Reddit introduces new "Start Chatting" feature across many subreddits, AskHistorians goes dark for 1 hour in protest to broken promises
Oh, for the sake of fuck. As if moderators' jobs aren't already hard enough. Now users have access to a chat channel that's outside of moderators' control? Great. Just great.
I wonder if the moderators of a subreddit will be held responsible for the content of these chat rooms. Like, if someone starts posting racist/homophobic/transphobic crap in the chat channel associated with a subreddit, will that get the subreddit banned even though moderators have no control over it?
This is a shitty decision. One of the worst I've seen from Reddit.
Apparently mods aren't. It's reddit's "Trust and Safety" team that's responsible. But they don't exactly have the best reputation among mods. In the end, of course mods will get messages about this, but unfortunately won't be able to do anything.
We got our first message from a confused user last night. And you're exactly right, the admins don't have the bandwidth to handle their current workload. We've had a straight-forward ongoing harassment issue for over a month and the admins haven't acted on it.
I'm not sure how they think they're going to police chat for half of all subreddits
I, thankfully, wasn't one of the subs selected for this (likely because half the subs I moderate are NSFW and the other half are niche), but it's effectively an unmoderated space and will very quickly degenerate (if it hasn't already) to harassment, involuntary pornography, jailbait, drugs, and CP. Guaranteed.
They're allegedly stopping roll out to others to wait for a opt-out option to be ready. I'm expecting just about every attentive moderator to opt-out. No one wants an unmoderated space they have no control over, but will be asked about in their subs.
Out of my more active subs, only one has so far been (co-)opted-in. And it's one that can get pretty spicy since it's a politically-oriented sub. I let the other mods knows because I don't think any of us saw the initial admin post, nor does it seem like any of us use New reddit or the official app.
Changes like these need to be officially communicated to each and every subreddit through modmail. posts from r/Blog - where the feature was announced - almost never shows up on my frontpage, even though I'm subbed to both.
Where did you see that they're stopping until there's an opt-out? I saw this post saying that they'll build an opt-out eventually, but nothing about stopping until they do.
Based on this thread where an admin accused a user of posting a doctored image, they are in the process of rolling back the change today: https://www.reddit.com/r/KeepThemAccountable/comments/gaqi6r/remember_when_the_admins_said_communities_that/fp2k4pr/
Took me a minute to find it again. From the /r/askhistorians post which contained links to the removed post in /r/ModSupport that pointed people to the main thread they wanted to keep the damage within and a subsequent reply that stated no more subreddits until the opt-out is built.
Of course, as ~shiruken has shared, they're just rolling the whole thing back.
I'm forced to agree and I think it'll greatly accelerate the death spiral reddit's been dealing with.
What's happened in more tilde-centric terms is that reddit has now provided, for any/all groups, a private back channel for communication, or in other words, another new community budding off of the old one. This time it isn't in a subreddit, and apparently it can't be moderated.
Users will pile in, use this to organize in whatever way suits the quirks of their existing community, and now there will be three groups (regular/chat/mods) fighting for control of the direction of any given community.
Most mods wouldn't moderate the chat under the best of circumstances and we all know why. Now toss in lots of actors with questionable motivations from astroturfing and shilling to political narrative control. These groups will instantly start using these new chat channels to organize the users for whatever change they want, and frankly, most of the users will fall for it. They'll sabotage their own communities, and that effect will be worse the larger the group and the more controversial the group's topics tend to be.
I wanted someday to see the same sort of feature happen here on Tildes, but not as an open chat room. Instead it's a separate back room (like we've all created/used on slack, discord, or as private mod subreddits) that exists to help the trusted users get to know each other and organize better. The group within each group needs its own communication channel, and it's best for convenience and privacy that it be baked right into the site directly - which also ties it to the trust system.
Leave it to reddit to take what is potentially a useful idea and then come up with the worst possible implementation anyone can imagine for that idea.
