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Reddit takes a new direction (b-list.org)
392 points by tswicegood on Feb 13, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 250 comments



People tend to think of online communities as democracies where the freedoms they're accustomed to from their normal lives apply.

So when a post gets deleted by a moderator, people tend to think of it as a freedom of speech issue. There's a whole constitution out there specifically defending anybody's right to create a pro-Nazi subreddit, and to otherwise post anything they please on the site so long as it's not illegal, right?

Not really.

Not at all, in fact. Reddit is not the United States. It's Reddit. Online communities are not democracies any more than your back garden is a democracy. You pull weeds, plant seeds, and otherwise encourage the plants in your garden to comport themselves in a manner that ends up with a pleasing result. It's your garden, so you have the absolute right to pull weeds. The weeds get no say.

Reddit seems to have forgotten this for a while, and as a result they started sliding until they became, well, Reddit. The community we're currently discussing this in, on the other hand, has been a lot more conscientious in cultivating the type of garden it would like to see. And I think we can all say the result is a lot more pleasant than a less tended place such as Reddit or 4chan.


* And I think we can all say the result is a lot more pleasant than a less tended place such as Reddit or 4chan.*

I am honestly not sure we can say that at all. I thoroughly enjoy both hn and reddit, for completely different reasons. Sure, from a strictly legal standpoint, it isn't censorship or a constitutional issue, but at the same time, the "anything goes" attitude in places like 4chan and reddit allow for a lot of creative gems and interesting discussion. People instinctively recognize that while you may have to schlep thought he muck to find those gems, it is still important to have an "anything goes place". People will feel betrayed when they put time and effort into making the community what it is, and suddenly the rules are changed on them -- all their effort has been co-opted or may be co-opted, for something they don't want. It feels slimy.

(yes we are all aware there is no contract or law or whatever, blah blah legalistic point missing, but the decency of it is still in question).

All that being said, I also like the curated, well organized topical community of HN, because sometimes I just don't want to wade through the crap, but that occasional preference switch doesn't diminish either form of community building.


"People instinctively recognize that while you may have to schlep thought he muck to find those gems, it is still important to have an "anything goes place"."

I do not think many people "instinctively recognize" this. What I do "instinctively recognize" is that as sites like this mainstream they uniformly clean up "the muck" and that any "creative gems" lost because the community no longer tolerates everything are a tiny price to pay. Whatever "creative gems" went on in /r/jailbait or /r/n*ggerjailbait we can only speculate...

"People will feel betrayed when they put time and effort into making the community what it is, and suddenly the rules are changed on them -- all their effort has been co-opted or may be co-opted, for something they don't want. It feels slimy."

What feels slimy is finding out the popular site you like is chummy with scum like Violentacrez the guy who started 90% of the worst of the worst subreddits. I got news for you, the tiny minority of pedosympathizers on reddit are not what made the site what it is. We aren't "coopting their effort", we're taking a break from construction to clean up a mess we didn't have time to focus on until now.


The point people are making is that once we start making judgement calls like this there will be more and more calls from the community to make more judgement calls to increase the net and shutdown other types of sub-reddits that they disagree with.

Much in the same way that once we give the government a censorship filter on the Internet to 'stop child pornography,' they've got their foot in the door to censor other things as well. Building censorship infrastructure to shut down the websites of people we don't like might not be palatable, but once that infrastructure is already in place, all we have to do is add to the list of banned sites. It becomes so much easier to cross that line when we're standing right next to it, than if we make sure to give it a wide berth.

I'm not saying that I disagree with the shutting down of these sub-reddits -- especially since it seems to only make sense for consistencies sake since they shutdown /r/jailbait already -- but let's not act like this doesn't come with possible consequences.


"The point people are making is that once we start making judgement calls like this"

You act like there's a real choice here. The other choice was Reddit goes out of business. Reddit made the obvious choice.

"there will be more and more calls from the community to make more judgement calls to increase the net and shutdown other types of sub-reddits that they disagree with."

Welcome to the real world. Oh you let kids in your site? Kids have parents. Parents demand standards for places their kids go. Want to startup a reddit clone with no standards? Have at it! Let us know how it works out for you.

"Much in the same way that once we give the government a censorship filter on the Internet"

It's also the case that once you set up an infrastructure to prosecute murderers it becomes easier for the government to move from arresting people for murder to hey let's just arrest some people we don't like for reason XYZ.

That's not a legitimate argument for not having an infrastructure to prosecute murderers though.


Welcome to the real world. Oh you let kids in your site? Kids have parents. Parents demand standards for places their kids go. Want to startup a reddit clone with no standards? Have at it! Let us know how it works out for you.

You know, perhaps it's ok for us to suggest the parents do the parenting, and let us grown ups hang out at the reddit?

Oh wait, right its actually just a strawman argument so you can be the morality police for the world. Sorry for the confusion.

It's also the case that once you set up an infrastructure to prosecute murderers it becomes easier for the government to move from arresting people for murder to hey let's just arrest some people we don't like for reason XYZ. That's not a legitimate argument for not having an infrastructure to prosecute murderers though.

It is however a fantastic reason to talk about the potential consequences of that infrastructure, and perhaps to arrange for safeguards against the unwanted scenarios. This is what some of us are trying to do here while you are clamoring to (extending the metaphor) put everyone in jail who may one day murder someone.


"so you can be the morality police for the world. Sorry for the confusion."

If your post were a New Yorker cartoon I'd have the perfect caption for it. I'm not the morality police, I'm pointing out that morality exists and reddit, as a community was not above that. I'm dreadfully sorry if you're only now finding out that community morality exists and that there are commercial consequences for for-profit private businesses who ignore that in the real world.

As has been pointed out ad nauseum reddit is easily cloneable. If you think all the world needs is a place where the timeless insights of the people that brought us /r/jailbait, and "how to rape your daughter" threads can shine without the "morality police" ever being called on the party have at it.

"This is what some of us are trying to do here while you are clamoring to (extending the metaphor) put everyone in jail who may one day murder someone."

Bullshit. Let me clear up this analogy. I'm saying we have a rule against murder and it's a good rule. You're saying it's a dangerous rule that will lead us down the road to serfdom.

We can debate whether the rule is good (not all rules are as clear cut as the one we have for murder). I don't think you will win on those merits though re: this reddit policy.

There's a rule at most community pools that you don't crap or piss in the pool. Somehow this hasn't led to widescale pool tyranny, it's pretty much just a rule not to piss in the pool. Just because there's a slope doesn't mean anyone is going to slip down it.


We can debate whether the rule is good (not all rules are as clear cut as the one we have for murder). I don't think you will win on those merits though re: this reddit policy.

I never have said "this reddit rule is bad". Read extra careful, and you will find no evidence whatsoever of that, only evidence of me discussing human behavior in light of rule changes, and how it is a particularly sensitive topic in the "anything goes spaces". Further I am pointing benefits of those spaces, without actually taking a stance on them. This is how I know you are the morality police, you are choosing to invent words to put in my statements without actually bothering to read them. Those are not the actions of a reasonable person, but rather a lynch mob.

Bullshit. Let me clear up this analogy. I'm saying we have a rule against murder and it's a good rule. You're saying it's a dangerous rule that will lead us down the road to serfdom.

Again not sure where you get this idea... I am simply discussing how people react when rules start encroaching on free-form places, and discussing the consequences of them. This is not declaring serfdom or anything else nearly as dramatic. It is merely me not instantly jumping on a bandwagon. Sorry to be that guy you hate: the one who looks at the world around him and asks questions before deciding.

There's a rule at most community pools that you don't crap or piss in the pool. Somehow this hasn't led to widescale pool tyranny, it's pretty much just a rule not to piss in the pool. Just because there's a slope doesn't mean anyone is going to slip down it.

And yet, you see stories occasionally about how some toddler is banned from the kiddie pool for an accident. This is not tyranny of pools, but it certainly is someone overstepping bounds. Perhaps the public outcry over such things has something to do with it?

Anyway, you are now just tiresome to me. Good night, be well.


My post can be summarized by the last part:

  let's not act like this doesn't come with
  possible consequences.
Do you disagree with this? Nothing that you've said in your post even touches on this. All you've done is wave your hands around in the air and make a bunch of emotional appeals, picking very specific parts of my post while steering clear of everything else.

In general, I group this in with 'troll behavior,' but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume that this is a very emotional topic for you (i.e. you see this as a black-and-white issue).


This is the morality police attitude, satisfied that its ideal of justice has been served and unable to recognize the subtlety of the argument.


For fucks sake. Is that really so hard to understand? Pedos can’t trade their images anymore (whether legal or not). That’s the extent of the limitation. How the fuck is that supposed to turn Reddit into something radically different? It’s this one tiny thing. It’s not some big change that changes Reddit.

It’s not so hard. Some people just want to be deliberately obtuse. The slippery slope is a fucking fallacy!


1. It isn't a slippery slope argument I am making. I am simply stating that when the rules change, people don't like it, for the mere fact of it. Whether or not the reason for their dislike is fallacious, a qualitative difference in an implicit or explicit agreement will affect the community experience, and will anger those who were happy under the previous arrangement.

2. If you want to argue about fallacies, perhaps you shouldn't do so with a strawman. I never defended r/jailbait or any of the other banned subreddits. I was simply pointing out that there are differences between "anything goes" and "walled garden" approaches to community building, and that both have strong positive results, and one is not necessarily better than the other. The level of disingenuity of your reply is up there with "presidential candidate". Get off your moral high horse and reply to my actual statements.

3. I never claimed reddit would be radically different - again: I was discussing people's reactions, not claiming them as reflections of fact. Another strawman (thats at least 2 in one post!)

4. Who the fuck are you to be that condescending? What value do you provide to the world that makes you able to dictate what matters and what I should observe?


I did reply to your actual statements.

I never claimed you defended pedos. Where did I do that exactly?

I was stating that feeling betrayed by this change makes no sense at all. I cannot fathom how one can possibly feel betrayed by such a change. That’s all. Can you explain that to me? Huh?


As a third-party observer, I initially had the same reaction as sophacles, in that your comment appeared, at first, to be a strongly-worded straw-man argument.

However, now that I re-read it I can see your point, but your use of profanity and the general lack of civility in your comment obscured your argument. The tone of your comment was more like an accusation than a reasoned response, even if the content (minus the profanity) was not intended to be.


It was supposed to be an accusation. Some things deserve accusations. And profanities.

Sigh. I’m quite disillusioned about HN, actually. Not that it should surprise me, but damn. People here say the exact same things as on Reddit. If you squint a bit the reactions are the same. That doesn’t make me happy.

I do recognize that I can’t do many constructive things here (short of screaming at people) so I’m going to excuse myself from this thread. I won’t convince anyone anyway.


The first statement of the actual Guidelines of HN is "Be civil." I find it strange that you're disillusioned with HN because your uncivil comment was not well received.


(Just to clarify: I'm not disillusioned about karma or anything petty like that. I’m ok with being downvoted for not being civil. I’m disillusioned about the general attitude displayed here. That attitude made me want to not be civil anymore.)


> That attitude made me want to not be civil anymore.

Then it would be a good idea to take a break, maybe go for a walk, until you can be civil.


>Sigh. I’m quite disillusioned about HN, actually. Not that it should surprise me, but damn. People here say the exact same things as on Reddit. If you squint a bit the reactions are the same. That doesn’t make me happy.

