The creator of the biggest Gamergate community on Reddit, r/KotakuinAction (KiA), staged a brief one-man coup on Thursday night, setting the subreddit to private and wiping its CSS. He then explained on r/Drama that the subreddit is “one of the many cancerous growths that have infiltrated reddit” and “infested with racism and sexism.”
According to moderator u/HandofBane, in an official modpost on the topic, u/david-me set the subreddit to private for about 45-50 minutes on Thursday night, locking out its nearly 100,000 subscribers. He also barred the entire admin team from using their privileges, and deleted the forum’s CSS, which includes web-styling like user flair and themes.
Rather than letting another right-wing bastion die from infighting, a Reddit admin worked with the mod team to restore it, and Reddit told me that David’s actions are under investigation.
r/KotakuinAction was founded in 2014 as one of the main forums for GamerGate. In theory, it started as a way to discuss “ethics in video game journalism” but the movement itself is well-known for its harassment campaigns and general move toward r/the_donald-style politics.
David’s post about the history and evolution of the subreddit reveals a deeply conflicted person, who feels responsible for creating a monster in KiA. “Free speech needs protection, even unwanted and hurtful speech,” he wrote. “Hate speech was allowed, but I was having difficulty defining everything [...] So I began seeking help from users that I believed had the subreddit's purpose and shared my own vision for its future.”
Seeking help from within the community to wrangle a hoard of gamers while decrying any actual moderation as censorship turned out to be a more burdensome task than he could handle. “The users have created content that should not be,” he wrote. “Topics that do not require debate. And often times molded by outside forces.” He mentioned r/The_Donald as one of those outside forces, which he called “a viral cancer that is destroying the minds of millions of Reddit users each day.” He ends the post with links to the US voter registration site and progressive advocacy group Indivisible.
I’ve reached out to David and will update if I hear back.
Instead of forcing KiA faithful to question their roles in the community—as David likely intended his protest to do—most commenters on the various threads about the subject now on KiA are doubling-down on what drew them to the subreddit in the first place: A way to voice divisive, often-toxic opinions on everything but games.
“KiA was allowed to exist from the start as a control sub, a quarantine zone,” u/Notalent13 wrote. “They don't want us stirring shit in r/games or other subs like that. As long as we don't do anything genuinely bad, they are perfectly happy to let us live in our own little bubble.”
“My theory is that the other mods didn't bend over to his will and that annoyed him enough for him to plan how to nuke this subreddit,” u/Synchrotr0n wrote. “Quite pathetic coming from someone who was here from the very beginning and saw with his own eyes all the shit that gaming journalists and SJWs did to gaming.”
KiA users have been wondering what might happen in exactly this situation for months. David’s role as a moderator was to prevent anyone from doing exactly what he did. When people started questioning his erratic behavior on KiA and elsewhere, he tried to assuage their concerns: “I am not a control freak, but I make sure the sub follows it's original ideals,” he wrote. “Or in case of a coup, I can prevent it.”
This is all Reddit moderator drama—turned up to a new degree thanks to the intensity by which people cling to KiA as community and identity. “Honestly, go fuck yourself if you think taking a persons hobby and changing it/insulting people for taking it seriously is a good thing,” u/meow0369 wrote. “We live for our hobbies, that's almost our entire existence besides raising children and taking that away from people is a guaranteed way to piss people off.”