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Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian Resigns from the Board of Reddit (twitter.com)
291 points by dootah 31 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 409 comments

Relevant context: recently, former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao called out Reddit for their policies after Reddit did a statement on Black Lives Matter:

> I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don't get to say BLM when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long


Here's a relevant totally hypothetical "long con" involving Ellen Pao's hiring-and-firing and re-hiring of the original founders: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3cs78i/whats_the...

The hypothesis is posed by Yishan Wong, an ex-CEO, with responses from Altman and Ohanian.

edit: I made a mistake understanding this story. Please see the correct timeline in geofft's comment.

Relevant, but I think the timeline is a bit subtler than that. (Mostly, the CEO referenced in that story is Wong himself, not Pao.)

- Reddit was acquired by Condé Nast in 2006.

- Founders Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman left in 2009.

- Yishan Wong became CEO in March 2012.

- Reddit raised its Series B in September 2014, led by Sam Altman. Wong was one of the investors.

- Wong resigns in November 2014. Ellen Pao becomes interim CEO and Ohanian becomes executive chairman.

- Reddit introduces an anti-harassment policy and bans fatpeoplehate and other subreddits in early summer 2015.

- Later in the summer, Victoria Taylor is fired. Users hold Pao responsible, she apologizes for how it was handled, and she resigns on July 10 under pressure from the board. Huffman becomes CEO.

- One day later, Wong writes the above post.

- One more day later, Wong reveals on Quora that Ohanian, not Pao, fired Taylor.

> Later in the summer, Victoria Taylor is fired.

Celebrity AMAs just haven't been the same since. She was, in my opinion, one of the best parts of any of the default subs back then. It was very unexpected when she was suddenly gone with no reasonable explanation, and all the AMAs right around then were absolutely garbage. She did a lot for /r/IAmA.

https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/3d2hv3/kn0t... is also Yishan calling out Ohanian for reference.

It's interesting how sexual harassment has long-term implications for one's career. You're a VC partner who is sexually harassed by another partner, as a consequence you get pushed out, as a consequence you're forced to take a position at a failing company, as a consequence you're forced to take the role of the fall guy by the failing company's founders, and as a consequence your career in tech is over. It's remarkable how much shit Ellen Pao had to take just for speaking out about sexual harassment at Kleiner Perkins.

Keep in mind that it was found that all of her allegations of sexual harassment were completely unfounded and she was likely just trying to get a settlement to help her dire financial situation

> it was found that all of her allegations of sexual harassment were completely unfounded

Do you have a source for this?

The courts ruled in Pao v. Kleiner Perkins that Kleiner Perkins did not discriminate against her. I don't think they ruled on whether or not Ajit Nazre sexually harassed her (or others), and evidence for it was presented in the case. I'm pretty sure they did not rule that the allegations were "completely unfounded."

> she was likely just trying to get a settlement to help her dire financial situation

Given the publicity around how her case was the first like it, you'd have to be very, very foolhardy to go into it for financial reasons, especially if you didn't think you had a strong case. And if you were going for a settlement, you wouldn't want it to actually go to court if the other side didn't offer one, you'd just withdraw the lawsuit.

The Vanity Fair piece on her and her husband is a good read. It was written before she became CEO, or really got that much attention. I have no idea how true her allegations were, but she's the sort of person who would take advantage of situations.


The best commentary I read on her case with Kleiner Perkins was it was an imperfect case with imperfect parties. The press presented it as representative of gender discrimination in the valley, but it was really bad actors on both sides. While I didn't have any personal issues with Ellen, I know people who did, and I can absolutely see her taking advantage of the situation, so it was pretty appalling to see people who don't know her making her a champion of women in tech.

I hadn't read that article before, but I just read it now - I don't see anything in it to indicate that Pao took advantage of situations (at least in the sense of unfairly taking advantage of situations - certainly there's a lot of advantage in the situation of being a VC and this profile paints her as ambitious and driven, but I think it's not what you meant). There's a fair bit in the article to paint Buddy Fletcher as not a great person - money that apparently disappeared from his fund, for instance, and the independent auditor not being that independent. But the article also goes to some length to argue that he tried to convince his wife not to sue KPCB.

This is potentially veering off-topic, but I think it's entirely reasonable for imperfect people to be champions of women in tech or whatever other causes. I know very few perfect people. (In fact one of the common reactions I heard to Susan Fowler's "very strange year" post is how lucky she was that her own behavior was blameless through that year - certainly all the forces that conspired against her had been at Uber and other companies for years before that, but nobody was able to tell a story where they were so clearly faultless, because, well, everyone's human, and sometimes you misjudge things, get into fights where you're in the wrong, etc.)

And in particular I think it's entirely possible - and entirely consistent with the details in the Vanity Fair story - for an imperfect person to have been quite factually sexually harassed and to have suffered for it.

I remember reading this article when it came out in 2013.

When I re-read it today, I finally saw all the obstacles and discrimination that Ellen Pao and Buddy Fletcher had to overcome just to be in a position to be embroiled in scandals like this.

It's all power and positioning. That chain of events does a good job of explaining how the soft consequences of speaking out (a little less trust from others, not being perceived as the person you actually want to lead) can lead to real outcomes.

It's hard to know for sure how much she knew about when hired, but without what she'd experienced prior, would she have felt the need to take on this role? Was she viewing her career or reputation in need of rebuilding or strengthening, so that's why she entertained this (and if so, was the outcome expected, or did they throw her under the bus)?

devnull3456 [banned] 31 days ago [flagged]

Citation needed. Her sexual harassment claims were false, and she lost her court case. Perhaps what you are seeing is evidence that she is difficult to work with, and bad at her job.

Thanks for this, very helpful. I had no idea Ohanian was the root cause of that incident.

Even on a throwaway, I can't share more, but Alexis royally fucked Victoria on that one. But don't think Ellen didn't have anything to do with it. The management structure at that time was pretty weird.

Why was Victoria Taylor fired again?

> The hypothesis is posed by Yishan Wong, an ex-CEO, with responses from Altman and Ohanian.

I found the response from Altman (https://old.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3cs78i/whats_the...) but where is the response from Ohanian?

I used to work for reddit. I was talking with another former admin, and we both remember a post on reddit asking admins how they got their jobs at reddit. I was never able to find it, but Ellen Pao said something like "I invested in it and asked for a job."

This is just scape-goating and finding something recent to blame for a situation that has been going on for 150+ years.

Besides, it was effectively shut down, and all that did was lead to the creation of thedonald.win, which by all appearances seems to be thriving and growing rapidly, probably much faster than Reddit itself grew when it was founded. To blame the situation on a forum is to misunderstand that the country is filled with people with these viewpoints regardless (and it has been for far longer than anyone today has been alive).

> Besides, it was effectively shut down, and all that did was lead to the creation of thedonald.win

You don't end up on thedonald.win by chance, you go there purposefully. For a long time /r/t_d wasn't quarantined at all meaning anyone browsing /r/all would see their posts all day long (since they were pretty good at mass upvoting their own posts for that purpose).

I don't think anyone advocates for entirely banning this community from the internet, freedom of speech is still important, but just not have it in a place where it might get surfaced and advertised to people that weren't looking for it. So to me, thedonald.win and /r/t_d are very different.

> anyone browsing /r/all would see their posts all day long

I feel like that's only right and correct; in a sufficiently-large community (i.e. a society), anyone intentionally exposing themselves to "everything" should be prepared to view the worst of the worst (of the worst) of "everything." That's what "everything" means!

Honestly, I don't get why /r/all even exists, if it's not there for the people who want to voluntarily immerse themselves in a soul-destroying experience. It's a Total Perspective Vortex. (It thus perplexes me why Reddit—a corporation with PR concerns—would keep it around. It's not something a corporation would want to provide, even if it's something some strange people would like to consume.)

Imagine for a moment what the /r/all equivalent for Usenet would be like. Or the /r/all equivalent for "phpBB forums." Or /r/all for Wordpress blogs. Kind of ridiculous to even want that, no? It'd have no purpose other than instilling existential terror.

>Honestly, I don't get why /r/all even exists,

I'd venture to guess /r/all exists for the same reason the Facebook News Feed exists: to increase engagement with the site. It's a curation mechanism that amplifies the already popular items within the sub communities, and exposes them to the community at large in a virtuous (vicious?) cycle.

> anyone intentionally exposing themselves to "everything" should be prepared to view the worst of the worst (of the worst) of "everything." That's what "everything" means!

That would be ok if you saw that in propotion. The issue is when you have a group of people intentionally gaming the upvote system, making /r/all inundated with alt-right content (tbf, /r/t_d weren't the only one doing that), completly skewing what you see.

It's basically the same issue with all social platform, yes everyone should have the right to express their views, but mass amplification via the platform's algorithm shouldn't be a right.

“In proportion” to what, though? We get the same problem here that one gets with many voting systems: if voting is voluntary, then some groups are more politically active (i.e. vote more) than others, and so some voting blocs (here, subreddits) are over- or under-represented compared to their user-base size.

That’s not a problem with the way the algorithm counts votes. That’s just a mathematical voting-theory problem with comparing votes between disparate populations that are each motivated-to-vote for different reasons, and thus using “one vote” to mean something different within each community.

Or, to put that more simply: “karma” is non-fungible. It works fine to rank posts within a subreddit, but it’s entirely meaningless for ranking posts between different subreddits.


But that still ignores the greater issue. Things wouldn’t be “fine” even if some ideal inter-subreddit karma exchange-rate was reached. Keep in mind that some subreddits are “quarantined”, which essentially means that their weighting for appearing in /r/all is forced to 0.

In other words, /r/all isn’t just sorting badly; it also requires a bunch of manual overrides to its computed weights, in order to function.

IMHO, that’s not really a satisfactory algorithm. Maybe it’s practical for serving some purpose (e.g. making money), but that kludge-factor means that it isn’t actually doing what it claims to do: telling you about the activity happening across “all of Reddit.”

A “real” /r/all wouldn’t take quarantines into account. It’d just be the view that any third party would compute by scraping every subreddit, throwing all the posts into a table, and ordering by score descending. And that view is the one I mean when I say “soul-destroying.”

Let me restate my premise: a proper /r/all—one that truly delivers on the use-case it claims to deliver on—is just... not something anyone wants.

