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Aug 15 2012

SXSW poll

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.

53 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    Odds are it’s going to turn into a playground to see whose votebot is better. Basically, the whole thing is one great, big internet poll and proving ground for why security people are skeptical about e-voting systems.

  2. 2
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I can already see the titles : Rebecca Watson and FTB want to ban Reddit.

  3. 3
    Amphiox

    I would like to point out here that 21000 out of 20 million is pretty close to the frequency of cancer stem cells, the cells that produce and regenerate tumors and mediate most of the features of malignancy, in a variety of malignant cancer types.

  4. 4
    PZ Myers

    I’m not a security person, and I’m skeptical about e-voting too. That’s the whole premise of pointing out pointless polls…so we can go in and fuck ‘em up.

  5. 5
    nms

    Let’s stop Rebecca Watson and ShitRedditSays from hosting an extremely slanted panel at SXSW that is sure to cast Reddit, and /r/atheism, in a negative light

    People are actually this devoted to Reddit?

  6. 6
    qwints

    Looks like an interesting topic, but there’s no way I’d vote for a panel that has Adrian Chen discussing reddit. The Lucidending affair was disgraceful.

  7. 7
    DLC

    I do not do Reddit. I know few people who do.
    Add to that the number of people who have reported to me things that go on in such places as /r Atheism and so on, and I think I will dispute the notion that it’s somehow Reddit’s internet.

  8. 8
    hyperdeath

    Marcus Ranum:

    Odds are it’s going to turn into a playground to see whose votebot is better.

    Perhaps I’m being paranoid here, but isn’t that what Pharyngulation usually amounts to? It’s not a case of lots of Pharyngulites voting, but of lots of Pharyngulites running votebots.

  9. 9
    gussnarp

    If I’m SXSW and I’m running this poll, and one session gets a huge number of up votes and a huge number of down votes, then I’m probably going to run that session, assuming I think it’s a good session idea generally. I don’t know what vetting goes on before or after these things go to the internet poll, but let’s just assume it’s passed a general preliminary evaluation. Anything firing up a lot of people on both sides is clearly worth discussing. I’d ignore whether up or down won and go with, wow, lots of interest here, good and bad, let’s run it.

  10. 10
    hyperdeath

    Let’s stop Rebecca Watson and ShitRedditSays from hosting an extremely slanted panel at SXSW that is sure to cast Reddit, and /r/atheism, in a negative light.

    Somehow, I think that their stopping attempts will cast Reddit in a far poorer light than anything that Rebecca Watson might do.

  11. 11
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Reddit casts Reddit in a bad light without any outside help. I go there rarely, but every single time I do I find the most vile excretions to have gotten the most upvotes.

  12. 12
    peterhearn

    As ridiculous as Rebecca Watson is, the guy campaigning to silence her is just as bad. No surprise you see stuff like this on r/athiesm. Its where all the dumb atheists go and its full of 14 year olds that figured out just yesterday that God doesn’t exist. Its infamous for being one of the worst subreddits.

    I’ve been turned off to Watson ever since I saw her post about Dawkins. Even though Dawkins comment to her was ridiculing and unsympathetic, he was making a valid point about the more dire need for feminism in other places in the world (he also said right next to her on panel that he believes ridicule to be the most convincing tool of persuasion).

    For Rebecca to respond by dismissing one of the best science writers alive right now as a “wealthy old heterosexual white man” shows that shes more about labeling people bigots/ playing the victim card than she is about having a real discussion on the issues.

  13. 13
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    if you’re fed up with the enemy constantly waving Rebecca Watson as the emblem of evil

    Has anyone created a “Guys Don’t Do That” Tee Shirt yet?

  14. 14
    Marcus Ranum

    Perhaps I’m being paranoid here, but isn’t that what Pharyngulation usually amounts to?

    Yep. As PZ says: the value of pharyngulating polls is to show how stupid they are.

