Monday, January 11, 2016

How a cabal on Reddit stifles free speech

As Reddit spirals downward from a cutting-edge discussion sub to an echo chamber for the burnouts who think their failures were caused by someone else, a shadowy cabal opposes free speech by gaming the site's methods for stopping abuse.

I've had some people ask me a few times to tell the story about what kind off stuff one has to deal with from the cancer when offering free speech to redditors and therefore I've decided that I'll take a moment to write down a few things that happened along the way. I’ll try to keep this somewhat short so I apologise if it comes across a bit bullet-pointish.

Below are some tactics these cancerous elements use frequently. I’ve given these tactics names so that people working on growing their community can have an easier time remembering what to look for and expect.

Iron Curtain of Visibility

This is one of their favourite tool that they’ll use as soon as your sub shows even the slightest of potential to grow and this is why.

The key to growth for a subreddit is visibility and an active moderation team/ community that is engaged. People visiting the sub need to have a reason to come back and they need to have something new to see each time they visit. To achieve this a key component is promotion and determination from the mods and the community. The cancerous elements of whom most have never created a community (they just infiltrate and take them) know this and decided to do whatever they could to stop us from being seen or found. To make your sub almost invisible to the greater masses of redactors they’ll do the following.

They’ll block you from promoting the subreddit across the site. Cancerous moderators who sit on other major subs will make sure that your sub will never be seen or heard from. Your subreddit name will be added to auto moderators “remove-list” or you’ll be “quasi-shadowbanned” where auto moderator will remove any comments you make and you’re none the wiser.

Blanket bans

The cancer will blanket ban people from a multitude of subreddits for participating in your sub if it doesn’t fit the narrative. This in the early stages of a sub is especially bad as many people take a ban from these other subs personally.

Harassment of subscribers

Some early subscribers will have people following them around calling them nazis, racist, xenophobic etc. In the early days I personally had some individuals pop up in completely unrelated subs and discussions pointing out how bad I was as a person. I personally didn't care but many of the others did. The cancer will pull their old trick that is ostracizing people who dared to go against the narrative and to some extent it works.

Shadowban cock-block

Cancerous moderators will report you for spam etc. for even mentioning your sub in comments which may get you shadowbanned. This happened to me but I managed to get this over turned. This will be a trick they use on you if you’re a top or active mod of the “evil-sub” or an active subscriber promoting it. They know that if the most active elements of the new sub are removed they’ll cock-block the sub from gaining traction.

Report spamming

Some of these people (cancer) will post illegal stuff such as border line CP or rape-videos (happened three times last week in /r/european). Once they’ve done this they start report-spamming which means that they report tons of comments and submissions for major site-wide violations such as sexualising minors. By doing this they hope that the mods will just blanket approve everything and miss that one real one which would cause the sub to get banned etc. This will usually only happen once a sub gets big enough. So if you’re just starting of I’d not worry about this too much. It’s also important to know that there’s an unwritten rule that mods of a sub have about 24 hrs to act on a site-wide rule breaking report before admins get involved. This means that if you miss that one actual CP post etc. you’ll have problems.

Bait Subs

Once your sub gets enough traction you’ll start to see subs such as /r/AgainstHateSubreddits, /r/topmindsofreddit, /r/ShitRedditSays etc. link to your sub. We all know the bot “totes” that will show up and mention that “this bla bla bla has been linked to…”. and the cancer loves that bot. When people see a totes link some will, without thinking about it, get triggered or just go to their sub and start to up or down vote content. Once they notice that it’s happening the mods of these bait subs will report your sub for brigading to the admins. Their hope is that there will be enough of it happening for them to see your sub get banned. These bait subs will especially target any new or old sub that is free-speech

Racist-nazi-xenophobe-bigot card

A result of reddit site wide cancer is that all the most vocal or against-the-narrative-idividuals will get banned all over the place. They will find their way to your free-speech sub. This means that you will have a lot of politically incorrect or even out right weird content and comments in your sub. It is a direct result of the cancer and they’ll use that to undermine you, your sub and anyone posting in it. They’ll label you and your sub as this and that. They’ll label your other subscribers as well.

Agent Provocateurs

Especially if you’re a free speech sub you’ll have agent provocateurs come in and post out right crazy shit. They’ll talk about wanting genocide, they’ll talk about killing this and that or promote violence on an extreme level. They’re there to do one thing and that is to scare the normal people away. If you’re a free speech sub you’ll just have to live with it and remove what breaks site-wide rules. One of these agent provocateurs was /u/European88 aka Joshua Goldberg who was an avid poster in /r/eruopean, /r/coontown the chan boards such as /pol/ etc. He recently got arrested for taking his agent provocateur stuff to the extreme trying to help a terrorist blow up a 911 memorial.

