Yet another article about the ongoing Reddit failures portrays those who run the site as Libertarians who have no idea what they’re doing, and the attitude of dudebros running a place to pander to dudebros is inescapable.
Banning communities that actively encourage rape is unequivocally good (even though action hasn’t been taken yet), but it shouldn’t end the discussion. Reddit doesn’t deserve special credit for banning places that tell men to rape women. That ought to be one of the easiest decisions in the world, and the fact that it seems like a novel approach to governing a site with 160 million monthly visitors is abhorrent. Huffman’s plan for hate communities like r/coontown is to quarantine them from the rest of Reddit. But the mechanism of this isolation is a joke. Former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong’s approach to hateful content was telling everyone that “each man is responsible for his own soul.” Reddit’s new policies are basically a restatement of that, plus a button you have to click on. Users will eventually have to sign into Reddit to access its worst communities, but that means nothing will change for everyone who already uses Reddit — Reddit already requires you to log in to leave comments or vote on links, and those members represent the entire community.
There is no easy way out, and it’s unfortunate that the leadership only wants easy paths that don’t disturb the existing membership, when it’s those people who cause the problems.
Huffman says that the company will “try more aggressive approaches” if “hateful users continue to spill out into mainstream Reddit.” But hateful users pervade mainstream Reddit; their words and ideas can be found nearly everywhere, whether it’s casual talk about rape, or a meme of Neil deGrasse Tyson as “black science man.” It’s definitely not an easy problem to solve, just like solving racism is not easy — but there are obvious ways to attack it. Banning places like coontown is an easy first step. Too bad Reddit’s leaders lack the courage to take it.
I think a dose of reality is in order. Reddit is not about free speech. It’s not about being the “front page of the internet”. It’s about providing a meeting place for privileged young white men to gather and shit on everyone who they perceive as beneath them. The good stuff on the site is an accidental byproduct of having a large enough population of human beings that a subset can sometimes do better than the the majority.
So it’s simple. It’s not my kind of place, and it’s not a good place for women or minorities or anyone who finds racism and misogyny unacceptable. We should all just leave it for the dudebros, who will continue to find it their kind of home on the internet.