Then perhaps you need to realize that some of the things people are saying have some merit and you're looking at them wrong. I realize ad populum isn't a valid form of logic, but when the great majority of people are telling you you're wrong, it could never hurt to re-examine your position.


Since you are unhappy here, do us all a favor and just stop coming to the site. The same posts are linked and discussed many other places on the web, where you can have discussion with people who either agree with you, or don't mind you overreacting to disagreements.


> People here say the exact same things as on Reddit.

Perhaps it's because they are correct and you are in fact in the wrong here?


> "The slippery slope is a fucking fallacy!"

Ugh. Here we go again.

The fact that the slippery slope argument can be a fallacy doesn't mean that all claims of slippery slope is automatically a fallacy.

People seem to think the fact that this word exists means they can use it in all contexts and be right.

[edit] And the slippery slope angle has materialized in this particular case. No sonner had the jailbait subreddits fallen did people start clamoring for the shutdown of /r/beatingwomen, /r/deadbabies, and various other reprehensible subreddits. This certainly hasn't been a we-banned-jailbait-and-now-everything-is-fine deal that people hoped it to be.


The "slippery slope" argument can be made more strongly here - a few months ago /r/jailbait was shut down by the admins. There was a lot of hand-wringing about it, but they were eventually swayed by opinion and some media attention.

This time around there was a post on SomethingAwful talking about a few more subreddits, and they were all (including several that were explicitly 18+ content only) shut down immediately. For good or ill, we're not in danger of slipping down that slope any more, we're demonstrably sliding already.


/r/jailbait was shut down by the /r/jailbait moderators, not the reddit admins.


I believe this is known as the slippery slope fallacy fallacy.


Arrrg!

If you say “slippery slope hurr durr” it is a fucking fallacy. You have to do work to make it one.

No slippery slope has materialized anywhere. That’s bullshit.


Except the subreddits banned were some with pictures of older teenage girls (15-17) in non nude situations, the most edgy being bikini pictures. Something that belongs on reddit? That's for you to decide. Paedophilia material? No, not even fucking close.

Besides, pedos wouldn't trade images on reddit, I really refuse to believe people would be stupid enough to trade such pictures through a US website which offers no anonymity.


"Pedos can’t trade their images anymore (whether legal or not)."

The only thing that this move ended up doing was ensuring the use of private subreddits for this act. People aren't going to change simply because someone told them that what they already knew was wrong is now more wrong. The content will still be traded on reddit (even though I highly doubt that cheese pizza pm's actually happened very often), just not with a public pool to gather from.

Plus, all of this shit is still up on imgur.


I’m worried about private subreddits. Admins, however, can see what’s going on inside them so I don’t see that as much of a problem.


From Wikipedia: "There are over 67,000 subreddits to peruse, with the default set being (as of October 18, 2011[4])." I could not find a specific number for the admin staff, but given the fact that wiki lists 11 staff members for reddit that number can not be particularly high; in fact the reddit admins steam group has 6 members. I sincerely doubt that anyone is capable of filtering 10,000 subreddits every day in search of offensive material.

Finally, even if somehow reddit manages to completely and utterly block all things they deem to be CP related, these people will just move to another, probably harder to track venue. All in all, this entire move is rather pointless action in response to people that want the feelgood sensation of "Protecting the Children."


I think that some people didn't want this stuff to end up on CNN, and having the media end up branding them guilty by association (i.e. "Reddit" == "Cesspool of pedos").


Just because you think some people enjoy looking at pictures of young-looking girls (in some cases it's hard to estimate their ages) you think they are "pedos" (and you also create a legal vs. illegal distinction, too). By the same token of jumping to conclusions from small sample of behavior I judge that you are a complete hedge brain, because you cannot even find a synonym for fuck in a short comment.

It is ironic (I wonder if you can understand it) that, had the sort of limitation that you back were in effect on HN, comments like yours would have been deleted.


The slippery slope is a fucking fallacy!

Until it isn't.


Totally agree with you. I don't see why people are kicking up such a fuss. In fact, grab the IP addresses of everyone in those subreddits, hunt them down and throw them in jail. Give them a good beating on route too.

What if someone started a terrorism subreddit promoting hateful and inciteful behaviour. Defend that freedom America. We already know how that is working out. I doubt anyone would even bat an eyelid and this would be a non-story.

Seriously do not believe people are defending this "freedom" of speech. Total BS and people obviously have too much time on their hands doing nothing.


people tend to think of it as a freedom of speech issue

First-amendment speech is only a subset of free speech. Unfortunately people seem to hear "freedom of speech" and think that the ONLY place that freedom exists is under the scope of the 1st. Its not.

The Bill of Rights only says that our government can't take it away. Other people are still free to take it away. But when they take it away (and are within their rights to do so) it is a free speech issue. The difference is the argument is not a you can't or you shouldn't be able to, its just a you can but shouldn't.

What people are railing against is not that that reddit, or whoever, has decided not to adhere to the restrictions placed upon congress, but that they've fundamentally changing what it means to be reddit. This is the article's "Very Serious Discussion About What Sort of Community We Are".

It's your garden, so you have the absolute right to pull weeds. The weeds get no say.

Yeah, reddit has complete control. But unless they're happy exercising that control by disabling all user submissions and posts, or actively banning anyone who they don't like discussing the nature of reddits rules, they have given their flowers a voice about the weeds.

Perhaps, when you say that people should STFU and take it, you might be interesting in hearing the thesis of (reddit co-founder) Ohanian's TED talk on social media: "You No Longer Control the Message, and That’s Okay"


The Bill of Rights only says that our government can't take it away. Other people are still free to take it away. But when they take it away (and are within their rights to do so) it is a free speech issue. The difference is the argument is not a you can't or you shouldn't be able to, its just a you can but shouldn't.

Well, it is a free speech issue, but whether one should or not is debatable. I'd prefer they didn't, but I don't know if it's fair to ask that from them.


I think you're missing the point of the users who see this new rule as a negative mark against reddit. The admins have always been supportive of allowing any content that is legal, even up to a very specific definition, which is why these now removed subreddits were allowed to exist for so long. Lots of people are making the slippery slope argument, saying things along the lines of "how long before they ban /r/trees?", which is a marijuana-based subreddit. In response, the community organizer, hueypriest, said this:

>They'll ban /r/trees when they pry it out of our cold dead hands.

You can imagine why it might be frustrating to people who would expect them to approach all content with as much vigor as they do in the defense of /r/trees.

The way I understand it, and the way it has been explained by the admins, is that policing the kind of content that is now not allowed had taken up a significant amount of their resources, and it was becoming unsustainable. However, a lot of users clearly see this as a sign that the admins are backing down as a result of legal pressure and also for the purpose of preserving the image of the community.

For users of old, this is a rather new phenomenon, and it is somewhat offputting. If it was solely a question of sustainability (how much time are they wasting policing the content?), that would probably be acceptable, but it's difficult to believe that it is the sole reason for the rule.


"I think you're missing the point of the users who see this new rule as a negative mark against reddit"

We see the point, we're saying it doesn't matter. It's been pretty obvious over the last year that this train has been coming down the tracks and there's ultimately only one way it could play out.

The spam rule was already there and it's not rocket surgery to realize that any content more objectionable then spam is also eventually going to be excluded.


How was it obvious? r/jailbait was banned, yes, but that was only after there was a semi-revolution (a mod removed and banned all the other mods, then proceeded to give an ex-mod* his powers back, who then essentially tried to fuck it up (I heard actual preteen porn was posted)).

Assuming that that event necessarily means the removal of the other subreddits seems contrived.

* VA, the guy who also created & mods r/picsofdeadkids, r/PicsOfDeadJailbait, r/incest, etc.


How was it obvious?

How was it not? Reddit exploded and started making money hand over fist. Anderson Cooper shined a light on the seedy underbelly for like 5 sec and they gave up the game. The past week's events are just ripples from that and Reddit coming to terms with the only possible decision they could have made.


>Reddit exploded and started making money hand over fist.

Do you have a citation for this? I was under the impression they were still losing money and the Reddit, Inc stuff was there to allow Condi to distance itself from reddit.


What exactly did they gave up when Cooper talked about r/jailbait?


That's when they deliberated for all of 30 seconds, decided they liked the million dollar checks and banned /r/jailbait.

Yesterday's announcement was merely a formalizing of that policy and application to a number of other subreddits in response to a second wave of negative publicity.


The problem is that I was confused. r/jailbait had already been banned in August[1], before the Cooper story. I had no idea it had been unbanned and then re-banned.

So yeah, following the second ban, you could see the writing on the wall.

[1]: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/jkmx7/dear_reddit...


"The community we're currently discussing this in, on the other hand, has been a lot more conscientious in cultivating the type of garden it would like to see. And I think we can all say the result is a lot more pleasant than a less tended place such as Reddit or 4chan."

This site is akin to a Reddit subreddit.

The community here is great, clearly amongst the best of the Reddit subreddit communities.

Is this community better than the Reddit community? Honeslty -- no. This is a place for tech news, and that's it.

The Reddit community has done a lot of wonderful things, for each other, for others, and for society in general. This community can make almost none of those claims.

Many people who frequent both look at Hacker News as if it were the real /r/technology.

But I didn't think people compared communities in general -- this place is tiny compared to even many of the subreddits!


There is truth to the assertion that sites that run on user contributions must be pruned. Reddit has strived hard to make the community self-policing. The Reddit methodology has always been that users have to be the gardeners. It's more scalable that way. Smaller users garden with upvotes and downvotes. Moderators can use shears.

It's hard when an issue comes up where the game-theoretical approach produces a bad result. The current Reddit structure works well when it assumes that good content is the paramount rule, but now we have a new paramount rule: obey the law. The site structure and the ranking algorithms don't meet the new requirements, and as a result, manual pruning is required.


You are right, in a legal sense, which is why there is no lawsuit over this issue.

But reddit specifically said create your own subreddit and post what you want (as long as it is not spam). That is why this is such a big issue.


> But reddit specifically said create your own subreddit and post what you want (as long as it is not spam). That is why this is such a big issue.

A big issue? They updated the minimal set of rules the site runs by. If users don't like it, they can go elsewhere.

There's no issue here, just Redditors doing what they do best: creating a tempest in a teapot.


There's no issue here, just HNers doing what they do best, epitomizing the actions of a few or single person to enable them to look down their nose at the inferior "reddit".

The reaction at reddit has been OVERWHELMINGLY in favor of this ban, the last four days has been top post after top post asking for it to be banned.

Every tiny thing a single redditor does is grounds for dismissal and condemnation of the entire site by many here and it really just baffles me.


FWIW, HN isn't all that great either.

I used to really like Reddit. But I loathed the fact that each subreddit sank into a lowest common denominator appeal as it grew: memes, linkbait-y headlines, groupthink. To be fair, these are problems with groups of people in general: they get dumber and dumber as they get bigger. But the total hands-off nature of Reddit meant that this sort of intellectual race to the bottom was not only inevitable, it was expected and allowed to happen, even if a vocal minority made their points coherently. They were drowned out by populist voices who are quick to decree that the voice of Everyone is worthwhile because, well, damn it, it's Everyone.

And that's bullshit. I prefer a site where people at least pretend to discuss things instead of rushing to post "tl;dr" anytime someone writes a paragraph of text.


> reddit specifically said create your own subreddit and post what you want (as long as it is not spam)

I think moderators can approve spam so you can even post spam to your own subreddit if you wish.


In writing this article I tried to stay away from drawing comparisons between sites, because that would've distracted discussion away from the actual topic.

