate speech overall. In fact, it may even galvanize it further. How do you think the US got all of those conservative news networks like Fox? Because rich conservatives got tired of their opinions being ignored or silenced (from their perspective).

Great quote by Popper, but the problem is that there is great intolerance on both sides of the spectrum, left and right. The extreme left on reddit is not being silenced the way the extreme right is. Both sides are intolerant of facts and rational argument that doesn't adhere to their dogma, so why is only one being pushed out?

I read some studies awhile back that suggested that centrism appears to be no more or less persuasive to most people than extremist positions. People will latch on to specific things that resonate, and just adopt the rest thinking that said resonance means they belong in this group, which ultimately leads to polarization around a small number of extreme positions that are irreconcilable. Takeaway facts: a) that seems to explain the US's politics over the past few decades, b) bipartisan-type compromise may not be a stable condition, and c) centrism is itself a position that needs its own advocates.


> The extreme left on reddit is not being silenced the way the extreme right is.

I think this is a false equivalence. The extreme right is deeply racist/homophobic/sexist, denies science, advocates for a theocracy and for the shutting down of government services to the extent that millions of people will die. Say what you want about the "extreme" left's social policies but they're really not on that level.


> The extreme right is deeply racist/homophobic/sexist, denies science, advocates for a theocracy and for the shutting down of government services to the extent that millions of people will die.

Would you like me to point you to the videos of extreme left protests assaulting professors on campuses for wanting to host an open debate on topics they find offensive? Or videos on extreme left protestors trying to shut down any scientific discussion that raises the fact of differences between men and women.

I can also show you the recent amendments to the Ontario law in which it is now illegal to not use non-gendered pronouns. I'm sure you've heard of Peterson and his crusade, and while he's got some kooky views on some matters, he's not entirely wrong about the dangers of our human rights tribunals and how they will apply this law (see the Lindsay Shepherd incident where they already tried to censor an academic discussion on this issue).

I can also show you plenty of instances of organized campaigns to harass, disrupt and ruin people's lives for off-hand comments made online.

Sorry, but it's no longer a false equivalence. The extreme left has become just as extreme, just as anti-science, and just as dangerous as the extreme right. Note that we're not talking about ordinary leftist/liberal policies of social programs, and such, we're talking extreme left that, for instance, denies even the existence of gender and for whom denying this fact simply makes you an evil tyrant that they seek to literally ruin.


> I can also show you the recent amendments to the Ontario law in which it is now illegal to not use non-gendered pronouns.

No need, I'm familiar with it. Here's what they themselves say about it:

--- Is it a violation of the Code to not address people by their choice of pronoun? The law recognizes that everyone has the right to self-identify their gender and that “misgendering” is a form of discrimination.

As one human rights tribunal said: “Gender …may be the most significant factor in a person’s identity. It is intensely personal. In many respects how we look at ourselves and define who we are starts with our gender.”[1] The Tribunal found misgendering to be discriminatory in a case involving police, in part because the police used male pronouns despite the complainant’s self-identification as a trans woman.

Refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity, or purposely misgendering, will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education. The law is otherwise unsettled as to whether someone can insist on any one gender-neutral pronoun in particular.

Gender-neutral pronouns may not be well known. Some people may not know how to determine what pronoun to use. Others may feel uncomfortable using gender-neutral pronouns. Generally, when in doubt, ask a person how they wish to be addressed. Use “they” if you don’t know which pronoun is preferred.[2] Simply referring to the person by their chosen name is always a respectful approach. ---

This is completely reasonable. I identify as male, and if someone kept using she/her/hers pronouns or it/its pronouns to refer to me I'd be offended and rightly so. There's a lot of misinformation about this specific issue, all of it pushed by right-wing "news" outlets. Don't fall for it.

> Peterson and his crusade...

Please don't give this rage merchant any more air time. He purposefully distorts and reduces complex issues for self-aggrandizement. If you're really curious about the issues he raises, just dig into to gender and race studies.

> Assaults, organized campaigns to harass...

I'm not going to minimize the assaults. I am gonna say that they don't compare to the KKK or any of a number of radical right groups. The left simply has nothing with the scale or history of those groups.

But re: organized campaigns to harass, ruin people's lives online, etc., again a twitter campaign is nothing like bills to deny you control of your body (reproductive rights). It's nothing like a racist criminal justice system. It's nothing like a society where LGBT people experience mind numbing levels of sexual assault (https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-assault-and-the-lgbt-co...).

Again I'm not saying there aren't excesses on the left. I'm sure there have been cases where someone didn't deserve to be fired, and the assaults are inexcusable. But there is simply no equivalence between the left and the right in modern western societies.


> I'm sure there have been cases where someone didn't deserve to be fired

Also, I just wanted to note that I don't really buy into this argument. I don't see why someone "deserves to be fired" for their political views, no matter how racist, as long as they don't let their views impact the performance of their duties. So the Kim Davis' of the world absolutely deserve to be fired, but the plethora of other examples I can dig up for you, not so much.

The justification is often that such shaming campaigns are natural corrective measures, but I think more often the complete opposite happens: people are driven from moderate positions to the opposite extremist positions, because the people harassing them are just so unreasonable, and moderate leftists like yourself have zero sympathy for them. This is one way radicalization can happen.


