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‘I Fundamentally Believe That My Time at Reddit Made the World a Worse Place’ (nymag.com)
28 points by nabla9 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

Personally I am most worried about the coordinated rhetorical push against "toxicity". It seems far too vague and exploitable and promotive of a centralizing agenda and increased control. There are complete assholes of course but everything about the solutions seems like a pretext for control akin to "think of the children" while their spending and other efforts make it clear that they aren't something they are interested in helping or protecting but in use as a shield.

It brings to mind YouTube's issues with advertisers and their clients being fools. People head away from the stale inoffensive mass market of television and then they start complaining about their brand being associated with it. Rather than realize that is where the traffic is try to reshape things to what they already left.

I'm not really worried for a couple of reasons.

Your worries about the rise of think of the children excuses, well, there are a lot of children there. Maybe we should think of them...

The big reason I'm not worried is that no change is ever permanent. If the rules turn out to be too restrictive, then do another pass at them. Today, Reddit is a shitty place that I think is a net-negative for the world. If they were to change the rules and turn it into some kind of milquetoast site that was neutral or mildly positive, I think we would be better off.

I think the sad truth is that all that toxicity is making the few people running Reddit a lot of money and that's all they care about.

What about the many times in history where that was effectively not the case ? I mean, say, take a Russian living in 1905 under the Tsar. Odds are very slim indeed they would have lived to the point when times/rules got better again. Or a Chinese living in the 1920s ?

Rules relaxed again in both cases, but those people would have died long before the rules changed back.

I see where you’re coming from, but you’re talking about a governmental and cultural shift to restrict liberties compared to booting some people or organizations from a virtual platform.

    > "think of the children"
Well, that trope usually applies to children doing themselves harm. I do not worry overly about children harming themselves in the current environment. I worry about them harming me.

It's a Simpsons reference, using the term ironically.


I realize that. People generally refer to that quote to criticize people who use "protecting the children" to shame others into supporting bad arguments.

Where social media is concerned, the situation is different. The worry is that "the children" will grow up with a bunch of insane, toxic ideas, and their behavior will endanger the rest of us.

So it would be more apt to say "think of the adults!"

I fundamentally believe that outside of niche hobby & technical subreddits, Reddit is making society a worse place and allowing major non-organic manipulation of ideas through their API.

Reddit is a site that I feel absolutely no guilt about visiting with an ad-blocker running.

Good interview and he illustrates at least two problems that are not unique to Reddit: 1. Cancerous “growth at all costs” as the single metric/goal, and 2. Inability to make decisions, leading to always running defense against the press and competitors. Who hasn’t seen one or both of these in their own companies?

Off topic but Reddit is extremely addictive. Removed the app from my phone and I have suddenly so much time at hand. Not even facebook is so addictive.

I see the internet as different levels of hell. At the bottom is 4chan. In the middle somewhere is Reddit and Twitter. In a free and open platform, you have to take the good with the bad. It can never be fully contained, and I think the dream of a harmonious, engaged, happy social community is a pipe dream. Reddit’s main problem are the mods, and their uneven, disparate treatment of groups and individuals, and management, for not have the courage to set a standard and stick to it. Nothing will ever be perfect.

Looks like all the giants, including FB and Google, are focused only on growth, at the end each decision is measured by how many new users it will acquire, no matter the content. Shame.

So sick of this. Trump wins an election and now reddit and all of social media made the world a worse place?

Was this guy a PR guy for reddit like the former google PR woman lambasting google?

What's with the childishness of these former tech people? Just because things haven't gone your way, you whine all day?

Reddit and social has made the world a lot better place. LGBT people are better accepted in society because of reddit and social media. People from religions like mormons are better able to separate themselves from the tyranny of their religion. Atheists are more accepted. A black president, something almost unthinkable, was elected partly because of reddit and social media.

I'd rather a world without nymag and journalists than a world without HN, reddit, etc.

Ever since trump's election, we've had nonstop propaganda from the useless agenda pushing journalists and their media organizations.

I wish these children would grow up already. The point of elections and life is that you win some and you lose some.

Instead of giving preference to useless news and magazines, social media companies should simply ban then just to give them a taste of their own medicine.

And what made reddit, twitter and much of social media so toxic isn't social media, it's journalists and media companies pushing their way into social media.

Reddit became toxic when it succumb to media pressure to give journalists and media companies special preference. And when major default subs like politics, news, worldnews, etc got handed over to the media and the democratic party.

Perhaps this view of social media was naive during the Obama era. There was lots of hope about Obama using social media to get elected, the Arab spring using social media to democratize, etc. But in the end, we saw that social media has a major flaw and this flaw has been since exploited in very damaging ways by both corporations and nation states. This so-called flaw isn’t a big, it’s a design problem for which there’s no effective mitigation other than applying moderation on a massive scale.

> This so-called flaw isn’t a big, it’s a design problem for which there’s no effective mitigation other than applying moderation on a massive scale.

You are against corporations and nation states exploiting social media so you want corporations and nation states to moderate it? Doesn't make much sense.

Odd that you aren't calling for the moderation of traditional media.

All the wars, the arab spring issues and even trump isn't a social media issue, it's a traditional media issue. If you are truly worried about corporations and nation states exploiting something, you'd be up in arms over traditional media.

Reddit's efforts to combat toxicity has made it so much less entertaining. r/all was so fun back in 2012/2013 but now it's all left-think agenda pushing articles or extremely tame content.

I still haven't been able to cut it out of my daily reading habits, but that's a lingering effect of how good it was 5+ years ago. The current state of it errodes that each passing day.

Pray tell, what did Reddit change to make r/all less fun for you? Considering the complete meltdown that occurred when r/fatpeoplehate was banned, I can't imagine much of value was lost.

For those who don't remember the meltdown I'm referring to, for a few days after FPH was banned, its users brigaded every big sub and upvoted photoshopped pictures of Ellen Pao's face on to the body of a morbidly obese person. It was possibly the most childish form of acting out I'd ever seen.

r/all was a place to check the pulse of the online community. News rose to the top FAST.

Now there are so many rules in place due to over moderation that Reddit feels like the last online community to know about breaking news.

The general consensus has shifted to be much less like the pragmatic tech community (value in free speech and rights along with being a good person) to a virtue signaling group that values feelings over anything else.

Well, that all probably sounds like I'm a disgusting person full of hate, but I'm really not. I want everyone to be able to have a fair shot at achieving their dreams. I just think we're going to be able to make healthy progress with such censorship and handholding.

> r/all was a place to check the pulse of the online community. News rose to the top FAST.

A pulse that has always depended on upvotes and downvotes, and thus has always been susceptible to being gamed. The reason subs like r/t_d were blocked from r/all was because they did this exact thing; their posts would receives thousands of upvotes within minutes of posting, yet the upvotes-to-comments ratio was always very low, meaning real people weren't engaging with the content as much as the bots were.

> The general consensus has shifted to be much less like the pragmatic tech community (value in free speech and rights along with being a good person) to a virtue signaling group that values feelings over anything else.

I hear this a lot, without much in the way of concrete examples. Each time the free speech issue gets raised, it results in angry redditors creating their own "virtue signaling" offshoot subs like "r/uncensored_news". Unsurprisingly, it attracts the most toxic members of the community until it consists almost entirely of hate speech, and the site admins are forced to ban it.

And I say 'forced' because that's what it is; just because r/whiterights and other subs have been banned doesn't mean there aren't hate subs on Reddit still operating freely. The admins to this day still allow for a live and let live approach UNTIL a real-world event forces them to take action. r/incels was a growing community until the Toronto van attack for example.

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