    Generally, when our poopyheaded overlord points his cyberpistol I perform my troll-duty and go vote. Once. Because I believe that my opinion only matters if I am scrupulously fair about how I give it. If the other guy cheats, that just means they acknowledge that they’re not really sure they’re in the majority. It’s not a big moral issue for me, it’s just an aesthetic decision.

    The problem with making all online polls useless is that “democracy” is also pretty much of a useless online poll. I kind of wish everyone really really valued voting, like I do. I got over believing in democracy a while ago, though. It still seems like a nice idea. :(

    It is funny when some of these internet polls open the voting to bacteria. “WOW! 10e15 to 10e12! What a turnout!”

  15. 15
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    peterhearn,

    We have talked about Rebecca Watson and all the things people think she’s wrong about. We have discussed that topic to death. Then people have resurrected it times and times again. Then we would discuss it to death again.

    Stop it already!

  16. 16
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    peterhearn:

    For Rebecca to respond by dismissing one of the best science writers alive right now as a “wealthy old heterosexual white man” shows that shes more about labeling people bigots/ playing the victim card than she is about having a real discussion on the issues.

    Atheists aren’t required to worship at the altar of Richard Dawkins. Rebecca Watson and anyone else is entitled to disagree with the guy on whatever issues they choose. Her “dismissal” of Dawkins shows her priorities on feminism are different than his. In addition, being a woman, she likely deals [directly] with sexism and misogyny on a daily basis, while Dawkins does not, lending her position more credibility.
    By the way, Richard Dawkins *is* a wealthy old heterosexual white man.

  17. 17
    David Gerard

    The SOPA protests – the Wikipedia blackout was what delivered the death blow (I’m proud to say), but Wikipedia was following Reddit’s lead – they set the thing up and Wikipedia joined in.

  18. 18
    Anthony K

    For Rebecca to respond by dismissing one of the best science writers alive

    I fucking loathe lickspittles like you.

  19. 19
    Louis

    This one time Rebecca Watson turned me into a newt.

    I didn’t get better. THAT’S how evil she is.

    Louis

  20. 20
    Nepenthe

    Atheists aren’t required to worship at the altar of Richard Dawkins.

    Oh, thank no-god, my knees were really starting to hurt. *gutters candles, packs up altar with copy of God Delusion and icon photos*

  21. 21
    mythbri

    @peterhearn

    Richard Dawkins is a white heterosexual male. He’s also old, and wealthy. Which part of Watson’s statement was inaccurate?

    Also, you are the one that made the connection that “wealthy old heterosexual white man” equals bigot.

    Why do you hate wealthy old heterosexual white men, peterhearn?

  22. 22
    nonpersonhobofico

    Or you could actually read the reddit link:

    0 upvotes.
    Top comment with 48 upvotes:
    “You do realize that a lot of people here on /r/atheism are fans of Rebecca Watson, right? Thanks for informing me about this. I’m going to vote for her and tell all of my friends to vote for her too.”

    Not that reddit (and r/atheism) isn’t infested with trolls and MRAs (it is), but when linking to material that supposedly demonstrates how terrible you are you should probably make sure it doesn’t say exactly the opposite.

  23. 23
    Anthony K

    Not that reddit (and r/atheism) isn’t infested with trolls and MRAs (it is), but when linking to material that supposedly demonstrates how terrible you are you should probably make sure it doesn’t say exactly the opposite.

    But it doesn’t say exactly the opposite. The comments on the thread may disagree with the OP, but the description PZ wrote is pretty much what the OP says.

    Then again, I’m not a Reddit reader, so maybe the OP on Reddit threads isn’t nearly as important as it is with blogs.

    Nonetheless, you make a good point about that comment (and most upvoted others) being generally positive.

  24. 24
    LuminiferousEthan

    To be fair, some of the top comments on that thread are in support of Rebecca Watson and calling out the OP as an idiot.

  25. 25
    LuminiferousEthan

    Already stated while I was typing. Sorry.

  26. 26
    peterhearn

    Of course Dawkins is a wealthy old heterosexual white man. Its the fact that she dismisses him over it thats ridiculous. Like its his fault.

