Reddit is one of the most popular content, link, and news sharing sites on the internet. Members of the site “upvote” or “downvote” posts, allowing the best content to rise to the top and be seen prominently. That’s the way it is supposed to work, anyway.
Sometimes, though, other websites cheat to make sure their content is featured highly on Reddit. Social media marketing professionals sometimes build up accounts on the site, and then take money from websites to subtly use the accounts to promote content. Others use massive voting rings to unnaturally upvote certain submissions. These cheaters, along with less-subtle spammers, are not welcome within the Reddit community, but they are sometimes hard to catch.
Just over one week ago, the moderators of the Reddit website implemented a rather sweeping change to its policies. Instead of individual accounts associated with spam or cheating being banned, entire domains that are involved with such marketing practices are now being banned. When it was revealed that this had resulted in Business Week, The Atlantic, Phys.org, and other “high-quality” domain links being banned from Reddit, protest editorials popped up on sites such as Forbes and The Daily Dot. Also, Redditors (as Reddit members are called) began to question the policy. Some suggested other websites that they think are worse than those that have been banned, and others questioned whether they could spam links to a website they hate to get it banned.
The response to the uproar has been rather thin from the Reddit moderators, and the details of why the sites were banned has not been revealed. The implication is, though, that most of the sites simply hired social media marketers, and didn’t know or care how the marketers practiced their trade. Reddit moderator hueypriest (who is, in real life, Erik Martin, Reddit’s general manager and an influential person) has stated that the bans are temporary. Feel free to follow all of the drama firsthand over at Reddit.
Keeping Reddit “clean” is a bit of a conundrum. On one hand, websites and authors that wish to promote their own content on the site might actually have something worthy of Reddit’s vaunted front page. Though self-promotion is not forbidden, it does put members on “thin ice.” On the other hand, similar democratized news sharing websites have been destroyed by spam and “power-users” who inevitably sell their services as marketers. Reddit wants to maintain the feel of a small internet forum community while seeing billions of pageviews per month. To do this, some undemocratic decrees will have to handed down from the people who own and operate the website. Warning bans for domains who are involved in sketchy marketing practices on the site are the first of many actions that will be taken to stem the tide of unwanted attention that is now being directed at Reddit.