Back in mid-2012, I cancelled an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over on Reddit. That was an interesting few weeks. Basically, at the time, Reddit was hosting a discussion inviting rapists to tell their side of the story. My feeling was that as long as that discussion was going on, I wasn’t comfortable participating over there.
This generated a large number of comments, from people calling me an free-speech hater and an idiot who doesn’t understand how Reddit works to others thanking me for drawing attention to some of the nastiness over there. It also generated my first rape threat, though it was a rather pathetic one on the scale of things.
For that reason, I was rather torn when earlier this year, Redditor and generally awesome person Steve Drew invited me to do a Fantasy AMA again. I know there are a lot of great people at Reddit, and a lot of wonderful conversations. Steve has been wonderfully positive to work with, and he clearly loves the genre. But I wasn’t about to go back on the position I had taken two years ago…assuming I was even still welcome.
So Steve and I chatted a bit. It turns out that the rapist discussion had been taken down, though I’m not sure exactly when. And then Steve put me in touch with Reddit’s Director of Communications, Victoria Taylor. She and I exchanged a few emails, and then talked on the phone so she could listen to and respond to some of my concerns.
I was very impressed with both of these individuals. While they might not have agreed with 100% of what I thought (who does?), they were both eager to listen to those concerns, to talk about what they’d been doing over the past few years to try to improve Reddit.
Some of the things Victoria talked about were:
- Reddit has a larger team of people monitoring and moderating the communities. They’ve also added additional reporting options for inappropriate content.
- They’re actively working toward inclusiveness and diversity. One example she pointed to was the growth in women’s topics on Reddit, including many that focus on building support.
- She also pointed me to a study showing the decline of hate speech at Reddit.
This doesn’t mean Reddit is perfect. You had people posting stolen celebrity nudes in a Reddit topic called “The Fappening,” which apparently earned Reddit enough money to pay for their servers for a month. On the other hand, Reddit did try to remove the individual postings, and eventually took down the entire “Fappening” topic when that failed. Was it handled perfectly? Probably not. But I believe it was handled better than it would have been 2-3 years ago.
After thinking it over, I’ve gone ahead and accepted Steve’s invite to do another AMA. I imagine there are still people who are pissed at me for what happened in 2012, and that’s fine. There may be people who think I’m caving or compromising my principles to try to sell books, and that’s fine too.
But the specific board I was objecting to is gone. A lot of people have been working to try to make Reddit a better place. And I think that’s awesome.
So we’ll see what happens, and I’ll post details once everything gets sorted and scheduled.