    To illustrate why its ridiculous lets just flip the labels.

    “Why should I listen to anything you say you poor adolescent gay black woman?”

    Its laughable when you consider shes applying this to someone whos better at look at things objectively than, well, anyone here.

  27. 27
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    peterhearn,

    Why don’t you take this to Thunderdome?
    Maybe someone will be willing to discuss it there, without derailing this any further.

  28. 28
    Tinjoe

    I’ve been a member of Reddit for 4-5 years now, and when I joined it was a nice change from Digg. Links made it to the front page days before Digg, regular users had a chance of submitting content and the comments were interest or funny. Some comments still are, but everyone tries to be the joker now.

    The only value I see in the site now is as a link aggregator and the smaller/more focused subreddits. (e.g. I like video games, but hate video game journalism, so several of the gaming subreddits are great for me)

    The commenters has progressively gotten worse since I’ve joined but everyone still thinks it’s some badge of internet smartness that you joined Reddit. I find /r/atheism worse than the general population because many have the mistaken belief that their atheism grants them magical logic powers that free them from ever holding a wrong or unsupported opinion.

  29. 29
    peterhearn

    @TinJoe

    Yep. Reddit has really gone downhill. I joined after they rolled out Digg V3 and every top comment on a front page post contain useful or insightful information. The quality began to drop as it got bigger. Now its just pun threads all the way down. I feel like I walked into a mad house every time I stumble into r/politics. Sad to see it turn into what everyone hated about Digg. Nowadays I prefer Slashdot. Even if sometimes I don’t know wtf they’re talking about over there.

  30. 30
    Anthony K

    Nowadays I prefer Slashdot. Even if sometimes I don’t know wtf they’re talking about over there.

    That explains why you like it here, too.

  31. 31
    (e)m

    Reddit isn’t monolithic. It depends on what subreddit you are in as to what kind of results you get. /r/atheism is a cesspool of memes that have no value to anyone. If you stick to the GSM subreddits like I do, then you will find a lot of quality discussion and information, though you do still have to deal with the annoying memes.

    Brownian @ 23 No the OP on reddit threads isn’t as important as it is with blogs.

  32. 32
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    @Brownian:

    *snort*

    @peterhearn:

    To illustrate why its ridiculous lets just flip the labels.

    Congratulations on once again demonstrating a willful obtuseness regarding social power dynamics!

  33. 33
    Flewellyn

    Reddit has enough problems without this nonsense causing them anymore. Have they done anything about their community of pedophile apologists yet?

    I mean, say what you will about 4chan, especially /b/, the folks there do not take kindly to pedophilia, and have acted in the past to help police track down child porn distributors. As opposed to Reddit, which has a history of turning a blind eye to such activities.

    If 4chan is, as someone (I forget who) said, the asshole of the internet, this would make Reddit the pilonidal cyst.

  34. 34
    lpetrich

    I don’t know why Rebecca Watson is so *hated* by certain people. Judging from the extreme nature of her haters’ rhetoric, one might almost think that she had raped them in their rear ends with a strap-on dildo.

    I’m sorry if this comment seems to trivialize rape. I mentioned that as a way of asking if she’d made her haters suffer so terribly that their outraged responses would be justified.

  35. 35
    morgandourif

    In most cases, the quality of discussion on Reddit varies wildly from one subreddit to another, but despite its increasing number of critics there is still some quality threads and genuinely insightful users to be found. Maybe my experiences have been in the minority, but for every detestable user and thread there are at least ten people who you can hold an insightful or quite funny conversation with.

    One of the main issues with Reddit, and probably the reason why it has been flooded with users of questionable character, is the ease of registration. All you have to do is enter an available username and password. Done. It takes a few seconds if you have that information ready to type in, since no e-mail verification is required in any way.

  36. 36
    ougaseon

    Unbelievable that Watson still receives so much hate. All from taking 5 seconds in a 10 minute video to ask people not to hit on her at 4AM on the elevator. Amazing.

