Every community needs to evolve to keep pace with its growth. The same is also true for social networking websites and forums, who have become some of the largest communities created by humans. Reddit is on the road to evolution these days and has added the ability to block and mute other users on the website, in a bid to prevent trolls and harassment.
The move comes as some users on the community have been misusuing the extreme levels of freedom of speech provided by the website to troll and harass others. The problem was getting more severe because of Reddit’s operating module.
Reddit operates basically on a voting system. Users can up or down vote every article and post. And trolls, while wrong when aimed at a particular person, end up getting a lot of upvotes and becoming the trending thing on the website. From there, its a simple matter of the troll spreading to other social networking websites as well.
Situations also arise where a user starts receiving harassing messages from other users. Until now, there wasn’t anything concrete in place to take care of the issue, however, Reddit decided to notch up its privacy features this Wednesday.
As per a post by Reddit Admins,
Reddit is a place where virtually anyone can voice,ask about or change their views on a wide range of topics, share personal, intimate feelings, or post cat pictures. This leads to great communities and deep meaningful discussions. But, sometimes this very openness can lead to less awesome stuff like spam, trolling, and worse, harassment. We work hard to deal with these when they occur publicly. Today, we’re happy to announce that we’ve just released a feature to help you filter them from within your own inbox: user blocking.
The feature build upon a basic block feature that was already available on the website. While previously, the block feature was limited to preventing inboxes and required a direct interaction, you can now block users who are trolling you in comments as well.
The new block feature is also much more powerful and it seems like Reddit has been somewhat Infuenced by how Facebook does things. For example, the profile of the blocked user, along with all their comments, posts, and messages, will then be completely removed from the blockers view. Also, the block is completely silent to the blocked user so that they aren’t tempted to create a new account to continue trolling you.
The feature is not perfect yet, however, Reddit is taking care of bugs one by one and has promised to bring out improved versions of the feature in the future. For example, what if all the mods independently block a user? He would be left virtually unchecked. Well, mods will still be able to view the content the troll posts on the subreddits they moderate.
The admins also spoke about the need for the feature in a community that has so far, been known for its openness.
Our changes to user blocking are intended to let you decide what your boundaries are, and to give you the option to choose what you want—or don’t want—to be exposed to. [And, of course, you can and should still always report harassment to our community team!]
The move surprisingly perhaps, is receiving mixed response from users, many of whom feel that it marks the company’s first shift from its policy of completely open dialogue, where the task of moderation was left mostly to the community in form of upvotes and downvotes.
And then, there are users who think that the feature has the potential for misuse as well. As per a post by one such user,
It’s fair to predict that “block user” will be widely misapplied in the same way.The outcome then will be many subreddits where groupthink will dominate and discussion will be suppressed.
Well, you can’t have everything. Reddit is looking to grow its userbase beyond the 200 something million unique monthly users it currently has. And in order for that to be successful, a check on things that make people uncomfortable — excessive trolls and the like — was much needed.
The feature has just given those users an option to tune out unwanted people from their virtual lives — a move that Reddit thinks, will improve user engagement on the website. As for why now? Well, a influx of funds along with an infusion of new blood in form of several dozen new employees, may be the reason.