Infopost | 2023.06.13

Failboats Moskva Trump Spez Berlusconi Snoo burning ship fractal

Some stories of interest:
The Reddit blackout

Reddit blackout front page Travolta meme

Reddit drama has managed to make its way to mainstream news, users and moderators are staging a two-day protest of the company's third-party API price hikes. If it's an unfamiliar subject, Reddit provides a programming interface to allow third-party software to access site content, like how you can use a variety of email clients to access a given email account.

The third-party API thing is a bit uncommon. Social media platforms typically either want complete control over their service or they simply have the best, most polished user client that leaves no room for competition. That's not the case with Reddit.
The public API also allowed more niche development efforts, such as a Reddit client for the visually-impaired ( common side effect of using the official app). To its credit, Reddit kept the pre-revenue, community-focused aesthetic alive for a long time. In turn, the platform's growth was helped along by third-party development. Outwardly, there was no compelling reason to change the status quo, but then they did. API access suddenly came with a hefty price tag.

IPO

WallStreetBets fuckboy

Reddit's been trying to IPO for a few years now so it's hard to look at the the API access changes in any other light. There seem to be two plausible objectives:

Value

It's no secret that Reddit is the least-effectively-monetized social media platform, but they're also still in business fifteen years later. There are three reasons for this:
  1. It's not a walled garden. Facebook and Tiktok and Quibi try to in-house everything they can. Reddit grew out of the web portal era by providing interesting links outside its own site.
  2. There's a saying on WallStreetBets, "The real DD is in the comments". A convergence of information volume, user expertise, and Cunningham's Law makes the comment sections valuable sources of information. Any discussion of how Google search sucks will often have the tidbit, "add 'reddit' to the search text to get good results".
  3. Free labor. Reddit's interest-based communities make one-size-fits-all moderation very difficult. Facebook ended up outsourcing their moderation at great expense and limited effectiveness. Reddit depends on the goodwill and autonomy of volunteer enthusiasts to keep their platform interesting and healthy.

Mods? Admins?

Quick primer: the Reddit community consists of the following:
Since this is a story of users and moderators being angry at Reddit for killing third-party apps, the distinction is important. And it's worth noting that plenty of Reddit users don't understand the difference between mods and admins.

Part I: Apollo announces EOL

One of the popular apps affected by the API changes is Apollo. The developer, /u/iamthatis, wrote a lengthy post explaining just how severe the financial impact would be.

iamthatis iamthatis The price they gave was $0.24 for 1,000 API calls. I quickly inputted this in my app, and saw that it was not far off Twitter's outstandingly high API prices, at $12,000, and with my current usage would cost almost $2 million dollars per month, or over $20 million per year. That is not an exaggeration, that is just multiplying the 7 billion requests Apollo made last month by the price per request.

In his discussions with Reddit, /u/iamthatis suggested Reddit buy his app, as they did with Alien Blue. He phrased it in a weird way and the Reddit rep initially thought he was asking for hush money. But they immediately cleared up the miscommunication, per /u/iamthatis's recordings of the call. /u/iamthatis is quick to point out recording phonecalls in his country (Canada) just requires one-party consent. Personally, I can't imagine a mindset where you don't expect recordings of official business negotiations.

And yet:

iamthatis iamthatis Then yesterday, moderators told me they were on a call with CEO Steve Huffman (spez), and he said the following per their transcript:

> Steve: "Apollo threatened us, said they'll "make it easy" if Reddit gave them $10 million."
> Steve: "This guy behind the scenes is coercing us. He's threatening us."

Part II: /u/spez does a damage control AMA

Apollo and other third-party users weren't happy. Some had paid for subscriptions that the developer could no longer support. Most were not impressed by the official Reddit app, which is why they used Apollo and RIF in the first place.

Reddit either thought the apps would start charging their users a lot more or that they would go away quietly. Whichever the case, spez hastily scheduled an AMA to address moderator/user concerns.

Prefered4 Prefered4 I thought the answers of this AMA would be sterile and empty speeches reviewed by dozens of lawyers and PR and carefully crafted to not even begin to acknowledge the current controversies in any slightly risky manner but oh boy did it deliver

Dudesan Dudesan He got caught copy-pasting answers from a pre-written Q/A script by accidentally including the "A:" in his reply.

As soon as he was called out on it, he attempted to destroy the evidence.

Archive link: https://archive.ph/X6EJq

The AMA was more of a CEO LARP than anything else. Spez did CEO-like things: pregaming the Q&A, pasting non-answers into questions that were vaguely related. He even provided a junior varsity response to the 'threat' non-controversy:

spez spez His "joke" is the least of our issues. His behavior and communications with us has been all over the place-saying one thing to us while saying something completely different externally; recording and leaking a private phone call-to the point where I don't know how we could do business with him.

