Reddit’s disrespectful design

An overview of Reddits seemingly counter-productive changes.

Source: Reddit’s disrespectful design

The author says, “I’ve stopped using Reddit mostly because I no longer wanted to support a site that has aggressively started to employ disrespectful design patterns.” Excuse me, but “started?” They’ve been going down this road for years. I’ve stopped using Reddit entirely, and have the site blocked on my network, so that I can’t inadvertently give them traffic by clicking through a search result, as they have obviously paid through the nose for placement these days! Just about everything I search on has at lease one Reddit link in the first page of results. For awhile, I would click through to the page, wait for the site to load it’s 100 MB of scripts, dismiss the popups, expand the answers, and see what Google had supposedly found, but I gradually realized there is never a good answer on the site. Technical discussions are not what people are doing on the site.

500 comments on the HackerNews discussion about this post, and these are the only comments about porn:

This exchange is utter nonsense. Reddit is filled with porn. Thousands and thousands of subs are dedicated to it. If you have an account, and allow NSFW content — and take note that most of the viral posts on the site are marked NSFW, encouraging you to do so, even if you don’t necessarily want to look at porn — all it takes is one search on the site, and you can instantly infer how much of it there is. Yes, a lot of it is come-ons for someone’s paid site, but there is a virtually limitless supply of free, high-quality porn to accommodate everyone’s tastes.

No one wants to admit this. I will. I’ve had a look around. It’s bewildering how much of it there is, and how specific it can be. I’ve brought it up many times in various HN discussions, and no one even wants to acknowledge it. The exchange above is a perfect example of just ducking the issue entirely. In fact, the exact inverse of what’s stated here is true: Reddit is a porn site, with some user-interest topics (like gaming, audiophile headsets, or mechanical keyboards) to keep you engaged between wanks. One of these days, I expect PornHub to take a note, and start forums on their site about whatever people want to talk about. Who knows? Maybe they already do. I’ve not “researched” that site.

#GossipGirlHere #girlboss #mensuck

A TikToker’s recording of her male classmates joking about rape and saying that ‘silence is consent’ has viewers horrified.

Source: TikToker who’s the ‘only girl in tech class’ films male classmates joking that ‘silence is consent’ right in front of her

I’ll make a confession.

About 30 years ago now, I was walking through the ME labs at Purdue with a professor. If I’m frank, I didn’t care much for this professor. I didn’t think he was a good instructor. I only found out later why, when I was told by another professor that his field of expertise was different than what he was teaching, and he was bitter about the path his career had taken. I don’t say this to besmirch him; we all have career regrets, but it’s important in a moment.

As we walked by one experiment, running on a bench, I asked about it. In the process of giving me the context, he mentioned that it was a woman who was doing it. I made a comment about wondering if she were studying engineering to design better hair dryers. And, yes, it makes me cringe to this day. The professor — despite whatever job disappointments and career pressures he was under — just calmly said that she was one of the brightest people he’d ever worked with, and he looked forward to amazing things from her career.

In that moment, as they say, I was enlightened. Both about my attitude, and how to be an “ally.” Honestly, I was “going for the joke” more than I was being intentionally misogynistic, and I claim some small amount of pride, in today’s politically-charged society, that all it took was one measured response from an actual adult to recalibrate my boundaries.

The males in this classroom aren’t just ignorant, and they aren’t just joking. They’ve been making these sorts of comments on Reddit and 4chan for a long time, and their behavior has been reinforced through those moderation systems. Women don’t speak up about this sort of systemic, generalized misogyny because — if it doesn’t achieve social media virality as a shield — the blowback will be too much to handle. And even now, as the video has been marked private, I guess it was too much for her. That’s OK; that’s for her to decide. I understand it. I’m just glad she got this out there to begin with. We need more of this. A LOT more. As a society, we need to name and shame this behavior. It needs more sunlight and fresh air as disinfectants.

We also need adults in the room to say that this is not acceptable, but to do it in a non-confrontational way. This is vital, no matter how good it would feel to lose your mind about. Not because these comments aren’t worth yelling at someone over, but, rather, doing it in a measured way will avoid the very human, gut-level response of getting defensive when attacked, and shut down the person’s ability to hear that this is not acceptable.

