Jeremy Garcia, Jono Bacon, Bryan Lunduke, and Stuart Langridge present Bad Voltage, in which they battle through an army of gremlins and fail while it sounds like Jono has smoked ten packs of cigarettes:
00:04:00 Reddit has been facing problems recently both in terms of management and views on freedom of speech. We delve into what is going on and what the future of Reddit might look like
00:33:31 Bad Voltage Best Bits: a blast from the past where we blasted the Mars One project into space with a rocket made of cynicism and sarcasm
00:43:07 Bad Voltage Best Bits: reminisce as we listen back to the quite righteous poetry competition in which the presenters demonstrate their literary aptitude (or not)
Also, we're going to take questions. Send us a question you want to ask the team to [email protected]; it might be about something we've discussed on this show, or about anything else you want, and we'll choose the best question and answer it in each show!
See details of Bad Voltage Live, in Fulda, Germany on September 30th 2015, at badvoltage.org/live, and go get your tickets to see the show!
I think the future of Reddit is simply that it is going to get much smaller. The only question is are they going to do this in a managed way by killing off the worst parts of it, accepting that you will lose some of your user base as a result or are they going to ignore it and find they lose their revenue streams as a result of people not wanting to advertise on the site?
It’s very easy to find some pretty offensive stuff on the site and if for example you are a charity trying to raise money for cancer research you probably don’t want to be associated with for example highly racist material as I found today. I wont post a link: I do not want to in any way give a voice to this material.
I’m pro freedom of speech and fully believe protected as far as possible but there have to be limits on how this is expressed and while a lot of Reddit is good there is also way too much stuff that needs to go away.
They need a clear code of conduct: This could be as simple the Bad Voltage code
Don’t be a dick
With the clear sanctions that posts can be deleted and users removed if necessary.
We have been very lucky here at Bad Voltage in that I am only aware of two users where we as a community have felt the need to remove their posts. At the same time we are able to discuss sensitive, controversial, complex topics in a respectful way. We are also able to have discussions about less controversial subjects such as the best way to reheat day old pizza.
@oldgeek Part of the problem with Reddit is that each subreddit is aimed at a niche group and most of those reading for example white supremacist material are looking for it. Many of them broadly agree with what is being posted and some of them are going to post similar stuff. As a result it doesn’t get down-voted to hell.
Reddit need to decide if they want to be associated with some of this material. I suspect few people are reading the worst stuff and even fewer are posting it but the simple act of hosting this material, while I would not go so far as to say shows approval of the views expressed it could be argued that it shows a tacit acceptance that these views are part of acceptable conversation.
They need to selectively prune subreddits and remove the worst offending individuals in my opinion.
I can see however that this is a difficult balance to make since by removing posts, users and entire subreddits they will be accused of censorship and suppressing freedom of speech. If they do nothing however they will be accused of providing a voice to what many of us would consider to be very objectionable ideas
I have always believed in tolerance, but within the bounds of decency. I am inclined to share @bryanlunduke’s view here. I do not find anything objectionable to censoring things that are indecent. A person may have a ‘right’ to say anything, but that does not mean he has the ‘right’ to do so without consequences. An organization, such as Reddit, has the right to determine what material will be acceptable on a medium that is in their control. If someone does not like that the views that they have are not acceptable, and therefore, not allowed to be posted on such controlled medium, then, how are they prevented from expressing them elsewhere? A person will find, that if they come into my home and express things that I find unacceptable, they will be asked to leave, and leave they will. Am I censoring them? Absolutely.
I think Bryan is actually quite right with his idea of reddit. I would say he just doesn’t really eplain it right. What I feel he is trying to say, and what I personally think is that you have all these subreddits, they are not about free speech. They are about giving a onesided view of whatever they are about. If you’d join a reddit about say fairtrade and started pointing out how certain parts might be wrong or say that you feel it is slightly hypocrit for such and such reason, you will get downvoted. However sensible and true your arguements might be. That subreddit is not about free speech and conversation, it is about enforcing a certain world view to it’s followers and conforming your view is correct and to find ways of expressing that view better. This is something that doesn’t have to be bad. You could argue churches are very similar in a lot of ways, and they have been at the basis of a lot of good stuff. Also some bad stuff, but overal I think churches do improve life for it’s followers.
That being said, if reddit is indeed not really about free speech, why try to hold up that image by protecting things that might even be illegal to say in my country. In The Netherlands you are not allowed to abuse your right of free speech to discriminate and spread hate. That is excactly what the hate groups on reddit do. So it is either about money, maybe not from that particular subreddit, but possibly from the nonexcisting hate subreddit I might make tomorrow because I know they will not stop me from doing so. Or it is that they just don’t have a clue what they are doing somehow still strugle to set a clear boundary on what is okay.
I think reddit should ban the hate groups. They should not over do it, but it needs to happen more than it is happening right now. The one way of preventing that you over do it is by following the concepts Jeremy mentioned of honesty acountability and such. However if they do that, I do not think many people will leave reddit, at least not those doing anything normal. The site is built in all these seperate subreddits, that keeps everything so seperated that people won’t even realise that there is some sort moderation on what subreddits are okay if it wasn’t a big news issue.
That is just how I see things. I am not a very frequent user of reddit, so I might have missed out on some things. If I have, please let me know.