    Also, Something Awful is clearly the best place on the internet. If for no other reason than their huge diversity of emoticons! Actually, its probably because it costs $10 to register and if you get banned for being an asshole, you get the opportunity to pay again for the privilege! Best 10 bucks I ever spent, though. Compare and contrast to the point about reddit morgandourif makes.

  37. 37
    Leo T.

    There’s no conspiracy thread like a Kyoon conspiracy thread, I tell you what.

  38. 38
    Leo T.

    (That was meant to be in response to #36, realized I probably should have pointed that out right as I clicked Submit Comment. Go figure.)

  39. 39
    Hurin

    peterhearn

    Even though Dawkins comment to her was ridiculing and unsympathetic, he was making a valid point about the more dire need for feminism in other places in the world (he also said right next to her on panel that he believes ridicule to be the most convincing tool of persuasion).

    No. Dawkins was arguing that because Islamic women often face hardcore institutionalized misogyny, women being sexually harassed at conferences should shut up. That’s a non-sequitur if you didn’t realize, and the fact that he chose to use ridicule in expressing that sentiment doesn’t make it a valid argument.

    For Rebecca to respond by dismissing one of the best science writers alive right now as a “wealthy old heterosexual white man” shows that shes more about labeling people bigots/ playing the victim card than she is about having a real discussion on the issues.

    The fact that Dawkins is a wealthy hetero white dude only matters because it explains why he couldn’t figure out how being propositioned in an elevator is different from being in an elevator with a gum chewer. RW was making a point about Dawkins’ perspective when she brought that up. If he’d wanted a “real discussion” he could have responded, but Dawkins wasn’t trying to have a “real discussion”, he was trying convince everyone that the elevator incident was beneath discussion.

    If you Dawkins fanboys want to castigate RW for slighting your hero, acually knowing what was said might help your arguments.

  40. 40
    peterhearn

    @Hurin

    Dawkins was arguing that because Islamic women often face hardcore institutionalized misogyny, women being sexually harassed at conferences should shut up

    Except he didn’t say she should shut up. Only in your butthurt mind did that happen.

    The fact that elevator gate is a bigger deal to you than the very real horrors Islamic women face daily is very telling of your priorities.

    The fact that Dawkins is a wealthy hetero white dude only matters because

    It doesn’t matter. Its just bigoted labeling to justify dismissing him and not address the content of what he said.

    If you Dawkins fanboys want to castigate RW for slighting your hero, acually knowing what was said might help your arguments.

    lol!

  41. 41
    Hurin

    peterhearn

    Except he didn’t say she should shut up. Only in your butthurt mind did that happen.

    Lets have a look at some of what Dawkins said, since you apparently don’t remember, or have no idea.

    Dawkins:

    Dear Muslima

    Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again…

    stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with…

    she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating.

    (The whole thing can be found here)

    You might be stupid, but the intent is very clear to those of us who read above a third grade level. He is using sarcasm to imply that RW’s concerns are trivial, and the implication of that is that they need not be discussed. He subsequently described the elevator incident as “zero bad” (as opposed to very bad or somewhat bad) if you are still skeptical of that inference.

    You seemed to imply that this was some kind of invitation to discuss islamic cruelty to women upthread and that is either a moronic or dishonest characterization.

    The fact that elevator gate is a bigger deal to you than the very real horrors Islamic women face daily is very telling of your priorities.

    As it turns out, I’m not a singleminded troglodyte, so I don’t have to think an issue is literally the most important threat to humanity in order for it to be worth addressing. Sexism in Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly worse than sexism at atheism conferences, but there is no reason to consider addressing them to be an “either/or” proposition.

    The “sexism in Islam” trope is just a red herring because for some strange reason you and Dawkins would rather weigh the magnatude of different problems than have a discussion about the ones that effect our community.

    Its just bigoted labeling to justify dismissing him and not address the content of what he said.

    Somebody call the waaaambulence.

  42. 42
    lexie

    Peterhearn.

