The big music festival, SXSW (which I must attend someday) also has panel discussions, and apparently they accept public input on which panels to put on. Voting is going on right now, and one that’s getting some attention is “It’s Reddit’s Web. We Just Live In It.”. Here’s the description:
For many years, Reddit — a site that allows people to post, vote on, and comment on links from around the Web — was an also-ran news aggregator, a place stuck in Digg’s shadow. But suddenly Reddit has become the most exciting and influential community online. The site, which now gets billions of page views every month, was the epicenter of the Web’s protest against Congress’s SOPA copyright legislation, a gushing source of Occupy Wall Street memes (pepper-spray cop started on Reddit), and home to some of the most helpful, and the most misguided, Internet vigilantes. Redditors helped a bus monitor who was abused by her terrible kids raise hundreds of thousands of dollars; they also mistakenly attacked a cancer fundraiser, they’ve frequently posted child porn, and they’ve been accused of sexism. How is Reddit’s power altering Web culture — and should we celebrate it, or fear it?
Well, I’d question the premise that Reddit is powerful…it’s a tool for mobilizing a community of people to type faster (kinda like Pharyngula, only bigger…), which can sometimes be influential. It’s greatest weakness is it’s self-reinforcing nature, which allows really stupid, nasty people to sometimes send Reddit haring off towards really stupid schemes—like Reddit Island or their constant battles with a vocal and wretched misogynist minority, that can also wield the autocatalytic power of Reddit well.
So it sounds like an interesting panel, with provocative stuff to say on both sides of the opinion of Reddit. The description is certainly reasonable and fair.
But…the proposed panel has Rebecca Watson on it. And as we all know, that immediately fires up the hate brigade.
So of course Reddit has a thread denouncing the heretic and telling everyone to go vote it down, protesting the fact that a panel discussing the pros and cons of Reddit might actually include someone who is critical of Reddit’s slimy underbelly. They’re also upset that Shit Reddit Says, the mocking watchdog subreddit, is involved, somehow.
At the poll site, there’s another anti-Watsonista, BlueofHume1, who’s on a roll of stupid. He’s making the argument that in a community of 20 million readers, the fact that only 21,000 say “misogynistic/sexist/ablist/homophobic” stuff, by one count, means it is therefore not as bad as everyone says. He’s comparing all registered users to the vocal subset that are active commenters! I’d say it’s a bigger concern that 21,000 scumbags are allowed to thrive and promote scumbaggery on the forum. It’s an open question whether the nasty subset are a representative sample of some significant proportion of the 20 million readers, and his argument doesn’t touch it.
Anyway, if you hate faulty reasoning, if you’re just sick to death of people making excuses for women- and gay-hating fratboys and chill girls “because they are atheists”, if you’re fed up with the enemy constantly waving Rebecca Watson as the emblem of evil, go register at the SXSW site and leave a vote.