> I don't see why someone "deserves to be fired" for their political views, no matter how racist, as long as they don't let their views impact the performance of their duties.

I agree if by "political views" you mean things like monetary policy or foreign policy. But I personally couldn't ask women to work with people who think they shouldn't be in the workplace, or LGBT people to work with people who think they're irredeemable abominations, or people of color to work with people who think they're inferior because of their race. To me, these views disqualify you from being a productive member of society and I don't really classify them as political views. For example, I don't think anti-semitism is a political view, I think it's just hatred and bigotry. Further, I'm mildly offended when I see people equating "bigotry against conservatives" with "bigotry against historically oppressed groups", because those oppressed groups have suffered intense physical harm. Conservatives really have not. Another reason this whole thing is a false equivalence.

> people are driven from moderate positions to the opposite extremist positions, because the people harassing them are just so unreasonable, and moderate leftists like yourself have zero sympathy for them. This is one way radicalization can happen.

Mostly I agree, but I don't think that in general "the people who are harassing them" are being unreasonable. I think culture in the US is largely sexist, racist, and homophobic and we've gotten used to it as we've grown up in it. It's not hard to find someone saying something offensive. I do think it's a shame that otherwise good people are caught up in stuff like this. But I think it's worse that women, LGBT people, and people of color have had to live in this culture.


> But I personally couldn't ask women to work with people who think they shouldn't be in the workplace, or LGBT people to work with people who think they're irredeemable abominations, or people of color to work with people who think they're inferior because of their race.

I understand the distaste, but as long as they don't actually harass, abuse or otherwise mistreat them, what's the real problem here? That you don't like their thoughts? Are we policing people's thoughts now?

> I don't really classify them as political views.

Fine, cultural views, philosophical views, the game doesn't matter because you change the words. If you were working with someone from another culture, say, Saudi Arabia, you'd make allowances for cultural differences. Right and left really are different cultural perspectives, and your position is that we should make no allowances here simply because we were all raised geographically close to each other, despite our cultural differences. Or you're saying we can make some allowances, but not others, but then I would ask, why those allowances specifically?

> It's not hard to find someone saying something offensive. I do think it's a shame that otherwise good people are caught up in stuff like this.

But why the focus only on good people? My point is that harassing even the bad people just drives them further into a badder circle that will take them in and shelter them, because they see themselves as victimized. Whether they're right or wrong is immaterial, because it ultimately leads to more polarization, not understanding and reconciliation.

I think you're focusing too much on "bigotry against conservatives" as some kind of wrong in and of itself, the way you view bigotry against the historically oppressed, but that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that bigotry of any kind probably yields just more bigotry, and eliminating bigotry can only be achieved by exposure and intermingling among people with differences. If you're continually driving away people who initially hate you, they will simply continue to hate you, instead of coming to see you as a person.


> I identify as male, and if someone kept using she/her/hers pronouns or it/its pronouns to refer to me I'd be offended and rightly so.

I agree, you'd be right to be offended. But "offence" is not the real problem, the problem is that you can then have someone charged and fined just because you were offended. How do you justify that additional step? Why am I not free to identify you as a Datsun, if I so choose? Is it really a human right, a moral imperative, that I must address you in a way that you prefer, rather than simply a matter of etiquette?

I'm familiar with the gender and race issues at play, and about the issues surrounding C16 and various people's takes on it, and Peterson was actually right about this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o01ebidd1IU

And he's hardly the only one that raised concerns about it. And I don't mean sources from right wing news outlets. There are already a few cases of comedians being fined for jokes which, while probably a little cruel, still seems like a troubling implication of these kinds of laws.

> The left simply has nothing with the scale or history of those groups.

Indeed they don't have the history. The scale has been increasing though, and the ultimate trajectory should be obvious, and you should find this trend troubling.

> But re: organized campaigns to harass, ruin people's lives online, etc., again a twitter campaign is nothing like bills to deny you control of your body (reproductive rights). It's nothing like a racist criminal justice system. It's nothing like a society where LGBT people experience mind numbing levels of sexual assault

Except you're being disingenuous in ascribing all of these to the right, and also to some form of organized or malicious intent.

While I think abortion restrictions are stupid, from the right's moral framework it's literally murder. So this is not a malicious campaign to restrict women's reproductive rights the way you've framed it. You're simply not dealing with their philosophy on its own terms.

And while the racial disparities in the criminal justice system are absolutely alarming, are you suggesting it's overtly, maliciously and intentionally racist? As in, right wing policy makers specifically crafted laws to keep minorities down because they believe them to be inherently inferior? Or is it possible that there are certain puritanical beliefs emblematic of the right, like disapproval of mind altering substances, that just so happen to correlate more strongly with minority demographics?

Which isn't to say that that overt, explicit racism isn't also present and influencing such policies, but you're grouping a lot of people into this malicious category and calling them all "right wing", and I'm not convinced that that's warranted.


Here are a few off the top of my head: the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville last summer, the nine people killed by Dylann Roof in Charleston, and the two killed by Jeremy Christian in Portland Oregon after they interrupted his anti-Muslim rants. Note that the perpetrators in all these cases are on record as citing racial, ethnic, or religious hatred as motives for their acts.


You are being incredibly disengenious.

For all these cases, there it is not shown that they going to online forums radicalized these characters and caused them to kill people.