> but mass amplification via the platform's algorithm shouldn't be a right.

Right. No amplification is the solution. /r/all and the homepage need to be removed. Left wing subs and right wing subs should exist in peaceful isolation and subs like AHS which try to police what other subs are doing should be shut down.

I'm sure that would negatively impact Reddit's income, however.

It's not freedom of speech if reddit starts suppressing speech.

There are various other arguments to make, such as the rpevelance of posts encouraging violence that aren't covered under freedom of speech, or that reddit does not have to follow free speech rules in the first place.

I might be late to the threat but you have a very insidious assumption left unstated. You seem to think certain ideas are to dangerous to be shared. That they could infect people and corrupt them. If we silence all the wrong think people will act better.

This is dangerous for many reasons but particularly, what happens if something is deemed wrong think when it is objectively more true than the "right think"?

>freedom of speech is still important

> just not have it in a place where it might get surfaced and advertised to people that weren't looking for it.

You're going to have to pick one of these two statements. If freedom of speech is important then let the audience determine what makes it to the front page. If freedom of speech isn't important than hide content you don't like and continue building your own bubble.

> You're going to have to pick one of these two statements.

Absolutly not. Repeating myself from a bit further down:

It's basically the same issue with all social platform, yes everyone should have the right to express their views, but mass amplification via the platform's algorithm shouldn't be a right.


> let the audience determine what makes it to the front page

/r/t_d was gaming the upvote system to have way more posts on /r/all that they would have had 'naturally', making this whole point moot. It wasn't determined by what the audience wanted to see, it was determined by a small brigade of motivated people.

The issue is indeed the same with all social platforms but also media and broadcast. The singular question is this: What entity can really artfully determine who ought to speak to the masses in the interest of society? Is there someone with superiority of wisdom that can determine who should speak to many, and if so, is the answer the same ones that hold that power today. In the not-so-long ago it was the priest who spoke to the many and the king with the divine wisdom. Today we know better and thus we have given that power to... the ones we elect? No. It is the one whose platform has the highest stickyness.

Mass amplification via a platform's algorithm is not a big step above the old ways, and the platform owner does not seem to have much better divine wisdom than past kings.

Do you think the alt right is gaming the first amendment by holding rallies that get mass coverage?

No because it's part of your rights as an individual.

Gaming Reddit's upvote system is however directly prohibited by the ToS:

> [...] the following behaviors are prohibited on Reddit:

* Asking for votes or engaging in vote manipulation [...]

You can’t hide behind the terms of service. That is just something reddit made up. There is no fundamental difference between these two scenarios except whatever you’ve invented in your mind.

That sounds like you’re saying that it’s a waste of time to ever try to change anything because, well, “history.”

Feel free to disabuse me of my misconception if I misunderstand. But it sounds an awful lot like what some people say when you try to call out racist cops: “We’re just scapegoating someone for saying aloud what all the police are thinking. It’s a waste of time.”

Agreed. Pretty bad take. "We shouldn't try to make improvement because it's always been that way and there are more causes than just this one!"

It sounds to me like what he's saying it that its a waste of time (and often counterproductive) to try to silence voices that you disagree with. They aren't simply going to vanish because you've silenced them on your platform.

Because nothing ever changes anything or has any influence on anything it's just all.

Is a very reductive position to take and blatently antiscientific about what we know how racist ideologies spread.

most people weren't advocating violence in there, most of these claims came from people that wanted to tear it down and provide justification for it. I've seen documented evidence that the same kind of content exists on other subreddits that have not been banned.

censorship does not help you win the debate.

why won't reddit police left-wing content and calls for violence? all I want is transparency.

Yeah, TD alone was huge in 2016-2017 and was a huge contributor to the dynamic we have in the world today. Ellen is 100% right here and Alex did absolutely nothing to address it.

Good on her for publicly calling it out.

I think if TD were banned in 2016, there's a decent chance the world would look even worse and more polarized today, due to the backlash and chain reactions that would have occurred.

Picture "TOP SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANY BANS SUPPORT OF THE PRESIDENT" headlines running for months.

Picture Trump bringing it up in hundreds of speeches and tweets, demanding regulation and saying how unfair it is that he and his supporters are being censored and silenced and attacked by Silicon Valley and the left. (He's already doing that, but this would give him way more ammo.)

Picture he and his supporters pointing to it as evidence that The Elites and the liberals and the tech industry are out to get him and out to get half of the country, and that only he can defend their liberties and bring our country and corrupt establishment back from the brink.

Also, all of those users would just flock to alternative off-site communities that make TD look like a bastion of reason and civility by comparison.

Huffman's not in an easy position, here.

And? De-platforming works very effectively. Look at 8chan, Gab and Voat. All drowning in server costs trying to host "safe spaces" for certain opinions.

>De-platforming works very effectively

It does, and it is wonderful if those platforms are following along with the same narrative as you at a given point in time.

Google, Reddit et al. have shown themselves to pretty flexible when it comes to their morals though, particularly when it comes to the needs and wants of the Chinese government and their investors, so while you may be clapping your hands to your ideological opponents being "de-platformed" today, it could very well be you tomorrow.

I want to believe you. If you know this to be true, please share.

I remain skeptical. Evidence still seems mixed.

Yes, it seems social medias are effective incubators and accelerators for social pathogens, dominating the attention economy.

But there's also evidence that attention doesn't change minds. If I read this correctly, StarSlateCodex is making the case that media attention about Creationism didn't move the needle about beliefs.


I really want someone to explain what's going on.

8chan, Gab, and goat are all for very out of the mainstream opinions.

The POTUS has a strong support base, including multiple major media outlets that share information about him. It’s a totally different story. I think he could easily stand up a huge social media network if he needed to, perhaps in collaboration with Fox News.

I'm not so sure that he could to be honest. From an advertising PoV I don't think they'd have much luck - I listened to Ben Shapiro's podcast for a few weeks out of curiosity a while back and his advertisers are really bottom of the barrel stuff. If you've ever checked out Breitbart then.. yea. I doubt you could sustain the server costs. TBH I doubt the Daily Wire would be profitable from its advertising alone, and they don't have nearly the server or personnel costs a huge social media network would. I don't think a Trump affiliated social network would do any better with advertisers.

My thought would be that it might be funded by his campaign, similar to his other campaign apps and website. Completely hypothetical of course but they could either just make it owned by the campaign, or stand it up at arms-length and have it funded by dark money donations from trump supporting billionaires, kind of like a super PAC? Or just have the campaign buy millions of ads itself on the site to fund server costs.

The campaign or Trump's personal wealth could definitely pay for a social media network for some time, I'd agree. I just think the real money coming into right wing media is based on them being able to get loads of views on Facebook/YouTube and spread things widely, and a pro-Trump social media network is really a dead end for that. Without that I don't think you could make it profitable.

Deplatforming internet racists is categorically different from deplatforming the president himself. TD, 8chan? Most people who support the president don't even know what these are, and maybe have a vague idea about Reddit. I would be surprised if Reddit overall had more influence on the election than talk radio, and it doesn't come close to the bully pulpit now that he's president.

I disagree. I think de-platforming is rarely ever effective, and is very often counter-productive and achieves the opposite of the intended effect. 8chan, Gab, Voat, other imageboards, and distributed semi-private things like Discord servers continue to grow in popularity and continue to further radicalize people far beyond where they were before they first came to those places.

I recommend this post: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/07/22/freedom-on-the-central...

Key excerpt: "There’s an unfortunate corollary to this, which is that if you try to create a libertarian paradise, you will attract three deeply virtuous people with a strong commitment to the principle of universal freedom, plus millions of scoundrels. Declare that you’re going to stop holding witch hunts, and your coalition is certain to include more than its share of witches."

If you have relatively moderate people looking to discuss non-mainstream things without being censored, and they can't do that, then you're forcing them into the witches' dens, where they'll probably become increasingly less moderate and increasingly more paranoid and polarized. They feel like the other side hates them and is out to get them... and in this case, their point is being proven. This is exactly why Trump won in 2016 and why he'll probably win again.

Sure, it certainly isn't profitable or fun to run 8chan, Gab, or Voat if you're the owners, but this is just about the users who don't particularly care what site they're using. They'll just use whatever site won't get rid of them. (Also, it isn't even profitable or fun to run reddit, either.)

And this isn't even getting into the possible ethics of de-platforming and censorship and what should and shouldn't be permitted; just the practical effects. Practically speaking, I don't think it's an effective tactic, if the effect you want is to disempower your opponents. It empowers them and energizes them.

Yes.. Censorship is wonderful

and make no mistake "de-platforming" is censorship

We make value judgements all the time. Reddit puts a NSFW spoiler on violence, porn, etc. Is that considered censorship?

Is it really censorship if r/t_d had violated numerous Reddit ToS rules? Rules which all users agreed on when signing up.

Make no mistake, it's a no brainer to ban a community that is both outwardly hateful, and regularly abuses the rules of the site they're hosted on.

>>Reddit puts a NSFW spoiler on violence, porn, etc. Is that considered censorship?

yes and no. It is lesser because it empowers the user to self select if they want to see NSFW items. That is the key.

I put the quarantine on the same level as this, so I have less of an issue with that than if they just banned it outright.

>Is it really censorship if r/t_d had violated numerous Reddit ToS rules?

yes, let me be clear Reddit is perfectly in its legal rights to censor anything they want. They can censor directly all Republicans if they want.

They however can not magically make it not censorship simply because they add a line in their ToS.. that is not how free expression works.

a Website that only allows car related topics censors all speech not related to cars

The problem for Reddit is for years they advertised themselves as a Open Access forum for all topics and discussions, the point 6 font terms of service not with standing.

If reddit has a BIG BOLD header on the HomePage that reads "Conservatives not welcome here" then it would be a different discussion for me

>> outwardly hateful,

Ahh the old "hate speech" non-sense. I reject this premise as "hate speech" is such a subjected term that if you ask 10 people what qualifies as "hate speech" you will get 30 different answers based on context and other things

Further Reddit ignores their own policy on hate speech and promotion of violence provided the speaker is the "correct" political affiliation and that target is the "wrong" political affiliation

The Reddit ToS has always had restrictions on communities that brigade and abuse other communities. They didn't need to add an exception for r/t_D. Instead, they made an exception to keep the subreddit around, because it was driving lots of traffic to the site.

