Volunteer moderators shut down parts of Reddit

Reddit, the popular online discussion site, had hundreds of its most popular individual discussion areas, called subreddits, closed Thursday. They were closed not by Reddit, but by subreddit moderators, unpaid volunteers who run the individual discussion areas. The reason they did this? To protest the company’s firing of its director of talent, Victoria Taylor. She was in charge of the /r/IAmA subreddit, a hugely popular subreddit where celebrities and other famous people would sit down at a keyboard and answer questions from Reddit users in real-time.

Victoria-Taylor
Former Reddit director of talent, Victoria Taylor

When Victoria Taylor was fired, the volunteer moderators of /r/IAmA took the subreddit to private. That meant nobody, including its over 8 million subscribers, could access it. Other volunteer moderators of other popular subreddits began doing the same thing, they made their subreddits private.

All the subreddits are now back up and running. At least they all appear to be.

Reddit vs. Usenet

I’ve never really understood Reddit. it reminds me of Usenet, only different. Where Reddit has subreddits, Usenet has newsgroups. The major difference between Reddit and Usenet is that Reddit is owned by Advance Publications, a large media company that also owns a lot of newspapers and magazines. For example, they own Wired and Vanity Fair.

Nobody owns Usenet.

Reddit and Usenet are also different in that Usenet doesn’t have a system of volunteer moderators who can just shut down a newsgroup because they feel like it.

Does Reddit make money?

I’m pretty sure when large media companies own something, the intention is for that property to turn a profit. I don’t understand how Reddit turns a profit. In fact, I don’t understand how they make any money. There are seemingly no ads on Reddit, at least none that I ever see. I’ve read that Reddit does have advertising, but I’ve personally never seen any. I’m running ad blocker software on my PC, but not only my iPad. I would think if there were ads on Reddit, I would see them.

The fact that hundreds of the most popular subreddits can be taken down, not by the company, but by volunteer moderators, shows a major problem with their business model. Reddit relies on investors to keep it afloat economically. How attractive can Reddit be to current and future investors if its most popular areas can be shut down by unpaid volunteers?

Not much.

FCC approves Net Neutrality

The FCC approved new rules on Thursday in a 3-2 vote to reclassify broadband Internet service as a public utility. This means, among other things, that we finally have Net Neutrality.

At least until Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, or someone beholding to the broadband Internet provider industry goes to court and gets the decision overturned.

Until this 3-2 decision by the FCC, the Internet was legally considered an information service. Because of this wacky and incorrect classification, the FCC was powerless to enforce Net Neutrality. Broadband Internet providers don’t serve information, they simply connect customers to an actual information service, like Netflix, Wikipedia, Amazon, or YouTube.

To use a really bad metaphor, broadband Internet providers aren’t the book store, they’re the road you drive on to get to the book store.

To further use this awful “road versus book store metaphor,” if the entity running the roads wanted its customers to drive to Barnes & Noble and not Books-A-Million, because Barnes & Noble paid them a lot of money and Books-A-Million didn’t, all they would need to do is increase the speed limit on all the roads leading to Barnes & Noble and lower the speed limit on all the roads going to Books-A-Million.

It’s not a really good metaphor. Roads are run by local, state, or federal government and most people don’t pay a monthly fee for using roads. The same cannot be said about broadband Internet. Most people pay a lot of money every month for broadband Internet. Compared to the rest of the world, we pay far too much.