Boing Boing 

What Reddit could have looked like in the 1980s

Remember back in the day, when you could dial in to Reddit on your 2400 baud modem and read AMAs by President Reagan and Madonna? This definitely not fake VHS tape explains it all.

Texas doctor's consent form for women seeking abortions


Redditor Mystharia terminated a pregnancy for medical reasons last week; her doctor gave her this consent form, mandated by -- and scathingly attacking -- the Texas legislature, which requires the doctor to enumerate an eye-wateringly detailed account of the foetal development before termination. (Icon: Kevin Dooley/CC-BY)

Reddit's new content policy goes into effect, many horrible subreddits banned or quarantined

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Reddit just implemented its new content policy today. Site administrators are now banning and quarantining a number of subreddits. From what we know, tougher rules on so-called "involuntary pornography" are also active, so women whose partners or predators upload intimate images of them to Reddit can know that the site doesn't make such personal violations easy to commit.

The Redditors who frequent affected forums like “Kike Town” and "Watch Niggers Die" are predictably upset.

Redditor Spez writes:

Today we are releasing an update to our Content Policy. Our goal was to consolidate the various rules and policies that have accumulated over the years into a single set of guidelines we can point to. Thank you to all of you who provided feedback throughout this process. Your thoughts and opinions were invaluable. This is not the last time our policies will change, of course. They will continue to evolve along with Reddit itself.

Our policies are not changing dramatically from what we have had in the past. One new concept is Quarantining a community, which entails applying a set of restrictions to a community so its content will only be viewable to those who explicitly opt in. We will Quarantine communities whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average redditor.

Today, in addition to applying Quarantines, we are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else. Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations.

I believe these policies strike the right balance.

Which communities have been banned? Spez replies:

Today we removed communities dedicated to animated CP and a handful of other communities that violate the spirit of the policy by making Reddit worse for everyone else: /r/CoonTown, /r/WatchNiggersDie, /r/bestofcoontown, /r/koontown, /r/CoonTownMods, /r/CoonTownMeta.

[Thanks, Andrea James]

Reddit's Head of Community quits

redditalienJessica Moreno was the fourth senior female employee to exit in less than a month, reports Noah Kulwin for Recode.

From Jessica Moreno:

I have enjoyed my time at Reddit but after four years I feel that it’s time for me to move on. While I am working with Steve on a transition plan, I am looking forward to taking time off to spend with my family. It was a difficult decision to make right now as Reddit is taking difficult steps in a much needed positive direction. I’m excited to see the progress being made and glad I could be a part of it.

Reddit's new CEO has entertained the idea of imposing more rigorous policies aimed at preventing harassment, but it has the look of anxious PR activity squeezed out by public and investor pressure. Dorkno-libertarians committed to subsidizing white supremacist subreddits on principle: unhappy. Everyone else: unhappier.

Update: Moreno explained why she's leaving, and says it has nothing to do with gender issues: "I have always felt respected as a colleague here and managed to surround myself with good people in an industry not always known for that. The theory that I am leaving because of recent changes in policy is also false as I happily participated in creating those changes and stand by the decision to enforce them."

Why "All Lives Matter" instead of "Black Lives Matter" is such a stupid thing to say

Image: Wikipedia.


Image: Wikipedia.

Reddit has been in the news of late for hateful, harrassing content--mobs of trolls piling on people and ruining their lives, under cover of anonymity. That happened, yes, but so do threads of greatness. Here's one: in the very interesting “Explain it Like I'm Five” subreddit, a thread titled “Why is it so controversial when someone says "All Lives Matter" instead of "Black Lives Matter"?.” A wonderful and useful response.

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When moderators attack

redditThe New York Times's Adrian Chen reports on what happens when websites rely on unpaid labor to police their communities: trouble, such as Reddit becoming useless for days as the landscape of control shifts and cracks.
The moderator class has become so detached from its mediating role at Reddit that it no longer functions as a means of creating a harmonious community, let alone a profitable business. It has become an end in itself — a sort of moderatocracy in which the underlying logic of moderation has been turned on its head. Under the watch of its moderators, Reddit has become a haven for extremists: The Southern Poverty Law Center recently called it the new ‘‘home on the Internet’’ for white supremacists, and it also functions as the central organizing point for the dubious ‘‘men’s rights’’ movement. For years, a moderator with the handle Violentacrez presided over an empire of execrable content on the site, including a hugely popular subreddit that shared sexualized photos of under-age girls, and another that glorified violence against women.