    Yes there are worse misogynistic events in the world than being propositioned in an elevator but I believe if a Christian said to Dawkins, “What are you complaining about I mean atheists in Iran can get tortured or executed for their beliefs, Why are you whining when Alexander Aan has just been jailed for his beliefs, Why are you grumbling when atheists in America can’t get elected to office etc We let you live here without being killed, arrested and you can even be elected so you shouldn’t complain about there being seats in the House of Lords for Bishosp or that the government funds faith school” that Dawkins would explain to the Christian that he cares and tries to assist atheists in worse situations but because there are people in worse positions doesn’t make putting bishops in the House of Lords right and that that is still a problem. Very few atheists would agree that just because there are atheists in worse positions we shouldn’t care about some the ‘smaller’ issues but when you talk about women somehow people think that providing we’re not be beaten up it doesn’t matter. We do realise that there are women worse off and most feminists will try to assist those overseas who are worse off than we are but that doesn’t make our complaints invalid.

  43. 43
    Deoridhe

    Honestly, what continues to amaze me about the people who defend Dawkins is that they appear to be entirely unaware of the feminist movements among Muslim women. Google RAWA sometime; those women are impressive, amazing, and persevere through incredible hardship. They don’t need a bunch of white women “bringing them feminism”, they already know what to do and are doing it; they even less need an old, white man using them as a stalking horse to attack another woman.

  44. 44
    Marshall

    Did anybody here actually read the Reddit link? PZ, I don’t think you did either. For a bunch of people who claim to be skeptics that don’t blindly play follow the leader, you are all failing miserably.

    The post PZ linked to is getting downvoted to hell, and all of the comments are pro-Rebecca Watson commentary. You do realize that anyone, even rapists and murderers, can post on Reddit. What matters is how the community responds–that’s exactly what the voting mechanism is for. If you bash the community, pick a case in which the community is doing the wrong thing, not the right thing.

  45. 45
    pzcreep

    I am the user BlueofHume1; since you felt the need to insult me rather than offer a civil or even reasonable response, here is my own- copy/pasted from the SXSW comment section.

    “So apparently PZ Meyers believes I am on “A roll of stupid” for my longer comment in this thread, because the math I used to show Reddit is not misogynistic doesn’t please him (this is assuming the premise that for Reddit to be misogynistic, 51% of Redditors would have to be misogynistic, or a simple preponderance; we can dispute if this is a reasonable assumption).

    But, I think it’s funny PZ Meyers- someone who pretends to such high airs of reason and clear, sound thinking- immediately resorts to insulting my intelligence, while committing a bold-faced deception; he devolves to insult rather than a rational criticism. Meyers, this says much more about you than it does about me, or my points. The deception I mention is this: the panel question is, “Is REDDIT misogynistic, why or why not?”, not, “Are the REGULAR ACTIVE USERS of Reddit who post the majority of comments misogynistic, why or why not?”

    Blame who you like, the framers of the question for shooting themselves in the foot with a poorly-conceived, loaded, emotionally charged fart of a discussion trigger, or PZ Meyers for being just another straw man beating, RadFem sympathizing bomb thrower who believes the extremes should dictate the terms of the conversation.”

  46. 46
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Meyers

    He he he.

    (Yes, that is the only thing I’ve read in your comment. No, I don’t feel bad about it and I won’t read the rest.)

  47. 47
    PZ Myers

    We have a history of people signing up here with usernames consisting of “PZ” plus a pejorative. They do not last long. They also commonly misspell my name.

    No, the question does not imply that 51+ of reddit is misogynistic. There are grades of misogyny, from the raging trolls who make explicit rape threats to the blithe nobodies who shrug off rape threats as inevitable and part of the natural order of things. Reddit has a terrible reputation. Rather than pointing to everyone who notes that fact and howling at them to shut up, perhaps there should be more of an effort to change reddit culture.

    But otherwise, the point you made in that comment on SXSW was stupid and wrong. To claim that the 21,000 figure represents the total number of misogynists on Reddit, you’d have to assume that ALL reddit misogynists are open and vocal, while the majority of non-misogynists are quiet lurkers. Do you even understand your error yet?

