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Reddit can silently hide all of your mesages/topics

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Just wanted to share a frustrating story. I've made a reddit account several years ago and recently started posting in it. It took me around few weeks to realize that something is off. As I logged off and went into the threads I've posted in, I was surprised to see that none of my messages are presents. NONE, no topics, no comments absolutely nothing. Reddit hid all my stuff and told be absolutely nothing about it. You can try it yourself - Google:

cubrman site:reddit.com

And no results would return. I lost several threads and around 15 comments until I finally realized what is going on. In case you are wondering here is how my inbox looks like:
f78b6a638e86463e7f8c2e056cf4192d.jpg

It shows that I've received a notification where the reddit bot says that they've hidden ONE OF MY THREADS because it thinks it is a link to a screenshot. NOWHERE it says that I was banned, or shadowbanned or anybanned.

Yeah "shadowban" that is apparently how it is called in case you did not know, which (as it appears) are supposed to know. At least that was the impression that I got after I created a new account on reddit and posted a thread to understand what is going on:


https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/7wd00x/reddit_can_silently_hide_all_of_your_messages/

Apparently the reddit community thinks this is normal and calls it "the necessary evil". The purpose of the ban is to prevent people from spamming unworthy comments or threads by isolating them. They will think they are not banned and will not create another account to circumvent the ban. Well I can only say that I felt myself like a complete fool. I wasted a tone of time responding to people only to see all my work gone. I guess I should thank God other communities, like gamedev, do not use such inhumane measures. I've made mistakes before I never said I am a saint, but in most cases I was contacted by moderator, learned something new, re-read the rules and never made mistakes again. Well, I guess reddit thinks that they have a better solution for this problem, even though it makes people feel like morons. The funniest thing is, nothing prevents spammers from learning this system once the hard way and never falling for it again.

So yea, be warned, there are tools in place at some sites around internet that are designed to make you feel stupid. Don't let them do that.
 

EDIT: Since I posted my thread here, I can no longer see my thread on reddit, luckly, I made screenshots of it, here they are:

image.thumb.png.84a244a243510a121336e8501020a36e.png

image.thumb.png.8767e25a7a39993fe63cc6253e730d58.png

 

 

By the way,  a quick reddit search shows that some other people are concerned that reddit hides stuff silently and it might not be just the stuff from spammers. This one, as I understood, is connected to politics:

 

image.thumb.png.830c38aac4c2a4714625d3b38c83467a.png

This one is related to links about crime (wtf?):

image.thumb.png.e14cdb6c8e33e9abc446938b62e08380.png

 

Fox news report on reddit censorship:

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2016/12/02/social-media-site-reddit-censors-trump-supporters.html

I know not the most trustworthy website but here is another article from zero hedge:


https://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2014-02-25/reddit-censors-big-story-about-government-manipulation-and-disruption-interne
 

Edit: guys from Unity forums helped me realize I did not actually post the screens, where I was posting with my banned nickname. Here is one of the most hilarious cases (the one where I actually realized that I am silently banned) - I've just wrote a lengthy answer why IMHO Unity is better than UE4 and then one dude just adds an answer after me saying "I would love to know why people pick Unity over Unreal" :D

image.thumb.png.a2024f039f56393c13f75a33db787018.png

Edit: guys from Unity forums gave some very useful insight on this problem:
https://forum.unity.com/threads/reddit-can-silently-hide-all-of-your-mesages-topics.516820/

And here is the link to a reddit thread about shadow banning:


 

 

 


Edit: around 5 days after I contacted moderators they unbanned me. I am not an expert, but it seams that they believe I was shadowbanned by accident:


b85db582f42d464098628affe9abb75e.jpg

Edited by cubr

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I think reddit Admin's decision to act that way must be based on their experience how best to handle spammers, difficult users and so on en mass with minimal effort. Having said that, Admins are not without their mistakes and they probably learn from the imperfections of their decisions and use feedbacks to refine these decisions.

So why not get into contact with the reddit mods/admin, explain your misgivings and see what happens. I may wrong but on skimming through your post there is no indication you have done this.

Again i may be wrong but over-the-top posting on this kind of issue with no indication you have attempted to dialog with reddit moderators/Admin, gives the impression that you are an angry user trying to badmouth reddit all over the internet and that never ends well

Though 'have to say that I'm not even a reddit user so i'm not sure whether its feasible to get into some constructive dialog with their mods/admin

Edited by grumpyOldDude

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I've contacted moderators of the subreddit /r/gamedev and they told me that they cannot do anything and told me to contact the general admins. I contacted general admins and I am still waiting for their response.

