9 Comments

Summary:

One of Reddit’s most controversial forums, /r/atheism, is in an uproar after moderators chose to begin enforcing rules. The result is an intensely entertaining war over Reddit’s own behavior.

reddit-aetheism
photo: Rani Molla

In the world of Reddit, /r/atheism is an insanely polarizing place: either you love it for its ridiculous memes (Sheltering Suburban Mom) or you can’t stand its endless stream of nonsensical images and general shenanigans from trolling Redditors.

But the /r/atheism that everyone loves and loves to hate is no longer around, thanks to new rules implemented by moderators. And boy, are Redditors mad.

The long and twisted history of /r/atheism as a corner of the internet that somehow made became a hallmark of Reddit’s behavior (and misbehavior) is too long to recount with brevity, but the recent history is the most important: After years of acting as moderator, /r/atheism founder skeen was stripped of his title via an admin request and two new moderators, jij and tuber, acted in his stead.

The new rules they introduced earlier this week are specifically designed to curb down on image macros, silence users heading to the 2 million-strong forum to submit funny off-topic posts, and enforce strict measures on trolling. The overall intent was to bring /r/atheism back to the discussion of atheism.

But plenty of the godless redditors have turned on jij and tuber, calling for the two moderators to step down, to restore the “lawless” land of /r/atheism, and to just pipe down and let Redditors do what they want. The result is an out-and-out fight among those who side with mods, those who want freedom, and the trolls just fueling the conversation for kicks.

The battle at /r/atheism is important for Reddit — in fact, I would argue that the community at large needs it. Reddit has long spent its years on the Internet toeing the line between eye-opening discussion (journalists love it) and a gathering place for racism, debauchery (/r/deadjailbait) and general internet grossness. The fight between the Redditors asking for freedom and the mods looking to encourage thoughtful discussion on one of the biggest subreddits around will alter the way the website approaches the role of moderators and just how free the speech should be on a platform that is increasingly becoming the go-to place on the Internet.

The fate of /r/atheism will certainly unfold tomorrow morning, when jij and tuber will host an AMA to discuss what the community wants out of the subreddit. It’s bound to set precedent on how the hive mind of Redditors is best maintained, and whether we’ll be seeing more of Sheltering Suburban Mom on the front page anytime soon.

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  1. Seymour Butts Thursday, June 6, 2013

    For the record, jij and tuber were already mods before skeen was booted and the new measures don’t ban memes, they just prevent you from getting invisible internet points from them.

    1. This is a debunked talking point. They are deleting all self posts with image links. The new mod jij is a moderator Adviceatheists which is a meme subreddit. In an embarrassingly easy coup he is now directing meme traffic to his own ‘other’ site while dividing up the atheist community. His supporters blindly go along with his bizarre decisions such as appointing heavy handed mods who have never set foot in ratheism before so they can ban users and delete posts.

  2. God this is going to be entertaining.

    1. How would like to hear angry people fighting IN YOUR FACE WIOTHOUT A COMPUTER TO HIDE? you internet-coward-cunt….

  3. jij, tuber, mods, skeen. Where are we?

  4. TerribleArticleWatch Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Skeen was not a “founder” of r/atheism.

    1. Yes, actually he was.

  5. Brent Couch Cameon Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    @lhockenson, you really missed the story here, that’s okay, it was buried in a mountain of propaganda.

    The new mods on the sub are a member of a cadre of power users, moderators of various “circlejerk” subreddits, communities established for the sole purpose to mock other communities.

    They have managed dozens of communities, hoping to get the attention that /r/atheism gets in the public eye for some of its more provocative, albiet occassionally juvenile, content.

    These mods also attempted to make communities like /r/TrueReddit devoted to “serious” discussion of atheistic issues. But nobody discuss it. Because it’s not compelling content.

    Frustrated by their inability to match the reach of /r/atheism, they managed to infiltrate it and eventually gain ownership of it as well, extending their influence over an increasing portion of reddit’s front page.

    This move was a power grab for editorial control of more of reddit’s front page, framed as an attack on convenient straw men to increase influence by reddit’s elite users. They managed atheisms alternatives, and subs mocking atheism, subs mocking all of reddits content in general, subs discussing appropriate content on reddit, subs discussing methods to quell dissent among users on reddit, and now one of the most visible communities on reddit.

    They have effecitively hacked reddit and managed to pull the wool over the eyes of so many of us who lead lives too busy to get involved with meta-meta-meta-subreddit drama. But make no mistake, the new mod team live for drama and attention. And there is no shortage of people willing to throw it at them.

  6. Ezra Stewart Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    This post is very, very ignorant the actual situation. The main problem that the active users of /r atheism have is that the new moderators are made up of people who have openly stated they are actively hostile to /r atheism. These same moderators also heavily censor any posts that point this out, don’t agree with their “personal” ideal of atheism (which is nearly as dogmatic as religion). /r atheism is (was) a place for people who have escaped dogma to vent and sympathize with each other, not to exchange one dogma for another.

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