I feel differently, of course, when it's more central.
The closest I can come to judging this based on how speech affects me personally is that several of my great-grandparents died in the Nazi concentration camps, yet I would be pleased if Nazi hate speech were decriminalized in countries that I admittedly don't live in and rarely visit. Also, I read aljazeera.com even though Al Jazeera TV is at times badly anti-semitic (I'm referring to cases in the Arabic version that are extremely likely to have been accurately described.)
Still I do not understand Reginald's reasoning. The world or reddit for that matter does not revolve around a single person. Sure, visit or don't, do what you see fit. But the grand standing is pretty hollow if I may say so.
Then I remembered the worshiping of free speech in the west and people's reprehension upon mentioning PRC's tight control over media, or on a lesser scale, people's reaction to Apple's walled garden approach. Well, now some company is walking the walk (kinda, with caveats), quite hilariously it becomes poison and the Antichrist.
EDIT：Also I'd like to remind Reginald: The ilks of /r/CoonTown are huge obstacles to reddit's monetization plan, the fact is plainly obvious I really do not get the "blood money" angle.
You can see this in the fact that the Constitution guarantees speech, and a right to bear arms, and a right to assemble --- but not a right to privacy, or to bodily integrity, or even to true equality under the law between genders. Those latter rights are also rights, acknowledged implicitly by the Constitution (as Locke --- who also didn't support unfettered free speech --- would say, the government protects rights, but doesn't grant them). Why are these specific rights in the Bill of Rights? Because they're the ones deemed most important to ensuring self-governance.
Second, 'raganwald isn't saying Reddit should be forbidden to host hate groups. He's saying he refuses to patronize businesses that are incentivized to host hate groups and do so without restriction. The antidote to bad speech is more speech, and that's what 'raganwald is doing, both out loud and with his pocketbook.
That’s an interesting point to discuss, but before we do, are we talking about Reddit?
Any forum that has moderation in the form of downvotes and/or flags does not have a "free exchange of ideas." If we state something unpopular, we get downvoted and/or flagged and our speech disappears rapidly.
The ideal is that downvoting is for making poor arguments, not unpopular arguments. But few people believe this is what happens in practice. In practice, Reddit is moderated, it’s just that the moderation within a forum is carried out by the very people arguing with each other.
In a subreddit like/r/CoonTown, we are not going to find a free exchange of ideas with respect to race. If we want that, we have to go to a subreddit like /r/AskScience, where there is very active and aggressive moderation, and that moderation is associated with a set of laws restricting what you can and cannot say.
I think that there is a great deal of value in the idea of free speech, and in the utopian ideal of a free exchange of ideas. But I am not convinced that allowing all and sundry to create their own subreddits that represent finer and finer slices of single-issue society is the mechanism for enabling a free exchange of ideas.
> I think our approach to subreddits like that will be different. The content there is reprehensible, as I'm sure any reasonable person would agree, but if it were appropriately quarantined, it would not have a negative impact on other specific individuals in the same way FPH does.
I want to hear more discussion on the topic. I'm open to other arguments.
I want to be very clear: I don't want to ever ban content. Sometimes, however, I feel we have no choice because we want to protect reddit itself.
If there were some actual way to enforce this idea that you post in [Bad Sub X] and couldn't post ANYWHERE ELSE for several hours, they maybe you'd have something, but the people who give me the worst time are often posting in at least 2 or 3 different subs, usually something innocuous like /r/videos along with the sub that makes me consider them scum.
As it is, a very popular women's subreddit -- TwoXChromosomes -- went straight into the toilet as soon as it was made a "default" subreddit and exposed to the "default" population of Reddit. Draw your own conclusions to that one.
Yes. Every questionable post I read now has a second thought filter going on - is this shit post a troll from some coontown/TRP/whatever or should I bother to actually engage and dig into what they mean
Furthermore, the fact that I am over here on HN complaining about reddit instead of trying to argue this sort of thing ON reddit should be proof enough that reddit as a "community" has changed so drastically that HN is somehow an IMPROVEMENT.
Feels a bit akin to the old usenet idea
What did he mean by that? They're both side effects...is he saying that the downsides of free speech outweight the benefits, as many would agree is the case with cigarettes?
The downsides of no-holds-barred, absolutist free speech outweigh the benefits - the qualification is important. The proof is readily examinable from the site.