Just as you would not say there is blood on Black activist forums hands because that one radical guy killed all those cops last year.

Unless there is a clear link that people in these forums are encouraging terrorism, the forums are not responsible


Just as you would not say there is blood on Black activist forums hands because that one radical guy killed all those cops last year.

Funnily enough, extreme right-wingers do say this.


That question is being hotly debated in the Canadian press at the moment, due to the actions of a terrorist.[0]

0: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-mosque-al...


I wonder how many lives have been saved because hateful people on public forums had their views challenged and were able to change themselves.


My idealistic younger self would like to believe many people have done so on different issues, but what I've been noticing on the sidelines is that it seems to be working the opposite way: people are reinforcing beliefs and acquiring beliefs they didn't previously have by way of conforming to ideological purity ("you're part of the problem", "if you do X stay away from me") or cynical pragmatism (centrism/compromising as a thing for "cucks").


If words do not lead to actions or changes in behavior then why are people bothering to post here?

And if words never contribute to actions then there are allot of correlations to explain from the American revolutionary pamphleteers to the Zimmerman telegram to Jihadist Imams to Coca Cola commercials.

Now maybe this is a price we're wiling to pay for unlimited free speech, I dunno. But we mustn't convince ourselves there is absolutely zero causation between words and deeds.


> If words do not lead to actions or changes in behavior then why are people bothering to post here?

Because people like the self-satisfaction of thinking they are right on the internet.


Feeble minds desire leadership. In the absence of leadership they will devolve into chaos and the least feeble among them will discover that they can lead the mob. In the absence of leadership.

Lead your community or it will destroy you. Put another way, make the future you want. This applies first and foremost to humanity. The clever devices of metal and silicon are secondary. Always.


The argument is not the same. You're comparing the banning of a tool, a gun, to the moderation of a group who's existence is based on the belief that one race of people should 'dominate' all others. "very intelligent people subscribe to the former argument" because the arguments are different.


>...blames gun manufacturers for school shootings...

If a new item today entered the market and was misused to the tune of 30,000 deaths per year. Misused far more often than legitimately like stopping an intruder. And the manufacturer knew in advance this would be the outcome, I think we would be right to blame them.

There are many extremely dangerous substances with legitimate uses that would instantly be widely abused that we wisely restrict. I can see no metric that puts most personal weapons outside that category.


> Misused far more often than legitimately like stopping an intruder. And the manufacturer knew in advance this would be the outcome,

Yeah, I'm not convinced. If enough people enjoyed using the item in question recreationally, there'd be enough pushback to an outright ban.

> I think we would be right to blame them.

This doesn't follow from the premises. I'd wager that every item has an ethical use.

> There are many extremely dangerous substances with legitimate uses that would instantly be widely abused that we wisely restrict.

"Restrict" does not entail "forbid". There are already "gun restrictions", just as there are "chemical restrictions" and so on with all the other items you're no doubt thinking of.


>Yeah, I'm not convinced. If enough people enjoyed using the item in question recreationally, there'd be enough pushback to an outright ban.

No doubt. Especially if a large industry emerged to service that recreation.

>This doesn't follow from the premises. I'd wager that every item has an ethical use.

Normally a manufacturer does not get away with a product that he knows will cause 30k deaths per year just by saying that behavior, which is the most common behavior, constitutes misuse. But the ethics of that behavior apparently varies from person to person.

> "Restrict" does not entail "forbid". There are already "gun restrictions", just as there are "chemical restrictions" and so on with all the other items you're no doubt thinking of.

Bulk caffeine is massively more restricted then AK47s


> Normally a manufacturer does not get away with a product that he knows will cause 30k deaths per year just by saying that behavior, which is the most common behavior, constitutes misuse.

Is it the most common behaviour for guns though? Because something like 1 in 3 households in America has a gun, but 1 in 3 households does not house a murderer.

> Bulk caffeine is massively more restricted then AK47s

Just for the record, I never said existing gun restrictions were sufficient, just that they do exist!


> Is it the most common behaviour for guns though? Because something like 1 in 3 households in America has a gun, but 1 in 3 households does not house a murderer.

But do they do anything other than sit on a shelf? Generally after having provided a flash of false psychological comfort at the moment of purchase, that's where they go and stay. At most they might be used to shoot beer cans in an empty field once a year. So while mothballs and clocks might be doing something by sitting, it's hard to see that of high capacity weapons. Particular since they themselves are much more often stolen from those shelves than used to prevent theft.


[flagged]


> I’ll reply to the troll.

By trolling yourself?

> How are weapon manufacturers not responsible for the deaths caused by their toys?

Guns are not toys. They are potentially lethal devices that should be used responsibly. So are many other things, like cars. We don't ban everyone from using cars because some people can't use them responsibly. Nor do we blame the car manufacturer every time someone has an accident. (If the accident turns out to be due to a defect in the vehicle, then yes, we blame the manufacturer. But most accidents do not fall into that category.)

> What baffles me is how intelligent people want to live in a society where everybody carries weapons.

Straw man. In a society where guns are legal and regulated, not everybody will carry them. But responsible people will be able to exercise responsible judgment about whether their personal circumstances merit them having a gun.

What baffles me is how intelligent people want to live in a society where the only people who have a choice about having a gun are lawbreakers and law enforcement, thereby putting themselves at the mercy of criminals and the response time of the police.


