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7/19/2015
11:06 AM
David Wagner
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Reddit: 10 Ways To Clean It Up

Reddit has an image problem, possibly an actual user problem with trolls, and much worse. The company vows to fix it all, but how?

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When 200,000 trolls band together to oust Reddit's CEO Ellen Pao because she wanted to stop their trolling, you know the company has a problem. The user-generated "front page of the Internet" has its fair share of polite, informed, and wonderful users. It also harbors racist, sexist, horrible human beings. You know, like the human race does.

Reddit has a problem. Despite huge page view numbers, its ad revenue in 2014 was only $8.3 million. Now the new CEO and cofounder Steve Huffman is vowing to clean up at least some of the mess. The site has banned a subreddit called "Raping Women." Thank God. But it has allowed another racially inflammatory subreddit, the name of which we won't repeat here, to exist, only just shoved into a corner away from advertisers. This sort of piecemeal contradictory policy isn't going to clean up Reddit or make it any spiffier for advertisers.

More drastic measures are required. I have a (mostly) serious list of the ideas Reddit should employ to clean up its problems:

10 Ways to Clean Up Reddit

1. Destroy it from orbit. Run. Don't bother. Just run. You really don't want to be involved in something which is giving the human race a chance to show its worst. It isn't making money. Get out while you can.

(Image: Steve Rainwater via Flickr)

(Image: Steve Rainwater via Flickr)

2. If you insist on staying, consider Reddit for Women. Men are far more likely to be trolls.

3. Consider banning anyone under 35. Trolls are also likely to be young. Nearly a third (31%) of millennials admit to trolling, compared with only about 15% of Boomers. Of course, we don't have data to show whether that is a matter of maturity or different Internet usage habits. Maybe the Boomers are just less honest in surveys.

4. Block all IP addresses outside of New Zealand. According to a study, the nicest people in the world are in New Zealand. Sure, that would cut out many of Reddit's 164 million users. But New Zealand has 60 million sheep, so it isn't as bad as it looks.

5. Consider the possibility that a thumb up doesn't mean what someone is saying is good. Crazy, I know. But consider it.

(Image: skssoft via Wikipedia)

(Image: skssoft via Wikipedia)

6. Switch from Reddit to Tastdit. No one argues over food. It is yummy.

7. Eliminate the following subjects on Reddit: politics, news, current events, religion, and celebrities. According to research, those are the most likely subjects for people to troll. Also bad? Personal topics, science, and health. What's left? Gaming, and "other."

8. Don't merely ban offensive subreddits. Ban everyone who ever posted in them, or read the sections. Seriously, if you are a crowdsourcing site, you deal with the crowd.

9. Take away the up button, and leave only the down button. Rather than elevating awful stuff to the top, the only option is push stuff you don't like down. Since there are probably more good people on Reddit than bad, the chances are that pushing the awful stuff down will be easier than fighting the rise of a few horrible things.

10. Force anyone who posts questionable material to sit through an Ask Me Anything session with a group of people they offended.

What are your ideas for cleaning up Reddit? Should it be cleaned up at all? Tell us in the comment section below.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2015 | 8:01:28 AM
Re: No upvoting
I guess the question is what drives Reddit, is it the users or is it the corporate leadership.  If it's the users then sadly they are going to tolerate the hate subreddits.  Even the ones that were done in humor walk fine line between parody and hate speech so if it's not the users who drive the site then the corporate leadership is very late in addressing the problem.  I guess this is what happens when you ignore things for too long, eventually it's just easier to start over than to try and fix all the things that you've neglected. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2015 | 5:24:01 PM
Re: No upvoting
@SaneIT- Fair enough, and you might be right. But maybe that' spreerfable to subreddits being vulnerable to bad human beings. I don't know.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/21/2015 | 7:59:25 AM
Re: No upvoting
I can tell you that people take subreddits very seriously. Maybe not some of the really obscure subs with a handful of subscribers but larger subs and default subs can really get people riled up if they get so much as one downvote when they think that they are right or helpful. Some people take that Karma score very seriously, others not so much.  I feel like without the voting system you lock yourself into a handful of top Redditors who will submit the majority of the links and it will start to be groomed rather than let grow.  Maybe someone out there remembers FARK when it was a little more of a free for all, then it started getting tightened up, Digg came around and people started leaving.   Then Digg did the same, tightened up the rules, people fled to Reddit.  I guess this is the cycle of social news aggregator sites. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/20/2015 | 11:18:30 AM
Re: No upvoting
@SaneIT- Well, I sort of question with the million subreddits whether that is a problem. Presumably, everything that goes intoa  subreddit is relevant or will be quickly voted down. that seems to matter mostly on just the front page.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/20/2015 | 8:19:25 AM
Re: No upvoting
I agree with the removal of voting but it introduces a problem, you don't get the most relevant posts floating to the top.  With that though I think the leadership at Reddit needs to take a big step back and ask themselves what Reddit is.  If it's a free for all then then have to let it roam and stop trying to police the site unless it is an obviously dangerous situation.  I take 99% of Reddit as humor or attempts at humor, a lot of big talk for a laugh but there will never be any action behind it.  If the Reddit leadership doesn't want to be that then when they tighten down they need to understand that their user base is going to shrink. 
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
7/20/2015 | 7:38:46 AM
No upvoting
I actually quite like this idea, though I'm sure it would be abused in the same way upvotes are now to downvote anything relevant. Without upvoting to counterbalance it too, there's no way to stop it from happening. 

It feels like Reddit just needs a firmer stance with clearer rules on what is and what isn't acceptable. Offence shouldn't be the driving force of any of it though, but more realistic emotional or physical harm. Neither of those should be acceptable, but when it comes to written words, anything else should be fair game as long as it's legal. 
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