The subreddits with greater representation (beyond young, white, and male) are all heavily moderated around-the-clock - e.g.,: askhistorians, iAMA, askscience. They are also unsurprisingly the only subreddits that aren't actively embarrassing when exposed to the outside world.
Meanwhile the laissez-faire subreddits are absolute cesspools in the comments - e.g.,: worldnews, videos, funny... The white supremacist subreddits routinely raid the comment sections of posts (particularly anything relating to black men) with impunity.
Reddit isn't just a good example of what happens when unfettered free speech is prioritized above the safety of individual users, it's also a good example of what happens when there is active community leadership and the willingness to shut down the most toxic members of a community. It shows brilliantly the results of years of completely unrestrained free speech vs. moderated speech, and I think the results speak for themselves.
The problem is IMO twofold:
- Reddit the corporation profits (or at least tries to) off of the hate speech that, while largely practiced by only a small minority of the userbase, is commonly found throughout its site, not just the dark corners.
- The existence of these hate communities on Reddit without rebuke, censure, or in fact any consequence, creates more work for the already-overworked and unpaid moderators. White supremacist communities (among other hate communities on Reddit) are emboldened to post their shit far and wide, well beyond the confines of their own communities. Reddit's tolerant attitude towards hate groups on its site actively makes the site worse for everyone else, and massively increases the workload of unpaid volunteers who are already frustrated at poor tools and lack of support from site owners.
As a side note: I don't think there's any disagreement that moderation is fraught with dangers, and that drawing the line between acceptable content vs. unacceptable content will be exceedingly difficult in many cases. Reddit's response to this difficulty so far has been to - instead of tackling a very hard problem - absolve themselves of doing anything, an attitude that IMO has caused great harm to itself and its users.
I do think it would be good for them to turn off monetization on the worst subreddits. But you could always move the goalposts and say they still get a benefit by serving those people and potentially having them visit the other, monetized, subreddits. Or complain they are serving racist reddits for free but running ads on nonracist ones. Etc.
The old-school DNS registrars are for the most part part of a collaborative effort to help actually operate the Internet.
Reddit is not.
As far as I experienced it (mostly de.*), old-timers were rejecting any little piece of modernization (sometimes going as far as claiming that Umlaute must not be used -- and that in German!), and clinging to a shared culture that was unwelcoming, backwards-oriented and conservative.
Users hated that and used web forums more and more, even for subjects where thriving Usenet groups existed and were regularly found by newbies.
Usenet regulars told themselves that their technically superior Usenet was winning, even when the ship had already hit the iceberg.
I used to be part of that conservative cabal, and I regret it today (though our fight against the trolls and "net terrorists" was a necessary one, we became extremist ourselves).
As do many many others. But it's too late. Usenet is dead.
Had binaries not happened to Usenet, lots and lots of companies and even small non-profit organizations could have set up competitive Usenet servers. Instead, software piracy forced Usenet to centralize to just a small set of well funded providers. This in turn cut off access to Usenet for lots of users, which further amplified the vote pirates had over the evolution of Usenet.
Eventually, the few real Usenet providers that remained realized how non-remunerative the service was for them compared to virtually anything else they could be doing, and Usenet obtained its destiny as a second-rate faux-anonymous P2P piracy network.
I had slight hope for a renaissance of decentralized Usenet service (instead of the big two: T-Online and Uni Berlin), when a very influential netizen posted a "how to run your INN, and you get a feed from me" on his blog and dozens of small, personal INNs sprang up. Ultimately it did nothing.
Of course, there was another niche, Hamster (http://www.tglsoft.de/freeware_hamster.html), that did a lot for Usenet.
I still don't believe that binaries were very relevant to the demise of non-binary Usenet. Both offers were very distinct, AFAIR.
Either you did "discussion Usenet" which didn't make money, and never really did much, then the egress of users killed you over time, because your employer couldn't see a reason to keep your news server running. Many servers mostly ran under the radar for the last years, with admins almost trying to hide that they had this little thing besides their mail server and other duties.
Or you did binary Usenet, then you made money, but were in a totally different line of business: selling pirated music and software to your customers.
Again, all observations mostly limited to de.*, which was pretty big.
Doesn't this suggest it had less to do with binaries than the kind of users it had and could retain/attract? My impression at the time was that it was too clunky for new users (convoluted setup, specialized text or native clients, obtuse topic hierarchy, etc) and binaries or not, the web killed it just like it killed ftp sites, standalone email clients and so on. Why weren't companies running servers just for discussions (or maybe there were? what happened to them?)