Escaping this controversy wouldn't have been difficult: offer an empty apology and a sacrificial lamb, "the guy on the phone call related the buyout/threat thing to me and I misunderstood". Instead, he failed the acknowledge that the issue was immediately resolved (on tape) and that it was neither a threat nor a joke. Then handwringing over a recorded conversation between two businesses, what?

Part III: The blackout

A bunch of subreddits announced at 6/12-13 blackout. Others immediately or eventually decided upon an indefinite blackout, with varying levels of support from their subscriber base.

Part IV: this is fine

The Newsroom on Reddit Boston bombing

Spez wrote a memo to employees that leaked:

Steve Huffman A number of Snoos have been working around the clock, adapting to infrastructure strains, engaging with communities, and responding to the myriad of issues related to this blackout.

Genuinely curious how a reduction in traffic creates an infrastructure strain. Bot farms to keep the stats up?

Steve Huffman There's a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest we've seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well.

He's, of course, referring to the dogwalker kid, the fappening, the Aimee Challenor thing, and of course the time Reddit sleuths misidentified the Boston Marathon bombers. Oh right, and there have been a lot of really bad subreddits over the years that ended up being mentioned by the mainstream media.

Steve Huffman I am sorry to say this, but please be mindful of wearing Reddit gear in public. Some folks are really upset, and we don't want you to be the object of their frustrations.

Instilling a siege mentality into your workforce:

Enshittification

Cory Doctorow Think of Amazon: For many years, it operated at a loss, using its access to the capital markets to subsidize everything you bought. It sold goods below cost and shipped them below cost... This was a hell of a good deal for Amazon's customers. Lots of us piled in, and lots of brick-and-mortar retailers withered and died, making it hard to go elsewhere.

Searching Amazon doesn't produce a list of the products that most closely match your search, it brings up a list of products whose sellers have paid the most to be at the top of that search... All told, the first five screens of results for "cat bed" are 50 percent ads.

This is enshittification: Surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they're locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they're locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

Well said. I got the link from this exchange:

clamdigger
/u/clamdigger
It's all here.

Longish read, but relevant. Greed kills platforms. All platforms.
Leshawkcomics
/u/Leshawkcomics
This article terrifies me, Reddit is one of the last few places you can get information off google.
You ask google "How do i handle X" and it will sell you 20 sponsored answers and adverts that don't actually solve your issue.

You ask google "How do i handle X 'REDDIT'" and it will show you 20 reddit threads with people who had your exact same issue and many of which have answers you didn't know you needed.

Doesn't matter if its daily life, community stuff, gaming tips, cooking, cleaning, frugality etc.

You get actual answers from people and not buzzfeed articles or pintrest posts or advertisements.

If reddit goes public i know it will start only showing some sponsored 'hegetsus' crap instead of answers.

Just get people who paid to be at the top of every search instead of the actual thing you're lookingfor.
MontyAtWork
/u/MontyAtWork
Do you want to know how to fix your PC graphics card? Many people have complex issues from their personal computing but it's not as complicated as it seems. To understand how to fix your PC graphics card, you first need to understand a few basics. A PC stands for personal computer and can have multiple components, including a PC graphics card. When users need help fixing their PC graphics cards, it can be a costly replacement to have someone else do for you, but it can easily be done by yourself. By understanding how a PC graphics card works, you can start troubleshooting issues with your PC graphics card right away, so you can quickly return to using your PC graphics card for business or personal use. When trying to fix your PC graphics card, one should consult a user manual before attempting to fix your PC graphics card. This can help keep you safe when trying to fix your PC graphics card as components can break if you are not careful. By not following the directions in the user manual of your PC graphics card...

This is what every website of your first 10 results reads like, loading an ad between every 2 sentences which bounces the page around while you try to read it, alongside about 10 other YouTube results selling you on the latest overly expensive card.

I fucking hate the modern Internet so goddamned much. Shit started with the demonetization of short videos. Most shit can and should be conveyed in like 90 seconds.

Ahhh SEO.

Scab mods, AI, and AEO

While plenty of users have visibly deleted their accounts in protest, the blackout is most noticeable because moderators took their subreddits private. But since mods don't have any actual ownership of their subreddits, admins can replace them. This can be a good thing, e.g. in the case of the the WSB coup.

