Bother a person enough to make Reddit look like unsafe territory for expressing ideas? Congratulationsthat’s now harassment.
Act like a jerk on Reddit and you might find your time on the site short-lived.
According to a new blog post from the giant online community’s administrators, Reddit is tweaking its policy on harassment. The site now defines harassment as the following: “Systematic and/or continued actions to torment or demean someone in a way that would make a reasonable person (1) conclude that reddit is not a safe platform to express their ideas or participate in the conversation, or (2) fear for their safety or the safety of those around them.”
If you’re being harassed on Reddit in any form, you have a few options: reporting the offending comment by sending a copy of the private message, post, or comment to Reddit’s moderators (email@example.com), or by sending a modmail to the site’s moderators.
“This change will have no immediately noticeable impact on more than 99.99 percent of our users. It is specifically designed to prevent attacks against people, not ideas. It is our challenge to balance free expression of ideas with privacy and safety as we seek to maintain and improve the quality and range of discourse on reddit,” reads the blog post.
So, why the switch? And more importantly, why the specific language about Reddit being a safe platform—which sounds a little odd at first glance? According to the administrators, more than 15,000 Reddit users filled out a survey to describe, among other questions, what would not make them want to recommend participating in Reddit to others.
“The number one reason redditors do not recommend the site—even though they use it themselves—is because they want to avoid exposing friends to hate and offensive content,” reads the blog post.
Sounds like a bit of a PR nightmare. If Reddit’s own users don’t want to get others interested in the site because of the very content that’s posted on it, that’s a problem. However, balancing harassment with free speech is a bit of a tightrope act. For better or worse, Reddit does tend to lean pretty heavily on the side of openness and freedom of expression (which is part of the reason why some of Reddit’s more horrible communities even exist).
With these new tweaks, hopefully Reddit has found a good mix between “you can say whatever you want” and “don’t be a jerk and ruin the experience for everyone else.” It remains to be seen how well the site will implement its changes (and respond to harassment complaints in a timely and effective fashion).