@Deimos, this is likely to spawn an invite wave. We've already seen higher levels of activity in /r/tildes but so far there hasn't been a steep spike. Assuming at some point this gets into viral territory, how would you like us to handle it?
We have been saying this for years though, and nothing changes. Reddit isn't going anywhere maybe ever.
Reddit's demise hasn't become a 'happening' yet. Once the stink of death is in the air, and everyone says they are leaving, everyone will leave, all at once. Right now they've only made up their minds that they don't like the current party, but haven't put on their coats to leave yet.
It's just a question of two things - first, something of the 'last straw' variety has to occur that irritates the user majority, and second, there has to be a known alternative (or alternatives) that people can move to as a replacement in a hurry.
Then we get months of exodus threads with all the users happily trumpeting their decision to move to this or that other website for this or that reason. That becomes the grandstanding game everyone wants to play in front of the audience. It's not exactly virtue signaling but it has the same sort of dynamic - putting on an act for your social media peers.
The folks there for cat pictures will inherit the website and it'll limp on for a while like that, until another site has a better collection of cat pictures than reddit does. Investors will pull the plug eventually once they realize reddit is kill, and then go and prop up the replacements, and the cycle continues.
Take off your disillusioned moderator spectacles and think of the average user. The vast majority of users don’t care about any of this and have no negative feelings toward reddit. There is no decision the admins could make short of removing the ability to post and comment that would, for example, drive the sports subreddits away. No centralized hub for sports and team-specific discussion exists outside of reddit, and those subreddits (like /r/soccer and /r/NBA) are some of the most trafficked on the site.
The average user cares more about being where the activity is, not being on the most well designed site. Reddit will never die for this reason.
Yeah, I have to agree. As much as I really dislike where reddit has been heading for the last X years, the only way I can ever see it totally failing is due to bankruptcy if the VC money somehow entirely dried up before they manage to be profitable enough to launch a successful IPO. IMO it will never collapse due to lack of users no matter how obnoxious their design changes get, since for every one of us oldschool users who has left due to the quality of discussion declining, there are countless new users who have joined in our stead, and are perfectly happy with the state of the site because all they really care about is having a place with a large userbase with which to share and consume memes, jokes, puns, and cat pics.
I don't think we need to worry about doing anything in particular yet. Reddit removed the feature now, so I doubt there will be any more uproar for now. There was a minor spike in email requests for invites too, but nothing major.
I should probably just work more towards moving off the current invite system in the near future, it's probably past time for that anyway.
If you remove the barrier for new users to join Tildes, you'll also need to implement some of the planned moderation features. More people and more activity will lead to more problems.
The more I think about it the more I'm convinced your community-import idea is the right way to go in the middle term.
Classic reddit - rolling out a feature that affects subreddits without checking with the mods of those subreddits. It seems like they are doing everything they can to erase the distinct identities of subreddits and make everything more generic across the site.
I'm one of the full mods of /r/science and I'm dreading what will happen when we have our next major 'controversial' thread.
The admins are claiming that mod teams and communities won't be held responsible for what happens in these chat rooms, but that doesn't mean they won't have a material effect on our community.
This seems to have the goal of Facebook-izing (give voice to every person) otherwise gated subreddits. Which, if anyone has ever taken a moment to just watch a chat feed from Facebook live event, you’ll know is a terrible idea.
Don't even have to watch the feed, just go to any social media. The internet is a wonderful place as it has given everyone a voice. The internet is a terrible place as it has given everyone a voice.
Announcement thread for the "Start Chatting" feature: https://www.reddit.com/r/blog/comments/gacdqy/new_start_chatting_feature_on_reddit/
Stickied comment by one of the moderators for r/AskHistorians:
Active r/ModSupport request to opt-out: https://www.reddit.com/r/ModSupport/comments/gafm52/mods_must_have_the_ability_to_opt_out_of_start/
I'm not a moderator for any subreddits, but this reminded me of a similar event happening a few years back in which multiple subreddits went dark in protest to some decision(s) that was made by Reddit admins and as a general protest to the treatment of moderators.