Also, to be perfectly honest, there's a lot I could say about HN that would not be particularly flattering, not least of which is its superiority complex when comparing itself to other sites.


Reddit seems to have forgotten this for a while, and as a result they started sliding until they became, well, Reddit. The community we're currently discussing this in, on the other hand, has been a lot more conscientious in cultivating the type of garden it would like to see. And I think we can all say the result is a lot more pleasant than a less tended place such as Reddit or 4chan.

5-6 years ago, Reddit was exactly the same as HN is now.


> The community we're currently discussing this in, on the other hand, has been a lot more conscientious in cultivating the type of garden it would like to see.

I think this is more a function of the community's size than anything else. Once you get a broad enough appeal, you need some pretty fancy clustering algorithms to avoid everyone's experiences shifting to the norm.


Agreed. Gardens die by extreme pacifism.


A phrase coined in this insightful article:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/c1/wellkept_gardens_die_by_pacifism/


You start out by saying that reddit is not bound by US law, but then turn around and fault reddit for respecting and trying to stick with "full freedom of speech" for as long as they have? Come on, that's not fair at all. You win either way, you just have to mention and criticize their position by saying "haha, just look at it", there's hardly any real argument there at all.

Reddit's "slide" is a result of their respect for freedom of speech? Where's the connection there? The "spill over" of pedophiles (or non-CP closet pedophiles, whatever) from jailbait subreddits has caused the deterioration of /r/programming? ha.


I can't believe the narrow-minded approach a lot of comments here suggest. Most of the people seem to subscribe to the argument, which in simplified form says, (1) the subreddits were full of child pornography (2) the people who frequent these were "pedos" and therefore (3) it's a good thing that these got axed.

The terms CP and pedophilia are being thrown around without much thinking, the same way the general public thinks all who are on torrent sites are pirates and "hackers are baad and steal your CC numbers". This sort of blunt scare mongering demagogy is commonly used to create support from the masses, I am amazed that the HN crowd is also susceptible to it.

Here are the facts as I believe them, please point out the ones you think are wrong:

1) Some of these subreddits may have contained CP, the illegal ones were being actively removed by admins.

2) Calling pictures of 16-year-olds in bikinis CP is not very useful and dilutes the term.

3) What is legal and morally right usually does not overlap 100%. Law may say one thing about CP and people may feel another thing. This is OK. Also different cultures, of course, have different attitudes.

4) In light of (3), to me there's "definitely bad CP" and "tolerable CP". The moral distinction is not clear cut and the law does not differentiate these. The situation is similar to the 55 mph speed limit, people break it everyday (avg speed on I-90 is more like 75mph) but if you do 85 the police will get you. So there's a tolerable zone and to me (2) falls in that category.

5) One has to be very careful with these outcries because they have the effect of ratcheting the law machine ever more tightly. Remember, no politician will put relaxation of sex offense laws on their ticket.

But, please THINK A LITTLE AND RESEARCH before you pick up the pitchfork, e.g. read this (http://www.economist.com/node/14164614).

ADDENDUM: For (2), also consider the widespread use of young girls in advertising and movies, e.g. the Vanity Fair topless photoshoot of Miley Cyrus who was 15 at the time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miley_Cyrus#Controversies). This is just one that came to mind instantly, many more examples can easily be given.


ADDENDUM: For (2), also consider the widespread use of young girls in...

Don't forget child beauty pageants. That stuff is IMHO often borderline pedophilia.


This was the first thing that came to mind when I heard about this.

I've seen a lot of people say "we need to protect the young girls in these pictures". What about the 1-5 year olds who are being dressed up and paraded around by their parents?

Where is the similar outrage over sites like imgur.com (which retain most of the images hosted in a sub-reddit even after its deletion) or TV shows like Toddlers & Tiaras?


I dont get this one. CBP does not reveal anything that would even remotely bring porn/nudity on my mind. I think its more a matter of your point of view. Same way I could say that an old man smiling at a 5 years old child on the subway has something dirty on his mind. There are chances but lets not get paranoid here.


I've come across them on TV from time to time and the children usually dress very provocatively and wear clothes and makeup that are usually considered "sexy" when worn by grown women. Worse still, they seem to often perform dance routines that are very provocative and sexual in nature. (eg see the end of little miss sunshine - real CBP seem to be similar)


This is what gets me. It's not CBP reddit that is a problem, it's the whacked out people (parents in this case) who are creating content that are the 'problem'. If you, as a parent, dress your toddler in provocative clothes and put them in a beauty pagent, then you're being ridiculously naive to think that people will only ever see this in an innocent light.


>What is legal and morally right usually does not overlap 100%.

This is the key issue that almost NO ONE here understands and it's evidenced by high profile HN members calling people they disagree with "disgusting" because they don't understand that morality is relative and that slippery slopes are only absurd until they come true.

I, along with most everyone here it seems, have no desire for peoples' children to be posted online for other people to fap to. That having been said, reddit has historically deferred to the law for making decisions about what IS and IS NOT allowed.

With this decision, they're asserting that their feelings of morality are now grounds for moderating content. HN always surprises me how anti-drug it is. Would HN call those opposed to shutting down other subreddits "repulsive"? What if reddit decides to shutdown /r/drugs where discussion of "hard" drug use occurs. There is a morality argument that can be made.

The problem is that the bright-legal-line has been broken and from now on censorship becomes a question of appealing to the reddit admin's sense of morality.


>morality is relative

I agree with you, but you are going to have a really hard time making that argument with a lot of people. In fact, I believe John Paul II called moral relativism the greatest evil of our time or something like that.


In my opinion this thread is already littered with examples that morality is relative. Sure, if you have an invented set of ideological morality that is blessed with divinity, it's easy to believe in absolute morality. The wide variety of subreddits and topics covered in those subreddits contain a whole plethora of things that I think are unethical but are legal and vice versa.


>1) Some of these subreddits may have contained CP, the illegal ones were being actively removed by admins.

CP was posted in the same subreddits. The admins were tired of spending their time determining if reported images were illegal or not.

>2) Calling pictures of 16-year-olds in bikinis CP is not very useful and dilutes the term.

A 16 year old in their swimsuit at the beach isn't CP. A 16 year old posed in their swimsuit like a porn star in a bedroom is CP. The latter is what was posted in these subreddits.

This isn't an issue with unfair application of sex offender laws or the vilification of accused sex offenders. This is Something Awful forum members forcing reddit admins to finally remove at best objectionable content, at worst illegal material.


Please excuse my ignorance, but what does "like a porn star" mean?


Bent over in an awkward position or in a way that exposes the area of their genitals.

We're not talking about some kids playing in the sand. This was seriously perverse stuff.


I take it you've never seen teenagers at the beach.


I take it you've never seen the photographs in those subreddits.


You must not be describing it very well. Provocative pictures of teenagers in swimsuits hardly seems "seriously perverse". It neither qualifies as child pornography under the law, nor would being attracted to that make somebody a pedophile.


"Provocative pictures of teenagers in swimsuits" is child pornography. It's the "provocative" part that's important. Even if there isn't any nudity, if the focal point is on the child's genitals and framed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer, it's considered pornographic.

These weren't candid shots of the beach. These were posed children. The reason I'm not describing them well is because it's making me uncomfortable to continuously describe them to people who are coming into this discussion with no idea what was posted. You have no idea how queasy I feel typing "child's genitals".


I'll have to take your word for it but I you'll have to understand that I am sceptical, considering child pornography was already banned from reddit.


While I agree that the world is better off without forums where people can post their child porn or similar ilk, this policy change in reddit shows that there's in inherent issue with centralized platforms.

Back when there was usenet, everybody could post what ever they wanted (some news servers might not have carried the group, but there was no policing the source).

Same with blogs: You wanted to post content the masses dislike? No problem. But you want to post that same content to a centralized platform like Twitter, Facebook or any of Google's properties, now the masses (and/or governments) dictate the content you are allowed to post.

To really make use of the internet's capability of providing an incredible freedom of content you can create and publish, you cannot use a centralized platform.

While sites like reddit or facebook might make it easier for other people to find your crap^Wcontent, they also make it infinitely easier to have it removed again.


It's a little sad, because there was definitely a sense, a few years ago, that Reddit was pretty much user-centered and therefore fully unrestricted, content-wise. You can choose what subreddits you belong to, or make new ones for whatever subject you want. The admins simply created the platform and set the defaults. Freedom!

But at the same time, everyone still felt like redditors, even if you were on /r/investing or /r/TwoXChromosomes or /r/trees or /r/nudecycling. In fact, you could unsubscribe from all the default subreddits, and join a bunch of weird unusual ones, and so you'd probably never even see a redditor who belongs to the "mainstream" community, but you'd still call yourself a redditor.

Unfortunately, we now see the downside of that group identity, because it didn't stop the reputation of the "bad" subreddits from bleeding over and tarnishing the group's. The subreddit boundaries failed, in the end.


That to me is exactly the core issue. It's not as if these people were staying in their obscure subreddit, they were leaking out into advice forums and posting IAMA pedo threads and so on, scoring upvotes due to typical young male contrarianism. It was all creating the general impression that this was acceptable behavior which was commonly discussed by Redditors.

(I saw a post from a sixteen year old boy describing himself as a "ephebophile" because he liked girls from school. It's just bizarre that kids are learning this sort of inside jargon and using it describe completely normal behavior.)

From a broader community perspective, there's no reason to hang out a sign saying "creeps welcome here". They'll show up on their own, and its not as if Reddit needs their traffic.


This is definitely an oversimplification of the history. Censorship is an active topic of furious debate. r/SRS, which is for all intents and purposes Reddit's White Guilt, self-censors extremely rigorously even as it invades other subreddits (not officially, but essentially). r/lgbt splintered to r/ainbow due to heavy-handed mod censorship (with allegations of connections to r/SRS and its heavy-handed trolling).

You might say that this is all inconsequential board drama, and it is; but the arc of it ends with admin involvement. Until now, the admins have explicitly let mods handle their own subreddits.


"now the masses (and/or governments) dictate the content you are allowed to post"

Isn't this an exaggeration? There is a lot of room between "everything goes" and North Korea. Stopping exploitation of kids is one notch up from "everything goes".


I can't help but feel this policy only serves lip service to "Stopping exploitation of kids". Personally, I think Reddit has the right to have whatever policies it wishes -- but this 'think of the children' argument is the same one that will be used to pass SOPA like regulation.

I don't think a sane person would suggest that exploiting children is acceptable, but the answer then becomes -- to what degree to we sacrifice our autonomy to satisfy the regulator's thirst for a censored communications.


If you don't like reddit's policy, it's pretty easy to take their open source code and set up your own clone. You'll likely run into the same issues at some point, though. There are always people out there that will want to do things that are incredibly detrimental to your business. Now that reddit is mainstream and one of the largest communities on the web, they're set up to be a huge target. You don't get popularity or legitimate money without policies regarding unsavory content.

In reddit's case, "think of the children" is a perfectly legitimate cry when the policy specifically is designed to stop exploitation of children.


It think reddit acted entirely reasonably. I just wanted to point out that this argument holds huge emotional weight which will likely be the justification for SOPA-like regulation.


"but this 'think of the children' argument is the same one that will be used to pass SOPA like regulation."

I have no idea what your point here is. You seem to be implying that because someone may dishonestly use a "protect the kids" argument, that others then shouldn't really try to "protect the kids".

If that isn't what you are saying then I have no idea what you intended to convey.