From the news:

Joshua Goldberg, 20, who had been calling for terror attacks in western countries under the guise of jihadist "Australi Witness", was also at the centre of the woman-hating campaigns known as "Gamergate" and a behind a blog called "Philosophy of Rape" on which he wrote that "whores and feminazis need to be put in their place through rape”.
On online forums Reddit and 4chan, under the name European88, he uploaded thousands of anti-semitic and racist posts as a neo-Nazi, and on the specialty neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, he his alter-ego Michael Slay did the same.

In his comments he talked about wanting a second holocaust etc. while he himself was a jew in real life

Tips and Tricks if you want to create and grow your own non cancer sub

  1. Be persistent. Do not cave in to their pressure and tactics. Just keep on doing your thing and stay true to your words. Never let your community down.
  2. Take good care of your community and be active. A dead community will not go anywhere. If you treat people well and don’t go cancer on them they’ll start to spread the word and soon you’ll see the sub grow
  3. Be careful with who you mod. They’ll be people who ask to be modded etc. don’t let anyone in. Preferably pick one to help you among the already active users. Monitor them in the start and once you see that they’re the real deal you’ll have a nice addition to your team
  4. Never ever give up your spot as a top mod. People here always talk about how this and that sub got taken over by cancer. It cannot happen if you don’t let go of the control. As long as you as a cancer free individual hold the tops spot no other mod can destroy the sub without you accepting it
  5. Do not cave in from pressure. People will send you PMs and some will start meta threads asking you to censor this or that. Once you start to censor one thing you’ve opened the pandoras box and there will always be someone who’s offended by something. Never change your original philosophy of the sub
  6. Stay true to your word. If you started out as a free speech sub and you grew from that you cannot go back on your word. You have to stand by that decision no matter how much you disagree with some opinions etc.
  7. Do not start a subreddit if you cannot handle the psychological games of cancer or don’t have the time to commit too it. Just don’t do it. Be honest with yourself. If you’re the type of person that gets tired of things after a while do everyone a favour and don’t start a sub
  8. Reach out to other non cancer mods. This is very important. Your best allies are all other non cancer mods or “thought-criminals”. Don’t care about the subs they mod be it /r/[insert political ideology] or /r/DickFlyingFhroughSpaceHittingObamaInTheHead ask to promote your sub in their subs and return the favour. We in /r/european get asked every few days if someone can promote their new sub and we always let them. These relationships will serve you well and after a while you’ll get heads up from one mod about some new thing the cancer is up-to etc.

Dealing with Admins

Admins get a lot of shit from all directions and some of it they deserve but there’s also a lot that they do not deserve. In all honesty the Admins of Reddit have always treated /r/european well. They’ve always been helpful and forthcoming with any questions we’ve had. I cannot honestly tell you about a single incident where I feel that we’d been treated poorly by reddit admins. Nonetheless here are some good things to know:

  1. Don’t make the mistake that even I made in the beginning of thinking that the admins are out to get you. With time I’ve learned that this really isn’t the case 90 % of the time. I’m sure that there are incidents where they’ve been asked to get rid of something on this site (CoonTown comes to mind)
  2. Do not spam them. If you have a question or issue send it too them and wait. It can at times take a day or two depending on how “serious” the issue is for them to get back to you. If you don’t hear anything in a few days bump the message you sent them. Some times they just miss things as you’re not the only one contacting them
  3. Collect evidence to allow them to help you. If you get report-spammed don’t just approve all the wrongfully reported ones. Take the url of each one and send them to the admins explaining that your sub is being report-spammed. They’ll look into it and they will ban whoever is doing it. The same goes for people you suspect are evading a ban. Some trolls etc. are persistent and will create 10 accounts to come back to the sub with. Send all the info you have to the admins and they’ll help you out
  4. Better safe than sorry. If you’re unsure about something being ok or not on reddit remove it, ask and if you get an ok re-approve it. Then you’ll know what’s what in the future
  5. Show that you do not accept any site-wide rule breaking in your sub. Always remove any attempts of brigades, posting of personal info etc. This will show that you respect the site wide rules even if you might not personally like them. It creates a track-record at their end of you being serious about wanting to follow the sites rules. If anything were to actually happen and you missed it then you always have that history to point at and they know it

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