That was when Reddit fired Victoria, who assisted moderators organise AMAs in their subreddits.
Slightly related, I am also seeing a pattern by those with authority (moderators) silencing or diminishing some threads that protest or complain about certain things that run counter to what those moderators wish to see. Usually by removing those threads (whether or not they are popular) and following up by telling the users to post in some larger thread with many other replies (sometimes only partly related) so that those complaints get lost among the other comments.
This might actually have been something done for as long as Reddit has existed, but this incident with r/AskHistorians and a semi-recent one from r/Valorant are two that come to mind.
It looks like they rolled back this feature: https://www.reddit.com/r/ModSupport/comments/gafm52/comment/fp0r557
I was wondering why they pushed this so hard.
Maybe they thought it would be well received as a means to reduce isolation. IDK. Reddit is clearly complex enough to warrant more careful consideration.
The admins mention at one point that they rushed the feature through with no oversight because chat usage had gone up 50% during quarantine. Seems incredibly hasty in hindsight...
Dreadful move by reddit. It may be time for me to start archiving sidebar materials and preparing to move off the site completely.
There's also talk of removing PMs entirely, forcing everyone to use reddit chat if they want to communicate directly.
Someone should create a better alternative to Reddit.
I kinda like Tildes just the size it is, but I could imagine a Digg v4-like exodus to Tildes for some of the stricter moderated subreddits.
I think it would be a great thing for tildes for one of these communities to move here. I don't think half of reddit migrating here would be manageable, but something like /r/AskHistorians might be doable. Of course, they would need to want to. And being invitation-only makes it impossible for the moment.
I don't see a subreddit like /r/AskHistorians agree with the moderation structure that Tildes has.
Well, part of the idea of tildes is that each group can do its own thing with its own toys. The only parts of it that are 'all of tildes' are the basics like not being an asshole and respecting other users and other communities. I doubt askhistorians would take issue with those at all, that's how they behave on reddit.
That said, we do not have the tools yet to recreate the askhistorians experience on Tildes - and frankly, we shouldn't want to. The way it runs on reddit is based on its evolution on reddit and limited by dealing with reddit's abysmal systems. Having all posts/comments removed until approved by a moderator, for example - the only reason that happens is because it's the only way they can keep out the fluff within reddit's limitations.
Starting it over I'm sure the mods there know already how they'd do things differently. One doesn't mod a community for years without developing a few choice rants and wistful ideas about better ways of doing things that remain just out of your reach.
It's been a few years since I was a moderator of /r/AskHistorians but, even back then, they were discussing back-up plans in case they ever had to jump ship - and one of the options was setting up their own website. I notice they're still updating the www.AskHistorians.com website; there's a page for a presentation they gave at the American Historical Association this year. I suspect that, if Reddit ever does self-destruct, they'll add a forum function to that website, rather than join another website where they can't control their own destiny.
I don't see it happening right now, tbh.
Surely the way the vast majority of questions posted to r/AskHistorians get there is by a redditor having a question and looking for an appropriate subreddit to post it on. If you remove r/AskHistorians from reddit, how do you redirect most of the questions to Tildes rather than to other subreddits?
The reward of any given community on Tildes or anywhere else is the content the community produces. In return for my time modding listentothis I was rewarded with a collection of new music second to none for almost ten years on a daily basis, which was more than enough to keep me interested until I realized that experiment was at a dead end on reddit. L2t did not need to be large or popular to do that job, in fact size eroded the quality. It was as good at 20k people as it is now with 14 million, and in some ways it was better.
You're right that the sense of 'ownership' is gone, but I see that as a major improvement. The right word is stewardship, that's what those positions really are. I think letting moderators get completely tied up in their community as part of their own identity is a bad idea. That brings out bad behaviors - flashing mod bits like a badge and carrying a chip on the shoulder.