Discord bans the r/WallStreetBets server – The Verge

Discord says it did not ban the server for financial fraud — rather, it was banned because it continued to allow “hateful and discriminatory content after repeated warnings.” The Verge gained access to the server and can confirm the claim that users of the channel were spamming hateful language, including racial slurs.

Source: Discord bans the r/WallStreetBets server – The Verge

Other shoes are dropping on the GameStop Stock Reddit Bubble. Discord deplatformed /r/wsb because of “hate speech.” A mod of /r/wsb says it was one bad actor fuzzing the language filters on the channel with unicode, and one message was all it took to trigger the ban. That sounds about right.

Then the /r/wsb mods took the sub private for an hour. What was that all about?

Like I said in my previous post, the market is a zero-sum game (in that someone has to lose in order for someone else to win), and the hedge funds with strong short positions in GameStop are taking huge losses. I’d bet a steak dinner that the owners of Discord were getting pressure from (other) wealthy people to find an excuse to shut down /r/wsb’s “command and control” channel, which is organizing a massacre of their investments.

For all intents and purposes, Wall Street investment banks are a de facto branch of the government. I’m pretty certain that ruining some bank’s day with a crowdsourced market “hack” is going to attract the ire of the SEC, no matter how “technically legal” the people on /r/wsb say it is. All it’s going to take is one small flub, like with the Discord ban, for them to step in and start issuing subpoenas.

What I didn’t say in my previous post, I’ll say now. The market is rigged. There are lots of massive players, creating artificial moves, and basically printing money. Some of the most brilliant programmers and mathematicians work on Wall Street. They have some of the most impressive computers and networks on the planet. I read once that one bank, back in the day, installed fiber optics, at massive expense (at the time) from their office to the trading center to improve their latency by double-digit milliseconds. This was enough of an advantage in high-frequency trading that it sounded like they thought it was a no-brainer. These are the people the autists in /r/wsb are up against. People with unlimited resources of money and brains.

The only reason the market works, in general, is because there always has to be people joining the market. If the market looks obviously-gamed, people won’t play. The old adage about leaving your money in the system for 40 years, and collecting about 10% compounded interest has to continue to be true, or people will find something else to do with their money, and the whole thing will collapse like the pyramid scheme it actually is. It’s the biggest money-printing machine in the world, and it’s protected by the US government. You don’t have to look any further than the housing crisis to understand that the powers that be will not allow anything to hinder their ability to print money with the machine.

If /r/wsb expects to step out, and manufacture more chaos with other strongly-shorted companies, the people leading the charge are going to find themselves being investigated. Discord says they didn’t ban them for financial fraud. Of course not. They’re not in a position to pass judgement on whether that has occurred. No, they’ll leave that to the feds, and I expect this is already being organized as I write this.

UPDATE: Reading the HN thread about the article, I find this comment, and I’ll repost his repost:

So I was spot on. There’s duplicitousness at work here. Discord is simply doing a favor for the people being negatively affected by this farce.

I note, for the record, that if Section 230 were repealed, Discord would have shut them down for fear of being inculpated in possible financial fraud, as should have been the story.


Techdirt on the Reddit GameStop Stock Bubble

Okay, so what’s going on here? Did GameStop come up with an entirely new strategy to propel its relevance in the long-term video game industry? Did it totally restructure, coming up with cost-saving measures or store and staffing closures that make it suddenly more profitable? Was there some consequential change of leadership or outside investment in the company?

Nope, none of that. Instead, there appears to be a sort of insane tug of war going on right now on Reddit between short sellers and day traders that is artificially sending this stock on an insane rollercoaster.

In other words, this is like some strange offshoot of a meme stock, where nobody really cares about valuation and mostly only cares about potential. Except, for all the reasons we discussed in the opening, nobody really seems to think that there is any potential here. Instead — and I recognize that this is crazy — a group of traders on the WallStreetBets Reddit appear to be trying to use the power of that chat room to create its own market reality.

Source: Techdirt.

There’s another good, factual writeup at the WSJ (subscription required).

Disclaimer: I hate Reddit. Like, HAAATE it. It used to be a good site for discussing niche interests, like mechanical keyboards or headphones. But, since the site has become established, these subs have been taken over by the alpha nerds with a lot of money and time, who drive the conversations, which focus primarily on gear that “normal” nerds have neither the money to buy nor the time to fabricate. It’s not that it’s not interesting; there’s just a limit to how many $1,000+ keyboards or $4,000+ cans you can see until your eyes glaze over.