> What baffles me is how intelligent people want to live in a society where the only people who have a choice about having a gun are lawbreakers and law enforcement, thereby putting themselves at the mercy of criminals and the response time of the police.

Maybe it's a cultural thing, but it seems to me that more guns simply mean more opportunities for shooting people. Let's go to the other extreme, and have everyone carry a concealed weapon so they can defend themselves. (Let's exclude former criminals, and whoever didn't pass the psych evaluation).

The only outcome I can see is a ten-fold increase in shootings. If someone snaps for some reason, and they have a gun, they can do quite a bit of damage. I can see them killing a couple people before their surroundings react and shoot them back.

Now it's a whole spectrum, and a "no gun ever" may have some downsides too. Still, I like to live in a place where guns are not easy to come by.


> Maybe it's a cultural thing, but it seems to me that more guns simply mean more opportunities for shooting people.

I think it depends on the people. So perhaps it is a cultural thing.


> What baffles me is how intelligent people want to live in a society where the only people who have a choice about having a gun are lawbreakers and law enforcement, thereby putting themselves at the mercy of criminals and the response time of the police.

It's called the European Union. And we have not been overrun by lawbreakers.


> we have not been overrun by lawbreakers.

Maybe not yet, but haven't EU crime rates for things like homicide and assault been increasing for the last few years?


They are not responsible in the same that car manufacturers are not responsible when one of their toys gets driven into a crowd of people.


The reason that guns were created was to fire high powered projectiles into people. Cars weren't created to run people over.


> The reason that guns were created was to fire high powered projectiles into people. Cars weren't created to run people over.

Except why or how these items were designed or created is not really relevant is it? Knives, clubs/bats, bows and arrows were all designed and used for violent purposes, but we're not talking about banning knife juggling or baseball or archery as a sport. We don't blame the manufacturers when someone gets hurt by a bat, intentionally or otherwise.

Plenty of people use guns for recreational purposes only, and that's legitimate enough of a purpose, so long as the manufacturers are specifically not pushing them as items to kill people you don't like.


> Except why or how these items were designed or created is not really relevant is it?

Oh no it totally is. A gun is for killing, if you sell that to people you can expect them to use it to kill. A car is for transportation, you need a car to go to work in a lot of places or to move around.

That's the difference between a weapon and a necessity. Why do you need the weapon?


I don't think your response demonstrates why the gun manufacturer is at fault. Does the same hold for steak knives? What about assault knives? All weapon makers share responsibility for the deaths involving the weapons they make if the makers claim the object was created to kill people. That's the argument, but I don't think it holds up to scrutiny.


> All weapon makers share responsibility for the deaths involving the weapons they make if the makers claim the object was created to kill people.

I quite strongly agree with this statement. Indeed some inventors, like Alfred Nobel, have felt this way.

Would you mind arguing why it doesn't hold up to scrutiny?


And yet Cars are very good tools for doing just that.

Duct Tape wasn't created to be the handy man's secret weapon, and yet here we are.


Oh? So everyone who shoots targets or goes hunting is misusing them?


I think the difference is that guns are designed to cause deaths. Cars are not designed to be in accidents.


Imho, I don't think that that matters. Guns have plenty of legitimate, beneficial, and legal uses. Sure it is easy to use them illegally, but similarly it is also easy to use a car illegally, so I think my analogy still stands.


The way I see it, the question is not whether the instrument in question has legitimate uses, but rather whether there are (reasonable) non-violent uses for which this is the best tool.


Aren’t car manufacturers allowed to be sued if their cars cause deaths?


> Guns have plenty of legitimate, beneficial, and legal uses

Completely outweighed by their prime use for killing.


Cars are not designed with the sole purpose of killing people though are they?


Many guns are not designed with the "sole purpose" of killing people. Plenty are designed with the purpose of hunting, or protection (which may or may not be used to kill someone, but might be useful in a way that doesn't even require firing).

If you disagree with that assessment, then I think you'll most likely have to agree that some automobiles are designed with the purpose of killing people. Military vehicles with attached guns or cannons, for example.

There's a direct parallel to swords and knives. Swords may not be appropriate for being in public, but I think few people object to a pocket knife. That said, we don't often get people saying "blades are designed with the sole purpose of hurting/killing people".

I think that people use absolutist terminology and statements with regard to guns is more indicative of the poor communication and polarization of the topic than anything else, and is also why it's very hard to make any headway on the issue. Gun advocates are afraid to cede any ground on the issue as they see it as a slippery slope to more and more constraints on what they see as a constitutional right. It's hard to say they're wrong in that when people jump in with stuff like "the sole purpose of a gun is killing people".


I think you are scraping the barrel a bit by bringing military cars into it. We are obviously talking about cars for civilian use. A Ford focus is not designed for killing. As for guns having other uses such as protection or hunting; well I view shooting animals as something only psychopaths do, and as for protection, protection from what? Most countries don't allow civilians to own guns, yet those civilians are not coming to any harm as a result of not having a gun. In fact they are safer! People in developed countries outside of America are safer, did you know that? And they don't have guns! How absurd!


> I think you are scraping the barrel a bit by bringing military cars into it. We are obviously talking about cars for civilian use. A Ford focus is not designed for killing.

Some guns are designed for military use, others are not. Anything designed for military use should probably be kept away from civilians.

