Reddit is one of the most popular platforms on the Internet when it comes to sharing content and having a discussion about any topic you can imagine. Such a great platform sooner or later attracts the wrong crowd, and in the case of Reddit, that wrong crowd goes further than just the users. Even subReddit moderators are not free from blame, as quite a few of them enjoy restricting free speech and picking their own favorites.
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Reddit: Not Home To Free Speech Despite Open-Minded Nature
The Reddit platform has a lot of things going for it: people from all over the world are welcome, most topics and categories have a different subReddit to avoid cluttering the main page, and there are moderators put in place to keep an eye on things. As soon as a user registers an account on Reddit, they can share content with the world and engage in discussions on subjects they are passionate about.
Unfortunately, that is where the Reddit fun seems to end. Most communities are very hostile towards other users, regardless of whether they are new to Reddit or regular users. Conversations quickly deteriorate into glorified shouting matches, and nearly every third post will involve insults such as “retard”, “idiot”, “noob”, “STFU” and other derogatory remarks that indicate the maturity level of most Reddit users.
Opening a platform to the entire world so everyone can share things they are passionate about is a great idea, yet Reddit executed it pretty poorly. The entire system of upvoting and downvoting content acts as a user’s reputation system, yet it is far too easy to manipulate. Get some friends to upvote certain content, and it will appear on the front page of that subReddit within mere minutes of posting.
Reddit moderators are supposed to be leading the charge when it comes to detecting manipulation of the system or conversations becoming hostile towards other users. Unfortunately, this is not being enforced by any means. In fairness, users can report certain posts and topics for removal if they feel it breaks certain rules, making the job of Reddit moderators a bit easier.
Once again, this system can be manipulated as well. If there is a person or website a Reddit user doesn’t like, they can report every post from that source for removal. Once they get some friends to do the same, Reddit moderators are being forced to look into it, which will ultimately lead to the content being removed. Reddit communities are like a pack of rabid dogs: they lost all sense of social behavior and think they can play God in their own little world.
This brings us the biggest source of the entire Reddit problem: the moderators themselves. A handful of people are being put in control of a certain subReddit, where thousands, if not millions of users have subscribed to. And those few people can determine which type of content lives on, or will be buried never to be found again.
The job of being a Reddit moderator is not an easy one, albeit every individual user has taken the burden upon themselves by volunteering to do so. It is important that note that Reddit moderators do not get paid for their efforts, albeit they can and will receive donations from regular users to show them some love and support.
As we all know, the human element in any equation can be corrupted, and every individual has their price. Especially in the case of the Bitcoin subReddit, that corruption seems to run quite deep. Putting a handful in control of the Bitcoin subReddit is one thing, but when those same people control every major platform where Bitcoin is being discussed, things are getting out of hand.
/r/Bitcoin Moderators Run BitcoinTalk Forums and Control Bitcoin Wiki
It should come as no surprise to find out that the people responsible for managing the Bitcoin subReddit are early adopters of the digital currency. In fact, the one person who created the Bitcoin subReddit, a person going by the username Theymos, has been managing the Bitcoin Reddit community for over four years now.
The name Theymos may sound familiar to some people, as he is also the person running the BitcoinTalk forums. Plus, he is also in control of the Bitcoin Wiki, which is the most used source for information on Bitcoin by novice users. Some would go as far as saying that Bitcoin’s entire toolset of free speech is being centralized, as the control lies with one person, and a handful of his buddies.
There are a lot of correlations to be found between BitcoinTalk and the Bitcoin subReddit, and not just in terms of the people responsible for moderation. Most Bitcointalk users will stick to that same username on the Bitcoin subReddit, which is where the problems will start for most enthusiasts.
In the event of a Bitcointalk user managing to have an argument with any of the forum’s moderators, – or God forbid, Theymos himself – those transgressions will carry over to the Bitcoin subReddit, and vice versa. Moderators on either platform who don’t like certain users will restrict their level of free speech on all platforms. In the case of the Bitcoin subReddit, this will lead to accounts being shadowbanned and replies being deleted.
Which brings us to another issue with Reddit: any moderator can shadowban user accounts with or without reason, and there is no entity to overrule them. In return, only the same group of moderators can remove the shadowban from an account, yet they are not obligated to do so by any means. To make matters worse, according to the Reddit ToS, creating a secondary account is against the rules.
Decentralized Solutions Without Corruptible Powers In The Works
Blockchain technology can play a pivotal role in the way free speech is conducted over the Internet. Nearly every existing problem today is being controlled by a few people, and every human is corruptible sooner or later. Using oracles and arbitrators – computers, not humans – to oversee content is the next logical step in giving free speech the internet platforms it deserves.
There are various solutions in the works already, as Voat has been working on a similar project over the past 12 months. By embracing blockchain technology, the platform wants to become what Reddit should have been, but was never able to achieve. But the work on such solutions is far from over, and it will take months, if not years, before either Voat or a related service gains achieves mass adoption.
It is only a matter of time until centralized platforms such as Reddit see a mass exodus of users, as the communities turn more sour by the day, and moderators are not there to help the community but only to line their own pockets. Reddit had a lot of promise, and it got off to a good start, but in the end, the overarching human element will spell the downfall of this platform.
What are your thoughts on Reddit, and would you like to see a decentralized social platform? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Reddit, Voat, Chicago Now, Shutterstock