"to what degree to we sacrifice our autonomy to satisfy the regulator's thirst for a censored communications."

WTF are you talking about? reddit had bad shit on their site, and they took it down. There is no boogeyman here.


The only point I was making is, the 'think of the children' will be used to censor the internet by the gov't. Reddit is not censoring the internet. It's their own site.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120213/13212017749/canadi...


It's a tradeoff. If you want general-public-scale levels of traffic, you will be subject to the general public's social norms or face their wrath.

The general public did not use Usenet; the audience size was small, relative to what we see today on the WWW. Same goes with most personal blogs. And back when Reddit was not well known, they did not have to have a policy like this.

I don't think centralization has anything to do with it--if your public blog suddenly got as popular as Reddit, I bet it too would be the subject of campaigns about its content.


> Back when there was usenet

NNTP is still alive. : )


This shit killed Usenet. Not just child porn, but that and a lot of things like it.

(I ran a Freenix-competitive server in the '90s and hacked on INN).

(Disclosure: it's sad it took Reddit this long to apply this rule, and more than a little repulsive to see people up in arms about it.)


This kind of response, using words like 'repulsive', is a form of thoughtless polarisation. I expect better from someone always up-in-arms about the quality of posts here. This is just flamebait.

There are several possible discussions here that you can't just sweep under the rug by declaring those opposing you as 'repulsive' beforehand. Here's a simple question: should they also ban the lolicon subreddit? The children's-pageant subreddit? The bikini subreddit, because it allows posts of children? Almost everyone agrees child porn is repulsive. Not everyone agrees that means you have to ban /r/jailbait. Read the article, linked in the OP, by Neil Gaiman and please respond civilly instead of inciting a flamewar. Your dismissiveness is unacceptable in a reasoned debate.


I agree that my wording isn't persuasive. It is, on the other hand, clear, which is my priority on this thread. Again, to be clear: I am repelled by any argument that suggests that it is unfortunate that Reddit is cracking down on child pornography.

I couldn't be less interested in discussing Gaiman's take on the subject. What drew me into the thread was a comment about NNTP. NNTP is a sore point with me; the repurposing (more accurately: abuse) of NNTP as an "anonymous binary publishing system" killed Usenet.


>it is unfortunate that Reddit is cracking down on child pornography.

And that's where a great many people have gotten confused. Child porn was already against the rules and already reported to authorities and the perpetrators banned. That hasn't changed.

What has changed were the subreddits like /r/jailbait - where there was absolutely nothing illegal going on. Creepy and skeevy perhaps, but not illegal.

Let me repeat this again: This is not about child porn.

Comparing the content of /r/jailbait to child porn is akin to comparing the sights of an average day at the beach to the set of a hardcore porno shoot. It's completely bogus.


>Comparing the content of /r/jailbait to child porn is akin to comparing the sights of an average day at the beach to the set of a hardcore porno shoot. It's completely bogus.

This isn't about /r/jailbait. This is about the other subreddits which much worse content e.g. /r/preteen_girls and /r/asianbait.

The content posted to these subreddits was, for the most part, child pornography. The rest was absolutely child erotica. To compare what was posted there to children at the beach is a gross misrepresentation.


>The content posted to these subreddits was, for the most part, child pornography.

Allow me to be blunt: Bullshit.


You never actually looked at any of the subreddits removed, did you?


In passing, anyways. I find the whole child modeling scene and anything around it to be just plain weird on a good day.

I saw plenty of creepy things, but I never saw anything that could be remotely classified as "child pornography".


  >  I am repelled by any argument that suggests
  > that it is unfortunate that Reddit is cracking
  > down on child pornography
What Reddit is banning now is not child pornography, at least not in the cut-and-dry sense. They were already filtering clearly illegal images, and reporting them to the authorities.

They are now banning things like teen/preteen girls in bathing suits. Whether or not these things are 'child pornography' is more more up in the air than photos of children having sex, or being raped.

Trying to group this in with children being raped comes across as disingenuous because it implicitly claims that anyone that takes issue with this is somehow automatically in favor of child rape.


Reddit was already cracking down on child pornography --- illegal content was actively searched and reported to the authrities already. What's happening here has nothing to do with CP (in the legal sense), but with public perception. It's a PR move, protects roughly 0 children, and that's why so many people don't really buy it.


should they also ban the lolicon subreddit?

In fact, they did ban the lolicon and respective male version along with the jailbait subreddits.


> more than a little repulsive to see people up in arms about it.

Agreed. Equating free speech with the ability to trade in sexual images of children is about the low-water mark for political philosophy applied to communications tech.

All that being said, I miss the pre-AOL usenet.


  > sexual images of children
The real question is how far can you stretch this definition. If you find someone jacking off to a picture of a mother holding her newborn baby, is that image now 'sexual' and fair game for censorship? What about a couch[1]?

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGU7MlDYgXA


Reddit is changing. It's currently in a renewed and stronger Eternal September. Bastion subreddits like /r/AskScience and /r/Truereddit are reduced to junk and fads. The hope for the group of moderated subreddits (Republic of Reddit) didn't really take off, it's just a handful of submitters.

The top voted comments on threads about censorship are mostly 1 to 3 months old users. And now reddit (had to) surrender to a decadent SOPA-supporting forum and a bunch of trolls from /r/ShitRedditSays (wich starts to look like a *chan long troll instead of a bunch of ultra-feminists).

Sure, a lot of questionable/creepy subreddits shouldn't be there. But where's the line? And who draws it? Also, isn't this an ongoing process? Those subreddits can reopen in minutes with more subtle names. The censorship whack-a-mole is pointless.

It's weird how reddit was a bastion for resisting SOPA/ACTA but fear mongering in US can take over a site. It seems that's the real frontier and we are losing. Next up /r/trees and /r/atheism.

Like so many times before it's time to move on. I wish the best to the owners/admins, they were cornered and probably had a tough choice. And I sincerely hope the new users enjoy this new reddit.


Exchanging child pornography is illegal in the United States (as well as in many other countries). There's nothing unreasonable about stating in your TOS that you can't have a subreddit the very existence of which breaks the law. Sure, people can try to reopen these subreddits under different names, but once the rule is in the TOS, they can be reported on and shut down as a matter of routine. The same applies to warez. Like it or not, you can't operate in the U.S. while allowing your users to post links to warez.

/r/trees is not the same, and I hate slippery-slope arguments predicting its demise. Exchanging actual marijuana is illegal in many parts of the United States. Exchanging information about marijuana is not. You could download kiddie porn on /r/jailbait, and the fact that those images are actually hosted on imgur is unlikely to convince any court. But you wouldn't download marijuana on /r/trees, would you? If /r/trees or /r/atheism ever gets banned, it will be the result of a completely different kind of pressure. It won't be a straightforward extension of reddit's current policy on kiddie porn.

Reddit may or may not be dying, but its latest change of policy on kiddie porn will probably have little to do with its fate.


The whole point of this policy shift is that it's no longer about child pornography, just like the jailbait banning wasn't about child porn. The post makes it clear that they've always followed the law regarding child pornography, but that they're now voluntarily banning all suggestive or sexual content involving minors (so, not just child porn). Their main excuse is that they don't have the resources to moderate on a case-by-case basis, and I guess they think a subreddit-by-subreddit basis will require less manpower.

Still, I strongly suspect this isn't purely about legality. Reddit has come under fire (first, in the press regarding jailbait, and more recently by somethingawful users) for having content that's not necessarily illegal, but rather just creepy. Most of the top comments on this post share this interpretation, and most seem to approve of banning creepy content. If other commenters are to be believed, it also appears that many of the banned subreddits contained fairly "standard" pornography and either had strict "no minor" or "no nudity/sex" policies.


The fact that the admins are painting their policy with a broader brush doesn't mean that the policy is any less about child pornography than it was before. If "creepy" was the new standard, /r/creepy and /r/wtf should be on the chopping block, too. If "no nudity or sex" was the rule, /r/nsfw wouldn't have survived.

What a subreddit's policy says is less important than what actually gets posted there and/or what people expect to find there. Would you go to /r/truejailbait, /r/lolicon, or /r/preteen_girls expecting to find pictures of adults in non-revealing outfits? No, the expectation is that those subreddits will contain child porn or something similar.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know, the high-profile subreddits under scrutiny didn't contain child pornography regularly or at all. The jailbait one was depicted on Anderson Cooper's show as having pictures likely grabbed from Facebook: e.g. teenagers in swim suits. There was also mention of a single commenter claiming to have more revealing pictures of an underage ex-girlfriend (which sounded like they would have qualified as child pornography), which prompted other commenters to ask him to privately message them with links. I was under the impression that this was the most illegal thing on that subreddit, and that the main problem was that people thought it was creepy to have pictures of minors in swim suits. More realistically, I think the banning was more about the news segment, since everyone already knew about that subreddit.

> What a subreddit's policy says is less important than what actually gets posted there and/or what people expect to find there.

What's the line? What if someone posts a single nefarious link on /r/nsfw, or for that matter, something completely unrelated like /r/askscience? It seems like you're proposing that outlier illegal content should result in the banning of a subreddit if the subreddit is "creepy," but not if the subreddit is "normal."

> the expectation is that those subreddits will contain child porn or something similar.

You're hinting at the important problem of defining child pornography. Are pictures of minors in swim suits child pornography? Sure, it's creepy to think about adults surfing for those pictures, but is it even borderline illegal? I don't think so. I think reddit has every right to ban whatever they want (although it seems to go against the stated purpose of their site), but it seems a bit disingenuous to claim that it's at all about legality unless it truly is.


Of course it's not purely about legality. Administrative burden was cited as the main reason. Also, the new policy is not only against child porn, but also "all subreddits that focus on sexualization of children", including pictures of teenagers in swimsuits. That's an unabashedly moral stance to take.

But I still don't think this means that reddit from now on will readily bow to public accusations of creepiness. This time, illegality, administrative burden, creepiness, and moral principles all happened to coincide. I don't think the same set of circumstances will easily obtain with respect to /r/trees or /r/atheism, which @alecco worries about. Illegality alone would not justify blanket censorship of "grey area" stuff. Creepiness alone, or moral qualms alone, would not justify censorship, either.

From the announcement: We will tirelessly defend the right to freely share information on reddit in any way we can, even if it is offensive or discusses something that may be illegal.

When somebody else says things like that, we are often sceptical about that, and for good reasons. But I think reddit admins have earned enough trust among its regulars over the years to merit a more charitable reading. I doubt that they would ban entire subreddits for a small number of nefarious links if the subreddits themselves had other legitimate purposes. Maybe they'll tell the mods to take better care of their communities, but delete them unilaterally? Unlikely. That's the point I was originally trying to make; sorry for the diversion.


> When somebody else says things like that, we are often sceptical about that, and for good reasons.

Yes, the good reason is that this announcement is doing exactly what that sentence promises they won't do. Of course, they have the right to do whatever they want with their site, but that line is a blatant lie without the added clause "except for this case."

The administrative burden excuse seems half-hearted and almost a throwaway line. Also, regardless of the reddit admins' views, the views of many top commenters is that this is an appropriate moderation whether or not it's illegal.


> There's nothing unreasonable about stating in your TOS that you can't have a subreddit the very existence of which breaks the law.

That's not what they did. What they did was to say that suggestive content featuring minors is prohibited. I feel like a broken record, but I guess I need to keep reiterating this: Romeo and Juliet is suggestive content featuring minors.