Tildes needs to be bigger. It needs to grow. It needs to be more active.
Based on funding I think 3-5x more users would be sustainable, though.
One good specialized community could help a lot. In the Well's early days, that was Grateful Dead fans. But now, any community that needs a forum can run its own, so it's hard to see how Tildes could attract them.
A reddit bot that executes a community import would do it. Scan the sub, identify active users, send them invites. This would ideally be a tool that just sits there until moderators of a small sub run it themselves after talking it over with their users and deciding to move. Coding reddit bots is a pain but we do have a kung-fu master of that craft running this website.
We're at 10k users, more or less. Doubling that to 20k threatens the quality, but perhaps less so if we know the growth is not coming from viral activity around the 'hot new thing' but instead a conscious decision of a community to relocate.
That can happen quietly for a long time before someone notices it - and make no mistake, if Tildes has a reddit-community-import feature, if that exodus happens it'll be plastered all over reddit's front page in minutes as every site on the web uses it as an excuse to shit on reddit. There will be a major viral wave, but it matters less because the invite mechanism isn't available to the folks riding that wave, only the mods of existing communities. We may have to close up invite threads for a while, they'll get hot fast.
From my own modding experience, a community of 50k people can function very well with the most basic tools. Once you go past 50k the moderation burden begins to grow rapidly. By the time you're at 250k it's hard to tell the difference between that and millions, at least on reddit. You already have all the growth problems at 250k.
How much growth are we willing to risk and how fast? That's the question.
Do you (or anyone else reading this) ever promote tildes on reddit?
I just casually mention it and link something interesting from time to time when it's relevant to discussion. For example when I shared my program on reddit, I linked u/mironimous 's comment where he made something very relevant to my program. Someone asked about tildes and in few minutes I was sending invites.
I don't really really promote it in a way where I would have prepared monologue about how great website this is. I wonder if there is someone doing some campaigns or something like that.
I tried to post about in a couple of subs with demographics that we need here (e.g. women) but I haven't had any success.
Sometimes if I see someone lamenting the quality of Reddit, I will go through their profile to check if they are "compatible" with Tildes, and if they are I will PM them with the docs to see if they are interested.
I don't invite many people.
I tried a couple of times, a long time ago. It didn't go well.
I've also told a few real-life friends and acquaintances about Tildes. No success.
Most hardcore Redditors are free speech absolutists. They would probably view Tildes as part of the problem.
That's fine by me, those are the people that we're leaving reddit to avoid. Among other reasons, of course.
Yeah, I hope reddit lasts long enough to keep the fluff contained there for years so the rest of us don't have to deal with that distraction building other sites.
The real question it seems to me is what to do for the smaller sane communities that lurk under the mess reddit has become. I have to believe that many of them are ready to jump ship by now.
Perhaps the way forward is for Tildes to quietly offer them an escape hatch. Most of these specialized communities are not toxic, not radical, and are composed of a few thousand regular users at most. There's nothing preventing us from bringing those groups over and giving them their own group here other than the work of making said group and handing out the invites.
It's the small ones we want, not the large ones. They'll fit right in here. I'd hate hate hate to see the hundreds of amazing smaller places on reddit die with the rest of it.
It'd certainly liven this place up a bit. We can call it 'landing day' or somesuch and have some pretty epic introduction threads.
The Tildes structure doesn't really allow for communities though. There's a centralized community, and all the little facets and points of expression and interest. You don't go to Reddit for Reddit, you go for /r/tvshow or /r/hobby. You go to Tildes for Tildes.
At present, yes. The group-subgroup mechanics aren't even fully fleshed out yet. Five years from now I'd be surprised if that is still the case, though.
As much as I love Tildes, it doesn't fill the same niche as Reddit, for me at least. I go to Reddit for specific subjects and communities, where you cant really do that with Tildes because they simply don't exist and will likely never exist.
