Reddit is rude

Social bookmarking sites treat their users in a way that is both bad mannered and counter productive.


I'm increasingly appalled by the way in which social bookmarking sites demonize innocent and naive users and treat genuine enthusiasm as if it were a heinous crime worthy of excommunication.



I'm not particularly singling out reddit but it is perhaps the rudest website on the planet and its no accident that its owned by Conde Nast - nominative determinism if there ever was a case. You might be thinking that I'm talking about rude words in posts, there are certainly enough of them, but no this is about freedom of speech, deception and plain downright rudeness.

This story started all started when a friend was telling me that she had come across a news item about a libel suit being brought against a scientist for saying some factual things about a pseudo science. She thought it was an important and interesting story and all the things that a social book marking site should be ideal for. She had spent some time posting links and associated comments on reddit about how the case was progressing and was puzzled as to why no one had commented back.

I thought I knew the reason. I asked her to log out of reddit so that I could demonstrate to her that not only was there no sign of her posts but there was no sign of her either - to the outside world her account had been removed. She promptly and quite reasonably burst into tears.

As I've commented before, but only briefly, most social bookmarking sites use some sort of Bayesian spam filter to decided if a user is behaving "normally". In this case normally means not posting too many links to the same site. The additional problem is that if a user gets detected and categorised as spam then their links are simply deleted. If they carry on being detected as a spammer their account is eventually terminated. Only they know nothing about either event.

As far as the user is concerned their account is still active and their efforts are worthwhile because links are not being objected to. What is even worse is that the sites that the apparent spammer is posting also become blacklisted - forever or at least for an unspecified and long time. What this means is that even if you personally are not  suspected of being a spammer, if you unwittingly post one of the blacklisted sites it doesn't get listed and your score as a potential spammer goes up.

This is what had happened to my sobbing friend. The site that posted the news of the court case was blacklisted and so was she for repeatedly posting it as something interesting and important. So much wasted time and so much ill invested energy. You can see why I say reddit is rude.

What is even more interesting, from a technical point of view, is that the act of blacklisting sites could be used in a sort of denial of service attack. Say I have a website I really hate. All I have to do is join the social bookmarking site and post its URL every day. Eventually I'll get spotted as a spammer and I and the website in question will be banned - it's so easy.

It is difficult to see why social bookmarking sites have to behave in this way and it is ironic that on reddit in particular you can see appeals for posts. And in some case you can read reddit members bemoaning the fact that they post and nothing ever appears. Indeed my guess is that most of the users who try to comment on the situation have their comments deleted.


They seem to be mystified as to why there are no posts!

There probably isn't any chance of reddit actually strangling its own input of material - there are just so many people willing to post so many stories that don't get picked up by the spam filter because they are entirely random. In this case it's quantity over quality and it's all the result of reddit being rude.

It just makes you want to cry.


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 February 2010 )