> You could download kiddie porn on /r/jailbait

No you couldn't. Nothing pornographic or illegal was ever allowed on /r/jailbait. It might have gotten posted a few times, but the submitters would have been banned.


What are you talking about? Reddit had a very strong stance aginst CP already.

And there's a lot of rules broken on /r/trees so it's far from safe. Like meetups to exchange or people giving tips. That's not legal in US and happens quite often there.

Same with /r/atheism, a lot of their content can be labeled hate speech under US law. (IANAL)


There's no such thing as "hate speech" under US law. You can, for instance, proudly march down the streets of Skokie in Klan regalia bellowing about the need to "exterminate the Jews", safe in the knowledge that the First Amendment implications of doing so have already been litigated.

There are (dubiously) "hate crime" laws, but they pertain to violent crime.

In a similar vein, I'm not so sure about your legal analysis about "arranging meetups" and "providing tips" on marijuana forums. The reason mj forums don't want people arranging meetups probably has more to do with not creating an easy venue for sting operations.

(Disclosure: it's sad it took Reddit this long to apply this rule, and more than a little repulsive to see people up in arms about it.)


Well, while you can walk down the streets of Skokie and shout "exterminate the Jews", you can't walk down the street in Winnetka and say "exterminate that Jew". I think that would fall under fighting words, which isn't protected.


You keep editing your post. My original "I stand corrected" is now out of it's meaning and it makes no sense to keep editing my answer. I expected better of you, tptacek.


I didn't edit it to change the meaning of your comment.

On this particular thread, I'd like to make sure my comments are as clear as I can make them: Reddit did the right thing, and the only complaint I can make is that they took too long and their reasoning wasn't great.


IMHO, they did the right thing in the wrong way for the wrong reasons at a very troubled time for the community. Also now there's blood in the water so I doubt this will be the end of it.


Why is it "repulsive" to see people in arms about it? The construction of that last line, that is supposed to appeal to reasonableness, is unfair from it's very phrasing. You, as many have sought to do in this issue, try to portray ANYONE who disagrees with the decision or rationale for the decision as a pedophile or a pedophile apologist. It's disingenuous and rude.

I don't agree with the decision because it's apparent that it was a simple reaction to pressure from, well, lots of different places. I disagree with it because there isn't a solid brightline defense of this decision in light of other subreddits that they not only tolerate, but openly endorse.

To write a post discussion the speech implications of this decision and to end it with "repulsion" of those who disagree is insulting.


[deleted]


>Oh well

So in the spirit of most people in this thread, you're going with "you disagree with my moral framework so you're wrong".

Except it's even worse than that because no one (I think) thinks that these pictures are a good thing, we're just not comfortable with installing a select fews' morality as guidelines for censorship. But rather than have that discussion, you drag it into "well you either agree or you like pedophilia".

As long as you're proud of that, more power to you. I looove people preaching morality and especially absolute morality. There's a lot of people who would love to see a LOT of subreddits banned. Hell, there are people that would see me KILLED for how I live aspects of my life. You going to tell me "oh well" when that becomes the popular sense of morality?


Just want to say that I deleted that "oh well" about 2 minutes after I posted it. Long before you wrote this comment. Stuff like this probably hits an RSS feed somewhere.

I'm not interested in this conversation at all. I'm not interested in debating moral relativism in the context of child pornography.

I have a sore spot regarding NTTP/Usenet, because the abuse inflicted on it to make it "anonymously" "publish" "binaries" killed Usenet, and Usenet was a far more valuable resource than Reddit is today. As a card carrying nerd (and former Usenet admin), I have trouble walking away from comments about Usenet.

But like I said, I'm not interested in the rest of this "debate". I opt out. I told you what I think, and, in the interest of clarity, I repeat: arguments in favor of retaining forums constituted for the purpose of sexualizing children are repellent.


To my knowledge it's not possible to initiate replies after a comment has been deleted and the comment was very visible when I pressed "Reply". (That, and how would I have known what it said, but whatever).

> I'm not interested in debating moral relativism in the context of child pornography.

Fine. But kindly take the rest of your judgmental, condescending insults to those of us who are having a more mature conversation elsewhere. If all you want to say is "CP BAD", fine, you shouldn't have bothered in the first place; as I've said repeatedly, we all agree with that sentiment. If you don't want to have the rest of the conversation, then your opinion is irrelevant.

>I repeat: arguments in favor of retaining forums constituted for the purpose of sexualizing children are repellent.

Jesus. Do you not get the point, do you not care, or are you incapable of defending your point so this is all you can resort to? Not a single person here is arguing that, in anything even close to that form. You are being entirely disingenuous, you know that and I don't think you care.


You're right, "latest change of policy" is not the best way to characterize Reddit's stance on CP.

But breaking rules in a subreddit is different from having a subreddit where the only possible means of participation is to break the law by posting links to CP. If everybody obeyed the rules in /r/trees, that subreddit might still contain interesting content. If everybody obeyed the law in /r/jailbait, that subreddit simply could not exist. It's a fine difference, but it makes all the difference.

Also, FYI, the U.S. Constitution offers very strong protections for hate speech. It's not like some other countries (cough Germany cough Canada cough) where you can get fined for uttering racial slurs.


Way back in my 888chan raiding days, we took special pleasure in tormenting Kimmo Alm and his legion of pedopals over at anontalk. We regularly got hosts to dump him, payment processors to drop him, and when that failed (or we were just bored), we'd DDoS him. We'd have months-long trolling sessions where we would get ourselves promoted to wiseguys, then wreak havoc on the site in whatever manner struck our fancy. This is a fairly long-winded way of saying I am not a supporter of pedophiles or CP.

That being said, none of the jailbait subreddits had any CP on them. Those who claim that this was a move against child pornography and child exploitation are being disingenuous. There was no child porn nor exploitation. What there was was suggestive pictures of minors. The content was distasteful, not illegal.

Now, I firmly support reddit's right to ban those subreddits on whatever grounds they choose. What's more, I think it was the right move to make. I am disheartened, however, to see people conflate the content that was removed with child porn. The images on those subreddits were largely pulled from facebook and the like. Yes, there were a couple subreddits devoted to the so-called "model" agencies where clothed children were photographed in suggestive poses, and I find that creepy and distasteful in the extreme, but it is not porn, any more than the Victoria's Secret catalog is porn.

It doesn't do anyone any good to use disingenuous language to conflate the issues we're talking about. Reddit got rid of about a dozen creepy and distasteful, but fully legal subreddits devoted to suggestive pictures of clothed minors. Despite my misgivings about censorship and free speech, I support this decision. That does not, however, mean that I am willing to use dishonesty to make those subreddits seem worse than they were, or argue that this was a decision about preventing child exploitation. It simply wasn't. This was about removing subreddits that the majority of redditors found distasteful and a black mark on reddit. It was about avoiding another PR boondoggle like the one that followed Anderson Cooper's report. That's all. It need not be any more than that for it to still have been the right decision.


I feel that simply upvoting this is not enough. Thank you for writing this redthrowaway. You've captured my thoughts perfectly.


>Like meetups to exchange or people giving tips

Never once have I seen this. I've seen ONE meetup and it was in a state where medical use is legal and even then, there's no law against conspiring to meet up to talk about and or consume marijuana. "conspiracy to get high".

Give tips about what? Stupid ways to make a bong out of a gatorade bottle? Scandalous!

>Same with /r/atheism, a lot of their content can be labeled hate speech under US law.

I just spit onto my keyboard a bit. Besides the fact that hate speech is not illegal, I can't think of anything that is purely hateful enough to be deemed hate speech in that subreddit.


One of the reasons for removing /r/jailbait originally was that users were trading illegal files behind the scenes.

I've heard of the same thing in /r/trees; Eg. seed exchanges and more.


> One of the reasons for removing /r/jailbait originally was that users were trading illegal files behind the scenes.

FWIW, that's just speculation. I think a more plausible explanation is the bad publicity from CNN.


What? Where on earth do people hear these ludicrous things? Besides, what you've described is not illegal.


"Exchanging information about marijuana is not."

Except for that now the Obama administration is trying to charge anyone who speaks out in favor of drug reform under the RICO laws, which carry a possible death penalty. Some Montana legislator was just charged a couple weeks ago.


[citation needed]


http://coloradoindependent.com/111645/pro-marijuana-montana-...

Apparently she hasn't been charged yet, she's currently being investigated, but it seems that RICO is the framework that they are considering using to charge her.


This and your above comment constitute a wildly inaccurate extrapolation based on what's in your article.


How so? If this case sets a precedent that anyone who speaks out in favor of marijuana can be prosecuted as part of a criminal conspiracy, then by defition they would be eligible for the death penalty because that's how RICO works- you can get charged for any crime committed by someone else in your 'organization', regardless of what that crime is or what penalty it carries. I don't see how that's an extrapolation.


There's no "case" here.

You've extrapolated from a single question from a single investigator to a nonexistent death penalty case and pinned it all on an imaginary Obama administration mandate to charge everyone involved in medical marijuana advocacy. That's not the story here.


Oh for crying out loud...

The stuff that was allowed on reddit would get you an instant, permanent ban on pretty much every website on the internet.

Do you even know what SOPA, PIPA or ACTA do? Reddit has voluntarily taken the stance they won't allow the trade and index of child pornography on their website.

That has got nothing to do with DNS takedowns for linking to copyrighted material. It was a private decision made by a private company.

And good. The idea that people would support the exploitation of children because they have somehow wrapped it up inside of "free speech" is completely disgusting and embarrassing. Yes, you have the right to free speech, so long as it does not infringe on the liberties of others.


He mentioned SOPA PIPA and ACTA because somethingawfuls stance of these reflects its general trustworthiness.

No one argues that illegal content should not be removed, and uploaders banned. Which was already being done. Child pornography was never allowed on reddit, and was removed as it was reported.

This is not preventing 'exploitation of children', it's just a majority censoring topics it finds inconvenient/disturbing.


>This is not preventing 'exploitation of children'

It's preventing the trade of child pornography. How on earth do you not see this as exploitative?

>It's weird how reddit was a bastion for resisting SOPA/ACTA but fear mongering in US can take over a site.

That has nothing to do with SA.


>It's preventing the trade of child pornography. How on earth do you not see this as exploitative?

Production of child pornography is exploitative for sure. Trade? Not really, but I accept it should be illegal because it provides incentive for production. However this is not about explicit child pornography, which was never allowed on reddit and was being removed as soon as someone noticed it. Nothing changed there - it will still be banned as soon as someone will notice it. No gain from the change of stance. What has changed, however, is the banning of content that is not illegal, but that some people find disgusting/creepy.


>Trade? Not really

Well then you are incredibly naive. Do you understand what "exploit" means? They're exploiting either the naivety of the children taking these photos, or the naivety of the people who posted them to the internet.

The damage isn't finished being done after the photo has been taken. The damage happens in the way that these photos are then used. Imagine doing something foolish in school and then being teased for it. Did the damage stop happening after the original act was completed, or is there damage happening in the act of teasing as well?

The fact that there are people who think that this should be protected ("this" being: the exploitation and sexualization of children) is a embarrassing to anybody [read: most people] who believes in free speech.


>Well then you are incredibly naive.

http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html: When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is an idiotic thing to say; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."

please.

>Do you understand what "exploit" means? They're exploiting either the naivety of the children taking these photos, or the naivety of the people who posted them to the internet.

I'm not sure what kind of pictures are we talking about here. Child pornography or teenagers in underwear posing to a mirror? If the first, then it is the act of taking the photos that is exploitative. Whatever happens afterward is only immoral because it incentivises more production.

