Reddit's New 'Upvoted' Clickbait Website Will Ignore Everything That's Great About Reddit

from the the-future-of-democracy-is-solitary-confinement dept

Reddit of course has been trying to balance advertising with the website’s uncontrollable, valuable, but occasionally ugly democratic side for some time with decidedly mixed results. The company’s recent new content moderation policy raised all manner of eyebrows for its attempt to keep what makes Reddit great in place, while applying often arbitrary and inconsistent restrictions on subjectively-defined objectionable content. It’s a debate that of course will likely continue long through the point where Reddit is ultimately supplanted by some other, better method of organic Internet interaction.

If Reddit’s latest venture is any indication, the company wants that time to come sooner rather than later. The company is cooking up a new website dubbed Upvoted that will take existing popular content on Reddit and write it up as Upworthy-esque clickbait fare. Unlike Reddit however, there will be no reader interaction or commenting on the new property. Execs see this as a way to harness potential ad money lost to other websites who often simply write up stories that unfold first on Reddit:

“Upvoted is a way for Reddit to recapture some of the attention (and, ahem, traffic) that the site loses when other news organizations take stories from the site; it serves as a kind of introduction to the world of Reddit for non-users; and it acts as a testing ground for advertisers who may be hesitant to dive straight into advertising in a world moderated by unaffiliated, unpaid volunteers. Upvoted may be our first look at what the future of Reddit might hold.”

But wait: is the “future of Reddit” really about taking Reddit content, stripping away all of the best democratic aspects of the Reddit community, then shoving the entire construct into an entirely un-interactive, more traditional media mold? Like the relentless push to kill ye olde news comment section, there seems to be a bizarre shift toward taking the wonderful, bidirectional power of the Internet — and demanding it once again become a one-way medium of expression and publication without any of this nasty democratic thought stuff.

To hear Reddit tell it, it’s not gutting interactivity for the sake of obtaining more ad cash, it’s doing this out of a love of the Reddit community:

“The stuff our community creates on a daily basis blows our mind. Unfortunately, rather than telling that story, some news outlets take our users? content and repackage it as their own. They don?t tell the backstory of our communities. We think our users? stories need to be told, but with them at the center of it.”

On one hand, you can understand exec logic here; they see the laundry list of websites mindlessly regurgitating Reddit AMAs into news stories and see that as easy money they should be cashing in on. But operating a massive democratic community and operating a news organization are not somehow magically synonymous, and there’s obviously no guarantee that the stories Upvoted posts will be heard under the din of countless other, click-bait oriented like-minded efforts. It’s also worth noting that Upvoted’s going to be heavily focused on native advertising:

“Rather it will post sponsored content paid for and approved by advertising partners?and written by the same editorial team that writes editorial posts. ?They?re going to be just as interesting as actual content,? Chang says. ?It could be a piece on Tesla, a piece on how WiFi works, no matter what it?ll be good content?and it?ll just happened to be sponsored.”

So again, your ingenious master plan is to take Reddit content, try to write it up, strip away everything that’s great about Reddit (interactivity, democracy), pepper that content with heavy advertorial content, and hope for the best? If people really think that’s the “future of Reddit,” the future of Reddit is going to be some other, better, more-interactive and open platform not-named Reddit.

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Comments on “Reddit's New 'Upvoted' Clickbait Website Will Ignore Everything That's Great About Reddit”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It’s probably also a convenient way to distribute content to the masses while keeping it curated and separate from the…inconvenient portions of Reddit that enjoy pitching a fit and screaming about 1st amendment rights when they lose their borderline illegal content trading, or are barred from harassment and hate speech breeding grounds.

Seriously, there are portions of Reddit that are far far worse than 4chan. At least 4chan is self-aware.

D says:

Re: Re:

You know I’ve never seen anyone go out of their way to bevracist on reddit. There’s tons of cases of well intentioned redditors out to cleanse reddit of racism harassing users. Sure there were racist subs like coontown, but it stayed contained for the most part. I think it’s ironic these people crying for “safe spaces” have no issue trampling over others “safe spaces”. No issues with removing sube where illegal activity took place, but in America as untasteful as it is being racist isn’t illegal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That containment also worked in the favor of people wanting safe spaces. Take Boogie for example, pretty well-known personality (2.5 mil subs) and he’s pretty fat. Guess where people went to call him fat and plenty of other names? They went on r/FatPeopleHate.
When that was taken down to “protect fat people”, those people didn’t magically stopped hating fat people, guess where they went to spew more hatred? Boogie’s comment section or his twitch chat.
That’s WAY better, amirite? Since banning FPH, he received MORE hatred directly, that’s the opposite of protection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Curation as Added Value

More generally curation is a valuable service. The original source material is still there on reddit along with all the opportunity for discussion. Right?

