Reddit updates anti-harassment policies to crack down on toxic users and communities

nanoguy

TS Addict
Staff member

Reddit has broadened the scope of its policies to make it easier to shoot down abuse on the platform. The changes should make the life of content moderators easier, as the previous policies were too narrow and didn't allow them to take action unless a user would repeatedly violate the rules.

The old definition of harassment on Reddit for "harassment, threatening, or bullying" required tracking a user's behavior until there was evidence of “continued” and/or “systematic” abuse. It also required the victim to "fear for their real-world safety" before a moderator could intervene. As Reddit administrator Landoflobsters notes, this created a lot of confusion and made it hard to take swift action unless the situation became severe.

The new policy now describes abuse as "anything that works to shut someone out of the conversation through intimidation or abuse, online or off." Following someone across the platform's many communities or using private messages to threaten or bully them will warrant swift action. This extends to those situations where groups of people bully a person and vice versa, with several subreddits now banned as a result. Examples include r/Braincels, a community of "involuntary celibates" that managed to attract the attention of the US military.

It's also worth noting that users who witness violations of the rules can now report them to help a victim's case. Reddit says it will use these to reduce reaction times for moderators, who are faced with the monumental task of policing large communities. The company is also working on "improved machine-learning tools" to quickly sort and prioritize user reports, but the decision making will still be done by humans.

Reddit admits the new policy's effectiveness is ultimately still dependent on moderators to do their best in ensuring they don't foster bigotry and abuse in the communities they manage. And as some Redditors pointed out in their comments to the announcement, it's not yet clear how the new changes apply to subreddits that hold strong opinions on specific topics. There's also the possibility that some users will exploit the policy and rally to report on users they want to silence.

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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Reddit is quite possibly the best and worst discussion platform on the internet. The amount of content is amazing and you can get updates extremely quick from both devs and users. The downside is communities often downvote anything they don't agree with and they are prone to infighting. Each subreddit is it's own hive mind. Either you pander to the group or your opinion never sees the day of light. In political science, this is common in winner take all voting systems. The major problem with it is often select groups of people commonly have their say reduced to little or nothing by the system. This happens over and over, essentially disenfranchising their right to vote entirely. You cannot continue to repress all the opinions in your society that lie just below the 50% mark.
 

Hexic

TS Evangelist
Reddit is quite possibly the best and worst discussion platform on the internet. The amount of content is amazing and you can get updates extremely quick from both devs and users. The downside is communities often downvote anything they don't agree with and they are prone to infighting. Each subreddit is it's own hive mind. Either you pander to the group or your opinion never sees the day of light. In political science, this is common in winner take all voting systems. The major problem with it is often select groups of people commonly have their say reduced to little or nothing by the system. This happens over and over, essentially disenfranchising their right to vote entirely. You cannot continue to repress all the opinions in your society that lie just below the 50% mark.
Which is why I don’t waste my time as an active user. If they're going to moderate an online forum such as this, Reddit is no better than any other social media platform. Open forum or no forum is the way to go. But kids hurt feelings these days can’t handle an open internet, so it’s a waste of time anyways.
 

arrowflash

TS Booster
Which is why I don’t waste my time as an active user. If they're going to moderate an online forum such as this, Reddit is no better than any other social media platform. Open forum or no forum is the way to go. But kids hurt feelings these days can’t handle an open internet, so it’s a waste of time anyways.
Yes I'm not a very active user on Reddit either, for the same reason. It's the worst sort of hivemind and circlejerking I've ever seen in any online forum.

The whole problem lies with the downvote system - having only upvotes is fine (like in Techspot comments where you can like a post, but can't dislike). But to me is clear that downvotes / dislikes don't work. And sadly, Disqus has just implemented enabled dislikes by default (before the admin had to turn it on), at a time when this whole system is starting to get put under scrutiny.
 

Nobodysfool

TS Enthusiast
I loathe Reddit because I'm a cynic who finds Redditors' life stories incredibly boring and probably fake. Just like any social media in existence, Reddit just exists as some kind of a safe space for the insecure and the narcissists who are just looking to get their fragile egos stroked.
 
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Impudicus

TS Addict
Reddit is a place for some people to release their frustrations and anger. Sometimes this is done in the form of mean angry words on a computer screen. Sometimes those words are abusive and hurtful. If you take that away from them, what form will it take next? Probably something more impactful than words on a screen. That leads to the part about posts that go beyond the forum and are real life threats. A direct threat should be dealt with in a aggressive manner on reddit because it is no different than a real world threat.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
Old 4chan would devastate the general population. Poor feelings.
Old 4chan doesn't care about reddit one way or another - they never used it, never would have used it, so don't have an opinion on it beyond that. Its the new guys who get themselves twisted in a knot about it, because more often than not, the new guys come from reddit and similar sites after they've been kicked off them.
 

arrowflash

TS Booster
Now I have to disagree with comments who seem to imply that Reddit is completely useless and there isn't any good in it. Some technical discussion subs and some content sharing subs aren't all bad (/r/sysadmin/ can be pretty decent sometimes).

However, even these kinds of subs often suffer from the hivemind circlejerking that downvotes enable, with any opinion or statement that slightly deviates from the norm being downvoted into oblivion, sometimes even without clear reason. Which brings another problem of any system that with a downvote/dislike feature, which is trolling abuse through mass downvoting. If that's not the perfect definition of "toxic community", I don't know what it is. Reddit's system is pure toxicity.

As for current 4chan, to me it's been dead since at least 2017. Most boards nowadays are composed of nothing but 12 year-old kids who think they are being edgy by using it, and pedos trying to brainwash and prey on said kids. It's just a zombie everyone forgot to bury. It's a shame really, old 4chan was pure gold and helped shape the face and culture of the internet. Pretty sad end.
 
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