Disclaimer: the views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Crypto Insider. Editor’s note: This post does not go into the politics of /r/Bitcoin vs /r/btc. To see varied opinions on this subject, you can start here
Remember that Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns has a knee that is hurting too much to bowl? And on his way to tell his bowling buddies (yes there is an episode where Mr Burns has bowling buddies), an attacker whacks him with a metal rod? The rod hits him in just the right spot to make him feel better, so that he can bowl in the tournament.
For a moment, I felt the same way when I went here to check a post I had placed there on Sept. 1. Here’s what it said:
So I uh…. have been hearing so many people criticize r/bitcoin for alleged censorship that I thought I’d try and write an article about it. The issue has sort of become epic; I seem to hear about it everywhere I go. But it’s also easy to find people who hate Wal-Mart… and that’s mostly because Wal-Mart is popular. Full disclosure: Although I’m writing this for Crypto Insider, my channel RidleyReport.com receives ad purchases from Bitcoin.com. But that’s not where I’ve been hearing the concerns recently… you just got a new hole torn in you on NeoCashRadio.com. And I’m sort of disconnected from the issue by virtue of not using Reddit much. So: To what extent do you think this subreddit is overmoderated? Is there really an attempt to quash discussions about certain types of technical changes to bitcoin? Is openness/accessibility here on the rise over the last year or on the decline? Of the posts placed here over the last year, what percentage wound up being deleted by mods? More questions may follow as I think them up.
Not long after creating this I got pretty writer-blocked on the subject, couldn’t think of anything to add to all the anti-/r/Bitcoin rants I’ve heard from Free Talk Live callers and other sources. This article was about to die quietly. Like the great gonzo journalist before me, there I was…
“… alone… with this goddamn incredibly expensive car, no cash… no story for the paper.” Except I didn’t have an expensive car. Anyway, what happened next was this:
That’s how my post looked later when I was logged out, initially driving me to excitement… had I been censored? Well, this may have been more of a problem with Reddit than an an issue with /r/Bitcoin. I tried posting to /r/btc and something similar happened… except I got a nice auto message in my inbox with suggestions for improving my posts. I could see both posts while logged in, but neither while logged out. I still don’t know if my post on /r/Bitcoin about censorship was censored. I do know that hardly anyone saw it.
To some extent, it may just be that Reddit is just pulling a Facebook on us and trying to make us be logged in all the time. I wonder how many false reports of censorship this may have generated against /r/Bitcoin…or /r/btc for that matter? And shouldn’t it be easier to tell, whichever subreddit you’re on, where your post went and whether it was censored? I can’t tell whether my posts from ten days ago are still showing on /r/Bitcoin or just on my list of outbound posts. Once posted… they are quickly buried under a barrage of new messages.
I’ve posted a total of about five messages now on /r/Bitcoin over a two-week period; none have received any comments or more than ten views; some did show up in the “new” section; some didn’t even make it that far. I messaged the #2 and #3 moderators listed to try and find out what the status of the posts was. Neither has responded as of Sept 15, a few days after the inquiry.
They say, or they used to say, you’re not supposed to mess with anyone who writes for a paper. Nowadays… or maybe more like two years from now… they may replace, “paper” with “popular DTube channel” or “fuckton of Dash.” I’m not Hunter S. Thompson, and /r/Bitcoin can probably mess with me this way quite a bit before it starts to hurt them. I don’t have a sense of being actively censored or persecuted… I wasn’t banned. After all this above I posted another message, a news link this time, around Sept. 16 and it did appear in their “new” section. But for what it’s worth I can add my little voice to the chorus: /r/Bitcoin really does seem to be a place where your posts go to die.
Some folks are so pissed about their /r/Bitcoin experience they’ve been buying ads on talk radio griping about it and inviting folk to the alternate reddit, /r/btc. Additional grievances against /r/Bitcoin claim thread-content alteration and robo-banning of provocative words like “dash” and “moderator.” I attempted to post two messages on /r/Bitcoin containing these two words. Both did appear to be automatically filtered… I never saw the posts in the list of new posts, though I stopped trying to find them after about ten minutes. I can see the posts in my list of posts when logged in, but I don’t think anyone else ever got the chance.
John Blocke, writing on Medium.com, says there’s one 459 comment thread where 146 comments disappeared. This thread also lists over 20 words their auto-mod removes.
So far BitcoinTalk.org seems to be the best place to go in my experience if you want to get responses but also not get censored much. After posting there dozens of times, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them remove one of my posts, and it’s fairly rare to see a post ignored.
I’m glad there is a bitcoin subreddit that has a lot of traffic and which is important enough that people care about its level of openness. I have to assume some or all the mods on /r/Bitcoin donate a lot of their time and probably do helpful things for Bitcoin which we’ll never hear about. And they are presumably within their human rights to forbid or permit whatever content they wish on their own subreddit.
The feeling on /r/Bitcoin is more one of being turned into a ghost than turned into a pariah. But I’d rather be treated as the latter. In practice, the experience was even more unpleasant than what I expected after hearing all the horror stories.
I have since deactivated my Reddit account since I saw no use for it