Reddit plans to ‘quarantine’ toxic communities, boost transparency

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Reddit will soon start treating some of its more controversial communities differently than others, according to newly minted Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman.

Huffman took to the site today to share some updates that will be rolling out over the next few weeks, including a plan to “quarantine” subreddits (aka communities operating within Reddit) that do not comply with the company’s new content policy. These changes are somewhat necessary as major advertisers likely won’t be interested in doing business with Reddit until it puts some distance between those toxic communities that participate in illegal behavior or harassing strangers due to their appearance, race, sexuality, etc. It’s also deplorable to allow such harassing activity to continue if Reddit is to remain a healthy forum for discussion.

The move is the latest to support the company’s new mission to limit harassment on the site. Last month Reddit took heat from some users after it banned the subreddit “Fat People Shame,” “Tales of Fat Hate,” and many other copycats, which essentially shamed fat people in a public forum. It’s hardly the only toxic community Reddit harbors, but it seems like the company is finally coming to terms with how to deal with them moving forward.

“You’ll need to explicitly opt-in [to quarantined subreddits]. There will be a handful of restrictions, but it’s still in flux, so we’ll share when it’s nearly complete,” Huffman wrote, adding that this won’t be a black and white process when determining which communities get placed under a quarantine. “We’ll need to handle on a case-by-case basis. The purpose of this technique is to give us a way to contain and distance ourselves from communities that we would rather not exist but aren’t overtly violating any of our stated rules.”

Reddit said it also plans to limit user harassment from private messages by adding an option for Reddit users to report offensive or harassing behavior to the site’s administrators. Considering that Reddit has an average of 3.7 million logged in users per day, this seems like a rather cumbersome task to pull off, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

But that isn’t the only thing Reddit wants to do. It’s also revising how it handles banning users, which was previously done discretely — allowing a banned user to continue using the site but hiding most of their activity (called shadow banned). In the near future, Huffman said that process will change: “A straight-up, ‘you are banned because of X’ is the first thing we need.”

I’ve reached out to Reddit with a few followup questions about how the quarantine process will work, and will update this post with anything new.

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Andrew

The Admins have been going nuts with shadow banning recently for stupid reasons. Reddit is going to **** and I hope their investors take notice.

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