> As for guns having other uses such as protection or hunting; well I view shooting animals as something only psychopaths do,

I have relatives that in the not too distant past (30 years or so), relied on hunting during portions of the year to have enough to eat because otherwise they couldn't afford both food and housing, and this is was in the continental U.S. People live in this state around the world. Dictating that that they shouldn't hunt because it makes them a psychopath when it's actually how they survive is fairly hypocritical.

> Most countries don't allow civilians to own guns

Are you sure about that? Perhaps you should research this. I just did. You might be surprised. You can get a license for a firearm in the UK, and the EU doesn't disallow firearms either (but individual member states might). Here's a handy table with comparison of laws by country.[1]

> yet those civilians are not coming to any harm as a result of not having a gun. In fact they are safer! People in developed countries outside of America are safer, did you know that?

Well, since it's not due to completely doing away with firearms, the question is where is the safety coming from? Is it from sane gun laws and license requirements? That's fine, let's do that. It's not really evidence that completely outlawing guns makes people safer though, since most these countries you are talking about allow people to obtain a gun that want one and show responsibility. To be clear, my position is for sane gun licensing requirements and restricting certain classes of guns, while the only way I can see to interpret "the sole purpose of a gun is killing people" is for a position to completely ban all firearms (why would you allow them if they are only for killing). So what position are you actually trying to advocate? Most your evidence doesn't really support a complete ban on guns, but your wording implies that's what you're arguing. And if it's not what you're arguing, that was my whole point. Purposefully inflammatory language doesn't help people come to an understanding.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overview_of_gun_laws_by_nation...


I'm from the UK, and citizens can only own shotguns or sporting rifles, and the checks and character references are very strict. Pretty much no one owns a gun other than farmers. Read this to see how strict the checks and rules are:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearms_policy_in_the_Unite...

The police even have to get involved. More to the point, no one in UK wants to own a gun. They feel safe without them. America's obsession with guns and the delusion of thinking they are safer because of them, is insane.


> I'm from the UK, and citizens can only own shotguns or sporting rifles, and the checks and character references are very strict.

So? If the only purpose of a gun is to kill people, why are you okay with any guns at all? Would you be okay with private citizens having access to small amounts of sarin gas? That is something which serves only the purpose of killing people, and it's rightly regulated away from private citizens completely.

> The police even have to get involved. More to the point, no one in UK wants to own a gun. They feel safe without them. America's obsession with guns and the delusion of thinking they are safer because of them, is insane.

That's entirely irrelevant to the discussion. You either believe the sole purpose of a gun is to kill someone, as your earlier statements implied, or you don't.

If you do believe that, why are you using your own government's stance where items whose only purpose is to kill someone are allowed in the possession of private citizens, even after stringent checks?

If you don't believe that, why make the statement at all? My whole point is that it's inflammatory and easily disproved, so if you don't believe it you are either being disingenuous or so loose with your assertions as to be actively disruptive to any greater discussion.


> the purpose of hunting

Alright, no more hunting then. I think most people will be fine with that.

> or protection

Not working that well in your mass shootings

> to swords and knives

How many people can I kill per seconds using knives?

> the sole purpose of a gun is killing people

I honestly don't care about all the other purposes, they do not need to exist. If we're talking about hunting and range shooting then people can take up on other hobbies like painting, playing the guitar, coding, etc..


>> or protection

> Not working that well in your mass shootings

The number of people killed in mass shootings is statistically insignificant. That said, they are horrible, and their impact can be lessened through good gun legislation. Outlaw (or make it very hard to get) automatic/assault weapons, or my preference, also outlaw hand guns.

> How many people can I kill per seconds using knives?

Are you actually defending the assertion that the only thing guns are for is killing by just noting that some guns can kill a lot more people a lot faster? A couple sticks of dynamite thrown into a crowded space will likely kill more than either, but dynamite has been used usefully commercially for over a century.

> I honestly don't care about all the other purposes, they do not need to exist.

Well, I guess it's good you think so. I'm sure all those people that view guns as an essential check on governmental power and a personal right will have no problem with you dictating what they can do. Problem solved.


Cars have a function to society other than killing things (and the threat thereof).


Self driving cars and autonomous braking may change that some day.


>> What baffles me is how intelligent people want to live in a society where everybody carries weapons.

One reasoning for that (at least in the US) is that we'd rather have everybody carrying a weapon instead of just the criminals.


If the world worked that way then I would agree. It doesn't.


> What baffles me is how intelligent people want to live in a society where everybody carries weapons.

Talk about a troll. Who said everyone should carry weapons?


That's pretty much the whole NRA / your president spiel. Last I heard we should arm teachers. roflmao.


Every person who has ever repeated that stupid "an armed society is a polite society" mantra, for starters.


You still can't grasp that "an armed society" != "everyone carrying weapons everywhere".


The comments here have this mentality of "there are people with different opinions from me, why don't these websites deal with these opinions". It's dangerous thinking that can be applied to your opinions.

The internet always worked this way. There are the cesspools, maybe things you don't like, but if you don't feel like engaging with these communities you simply keep going. Problem with these social media forum sites is that as much as you don't want to engage/debate with these communities they still use the same website as you so its unavoidable.