Maybe someday reddit will be a more inclusive place, but for now I agree with the author and will be voting with my feet, as they say.
This is not to say or imply that any of you should necessarily do the same, I think each person needs to come to their own conclusions (which can definitely be different for any number of great reasons)
I really don't agree with this / maybe I am missing something here. Free speech on the internet is extremely important.
Now, let’s imagine Stormfront has a “Master Programming” forum of some kind, and they discuss one of my books. Should I link to that discussion on Twitter and/or my blog?
Let’s say that I am allowed to purchase advertising on Stormfront’s “Master Programming” forum. Should I advertise my books there?
I assert that I can say that free speech on the Internet is important enough to allow Stormfront to operate, but still choose not to do business with Stormfront (presuming that they would choose to do business with me).
All my post is saying is that I now view Reddit in the same light, and am making the same decision.
Is free speech not worthy enough to be blindly defended?
I think it is.
A racist is on a street corner calling for ethnic cleansing, and waving pictures of black people being lynched (found via Reddit, by the way). Can I turn tail and walk away, denying them my attention? Once again, that sends a clear message.
A racist pops up out of nowhere on Twitter and tries to apply some foolish argument. Can I block them, and thus never read what they have to say? Again, ignoring them sends a clear message.
If I can't choose where I spend my money, who I associate with, and who I listen to, what kind of freedom is this?
These are internally-moderated groups (i.e. not really free speech to start with for regular folks) that form echo chambers in which hate groups can fester and evolve their groupthink.
Try and imagine something like that happening offline, where a group's ideas separated them from wider society, and their speech was governed so absolutely by a small number of leaders. The closest comparison I can think of is a cult.
Cults are broadly legal, but their tight structure, disconnection from wider society, and the fact that they disproportionately attract vulnerable minds mean that they at least need some policy consideration.
I don't claim to have an answer, I just think the problem is more complicated than 'free speech, defend it blindly'
Kotakuinaction has poisoned the well to the point I don't even want to wear my /r/mylittlepony shirt in public anymore. Or at all, really.
That said, banning isn't the only option on the table.
Part of the problem is that close-knit extremist groups tend to cut themselves off and form echo-chambers that pressure the members to conform, and exclude anyone that criticises them either directly or by labelling them as someone to disregard (see gamergate's use of SJW, or scientology's use of SP).
If I were in charge of Reddit (aside from running a business) that self-propogating isolationism would be the thing I'd want to change, mainly using product design.
The only way to do this that wouldn't require added staff would be to a) require these features to have some traceable information, like an email address, or b) require these features to cost money, or at least only allow subreddit creation if you've donated reddit gold in the past or something.
I'd be more interested in looking at ways to nudge the behaviours exhibited in those groups so that the degree of groupthink was reduced rather than amplified. Reducing anonymity is one possible lever but has down-sides.
There are other options, for example you could change the way moderation worked. The moderation 'rules' for /r/CoonTown for example are a recipe for an echo chamber: "Dissenting opinion is allowed but don't insult CoonTown or its residents... No posting about 'good' blacks". You could reduce the control moderators have to set their own rules, and that may help nudge conversation back in the direction of free speech from the current system of fiefdoms.
Most of the moderators who wanted more accountability from Reddit want MORE power to protect their users, not less. You do that by introducing consequences for user behavior, and that requires increasing the "cost" on users somewhere down the line.
We're never going to have Joanna with an EMP cannon on the doorsteps of the trolls, but we can dream.
Mods want 'more power to protect their users' because they want to protect their users, and having more personal power themselves is the first solution a mod would think of, but doesn't address the extremism problem. The power would be exercised in a non-uniform way.
I'm guessing I'd try something along the lines meta-moderation, so that a mod who bans someone from /r/Coontown for saying something nice about a black person would have that decision examined after the fact and brought in line with a more standard policy.
How good can the rest of the site be if your response is "unsubscribe from all the default content, it's full of shitty people"?
The phrase "slippery slope" is stereotypically used whenever free speech is the topic of focus, and for good reason. It is simply impossible to respect free speech (much less champion it), whilst simultaneously selectively censoring it. And that's the key word: selectively.
Imagine a scale from 0 to 100 which represents the level of offensiveness in any given comment. Now try to come up with a logical and ethical value which matches your implied "universally agreed upon" cutoff point for what should be allowed. Unfortunately, you won't ever be able to accomplish this feat, because your level of sensitivity is wholly unique to you. To impose your personal cutoff point on others is the exact opposite of free speech.