You are welcome to your opinions but I would disagree that churches improve life for their followers, or anybody else for that matter. Churches promote a particular world view as being the one true way. This in my opinion has slowed down progress and religion in many parts has historically and still to this day been used to promote intolerance.
I don’t think any subject should be totally taboo for discussion but this has to be done sensitively with an openness to examine the facts and a preparedness to change your ideas should they be shown to be flawed.
I think you are correct in saying that there are several parts of Reddit where the people have an entrenched, to many of us absurd, world view on one particular point of life. This can be harmless when it’s about which football, soccer for the Americans among us, team is the best. When it is used to justify or promote hatred of others however it becomes unacceptable.
As an avid redditor, I’m really starting to think its a terrible place to have discussions. By it’s very nature you are punished for having any opinions that differ from the hive mind AND it encourages anyone with dissenting opinions to form their own insular communities of people with only the same opinions. While when everyone’s cheery and nice it can just be a way of organising your interests, a role in which it works better than any other forum on the internet imo. However when you end up having conversations beyond “Hey look at my cat!”, conversations about topics you actually are invested in and write real proper responses - reddit can be just the worst medium imaginable.
As an example on the linux subreddit a while ago, someone asked about what the whole deal with ffmpeg and libav was, having no knowledge. I wrote a decent length reply which was an entirely a summarised paraphrasing of the presentation done by the libav guy at this years linux.conf.au. The entirety of the post was this paraphrasing other than beginning with “This is the opinion of the libav community as I understand it from this guys speech” and ending with reiterating that point, providing sources and pointing out that the OP should probably find an ffmpeg person to give their perspective as well to avoid bias.
Obviously being reddit my post received only a couple of upvotes, while all the top comments in the thread were heavily biased one liners or just insults, normally against the libav developers. Equivalent comments attacking the ffmpeg developers were buried. What amazed me about this particular case was this was on a “small” subreddit. You expect the hive mind to obliterate any opposition on the front page or larger subreddits but this surprised me.
To be honest, as a followup to this show I’d love a discussion regarding discussions on the internet. How best is it to structure them to get good productive conversations? Are modern “pro circlejerk” forums like reddit, actually a good thing? Are they actually better/worse than legacy forums or just different? Is trying to keep a large broad community productive a pipe dream? Is it a design problem or is it just innate human psychology to want these types of community? Are there any other less known concepts and what are they like? Maybe Jono “Community” Bacon could share some of his perspectives on how to keep a large community of users productive and open to new ideas.
I think good discussions have a lot to do with the culture of those involved. I think here on Bad Voltage we are better than most. We tend to show respect for each other and for their opinions even when we disagree strongly on a particular subject, For example, @bryanlunduke and myself have differing views on the Israel/Palestine problems which we aired in a previous topic. This does not change the fact that if we ever find ourselves in the same bar I will be happy to buy him a drink and would be surprised if he was not happy to buy me one in return.
@jonobacon actually has a lot to say on this subject and I would recommend you read his book: The Art of Community. I bought my copy but it has since been made available as a free pdf download here.
Oh absolutely, it’s great that we do have a small tolerant community here, even if it’s mostly just about tolerating @bryanlunduke. That said this is still a small community, particularly on the scale of mega community sites like reddit. Additionally I think we all came here from at least a vaguely similar perspective. Do correct me if I’m wrong but I think most of the people here are Linux people, with many having listened to lugradio / linux action show in the past. So we already are a small insular group.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure if, for example; in the Windows 10 thread currently also active on this forum, one of the replies was “Wow Microsoft have really just hit the nail on the head, using linux now feels like a chore, everything about gnome is just inferior, never looking back”, I think we would deal with that more maturely than most forums. However I doubt there would be remotely as warm a reception as if someone said the same things about, say, KDE5 - and the person writing that comment would feel more comfortable in a community of other people who can get really excited and enthusiastic about Windows 10 - and may not be quite as enthused to continue participating on this forum going forwards.
I understand this is just human psycology and unresolvable however equally I think the difference between this site and reddit is mostly about just scale - there are not enough people participating in our discussions to have opinion dogpiles and also extremists are rarer and more easily dealt with in a smaller community. There’s also plenty of other factors, for example I’d put as much money as you’d like on that the average age of badvoltage users is older than the average reddit user.
I guess the question really comes down to, how many of the problems in these communities come from the structure of the community as apposed to the people of whom the community is comprised?
As for the Art of Community, I’ve meant to read it for a long time, I never got around to it. Maybe I’ll read it on the train this week, not sure. One concern about it I have is just that afaik jono wrote it pretty early in his career so he has had plenty of time since to revise his opinions, which is one reason I’d rather listen to a short, up to date and targetted discussion about this particular issue.
I was hoping @jonobacon would have jumped into the conversation by now as I’m sure his perspective on mainlining respectful communities where we can all benefit from others experiences and ideas whether we agree with them or not would be a valuable contribution to this discussion; perhaps it may be worth considering as a segment on an future show.
Returning to Reddit specifically I’ve just finished watching a film
directed by Brian Knappenberger about Aaron Swartz well known internet hacktivist and co-founder of Reddit well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it: currently available on both Netflix and Amazon prime here in the UK and possibly elsewhere or here on YouTube