There’s this video circulating around the web right now of Imgur creator Alan Schaaf reading notes about Reddit from his cell phone at a recent SXSW panel. The panel, “It’s Reddit’s Web. We Just Live in It,” began as a thoughtful discussion about Reddit’s place among web culture and how it is helping and hindering the growth of online communities — that is, until actual Redditors arrived.
Feeling as if the entire panel was an unfair representation of the Reddit community, several Redditors, including Schaaf, showed up and hijacked the discussion’s Q&A session. The panel in question, which featured Gawkers writer Adrian Chen, Slate’s Farhad Manjoo and Skepchick’s Rebecca Watson, focused primarily on the negative side effects of the world’s largest semi-anonymous forum.
Chen, who last October was responsible for unveiling one of Reddit’s most-notorious trolls, ViolentAcrez, explained that his biggest point of contention with Reddit was not its users, but its lack of moderation that lets racism, misogyny and often illegal behavior run rampant. The Verge quotes Chen as saying, “It’s not that users I have a problem with.”
Schaaf later approached the mic and began listing the many positive changes Reddit has facilitated, including, “the largest secret santa program in the world.” Watson at a point stops Schaaf, explaining that his lack of question at a Q&A session was “weird and a little rude.”
An article by The Verge sums up the troubled panel: “ It wasn’t simply the acrimonious questions, or that much of the audience clearly disagreed with the panelists. It was that several of the questioners seemed to not know how to operate in the IRL environment.”
Redditors, as much as they fancy themselves a community, still function under pseudonyms and the relative safety of masked IP addresses. When brought into reality (this panel for example), the community functioned more or less as they would online — through aggressive confrontation.
A meaningful conversation about internet ethics derailed by socially shaky individuals fighting for a web community sounds about right. And, in true internet fashion, the YouTube video which provides a second opportunity to dive into this interesting debate, instead sports this comment with 27 “likes”: “She interrupts him and then says he’s rude? What a bitch.” Yikes.
Via The Verge