The reddit forum, a popular destination for link sharing and discussion for Bitcoin among other popular topics, has been gripped by allegations of unfair interference on several subreddits,
On r/Bitcoin, users have alleged that a bot is circulating and automatically downvoting their comments. Some have observed their comments are downvoted in a matter of seconds. It is unclear at this point if the activity originates from members of that subreddit, which is mostly pro-Bitcoin with some dissenters, or from elsewhere, or even from moderators. A spate of downvoting was also observed on r/Jobs4bitcoins.
Some supporters are interpreting the activity as a positive sign for their cause, arguing that “it feels nice that bitcoin is so important and scary to some people.”
The r/technology subreddit has been going through upheaval of its own. Its moderators have been accused of censorship as bots have reportedly deleted posts whose headline contains one of roughly 50 identified terms, including: “NSA”, “net neutrality”, “Comcast” and “Bitcoin”.
Kevin Collier at the Daily Dot believes that these terms possess at least two qualities: “they’re commonly found in the intersection of technology and politics, and they can be seen as controversial, or at least likely to inspire anger in a few people.”
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As a result, the r/technology subreddit has been reportedly downgraded by reddit’s administrators and has been removed from being as “default subreddit” automatically promoted to new account holders. Director of Communications, Victoria Taylor, told the BBC:
“We’re giving them time to see if we feel they can work together to resolve the issue….We might consider adding them back in the future if they can show us and the community that they can overcome these issues.”
One of the media outlets reporting on the r/technology issue, RT News, was reportedly a target of discrimination itself last September when a moderator from r/news apparently banned posts from the network “simply because it’s Kremlin”. RT, previously known as Russia Today, is one of the largest media outlets catering to international viewers outside of Russia. Its reputation ranges from providing a clear Russian perspective to being a voice for propaganda from the Russian government.
The challenges in striking the right balance when moderating libertarian forums can be numerous. In the ideal world, there should be little or no authority whatsoever. Anything goes. This however can quickly catalyze the collapse of such groups if they cease to function coherently, or at least impair their reputation in the eyes of others.
The challenges are felt daily in the BTC-e chat, where some moderators steadfastly prohibit foul language, discussion about religion or any coin not traded on BTC-e. Violations are punished with bans ranging from 1 second to hundreds of years. Other moderators are far more lax, even themselves engaging in such talk from time to time.