This is why centralizing these forums onto one website was a bad idea, blame that. Because now, there's too much money involved and excluding people of certain political ideas or whatever means you lose a substantial chunk of userbase, which means users would depart to another website.


Reddit once was a good place to engage in things like politics, but now it is a cesspool of left leaning people. /r/politics turning into a largely left platform has helped to give rise to the more extreme groups that feel ostracized. It is my opinion that effectively banning views that can at times be extreme (though non-violent and not inherently bigoted) only draws more people to them.

I don't blame Reddit for being too hands off, if anything I often blame them for being too hands on. That may not be a popular opinion; but I have in my any years in active online forums/newsgroups/message boards from the early 2000s, to now, seen this happen so many times.

A overactive admin/mod group always has a blowback, which generally ends in another community forming with more extreme views than what was originally the cause of the bans.


Yeah, exactly this. Many of the communities on platforms like Reddit simply cannot co-exist, and having independent forums for them meant they could operate peacefully without those who dislike the fundamental premise of the community worrying or complaining about their existence.

You could probably even compare social media sites to schools or prisons really. Tons of people with different, wildly incompatible viewpoints or philosophies stuck in a place they don't really care for.


To be fair, some of the "speech" on Reddit is actually dangerous. Like, get people hurt dangerous.


I've never seen an active threat on Reddit, what do you define as dangerous? Can you give an example? I've been on Reddit almost since the beginning and I've never come across a post that I felt posed any danger. Maybe I'm in the wrong subreddits.


You are in the wrong subreddits. EDIT: AND your anecdotal experience isn't conclusive.


So you have no examples? Bare assertions don't make for very good discussion.


Yeah, this is a discussion. That's what it is.


> The comments here have this mentality of "there are people with different opinions from me, why don't these websites deal with these opinions". It's dangerous thinking that can be applied to your opinions.

It has nothing to do with opinions. It has never been about opinions, and you know it.

It has to do with antisocial behavior. Antisocial behavior is inherently hostile and doesn't deserve a platform, which has been known to anyone who has ever ran any kind of social space for a long time. If you don't moderate antisocial behavior, you create a community where only that behavior thrives.

This is not news, and the real dangerous trend that I'm seeing is that antisocial behavior doesn't matter and should be protected. No, it shouldn't.

> There are the cesspools, maybe things you don't like, but if you don't feel like engaging with these communities you simply keep going.

Yes, except thanks to aggregators all the communities got, well, aggregated, and now there's really nowhere else to go. A cesspool used to compete with other non-cesspools, now we're all in just one big cesspool, because the quality of trash is that it affects everything it's in.

Thank god for programming IRC communities.


> It has never been about opinions, and you know it. It has to do with antisocial behavior.

It is my genuine belief that presuming bad faith (as you have done here) is one of the most common antisocial behaviors that people don't even admit is antisocial. It is toxic to the civil exchange of ideas. It's even mentioned in the Hacker News Guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html): "Assume good faith."

The other antisocial behaviors mentioned in this article (animal cruelty, r/jailbait, etc) are certainly worse. But they are also committed by people who know that what they are doing is socially unacceptable. They know this but don't care.

When people presume bad faith, they often do so completely convinced that they are the good guys. I am sure I have fallen prey to this myself plenty of times.

But this is why the attitude is so dangerous: "Antisocial behavior is bad, and I know it when I see it. I can be trusted to identify what is acceptable, and who deserves a platform." Well, probably you notice it when you see it in other people. But we as humans are really good at rationalizing our own actions.

For the record, I completely agree that moderation is necessary to keep communities healthy. But I think it's harder than people think to apply moderation in a way that isn't just reinforcing the beliefs and taboos of whoever is in charge. For example, I see too many greyed-out comments on HN whose tone is the same as other highly-moderated comments. The only difference is the opinion being expressed.


> It is my genuine belief that presuming bad faith (as you have done here) is one of the most common antisocial behaviors that people don't even admit is antisocial.

The bad faith is on the person responding. The post literally starts with "The comments here have this mentality", how is that not bad faith? Then they construct a strawman.

You want to give that power by acknowledging it with a response? It's the same problem as "it was about ethics in journalism".

Someone implying ignorance on a topic they should not have any ignorance on is acting in bad faith. There's no way people do not realize, at this point, in such large numbers, who is being kept out, or meant to be kept out. It was never unique, special opinions. It was always trolls, sexist and homophobic language, etc.

The issue is that some people think that language IS valid and SHOULD be included but can't straight up say that because nobody would support them in that case.

But this has never been about free speech, nobody prevents you from starting up your own website and promoting your agenda on there, if anything, that has gotten easier, as has already been obvious from the proliferation of problematic fringe communities (in case I need to define these think Stormfront or flat earthers).


"Bad faith" doesn't mean "I think this person is being unfair." It means "I think this person is being intentionally deceitful."

If a person genuinely believes what they are saying, it is not bad faith, no matter how wrong or misguided you think they are. You may disagree with the way this person characterized the other comments. But that's not the same as your accusation, which is that the poster is making an argument that they know is wrong.

> There's no way people do not realize, at this point, in such large numbers, who is being kept out, or meant to be kept out. It was never unique, special opinions. It was always trolls, sexist and homophobic language, etc.

I think this statement is at least as unfair as the one that originally offended you ("The comments here have this mentality...."). But I can tell that you genuinely believe this so I wouldn't accuse you of bad faith for saying this.


