Unless you’re an avid Reddit user, you might not know what a shadowban is. Even if you are a Reddit user, you might not know, as many users who do get shadowbanned don’t figure it out for weeks or months.
The shadowban was Reddit’s thoroughly inelegant solution to deal with, among other things, abusive users. When a user is shadowbanned (usually for abusing another redditor and getting reported for it) he can keep posting, but his posts, comments and votes are invisible to everyone else on the site. In Reddit’s own words, the Shadowban “is great for dealing with bots/spam rings but woefully inadequate for real human beings.”
Reddit previewed back in May that they would be taking a number of steps to make the site more user-friendly and free of harassment. That is easier said than done, since the site is cherished by (many of) its users as a bastion of free speech.
This week Reddit is taking what we think is a very positive step forward in its delicate balancing act between allowing free speech and users who are out to harass others. Account suspensions are now a thing, replacing shadowbans. According to a related post, suspensions can be handed down by Reddit employees (not by unpaid moderators) for the following actions:
- Posting anything illegal, Revenge Porn or spam
- Inciting or encouraging violence
- Threatening, harassing or cyberbullying
- Divulging others’ personal information (Reddit is mostly anonymous)
- Impersonating others (does not include parodies)
Suspended users with not be able to post, comment, vote or message other users throughout the term of the suspension.
Reddit maintains that the suspension is a better solution, and we agree. Suspended users will be notified via private message, and will have the opportunity to appeal. They will know what they did wrong, and have incentive to not do it again. Suspensions can last from one day to an outright ban, which is also warranted in some cases from what we’ve seen.
The fact that there is some mature content on Reddit might make the site inappropriate for some teens. There is however, a wealth of valuable content there. Both of my teen boys use Reddit, one of them almost daily. If Reddit’s efforts succeed in making the experience safer for users, it’s a step in the right direction.
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