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12 March, 2013

Sxsw Reddit Panel.

I know a load of people have already weighed in on this "controversy" and why having a one-sided panel of people who hate reddit trying to describe reddit's impact on the web is a problem, but I'm going to go ahead and add my two cents.

So I know reddit gets a lot of flack because there are stories of some commenters went on a post last year and asked for the OP to prove she was really raped, but the other day the top link with over 1500 karma was a woman's imgur album of her face after her boyfriend beat her up when she broke up with him and almost all of the comments were positive and supportive. And yes, there are sexist jokes on reddit at times, as well, but most of them are making fun of sexism and the ones that are genuinely bad taste get voted down. Sometimes shitty ones get through, but if you spend enough time in /r/new, you'd see that the rate is actually pretty low. Also, this isn't anything new to the internet. 4chan's /b/ is much older than reddit, more anonymous, content isn't subject to a voting system that weeds the bad from the good and has some of the worst content I've ever seen.

I don't see how "reddit" is the problem like the panel at sxsw made it out to be when it's really just assholes on the internet in our larger society that is the problem. Rebecca Watson of Skepchick claimed that "Reddit’s shared values of “freedom of speech” and anonymity combine with the “karma” voting system to create an ideal environment for the proliferation and normalization of bigotry and hate."

So what's she's saying is that everything that makes reddit reddit is the problem. There's really nothing reddit could change about the user-directed content, anonymity or karma system that would keep reddit intact as it is. Note she's also not blaming twitter, facebook or any other site for the bad behavior of asshole people. It's like saying the sidewalk is the problem when someone is a jerk to you in public.

I hate how arguments like this take away from real issues our societies face. You don't fight sexism in society by singling out one website and making it your personal vendetta to drag it down. I have observed that Watson is particularly terrible at this sort of thing as she has a knack for taking organizations or groups to task for the larger ills of society, especially when she does so without evidence that said organization or group has a larger frequency of those problems than the wider population. For calling herself a "Skepchick," She's actually not very skeptical at all of her own ideas and claims.

For now, if you need me, I'll be on reddit.

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