As someone who has just come to reddit in the last year – holy shit there are a lot of stupid people there. The place is Eternal September incarnate.

I really can’t see how this is a bad thing. Maybe I won’t like the editorial bias in the curation, but I won’t be any worse off than now because I can simply ignore it and go to the source.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Curation as Added Value

I don’t need whatever garbage ‘content’ one of the ‘educated’ curators of reddit thinks is right for me.

This is the same thing Youtube has done: It tries to prescribe the users content, and it has never worked. Reddit, just like youtube, doesn’t know what it’s users wants beforehand. Both of their approaches was to make discussion and content available to everyone and let the users decide. At some point youtube took the whacky pills and turned into one big advertisement that people had to use because all of the videos they wanted to see were already there.

Reddit doesn’t have that. Them trying to say what people do or don’t want to see on Reddit will end pointlessly for them. It’s the kind of site that you skim information from, not be given huge doses of what they think is the ‘best’ of Reddit. Who makes that decision anyway? What are their motives and intentions? We’ll never know, it’s impossible to find out what moderators and admins are running the site as it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

history repeating?

Reddit’s attempts to tame its unruly masses has resulted in a bad case of never-ending mission-creep. Some of Reddit’s most popular forums have been closed down, and some of Reddit’s most popular users have been banned. As this wasn’t just a one-time thing, as the original “anything goes” atmosphere that gave Reddit its character has been slowly replaced by ever-growing sets of rules and increasingly strict moderation.

It’s worth noting that Wikipedia took a similar path in its history, starting out as a ‘Wild West’ devoid of rules, and then increasingly taking on more of a bureaucratic ‘police state’ atmosphere. As a result, today Wikipedia has only about half the number of active ‘editors’ as it did in 2006/2007, when the noose started to tighten.

And can anyone forget the introduction of Digg 2.0 — the super-dooper ‘upgrade’ of one of the web’s (once) most popular sites … that led to a mass alienation of long-time users. And now it looks like Reddit wants to be the new Digg.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: history repeating?

I started to use reddit after Digg ruined the website, now I’ve stopped using Reddit for doing even worse, ruining the userbase.

Reddit can shove it, they can be the next facebook if they want, fortunately the Internet is still open, and we still have places to hangout outside their walled gardens.

AkAk says:

“Rather it will post sponsored content paid for and approved by advertising partners—and written by the same editorial team that writes editorial posts. “They’re going to be just as interesting as actual content,” Chang says. “It could be a piece on Tesla, a piece on how WiFi works, no matter what it’ll be good content—and it’ll just happened to be sponsored.”

Sounds a bit like Boing Boing, where it is increasingly difficult to tell the “real” articles by the editorial bloggers from those are just ginned up by those selfsame bloggers to insert an affiliate link (each blogger inserts their own affiliate link codes in their own posts and gets paid direct) from their anonymously posted stack social store “content”. Sites like Techdirt and Gawker, on the other hand, clearly label sponsored and affiliate link content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yes, of course. What a surprise that adults want to distance themselves from the “great” “democratic” parts of reddit:

/r/findbostonbombers (“Due process” in action!)

The place is a cesspool, and the last year of Gamergate and Sad Puppies and other much more sinister bullshit was probably a wake up call to the people who want to make money off the site. (Keep sending those emails!)

A bunch of angry morons are crying that the internet isn’t their personal playground of hatred anymore. Boo hoo. Take that shit to the chans, where it belongs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I thought it was about some schmuck having his first heartbreak in a very messy and public way, that just happened to involve a girl that made video games and his paranoid delusion that she’d cheated on him with someone who wrote about video games.”

That is all it was, real life stupidity played out…wait for it…on the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“As it is, both sides of GG are flinging shit at each other and getting nothing done while ignoring the bigger problems. Paranoia v. paranoia. Trolls trolling the easily trolled. Well meaning idiots defending trolls defending their opponents attacking trolls attacking trolls.”

TA-DA, I give you the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I’m glad my first break up isn’t collated into a 40 00 word hate-piece, with screen grabs, that will never go away and sit there as a vivid reminder to the older me that I was was a naive little schmuck who behaved despicably and had not a single clue. Sucks to be that guy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If you’re going to take the obscurity blanket defense, you don’t get to just pick and choose which Scotsmen are true Scotsmen and which aren’t.

Personal bias statement: GG is basically the same as Occupy Wallstreet, only without a worthwhile objective. It was better off when it was just about an abused person calling out their abuser, which lasted about 6 seconds before everyone else honed in on the Five Guys Burgers and Fries portion, and then fractured from there.

