Reddit has an amazing story: Founded in 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, later acquired by Conde Nast, then spun off in to a subsidiary of Advance Publications, Reddit is one of the largest sites on the internet, and constantly growing.
But this isn’t a story about the cool things that Reddit has done (and continues to do); This is a story about the sleazy things that Reddit does with regards to moderation.
First, though, a little back story.
Six years ago, I created an account on Reddit. For most of that time, I just consumed content. About two to three years ago, I started posting content that I thought others might find interesting. Things like this rocket record to /r/science, and this screensaver to /r/linux. Most of my posts were so-called “self posts”, meaning they weren’t links to other sites, but questions within a particular subreddit. None of my posts were amazingly fruitful in the Karma department, so even now, 6 years later, I’ve only got about 1500 combined karma. I was there before Digg “died”. I was there before the SOPA blackout. I’ve been there for a while.
A year ago, I started posting links to stories on my former employers sites, with all of them in the interest of the specific subreddits to which I posted. Things like sustainable communities to /r/Permaculture, Google investing in solar power (also to /r/Permaculture), and a kiosk to search for Civil War soldiers to /r/history. Then about five months ago, I was added to /r/reportthespammers.
Someone considered my posts spammy enough to bring up, and then with a 3-2 vote, I was shadowbanned.
What’s a shadowban? The admins of Reddit have decided that people who are shadowbanned can still browse the site, can still post content and comments, and to them, everything looks normal. But no one else sees their posts, their comments, etc. They just go to the spam bucket. Luckily, some of the moderators of the individual groups check the spam bucket, and can manually promote a post back to the general populous. Others don’t. But for the most part, my posts just “disappear”.
I’ve been, as you can see, a long-time Redditor. I was in the initial batch of folks who purchased Reddit Gold, trying to help out a site that I loved. But no more. Banning me outright for spamming (though I still don’t believe that’s what I was doing) is one thing. Letting me think that my account and posts are in good working order, but that everyone is disinterested in my submissions is another.
I’ll be leaving my account, but I won’t be back.