I implore you to go to ceddit.com/r/the_donald and look at the mod log. See how many slurs and calls to violence you see being manually approved by their mods.

>>The Reddit ToS has always had restrictions on communities that brigade and abuse other communities.

Reddits content policy, by their own admission today, is subjective and poorly defined.

Further it is beyond denial that admin moderation and crack downs on subreddits is often politically biased. for example it has been shown many times Admins will crack down on "calls to violence" in conservative or "right" subreddits but are hands off in progressive or "left" subreddits.

You ask me to go to ceddit or mod logs to see violence and racism, but what about the left subreddits that have it on display with out having to visit an external site or mod logs?

I would argue that "de-platforming" is the platform owner's use of speech/protest.

Platforms shouldn't have the power to completely squash voices but monopoly power and such is a different issue.

in away you are correct, and honestly my biggest problem I have with reddit (and other tech companies) is the double speak they employ.

If they come out with a clearly defined OBJECTIVE set of rules that is UNIVERSALLY enforced then my objections would disappear

Instead they have a vague subjective list of rules that they selectively enforce largely based on a political bias they continue to publicly deny exists

They claim their site is open to all political leanings and views, if they want to have a liberal version of thedonald.win then more power to them, put up a banner that says "Democrat Supporters Only, This is Reddit. Our community is a high-energy Democrat rally. There are no exceptions." then my objections, and the objections of many would disappear, of course reddit would lose most of its value and traffic, which is why they want to speak out of both sides of their mouth. Reddit is only of high value if it has a large cross section of the public participating.

This is 100% what would have happen, and Fox News would air this endlessly.

This would make the SV and "the left" look worse and more political, including in the eyes of fairly moderate people.

This is not a binary choice.

There's a lot of daylight between censorship and simply not amplifying outrageous behavior.

We could break feedback loops, add friction, disallow retweets (forcing copypasta), not show likes, etc.

I don’t think this alarmist view makes much sense because all of that has happened, and more. The Right (the group of angry young white men inhabiting r/the_donald not conservative voters) spend every moment outraged about censorship and supposed sleights against them — real or not. Everything you describe is happening every single day and has been since before Donald Trump and will continue after him. If the_donald had been shut down it would have been a positive, without question.


It's a bit sad how there aren't many places on the internet left that strive for the balance between no moderation (for example - various anonymous imageboards) and an extremely biased one (especially towards political opinions, eg. on Reddit and Twitter). In addition to that there are problems with bots made to influence public discussion. In my opinion, that's the main reason why you shouldn't base your opinions on the general public on content you see on the internet - it's relatively easy to manipulate any opinion in a way that it seems supported by a large (and loud) majority.

It's been normalized everywhere, it comes off to me as some sort of badge of honor for people to blame all the ills of the world on one race. Amazing how this doesn't fly for other groups.

Scapegoating is a wonderful thing

> Everything you describe is happening every single day and has been since before Donald Trump and will continue after him.

Yes, it has been and it is and it will, but everything is relative. No matter how bad a bad situation is, it can always get worse. You may not like the US now, but for all we know you could be begging to return to June 2020 when June 2021 comes around.

Every little thing like this increases his odds of re-election and the odds that people will think he's right or at least has a point. If reddit bans the subreddit for him and his supporters and doesn't ban any others, that could actually turn some non-Trump voters into Trump voters, and definitely increases the odds that his people will get out and vote.

>spend every moment outraged about censorship and supposed sleights against them — real or not

Sure, but then here they would have a real sleight, a real example of censorship, and a concrete and empirical thing to be outraged about, as well as a coherent and persuasive argument about the larger implications of the censorship and potential future risks they may face. It's the perfect way to empower them and bolster their intensity and their numbers.

He is very good at taking inflammatory stories, running with them, and getting other people fired up about them, too. He is extremely persuasive not only to his base, but also can be to some people who are closer to the middle. Reddit banning the subreddit and not allowing another one be created for him would be an escalation and a turning point. It's a major line in the sand, and would be a major talking point for him.

It may sound alarmist, but I'm saying this because I am genuinely alarmed at what could have happened and what might happen in the future. His supporters exist in the tens of millions, and they're going to talk with each other one way or another. If they're unable to talk with each other or about him without being banned on popular websites, they're left with no choice but to instead do it on insane cult-like conspiracy theory websites (trust me, if you think TD is bad, just try looking at some of those sites), where they'll be increasingly polarized and will increasingly believe even more dangerous and extravagantly false things.

The more large organizations try to restrict a particular group, the angrier they get and the more they feel like powerful forces are out to get them and that there's an organized conspiracy behind it. It's like trying to push an air bubble out of some material - you just end up displacing it, and if you apply too much pressure, the thing's going to pop.

Also, as other commenters have pointed out, there are lots of very polarized and even extremist people on the opposite side, and if reddit removes one side and does nothing to the other, then all of the above gets amplified even more.

I honestly agree with how Zuckerberg and Huffman are handling this. They both clearly personally dislike Trump, but they understand the big picture. It's kind of like geopolitics.

>> that could actually turn some non-Trump voters into Trump voters

That ship has already sailed most likely. I voted Libertarian in 2016 as I have for every presidential election that I have voted in.

2020 there is a high probability that I will vote Republican for president for the first time in my life, not for sure yet but it is EXACTLY because of the extreme support for censorship, de-platforming and cancel culture that is coming from the Authoritarian left that has my vote is wavering

The crazy thing to me is how so few people on the left realize and understand this. Many people in this thread just don't seem to get it at all.

I'm a left-leaning person and always will be, but sometimes I get really frustrated at how people I otherwise agree with just never fail to consistently shoot themselves and each other in the foot. They'll read your and my posts and just think it's a bunch of nonsense and once again be flabbergasted when Trump wins again. (I'm not 100% certain he'll win, but I definitely am over 60% confident.)

Right, the healthy discussions over r/politics is what they should encourage. /s

Yes, /r/politics is an echo chamber. But there is an enormous difference between that and T_D. I don't ever recall seeing posts on /r/politics being stickied that called for violence, whereas that happened routinely on T_D.

Your comment is not sarcastic, it is misleading, misiniformed and ultimately destructive.

BS. The only difference between the two discussion groups is that TD dropped all the pretense. I have seen the same kinds of things that are loosely defined as 'calls to violence' in both places.

People on the donald openly celebrated violence in top upvoted posts. Tons of open racism. Politics has turned into a bit of an echo chamber compared to 10 years ago, but it is in no way the same as T_D.

That "dropping pretense" you describe carries a LOT more weight than you are giving it, in who it attracts, and the behaviors it promotes.

It's just a thinly veiled allusion to "dog whistling" which all of these supposed free speech zealots like to throw around whenever they feel that their safe space is being questioned.

I'm no fan of r/politics, but to actually believe that they're basically the same as TD is just wild.

I would very much like to see a study on that. Because of the reddit quarantine I can't use a subreddit analysis tool to compare the subs. The only conclusion I can see is that both politics and the donald is likely to share the same word as the most commonly used: Trump.

I would in particular be interesting to know if there is a significant difference in offensive words used in either sub.

T_D moved offsite to escape censorship from reddit, i will not post the url here but it is easily findable

I don't agree with you, but even if I did, the "pretense" being referred to is "we don't actually want violence inflicted on the other party". I'd say that's a pretty important pretense to keep

"Dropped the pretense" is an inference you're making into the motivations of the posters.

Indeed, the difference between making a direct call to violence and an inferred one are very different things.

The problems with TD stemmed far beyond inciting or glorifying violence. As mentioned, the biggest problem with /r/politics is it's an absolute echo chamber. Not even in the same realm.

Free speech isn't hard to understand as a concept. If someone says something you disagree with, you debate them. Echo chambers radicalize us all. No one is immune to the effects of groupthink.

So, how do you feel about the fire-in-a-crowded-theater exception?

You're allowed to shout that there's a fire in a crowded theater if there's actually a fire. No one has ever argued that there is an unlimited right to say whatever you want whenever you want (libel and slander laws exist and don't seem to be controversial). If you falsely shout that there's a fire and cause a stampede and people are injured and it can be proven that you did it with malicious intent, you will be prosecuted or sued, but this isn't fundamentally different than libel or slander laws. Finally, you should know that the "fire in a crowded theater" phrase came from a unanimous Supreme Court decision that endorsed censorship and suppression of speech that criticized conscription during World War 1.

I recommend you check this out:


Note that I don’t think that Reddit policing its content is censorship, I am only responding to the “fire in a crowded theater” Internet trope.

Not sure what relevance an "exception" a judge made up to justify censoring protest against WW2 japanese internment camps has to this conversation.

Schenck was WWI (1919) and concerned anti-draft literature distribution. You've got the wrong case.


Damnit. Thank you.

Right spirit, completely wrong details. Story of my debugging life :D

Fire in a crowded theater is not an exception according to the Supreme Court and hasn't been for a while.

Clear and present danger is the standard.

According to the Supreme Court saying that all members of a certain minority group in must be killed, is covered under free speech, but saying that a specific member of that minority group must be killed at 9 p.m. tomorrow night, it's not free speech but clear and present danger.

The “only difference” between a group of fascist white supremacists who fantasize about violently exterminating their perceived enemies and a bunch of ordinary people in a community organized around discussing newspaper/news magazine articles who are scared about the growing threat of fascist white supremacists and want them voted out of office and removed from positions of power is that the former have “dropped the pretense”?

I guess that’s one way of looking at it...


green user, only posts are in support of T_D, pretends it wasn't a hate filled shithole... Alright, I'll bite.

t_d was a vile, hatred spewing, white nationalist, violence prone subreddit and its death made the world better. Let's link a few examples, not for you, but for the few people that might still doubt it.

(NSFW links coming up, by the way.)

Their mods regularly left up posts that advocated for violence against leftists [1], calling for civil war in response to impeachement [2], calling for the murder of those who disagree with them [3], general gay and islamic hatred [4], kept a discord with doxxes of leftist in their sidebar [5], calling for political opponent's murder [6], rounding up muslims into concentration camps [7], extermination of migrants [8], and many, many, many others [9][10][11]

[1] http://archive.today/slkGP

[2] http://archive.today/DrQTU

[3] http://archive.today/TbEpC

[4] https://ld.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/f9owok/i_present...

