I think reddit is one of the best websites/communities out there. That's the reason I chose to start the /r/WoWGoldMaking subreddit over 2 years ago. Over the last 2+ years I think the subreddit has grown into an awesome resource for the gold-making community.
I was (and still am) proud of what we (meaning the community not the goofy "royal" we I'm so fond of) created over there. It was a place where people could ask questions, share their blog posts and discuss gold-making in general.
Imagine my surprise when I received a reddit message letting me know that the subreddit had been requested to be turned over to another redditor.
By surprise I mean utter shock and a fair amount of freaking out. What was happening? Why was this person asking to have the subreddit turned over to them? Most of all why wasn't my reddit user page (/r/fluxdada) showing up? Read on for more about what happened (from my perspective at least).
What's Going On!?
First I want to publicly apologize to my beautiful wife for absolutely ruining a perfectly good dinner out that she had driven us 35 minutes to go to. I'm a terrible husband.
I received the message while we were driving to the restaurant letting me know that that someone had requested to be made moderator of /r/WoWGoldMaking and I had 3 days to respond in the thread.
I then went to the thread and made a response that I was very much there and active. Done and done right?
They were requesting being mod because it seemed my user page didn't show up. Clearly there was some glitch or something wrong with reddit that was making my user page not show up.
Regardless I was "there". Or was I?
|How I saw the request post.|
While I was trying to figure out what was going on I went into a browser and looked at the request post while not logged in to reddit. I didn't see my response.
I then left a second response asking if people knew why my page may show "the page you requested does not exist".
And then it started to sink in. Was I "shadowbanned"?
|What everyone else sees.|
I have to stop here and again apologize to my wife about the dinner. We sat down. We ordered. I tried to eat but the whole time I was freaked out and on my phone trying to figure out what was going on.
I totally ruined the dinner and feel terrible about it. Also I was agitated and I was making her agitated as she tried to help me figure it out by looking for my posts on reddit, etc.
For those of you who don't know (and as far as I can tell) being "shadowbanned" on reddit means that to the person it still seems like they are using reddit like normal. They can put up posts. They can comment on posts. They can upvote and downvote posts but in reality nothing they do on the site shows up publicly. It only shows up to themselves. (This is also known as "hellbanning" as used by some forum software.)
Nearest I could tell from looking for my posts and comments while logged out of reddit I had been shadowbanned for nearly a month before the request for a transfer of moderator was put in.
I'd been happily posting things, making comments, answering questions for a month all the while not realizing that I was, for all intents and purposes, "talking to myself" so to speak.
To me, while I was logged in, it appeared my posts to /r/WoWGoldMaking were showing up just fine.
Ah. That's the thing about a shadowban. No one at reddit ever tells you your actually banned. You just are. But to you it just seems that no one is paying attention to you.
Quite an interesting strategy on reddit's part but a maddening one to the person shadowbanned (likely why it is done that way).
So why was I shadowbanned? I asked reddit that very thing and I received the following response from a reddit admin:
"It seems like you've been submitting a lot of links from one domain and users have been reporting it as spam. Please be sure to read up on the reddiquette and what constitutes spam to make sure that you understand the rules about posting."
So I was shadowbanned because I was submitting links to one domain and (I think more importantly) users had been reporting it as spam.
What's A Spammer?
The following is from the "what constitutes spam" from the link above (emphasis mine):
"What constitutes spam?
It's a gray area, but some rules of thumb:
It's not strictly forbidden to submit a link to a site that you own or otherwise benefit from in some way, but you should sort of consider yourself on thin ice. So please pay careful attention to the rest of these bullet points.
- If you spend more time submitting to reddit than reading it, you're almost certainly a spammer.
- If your contribution to reddit consists mostly of submitting links to a site(s) that you own or otherwise benefit from in some way, and additionally if you do not participate in discussion, or reply to peoples questions, regardless of how many upvotes your submissions get, you are a spammer. If over 10% of your submissions are your own site/content, you're almost certainly a spammer.
- If people historically downvote your links or ones similar to yours, and you feel the need to keep submitting them anyway, they're probably spam.
- If people historically upvote your links or ones like them -- and we're talking about real people here, not sockpuppets or people you asked to go vote for you -- congratulations! It's almost certainly not spam. But we're serious about the "not people you asked to go vote for you" part.
