Reddit CEO-of-the-week Steve "spez" Huffman: "Neither Alexis nor I created reddit to be a bastion of free speech, but rather as a place where open and honest discussion can happen: These are very complicated issues, and we are putting a lot of thought into it."
I've been watching developments at Reddit over the past few months with keen interest.
There are a lot of dynamics to this, and the balance of interests between "unrestricted free speech" and "open and honest", or "deep and insightful" discussion. I've been performing my own experiments on this, at Reddit, G+, and elsewhere, and one thing I'm finding is that at the very least within specified boundaries, setting limits on who can participate, and what is discussed, helps greatly. As I commented a few months back, "This One Trick Will Revolutionize Your Use of Social Media: Block fuckwits."
Idiots, trolls, drama queens, spammers, and others who are generally disruptive are the control rods and damp squibs of engaging conversation: they simply prevent a critical mass from forming and taking off. Excluding them (and weaponized viral clickbait sites, and outrage troll sites) from your data feed is an amazingly effective way of raising its overall quality.
Agreeableness, not Agreement
The chief criterion isn't agreement, it's (loosely): agreeableness. The ability to discuss and argue a point without stealing the oxygen from the room.
An earlier exploration of this leading to some uncomfortable but I'm feeling sound conclusions was "Shouting "No Fire" in a Warming World as a Clear and Present Danger"
There's an art to this -- fostering conversations and intelligence has multiple dimensions. Among my favourite references for this of late are "Social Software Sundays #2 – The Evaporative Cooling Effect" -- the idea that as the overall quality of a forum falls, the first to leave are its most valuable members -- and more recently, two essays from Chuq von Rospach: "The Death of Reddit"
and "Fixing or Replacing Reddit, some quick thoughts".
What's on your minds?
A large part of the problem -- and one with considerable irony given Reddit's own claim to fame as a user-moderated discussion forum, is that devining the collective intent and concerns of a large group of people is itself difficult. And this for numerous reasons, not all obvious.
Yes, theres' deliberate gaming or abuse of systems. There's also emergent group behavior, psychological effects , reinforcement or framing of early results, poorly-behaved content filtering, promoting, or recommendation systems, the ineherent difficulty in rapidly assessing large volumes of data and information, and of judging it on appropriate criteria (do we promote lightweight fluff, or meaty tomes? How much of each? Who's qualified to judge correctness?).
Reddit's an established player, though it's shown profound vulnerabilities and many schisms among both users, staff, and management.
Or, has been noted with some regularity: Popcorn is tasty.
When it's not burnt.https://plus.google.com/104092656004159577193/posts/drLZV8sm7Tq