Man, where to begin.

The presumption of bad faith is both a lack of imagination and a lack of information. The person cannot imagine how a reasonable person might believe something, and why they might believe it.

The accusation of sexism is a perfectly good example, with James Damore as the case study. His words were twisted into things he didn't say, because his uncharitable opponents couldn't imagine that he was simply saying what he was saying. No, no, he must be dogwhistling something far worse, it cannot simply be that their own premises are too narrow, that their own value judgements are coloring their reading.

As for ethics in journalism, I'm one of those "deplorables" too, and you know why? Because there were 100x more people talking and emailing about that then were causing amok on Twitter. If the black bloc shows up at a protest, you don't suddenly dismiss everyone else as car torchers and bus stop smashers. But that's exactly what the press did to gamers, and that's why they were so pissed off. And the more they wanted to be heard, the more fringe behavior there was to point to to support the foregone conclusion. When the police does it at the G20 and calls it kettling, the progressives don't like it, but when they do it, it's just fine.

What's particularly galling is that none of this was new: the online harassment, the doxing, the stalking, that was pioneered on Something Awful's leftie forums like Helldump and LF. And lo and behold, those people ended up in media cliques like Weird Twitter. Pots calling kettles black is not a new concept, it's just amazing they fooled so many into defending their incestuous little circle. History has been rewritten, and now apparently online trolls never existed until 2014, when the fire nation attacked, and everyone of import got amnesia.

Here is what I saw. To change my mind, you'd have to prove that there was a massive invisible shadow campaign that could somehow eclipse hundreds of thousands of views, posts and tweets:

https://medium.com/@KingFrostFive/gamergate-august-2014-revi...


>Antisocial behavior is inherently hostile and doesn't deserve a platform

How many posts would we need to go back and forth for you to tell me who gets to decide what “Antisocial behavior” is?


How do you deal with anti-social behavior that uses "stamping out anti-social behavior" as its justification?


You can't reason with any party that has already decided to be corrupt. So, in short: you don't.

You deal with this whole problem by not creating all-powerful giant aggregators like reddit that eat all other communities.

You deal with it how we did in the past: by creating zillions of competing communities and people choosing which ones they found palatable, or creating their own with their own set of rules. This usually results in a number of fairly diverse communities somewhat competing with each other.


> It has to do with antisocial behavior. Antisocial behavior is inherently hostile and doesn't deserve a platform

Can you define "antisocial behaviour"?


Behavior that follows from opinions I don't share.


There's a wealth of literature on the topic that you could examine at your leisure.


So you're suggesting reddit admins, mods or some algorithm should diagnose antisocial behaviour using the DSM-V based only on a user's written words? This is genuinely what you believe?


I think I genuinely believe only things I claim to genuinely believe, not things someone's attempting to put into my mouth.


Then point to this copious literature of which you speak, and describe how you would employ it impartially in a forum setting to diagnose antisocial behaviour. Frankly, I think I've been more than charitable to your claims so far, and you're just avoiding answering the question.


You've asked me to define what is anti-social behavior. That is an existing term on which lots of study have been performed. Because people don't owe you answers to a question you could research yourself.

People also do not owe you solutions to hypotheticals they never suggested in the first place.

> I've been more than charitable to your claims so far, and you're just avoiding answering the question.

http://wondermark.com/1k62/


> You've asked me to define what is anti-social behavior. That is an existing term on which lots of study have been performed.

So you're still not defining it or referencing it. I asked you specifically in a previous question if you're talking about the DSM-V criteria, or perhaps the DSM-IV. There are many more definitions of anti-social behaviour than you seem to be aware of.

> People also do not owe you solutions to hypotheticals they never suggested in the first place.

Except policing antisocial behaviour is exactly what you suggested, and that's specifically what I'm asking you about. So answer the question, or you have no idea what you're talking about.


I cannot imagine why you think that comic is relevant. Even if you think naasking is acting badly (they aren't), such a gripe doesn't even resemble a person in group X harassing someone about why they dislike group X.


>This is not news, and the real dangerous trend that I'm seeing is that antisocial behavior doesn't matter and should be protected. No, it shouldn't.

There was a time when approving of gay marriage or suggesting that women are equal to men in most regards would have been considered "antisocial" by a good chunk of the population.

There was also a time when it was not antisocial at all to suggest that certain races of people are superior to others.

Times change. Today's acceptable could very well be tomorrows antisocial and vise-versa.


I am not sure what is the point you're trying to make.

If we define a behavioral set, such as "antisocial", meaning, behavior not welcome in a society, why does the fact that we later expand this set indicate a problem with using the set?


because at one point the people arguing that certain races, genders, or sexualities are equal would have been the ones banned. That is the problem. Today's antisocial behavior could be tomorrow's norm. Unless you prevent them from making their case. That is to say, we also contract the set, we do not only expand it.

In addition, there is the problem of who 'we' is here. Today, the fringe on one side seems to feel it is self evident that they get to decide what is antisocial. They seem to be unaware that ~50% of the population is on the opposite side. And even more, they seem to be unaware that not everyone on their side takes it to such an extreme.


