Another Reddit controversy, another user revolt, more swastikas.
One of the top posts right now on all of Reddit is this:
To be clear, this is a bunch of swastikas on the most popular Donald Trump subreddit. It has gotten more than 8,200 upvotes in two hours. The post is an attempt to troll Reddit administrators for making a change to the site's algorithm that will make it harder for r/the_donald to manipulate r/all, which is a list of the most popular posts on all of Reddit. Tuesday morning, the post was the second most popular on the entire site, at the time of publishing it had fallen to fifth.
After Reddit's no good, very bad handling of the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman attempted to open up a dialogue with users of the site Monday night. Huffman said that moderators of r/news—which deleted, censored, and shut down comments on posts about the shooting—received death threats as a result of their moderation.
"It is never acceptable to harass users or moderators. Expressing your anger is fine," Huffman wrote. "Sending death threats is not. We will be taking action against users, moderators, posts, and communities that encourage such behavior."
Huffman took shit from users who said that his post was not the time or place to chastise users for making death threats, what with the censorship and perceived ongoing coverup and all. There is widespread belief that Huffman and Reddit are not reporting the full extent of deleted posts and internal dialogue that happened during the Reddit aftermath of the shooting.
This controversy alone doesn't explain why there's swastikas on top of Reddit right now, though—there's at least one more layer that is at least somewhat tangentially related to r/the_donald's ongoing anger at Reddit's administrators. In his post, Huffman announced a change that seems squarely aimed at making r/the_donald less influential on the site. Reddit has recently turned into even more of a dumpster fire than usual, and fringe communities have figured out how to take advantage of Reddit's disorganized nature. While not directly related to the r/news fiasco, the confusion and general nature of Reddit has allowed well-organized subreddits to co-opt r/all and make themselves seem much more popular than they would otherwise be.
If you'll remember, there was a similar racism-and-swastika-themed Reddit takeover almost exactly a year ago
For months, the_donald, a hellacious cesspool of 4chan troll types mixed with the alt-right, GamerGate, and some earnest Donald Trump supporters (where any of those groups end and another begins in anyone's guess) has been gaming r/all with "sticky posts." Sticky posts are normally used by subreddit moderators to post things like subreddit rules, frequently asked questions, or general announcements. r/the_donald learned that it was possible to "sticky" any submission, putting it at the top of the subreddit. Its users then upvoted it en masse (this is why the subreddit calls itself a "high energy" subreddit), making it seem more popular than it otherwise would be. Because Reddit's algorithm is partially time-based, a few hundred votes within a short time frame can catapult any post up the site's rankings.
Huffman says the site has made changes to put an end to this. From now on, stickies will be called "announcements" and must be text posts, not links—this means r/the_donald and others won't be able to push huge amounts of attention to news stories that it wants to.
"We are making this change to prevent the use of Sticky Posts to organize bad behavior," Huffman wrote.
And so as a fuck you to Huffman and the rest of the Reddit admins, you end up with this swastika post getting massive support from the_donald in an attempt to show them that the subreddit can find other ways to organize. Lovely.
Lest you think this is a one-off incident that's limited only to r/the_donald, these are the top posts in SubredditSimulator, a bot that "simulates" Reddit posts and conversation based on actual user posts:
The top one is referring to "cuck," a popular insult on r/the_donald; the second is just an embedded tweet from Breitbart reporter Milo Yiannopoulos, a GamerGate hero who has also become a favorite of r/the_donald.
If you'll remember, there was a similar racism-and-swastika-themed Reddit takeover almost exactly a year ago to protest then-CEO Ellen Pao's decision to ban subreddits such as "fatpeoplehate," "transfags," and "shitniggerssay." After a few days of outright revolt, Pao was forced to resign from Reddit. So far, Huffman seems to have slightly more support from most Redditors than Pao did, but the site is still kind of a mess at the moment.