It was about Reddit

There’s an event this weekend, called SXSW, at which there was a panel on Reddit. It was somewhat fraught, apparently.

By the end of the first hot-ticket panel at SXSWi, things had gotten tense. The panel was made up of Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo, Gawker‘s Adrian Chen and Rebecca Watson of Skepchick. It was about Reddit.

The discussion of the site was largely critical — over the past year, the site has wrestled with its first real identity crisis, induced in large part by Chen’s outing of ViolentAcrez, who moderated, among other subreddits, a section called “jailbait.”

The concerns raised by the Violentacrez controversy were real and worthwhile: the value and pitfalls of anonymity, the overbearing abundance of white male voices on the site, the limits of free speech on the internet. The panel, perhaps predictably, tracked along those lines. Attendees — many avid Reddit users — were not happy.

That sounds familiar.

A guy voiced some unhappy from the floor. Check him out.

He reads some droning unhappy from his phone and Rebecca breaks in to ask a question, and he lets her ask a question for a few seconds but then resumes his droning unhappy from his phone while Rebecca is still talking, so they compete for a few seconds and then she gives up, and he drones and drones – and Rebecca breaks in to say, “I’m sorry, I’m actually finding this really weird and a little rude.”


Look, questions to speakers and panels are supposed to be questions, not speeches. This is well known. If a questioner makes too much of a speech people in the audience start calling “what’s your question?!” Using a question opportunity to give a speech is really bad manners. The guy with the phone was giving a damn speech. Rebecca interrupted him, but he was giving a damn speech; she attempted to make it a more interesting dialogue, and he decided to simply talk over her and ignore her. But she was on the panel. Yes, his droning was both weird and rude.

That sounds familiar.


  1. unity says

    What I find fascinating is the guy’s body language. Talk about a defensive posture, right down to the hands in the pockets, ready to protect the genitals, as if he was half expecting Rebecca to walk across the room and kick him in the nads.

    Jeez, where do you find these people?

    Reddit, I suppose…

    Weird? Yep!

  2. says

    That’s what got all the usual suspects so riled up on Twitter? Jeez, the bloke even agreed with her at the end. Maybe she should have been a good polite little lady and let the man drone on before getting to any sort of point.

  3. says

    Don’t be so presumptuous, Oolon. I’m sure they’d have had just as much problem with the time that James Randi rudely interrupted a Christian Q&A filibusterer’s life story at a speaking event I went to a few years back. When they put that microphone out, it’s clearly an invitation for anyone to come up and give as long a speech as they like with no regard to other questioners, because that’s what everyone came to see.

    Seriously, the slymy tweet I saw was all outrage that rude Rebecca Watson would dare interrupt the founder of Imgur. It’s the usual authoritarian bullshit–because someone has some title and/or accomplishment to his name, no one is allowed to question or criticize him, especially if they’re female not as accomplished or haven’t openly espoused misogyny published a book or don’t have a penis Ph.D. Strange how it usually seems to apply when it’s a woman doing the speaking out/questioning. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

  4. unity says

    That’s Alan Schaaf? Seriously?

    Boy, techdudes seriously aren’t what they were back when I used to occasionally get to chat online with guys like Jaron Lanier and dear old Cap’n Crunch.

  5. fwtbc says

    Does anyone know what Rebecca says right at the end? I can’t make it out amongst the revolting people identifying themselves by way of clapping.

    I’d be curious to know how Douchey McTalksTooMuch defines “reddit users”. He probably means people who are heavily involved and like the status quo and also shut up.

  6. says

    Imgur’s an image sharing site. It was built to integrate closely with Reddit when posting images (post straight from the upload page, Reddit picks up the thumbnail reliably etc). It hosts a heck of a lot of animated caption gifs.

    As a service it’s pretty good; I assume it’s also unmoderated, but it’s not searchable so you can’t discover the Reddit horrors by chance through imgur. (Direct links via Reddit, however…) There is a main gallery, but there are some sort of rules to get listed in it and it may be at least lightly moderated; I don’t know.

    Regardless, the creator is clearly a major ‘redditor’ and supports their hands-off-no-matter-the-cost policies, so he should be judged on that basis.

    Disclosure: I obviously use Reddit. I visit one (heavily moderated) subcommunity there. But I am not a ‘redditor’, and care not one whit for the parent site’s policies. If fixing Reddit meant the closing of that community, so be it; they’d find another home.

  7. says

    It’s an image hosting site.

    We shouldn’t be offending such tech innovators. Where would people host images without…
    … what’s it called again?

  8. arthur says

    Every round of audience questions seems to include at least one person who doesn’t understand what a question is.

    I can’t tolerate the audience questions format now. Tedious droners who refuse to get to the point and who never get round to asking a question make it unbearable.

  9. latsot says


    Agreed. I go to quite a lot of conferences and there’s at least one rambling non-question after each and every talk. And the worst part is that you just *know* after about two seconds that the question is going to turn into one of those. You can *taste* the dismay from the other audience members. Do these people not feel the same when someone else breaks into a monologue? Don’t they realise that’s what they are doing?

    I’ve been on the receiving end of more than a few such monologues and I find it quite hard to keep track of what is being said and asked. I’m already nervous, lots of people are staring at me and I’m trying to both listen to what is being said and think about how I’m going to answer. Of course, they’re usually along the lines of “I did something vaguely similar and it was way better than what you did and you’re asking the wrong questions you should have asked the questions I did and then did what I did” but it’s bloody hard to give an answer that is satisfying to the audience. It makes it look as if I can’t answer the question or don’t know anything about my subject.

    So not only is it rude to the audience, it’s rude to the speaker.

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