Why I (Still) Haven’t Left Reddit

Reddit: while often useful, it can also be a haven for abuse. But is there anything that we — or Reddit — can do about that? Photo: Author.

I Realized It’s Impossible To Effectively Police Any Large Online Space

  • There are more than 2.8 million subreddits on the network. Each subreddit is its own discussion forum, typically on somewhat niche subjects. Moreover (to the best of my knowledge) all these subreddits are managed by unpaid moderators who clearly lack a financial incentive to do an excellent or even uniform job at stamping out hate on their communities.
  • To the best of my knowledge, nobody knows exactly how many admins Reddit keeps on staff — those are the full-time paid Reddit employees that form the official moderation structure above ‘mods’ — but the number is believed to be south of 500. You do the math. If both of those estimates are accurate, each Reddit admin would be responsible for overseeing the activity of 7,000 subreddits each. And remember — each subreddit is its own online community with potentially tens of thousands of participants and dozens of daily message threads.
  • Reddit likely can’t do a good job at stamping out hate even if it wanted to. Even with the help of AI — or the automod filters that are popular in cleaning up much of the most egregious garbage on subs — there are just way too many users and way too much activity and far too few full-time staff members focused on keeping the network ‘clean’.
  • In light of that dynamic, Reddit likely has to focus its intention on the most egregious and damaging communities and offenders. While I might have felt slighted and hurt by an anonymous internet randomer berating my appearance, it’s hardly likely to be top of their agenda. A far right wing community seeking to coalesce support for conspiracy theories about the pandemic? That’s potentially far more damaging — at least to Reddit itself.

Learning To Accept An Internet Tainted By Hate

Reddit’s A Unique Animal That Does One Thing — Niche Discussion — Very Well

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