So now that we have established speech is free for a very legitimate reason, the question becomes: how do you, personally, decide where the slippery slope ends?
If you're going to publicly chastise and boycott a company such as Reddit for not censoring hateful speech, then you must also abandon your ISP, due to its insistence on making money from facilitating those comments in the subreddits you abhor. But you can't stop there. Don't forget to never buy any computers, tablets, phones or writing utensils ever again, because the companies making those products are facilitating the comments, too. Then you need to abandon any method of commercialized travel, as the companies who make planes, trains and automobiles are facilitating hate rallies and even violent hate crimes.
Eventually, all the way at the bottom of the slope, you find yourself withdrawn from all civilized society. Because the unfortunate reality is that governments are businesses, and if we're avoiding businesses who facilitate hate speech, then we can't live in any country in which people who hate others are allowed to verbalize it, or reside, or even live.
I don't know about you, but I'm keeping my car, my computer, my internet connection and my Reddit.
So if we wait until we have a perfect policy, that day may never come.
There will always be some imperfection in the way we phrase our policies, in large part because we don’t know everything about the way the world is today and how it will be tomorrow.
What do we champion here on HN? Lean business. You try something. Then you listen carefully to feedback. You iterate. Or pivot. Not everything works, or works out as you expect, but you learn and grow and move forward.
Morality often works the same way. Trying to get a “Minimum Viable Policy” out the door involves many compromises and sleepless nights wondering f you made the right choice. But in the end, it’s more important that you maintain an open mind and learn from trying than to abandon the thought of trying anything until you can come up with something that is so perfect that it can’t possibly have any failure modes.
By all means use Reddit, I’m not judging in anybody’s direction. But please don’t go through life with the thought that the only ethical decisions you can make are those that won’t involve some gray areas or quandries or paradoxes or judgments.
Life is full of them. That’s why we have judges, because laws by themselves cannot suffice. We have to use judgment. And we have to reconsider our judgment.
Today, I make a different choice than you. Tomorrow, or next month or next year I may make a different choice. I think the important thing is to continue to observe and grow and possibly, to make mistakes as we try to do the right thing.
I sense that you are sincere, and so I wish you well and thank you for taking the time to write and share.
This same logic could be extended to the internet as a whole.
Why is it that when anyone tries to make a statement or a stand these days, people equivocate themselves into a blithering hole?
He obviously doesn't, and that's why reddit is optimizing for the young-straight-white-male-in-a-dorm-room demographic. There may be nothing wrong with that, but it is at odds with being “The Front Page of the Internet,” and it is frustrating for mods trying to create safe spaces.
People associate “safe spaces” with culturally marginal groups, but even if you can’t imagine what it's like to be a woman or transgendered, you can imagine what it's like to try to argue factually about hot-button topics like race, free speech, gun control, or the historical use of the Confederate Battle Flag.
FatPeopleHate is banned but yet Coontown is allowed.
Sure technically there is a difference i.e. one specifically targets individuals but from the general public's perspective there isn't. Both subreddits are there purely to attract and spread hate. And that hate as the OP mentions spreads through to other subreddits and undermines the integrity of the site.
(On the other hand, I am so dense as to not yet understand Reddit. HN has much better s-n-r.)
On the other hand, if you give the same level of control to a decentralized network, especially to a pipe like Comcast that is often people's only option to access said network, you wind up with nowhere else to go when important things get censored.
How about disabling custom CSS/images and comment gilding on a per-sub basis? Presumably Reddit will need to flag offensive subs anyway (if they don't already) so that future advertisers' content isn't associated directly with them.
Why not instead ask yourself; where are the black empowerment subreddits? Why are young white, and sometimes angry, males over-represented on reddit?
Reddit, and all other communities like it, are only internet forums. Anyone can subscribe, anyone can discuss and in the case of reddit anyone can set the topic and moderate it.
So it's a waste of time to throw blame and fear around without discussing the real question he's interested in, where are black people on the internet? What are they doing? What sites are they interested in?
Questions that I would be interested in.
But to answer your question: Tumblr. Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Literally anywhere else on the Internet whose name doesn't end in *chan.
Specifically sites that provide a superior mobile experience, but basically NOT the ones that insist that it's "free speech" to show that curbstomp gif from American History X.