There’s no hope for Reddit’s /r/techonology

By: (@brwint) - 4th May 2014 reddit-tech

About 3 weeks ago, Reddit’s /r/technology subreddit was dropped from the default subscription list after it was discovered that a bot had been set up to automatically filter out headlines containing certain keywords that were very political in nature.

Many users suspected that stories with keywords such as “NSA”, “Tesla”, “Bitcoin”, and “Net Neutrality”, among others, were being automatically filtered after their posts vanished from the queue moments after being submitted. Redditors creq and SamSlate were able to confirm this after they ran a few quick experiments, proving that either a bot or mod was filtering out content by keywords. One of the mods, agentlame, eventually confirmed this was the case, stating that it had become difficult to manage the sub with so few moderators and so many subscribers.

As you may guess, there was a big uproar about the lack of transparency and a few days later, the admins at Reddit delisted /r/technology from being one of the default subs, which means that new users signing up for accounts would no longer be subscribed that particular the community. The sub’s removal was made final after a rift developed after one of the mods /r/maxwellhill added and removed mods at a pretty quick pace to try to restore management ideals that aligned in his favour, but what triggered a huge outcry was when he add /r/anutensil to the mod list. She was a former mod of r/politics who was described as a “poisonous rot that makes any team operate in a negative environment.” What made it even worse was the realization that /r/maxwellhill was able to submit stories and bypass the automoderator bot.

Since then, the automoderator bot has been stripped down to deal with more generic problems like swearing, porn sites, spam, and what not. There’s also been a lot of back and forth going on with new mods coming on and leaving shortly after. Just a few days ago, a coloured filter system was implemented to separate submissions into categories like Tech Politics, Pure Tech, and Telecom, with a few others still being considered.

The community has since been fighting for /r/maxwellhill and /r/anutensil‘s removal, as they both still continue to moderate the community. Users have launched an all out attack on them by downvoting all their submissions and comments across Reddit.

Yesterday, Camilhero (a recently approved mod) announced that all meta posts (text posts) would be relegated to /r/technologymeta to prevent the /r/technology sub from being spammed after users started creating many text-based posts as a form of rebellion.

In an effort to maintain transparency, but also in an effort to allow readers to get what they came here for (technology related news), we have created /r/technologymeta for all self posts regarding /r/technology. We are doing this because after some meta posts gathered a lot of upvotes, the sub has been swamped with troll posts, which brought quality down.

From here on, self-posts will be disallowed in /r/technology. We accept mod applications for /r/technologymeta. /u/honestduane is officially invited to check that nothing is censored.

Thank you for sticking by us in this time of transition, have a good day.

/r/technology mods

The idea of filtering out text posts makes sense in terms of transparency on the surface level, but it obviously makes it easier for the current mods to avoid having to deal with further rebellion, and it looks like a cut and dry case where bare minimum changes are being made to satisfy the admins. A few users reported that /u/Camilhero replied to questions and reports by saying, “Heil Hitler.” Here’s one example posted by thedoctorsname.

hitler

Reddit’s admins have decided not to take any action against qgyh2 (the top level mod of /r/technology), ketralnis, maxwellhill, and anutensil, since davidreiss666 (a previous mod) was the one responsible for setting up the array of filters. He resigned immediately after the subreddit was delisted. Even though the automoderator no longer filters political stories, there is still a cause for concern given the very bad reputations of maxwellhil and anutensil.

There doesn’t seem to be much hope for /r/technology making it back to the default list. Even though the sub has 5,044,380 subscribers (the 12th most subscribed subreddit on Reddit) at at the time of this post, it looks like a downhill situation with other subs such as /r/Futurology and /r/tech being tipped as potential replacements.

Update – I thought I’d test the water by submitting this post to the sub, and of course it was filtered and classified as a meta post.

reddit-meta

While that may be a fair enough reason since it’s not really a tech post per se, the following response by Calimhero is more worrying.

reddit-comments

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