Boing Boing is moderated by supernatural creatures, which complicates matters.

Almost every Reddit comment as a single massive download

redditalienSome 1.6 billion of them are yours, courtesy of Archive.org.

This is an archive of Reddit comments from October of 2007 until May of 2015 (complete month). This reflects 14 months of work and a lot of API calls. This dataset includes nearly every publicly available Reddit comment. Approximately 350,000 comments out of ~1.65 billion were unavailable due to Reddit API issues.

You'll be needing about 5Gb, just for the compressed dataset.

What was on Reddit's front door the day you joined?

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A quick but clever archive.org hack. Above, Reddit in 2007.

Reddit's going to remove "copyrighted material?" As if.

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Reddit's proposed new policies continue its principled ideological commitment to ignoring problems. But it also wants to do something about copyright infringement. Perhaps Reddit can brush its white supremacy and rape advice subreddits under the rug! But can it live without copyrighted material? Get real, Reddit!

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Ellen Pao: “The trolls are winning.”

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“I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history,” writes Reddit's recently-departed interim CEO Ellen Pao in a Washington Post op-ed today. “And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack.”

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What went wrong at Reddit?

redditalienSarah Jeong reports on the bizarre and public wrangling over Reddit, whose free-for-all atmosphere blew up just in time to singe new investors expecting rapid growth. A labor problem, hidden in free speech posturing…

To outsiders, it looks like a form of collective insanity, a sign that Reddit itself is overrun with the denizens of r/CoonTown, utterly broken beyond repair. Yet Reddit still drives much of the Internet’s traffic. How can such a mainstream site appear to be so fringe? … Reddit appears to be overrun by a racist, sexist fringe. It’s not. … Reddit has driven itself into the ground by the same cost-efficient model that made it rise to the top. The site has a content problem because it has a moderation problem, a terrible labor problem that it has long hidden behind proclamations of “free speech.”

The hostiles there are expected to get a haircut today, following the installation of co-founder Steve Huffman as CEO and hints at more moderation. But who gets paid?

Ellen Pao was nasty subreddits' last defender, insider claims

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Reddit's army of seething adolescents found a target for their anger in the form of Ellen Pao, the site's caretaker CEO and the presumed feminist fascist monster who presided over the censorship of r/fatpeoplehate and other bastions of free speech.

According to her predecessor Yishan Wong, however, the Reddit board has long wanted to rid the site of its nastiest subreddits. Ellen Pao, he claims, was in fact the last person around "upholding my free-speech policies" and telling them no.

AYYYYYY LMAO

How’s everyone doing? This is AWESOME!

There’s something I neglected to tell you all this time (“executive privilege”), but I’m declassifying a lot of things these days. Back around the time of the /r/creepshots[1]debacle, I wrote to /u/spez[2] for advice. I had met him shortly after I had taken the job, and found him to be a great guy. Back in the day when reddit was small, the areas he oversaw were engineering, product, and the business aspects - those are the same things I tend to focus on in a company (each CEO has certain areas of natural focus, and hires others to oversee the rest). As a result, we were able to connect really well and have a lot of great conversations - talking to him was really valuable.

Well, when things were heating around the /r/creepshots[3]thing and people were calling for its banning, I wrote to him to ask for advice. The very interesting thing he wrote back was “back when I was running things, if there was anything racist, sexist, or homophobic I’d ban it right away. I don’t think there’s a place for such things on reddit. Of course, now that reddit is much bigger, I understand if maybe things are different.”

I’ve always remembered that email when I read the occasional posting here where people say “the founders of reddit intended this to be a place for free speech.” Human minds love originalism, e.g. “we’re in trouble, so surely if we go back to the original intentions, we can make things good again.” Sorry to tell you guys but NO, that wasn’t their intention at all ever. Sucks to be you, /r/coontown[4] - I hope you enjoy voat!