>The damage isn't finished being done after the photo has been taken. The damage happens in the way that these photos are then used. Imagine doing something foolish in school and then being teased for it.

I don't find anything wrong with a teenage girl being teased about a photo she posted to the internet. Teased, not bullied - but bullying is wrong whatever the cause, so we do not need new rules for this. No real damage done, and the embarrassment might teach her to be more careful on the internet (same with boys, of course - but there is less social pressure on them, so not as much teasing I would guess).

>The fact that there are people who think that this should be protected ("this" being: the exploitation and sexualization of children) is a embarrassing to anybody [read: most people] who believes in free speech.

If sexualization of children is so wrong, why are all the 'miss 6 year old' shows legal?


>I don't find anything wrong with a teenage girl being teased about a photo she posted to the internet.

Well that's telling.


Telling how? I believe if you do something stupid then you should be ridiculed for doing it. How is this case something special?

Perhaps we have a different understanding what it means to tease someone. For me it means (and the free dictionary seems to agree) to annoy, make fun of, mock playfully without degrading the person.


It’s grade A victim blaming.


How so? If a girl posts a picture of her in her underwear on the internet and she gets ridiculed for it, how is that victim blaming? She did something stupid, she got teased about it, case closed.


What if someone finds a box of photos containing some of your children in their underwear and scan them and trade them around the internet? Not all photos online were intended that way by the person who took them. To assume this is very convenient to your argument but not realistic in the broader view of what is being discussed.

More to the point, you are misunderstanding the stage at which the girl is victimized; when she is ridiculed. You are definitively blaming the victim if you think it's her fault that people other than her traded the photo around for whatever purpose leads to the teasing.


But that is a different case all together. If she didn't publish those photos, okay. Then publishing her photos is definitely reprehensible, ridiculing her is reprehensible, and trading those photos... Is probably wrong, but has no direct consequences on her, so I wouldn't be this quick to judge. The probability that someone who knows her will find the photos on the internet is not very high, is it?



She's not old enough to know the consequences of her actions on a scale with which she, by posting herself nude, is dealing.

Kids kill themselves over this stuff, it's not so simple as, "deal with the consequences."


If it makes them kill themselves its definitely not teasing, but heavy bullying. In that case very large portion of the guilt should be on those doing the bullying!

But of course it's easier to blame 'those paedophiles on the internet' than 'my little innocent boy'


In general, I would prefer for people to be more accepting of harmless eccentricity.


SA is in favor of SOPA and PIPA? Huh?


Well, I didn't verify the claim made by previous post, only addressed how it is relevant (if true).


Link me to Something Awful actually supporting these laws.


As plenty of people have said plenty of other places, there's a huge difference between illegal content and distasteful but protected speech.

Further, the legal definition for child pornography is, in many cases, not what people expect. The EFF has a primer that touches on this: https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/adult

If reddit begins cracking down on protected speech like you'd find in /r/trees and /r/atheism, you've got a point. But when reddit (finally) decides to crack down on something that is plainly not legal speech, you're fear mongering with the best of them.


You're right, there is a huge difference between between illegal content and distasteful but protected speech. Yet you seem to be lumping them together in your post...

Inside your link it says, for something to be considered "obscene":

>The Miller test stems from Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), in which the US Supreme Court held that material is obscene if each of the following factors is satisfied:

>1) Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

>2) Whether the work depicts/describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law;

>3) Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

So, by law ALL THREE of the "obscene" criteria have to be met for it to be considered obscene. I want to focus in on #2, because I don't think pictures of children in bathing suits is sexual in nature. If it were, then taking your children out in public wearing said bathing suit would be illegal too... Now, people looking at those pictures may be sexualizing these images in the head, but the images themselves break no laws and show no nudity. So why exactly is reddit drawing the line there? Also, why is Toddlers in Tiaras fine? (there's a subreddit for that too). I don't understand what makes it so different to you (and to reddit admins).

I kept reading and further down in your link it says:

>Child pornography is any visual depiction, where "(A) the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor [under 18] engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and (B) such visual depiction is of such conduct." 18 U.S.C. § 2252 The law prohibits knowingly possessing or transmitting (including by computer) child pornography.

I'm positive that children in swimsuits does not constitute being sexually explicit, so I'm still not getting why you are considering it illegal...

Finally, you say >when reddit (finally) decides to crack down on something that is plainly not legal speech

Yet, based on the legal definition that you provided these subreddits, for the most part, are participating in legal, albeit creepy, speech. Anything illegal has been removed and delt with according to law. Not sure who the real fear monger is here, but calling pictures of children in bathing suits "not legal speech" is disingenuous at best.


That's one test. But it's not the only one.

The Dost test establishes if an image depicts lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area. If it does, it's considered child pornography.

Read on the six Dost factors. Note that it's not a bright line test -- you don't need all six to be true for an image of the genitals to be considered lascivious.

The Wikipedia article on the Dost test is quite apropos:

>Concerning the lascivious display of clothed genitalia, the Department of Justice described use of the Dost test in child pornography and 2257 documentation regulations in a 2008 rule, writing that the precedent United States v. Knox, 32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994) did not prohibit ordinary swim team or underwear model photographs, but "although the genitals were clothed in that case, they were covered by thin, opaque clothing with an obvious purpose to draw attention to them, were displayed by models who spread or extended their legs to make the pubic and genital region entirely visible to the viewer, and were displayed by models who danced or gyrated in a way indicative of adult sexual relations."

The distinction is not nearly as clear as you claim it to be.


> Now, people looking at those pictures may be sexualizing these images in the head

No, it's not only on their head. It's written right underneath the photos by redditors, ie: "my d* is so hard right now". So the picture by itself may be harmless, but the post as a whole puts children in a highly sexualized context.

To make matters worse, threads sometimes include links to fully illegal material on some download server. The bikini photos sometimes are just the thumbnail...

I doubt that's the case with Toddlers & Tiaras.


Captions don't change the contents of an image, no matter how terrible they are.


No, but the image+caption is different from just the image.


Remember, slippery slope is a fallacy.

I think the admins are sending the right message - This subject is blanket banned because it's too hard to sort out the shades of gray, and it brings a unique risk to the community that other things (drugs, racism, etc) just don't.

I agree that they'll be playing 'ban the sub' whack a mole, but that will happen to any UGC site of scale, the important thing is (ironically) not to let a community coalesce around the subject that's big enough to get reddit targeted by the media or some zealous prosecutor trying to score political points (See craiglist's adult section...)

It would be nice to see them lay down some firm rules that say "OK: These things are blanket banned, these things are fair game just don't break US laws; these things are open season". It would be doable to segregate Jailbait / Trees / Atheism along those lines and remove some fears.

* Edited for grammar, typos, wording of first sentence.


> a false fallacy

The philosophy degree in me screams that there's something wrong with that phrase.


That's what I learned it as years ago, in hindsight it is an odd phrase.

Wiki calls them 'Conditional or questionable fallacies', which is a bit less punchy. Do you have a better name?


Just "fallacy".



>Remember, slippery slope is a fallacy.

Not arguing with you on the merits of the OPs argument, but a slippery slope argument is not necessarily a fallacy.

It's only a fallacy if one doesn't logically connect the first event with each subsequent event in the chain.

You can check wikipedia if you'd like some examples of fallacious and non-fallacious slippery slope arguments.


There's a lot of dissonance between: > It's currently in a renewed and stronger Eternal September. >The top voted comments on threads about censorship are mostly 1 to 3 months old users.

and

>Sure, a lot of questionable/creepy subreddits shouldn't be there. But where's the line? And who draws it?

The way to deal with a dilution of community quality is communicate and enforce stricter standards. Ban more stuff. Not because of a moral panic, but because the trolls, spammers, pornographers, etc.. can trash your site with force disproportionate to their numbers. You can't fight Eternal September unless you lay down some serious boundaries.


/r/ShitRedditSays is entirely sincere. I've been reading it for a while, and they mean what they say.


The community which had 'we cum when we kill men' as their slogan for a good while? Really?


This is 100% true. However, they are primarily concerned about the content for the content's sake (as you can see from their ban policy). Reddit is not concerned about the content, only the legal liability associated with the content (otherwise a whole bunch of other subreddits would be on the chopping block).


Yeah, I just wanted to dispel the idea that they're trolls faking a sense of outrage just for the opportunity to kick Reddit's sand castle.


> Bastion subreddits like /r/AskScience and /r/Truereddit are reduced to junk and fads.

Check out http://www.reddit.com/r/depthhub where they take a different approach: it's a meta-reddit where they link high-quality discussions from the various niche subject-specific reddits. A random example that's on there right now: /r/ludology discusses the tension between plot and choice in games.


Sure, but for how long?


Shit Reddit Says is pretty awesome and definitely on the right side of history. It’s not hard, it’s pretty simple.


Hi Ugh. How do you reconcile your view that this is a simple issue with the fact that it seems to be resulting in a large amount of discussion with a wide variety of views represented, some of which are diametrically opposed. I would contend that the evidence suggests that this is not a simple issue.


I don’t know. Weirdos scream the loudest, probably.


Chasing (mostly) attempts at comedy that disagree with your sensibilities may be a fun pastime (seriously) but it has absolutely no part in any sort of struggle for moral improvement if such process is even taking place.


I gotta say I agree with this. I mean, I've got my misgivings about SRS, but they did a pretty damn good job getting those subreddits shut down.


They're really not. They're for banning these subreddits because they don't like their content, not because they may represent a legal threat.

They, at best, misunderstand the issue at hand.


You can't use a slippery slope argument that begins with child pornography in this situation without supporting child pornography. I'm not saying this to try and discredit your argument by association, it's simply a consequence of trying to hold freedom of speech so utterly sacrosanct that you can't breach it under any circumstances.

Yes, it would be easier to not take a stance on things like this, because then we could argue from the superior position of "I've never censored anything (well except posting personal information...)," but that would make us complicit in the trading of child pornography.

So, instead, I say we accept that we now have the harder job of drawing lines and judging what is and not allowable. Accept that the harder thing is to go "I am against SOPA/ACTA in all its forms, but am against being complicit against the trade of child pornography and will ~censor~ it if necessary" because life isn't about black and whites, and sometimes we have to make compromises for the greater good. (EDIT: spelling, grammar)


But you can use a slippery slope argument that begins with 'you can post whatever is legally allowed', and trends towards 'you cannot post anything that the majority finds disturbing'. Which is what is happening here - no one argues for allowing already illegal content.


I'm not saying you hate your mother, but...


I posted my qualifier not because I thought it absolved me of the associations (it doesn't, the first paragraph 'poisoned the well' so to speak, there was little I could do about it without choose not to discuss it); I did it in an attempt to show I was making the argument in good faith. I don't think I was very successful however.


Public forums are getting overrun by people like you. You are very disingenuous and doing false accusations. It's like reverse cognitive-dissonance. Reason is lost with you. Goodbye.


I'm really not sure what you mean; I tried to articulate my argument as best I could without being offensive (which is hard; the topics here are understandably emotional to a lot of people.) But I seem to have have only received superficial comments from you and my original post seems to be downvoted.

At the very least can I be told what my post did wrong and/or what norms I have broken to get this reception?