[5] https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanhatesthis/trump-sup...

[6] http://archive.today/0uCjr

[7] http://archive.today/DwlAc

[8] http://archive.today/oOqOR

[9] https://archive.today/c76rt

[10] http://archive.fo/lGoMJ

[11] http://archive.is/WEwv5

thu2111 30 days ago [flagged]

I've never read or posted to The_Donald before although I was aware of its existence, so I read your post with a neutral mindset and followed the links to verify your claims. Because if true then I'd agree with you on its closure.

Many of the posts are quite nasty, for sure. But I feel rather deceived. Many of the cited links don't support your claims about them. I checked them all, here are the summaries here for others.

advocated for violence against leftists [1]

This post advocates deportation of low-IQ immigrants. Many countries impose proxies for IQ on immigrants, e.g. degree requirements. I've had to pass such requirements myself. For this claim to be correct any border enforcement must be considered "advocacy of violence", which given the widespread existence of borders would be in my view a misleading claim. None of the replies advocate for violence either.

calling for civil war in response to impeachement [2]

This post doesn't "call" for civil war but predicts that it would be a likely outcome of Trump being replaced by Nancy Pelosi i.e. someone of entirely opposite views, in case of impeachment. If this post is considered unacceptable speech then it's hard to see how anyone could say "action X would lead to civil war" without it being equally unacceptable, which would effectively ban all discussion of civil war including by academics.

calling for the murder of those who disagree with them [3]

This post says "Whats the penalty for treason? Death?" and the replies give a variety of other possible outcomes like CNN jobs, book deals etc.

The US does have a history of executing people for treason. Lawful executions aren't legally considered murder. This post is thus a rhetorical question about constitutional fact. Obviously whether the act being discussed really is treason or not is a different matter, I didn't bother checking that, but it's not the same as saying "let's go murder this person" because the call is for the state to take action, not individuals.

general gay and islamic hatred [4]

This one is an image macro titled, "I present to you, the anti christ". The image is a cartoon of what appears to be a gay man wearing a turban and smoking a cigarette. It does indeed seek to denigrate gays and muslims, I guess, if you accept that depicting a gay muslim is inherently "hatred". But isn't that a contradiction in terms? Isn't that only considered controversial because Islam is famously intolerant of gays? The combination of these two things really shouldn't be considered a problem, according to western values, and presumably that was the point.

kept a discord with doxxes of leftist in their sidebar [5]

The leftists in question signed a public petition, and petitions aren't signed by anonymous people. Still, I agree this breaks Reddit's rules on doxxing as addresses are more than names, and this is by far the strongest claim to bad behaviour so far.

calling for political opponent's murder [6]

This one calls for Hillary Clinton to be imprisoned, not murdered. A small minority of comments talk about treason, but again when the state executes someone this isn't called murder, which is a legal term with its own meaning.

rounding up muslims into concentration camps [7]

This one indeed is bad, it describes China rounding up muslims in concentration camps and then says that whilst they "aren't applauding China" maybe the EU and Canada can learn something from it. For me that'd cross the line.

The top voted comment and thread is describing muslims as feral animals, barbarians etc. The others are suggesting that China has legitimate reasons for it due to Islamic terrorism.

extermination of migrants [8]

This one says, "ICE isn't enough. The Federal government will need to implement martial law to eradicate the aliens and corrupt politicians"

This one seems ambiguous. Grammatically it can be read as either ICE isn't enough to fulfil its mission of "eradicating aliens" (deporting them would be getting rid of them), which doesn't involve "exterminating" people let alone all migrants as they only care about illegal immigrants. Or it can be read as the difference between ICE and martial law is the level of killing involved. Given the Hacker News rule of the most generous reading possible this one would go the first way - not a call for "extermination of migrants" or indeed politicians but rather tougher enforcement of the existing rules.

The replies are all discussing electoral demographics and don't make any statements about killing one way or another.

The final three you didn't summarise. Oddly they seem like the strongest to build your case. They are anti-semitic comments about how "jews control our media" etc, a comment about "humvees with mounted machine guns" in response to a video of quite mild clashes between migrants and police, and a comment revelling and glorifying the impaling of someone who attempted to clime a border fence and was killed by the fence's protection mechanisms.

Clearly there's some nasty content there the moderators failed to crack down on. But I've seen some very nasty posts on all kinds of subreddits over the years. To prove T_D was worse than others would require some sort of statistical analysis, which would itself be likely to be biased (obviously a lot of posters on Reddit think nothing of calling people they disagree with Nazis... and we know what happened to them)

No, that reddit community is not representative of all people who nominally support Donald Trump (say, those who voted for him in 2016). However, that reddit community in particular has a substantial number of fascists and white supremacists among its members, and they are welcomed to bring their disturbing violent messages there.

(They are also encouraged by the numerous statements by Trump himself – their “god emperor” – and other allied officials in support of overtly fascist and white supremacist viewpoints.)

What would you consider to be fair definitions of “fascism” or “white supremacism” or “racism”? Does your definition include e.g. neo-Nazis marching chanting “Jews will not replace us”?

r/politics is where I always go to feel bad about myself and the rest of the world

> Yeah, TD alone was huge in 2016-2017 and was a huge contributor to the dynamic we have in the world today

Can you elaborate as to why? I'm not really sure how a subreddit is responsible for hate + violence + racism. How does freedom of speech/thought only work one way?

A subreddit dedicated to a figure that is radicalizing and openly suggests violence it goes hate, violence, and racism can come from there.

And freedom of speech need not tolerate death threats.

The mods would ban opposing views and leave hateful, violent, and racist views. Its not complicated.

I've browsed TD since it's inception and haven't seen any violent, hateful, or racist posts.

That's not to say that they haven't ever existed, but certainly not anything remotely close to how it's perceived. And definitely not any worse than you would see right now on r/politics.

I don't know what to tell you. I followed it during the election but it got too disgusting. Immigrants, and Muslims were large targets from what I remember. Lots of misogyny towards Hillary Clinton as well but I guess that doesn't count. It was certainly much worse than r/politics which is very biased but not racist.

Plenty of really gross Pepe memes. I mean, I don't know what to tell you.

538 did an interesting analysis into the kind of people on the sub at the time https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/dissecting-trumps-most-...

They always did a good job of some token news story as a "see we're good guys!" type post but if you scratched the surface and read the comments its was obvious.

The 538 article has some examples https://np.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5ldfmg/red_pills...

Oh give me a break. You're being willfully ignorant if you actually believe this to be the case. For months there were front page posts on reddit, manipulated by bots, from TD that were some of the worst content I've ever seen outside of 4chan.

I mean, reddit scrambled to implement a subreddit filtering feature just to provide a means for users to filter TD out due to the near constant complaints about the content of that sub.

Meanwhile, they banned other subreddits for much, much less. They actively fought to provide them their safe space and wrote actual features to support that subreddit.

Same here, I don't know what their standard for racist and violent view is?

It was by far the largest online conservative community, and it funneled people into even more extreme communities.

I don't really get bringing up the freedom of speech angle here - r/the_donald has always aggressively deleted posts and banned users for expressing anything but complete loyalty to Donald Trump.

This opinion bothers me. TD was always an explicitly pro-Trump subreddit. You expect anti-Trump content to be modded or removed. The modus operandi of /r/politics is much more nefarious. It is branded as a general politics-related subreddit but content that doesn't fit the left-leaning narrative is removed for ambiguous reasons.

> content that doesn't fit the left-leaning narrative is removed for ambiguous reasons

it's much narrower than that: whatever doesn't fit centrist Dem narratives is removed

You'd expect mods of t_d to not partake in smear campaigns against survivors of a school shooting, actually remove calls for death of various politicans, not telling people to harass journalist and maybe remove blatant fake news.

Straw-man. I never said TD was moral--just consistent with their ruleset.

> TD was always an explicitly pro-Trump subreddit.

Are you saying "smear campaigns against survivors of a school shooting" is explicitly pro-Trump?

Nobody cares about the survivors of a school shooting, other than having sympathy for them.

The survivors of the school shooting politicized the issue which makes it everyone's problem. They want a political action, they are constantly on the television promoting a certain viewpoint which I believe is asking to give up on my civil rights. They're saying that I need to give up my civil rights because of what happened to them.

Virginia Beach Shooting resulted in sweeping anti-gun legislation passed and the flipping of Virginia legislature, almost none of it was targeted at the survivors of the shooting. There was world's biggest Mass demonstration of armed protesters, and almost nobody brought the survivors of Virginia Beach shooting up.

> It was by far the largest online conservative community, and it funneled people into even more extreme communities.

a) This is such a stretch and you have no evidence to support your claim.

b) I'm pretty conservative and know a large number of conservatives and exactly none of the people I know even like Reddit, or consider it a viable "conservative community" at all.

There is a surprisingly large literature of academic literature on Reddit an TD specifically, at least some of which mentions radicalisation, though I've yet to find specific bits.


Work elsewhere certainly expresses and substantiates that narrative: Kate Starbird, Renee DiResta, Samuel Wooley, Kara Swisher, Zynep Tufekci, among others.

Steve Huffman has been the CEO since July 2015. Ellen was calling out Steve, not Alexis.

Alexis was on the board and still had an active role at the company despite not being CEO, for example, firing a popular moderator and and letting the blame fall on Ellen Pao:


You're saying Reddit has that big of an influence on how people see and interact with the world as opposed to say Identity Politics which by its very nature puts different groups into direct conflict with each other and where "cancel culture" came from??

You're giving a message forum way too much credit for Trumpism in the United States. Do you actually think that social media is representative of a majority?

Steve Bannon has spoken about specifically targeting Gamergate for political recruitment, I think the role of Reddit in radicalizing young men is quite important, actually. I don't think you could write a reasonable history of the last 10 years of US politics without reference to Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and 4Chan.

To be fair: that doesn't mean social media has any relevance, just that some people on both sides think it does.

Right. Dig into campaign actions and - as an example - it looks a lot like the trump campaign won wisconsin with robocalls more than with social media.

Hard to tell for sure, of course, but the recent blanketing of facebook with political advertising doesn't seem to have achieved that much except for buying Brad Parscale a ferrari.