The free speech policy was something I formalized because it seemed like the wiser course at the time. It’s worth stating that in that era, we were talking about whether it was ok for people to post creepy pictures of women taken legally in public. That’s shitty, but it’s a far cry from the extremes of hate that some parts of the site host today. It seemed that allowing creepers to post (anonymized) pictures of women taken in public, in a relatively small subreddit that never showed up on the front page, was a small price to pay for making it clear that we were a place welcoming of all opinions and discourse.

Having made that decision - much of reddit’s current condition is on me. I didn’t anticipate what (some) redditors would decide to do with freedom. reddit has become a lot bigger - yes, a lot better - AND a lot worse. I have to take responsibility.

But... the most delicious part of this is that on at least two separate occasions, the board pressed /u/ekjp[5] to outright ban ALL the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted, knowing the community, claiming it would be a shitshow. Ellen isn’t some “evil, manipulative, out-of-touch incompetent she-devil” as was often depicted. She was approved by the board and recommended by me because when I left, she was the only technology executive anywhere who had the chops and experience to manage a startup of this size, AND who understood what reddit was all about. As we can see from her post-resignation activity[6] , she knows perfectly well how to fit in with the reddit community and is a normal, funny person - just like in real life - she simply didn’t sit on reddit all day because she was busy with her day job.

Ellen was more or less inclined to continue upholding my free-speech policies. /r/fatpeoplehate[7] was banned for inciting off-site harassment, not discussing fat-shaming. What all the white-power racist-sexist neckbeards don’t understand is that with her at the head of the company, the company would be immune to accusations of promoting sexism and racism: she is literally Silicon Valley’s #1 Feminist Hero, so any “SJWs” would have a hard time attacking the company for intentionally creating a bastion (heh) of sexist/racist content. She probably would have tolerated your existence so long as you didn’t cause any problems - I know that her long-term strategies were to find ways to surface and publicize reddit’s good parts - allowing the bad parts to exist but keeping them out of the spotlight. It would have been very principled - the CEO of reddit, who once sued her previous employer for sexual discrimination, upholds free speech and tolerates the ugly side of humanity because it is so important to maintaining a platform for open discourse. It would have been unassailable.

Well, now she’s gone (you did it reddit!), and /u/spez[8] has the moral authority as a co-founder to move ahead with the purge. We tried to let you govern yourselves and you failed, so now The Man is going to set some Rules. Admittedly, I can’t say I’m terribly upset.

Wong already identified Pao as having taken the heat, in her resignation, for decisions made by Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.

Gawker's Ashley Feinberg writes that, if true, her departure as CEO is the best outcome, despite the horror of its circumstances.

And let’s hope he’s right. Not only could this mean an end to the many festering, self-propagating pits of hate that exist throughout the site, but the many redditors who made so many people’s lives living hells—all under the pretense of crusading for free speech—would be getting one hefty dose of karmic justice. Everyone wins.

Reddit's chief engineer quits

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Reddit's Bethany Blount is out, saying she has lost confidence in the company's new direction.

Her departure follows the resignation of CEO Ellen Pao, who apparently took the heat for a decision made by co-founder Alexis Ohanian to fire popular employee Victoria Taylor.

The situation at Reddit has gone from nightmarish to bizarre, as another former CEO, Yishan Wong, took to the site to denounce Ohanian and co-founder Steve Huffman's maneuvering to regain control of it.

Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao resigns. Co-founder Steve Huffman takes over.

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The embattled interim CEO of Reddit, who became all the more embattled after the sacking of a popular admin left unpaid mods outraged, is leaving the company.

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Reddit considered decentralization

redditalienThe bitcoin blockchain could be used to decentralize media, putting it beyond the control of individual hosts.

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Not a bug


[source]

Reddit moderators revolt over sacking of popular admin

redditalienA number of Reddit communities were effectively shut down last night to protest the unexpected departure of staffer Victoria Taylor, an important liaison between Reddit's employees and its army of volunteer moderators.