The /r/anarchism ShitStorm flares up again: Round Three

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A few days ago, I wrote about the drama that was transpiring in /r/anarchism. Back then I wrote that we had reached a unsteady compromise and I expressed cautious optimist for the future. Well, I’m sad to say that things didn’t turn out the way I planned and the third wave of the shitstorm was soon upon us. I will attempt to explain how we reached this point.

QueerCoup and Db0 bash heads.

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that we had reached a more cooperative attitude with QueerCoup (QC from now on) but this was quite a premature statement. Just one day later, they made a very aggressive post about me, which was quite a surprise to tell you the truth. Soon after, they stepped down as a mod as well and took a less active part in the subreddit.

While QueerCoup was mostly inactive, other people started becoming more active, such as mapthon and thepinkmask who had very strong feminist tendencies. At some point QC returned and made a post praising them, while condemning what they perceived as a majoritarian push by me. However the wording of the post was such that it insulted a female mod that was before, which led to a heated argument between myself and QC again, and finally a call out. While the argument in the end was put down to a bad wording and a misunderstanding, the bad blood between us seems to have been cemented for now and snipes against each other would continue to this day.

Why are they here?

A very common occurance while the above was happening, was people requesting mods to be demodded, or people to be removed from /r/metanarchism. Usually the mods were asked to be removed for not being modded according to the process. People were particularly asking for mods ptimb and enkiam to be removed, which eventually led the former to delete their account altogether. On the other hand, many requested that humanerror and ASDFOKJOI3123 to be removed from the /r/metanarchism approved submitters list, which due to its private nature, would block them from seeing and participating in it.

Tensions flared when enkiam removed around 5 people unilateraly from /r/metanarchism’s approved submitter list and then posted about it. They were quickly restored by other mods, and only two ended up being removed after discussion, but it added to the distrust of enkiam’s power, leading to yet another post calling for him to be demodded. In fact, the curious fact was how the top mods of /r/anarchism (i.e. those who cannot be demodded by others easily), skobrin and dbzer0, were being “pulled” by both sides to act. On one side we were asked to act to demod mods like enkiam while on the other we were asked to start being more active with our mod powers. Skobrin remained largely inactive except removing the most egregious comments, while I tried to receive a clear democratic decision behind my actions.

On the other hand, the process for calling out abusive and oppressive behaviour on the main sub went better, and various elements such as unrepentant MRA derailers and known fascists were banned through a democratic process. A lot of other meta posts were being discussed, such as the header icon and the sidebar policies. Things seemed to be calming down again, but this wouldn’t last.

Welcome to Operation Mindfuck

After someone fraudulently accused the redditor R_A_W of being a stormfront entryist, the pinkmask suggested that this might all be an elaborate trolling attempt in order to see FUD and set anarchists against each other. Given the username of R_A_W as well as some others who used words like “Fnord” in their names taking part in these discussions, a Discordian Operation Mindfuck was suspected and an unconventional solution suggested. However, soon after a discordian was outright banned for their offensive username, an insidious subversion attempt came to the spotlight.

It became obvious that we were being targetted, and it’s not at all a big jump to assume that this further aggravated what followed.

The mother of all ShitStorms

There wasn’t one event that sparked the biggest one of all, but rather a lot of small things coincided to prepare the ground for a lot of lulz at /r/anarchism’s expense all over reddit. I’ll try to present them as accurately and objectively  as I can.

One vital catalyst to the whole issue, was the implementation of the suggestion to make our spam filter public (which includes the deleted posts). I eventually hacked around borrowed code and made our mod actions transparent.

At around the same time, littlepinklies, posted in /r/mensrights to show her support, which drew a lot of visitors from that subreddit, which didn’t go unnoticed by anarchists and happened to coincide with this post by keteht, which sparked a lot of discussion on the actions of the mods in the main reddit and due to the MRA crowd being there, the discussion was skewed heavily towards unmoderation. Further aggravating the issue was the attempted privcheck from keteht which drew a hostile reaction from QC and another call-out for them in /r/metanarchism. Keteht requested to be allowed to see what was being said about his family, but was refused entry by enkiam (eventually overriden by others mods).

Because of the post by keteht which was surprisingly active for /r/anarchism’s standards, a new post was raised calling for a  “referendum”. Unfortunately, it was formed in entirely the wrong way1. This post was quickly followed by two crossposts in /r/mensrights, the biggest of which was this.

These actions made the moderator enkiam believe that there was an organized reactionary attempt and he made the unfortunate decision to delete the referendum post, as well as the satelite metathreads that spawned around it. However, due to the newly implemented transparency of the spam filter, these actions were now painfully visible and reddit at large picked up on that, and descended on /r/anarchism to call everyone a hypocrite. The referendum post is upvoted to the stratosphere and any opposing comment, especially from radical feminists and mods is quickly downvoted to oblivion.

The cross-posts from reddit at large come in rapid succession. We’re linked from /r/funny, /r/bestof, /r/reddit.com and others, which are some of the most populated places, quickly overwhelming the actual anarchists the frequent /r/anarchism. At the end of the day, /r/anarchism achieves 10 times the number of normal unique visitors, primarily at the referendum post and the next day 5 times as many.

The external visitors heavily upvote the referendum and this is then used as stepping stone from other regulars to ask how a complete unmoderation might happen. Others point how the results is not an accurate repressentation of /r/anarchism’s crowd given how many people arrived from outside and what kind of people they are.

A lot of mods are harassed to step down while this goes on, while a few others leave in disgust or despair when they notice the actions of enkiam. defectedyouth in particular, re-approves the referendum and other mods quickly approve the rest. Reaction against enkiam reaches a fever pitch which eventually makes him declare his resolution. Dbzer0 in the end, requests that he step down which further draws the ire of QC and the /r/anarchocommunism crowd, which declare this an act of cowardice and treason. Other mods voice their their agreement for enkiam stepping down.

Enkiam in the end is gone, as the visitors start dispersing, and so the anarchists voices can once again be heard. For example, a gloating thread for enkiam’s departure is quickly posted but doesn’t draw nearly as much support as one would expect and the OP is quickly reminded that gloating is not at all appropriate in this situation.

As the dust settles, the mods who are left take an unofficial stance to wait and see what the actual community wants, before taking anything more than a janitorial action. A lot of valuable regulars have already left, griffjam, voltairine, zhouligong, ptimb and others, while many who remain become more inactive or take a break. A lot are worrying about how much the reactionary elements will stick around and continue pushing for anti-feminist agendas and how that will affect a community that is split between trying to be inclusive and trying to retain its libertarian character.

  1. In reddit, when one wants to call a vote, they shoudn’t ask people to upvote the topic itself as a form of vote. Doing it this way means that a lot of quick downvotes will hide the topic altogether, stopping the discussion, while a lot of people upvote such topics just to preserve the discussion []