  48. 48
    Hurin

    BlueofHume1 (pzcreep)

    The deception I mention is this: the panel question is, “Is REDDIT misogynistic, why or why not?”, not, “Are the REGULAR ACTIVE USERS of Reddit who post the majority of comments misogynistic, why or why not?”

    Exactly how is this deception? If most of the content on reddit is provided by the “regular active users”, then what precisely is the distinction you are making?

  49. 49
    pzcreep

    If you have an algorithm that can determine how much content is provided by regular posters and how much is provided by people who chime in once in a while (or once, and then never again)… please, post it! Until such time, “Reddit” and “Reddit’s regulars” are not equivalent.

  50. 50
    pzcreep

    @ PZ Myers: oops, apologize for misspelling your name.

    Reddit has a terrible reputation not just because it has a (tiny) vocal minority of assholes – who, yes, I believe are accurately represented by the numbers of the SRS watchlist considering they never sleep and have been monitoring ALL of the default subreddits, plus many others that are popular but not front page defaults, for the past, what- year and a half? Two years? Reddit’s poor reputation also comes from hit pieces. For example, the Anderson Cooper piece that implied most Redditors visited or even knew about the existence of /r/jailbait. I sure as hell didn’t. None of my IRL friends who visit Reddit knew about it (we all are glad /r/jailbait got shut down, though that had more to do with moderators finding that CP had been transmitted in private messages than the Anderson Cooper report).

    You have failed to address my original claim that it is bad toupee reasoning to say an entire group of people, some who are vocal regular posters and many who are not, are thing X (in this case, woman-hating abusers) because a tiny subset of them are thing X. You contest the number is tiny, fine (offer some actual proof if you’re going to make this claim). Even if we allow that the subset is not tiny, and say it is small, or even a decent proportion… so what? It’s still the same bad reasoning. It is not the majority of Reddit. So the question remains loaded, not to mention libelous, poorly-worded and imprecise.

    You and the authors of many comments here obviously do not like Reddit because of the assholes who say disgusting vile things about women, or disgusting vile racist things, or disgusting vile things about gays, transfolk, and so forth. I don’t like those people either. It’s not out of the question to me for Reddit to improve its mod tools so those people’s comments can just be deleted. While in principle I think people should have the right to say what they want as long as what they say doesn’t put anyone in direct physical danger, Reddit is not the US Government and can institute policies on their content as they wish (the fact they haven’t tells me they agree with my sentiment about free speech, though, and will probably not institute heavy moderation any time soon).

    Also, this:

    “To claim that the 21,000 figure represents the total number of misogynists on Reddit, you’d have to assume that ALL reddit misogynists are open and vocal, while the majority of non-misogynists are quiet lurkers. Do you even understand your error yet?”

    Even if you multiply the SRS ban list to ten times that number and assume that’s how many bigots Reddit is sheltering, which would be pure fantasy since many people who make the ban list aren’t even guilty of actual racism, misogyny, or homophobia (only disagreement with SRS), you’re still sitting at ~1/10th of Reddit users, which any of us can see is not a majority or even close. Not to mention that this entire time I’ve been estimating numbers based on all the types of bigotry SRS watches, not just misogyny (which we probably agree is the most common, but certainly not responsible for 100% of the SRS bans).

    But your argument seems to be the SRS ban list is not in any way an accurate gauge of how many bigots are on Reddit. It may not be exact, but it is an accurate gauge. If someone does not make a bigoted comment, you cannot say their bigotry is affecting Reddit. If your position is that bigotry is affecting Reddit not just in the commentary but in the upvotes a comment receives, this is not true. You have no idea why someone chooses to upvote a comment. An upvote is for visibility. Many people only upvote comments they agree with or find amusing but, the problem is, because a vote is cast privately with no reasons given for why the vote is cast, we have no way of knowing how much of Reddit does that; there are MANY other reasons for upvoting comments. I’ve personally upvoted comments I found reprehensible because the child comments to that disgusting filth were enlightening, or adequately shaming, or just because I wanted the entire thread to rise to the top so it could be bleached by daylight. This may not be common but again, we simply have no way of measuring how often it happens or doesn’t.