Social media does presumably have some effect but I'm not sure how you'd tell how much/how little compared to other approaches for reaching people.

Social media is wildly influential. At this point, it is likely more influential than any other form of media. Reddit is the #2 social media platform by traffic in the US, after Facebook.

My feeling is that the world at large underestimates the impact of social media and Hacker news overestimates it. Not sure how to rate the infulential-ness of different media, but Fox News was HUGELY influential to the voters that decided the last presidential election: https://www.vox.com/2019/3/4/18249847/fox-news-effect-swing-...

I think "worldview media" is a more appropriate term for the phenomenon.

What form it takes isn't as important as the fact that it supplies enough content / entertainment / methods of consumption that one can subscribe to it and have 100% of their bandwidth filled, to the exclusion of competing narratives.

Talk radio was an imperfect expression of this, because radio isn't portable in the same way that app-based social media + mobile devices / Fox News are.

But it's entirely possible to prevent someone from ever being exposed to a contrary narrative, simply by filling all their available time.

Media, generally, catalyzes and facilitates social change, often in bad ways.

That's the central premise of Elizabeth Eisenstein's The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1980) https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/printing-press-as-an-ag...

I've compiled a related bibliography that gets at other aspects, including social and online media.


Is there a breakdown by subreddit? I'm curious how popular the adult reddits are.

They didn’t say it was? Ideas don’t reach a single person — someone that follows these forums — and then stop. They continue spreading and they might moderate when they do but they still have some center.

Reddit's advertising tool once said that /r/The_Donald had six million daily unique visitors. Sixty-two million people voted for Trump and sixty-five million for Clinton. Six million isn't a majority, but it's absolutely influential.

Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign digital director, and Dan Scavino, Trump's social media manager, regularly visited the site.

r/conservative seems to be taking on the role of T_D now, unfortunately.

/r/conservative isn't taking on the role of T_D, but it is taking on the role of unironic right wing boomerposting. I don't even go there anymore because the titles always seem to be variations of "EPIC ownage of LIBTARDS" and circlejerks in the comments, and very little discussion about actual conservative principles.

> Yeah, TD alone was huge in 2016-2017 and was a huge contributor to the dynamic we have in the world today.

Surely you mean "the dynamic we have in the world of reddit today", right? Otherwise, that sounds Bill-Gates-Is-Transmitting-Corona-Over-5G-Towers level insane.

It's not the smoldering powder keg in the middle east, the long looming conflict between the US as the sole imperial super power and the up and coming China contesting their role in SE Asia etc, no. It's really TD, a subreddit where Trump fanatics post memes.

I'm confused. T_D was shut down. The sub was quarantined, then hidden, and finally all the mods were removed and the sub was more-or-less locked.

Does she mean that it should have been done sooner?

I'm confused, too. Shortly after Pao left is when all the quarantining, admin interventions, bannings, and 18+ warnings popped up on reddit. It was clear that reddit felt going mainstream was the only way for profitability.

When Pao said:

"Ultimately, the board asked me to demonstrate higher user growth in the next six months than I believe I can deliver while maintaining Reddit’s core principles."

Some, and I agree with them, interpreted this as Pao being the one that actually tried to keep reddit more of a discussion/free-speech site (the "core principles" she referred to), and the mob was wrong all along. Therefore, on the surface, either we were completely wrong, or Pao is changing the narrative today.

Either way, and it goes without saying, there's far more going on here than anyone outside of the board room knows.

Should have been done in 2016.

Suspect she's more just looking for something to complain about. In any case, T_D is indeed gone, and no doubt the world is a better place. Or something. I haven't noticed a reduction in vicious posts on Reddit, though.

But that's why she was ousted:


Turns out only allowing speech that you deem acceptable makes for a pretty boring internet forum.

Here we are on HN, one of the most censored and moderated forums on the internet. Personally, I find it quite refreshing.

There are plenty of similarly moderated subreddits on Reddit that no one complains about. It’s easier when you can just ban all political content that gets out of hand because the forum is not focused on politics.

I agree that HN is heavily moderated, but from what I've seen the comment moderation is more focused on maintaining civility and tone. I think dang and friends will let you say controversial things as long as they're framed in a productive way and you aren't a jerk about it (and as long as you don't commit the sin of editorializing a post title!)

I think that's a stark contrast with reddit, where being a dick is often excused if one has the right ideology. Not to mention that many subreddits (especially, but not exclusively, the political ones) have become carefully maintained echo chambers thanks rules against disagreeing with even a single facet of the "correct" beliefs. r/The_Donald even had an explicit "no dissent" rule.

This is a great way of putting it. HN is heavily moderated for tone and respectfulness but not for ideology (within reason). Reddit is heavily moderated for ideology but not for tone or respectfulness.

I believe this policy is actually responsible for political subreddits there being so consistently toxic. The site’s moderation encourages extreme ideological echo chambers to form in which members can be almost arbitrarily uncivil as long as they exist within that community’s ideology.

"...what I've seen the comment moderation"

It's what you don't see, friend.

Moderated in scope, not in opinion. Except the downvotes of course, which are easily the worst part of HN.

I too miss the old forums you had dedicated to one thing and set up by volunteers who liked that one thing and weren't interested in growth above all.

This one seems pretty decent.

This site one is one of the best. If political dialog could be moved to a peer site it would be even better.

I'm guilty of engaging in discussing politics here (and tried to do so in a factual and respectful manner) but it's pointless. It just becomes people talking past each other and generates arguments rather than dialog.

This is precisely why I browse Lobste.rs. It's just like HackerNews but without the political posts.

It's getting pretty exciting now! I can't wait to see what happens next.

Isn't that Hacker News? I'm assuming you aren't a regular user of Reddit as almost all of the subreddits I've used are heavily moderated?

HN allows a very wide swath of opinions without over-moderation. I've seen arguments commonly from every ideological & political segment, even though HN leans left (because its userbase foundation derives from the Bay Area, which is 95% left leaning). You see Capitalists here, you see Communists, you see conservatives, you see liberals, you see libertarians, you see every flavor of Socialist, you see everything inbetween.

You can argue for most points of view here, so long as you remain within their decency guidelines. Obviously HN won't tolerate certain extreme ideas that involve genocidal camps, killing people, violence or racism, that you might see bubble up out of eg the pro fascist or pro communist camps.

If there are 20 slices in a gradient of political ideology in the US (as an example), HN will allow you to very freely argue 18 of them, only dropping the extreme left and right (both of which commonly involve arguing for murder, racism, genocide, oppression, gulags, forced re-education camps, violence and countless other horrible things).

If you go into the largest political sections of Reddit arguing strongly (but decently) for Trump, you'll get moderated because the mods won't like you. That doesn't happen on HN, Dang will mostly leave your opinions alone (you will get downvoted though), so long as you are arguing in a way that isn't belligerent.

> So much of what is happening now lies at your feet.

I just don't know how much of a responsibility reddit has in strong-arming sub-reddits that are communities, whether we like them or not. So I struggle with Ellen's indictment.

It makes it seem like Reddit is a root level cause for where we are at today -- It's not, and is only a symptom. I believe it is unfair to say reddit, and their (somewhat) hands off approach to moderation inside a "community" is somehow the cornerstone to these ills, or that it did something to 'amplify' them

Reddit, among other social media websites, has been used as an avenue for the radicalization of, particularly, young males.

Young males are primed for radicalization in general.

What hasn't been used as an avenue? The point being, how much is "reddit" proper actually responsible? How much of that burden do they actually carry in policing isolated (by nature) and self-managed communities? I just don't know where that line is, and whether it's fair of Ellen to characterize it this way. And to do it as a response to what he's saying -- that comes off as somewhat tactless to me.

I don't believe that anyone is absolved of responsibility for their platform simply because the platform is "performing as designed", which is to say, with minimal moderation and policing of "self-managed" communities. It's hypocritical to hide behind the algorithm, the product, or the source code that allows extremist groups recruit when you're the one that built the product, and you're the one actively choosing to pursue market power at the expense of social good.

What exactly do you mean by 'radicalization'? Do young males have opinions that are fundamentally different from their fathers or grandfathers?

The radical right capitalized on the whole gamergate scandal to push their agendas, and their fathers and grandfathers wouldn't have generally identified as gamers.

Well, yes, in that way nothing that happens today can be in any way, shape or form similar to something that happened 50 years ago. After all, they didn't have cell phones and Twitch back then.

Was I making a comparison? Was I shutting the door to one? Did I make a statement that in any way, shape, or form suggests that nothing today is similar to something that happened 50 years ago?

I was stating what I still believe is a factual observation. I didn't claim or imply that other generations could not or were not radicalized throughout history. I wasn't suggesting that only young males can be radicalized, that reddit is the only place it can happen, that only right-wing entities have ever radicalized people, or that their opinions are somehow novel.

Would you would like to argue that the groups associated with "gamergate" weren't on reddit, weren't radicalized, weren't radicalized by right-wing entities, weren't young, and/or weren't generally male?

> Would you would like to argue that the groups associated with "gamergate" weren't on reddit, weren't radicalized, weren't radicalized by right-wing entities, weren't young, and/or weren't generally male?

Lots of people that cared about gamergate weren't "radicalized", they were pissed off. But mostly I'd argue that they are no different than their fathers or grandfathers. Those generations wouldn't have identified as gamers because that wasn't a thing back then, much like they wouldn't shout obscenities in Twitch chat, because that too didn't exist. They'd shout pretty much the same obscenities elsewhere though.

Gamergate in no way was totally responsible for the election of Trump. If anything invoking that Bannon capitalized on a small fraction of people in the movement is used as a cudgel by those wishing to shove their own political agenda down "gamer culture's" throat. Feeling excluded? Why not just destroy it instead. Pathetic.

I didn't accuse them of being responsible for the election of Trump, I accused them of being radicalized by far right entities.

I’m a young white man and I grew up in the Deep South (Alabama/Mississippi).

I had just started eighth grade when I moved to a very small town in Mississippi. On my first day a group of white kids invited me to sit with them. They decided the best way to break the ice would be to tell me heinous racist jokes. For example, somebody would tell a “joke” about how they’d like to hang Obama from their Christmas tree and everybody would burst into laughter.

All that is to say that I don’t think their opinions are different than those who raised them. They were children and had to have learned it from somebody.