I wonder what the motivation for this was?
I also find it weird that in the r/AskHistorians post, they mention that the feature had been out for over a year, but was on an opt-in basis, but on the blog post the admins say that they will consider making the chat opt-in in the future. It seems like it was opt-in already?
It was opt-in. And the admins promised it would always be opt-in.
Then they changed their minds and decided to roll it out to all subreddits, regardless.
And now they've changed their minds again and decided to stop rolling it out until they've added an opt-out feature.
It's actually even more complicated than that and technically the third "chat" product they've introduced to the platform. They first launched the chat feature in subreddits last year. This allowed subreddits to create subreddit-specific chat rooms and lightly moderate them. This is an opt-in feature, so many larger subreddits have chosen to keep it completely disabled. This feature did not change with yesterday's announcement.
They also launched the "chat view" commenting feature last year in certain subreddits to provide real-time comments during live threads (e.g. sporting events, TV shows). This feature is also entirely controlled by the moderators of subreddit since it requires creating a submission with the "chat view" comment sort.
What they announced yesterday uses the direct chat interface to completely bypasses the subreddit, its rules, and its moderation. They're just throwing random users into direct group chats based on where they clicked the "start chatting" button. As many have pointed out, this undermines a subreddit's rules because there is no mechanism for moderation and misleadingly associates itself with the subreddit when no such affiliation exists.
I think this implementation is actually worse than if they had just forced all subreddits to enable the chat rooms feature. At least then we could have locked down the chat to prevent the spreading of misinformation or abuse/harassment. Instead we're guaranteed to receive modmails complaining about private discussions in these group chats where we have absolutely no control.
Everybody is against this --- and they should be. For me, I run /r/pizza, /r/sheets, and some other subs. I popped into the chat to say 'hey, this is totally unmoderated -- be nice!'
I'm mostly neutral on it. With /r/pizza, it might be handy if people use the chat for quick questions. We're only around 250k with (typically) 250 - 1000 around at a time, so I'm not too concerned. For /r/sheets (google sheets) it might be nice to get someone to hop in the chat when you're helping them out instead of chatting in cells like we do now.
All this being said, I wish my subs weren't part of this. But since we are, I'm hoping for the best.
It doesn't matter much, but doing something like that won't really work for this feature - it creates many small group chats made up of random people that click on the button, so at best you'd just have said that in one of those random rooms. Larger subreddits could have hundreds (or more) of these rooms, and I don't think you can access particular ones even if you wanted to, or even see any information about them.
Holy crap, is that really how this new chat feature works? That is soooo much worse than I thought it was, since there is actually no way that system could ever be effectively moderated. And to roll this out so haphazardly in a time when misinformation about the coronavirus is running rampant and every other social media site is getting flack for not doing enough to stop it, while also trying to claim they did this to help the situation, seems monumentally stupid to me. I genuinely don't understand how anyone at reddit HQ thought this was a good idea.
man, that's just strange. I figured they were forcing a single community-chat. I'd love to see the thought process behind this sort of stuff.
While I no longer have an account there, I still frequent Reddit, because I like the content. Two or three years ago I deleted my Reddit account, because I didn't like the direction the platform was taking not to mention all the telemetry and analytics that got implemented on the website over time.
Every once in a while I get the urge to join Reddit again to voice my opinion or post a meme or whatever, but Reddit seems to have this tendency to keep reminding me why I left. First the aforementioned reasons, then Ellen Pao, then the new IMHO horrible redesign and now this. Just yikes.
I was almost ready to cope with the new design if it wasn't so fucking slow. Old Reddit loads damn near instantly compared to the new design monstrosity.
It also doesn't load all comments under posts by default, so you have to engage with it first, which may well be a trap for starting to track you ("Well, the user engaged with the page, so they agree to the terms of us fucking them over").