    The error is yours, in your generalizing and biased thinking. Not mine.

  51. 51
    Hurin

    You and the authors of many comments here obviously do not like Reddit because of the assholes who say disgusting vile things about women, or disgusting vile racist things, or disgusting vile things about gays, transfolk, and so forth.

    I have very little investment in Reddit one way or another. I’ve only known about it for about a year, and I generally only hear about it in negative contexts, so I’ve never had much drive to check it out.

    I’m bemused by your continued myopic focus on the number of people producing sexist content on Reddit, rather than the existence of the content itself. I don’t care how many assholes are doing it. If there are 1000 sexist comments/day (an arbitrary number; reformulate it in terms of x if you prefer variables) it doesn’t matter to me if it was 1000 people making one comment, or 10 people making 100 comments. What matters is 1000 sexist comments.

    It’s not out of the question to me for Reddit to improve its mod tools so those people’s comments can just be deleted.

    That would be one way to address the problem. Another way might involve simply criticizing the sexist content as either a commenter or (ahem) participant on a panel discussion on Reddit. From your last comment it sounds like you’ve even done some of that, so I don’t understand why this mode of action is such a big deal to you.

    Reddit is a big enough site that I doubt even a fuckton of criticism is going to kill it, and if that criticism isn’t rightly directed at you and some other users that you respect, then why act like it is? If it isn’t about you then don’t make it personal.

  52. 52
    pzcreep

    Hey Hurin, that was a very thoughtful response. Thank you for being civil. I will tell you my problem with it:

    By your own admission, the only exposure you’ve had to Reddit is negative hit pieces. That is probably true for many people outside the site. The panel being proposed by Rebecca Watson is a hit piece. None of the confirmed panel members are pro-Reddit and have at length written about them negatively, with the same kinds of sweeping generalizations I’m seeing here (some, worse).

    What that does is propagate the notion that *anyone* who uses Reddit is involved in this activity, when it is only a tiny- TINY- minority that is doing it. Even people upvoting content because they like it, cannot be held accountable for that content’s creation. They might be morally culpable for helping that content gain visibility, but- as I said in my last response to Mr. Myers- upvotes are not always given for agreement, or amusement. Sometimes there are other reasons to upvote content, even the horrendous stuff. Not usually but it’s impossible to tell what the proportions are because votes are cast in private.

    Of course criticizing the hateful comments is fair and just and the responsibility of Redditors who do not agree with it. Which is why, in theory at least, I think subreddits like Shit Reddit Says have a place because that criticism is their primary function (although, in the case of that particular group, a lot of times I find the way they conduct themselves to be just as bad as the bigots they criticize, and indeed by dragging the the general discourse on Reddit to the extremes, they are generating even more extremity).

    Part of my point is that, no matter what content I personally post to Reddit, this kind of criticism does affect me. Because it paints the whole site as guilty of the actions of a small, intolerant (or helplessly ignorant) few. There are obvious parallels I could make to this blatant generalizing, but I will withhold them because… fuck, we’re talking about the internet here, and no one is going to face corporeal punishment or any threats or a burden of fear for anything worse than doxxing because of this larger debate.

    Still, I do not want to sit idly by while a whole online community is painted as hateful assholes, when that is empirically untrue, and hurts the reputations of people who actually enjoy Reddit and are nice, non-bigoted people (I do not consider myself a bigot, although I probably could be nicer). Not to mention the fairness of the panel and the way it is being organized are absolutely compromised.

    I wouldn’t have said anything about this here, out of respect for the fact this is Mr. Myer’s space and not mine, if he had not insulted me personally.

  53. 53
    charlessoto

    yes, please vote, but you may not, under any circumstances, move to austin!

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