Why I'm (still!) not using Reddit anymore

Many moons ago, I posted a link to my short story, The Devil Still Has My Lawnmower, to the “humor” section of reddit. It was the first link that I posted to the site, and it went off like a rocket. I got thousands of hits overnight and tumultuous, bountiful praise. I was excruciatingly excited. I immediately fired up a follow-up post thanking the wonderful beautiful people who shared my story with one another and promised to keep an eye out for anything with my name on it.

And so, emboldened by this promise of fandom, I posted another link to another story, 8 Ball and Ouija Board.

The next day, I was banned from reddit.

Apparently I had broken Rediquette, or the rules of reddit, and had made the terrible mistake of sharing my own content two times in a row.

Two links.


Rediquette now specifies that there's a typically acceptable 1:9 share ratio for their content, I.E., for every link you post of your own, you should post 9 links to other websites. At the time of my banning, this "acceptable ratio" was not listed, at all. The only way I found out about the 1:9 ratio was when I read about a conversation from an typically hysterical reddit mod and The Frogman.

Here is, exactly, what Reddiquette said at the time:

It's a gray area, but some rules of thumb:

It's not strictly forbidden to submit a link to a site that you own or otherwise benefit from in some way, but you should sort of consider yourself on thin ice. So please pay careful attention to the rest of these bullet points.

If you spend more time submitting to reddit than reading it, you're almost certainly a spammer.

If your contribution to reddit consists mostly of submitting links to a site(s) that you own or otherwise benefit from in some way, and additionally if you do not participate in discussion, or reply to peoples questions, regardless of how many upvotes your submissions get, you are a spammer. If over 10% of your submissions are your own site/content, you're almost certainly a spammer.

If people historically downvote your links or ones similar to yours, and you feel the need to keep submitting them anyway, they're probably spam.

If people historically upvote your links or ones like them -- and we're talking about real people here, not sockpuppets or people you asked to go vote for you -- congratulations! It's almost certainly not spam. But we're serious about the "not people you asked to go vote for you" part.

If nobody's submitted a link like yours before, give it a shot. But don't flood the new queue; submit one or two times and see what happens.

The list goes on but I will not take up any more of your time with their rules. It doesn't really matter anyway since they're constantly changing, open to interpretation, and aren't followed by the moderators anyway. They might as well not be there.

At the time, I really was participating in discussions, big time. I was frequently going to the Humor and Writing subreddits, commenting, offering feedback for other people's writing, and just generally being a redditor. That didn't matter a bit. I posted two links, they were both from my site, they were both significantly up voted, well received and generally accepted as not advertisements for strange pills. I was banned without warning or explanation anyway. I didn't follow the rules they failed to specify. I didn't follow their golden 1:9 ratio.

And that's all fine and good, but as a creative person that's easier said than done. I spend most of my time these days either working or writing, and simply don't have enough time in my day to read other articles, digest and interpret their meaning, determine which subreddit they would be the best fit for, post the link, and participate in discussions. The only way I would conceivably be able to post nine other links was if I just grabbed them from wherever I could find them and posted them randomly throughout reddit.

You know, kind of like a spammer. Tee hee.

Anyway, that was in the past. That was over a year ago. I haven't signed into reddit or posted a link or comment in that time. Good riddance to that place, I thought. I've got things to do.

But this story is not over. Oh no. Strap yourselves in, because it's about to get very stupid.

A few days ago I saw that I was getting some traffic from reddit. Hey ho, that is all well and good, traffic is traffic, even if it comes from a website I no longer visit myself. I recently upgraded the site and included some share buttons, and one of them is for reddit.

But it looked like the page that people were visiting was, "Why I'm not using Reddit anymore."

I clicked on the referring link and was brought to the overview for a recently banned Reddit user, Webgirls. She runs a website called BossHi, which develops websites and offers advice for businesses in Hawaii. The post in question was about a scam that has apparently affected quite a few Hawaii businesses called DNS Services, and how to avoid them. She thought that maybe Hawaiianers (Hawaiianites?) might be interested to know about it.

She was banned for posting a link to her own website, once, and- get this!- it wasn't until after she contacted the moderator for the Hawaii subreddit.

Apparently the moderator for the Hawaii subreddit did not take kindly to being disturbed or contacted, and banned Webgirls without warning, because she shared her own content (once, I repeat, ONCE), and her username "sounded spammy." Her username is Webgirls because her website BossHi is run only by girls and develops websites. As somebody who may or may not have written about feminism on more than one occasion, I can get behind that. The BossHi people have always been "web girls." That's why they chose the name.