For the sake of argument, I just looked at /r/mechanicalkeyboards again, and saw this post. It’s a perfect example. Note that the submitter meekly acknowledges that he is out of his depth in the group, both in terms of knowledge and money, to avoid the predictable backlash. The post has all of four comments (after taking this snap), which took about 20 seconds to appear when I clicked the link. After that, for some reason, I can still only see three. There is one (inane) suggestion, one reply from the submitter, and one is unintelligible nonsense from a guy with astronomical post and comment karma.

And all of this pseudo-grassroots activity is just a thin veneer over what has become the world’s largest porn hub. $10 says that the porn on the site is 95% of the overall traffic now.

Then, they top it off with what may be the worst web application in the history of the internet. It is so actively user-hostile, that if I do a search for, say, a programming question, and the result has links to the site, I go back and add “” to the search. It takes 3 or 4 clicks to expand the comments on a post there, and it never has an actual, usable answer. Never. Google execs should be lined up and shot for allowing the inclusion of results from Reddit for technical questions. It’s actually a perfect example of profit motive ruining society at large. It doesn’t matter that the results suck; it only matters that Reddit paid Google for putting their links at the top of the results.

I’m convinced that Reddit makes most of their money by tweaking their algorithms to manipulate page views and slipping content into places that it normally wouldn’t appear in favor of paying customers. I’m also convinced that the entire site it being run as an experiment in just how far you can push people around online before it starts becoming obvious, or working against you.

So, yeah. I really despise Reddit.

With all my criticisms of Reddit on record, here’s a story about how a group of day traders on Reddit is trying to “create its own market reality” by running up the stock price of a company everyone knows is ultimately doomed. (Hey, doomed companies can linger a long time, and make their execs and investors a LOT of money, but it is doomed.)

Note how they throw in that “one guy” allegedly made $11M on options so far. Remember that “alpha nerd” comment I just made?

The problem here is that Reddit has an outsized influence in the tech world, because of all the money that they’re throwing at the trade industry press and advertisers. There are massively over-inflated egos at work here, who believe the hype that Reddit is paying for. Stocks are a zero-sum game. Once the actual numbers in these GameStop stock market machinations make sense, the real players in the market are going to eat Reddit’s /r/wallstreetbets for lunch. The investment banks are going to push their billions around on the table, and the Reddit brigade is hopelessly out-gunned.

Sure, the one guy made his money. Good job. But by the time “normies” hear about these sorts of things, the opportunity to make money is gone. I looked, and the entire /r/wallstreetbets sub is filled with stories calling BS on the mainstream reporting about this story, and saying that there’s still money to be made. I’d be willing to bet that the guy who supposedly already made a lot of money is trying to influence the group into doing things to make him more money on the backside now, in a classic con man scheme.

I’m a pretty smart guy, but I don’t understand much about the stock market. The casuals on Reddit are going up against people who invent techniques of fleecing other people out of their investment money, and the wolves masquerading as sheep hiding amongst them. I strongly suspect the stock price will flatten out, and we’ll never hear how a whole bunch of Reddit users lost everything they put into it. And even if someone tries to post a writeup about how this all suddenly tilted in favor of the banks, Reddit will try to cover it up, either by manipulating the algorithm, or outright censorship.

Why Porn Stars Like Me Are Terrified of VP Kamala Harris

I respect Harris for seeing gays and women of color through a compassionate lens. After four years of Vice President Mike Pence, it’ll be nice to see someone make the executive branch empathetic again. Still, I doubt Harris’s executive empathy will extend to exotic dancers, porn stars, strippers, prostitutes, or erotic masseuses: The vice president-elect brings a lifetime of animosity toward sex workers to Number One Observatory Circle.

Harris’s hatred goes back to her days as San Francisco District Attorney. In 2008, Harris opposed a San Francisco ballot initiative to legalize prostitution. “I think it’s completely ridiculous, just in case there’s any ambiguity about my position,” Harris told The New York Times. She proclaimed the law would roll “a welcome mat out for pimps” and push vulnerable women into the arms of drugs and guns.

Source: Why Porn Stars Like Me Are Terrified of VP Kamala Harris

So, let me get this straight. Kamala Harris gets to be as politically hard on sex work as you can be, but she still gets credit for being “compassionate” towards marginalized demographic sectors, while Pence — according to my Googling — has not done or even said anything politically, one way or another, about sex work, but he’s still considered un-“empathetic.” Got it.

