The Fall Of Reddit Or Gradual Decline Of The Empire ?
The site Reddit has been a online hang out for me for a long time back to the days of Digg and Reddits sometimes not so friendly rivalry. Believe it or not there was a time when Digg was bigger than Reddit, bigger in just about every way imaginable. Digg was so popular that Reddit and other sites sprang up to fill the niche communities that weren't getting the traction on Digg. Diggs fate was sealed in the eyes of its users when Jay Adelson and Kevin Rose (the founders of Digg) sold the site to Betaworks for a half a million. The readership seen this a selling out and jumped ship, and with Reddits similar layout and voting system, the Diggers fit right in. The fate that befell Digg, seems to be now manifesting itself on Reddit.
Reddit has had a colourful history to say the least, and it's most colourful user is, violentacrez. His real name is Michael Brutsch, and he is Reddits most infamous user.
In the early days of Reddit he was credited with creating some of the most infamous subreddits. Sub's like jailbait, a sub that was not shutdown by staff until CNN did a report on it in October 2011. Some of the other subreddits that violentacrez is credited with creating , /beatingwomen, /picsofdeadkids , /creepshots, and a few more I won't bother mentioning. The situation got so untenable that "jailbait" became the number 2 search term responsible for Reddits traffic, Number 1 was Reddit.
Michael Brutsch, aka violentacrez would not cease to be a thorn in the side of Reddit just yet. In a post on June 13, 2012 he revealed that admins on the site, were banning sites of news sources such as Business Week and The Atlantic. The revelation lead to the admins claiming that the sites were "rigging the process on Reddit" and also resulted in the creation of a subreddit called BannedDomains.
The creation of such subreddits is a clear symptom of Reddits inability to police itself, and we think a primary reason for the mass confusion on what is considered acceptable on Reddit today. At one time Reddit championed free speech, and the free communication of ideas. Unfortunately as the site tries to monetize itself it is becoming obvious that in order to become viable, it must become somewhat politically correct. The continued creation of subreddits like, WhitePeopleFacebook, or BlackPeopleTwitter can still from time to time leave a bad taste in your mouth.
On the flip side of the coin there have been users like Unidan, aka Ben Eisenkop who had become known as the "excited biologist." He holds bachelor's degrees in both biology, and environmental science from Binghamton University in, New York. He is currently teaching courses in biology and environmental science at the Department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University. Using the nickname Unidan, aka Ben Eisenkop would answer questions related to biology and ecology, and quickly became popular on the site.
Then in July 2014, Eisenkop's Unidan account was banned from Reddit for vote manipulation. It was claimed that he had several "sockpuppet" accounts that he used to upvote or downvote depending on the situation. Reddits community manager Alex Angel said that Unidan's actions were, "pretty blatant vote manipulation, which is against our site rules" It would seem that even the "good" users abuse their status on the site.
Another worrying indicator is the sites high turnover with its employees, that started with the dismissal of AMA Coordinator Victoria Taylor. Her position at Reddit was critical, let me explain my reasoning. I have always considered Reddit to be somewhat of an live RSS Feed, were stories get voted up or down based on
popularity. Basically tailoring other sites content into a live news feed, but never actually creating the content. The AMA subreddit is the diamond in the rough, the one spot where Reddit can create content effortlessly. The change over continued with the release of Ellen Pao who had resigned from Reddit "by mutual agreement." A trend that continues to this day with over a dozen senior Reddit employees who have been let go in the past six months.
The most troubling aspect might be how Reddit responds to its ever changing user base, as evidenced by Reddits most recent interactions with the new political subreddits. A relationship that can only be described as adversarial, particularly with the Trump supporters but not limited to. Another disturbing trend that Reddit seems to of perfected is the Shadow Ban, a practice of banning a user without letting them know. This often results in users posting several times before they realize that their posts are not getting any traction. Thereby aggravating the situation even more and perpetrating the adversarial atmosphere even more. A problem made worse by the lack of paid moderators with a firm knowledge of Reddits policies.
So where does that leave Reddit ? is it The Fall Of Reddit Or Gradual Decline Of The Empire ? like we ask in the title. To be honest Reddit should of found its niche by now, and the fact that it hasn't, should worry its investors. Is it dead yet ? no, and not for quite some time, even with Reddit clones popping up there seems little can be done to stop the juggernaut know as Reddit.
Full Disclosure : Dan is an active member of the Reddit community, in good standing.