But they would never express their racism outside of small white groups because they knew at some level it was wrong.

At some point in my teenage years I noticed a shift among these “friends”. They had joined online groups that echoed their sentiments and argued that it wasn’t wrong to be racist but rather it just makes you “woke” to go against the crowd. They think they’re just seeing the world differently.

One guy in particular would say heinous racist things and immediately follow it up with something like “I’d rather die than live under communism”. He had become radicalized. He was no longer a closeted racist boy. Now he’s a fully grown racist man filled with vitriol.

As a (former) young male on reddit (and I started out on reddit when it had about 4 subs), I am not seeing much over radicalization done to people. Reddit is big enough that there are many radicals on there.

I am definitely seeing opinions that aren't mainstream, and I have seen some subs self-radicalize. Self-radicalization seems mostly a consequence of more egregious things being upvoted more (e.g I don't even dare think what r/badcopnodonut looks like now) and a refusal to discuss things people see as issues. There is no reason on earth that gamegate went right wing, but the mainstream media sent hate their way and so they shifted away from those.

I'm not sure if I agree with the policies of censorship being endorsed right now. It's like the new "fighting child exploitation."

To play devil's advocate, here are some potential negative consequences of censorship:

1) Censored communities may still find other uncensored platforms to move their speech to, and it may be a platform even worse for fostering "bad" speech that is hidden from the public and festers in the dark. For example, Islamic terrorists do pretty well without connecting their members on Reddit or Twitter, and as such, we don't really have an insight into the state of their thoughts.

2) Best case scenario is that banned speech and thought becomes repressed in society due to the difficulty in these people connecting/sharing ideas. This creates a latent risk as at some point all these repressed people may realize they are not alone in thought. It also delays the cure to the problem by treating the symptom.

This brings me to my point that racism, bigotry, and prejudice largely stem from a lack of understanding, experience, and fear. Silencing hate speech or thought is just treating the symptom of the problem. Hiding symptoms and ignoring the underlying causes will result in the disease breeding—in the worst case in the dark—until it becomes explosive. If you address them and fight them by educating, and showing, and assuaging their fears, this will do much more than a temporary censorship will fix for the long term.

Racists are people too, and often just misguided. Censorship, eradication, and vilification are only really viable strategies if you truly believe these people are intrinsically evil and irredeemable. Such tactics will just push them deeper into their entrenched thoughts and solidify their understanding that others don't care about why they think a certain way, but that it's just an Us vs Them fight (which of course they are already inclined towards). See China's handling of Falun Gong. There's no doubt that Chinese elimination strategies towards Falun Gong just entrenched its supporters and gave the Scientology-esque movement more strength than it could have otherwise derived.

I don't know if it's specifically because of Ellen Pao's note, but I'm sure he is feeling the exact same thing. And I'm sure his wife is in his ear about it too. I am slightly surprised that he's washing his hands of it instead of leveraging his position to do something about it. Maybe he tried and failed behind the scenes.

He doesn’t strike me as the type of person to sit back and watch if he disagrees with something. If he’s washing his hands of Reddit I would venture to guess he’s explored many other avenues first.

Obligatory background reading on Ellen Pao: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/scandal/2013/03/buddy-fletc...

censoring conservative subreddits only makes the people in them more detached and more upset. It’s why Donald Trump is president right now. When will we learn?


Personal attacks will get you banned here. No more of this please.

Perhaps you don't owe a particular person better, but you definitely owe this community better if you're participating here.



> 24% of people killed by police are black

> African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers. [0]

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/1...

> black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

Black Americans are also 4 times as likely (per capita) to kill a police officer.

https://ucr.fbi.gov/leoka/2018/topic-pages/officers-feloniou... (bottom of page)

The reality of course is that the relationship between law enforcement and the black community is dogshit. There are terrible people on both sides that escalate nonsense into homicide, and this puts both groups on high alert in tense encounters.

Unfortunately I feel that one side has to move first to fix the situation and to me that's obviously law enforcement. But even if they started, in earnest, today it's going to take decades to equalize and sins of the past will eternally haunt us all.

It's hard to reconcile that theory with the facts of most of the cases that make the news. For example, the police officers who killed George Floyd clearly had no reason to fear for their lives. Or what about all the black folks shot in bed in no-knock raids?

The first step everyone needs to take to resolve this problem is to stop blaming the victims of police violence.

>It's hard to reconcile that theory with the facts of most of the cases that make the news.

Why would you expect a uniform sampling of cases from the news? Police killed 1000 people last year. Almost 3 per day. How many of those did you hear about? Why would you hear about some vs. the others?

> The first step everyone needs to take to resolve this problem is to stop blaming the victims of police violence.

Who are you addressing this to? Me? I didn't blame George Floyd in the least. That was straight up murder.

I wouldn't, but I think it's important to be sensitive to what people are actually protesting about. It's mostly these outrageous cases and (in the case of black folks) lived experience that make people angry.

People cite statistics to illustrate the fact that these cases are part of a bigger problem of systematic racism. Some people expend a lot of effort trying to explain the statistics away, but that largely misses the point.

The problem is that this emotionally charged state will lead directly to policies designed to defuse the situation rather than solve the underlying problem. This is how systemic issues persist (well, the main reason is 'doing nothing', but i digress)

I don't think it's fair to characterise a response as (merely) emotional just because it's a response to a specific incident rather than a broader trend.

Correct, but then the subsequent question, as the other user pointed out, is WHY? The default position to fill in the gap seems to be that "racist discretion on the part of the police is responsible," but is that actually a reasonable and defensible assumption?

Note that I pointed out that 96% of people killed by police are male, but men only make up 50% of the population. Do you assume that the difference between their per-capita representation is best explained by anti-male sexism? Aren't there a series of other relevant factors you could use to explain the disparity? I suggest you reflect on it honestly.


Don't those numbers need to be normalized to take into account the size of the populations? You posted absolute raw numbers for blacks and whites, without noting that depending on how the categories are defined, the white population of the US is 4-6x greater than the black population of the US. 4x is the absolute minimum, so if you were to weight them proportionately what you posted would show a very different story.

If the most conservative numbers are used (only 4x as many whites as blacks in the US), then it turns into this:


Whites: 457

Blacks: 223->892


Whites: 399

Blacks: 209->836


Whites: 370

Blacks: 235->940


Whites: 172

Blacks: 88->352

But practically speaking, without splitting hairs too much it's a heck of a lot closer to 5-6x than 4x.

EDIT: formatting


"Police interactions" are largely up to the discretion of the police, which is why almost all proposals for police reform include ending "broken windows" policies.

One example, with some more info: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/brokenwindows

Police interactions, maybe. But actual crimes committed should be a relatively objective metric. Can we discuss that one or it’s not allowed for some reason?



Dehumanizing someone for holding right of center views and then using that unilateral label as justification for targeting them is nothing like domestic violence.

People have started throwing around the labels "racist", "white supremacists" and "Nazi" far too liberally given that these words have the power to destroy lives.

When near center moderates are deplatformed and start to feel targeted for wrong think, you push them to align themselves with the extremists, the only people who claim to actually be looking out for their views and well-being. Not to mention that most of these accusations are based on glaring double standards.

she is completely right

Reddit got too mainstream for its own good. The company desperately wants to become the new social media (think Facebook or Twitter), but many users are standing in the way, making the change from a discussion website to a social media website slow. What made me and many others use Reddit in the first place is that it didn't really matter who you are and what's your political and religious background, the only thing that mattered is what you are saying in that particular thread in a particular subreddit. Now politics and controversies can be seen in all subreddits, people are using the platform just to post selfies of themselves, and with the addition of the "profile" feature, there is an insentive to make a name for yourself there.

So yeah, while a lot of people, including me, hate the changes, it is obviously better for the business, as it attracts a wider range of users. But still, I'm starting to use Reddit less and less, and relying on RSS and HN to get my daily dose of tech news and discussions.

I have no idea what the skin color or gender or sexual preferences of other users on HN are and you don't know mine. That's how I prefer it.

The other day I unsubscribed from a popular Javascript mailing list, after the writer switched from writing about Javascript to writing about how white people and black people should interact.

Or rather I didn't unsubscribe right away: I emailed the writer politely and mentioned how I prefer posts to be about the thing that unites us: Javascript.

Their response: "my platform, my voice", "all tech is political", "this mailing list isn't for you", and later on Twitter: people who unsubscribed are racist and should "eat shit".

I don't believe I'm racist. It's just that I signed up for Javascript tips and the writer switched to politics (in this case, the politics of a country and culture I don't live in).

I'm no more interested in their political views than they are in mine. On the internet, nobody needs to know I'm a dog.

In such a polarized emotionally charged environment, some people are unable to emotionally segregate world news from their personal and professional lives.

These people have become paralyzed and unable to function normally. They allow world events to bleed into every conversation, and feel obligated to support their side and ostracizing anyone that disagrees - further isolating them in their bubble.

I think that social media has increased society's emotional surface area to world events. We no longer isolate 30-60 minutes per day to watch balanced reports on the 6 o'clock news - now it's all the time, hyperbolic, and often deceptive.

Our emotions are being weaponized - and November is going to be a real wake-up call where we will see the magnitude of disruptive power that these polarized social media messages can wield.

Quite right! In this case, the mailing list writer has built a dichotomy into all their communications: either you say black lives matter or you say "all lives matter" and therefore you are his enemy.

Whereas the third option, "I'm just here for Javascript tips", wasn't even under consideration.

So unless you engage with and echo their politics, you fall into the enemy camp by default.

What a world it has come to where you are the enemy if you say all lives matters.

That's not what I meant. I'm saying the absence of any political statement at all makes one the enemy to the writer of this javascript mailing list.

If the statement is to be taken at face value, then yes I would agree. But it it shouldn’t be, it’s used a way of denigrating and minimising the concerns of BLM as well as painting the movement as supposed black supremacists when they naturally take offence at the subtext behind the statement.

While I disagree with the BLM movement, I think that All Lives Matter was an obvious attempt to rile up people and create unneeded conflict. I don't know what you are referring to when it comes to subtext, as it seems that the ALM movement really started to counter the idea that only black people get killed by police or are victims of hate crimes.

You are in complete control of how you choose to interpret a statement..and choose you will.