When it comes to sex work, Harris always has a but. Harris has expressed one too many buts about my chosen profession. We need all Americans to raise a but to her objection to sex work. If not, Americans might soon have nothing to jack off to.

Right. Whatever Kamala Harris is doing or not doing in regards to the legality of sex work, I’m very confident that it will make exactly ZERO impact on the amount of stuff “to jack off to” available to Americans. What an eyeroll-worthy statement! As long as Reddit exists, Americans have nothing to fear. The site used to be a great collection of forums for nerdy interests. Now the site is being run as an experiment in using social media to manipulate national discourse, modded by psychopaths, and driven by crazy people at the fringe of every topic discussed, all as a precariously-thin veneer over the world’s largest, free hub of every type of pornography that can be categorized (and probably some that can’t). Yes, I’m bitter about this, and I take every opportunity I can to bag on Reddit now.

Don’t even try to tell me that you can’t monetize yourself having sex on the endless numbers of paid pornography sites, and don’t even get me started about OnlyFans and it’s copycats. Not to mention that you can post endless come-ons for your site(s) with snippets of hard-core pornography on Twitter. With all of this going on, it’s a little difficult for me to understand how people who want to pimp themselves out online can complain about not being able to get paid. If anything, if you aren’t getting paid for performing sex acts online, it’s because so many people are trying that you are probably just getting lost in a sea of slighty-better-than-average-looking people trying to do the same.

You can tell me that actual, physical sex workers — i.e, prostitutes — face unfair legal problems with making a living. I’ll buy that, and I can say that I support people making money however they want, but don’t try to tell me that pornography is in peril, in any way, shape, or form, from any politician, or that you face difficulties in selling yourself performing sex acts online. With so much porn popping up in the mainstream sites that have become “the internet,” that just doesn’t compute.

The 2020 Election, Benford’s Law, and Twitter

In response to allegations of rampant voter fraud, and subsequently digging into the details of the voting, Scott Adams tweeted (and I’m embedding static images, for reasons which will become clear):

Knowing what he was talking about, I laughed, and bookmarked the link. Sure enough, this post went viral on Reddit. In it, someone demonstrates that the votes for Biden in highly-contested areas do not fit the expected statistical pattern.

Someone forwarded me a link to this article, in Gnews — whatever that is — but, again, something that will become clear later. That article references the Reddit post.

The article includes a link to the data, and the math to produce the graphs, hosted at GitHub. The top left graph demonstrates the issue at hand.

Since the most concise place to link into all of these seems to be the Gnews article, I linked it in Twitter, with a comment: “Absolutely fascinating.” I hit refresh in my browser, and got this suspension:

I was also immediately emailed a notification that I had been suspended for — get this — posting nudes.

I’ve since looked around the Gnews site for more about what they’re all about, and they have several articles showing Hunter Biden in various… extremely compromising pictures. So I’m guessing that’s what the ban is all about. But if they want to ban me for posting a link to a news site that they’ve blocked entirely because they don’t want to hurt the Bidens, well, they can have their stupid service.

As for the actual content of the story, and the implications of the statistical math, I agree with the interpretation that it is a smoking gun for fraud. Up till now, I was willing to assume that the allegations of systemic vote manufacture were just paranoid delusions of a party desperate to hold on to power, and I was confident that, once reviewed, problems would be easily attributable to normal human error. Even though all the questionable counts seem to only be going one way, I assumed that the courts would ensure that it was all sorted out.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. If this is all true — if the data really shows this statistical anomaly in many hotly-contested areas — especially where Biden “extended” his “lead” in after-election-day counting — then it changes the equation. This would make it incumbent on the Democrats to put all of the votes on the table, and prove that they haven’t fudged the numbers.

UPDATE: Wondering how widespread these Hunter Biden pics/videos were, I searched Reddit for “Hunter Biden sex tape.” There are dozens of posts with headlines saying that you would be banned for posting any link to it/them, because they were leaked against someone’s will. Meanwhile, at the top of the search results, in the “related subreddits” section, was a link to an entire subreddit devoted to… leaked sex tapes. What a bunch of hypocritical tools. “Sure, you can post intimate videos of people without their consent, just not of anyone powerful, who could afford to sue us and make a dent in our revenue.”