As it is, both sides of GG are flinging shit at eachother and getting nothing done while ignoring the bigger problems. Paranoia v. paranoia. Trolls trolling the easily trolled. Well meaning idiots defending trolls defending their opponents attacking trolls attacking trolls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I really wish GamerGate hadn’t taken over the concept of hating the Social Justice weirdoes taking over every site, because now any time I don’t agree with the new ‘hip’ trendy liberal Sensitive Joss Wheadon thing of the day then I’m immediately accused of being a ‘gator’.

You know, those liberal ‘progressive’ ideas like drugging young children until their body chemistry matches the opposite gender, or thinking that every white man is inherently evil because of an invisible attribute tagged to them at birth, or that it’s not a coincidence that the women who are continuing to cry about GG raiding their sock drawer are now making thousands of dollars on Patreon for doing essentially nothing but crying on twitter.

These are things I can no longer speak out against on the internet, and it’s all entirely your fault GamerGate. Please become irrelevant so I can rightfully call Anita and Quinn scam artists without the greasy unwashed hipsters of the internet ‘downvoting’ the truth with “WELL YOU’RE JUST A GATOR THAT HATES ALL WOMEN YOU’RE WORSE THAN HITLER HIMSELF”.

Anonymous Coward says:

I miss the old days

social media has ruined the Internet, things were a lot better when most civilians only used it for email, AOL, or AIM, and stayed in their walled gardens.
Now their stupid corporate gardens have begun to creep all over the Internet, extending their vines of control over websites and services that don’t concern them, nor should they.
Dozens of websited have been shutdown, and thousands have become ‘family friendly’ ad ridden, facebook zombie infested crapholes.
Fuck the web 2.0

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I miss the old days

I miss the days when posting something seemingly pointless in an attempt to garner support and attention was seemed as another kind of flaming.

I also miss when forums were extremely diverse and had dozens of layouts instead of this new layout of “There’s the post, there’s the upvote button, there’s a downvote button, that button is an advertisement trying to get you to buy Social Media Points”

Oh, and I hate upvote and downvote buttons, but now every site has it. Thank you little green number for telling me if I should agree with this opinion.

Ryunosuke says:

then it wouldn’t be a democratic process, it would just be another news agglomerate site.

The entire point of democracy (whether good or ill) is population participation. It doesn’t matter if it is a sovereign state or a website. If you ignore your population, bad things are bound to happen.

Also, by taking away participation, things like CISPA blackouts aren’t going to work. Updates to stories that “news outlets” (CNN, Etc.) are covering but don’t have access to yet or have but not verified, isn’t going to be available.

Finally, Ads, no one likes them, that is partially why people is dropping cable in the first place, not to mention things like Adblock+, ublock, etc. Ads can/are annoying, distracting, and potentially dangerous.

so ya, if reddit does this, another platform will take it’s place.

John85851 (profile) says:

Did someone say clickbait?

The headlines for this story almost write themselves:

Reddit says it’s going to change their site. What happens next will restore your faith in humanity.

Why does Reddit want a new clickbaity site? This guy nails it!

A new Reddit site was announced. What happens next will make your jaw drop.

Do you live in Florida? You must read these crazy things about the new Reddit site.

These people review Reddit’s new site. What happens next will blow your mind and usher in a new age of prosperity and enlightenment for the entire human race.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not even going to get into this discussion about the social climate on Reddit. There’s way more reasons the site has gone down the hole.

Reddit in general is just a failing site. The very basis of its operation is flawed at facilitating any meaningful conversation without external influence. It combines all of the worst of social media into one big pit. It was a neat idea for a while, but quickly showed the cracks in its foundation.
Like the point-whoring, the vote brigading, the sock-puppets, the thread-bots, and the pocket moderators. What’s funny is that everything I just listed are things that Reddit themselves deny existing despite the fact that they’re ruining the site.

This doesn’t even count the problems with the post content. The #1 reason comments have become worthless is because the point system has made it where no one wants to post anything of value. Instead, they want to post little snippets, lame jokes, and tidbits that no one can disagree with so they get the most upvotes. By doing that, they make posts which have no content.

Before Reddit, a post like “Well I guess that makes him an {awful pun}!” would have been considered another form of spamming and the poster would have been rightfully punished for it. Now it’s lauded as some of the finest the internet has to offer simply because every Social Media site adopting Reddit’s policies have made people terrified to discuss anything of worth lest the little number which rates them as a person goes down. It’s bananas the site hasn’t collapsed sooner.

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