You might have missed, that no matter what the admins response would be in this situation, the damage has already been done. I never said I did nothing wrong - I had around 3 threads that must have violated reddit's rules, but after that I did like 15 to 20 large posts over the course of several days, which most likely had nothing wrong with them as I just answered other people questions. All of those posts are gone and even if they were brought back by admins right now - no one would see them, because that's the nature of reddit. I basically lost several hours of work and feelt myself like a fool. If you think this is me being an "angry user trying to badmouth reddit" that is your way of interpretation I guess.

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Don't vote in threads you were directed to from another part of reddit

I never understood that particular rule/suggestion...

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Hmm, I have some serious suspicions about twitter. I've recently posted 4 times about the shadow ban there and the posts just went unnoticed (16-20 views), while my previous posts sometimes had over 1.5k views. I thought that the reason might have been the lack of hashtags, but I've just posted a message with hashtags, logged off and cannot find it when searching for any of the hashtags I wrote. I actually think my messages don't even go to my readers (~300). This thing is frickin alarming.

Edited by cubr

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My twitter post got two likes, I guess false alarm there.

 

1 hour ago, Hodgman said:

So... what did you post to get banned from reddit?

 

Sorry for being unclear in my post, I already understood from all the feedback that I've turned it into a mess. Basically:

1. I cannot be sure when what or why, because that's the whole point of the shadowban.

2. Once I was shadowbanned I got all of my posts and threads wiped out from reddit so that I cannot even find any of my past activities to pinpoint after which post this happened.

3. I do have a message in my inbox from a reddit bot, which I received for a thread, where I posted a link to my game's Steam page's News post, where there was some text and a tone of screenshots. Bot said that my thread was hidden, which seams to mean it was visible before. Bot suggested to post this kind of stuff into a specific reddit thread and said nothing about any kind of ban. I can only guess that that was the moment and the reason why I was banned.

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Shadow bans are used to keep things advertiser friendly. If all you do on reddit is post links to your games, advertisers can't monetize it because they're implicitly endorsing your product.

 

Same thing with twitter etc.

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12 hours ago, conquestor3 said:

Shadow bans are used to keep things advertiser friendly. If all you do on reddit is post links to your games, advertisers can't monetize it because they're implicitly endorsing your product.

 

Same thing with twitter etc.

I am never against any kind of moderation and I admit I made the wrong thing, my sole point is that this kind of punishment is ruthless and inhumane and I wanted to share my experience so that less people will be likely to be turned into idiots like I was.

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I guess I should thank God other communities, like gamedev, do not use such inhumane measures. 

Geezus dude just make a new account and move on. That's how Reddit works and it's one of the things they do to keep one of the biggest internet communities in the planet going. End of the story.

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9 hours ago, cubr said:

I am never against any kind of moderation and I admit I made the wrong thing, my sole point is that this kind of punishment is ruthless and inhumane and I wanted to share my experience so that less people will be likely to be turned into idiots like I was.

I'm not clear on exactly how it's ruthless and inhumane.

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24 minutes ago, Oberon_Command said:

I'm not clear on exactly how it's ruthless and inhumane.

Because he spent so much time making threads and comments he thought was visible to everyone only to find out he was just communicating with only himself and .... himself alone.  That makes you feel stupid doesn't it? Because  he should have been made aware of the ban.  Yeah... not the best way to deal with your community

44 minutes ago, TheChubu said:

Geezus dude just make a new account and move on. That's how Reddit works and it's one of the things they do to keep one of the biggest internet communities in the planet going. End of the story.

You end up with multiple email accounts to keep track of. Not the end of the world... not the biggest problem you 'd ever have, but an irritant you can do without.

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10 minutes ago, grumpyOldDude said:

Because he spent so much time making threads and comments he thought was visible to everyone only to find out he was just communicating with only himself and .... himself alone.  That makes you feel stupid doesn't it? Because  he should have been made aware of the ban.  Yeah... not the best way to deal with your community

My point is that I would hardly call it ruthless and inhumane.

Besides, it seems entirely practical to me. As OP himself pointed out, the downside to notifying someone that they've been banned immediately is that they'll likely immediately go and create another account. That would increase account churn and make it next to impossible to police spam accounts, whereas this way the spammer continues spamming into the void without anyone (including the spammer) noticing that anything is amiss.

If making people who break the rules feel a little stupid is the price of having a spam and toxicity-free environment, I'd be perfectly willing to pay that price, myself. If you did something stupid that broke the rules, should you not feel stupid? Should we protect people from feeling stupid when they make a mistake?