To play it safe, write to the moderators of the community you'd like to submit to. They'll probably appreciate the advance notice. They might also set community-specific rules that supersede the ones above. And that's okay -- that's the whole point of letting people create their own reddit communities and define what's on topic and what's spam.
- If nobody's submitted a link like yours before, give it a shot. But don't flood the new queue; submit one or two times and see what happens.
If you're thinking of doing any self-promotion on reddit, you might want to read this first."
So by the "gray area" rules it seems fairly clear that someone who is mainly submitting links to their own content is "almost certainly a spammer".
By that definition it seems that I fall into that category. By that definition it seems that a subreddit like /r/PowerWordGold (now set to private and no longer in use) is almost certainly against the spirit of reddit even if the rules state that reddit moderator's rules "supersede" the ones outlined by reddit in general.
(Funny thing is that we recently changed the rules at /r/WoWGoldMaking to try to bring the subreddit more in line with the spirit of reddit by limiting posting of one's own content to no more than twice a week.)
The Moral Of The Story?
So what's the moral of my main reddit account getting shadowbanned and me ruining a dinner out with my wife?
What can we learn out of this wreckage of a situation?
First of all, read the rules of any place you intend to create a community before you decide to create a community there. If you don't control the place your community resides it can be taken away from you.
I had no idea when I created /r/WoWGoldMaking all those years ago about the rules around "spamming". I just wanted a place where people (all people, bloggers and non-bloggers alike) could share ideas and talk about gold-making.
And I think we created that. I think the bloggers and non-bloggers who utilized /r/WoWGoldMaking really did get a great benefit from it. Much gold-making was shared. Many questions were asked and answered by the 2600+ subscribers.
But I did learn this, and I want all bloggers and content creators out there to read this very carefully: if you misuse reddit (go ahead and re-read the rules listed above, I'll wait) there is a good chance that you will one day be shadowbanned.
There is a good chance people will report you for spam and you'll just go "poof" one day only you won't know it.
Reddit isn't something to be trifled with. It will make you go "bye-bye" and not give a second thought about it. It's in its DNA and likely one of the reasons I still think it is a great site. It works to exercise any "cancer" that is a threat to itself.
Where does that leave /r/WoWGoldMaking?
So where does all this leave /r/WoWGoldMaking? Many of you may have noticed that /r/WoWGoldMaking was set to "private" with a message letting people know that it was no longer being used.
This was about the only thing I could do while I tried to figure out what to do (if anything) about the situation. I didn't want the subreddit to be left exposed with no moderator there to watch for any bad actors or bad stuff going down.
As it stands the person that requested moderator of /r/WoWGoldMaking was given moderator.
They have set the subreddit to "public" and for all intents and purposes the /r/WoWGoldMaking is essentially "Open for business under new management."
I am no longer a moderator of the subreddit and while at first I asked to be made moderator again, upon further reflection (aka more freaking out) I've decided that it's probably best that I stop, take a breath and step away from the situation.
My wife certainly doesn't need any more ruined dinners.
If something like getting shadowbanned and having my subreddit forcibly taken from me and given to someone else causes that much stress and duress I need to rethink my priorities in life.
Apologies if you don't use the subreddit and this post has added no value to you but I think this post is my way of coming to terms with the being shadowbanned and losing the subreddit.
I've made my peace with the situation and wish the new moderator the best of luck. Although I really know absolutely nothing about them beyond our few communications back and forth since this took place they seem to be "above board". Time will tell I guess. Trust is something that needs to be earned.
Ragardless /r/WoWGoldMaking is now in their hands and it's up to them how they decide to move forward with it.
As for me, this whole thing almost turned me off from reddit. However like a true dyed-in-the-wool redditor I made a new account and am now in "lurker" mode laughing at cat pictures.
They don't shadowban you for laughing cat pictures.
Super Happy Bonus Times
ProTip #1: If something on the internet ever makes you so upset that you ruin a dinner out with your beautiful wife you need to rethink your priorities.
ProTip #2: If you don't want your reddit account shadowbanned don't spam your stuff onto reddit. Read the freaking rules and don't be dumb like I was.
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