Reddit, as large and diverse as it is, is not known for its powers of introspection. But in a refreshing display of self-reflection, one of the top voted posts this week is about its lowest moments — a worst-of guide to Reddit, by Reddit.
The resulting comments are an admirably exhaustive account of the site’s biggest mistakes, and reveal a few patterns: while the “mob” or “hivemind” is usually at fault, individuals are capable of doing real damage; instances of vigilante justice, or misguided investigations into users’ identities, rank highly on the regret scale.
Another way to see it: Reddit runs into problems as soon as it strays from home base — as soon as it leaves the internet. A few of the top-ranked “low” moments, of which there are hundreds:
Yeah, the wannabe CSI circle jerk for the Boston bombers was probably the lowest point of idiocy.
When reddit doxxed some intern working at a company that borrowed a Jurassic park Jeep.
The owner of the Jeep made some submission full of lies that the Jeep was damaged and nobody was going to pay for it, everyone took his word and then doxxed some poor intern girl who was sent rape and death threats over the phone and mail.
A woman posted a photo of herself, claiming she was raped, and saying something like “This is the face of a rape victim”. Redditors quickly dug through her entire post history, where they found out she had previously done some elaborate makeup work for a zombie costume. They launched a massive witch-hunt against her (posting her personal info, all that good stuff), and she wound up deleting her account shortly thereafter.
But not before posting proof that she was actually raped. Whoops.
I’m surprised no one mentioned this:
Someone took a photo of a woman who had a bit of facial hair. Reddit mocks and insults her. Turns out she found out and politely joined the “discussion”, answering questions. She was amazing, Reddit was king asshole.
The Ask-A-Rapist thread.
The creation of /r/PicsOfDeadKids.
And, more generally:
Pretty much any thread that involves a black person or a woman makes me ashamed to be a part of a reddit.
The thread, at the very least, helps explain why Reddit backlash exists. It may also mark a healthy evolution at the site, where substantive in-house criticism has traditionally been relegated to lively subreddits that few normal users see.
This post, which is far more remorseful than defensive, and which has over 2000 upvotes, hit Reddit’s front page where everyone — even first-timers — could see it.