Webgirls went on the internet and found my little article about my own experience with the Reddit ban hammer, and why that experience has convinced me that I could do without Reddit in my personal life.

She had found a kindred spirit who, admittedly, might have been confused about the rules (since the rules are obfuscative and confusing, you see), and instead of being warned and informed, she was banned and ignored. She shared my article on the subreddit "Social Networking." Then she whipped up an awesome comic and funny blog post.

Keep in mind that the second time, she shared my article, not her own.

Reddit banned her anyway.

She messaged the moderator and asked why, and the moderator told her that she had shared her own content again. "But this isn't my content," she said. "This is someone else's. This subreddit is about social networking. Reddit is a social network."

"My inbox full and none of you are helping. It still doesn't add to the conversation," he wrote back. "Stop wasting my time when obviously you and that blogger didn't follow the rules or read reddiquette."

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Rediquette states that if you post your own content and it's consistently down voted, you're a spammer. I posted my short story which was consistently up voted, and I was banned for spamming. Webgirls posted someone else's article (mine) about a social network in a section about social networking and she was banned.

Banned if you do, banned if you don't.

Reddit is a microcosm of the internet. You can find a subreddit for basically anything, just like you can find a web page for basically anything. It has a huge community, except the moderators don't treat it like a community, they treat it like a private club.

Perhaps there's a lot of pressure to be a reddit moderator. After all, there's a lot of people out there with genuine malicious and spammy intentions, and the mods are probably slammed with them. But that's no reason to punish people for contacting you who have questions. Bans apparently don't happen for any concrete reason; they happen when a moderator feels like it at the time, or if you've offended their delicate sensibilities. It's a lot easier to ban first and ask questions later, and easier still just to skip the question bit.

Reddit also seems to use a completely different definition of the word spam than, well, pretty much everyone else on the internet.

Here's a story about a real spammer. For the past few days I've been having to delete comments from a spammer who has been posting about hodia supplements (whatever those are). The comments were totally unreadable; They dropped celebrity names left and right and tried valiantly to make it look like someone actually was actually reading my articles and was trying to post a comment about it ("I like the way you commentate to the general perception of the issue interesting best hoodia supplements," was one). Thinking that I was having a spambot problem, I put the reCaptcha test at the end of my comment form.

But it wasn't a bot, because after the website redesign, he actually mentioned that he likes the way the new website looks, and followed it up (of course) with another link for hoodia supplements:


Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s tough to get that “perfect balance” between usability and appearance. I must say you have done a awesome job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very fast for me on Firefox. Exceptional Blog! best hodia supplements


You see? That was obviously a real person who was trying to sling his shit on my site.

That is a spammer. That's the sort of person you should be watching out for.

But on reddit, you're a spammer if you're someone who submits any website that you happen to belong to. Not a spam website, just… any one. Even if that site produces the original content so enjoyed by redditors.

Actually, scratch that, because in Webgirls' case, you don't even have to belong to the website! It just has to be a website that shit-talks reddit (like mine gladly does).

Reddit, like I said, is a microcosm of the internet. And when I imagine internet culture, I can't help but imagine a bunch of easily offended man-boys flipping tables and taking offense to absolutely everything.

And from these experiences it seems that it is these sort of people who are made moderators.

I know that's an unfair assessment but that's what it is.

I didn't feel like I belonged when I went to reddit, even though my story was so well-liked. I only popped in there for a few minutes at a time to share feedback for other people's stories and reply to comments about my own. But there were people there who had been there all day. People who had their own inside jokes, people who could just drop one word without context whatsoever and be greeted by endless streams of chuckles and familiarity.

And that's great. Really. I'm sure it's great for lots of people.

I just don't have to have any part of it.

Reddit can have its memetic self-parody. It can have its inside jokes, it can have its child pornogrophy scandals and rage comics. Because that's what Reddit seems to be for. It's for discussions, it's for people to come together and talk endlessly with each other to the point of exhaustion. It's for people who hang out on the internet all day long.

It's not for casual users, it's not for creative people who want to share their own content (however, it's a totally great place for people to steal your content and share it without crediting you). It's not for people who want to just pop in for a few minutes every few days, or at least it does not seem that way.

I'll still keep my Reddit share button. Call me a hypocrite if you must, but somebody's going to share my stuff on reddit anyway, so why not make it easier for them?

Just don't expect to find me there anytime soon.

  • Dani aka WebGirl
    Comment from: Dani aka WebGirl
    06/23/13 @ 11:06:06 pm

    Right on right on! Thanks for the support.

    The positive part of this whole thing is it connected me to the kind of people I actually want to communicate with. And people related to my story and comic so I’m proud to be a member of the banned from reddit club. :)

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