I have been a lurker on Reddit for something like 4 years now. I’ve been a user on Reddit for over 2 years now. I’m not the best user they have – I’ve only had 1 (maybe 2) front page stories, most of links get little or no votes, I don’t comment often, I don’t up/down vote often enough, etc. But I try and honor the Reddiquette as best as I can and add value to the site and community.
Lately though, I’ve lost interest in being a user of Reddit and gone back to more of a lurker. Why? A recent event that happened to me. While perusing my feeds I came across this. Having been using Reddit as long as I can, I was excited – I knew this was front page material, hands down. I posted the link (stripped and from my reader) into the Reddit search bar to make sure it wasn’t already submitted – nothing. Just to be safe I copied the image URL and tried that – still nothing. Awesome – not only did I have guaranteed front page material (which proved to be right) but I had original material. So I posted it.
“But wait”, you say, “that has 0 points, how could that have made it to the front page?” That one didn’t. This one did. Now this is not a story about originality – that’s obviously a different link. And it’s not about reposting content – Reddiquette clearly states “That said, sometimes bad timing, a bad title, or just plain bad luck can cause an interesting story to fail to get noticed. Feel free to post something again if you feel that the earlier posting didn’t get the attention it deserved and you think you can do better.” If the original user had posted the link I used (even though he posted only a day later) I could have written it off as “bad title / wrong reddit” on my part – no harm, no foul.
So, what is my problem? This line of Reddiquette “Look for the original source of content, and submit that. Often, a blog will reference another blog, which references another, and on down with everyone adding ads along the way. Dig through those references and submit a link to the creator, who actually deserves the traffic.” Now, my example is perhaps bad – with an image it’s more difficult to track down the original source and perhaps failblog pulled it from somewhere else (though on the page, they attribute it to an upload from a user). The one that made it to the front page obviously took the image from failblog and just cropped out the “FAIL” part though. They knowingly violated this point of Reddiquette.
Going even beyond Reddiquette this leaves a poor taste in my mouth. I generate themes for the WordPress framework and give them away freely. While I don’t mind that people use my work on their site or adapt it to produce their own work I would mind if someone downright claimed it as theirs. Original content creation is much the same – people work hard to write/produce something original and interesting. When we do something like post a screenshot to imgur we’re robbing them of traffic, credit, and potentially income. It’s just wrong. It’s worse when it’s done intentionally. What if someone just took a screen shot of one of The Oatmeal‘s comics, uploaded it to imgur and submitted that? It would get down voted instantly.
My final point is that it’s not even just this case – this one just happened to hit me because it affected me personally. If you look at this you’ll see at least several cases where people took a screen shot of a Reddit comment thread and uploaded that – directly stealing traffic (and ad revenue) from the very site they’re using. Is karma really worth that much? I’ve seen many similar occurrences where something is posted to imgur that is a screen shot of the original source instead of just posting the source itself.
I don’t know. I’m not claiming it’s a majority of users – it’s not – but this minority has just left a bad taste in myself much the same as when Digg was controlled by a handful of users. I stopped using and visiting Digg as a result. Maybe it’s time I do that with Reddit as well. It’s a shame because other than this it’s a really, really good site.
I actually thought about posting this to Reddit for a moment and decided against it. Irony would be if someone else did and got a ton of karma. I’d actually find that funny in fact. And they wouldn’t be violating Reddiquette doing so.