There is a problem with online communities. Let's call it the problem of "false association". Humans have been forming communities for millennia. Inevitably, in these communities, there are bad apples. However, if there is a child molester that lives in my town, that fact does not (on its own) reflect poorly on me. Even if that molester was my next door neighbor, there may be a bit more suspicion ("how could you not know that was going on next door?"), but I am confident that 9 times out of 10 I would come away with my reputation unblemished.

Of course, before the internet, communities were a more-or-less involuntary phenomenon. They were defined by geography, history, a common resource, or a common industry. Contrast that to online communities that are largely viewed as self-directed, voluntary organizations. This is the view, I think, that will eventually have to change.

This view is poisonous for two reasons. First, as we see here, if anyone, anywhere in an online community (no matter how large) does something offensive, objectionable, or illegal, the knee-jerk reaction of society today is to allow that bad apple to spoil the bunch. Second, this makes it very difficult to form heterogeneous communities online. If I associate with people randomly online, I am a Google search away from being associated with a potential thief/pervert/whatever. The end result is that online communities become insular, or they can only function well under a banner of anonymity, but anonymity has its own problems.

Reddit, it seems to me, struck a useful middle ground: partial anonymity with history (I can create an identity that does not lead back to my real life identity, but can still build up a reputation). Unfortunately, Reddit is still a business. It seems to me that something like Reddit, but based on a distributed model, is what we need.

Let's call it...usenet


The comment about "everything that's happened, has also already happened on LiveJournal" really rings true for me. Recent instance: the breast-feeding protesters recently descended on Facebook, which is mostly amusing to me in that they had waited so long. It would be interesting to construct a "here are the trials any internet community is likely to go through" handbook distilling these experiences.


I'm not against Reddit's move, but I do think they're being more than a little naive if they think it will stop here.

hueypriest (Reddit admin) says:

/r/trees isn't in remotely the same legal area as CP stuff. Not even close. They'll ban /r/trees when they pry it out of our cold dead hands.

And yet, facilitating a drug transaction is almost definitely illegal. Posting torrent links is at least legally dangerous. Sure, these things haven't become problems yet, but neither were the other things a couple years ago.

What the Reddit admins are saying right now is that anything goes, as long as it doesn't represent a plausible legal threat that can be waged against them. This is fine. The problem is that Reddit doesn't know that they're saying this. They think it's about CP, but it's not, it's about legal threat.


The slippery slope you describe simply does not exist. "First they took the CP, and I said nothing..." is not a valid concern, primarily because CP has always been an issue, and whenever it's come up it's always been removed from Reddit. This change in position is not nearly as large as it seems.

Contrast, as you seem to want to, with /r/trees. How many posts in /r/trees get taken down due to their questionable legality? How many posts in /r/letstradetorrents (apocryphal) get taken down due to their questionable legality? None and none. The nature of CP on the Internet is unique, and not viewed similarly to anything else on the Internet. Reddit isn't saying "as long as it doesn't represent a plausible legal threat that can be waged against them", they're saying, "as long as it's not CP, and as long as it's manageable through an ad-hoc process."

Due to the SomethingAwful attack, or due to some other, unknown reason, the volume of CP was too high to continue to deal with it on an ad-hoc basis. That is all.


First, I'm not saying that they shouldn't be taking the position they are. In fact, I believe that Reddit should always make the best effort to comport itself to US law in order to protect the site's existence for its users everywhere. However, I am saying that CP is not the only possible legal threat and it is naive to assume that it will continue to be the dominant legal threat going forward.

Contrast, as you seem to want to, with /r/trees. How many posts in /r/trees get taken down due to their questionable legality? How many posts in /r/letstradetorrents (apocryphal) get taken down due to their questionable legality? None and none. The nature of CP on the Internet is unique, and not viewed similarly to anything else on the Internet. Reddit isn't saying "as long as it doesn't represent a plausible legal threat that can be waged against them", they're saying, "as long as it's not CP, and as long as it's manageable through an ad-hoc process."

I agree that it is not yet a problem. Reddit has not yet been taken down by the FBI because of widespread drug trade on r/trees. Nor have they been sued because of torrent links. What I question is how long it will take before these things become issues?

What I'm asking is: what is it about CP that makes it the only possible legal threat that Reddit can face? Reddit is still a maturing community that can evolve in many different ways. Reddit's policy is not about CP specifically, it's about credible legal threat. This is not what they say, but what they mean. If you think otherwise, I invite you to tell me what they will do if a non-CP related legal threat comes along.


I'd love to see a single "facilitated drug transaction" in /r/trees. No really, it would be relevant to my interests. Also, it's a load of nonsense, as are most of the comments about /r/trees, /r/atheism and other subreddits that are being compared to CP in this thread.


/r/atheism I agree -- I have no idea where that came from.

r/trees -- come on. They're currently walking a very thin line but it's just a matter of time until people start crossing it. Case in point: http://www.reddit.com/r/NYCtrees/comments/mw8h0/someet_up/

It was one cautious commenter away from being a thread all about where to meet up to do and buy illegal drugs. You think that just because you say "share" with a wink and a nod everyone's immune from prosecution?


So a 2 month old post (that wasn't even in /r/trees) whose TOP comment says specifically "do not talk about actual trading of drugs" is your evidence that /r/trees is illegal? Besides, there's nothing inherently illegal about me claiming "I sell lots of drugs". Yes, it's (not) true, drivebyacct2 sells massive amounts of marijuana. Come persecute me and everyone else in this thread!

Even the second comment is how to be safe and not attract too much attention. The third top comment suggests that it be a "treeless" meetup.

In the interest of fairness, I've never been to /r/nyctrees before and it's certainly a different style than trees. I'm still not sure anything there looks like dealing and again, I don't really see "hey, let's get high and meetup in [some] park" as being that dangerous or scandalous.


Policing a community is where humans excel and policies/computers fail.

I ran a community once, with around 30k active users. Definitely not big, but we faced the same problems. Our solution was simple, aside from adhering to the law: "Mods delete what looks icky".

We felt that automated systems would always fail (users would use "4" instead of "a"), and strict policies always led to debate about whether something was allowed or not.

Instead we tried to recruit mods that knew the community, the direction it was heading and were able to keep a level head. Sure, someone went overboard once in a while and deleted o.k. stuff, but we'd just remove their mod privileges and reinstate what they deleted (thinks were removed from the database 14 days after they were marked as "deleted").

We were never accused of harboring pedophiles, or going overboard with removal. Those that complained about free-speech were always radical political groups well outside of "acceptable" for most communities.

The key is to find moderators in line with the community, in a benevolent dictator way. No idea if reddit could find enough of those, but it worked well for us and should scale with community size, as reddit has a larger pool to recruit from.


The problem is that reddit mods are self selected from within their communities by the other mods in that community. The quality of the moderators varies wildly and most subreddits are not run very professionally (obvious exceptions like /askscience exist).

Sure reddit has overall mods but they do not usually get involved and communities manage themselves which usually leads to a lack of coherent policy in regards to what is acceptable and not.


Doesn't every website that gets used by the unwashed masses eventually have to deal with this problem? How does facebook or youtube deal with it? How did AOL deal with it?

Is the issue just that Reddit is run by a smaller team than these larger companies?


Facebook is obviously thriving as a business but arousing indignation and ire over their policies, which ban breastfeeding photos but allow hate speech.

So I woud say they have decided to live woth a certain ongoing level of shitstorming as a cost of doing buiness.


Facebook does not ban breastfeeding photos in general - https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=340974655932193#Does-Face...?


Youtube handles it via whack-a-mole. A friend of mine used to work in their community dept, and would tell horror stories about the things she'd see people put up.


My heart goes out to the censors who have to deal with user submissions (as opposed to network censors). I can only blanch at the job that people who manage Google Image Search have to deal with.


What about utilizing the community to police this undesirable content? I'm sure that opens up other exploits but if the community wants to stay healthy, it has to take responsibility for itself and not just rely on the admins to come up with a magic algorithm that will solve the problem.


The problem is that the 'community' is now so large that you have a subset that considers things appropriate that the wider group doesn't.

So either the small group gets to do things that may damage the larger site (and be illegal), or the larger group squelches the smaller group's freedom by singling them out. It's a lose-lose situation from a purely community standpoint.

Realistically, I support the message that they're sending - That child sexualization is blanket banned because it's too resource intensive to define and monitor shades of gray, and it's a unique issue. The very active marijuana, racism, or even black hat netsec communities may support illegal/gray-area things, but are far less likely to get the site branded as a kiddie-porn hive, which would basically be a death-penalty to the community, or attacked various governments.

Sometimes admins just have to make some executive calls to protect their business, even if they're hypocritical from a strict standpoint. I'd say reddit's defacto bill of rights is still pretty strong for a web community.


This isn't a workable solution without more massive changes to the way reddit works.

Instant account creation, plus complete anonymity, plus groupthink inside of subreddits...

The first "community police action" of reddit would probably be all the Battlefield 3 fans removing all the Call of Duty subreddits.


Reddit isn't one community, it's sort of like usenet, there are lots of sub-communities that can easily be oblivious and invisible to one another.


This is the reason I scoff when people try to describe an average "Redditor". With the sheer amount of traffic coming through their site it's impossible to come up with an accurate generalization of what the community as a whole feels, even with the small percentage of traffic actually commenting and voting.

I would like to see a lot more emphasis be put on the decision between serving the will of the users, establishing a set of ideals that Reddit chooses to run things by, or a mixture of the two.


You may find it instructive to read the final link in the post -- "LambdaMOO Takes a New Direction"

:)


Yes, everyone interested in this topic should read that link. And associated topics -- search for 'Mr Bungle LambdaMOO' and in particular: http://www.juliandibbell.com/texts/bungle_vv.html

A Rape in Cyberspace

How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society

First published in The Village Voice, December 23, 1993


It's surprising how people have these discussions and don't discuss Metafilter - the discussion site that works.

What has set Metafilter apart from slashdot, K5, Digg and Reddit was that after the initial burst of building a good community it became $5 to join.

That keeps out the morons and pays for moderators to get rid of the asshats.

If HN wants to keep up the quality before the hordes arrive it'd be a good move here too or it will be a matter of time before the idiots kill the place.


"I originally cut my teeth on sites and services that, frankly, make 4chan and reddit (today’s all-too-frequent bogeymen) look like a knitting circle."

WUT NET WUZ THIS GUY ON? K5/adequacy/early slashdot/b3ta/whatever... nothing like the internet of today. the volume of users alone leads to emergent (gross) behavior that before was drowned out in an invisible minority. USENET, IRC, same thing. You could find shady things if you looked for them, but no one (I knew of) actively did. Occasionally gross stuff would pop up in a listing of newsgroups, but you just didn't click.

No one envies reddit, but they should've changed their policy earlier. Better late than never.


My biggest concern over all this is that the policy change came so quickly after the SA thread (similar timeframe as the Anderson Cooper clip). Even though startups and usually praised for moving quickly, I agree complete with the OP that this can be a major directional change (positive or negative) for Reddit overall. This kind of stuff should be thought over long and hard, rather than come down from their parent company. Reactionary policies that sprouts from avoiding bad PR will be good for the short term, I just hope they thought it all out what they will do in the long term.


Not that I'd like to defend this move, but it probably has been on the table for a long time now. /r/jailbait was banned and reinstated enough times for the discussions to have gotten old in reddit HQ by now.


So the result of the discussion was to keep all the other questionable content available until a PR shitstorm starts to brew?

If they already made a decision why would they not act on it at the same time /r/jailbait was banned?