If users are getting shadowbanned for something they didn't know was against the rules, that's an argument for more clearly articulating the rules, not ceasing shadowbanning.

Edited by Oberon_Command

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19 minutes ago, Oberon_Command said:

My point is that I would hardly call it ruthless and inhumane.

Besides, it seems entirely practical to me. As OP himself pointed out, the downside to notifying someone that they've been banned immediately is that they'll likely immediately go and create another account. That would increase account churn and make it next to impossible to police spam accounts, whereas this way the spammer continues spamming into the void without anyone (including the spammer) noticing that anything is amiss.

If making people who break the rules feel a little stupid is the price of having a spam and toxicity-free environment, I'd be perfectly willing to pay that price, myself. If you did something stupid that broke the rules, should you not feel stupid? Should we protect people from feeling stupid when they make a mistake?

If users are getting shadowbanned for something they didn't know was against the rules, that's an argument for more clearly articulating the rules, not ceasing shadowbanning.

I partially agree, this is were categories come in

Persistent spamming accounts  - agreed

persistent trolling accounts  - agreed

persistent rules violation - agreed

Account created for the sole purpose of spamming, even when identified from first post - agreed

A user breaking the rules due to one (or a couple of) error of judgement  -  disagree 

From the OP's reply to Hodgman's post, it seems like he is in the last category.  Shadow-banning such a user is heavy handed. Maybe one or two warnings first before shadow banning would be appropriate. Reddit won't break because of that

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Btw, keep in mind that I was (most likely - guys from the Unity forum suggested this) banned automatically by a bot. Yep. Not a moderator, just a bot algorithm - that's what happened multiple times to another guy on the Unity forum.

Basically I would obviously just create a new account and get over it, as I said before, I just wanted to spread the word so that other people don't end up where I ended up. I think this moderating tool is dumb and I think that there are way more humane tools to stop spammers and bots - simple bans and better e-mail checks. reddit does NO e-mail check at all, it does not even ask you to go to your inbox and click the link - you can just create an account using someone else's email - no problem. Moderation is necessary, but there should be a limit as to what is allowed. After what I've learned, I doubt I would ever trust reddit again. I might use reddit with my personal goals in mind, but to use it as a news outlet - no frickin way, those morons delete waaay too much stuff waaay too fast, and as some user said, most of the stuff that gets upvoted is usually a dumb funny phrase or situation.

Edited by cubr

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Reddit and all other sites that have similar over-moderation problems like it are really not worth posting on , at least not with any expectations. I have been shadowbanned from other sites and it is bothersome to have such a trick played on you, luckily I had been reading about shadowbanning before it happened to me so I was able to recognize it very quickly. Unfortunately a lot of people are fine with it, and that is probably because they have never had such a thing happen to them yet, so they still have faith in the moderation to delete any kind of post that doesn't blend in. Really there is no point in interacting with reddit for any actual discussions, because of how awful the model of posting they have there is.

 

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Shadow bans do have their uses, particularly with regards to bots.

Bots that get shadowbanned never notice.  They will spam or do whatever they were doing, but nobody else has to interact with them. The bot thinks it is succeeding at whatever it is doing, and will quietly keep on doing that while everybody else ignores the bot.  The site admins are happy because the bot damage is contained. The bot maker is happy because they think their bot is hitting the world with their spam. The bot is happy because it never gets error messages as it spews across the Internet.  Everybody is happy.

Malicious users leave destruction in their wake, so shadow bans are potentially dangerous. Giving them a shadow ban when it works as intended can help them feel like they are doing their destructive thing, but nobody notices or cares. They do their malice, they think they succeeded because they see their damage; they move on to another activity yet the site is unaffected by their apparent attack. But sometimes a shadow ban on a malicious user can backfire spectacularly since they want revenge, so they'll continue to attack and do malicious things.  Done well, an automatic shadow ban on these malicious people will get bored and move on. Done badly and it just becomes more ammunition for attacks.

 

Shadow  bans are a problem when regular folk trip over the alarms, but that is fairly rare.  Good systems allow sysadmins to remove the issue and return the person to a normal state.  That's an unfortunate side effect since some innocent people will be shut out of the site.  But fortunately web sites that use it are not life-critical, people don't die because their account is shadow banned. Some won't notice because they're once-and-done visitors. Others may wonder why people are ignoring them, then move on. Many will contact the admins and ask what is wrong, and it will be quickly corrected.  

Good systems will also have humans review the bans to make sure they were proper. Seems that didn't happen in this case, but it should happen to prevent real people from getting swept away.

 

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