"I have no idea what the skin color or gender or sexual preferences of other users on HN are and you don't know mine. That's how I prefer it."

This aspect of HN is specifically WHY I feel welcome here and WHY the content + conversation is consistently of higher quality relative to other forums...It's actually one of the few places left online where this feature remains.

Andreas Antonopoulos does this on twitter all the time, drives me crazy - https://twitter.com/aantonop/status/1268576565912363008

The site became mainstream while still being extremely vulnerable to manipulation by a very small pool of individuals. They've done next to nothing to address how effective and rampant brigading is (among other tactics).

It really doesn't take much to brigade. Write some scripts to get 100 accounts upvoting your posts while they are on new, and chances are after that initial hump you've surmounted with your bots it will catch exponential viewership over the course of the day and make it to the front page.

You see this happening constantly on Twitter. You see unverified accounts with one or two followers having tweets that are trending within a few minutes with tens of thousands of "likes" and thousands of "retweets" and Twitter doesn't even blink an eye, but its so blatantly obvious what's happening.

> It really doesn't take much to brigade

What's frightening is that groups like politicians, unions, and extreme right-wing groups could very easily use this technique to quickly and pretty effectively promote or quell discussion.

I just recently saw an example of where this might have happened. Very suddenly a comment in a discussion I was following - what initially was a popular up-voted opinion (i.e discussing police brutality) - got down-voted into oblivion (from +5 to -25) in less than 5 minutes. The comment was deleted soon after - probably to protect their score.

This kind of quick/easy manipulation by bots can't be easy to detect/deal with yet I fear it may become mainstream.

Extreme right-wing(and center-right) are countered by the extreme left moderators and administrators. I assure you, if left-wing posts started being vote brigaded, Reddit would ban all those involved. They can already detect and ban vote brigading, they just don't care to stop it.

How can it be that the right wing are simultaneously back woods idiots and also capable of out teching the coastal elite?

I think the real problem facing the reddit corporate folks is that people on that site are slowly but inexorably coming around to the realization (if they aren't there already) that what makes a site good from the user's standpoint is pretty much antithetical to making it profitable.

Unfortunately for reddit, the site owes its existence to the users who built communities there, and when heavy-handed changes are introduced in classic reddit fashion (invariably user-hostile changes with little to no advance warning nor recourse), the users rightfully feel their senses of ownership being offended.

It's also the case that users are losing places to have free and open anonymous conversations with a bit of fun. I don't think it's just reddit, I've felt the squeeze on the whole internet. "The world is still a big place, there's just less in it" - Captain Jack

LiveJournal / Blogger (1999): Words are more important than styling. I'm going to be a writer someday.

LinkedIn (2002): You know who has money? People with jobs. Or people looking to give people jobs.

MySpace (2003): Webpages for people who don't webpage or understand contrast. Also my favorite song auto-playing ON THE INTERNET.

The Facebook (2004): Realization that most people suck at graphic design. You'll be shocked to learn what your friends and family believe! Ooh, there's a lot of money in gaming -> targeted advertising -> web tracking.

Reddit (2005): Remember why people used BBSs? Reddit does! Condé Nast doesn't. YCombinator does! Wait, volunteer admins have their own thoughts?

Twitter (2006): Here's a single speech / thought bubble above my head + how I feel about others' bubbles.

Tumblr (2007): I hate apps, but love pictures. Yahoo: We're still cool!

WhatsApp (2009): Remember when you could do everything from the Yahoo! homepage? WhatsApp does! Facebook: Hungry... CHOMP.

Instagram (2010): Pictures are more important than words. Photos for people who don't Lightroom. I'm going to be a photographer / model someday. Facebook: ... don't mention us here. No wait, do. No wait, don't.

Snapchat (2011): The worst thing about social media is people being able to read my old posts. Ooh, there's money in gamifying Facebook to boost engagement metrics.


Telegram (2013): Security for people who don't attend PGP signing parties.

Mastodon / Fediverse (2016): Give me freedom or give me de... hold on, let me update my settings, something br--. Internet: Okay, rms.

TikTok (2016): Memes for people who don't Photoshop.

China: {Cambrian explosion}. As long as the name is two, repeated consonants. And the logo is a racoon.

For a recent history lesson, see tumblr. Or vine.

I don't like reddit because discussion is always influenced by what needs to be said in order to be more popular. If reddit got rid of usernames and karma then I think it would be ideal.

'Karma seeking behavior' is a problem even on wholly uncontroversial subreddits. Shit like "my girlfriend baked me a cake with [subject of the subreddit on it]" is really uninteresting content after you've seen it for the thousandth time but gets upvoted pretty reliably. Reddit's system simply isn't an effective moderation system if you want to establish a thoughtful community because cheap pandering to the crowd is easier than finding or creating thoughtful content.

>if you want to establish a thoughtful community

Reddit does not want to establish a thoughtful community. Much like Facebook, Buzzfeed, etc. it relies on virtue/outrage to sell ads.

Like an anonymous imageboard with upvotes?

Why are karma / votes even necessary?

Surely the popularity of content could be purely determined by the actual amount of clicks a given article/topic is given in a certain amount of time?

What's the difference between a click and an upvote then? It can still be gamed as easily (maybe even easier).

Also, it has a major problem: if users know that popularity is based on clicks, then they can't click on anything they might disagree with (to simply learn more about it) without amplifying the signal as well. The incentives of user behavior are changed in to a self-censorship of what the user allows themselves to read, likely enforcing bubbles even more.

That's 4chan

If the content was less temporary, was more like a forum than an image board and had a bit more of a modern look / feel to it.

Do you know of any federated/distributed alternatives to reddit? Although, maybe the argument is we don't actually need a social media platform at all just RSS.

From what I can tell, Lemmy seems to be this:


Littr seems to be federated too:


That's about it for federated Reddit alternatives, at least that I can find. And I don't think the federated aspect has caught on yet for either.

Just a quick note that from what I understand, Lemmy is not yet federated but they are actively pushing to implement the ActivityPub protocol.

Most of the sites that attempt to be an alternative to reddit are filled with groups that reddit banned.

That's the problem I run into too.

Wait, you're looking for a federated alternative to Reddit, but people exercising free speech on other platforms is a problem for you?

Why not just stay with Reddit?

Just because I think it was wrong to ban jailbait doesn't mean I want to browse it.

A federated service would be harder to monetize. Which makes me think it would stay usable longer.

It took me some time to have my RSS feed setup the way I want it, but it is such a fresh breath of air. A thing I noticed is that my opinion about a certain subject gets influenced a lot by the top comments, whether here or on Reddit. I sometimes even read the comments before reading the article. Having to read an article and giving myself enough time to form my own opinion without directly checking what the comments "want" me to believe was refreshing. But still, having comments is important to see something from a different angle, which is why I still browse HN and reddit.

Usenet was the original "reddit."

Forgive the ignorance, but how do I access Usenet? I tried to look it up and I don't feel any closer.

This is part of the problem. It is not easy for new users to access...

First, you need access to a news server. These folks offer a free public one: https://www.aioe.org/ There are also other paid news servers but I don't want to advertise for them.

You also need an NNTP (Usenet) client. I use "slrn" which is a command line app. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Usenet_newsreaders for some others.

Once you find one, you'll need to point it to the news server of your choice (nntp.aioe.org in this example.)

Good luck discovering Usenet! Most groups are not too active.

Usenet. Its still alive, though some groups are more active than others; some groups are abondoned many years ago.


Also it's not federated, but I like hubski.com

Just like good people don't want to work with bad cops and leave the force, good people don't want to be forced to interact with racists and misogynists, and reddit has had a problem with both from day one.

“After making a shit ton of money, raising way more money then we needed to, and ultimately handing the future of the platform to soulless investors, I’ve decided to leave to better support people oppressed by police brutality” seems like a more honest statement to me but I guess it doesn’t read as well.

Edit: Snark aside, his actions and financial commitments to various organizations (as well as some of his future earnings) are commendable. If more founders and executives took these actions the world would be a better place. There's always more that can be done, but that shouldn't stop us from committing smaller actions as well.

I think the bottom line is that he could never really make Reddit work as a site for useful conversations, NOR as successful social media company.

I think this November is going to illustrate just how much of an echo chamber it is, and it will go the way of so many other failed sites before it.

It really does seem like the run up to this November is going to do lasting damage to a lot of social media platforms. Friends are gonna turn on friends on some platforms, and on others people are going to lather themselves into blind uncontrollable rage. Beyond not being healthy I don't see users being happy with spending their time doing this. The addictive rush of having your biases confirmed can only provide so much joy.

You have a point but it doesn’t make anything he said any less true.

Agreed, and I added a small edit to my original comment to reflect t hat.

I am going to try to say something neutral, not related to current politics. Frankly, I'm doing so because I'm curious if such a comment is even possible.

- I applaud anybody who takes a moral stand, especially if it might cost them something they hold dear.

- Whenever people complain about social media, the usual response is "But these are private properties. People can do what they like with them." I agree that this is the role of private property

- It's a fact that these social media networks operate because of the network principle, that is, it's much easier to get into than to get out of. It's also a fact that just a few media sites control the vast majority of online conversation and commerce

- Might it not have been useful for this moral stance to have been taken much earlier? First, you made your money and built your company. Walking off now isn't exactly standing in the soup line next week. Second, lots of folks are stuck with your product that might now be changing its operating parameters. Third, there's no way to predict what future event might cause even more changes.

Once again, kudos for reaching inside and doing a gut check. Life is full of a bunch of people, all with different opinions and points where they would change their mind. That's a good thing, but is this just something that keeps getting more and more restrictive over time? If so, might want to put that on your sign-up page, perhaps periodically remind folks. (This is a rhetorical question aimed at every service that does what reddit does online)

> I applaud anybody who takes a moral stand, especially if it might cost them something they hold dear.

I also applaud anyone who takes a moral stand about what they are willing to do, especially if it might cost them something they hold dear.

If that moral stand involves enforcing a standard of conduct on others, then it's anywhere from slightly to extremely more complicated. Enforcing behavior on others for the perceived benefit of all has been responsible for some major problems in the past (for example, not allowing people to express their sexuality), so let's be careful how much we throw in with those pushing to instill a level of behavior on those who want a place of their own to speak freely (to take as an example another part of the comments here, where Ellen Pao calls out Ohanian re: the_donald).