Reddit has been a completely positive force in my life. I subscribe to hundreds of subreddits and they all seem quite well-moderated. If I want to ask a question of doctors, engineers, lawyers, or manufacturers, I can. If I want to spend some time look at cute baby elephant pictures, I can. If I want to learn about a new GarageBand feature, it's easy. I literally didn't know about the things like jailbait until they became national controversies.


I’ve seen absolute junk science on gun control posted in reddit science. Comments that questioned the “study” were flat out removed. Millions of subscribers on that sub, at the time it was a default.

No one is implying that gonewild or programmerhumor are bad forces... but news censors, worldnews is manipulated, politics is beyond a joke. Those three particularly are almost certainly bought and paid for.

Reddit is pretty bad, particular subreddits can be great. You need to understand the content vs the company.


I used to be a mod of r/science. There is an incredible amount of garbage in the comment section. This makes precise moderation very very hard. In general, I think the sub is far too lenient about leaving up comments. Far too often the top comments are pointing out some "flaw" in the study that is either irrelevant to the paper or addressed in the paper body.


Reddit has been mixed for me, but overwhelmingly positive. I'm a part of industry subs that have incredibly high signal-to-noise ratios and counts founders and executives as some of its members. I've gotten amazingly deep answers quickly, and for free, for some of the most challenging and technical problems in my space. And for hobbies, it is now my goto place for really deep dive info.

I've received consulting opportunities, and also just connected with people IRL (including someone who ended up working literally around the corner from my office).

If I had to summarize my negative experiences, it would come down primarily to being made increasingly aware of how broken the world is with places like /r/politics and /r/worldnews, and the sheer amount of my free time Reddit ends up consuming that is, let's face it, mindless scrolling and brain candy.

To help with the negativity I've found adding more positive subs to my list helps balance it (like /r/uplifitingnews). It really is a balancing act though and I'm constantly aware of the self-imposed filter bubble I'm cultivating, so it is important to step outside of that.


As many on Hacker News know, I've been an avid fan of Reddit and believe that their data and community, and there's still a lot more that can be done that can be derived from that data that can't be found anywhere else.

That said, from an administrative perspective, the intense hands-free policies are baffling. You'd expect a company based off the nature of community would engage with their community and their needs. Admittingly, that's not very profitable.


But they did get engaged! They banned all subreddits related to the trading/purchasing of firearms and alcohol. /r/beertrade, a subreddit for trading beer, had a strict policy that users were not allowed to sell beer for money (something that's actually illegal) and only allowed people to post about trading beer. Even someone like me, who doesn't ship beer and only trades in-person, is no longer allowed to talk about trading.


They did after realizing they would be facing lots of regulatory problems.

Organizationally, it should be very obvious to anyone who thinks that things like facilitating anonymous gun and alcohol sales, etc is probably not a good idea.


Except they banned trading as well as sales. Trading beer is legal.


It's unfortunate that beer drinkers aren't likely to DDOS the site or brigade other subreddits -- you might have been left alone then.


They actually went back and corrected some of those subs which were link aggregators essentially. r/gundeals was reinstated and they have a stickied post describing what needed to be done to be brought back to life. The main takeaway is that there is no p2p transactions allowed, only links from stores/manufacturers.


Except that's bs. Hardwareswap for example is still there. Thinkpads for sale, GoPro Market...


Thinkpads for sale admin here. I think all of the above markets really worried about this rule, but I've already checked to make sure that Reddit is OK with us and they have stated that they plan on taking no actions with our subreddit at the moment.


I don't believe a Thinkpad ever killed anyone, though.


That's not the point of my comment. OP said all p2p sales was banned, when that's not the case. In fact I think pot sales subreddits are still there.


I wouldn't be so sure. It says no injuries in the 'US'

https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2018/lenovo-recalls-thinkpad-la...


And that's the fundamental problem with "getting engaged". As soon as you do, everybody's going to criticize not just where you did poke your nose, but also where you _didn't_.


> That said, from an administrative perspective, the intense hands-free policies are baffling. You'd expect a company based off the nature of community would engage with their community and their needs.

That's always the thing I liked about Reddit, and something I never found baffling at all. 'Here's our platform; please don't break the law' is a nice, easily understandable, easily followable policy. 'Here's our platform; please don't violate the social mores of this hour' is much trickier.

I hate many of the foul subreddits (like /r/ShitRedditSays), but I can easily ignore them. It's easy to ignore what one doesn't want, but much more difficult to use something one's not allowed to have. And then there are issues of fairness, e.g. will Reddit ban subreddits on one side of issues but not another? Does it selectively enforce its rules?


I think "platforms shouldn't censor" is arguably one of the core values of the early internet. For the first half of its life to date, reddit seemed to share that value.

Unfortunately, it's hard to take a strong stand on that position in the face of public pressure when the thing people want censored is something as close to child pornography as people can find without stepping over the legal line, or Nazis calling for innocents to be harmed. I think I'm in the majority when I say that those things are bad.

On the other hand, I firmly believe that the existence of uncensored platforms is good. A history of caving to demands to censor bad things says that censorship in on the table and demands to censor anything someone doesn't like might be successful. Already, reddit has ventured beyond banning things that are horrible to banning things that have some mild potential for regulatory issues (trading beer and selling firearms is not affected by FOSTA, so far as I am aware).


Yeah, reddit is contradictory here. They have strong open-source ideals that they're trying to tie to a for-profit hosted platform model. They should accept their role as one or the other.


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