This whole thing smells like they got their hands forced, which is what worries me.


my interpretation- they were WAITING for an outside party to speak up about it, so they could say "well, x party forced our hand" to shift the blame. Reddit (the company) is terrified of upsetting its userbase, lest it go the way of Digg.


I think playing the 'endless game of whack-a-mole' really is their only option in the short term. Yes, it can get expensive. But if they want to continue on their current insane traffic trajectory and gain a wider audience, they need to be on top of the human moderation process.

This traffic report isn't accurate, but the trend is right (from what I've heard): http://siteanalytics.compete.com/reddit.com/


Every time I see k5 get mentioned, I get all nostalgic and think there will never be a community as eclectic as k5 ever again...


I get similar pangs of nostalgia.


Reddit is open source. If anyone thinks that this will ruin them then step up to the plate and compete on "freedom of speech"


Y'know, it's one thing to be against laws that are ostensibly made in favor of prosecuting child pornography because they can be abused to censor things that are politically unpopular... it's a whole other bucket of beans to be against removing stuff that's basically child pornography because you think something that's politically unpopular might be removed.


> basically child pornography

Nothing that got banned was "basically child pornography." That's why there is blood in the water.


It was a collection of subreddits for the purpose of eroticism focused on children. It wasn't child porn, but it's as close as you can come without actually getting arrested.

You're full of shit if you're trying to tell me otherwise.


The subreddits are as close as you can get to being illegal, but I think there's still a large (or at least significant) difference between the two. My only basis for that is my gut reaction, but I think it was what jquery was getting at. Not that they're truly unrelated.


It's interesting, I think, how much sheer emotion there is behind these child protection issues. Is there anything more emotionally provocative than the thought of harm to your children? Your own flesh and blood, who you've raised from before they could crawl. The amount of emotional and physical pain you've gone through (and willingly continue to go through) for your children far surpasses any other possible source.

Of course, people do overreact sometimes, but I think this is our instinct for a very good reason.


I think the strength of the emotion is perfectly understandable. The unfortunate side effect is that it makes rational discussion very difficult - because it's such an emotional issue, it's easy to misunderstand what others are saying, or to see something as much more black and white than it actually is.

The worst part is this emotional response is so easy to exploit. It can be "think of the children" laws with unintended (or intended) side effects. Or, like in this case, it can be used as a weapon to attack a person or community (even if I agree with the outcome, this particular instance feels like SA attacking Reddit either out of genuine outrage or, more likely, for shits and giggles).


I have a son and I am not so sure.

Don't get me wrong. If my son was a victim I would probably want nothing but hell for the person who did it.

But I also sometimes can't help but feel that society and the media is actually making matters worse, than they already are.


Reddit had the biggest hissy fit of all about how child porn laws like SOPA were going to go too far and ruin the internet. And here they go banning anything involving a bathing suit.

The hypocricy is strong in this one.


Uh, SOPA wasn't a child porn law. It was a copyright enforcement law. By definition it didn't cover anything regarding illegal pornography, because illegal things aren't subject to copyright.


Not at all. It's quite typical for an industry to choose to regulate itself, when the alternative is statutory regulation imposed by the government.


I've been banned from posting articles on some larger subreddits some time ago. My political, economic and historical opinions aren't welcome for some reason.

My point? Reddit began banning political opinion long before it banned kiddie porn. Reddit's admins don't give a damn about freedom of speech and opinion.


There is a difference between subreddit admins banning you from a particular subreddit, and Reddit admins banning entire subreddits. Each subreddit is administered by different admins, and each subreddit may have different policies for what is acceptable content or not.

The difference here is that now Reddit has banned subreddits for encouraging people to post "creepy," though not necessarily illegal, content. It's always been the case that subreddit admins could ban you for whatever they wanted.


You've touched upon an incredibly grey area. Most forums will ban trolls, but therein lies the problem: define "troll".

I don't know what you said, where, and in what context... but I don't give benefit of doubt on this. Nor do I think you're guilty either... all I do know is that running a community is hard, and one of the things that the people of the community look to moderators to do is to keep the peace.

A difference of opinion can be minor, or major. And depending on the topic it can be quite offensive to some.

Have you considered that within a particular subreddit that the moderators were just trying to keep the peace? Has anything stopped you from starting your own subreddit to voice your opinion?


> I don't know what you said

The below article was deleted from the queue in r/politics and I've been unable to post articles in politics and a few other subreddits ever since, using a particular handle from a particular IP.

Ron Paul’s Challenge to the Left: http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/07/a-question-of-morality-ron...

My point stands: reddit has been complicit in silencing political opinion long before it began worrying about whether child porn should be allowed or not.


The behavior you're describing (not being able to submit from a certain user account from a certain IP) is a result of reddit's quite sketchy spam filtering mechanism. Unless you have been notified that you've been banned from a certain community, your posts are simply being absorbed by the spam filter.

You have also mistaken the views and actions of a specific community for the views and actions of the site owners. Anyone (yes, even you) can go start a subreddit whenever they want, and restrict content however they want, even if that includes suppressing information they don't agree with or banning users with whom they disagree. The idea behind reddit is that people show their support for a specific community by frequenting and contributing to it. If you don't agree with the way a community is being run, you are free to find a better one or even to start your own.


My posts have been actively deleted, not just caught in a spam trap.

I'be had discussions with subreddit moderators and reddit admins. The majority of them dislike my political opinions, thus the active censorship.

To restate my point: reddit has been actively deleting unpopular political opinion long before they thought about restricting kiddie porn.

That kind of prioritizing is what's been instrumental in the herd of geniuses that now inhabit reddit.


Reddit and r/politics are not the same thing. Subreddits are user-created forums moderated as those creators see fit. Each subreddit chooses what it wants to see, how it wants to be moderated, and who will moderate. A particular sub community not welcoming you or your ideas is completely different from site-wide moderation.


When you're banned from a subreddit, that's the decision of the moderators of that subreddit, not the administration of the site. You're blaming the wrong people.


subreddits are moderated by folks who are like-minded individuals that participate in the subreddit. It seems more likely that you were moderated by those subreddit admins, not the Reddit administration.

Furthermore, Reddit is a private organization, and they don't have to give a damn about freedom of speech.


I've been told, by a drunken reddit admin in a late night talk, that no one likes my opinions and I should just go away. True to form, callow youth are generally the most sure of their own views while also being sure that everyone else is wrong.

> Reddit is a private organization, and they don't have to give a damn about freedom of speech.

Agreed. They should stop acting like they care when they don't.


It's a business decision, plain and simple. Get over it.


It's simple, shutdown anything criminal and keep the rest open.


Sadly it's not that simple. Even if that were the only rule, illegal where? The rules aren't even uniform among the 50 US states, not to speak of city/county level, or other countries.

I think that the (unique?) problem with child issues is that if you allow things that are clearly not illegal (just 'creepy'), you'll draw a community that 1) Looks illegal from the outside and 2) Will, with very high probability, be doing illegal things over the messaging system or private/side boards.

To the greater world, 1 and 2 are enough for a high profile lawsuit or media blitz that would effectively be a death penalty for the community.


The problem is that criminality is decided by a jury if a case like this goes to trial. In New York or San Francisco or even D.C., getting an obscenity or child porn conviction based on images of minors that are not nude, whether they're fully clothed or wearing swimsuits or bras, would be difficult. Getting an obscenity conviction for fictional depictions would be nearly impossible in those locations.

Then there are cases like the Christopher Handley manga case in Iowa, where he plead guilty to avoid the risk of a longer sentence for possession of purely fictional manga that a jury of his peers may well have deemed "obscene".


To be clear: that's what they were doing already. This whole hullabaloo was caused by their announcement that they were going beyond that.


I confused about why he thinks it ironic that Nabakov is banned... I mean, it got grandfathered in when child porn laws were written, somehow, but it is certainly fiction about a paedophile, right? Anything that bans other kiddie-fiddler fiction while allowing _Lolita_ is quite obviously inconsistent, and those in favor of this inconsistency probably ought to examine why they like _Lolita_.


It wasn't grandfathered in; it's unconstitutional, in the U.S., to ban Lolita.

It would be pretty unfortunate if literature couldn't even seriously deal with the subject! (Incidentally, it's pretty hard to read Lolita as being pro-pedophilia; if anything, it's an extended, mostly negative investigation into the protagonist's psyche, although many pages in literary journals have been spent arguing over how to interpret it.)


The First Amendment is pretty clear that freedom of speech/press is protected only from Congress and legislation: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

Companies and/or websites can ban almost any speech or writing they would like. It's not unconstitutional, because corporations aren't considered a governmental/Congressional body.


That's true; I was objecting to the claim that it was "grandfathered in when child porn laws were written". The reason a law couldn't ban it is because of the First Amendment.


Definitely agree that Lolita is a written text and not a visual depiction of children engaged in sexual activity. So it's not covered by child porn laws, and is still protected by the First Amendment.

But wanted to highlight that the law can ban speech, despite the First Amendment. For example, in 1982 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that child porn was not protected by the First Amendment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_v._Ferber

Laws can also ban material deemed obscene. The Miller test is the standard there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_v._California


Lolita the book is protected because it fails the third prong of the Miller test. Nabokov's Lolita is considered to have "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific" value. However, that test sets the bar at a completely arbitrary level:

What about Adrian Lyne's 1997 movie, Lolita? It has artistic merit, but arguably not as much as the novel.

What about girls' dancing and gymnastics? Should photography of those activities, even including women's international gymnastics competitions, be banned just because, viewed with an eye toward prurience, they might qualify? Certainly the activities have artistic value, but how much?

What about purely fictional depictions of minors, either in manga (see the case of Christopher Handley's manga possession) or even in fictional stories that may not be deemed to have serious literary merit?


In the case of Christopher Handley, the prosecution ignored the vast majority of his collection, and pursued the handful of manga that actually were straight-up child porn.


Lolita, the novel, is an extended metaphor for the United States.


>those in favor of this inconsistency probably ought to examine why they like _Lolita_.

There is a lot of fiction from the perspective of non-sympathetic characters. If doesn't mean that those who appreciate the insight the fiction provides into the character, or the character's circumstance, are advocates of the character or the circumstance itself.


Some people, myself included, object to banning "kiddie-fiddler fiction", no matter how disgusting it is. The law should not make judgments of literary quality, and literary quality is the only grounds for treating Lolita differently from some (but perhaps not all) of the amateur stuff.

Besides, no actual child was abused in the production of these works, unlike with films and pictures with actual underage models; and potential harm to future children is a rather shaky basis to justify flushing the First Amendment down the drain. That's the argument that ACLU's Nadine Strossen used two decades ago against censorship of (non-child) pornography. I see no reason why the same argument won't apply to child pornographic literature.

But private websites are a different matter, and there's nothing wrong with a moderator who chooses whether or not to discriminate on the basis of perceived literary quality on his or her own site. Many forums ban discussions about religion and politics altogether, but that doesn't infringe anybody's Constitutional rights.


I don't defend Lolita in particular, but there is clearly a difference between child porn and fiction about the boring, sad life of a real pedophile. One is meant to arouse and the other to show a truth.


Yes. We should ban kiddie fiddler fiction like Romeo and Juliet. Did you read that disgusting line about busting their maiden heads? Yuck. Yuckity Yuckity Yuuuck.


  > I confused about why he thinks it ironic
  > that Nabakov is banned...
It's not ironic that something that is considered 'classic' literature gets banned in a rush to ban all 'pedo' material? If you want to play it up, I'm sure you could conjure up images of Nazis burning books.




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