Reddit is a Responsibility
Reddit as a Platform
The League of Legends subreddit boasts over 670,000 members, making it one of the largest in the world. As a very specific field of interest this is a huge number and for some context not only is it larger than the Game of Thrones subreddit, it is also larger than any subreddit for any individual sport on the planet. Even this is merely a fraction of the actual size of the user base, given all the non-subscribers who browse the subreddit. Whilst a fairly staggering number, there are of course reasons for this.
League is an online phenomenon. It is played online, the players stream themselves online and the e-Sport is broadcast online. Unlike in traditional sport where the media exists in the form of television, radio and hard print, we the League of Legends community exist almost solely digitally. The games demographic are mostly younger, fairly tech-savvy people who are used to getting there content online. As such they are ideally suited to become Reddit users.
The way in which Reddit works, allowing popular content more visibility based on a voting system; makes it the ideal place for browsers to view League content without having to filter through it all themselves. Whilst other sites are good for specific things, articles, streaming, videos, the League of Legends subreddit brings it all together in one central hub. With this kind of convenience there’s no real need to go anywhere else, and indeed most of us don’t.
The League of Legends subreddit has absolute primacy in terms of visibility for anyone looking to write articles or gain viewers. Careers can and have been made or greatly enhanced by the front page of the subreddit and whilst this is a brilliant benefit of our modern world, it is also a massive responsibility. Fundamentally, it is only fair that all content is given equal opportunity to gain attention. The point of Reddit is that the community collectively judges uploaded content and ultimately decides what gets seen and what gets buried. The system itself is relatively fair, if not brutal in a Darwinian kind of way, survival of the best content. Whilst it can be hard to initially get noticed, the promise is if your content is consistently good enough and with a little luck, you’ll get what you ultimately deserve.
A good reddit user should always be aware of the power they actually wield. Patrolling the ‘new’ content tab and giving up votes to potentially valuable content is a huge deal, especially to people trying to find their own way and find a niche. So if you’ve got the time, have a browse and give a few people some up votes. It won’t only make their day, in those rarer cases it may actually be the spark that changes someone’s life.
However, this depends on the system being respected and used fairly. The recent youtuber scandal showed a ring of content creators not only actively artificially inflating the visibility of their own content, but actively attacking other content creators with down votes. This is simply unacceptable when the stakes are potentially so high. Therefore rules are put in place. Vote manipulation is strictly prohibited, exploiting social media or asking friends for votes to artificially boost your visibility is a ban worthy offence and it’s clear why this is the case. It is therefore imperative to make sure the basic tenants that make reddit a viable platform are maintained. As such integral to every subreddit is a moderation team that makes sure that these basic rules are maintained. In addition a subreddit will have it’s own rules, usually things like making sure the content is relevant to the subreddit and not malicious or nonsensical in nature.
It is important to note then that an even greater responsibility falls on the moderators of the League subreddit. Whilst the basic system is democratic in nature, underlying it is a system of control that is nothing of the sort. The way in which Reddit works allows anyone to register the name of a subreddit, it’s theirs and they can do whatever they want with it. In theory they can invent whatever rules they like, chose whether or not to actually follow them and ban whoever they like. As such a moderator must be a person of strong principles, tireless and neutral. They work for nothing and they make sure that the system works as intended. To make sure all content creators are given an equal shot for success they must be vigilant and fair. Ultimately they are there to serve the community and protect the integrity of the voting system. However the controversy sparked between the ongoing feud between Richard Lewis and the subreddit moderators has led some to question whether or not this is actually what is occurring.
Richard Lewis versus Reddit
Whilst Richard Lewis has been around in the eSports scene since many of us were just sat around watching Dragonball Z, his explosion on the League of Legends scene came much more recently. Initially he made himself known on the back of his reliable information primarily regarding roster moves. His consistently correct information made him a valuable asset that the subreddit had not had before. An investigative journalist with strong connections behind the scenes. Since then his work has only become more important as he tackles scandals within organisations and shines a light on shady areas of eSports that were prior invisible to us. No matter what you think of the man, his contribution to the community has been huge and he really paved the way for this kind of journalism in the scene.
Yet, Richard Lewis became more than a popular journalist. He became part of the community and found himself with a level of e-celebrity that was normally reserved for a streamer or professional player. Known as a bit of a loose canon and a straight speaker, Richard quickly became a controversial figure. A position only similarly held by fellow Brit, and eSports journalist, Thorin.
As a member of the community, Richard Lewis did not conduct himself in the manner that one may expect given his position and status. Fully willing to pick fights with the worst quality criticisms, Richard would often turn to insulting and abusing other members in the comment sections. Whether or not this was in retaliation to criticisms levelled by those with equally poor conduct is ultimately irrelevant. Richard was constantly warned, temporarily banned and ultimately justifiably permanently banned.
However, since then things continued to escalate. The moderators began to filter through Daily Dot content and removed some articles reasoning they could somehow be related to doxing threats they alleged Lewis had levelled at them. Powerless in his situation Lewis took to venting on twitter, highlighting what he perceived to be hypocrisies in how he was being dealt with when compared to other people who were doing similar things, such as linking to the subreddit. Exasperated that the ban of Lewis’ account had not proved enough to stop him being a nuisance on the subreddit, the moderators made a radical announcement – a site wide ban of Richard Lewis content. The escalation was explained as necessary due to Richard ‘vote brigading’ by linking threads that he disagreed with on his twitter.
The rules here are hazy, because whilst linking on your twitter isn’t against the rules of reddit – one must consider that by doing so there followers who are likely similarly minded, will read the thread and respond in the same way you have. This does effect the voting and so should probably be avoided. However explicitly Lewis broke no rules and did not actively ask for any up or down-votes, merely linked to reddit with an opinion. Under the newly proposed rules by the moderators, this is allowed if one is willing to “change www.reddit.com to np.reddit.com”. Clicking such a link will then take someone to a reddit page, but without the option to vote or comment on said piece, making it a fairer way of high profile social media people to still link to reddit without inadvertently, or indeed purposefully, influencing the thread. One has to wonder would Richard Lewis not have benefited from being told to do this and warned about a content ban, before simply doing it? All this said, ultimately I think it should be irrelevant once a person is banned from the subreddit. If they have a mind to they can vote brigade all the wanted to. Richard Lewis still COULD even now link to threads he doesn’t like and explicitly ask for down votes – the moderators cannot control his twitter and the content ban does not resolve this issue. Once a person is banned the moderators have done all that they can, and should do in this regard.
As I have already stressed the core tenant of reddit is a unique combination of a democratic voting system and free speech. Censorship of this kind is not just bad for the person who’s content is banned, but for the community as a whole. The moderators have a responsibility to us, to enable the League subreddit to be the best possible platform for content creators. Prior to this issue I’ve had no cause to complain about the quality of this taxing and voluntary work, indeed it’s admirable that people would be willing to invest their own time to help out a community they love. If this is indeed the case then I urge you to reconsider this content ban and to even reach out and compromise with Richard Lewis himself, now that some of the heat has died down. Suggest that he use the new linking method and to be mindful of his position and let us go back to choosing the content that we want to see. It is not weakness to admit to a mistake, I understand that things probably went too far after a long running feud but it is not about who is right, it’s about what is right for the community. As I see it, Richard Lewis deserved to be banned but he’s also a great journalist and his content is valued by many of us. No matter how bad the conduct of a person, the result should never be the removal of content – it’s not just a punishment for them but for all of us.