Reddit's tech community just got scolded, is no longer front page news

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Sean Buckley
April 21, 2014 11:43 PM
Reddit's tech community just got scolded, is no longer front page news

Thousands of self-managed forums make up Reddit's sizable corner of the internet, but only a few dozen bear the coveted "default" status that places them on every new user's list of subscribed communities. Now, there's one fewer. A dramatic saga of censorship, poor moderation and keyword-based deletion scripts have ousted the technology subreddit (/r/technology) from the default list.

The change came shortly after users sleuthed out a number of keywords that, if present in a post's headline, would cause it to be automatically deleted. The community's moderators eventually confirmed that a bot called AutoModerator was used to cull content -- specifically targeting politicized or controversial terms. Unfortunately, the banned words included terms like anti-piracy, SOPA, NSA, Snowden, Bitcoin and even CEO, ensuring that dozens of hot-topic stories would never make it to Reddit's front page.

The community's moderators have since made the tool's configuration page publicly viewable, nixing most of the auto-ban subjects in the process. "We messed up, and we are sorry," community moderator Pharnaces_II explained. "The mods directly responsible for this system are no longer part of the team and the new team is committed to maintaining a transparent style of moderation." Fixing the AutoModerator tool is only the first step, though: former moderators have outlined the hot mess of power struggles, policy disagreements and staffing issues that caused /r/technology to lose its status.

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Reddit's message the community's moderators (presented to the public in a imgur link) outlines the road to recovery pretty clearly, at least. "If you can manage to look past your petty squabbles, add new moderators (there needs to be a significant increase in active mods), and function as a team we might consider adding you back." Sounds like a solid gameplan to us. Check out the links below to peek at the moderator's own comments on the issue and a deeper look at the drama surrounding it.

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