Reddit is a popular news, discussion, and information sharing website. In its entirety, are a collection of communities which users can participate in by commenting on others’ posted content, or posting their own content to be discussed by others. Reddit aggregates these various communities into a whole, but does not itself produce content, or deliver a service, of its own (though its users might).
The communities which make up Reddit as a whole are called “subreddits”, and are “moderated” by “moderators.” Moderators are volunteers, and are not compensated for their service of managing communities. A subreddit’s first moderator is always the one who creates the community itself. As time goes on, and as the community they’ve created grows, they may onboard more moderators to help moderate the content in that respective community.
Reddit, as a site, has a content policy by which all users, including subreddit moderators, must abide by. Upon infringement of any one rule, Reddit admins reserve the right to ban you as a user, or ban the community which you moderate. Communities are allowed to have their own rules of governance in addition to the universal rules as laid out by Reddit the site.
Moderators of communities hold power in taking disciplinary action if any users break the rules laid out by a community they moderate. Reddit admins (those who overlook the site as a whole) allow communities to govern themselves in such a manner, with the condition being that neither the communities, moderators of communities, or users break any of the site rules as laid out by the content policy.
Users often encounter moderators which they perceive to have acted unfairly toward them by banning, muting, or limiting access to a community on Reddit. The rules by which all reputable and popular communities operate by are similar, but are not required to be the same. The rules can include anything a subreddit’s moderators deem to be required. As such, differences in rules, and in the interpretations of such rules exist. Since all moderators are volunteers of their time, the quality of the work they do is subject to inconsistencies as well.
An especially demotivating instance, is that in which a user perceives themselves to be unfairly punished in communities which are either “default,” or extremely popular on Reddit. There are individual communities which are home to millions of users on Reddit. These popular communities, like a community you can start yourself, are subject to the same site rules and methods of operation. They make their own rules, they govern themselves, and they have moderators to volunteer their time to keep their communities clean.
The reason why an injustice committed by moderators of an extremely popular community is infuriating, is because users perceive moderators of popular communities to be careful in their judgments, and to follow evidence in their enforcement of the rules they’ve laid out. Being a moderator of an extremely popular community carries with it mutually understood responsibility. These select few moderators, can control what is shown, can select who to silence, and can steer the perception of millions by way of silencing those with whom they disagree. A moderator of a popular community can silence a user from being able to interact, in a safe and healthy manner, with millions of people for breaking a rule as it is perceived by one moderator.
A moderator who is not careful in their judgment, who presumes guilt without evidence, and operates with bias, is at risk for unknowingly misusing the power which they hold. Reddit as a site, does not interfere with moderators who set unrealistic rules for the subreddits they moderate, and does not discipline moderators who act inconsistently toward members of their own community. As long as these actions do not break the rules as laid out by the aforementioned content policy, moderators have every right to mute and ban users, delete comments and posts, and censor as they see fit.
This article aims to guide you through the act of interacting with moderators who hold these powers in their communities, and go on to misuse them. Their absolute power over perhaps incredibly popular communities, which market themselves as unbiased and fair, can play itself out to be biased and unfair. What’s critical to understand first, is that you hold absolutely no power in the decisions that they make, and are subject to all biases, misinterpretations, and malicious behavior that they show.
Appeal to Their Desire to Be in Control of a Healthy Community
Typically, disciplinary action on subreddits is taken in steps of increasing intensity. It is rare for you to be allotted the most severe punishment for a first offense. As you receive the message detailing disciplinary action against you in your inbox, you’ll have a few options. It is common for users to inquire into further detail surrounding the reasoning behind a disciplinary action, especially if they find it to be unfair.
If you choose to ask for further explanation from moderators of a specific subreddit, remember your role of holding absolutely no power in the domain which you find yourself a part of. The people you’re inquiring for details from can do what they want when operating inside their communities. The role you adopt in your interaction must be a submissive one, without any inkling of seeking to prove a moderator wrong, or argue for your position to be right.
When asking for an explanation for disciplinary action taken against you, be calm in your writing approach. Make it a priority to explicitly state that you’re not looking to argue against their explanation, only to learn from it in order to not be penalized more harshly in the future. No matter how unhappy you are with the explanation, the best approach is to simply thank them, and avoid being punished for something which can elicit a similar interpretation.
Remember, if a moderator feels like it, they can fulfill their desires of controlling a small dictatorship. Your arguments, reason, logic, excuses, examples, and evidence can be erased, ignored, not adhered to, and muted at the whim of a moderator’s emotional desire. You have no choice but to remain submissive to their interpretation, if you want to continue to operate within their community.
State the reason for your inquiry as your attempt to be a better user, not an attempt to prove their disciplinary action as wrong. Remain unbiased and agreeable in your interaction with the moderators you perceive to be acting unfairly toward you, and play into their desire of maintaining a healthy community which they have control over.
Below is a made up example of a good inquiry for an explanation of a disciplinary action taken against you:
Hello, may I please know why my post was locked? I have no intention of arguing, I want to follow all sub rules whilst contributing to the discourse in the future.
The post looks like pop self-help, and doesn’t measure up as a piece of philosophy. The top comment describes the shortcomings of the post nicely.
Thanks for letting me know.
A primary goal of yours, should be to communicate a desire to learn from your “mistake” and to exhibit that you’re not a threat to the healthy community these moderators attempt to maintain.
On Being Punished for Peacefully Inquiring
In some instances, mods of certain subreddits not only unfairly punish you (even by their own standards) but go on to further punish you for peacefully attempting to garner an explanation to learn from as outlined above.
In events such as these, the uncomfortable truth is that you won’t see justice as it relates to your perhaps innocent actions in a community on a subreddit. A team of moderators which exhibits traits of dictatorship will have gotten away with doing just that at your expense.
At a point such as this, there would be nothing to ease the pain of being prevented from innocently interacting as part of a community; which you perhaps found some meaning and comfort in doing. The thing to remember however, and what this article hopes any Reddit moderators reading understand, is that such instances (especially if repeated) are not ignored by how they’re reflected in the quality of their community at large.
Similarities can be drawn between truly unwarranted punishment – and censorship within popular subreddits – and historic examples of the same behaviors exhibited at societal levels by those in charge. The themes of censoring, silencing, and punishing people by way of inconsistent, unfair, and immoral judgment are well studied. Their effects have been understood, and their endpoints have become predictable.
The thing that should bring you comfort, is that you are likely not alone in your experience of authoritative, unfair, Reddit moderators. There are well-established psychological reasons for why it’s difficult to revert back to being reasonable, logical, moral, and fair, after one’s been rewarded with a feeling of power by being immoral, illogical, harsh, and unfair.
Understand that you’d be lucky to see behind the scenes into what those participating in the respective subreddit will come to find out later on. The road that moderators you’ve interacted with have chosen to travel down, is one which perpetuates a positive feedback loop of ideologies which their judgement allows, whilst operating with inexplicable corruption at its core.
Find comfort in knowing that it is perhaps in your best interest to not continue operating as part of the community in question. Know that there are forums, resources, and communities outside of Reddit (or any online domain in question) which you can be a part of and gain from. Do not send angry messages, and don’t argue your position of exclaiming innocence to those who hold absolute power. Understand that the popularity of a subreddit does not equate to the quality of information it provides, especially if you’re living proof of the corrupt eyes which overlook it, and the immoral minds which oversee it.