Many of us may support it in this case because it aligns with our values of inclusion and tolerance towards others (even if it's sort of a catch-22), but it's not like leaders of moral charges haven't been known to go too far before, nor like movements haven't been co-opted by other interests before.

Edit: Clarified where the example I was referring to came from, since that might have been confusing in isolation.

I agree.

You can have a series of these things over a few decades and then suddenly end up in a much different spot than when you started out. Humans have done this before. More than once. In fact, it's probably the natural outcome of situations like this and requires some sort of strong provisions to keep it from naturally happening over and over again. It's not like any of this is new.

A lot of people seem hell-bent that this is not the case, however. I'm curious to see if they're able to look at their own actions from just a small remove. If so, why? If not, why? These are technical, UX questions. They might involve sensitive matters, but that's only the more important reason for working them out.

All UI/UX issues shouldn't be about some version of wringing another .4% of sign-ups out of the funnel. There are things that are more important by orders of magnitude.

Let's be honest and realize that for some tech senior execs, they've been made aware of these issues many times in the past.

I'm not getting into whether it's right or not to have a code of conduct, just whether these statements or actions are really deserving of much if anything.

What I find most interesting about all of this "woke" behavior from Ellen Pao and Alexis Ohanian is this:

A few years ago, when racism was brought up on social media during the 2016 US election and a Canadian federal election, Alexis publicly pushed back.

Similarly, activists complained that Pao hired people who had worked at Reddit and previously discounted policies against homophobic, bigoted, racist, etc subreddits and comments/harassment.

People like these were in charge of a world famous, social media site where they were more aware than many others in tech about the very things they are now aghast over.

To me, it's a bit like if I'm telling a software manager about bugs in some banking application that can sometimes deduct money from random accounts and they're like "Ship it, ship it anyway!" lol.

Reddit mods wantonly abuse their power and I'm not even talking about politics.

Ever been to r/science? 8/10 comments are deleted and those posts can't be read ever again (I'm understating that number, if anything). Honestly, half the reason I come here is because you can still view dead comments - censorship is a surefire way to get me to leave your community.

> Ever been to r/science? 8/10 comments are deleted and those posts can't be read ever again

Note that this is clearly spelled out in the subreddit rules, and is by design. 8/10 comments on reddit as a whole are jokes, anecdotes, off topic, or simply low quality. /r/science tries to promote high-quality discussion of actual science, does so by heavy moderation, and doesn't pretend they're not deleting most comments.

Personally, I am very happy all the cruft is deleted there.

I'm not saying there's no abuse of power, but /r/science is bad example to put forward when the rules are clearly spelled out and enforced.

> 8/10 comments on reddit as a whole are jokes, anecdotes, off topic, or simply low quality.

I would guess that is a significant underestimate. I had one post become reasonably popular, and I was amazed at how awful, low quality, and incredibly redundant the replies were. 99% of all the top level replies were some version of the same low-effort comment.

This is what I miss from the old Slashdot. There you didn't just up- or down-vote comments. You specified if it was "funny" or "insightful" or "redundant" etc. [0]

I could then filter comments by what I was looking for. Between that and the meta-moderation, they did a great job.

I would love to see something similar on reddit. Instead of mindless updoots. Or maybe let me filter out comments that aren't at least n characters long?

(Or, maybe train a classifier to detect puns and hide them :)

[0] https://slashdot.org/faq/metamod.shtml

I liked the old Slashdot moderation system. I wonder how it would scale to Reddit's traffic. My gut feeling is that it wouldn't scale well at all, but I could easily be wrong about that.

The biggest problem would be bad actors. Internet discussions in the late 90's probably had more good faith participants. People chosen for moderation would be more likely to take it seriously. In ways both good and bad, the culture was very different then.

I (possibly naively) still think the majority of people online are acting in good faith according to whatever they believe. But, with the massive online population increase comes an increase in the absolute numbers of people acting in bad faith. Even if they're still a small percentage of the whole. A Slashdot moderation system would give those trolls, bots, and astroturfers some considerable power to shape the direction of a discussion. Probably would increase the number of bot or sockpuppet accounts in order to snag a greater percentage of the randomly assigned moderation slots.

But, that's just my assumption. Would be interesting to see it tried as an experiment. Maybe for the next Reddit April Fool's project.

> Internet discussions in the late 90's probably had more good faith participants

Not probably. I think definitely. There were tons of trolls back then, but they were trolling in good faith as well! (I mean that. They just posted shocking and vile things, for the lulz. They didn't promote their corporate brand or try to influence other nations' elections. They were good faith assholes :)

I think you're right. It's a really hard problem to solve; anonymity and reputation are difficult to combine. And meta-moderation itself could be seen as giving even more influence to the power users of these platforms (i.e. /u/gallowboob).

I kick around some ideas now and then about alternative rating and voting systems. Usually in the context of fake Amazon reviews, but the same general problem exists here.

What if users were limited to just 1 vote (up or down) each day? Or x ups and y downs? Whatever. Would that limit the votes on silly one-liner puns and encourage people to spend their precious vote on something more interesting? If you combine that with minimum account ages and maybe some minimum karma, I think it could work. Hell, you could vote more than once if you're willing to spend it out of your own karma. I'm sure I'm missing some aspect that tanks my idea. (Is there something for this like there is for spam-fighting ideas? [0])

If I don't stop tying now, I'm liable to bring up some sort of blockchain solution. And nobody wants that.

[0] https://craphound.com/spamsolutions.txt

I personally think they should rename the sub. /r/science is way too generic of a name, and unless folks study the sidebar as they are coming in from /r/popular or /r/all, they have no indication that their questions and anecdotes are completely unwelcome and will be deleted. It's an incredibly frustrating experience and I think it just damages the perception of 'science' by those that are trying to wade into it.

The moderation in /r/science is mostly about removing politically incorrect but true posts, nothing to do with "cruft".


Honestly, the number of deleted comments on r/science is probably a good representation for how garbage most comments on reddit are.

The main rule that gets comments deleted: "Comments that only rely on a user's non-professional anecdotal evidence to confirm or refute a study will be removed".

It's just not useful to have those types of comments on a science based thread.

Of course, it's hard to audit the moderators. We don't know if they're deleting comments outside of their rules as well.

>Ever been to r/science?

Bad example - people frequently go to r/science posts when they hit the front page and toss in non-scientific anecdotal evidence, or they will argue with the post using bad science, or they will offer their non-scientific 2 cents on the politics of a study.

The reason why content-heavy subs r/science and r/AskHistorians haven't devolved into the cesspool that is the rest of Reddit is specifically because they keep everyone on topic. You know, actually moderating the discussion.

Indeed. Hitting the front page is really a punishment to any subreddit that desires to maintain high-quality discussion.

The best subreddits are those that are either a) very tightly moderated or b) obscure enough for the Eternal September not (yet) having happened to them. Most of the rest of the content is extremely low quality.

4chan only removes illegal content and I enjoy it just fine. Reddit’s voting system pushes down low-quality content well enough on its own.

I completely disagree with your latter statement. Redditors constantly push garbage replies to the top of nearly every post. So, so often I come across top comments which are attempted witty one-liners which contribute next to nothing are followed by _tons_ of equally useless comments OR it is clear the top comments didn't read the article or are pushing their anecdotes as evidence to the contrary, etc (the irony of that is not lost on me right now).

I don't think all forums need to operate the same, and it's beneficial that they don't. There should be places for people to say whatever the heck they want, and places that are moderately moderated (heh) and places that are tightly moderated.

4chan /b/ only removes illegal content. The rest of the sections are filtered and restricted by topic.

Well, good for you! Myself, I enjoy places like r/AskHistorians or r/sex which absolutely would not exist in their present high-quality form without very active moderation.

I don't moderate r/science, but I do help moderate a pretty big sub that is unrelated to politics that similarly tries with varying success to be polite and on topic

There's a lot of bot and other obvious spam that we catch with programmatic moderation

The vast majority of comments we manually remove fall into one of four categories:

* Stuff that is just random off topic, nothing to do with the sub

* Stuff we redirect to another sub (politics, relationships, etc)

* Stuff that is scammy, or straight up soliciting

* Stuff that is outright insulting ad hominems. The bad end of this category makes you lose faith in humanity, so you kinda have to turn off your soul when moderating.

So if I had to guess, a good chunk of those deleted r/science comments aren't just "scientific opion with no basis" or "flat earth!", but also things closer the form " \\\\ you \\\\ing \\\\, your \\\\ing mother too, I hope you all \\\\ing burn in hell you \\\\ \\\\\* \\\\\*".

While I'm sure accidents happen, many of those comments are deleted because they are joke comments/shitposts not pertaining to science. In my experience, that kind of content is not tolerated on HN either, probably for the better.

Indeed. If HN were to become as popular as Reddit, and wanted to retain the current quality of discourse, you can bet that the mods would have to delete 80% of comments as well.

It's only a UI problem that displays the deleted threads with the deleted annotation. In truth, that sub is better for it. I'm sure everyone wants to share that their grandma doesn't follow the pattern in a paper and everyone wants to enlighten us about correlation and causation and everyone wants to tell us what sample size is reasonable off the top of their heads but it's sooo boring to read that.

> Who still uses reddit?

Any "top-level" subreddit that is a single-word topic becomes overrun with too many people and also subject to Reddit cultural enforcement, like r/news, r/science, r/pics, etc. If your experience in Reddit is formed mostly by r/all, the popular subreddits, or browsing defaults, you'll suffer.

There used to be a bunch of sites that could display deleted comments but they all seemed to stop working at some point.

Woah. Agreed. Reddit could do way more in that area.

Agreed. I hope hacker news doesn't become what reddit became. Contrary to the link, Reddit admins/mods actively police its content to be left leaning.

Silencing/hiding content has the opposite intended effect on those being silenced, to those wondering why it's a bad thing.

The most popular mod teams are almost universally the ones with the most aggressive moderation policies. This include /r/the_donald.

The subreddits with laissez-faire moderation policies invariably get taken over by nasty interactions.

Right wing discourse tends to incite racism, violence and hate against minority groups and people of color. How do you moderate such without regular mod teams intervening, or users moderating each other if you want to provide a welcoming environment?

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