The removal of the Subreddit /r/Banned from Reddit has sparked a heated debate among users. The Subreddit, which was dedicated to discussing and showcasing bans from various other Subreddits, was removed because of allegations of rule violations. However, the decision to remove the Subreddit has not been without controversy, with many viewing it as an attempt to suppress criticism of Reddit’s moderation practices.
The story of this contentious event unfolded uniquely, as one of the Subreddit’s moderators contacted me. Eager to shed light on their side of the story, they provided me with a series of screenshots and offers of information, painting a complex picture of the events leading up to the removal.
Sadly, I came to regret agreeing to write this article, as the moderator who contacted me struggled to provide accurate information, complete statements, and factual information. However, the screenshots are interesting, in that they show how Moderators are treated on Reddit, and so we decided to publish them.
/r/Banned was a Subreddit that served as a space for users to air their grievances regarding bans they’d received from various other Subreddits. Many users viewed it as a platform to discuss and critique what they perceived as abuses of power by moderators across Reddit. Supporters of the Subreddit have argued that it provided valuable insights into moderator overreach, where individuals were banned because of personal disagreements rather than clear rule violations1. Their purpose, to showcase unfair banned, unintentionally drew many actual rule breakers, who often found a platform to further brag about their harassment.
The Banning of /r/Banned
The narrative surrounding /r/Banned wasn’t constructive or innocent. Many posts within the Subreddit were dedicated to users boasting about their bans, many of which were incurred for violations of Reddit’s rules against hate speech and harassment.
Users of Reddit commonly claim to be victims of unfair moderation, when in reality they were banned for making highly inappropriate statements.2 3 Based on various accounts, there have been many incidents involving anonymous individuals reporting far-right expressions on the Subreddit /r/banned. The Reddit was accused of harboring hate speech, showcasing bans, and promoting briganding. Ultimately, I’m told the Subreddit was offically removed for promoting briganding.
We have not been contacted by Reddit, but welcome their opinion. We are not affiliated with Reddit, and do not speak for Reddit. What I can ascertain, is that Reddit had several grievances and legitimate concerns regarding /r/Banned, and that the ban was probably justified. Sadly, this means there will be no checks on Reddits Volunteer Moderators unless another solution is provided.
Whats more, this entire experience will undoubtedly encourage Reddit to provide fewer details when removing Reddits, as it is unnecessary for Reddit to do, and doubtingly has just come back to bite them.
From the screenshots, I find Reddits behavior to be questionable. Not in how they ban Subreddits, but specifically, how they treat their moderators like employees. The screenshots really show how much influence Reddit gives to their moderators and is important in its own right.
A conversation between the moderators of /r/Banned and Reddit’s own /r/ModCodeOfConduct has recently come to light, although the authenticity of these screenshots cannot be confirmed. In addition, we’re unsure if something has redacted them. Our source has since proved to be extremely unreliable, so please take all this with a grain of salt.
According to the screenshots, u/Dwn_Wth_Vwls, a moderator of /r/Banned, had asked for specific rules and examples that the Subreddit had violated. However, it is alleged that the examples provided by /r/ModCodeOfConduct contradicted their claims, and they did not provide a rationale for this. The screenshots also mentioned that showcasing a ban is a violation of Reddit’s rules, a claim that appears to align with Reddit’s updated moderation guidelines.
From what I could ascertain, u/Dwn_Wth_Vwls also reported their user account was banned from Reddit, though they had regained their account shortly after contacting me. This coincided with their very hostile attitude, and the numerous aggressive statements they made. They claimed they had been required to fill multiple appeals to restore the account. They are worried that Reddit is no longer focused on free speech, and that the removal of Reddit has allowed moderators to misuse their power. Furthermore, they would like to ask that Reddit re-instates the Subreddit.
u/Dwn_Wth_Vwls also made a bunch more statements we care not publish, which they then later denied making, despite these being written statements. In the end, I was left feeling gaslighted, and was left confused by it all. I still have no idea what this person actually stands for, despite making all reasonable attempts to derive any actual statements from my experience. Furthermore, I encourage Dwn_Wth_Vwls to speak to a legal representative about their claims, as well as trying to buy some web hosting.
My experience with writing this article has been rather poor. I initially had genuine interest in writing this article, for the topic of Reddit is one I care about. However, my views quickly changed as patience was lost.
Experience with /r/Banned
I have had some exposure to /r/banned myself. Judging from my experiences, which are not comprehensive, I found /r/banned from being contentious, although not always extreme. However, I possess no statistics on the number of reported posts, or how they are compared to other Reddits. I can only assume these stats will show a larger problem, which probably drew Reddits eye.
My experiences with /r/banned included encounters with many individuals passionately advocating for freedom of speech. Several of these individuals held radical views about making this freedom absolute and unrestricted. This was often the case regardless of potential harmful consequences, analogous to recklessly inciting imminent lawless action4 or international law.
Experience with the Mod
My experience with the mod of /r/Banned, u/Dwn_Wth_Vwls was a bit questionable. Specifically, they were poorly prepared, impatient, had a short temper, didn’t have good communication, and often contradicted themselves. I struggled to get anything concrete from the person, they offered conflicting issues commonly, then accused me of lying when I attempted to get their perspective.
During my investigation, they also made unreasonable demands regarding what my article should say, they specifically misrepresented viewpoints as facts, and then got angry when I refused to publish their inaccuracies, even pulling their support for the article. They would also make irrelevant or factually incorrect statements. Furthermore, they frequently thought they understood the law, but then excluded parts or failed to contemplate international regulations and other finer details.
The last straw was when they asked us to redact the names in the screenshots, then they denied asking for any redactions while simultaneously providing redacted copies. Despite not being legally required to, we were willing to withhold these names. However, after getting the run around many times and having all our time wasted, we decided to publish the unredacted copies.
Ultimately, I’m sorry to have agreed to write this article. I came away with the opinion that this person was just an unreliable source with an agenda, that despite my best interest, I couldn’t even figure out. It has been a terrible experience, and I suggest Dwn_Wth_Vwls may want to write their own articles so that they could refine their message better. However, we here at Proper Programming will not be hosting their content, as we just cannot be certain of its accuracy, and our experience confirms our fears.
The removal of /r/Banned draws into focus the ongoing debate around Reddit’s commitment to free speech. While Reddit has always maintained it is a platform for open discussion, it has equally clarified that the site is not a bastion for free speech at any cost. Reddit’s content policy explicitly prohibits communities and users that promote hate or incite violence based on identity or vulnerability. It also insists that all users should respect the privacy of others and abide by community rules5. Furthermore, it prohibits what it calls “Briganding,” which ultimately was the final straw. In addition, it is clear that unreliable moderation draws questions onto any such information provided. Leaving me to conclude that Reddit was probably correct in their removal of this platform.
In this context, the removal of /r/Banned serves as a reminder that Reddit is a platform that demands respect for its users, rules, and community standards. Yet, for critics of Reddit’s moderation practices, it may also seem as a move to quell criticism and protect the platform’s own interests. Whether one views this as an attack on critics or a stride towards civility-the controversy surrounding the removal of /r/Banned reminds us that Reddit is slowly changing from the platform we all loved, into a publicly offered company focused on profits.
Ultimately, from my experience, I can surmise that removing the Subreddit, /r/Banned was probably justified and that the world is a better place without it. This leaves me with great sadness, as I was really hoping that we’d gain a place to monitor the censorship that exists on Reddit. However, during my investigation, I can only conclude little hope of this.
Received July 20th, 2023 by account Dwn_Wth_Vwls on Reddit