But since the large subreddits have a long line of users willing to take a position of authority in their beloved community, Reddit could easily just nuke the mods teams until they find someone who doesn't care about third-party apps or a CEO chasing every last IPO dollar. No doubt there would be some brain drain, but it's the most likely path forward. Reddit dying slowly doesn't significantly impact the IPO.

Herbsaurus Herbsaurus Honestly what better time for Reddit to just remove these anonymous power hungry people with their own personal agendas with some kind of AI moderation system that doesn't have weird beliefs and such.

There's a saying on Reddit, "mods are Nazis". It's not an actual fact but a testament to how most users have had a bad experience with a mod:
This is somewhat tangential to this discussion, but it's probably why /u/Herbsaurus doesn't look too kindly on mods.

Taytweets Twitter

If history is any indicator, the AI mod thing isn't going to happen, at least not in the short term. Reddit tried this a few years back and it didn't go well. Eyeballing IPO, Reddit decided that having users tell other users 'kys' would inevitably result in an incident (swatting, suicide, whatever) and bad press. So they created the Orwellian-sounding "Anti-Evil Operations" (AEO) team. Quietly.

When mods noticed random unsanctioned user bans, the AEO product manager jumped on /r/modsupport and spoke at great length about "the model" that they were employing to keep everyone safe. While the details of the automated tool weren't disclosed, its effectiveness and the product manager's inability to describe its function in any detail indicated it was some glorified expression matcher with "AI" printed on the box.

People found themselves getting AEO bans for sarcasm and Idiocracy quotes while actual hostility could be hidden behind an translucent euphemism. The AEO product manager followed up by assuring mods that automated actions were checked by a real person (through an outsourcing service).

Anyway, between Reddit's inability to write a usable app and its failure to effectively police the most cut-and-dried cases of violent speech, I simply cannot see an LLM doing mod work. And this approach ignores the positive things that mods do to keep their communities engaged.

Example: WSB is one of the most well-known Reddit communities, its mods do considerably more trash talk and events (flaring, megaposts, paper trading competitions) than police their user base. In fact, the majority of WSB contributions that warrant moderation are attempts to pump a stock. After a couple of months with RBB, I'm not confident an off-the-shelf LLM can do this.

Outlook

It'll be interesting to see where this goes. The next big news will probably be what the admins decide to do with the big subreddits that announced an indefinite blackout.

Will Redditors jump to Mastadon or Lemmy? Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Elon the Wise? I thought not. It's not a story the mods would tell you. As noisy as Redditors are, like with Twitter and companies/celebs, there aren't a lot of alternatives. More importantly, those alternatives don't have the critical mass required to provide the kind of content that has people adding 'Reddit' to their Google searches.

I've suggested it already, but I wouldn't understimate the board/C-suite's desire to cash out. They've been associated with the platform for years but haven't gotten the huge payday they see their peers getting. As we saw with Trevor Milton, you can make out like a bandit even if you company is completely worthless. Reddit doesn't "make money" (per Spez), but it's serveral tiers above Nikola's gravity-powered truck.

Yes, Milton got nailed for all the fraud, but before that he stepped away from the company with millions.

(Update) Part V: execute order 66

Huffman went on NPR and said, (paraphrasing) "API support costs us a lot of money, both queries and opportunity cost of having people on other platforms". This is some top-tier junior varsity CEOing - explain a business decision with a half-truth. The admin-mod battle has continued:

ModCodeofConduct ModCodeofConduct Thanks for bringing this up; it's an important conversation.

Mods have a right to take a break from moderating... [but] we have a duty to keep these spaces active.

This is beautifully HRified. Let's recap:
Admins have been working overtime to make this seem like it was always carved out in the rules:

Sun_Beams Sun_Beams Under Rule 4 of the Mod Code of Conduct, mods should not resort to "Campping or sitting on a community". Are community members of those Subs able to report the teams under the Rule 4 for essentially Camping on the sub? Or would it need to go through r/redditrequest? Or would both be an options?

I know some mods have stated that they can use the sub while it's private to keep it "active", would this not also go against Rule 2 where long standing Subs that are now private are not what regular users would expect of it:

"Users who enter your community should know exactly what they're getting into, and should not be surprised by what they encounter. It is critical to be transparent about what your community is and what your rules are in order to create stable and dynamic engagement among redditors."

"Won't someone please think of the communities!"

BradGroux BradGroux /u/spez directly contradicted this statement to the verge

(Update) Part VI: bring on the lackeys and astroturfers

There's a subreddit that handles evicting zombie mods.

Judah_the_Hammer Judah_the_Hammer Requesting r/science - due to inactivity

Plan to operate the community normally and in the fashion similar to the state when it was last active. As you can see, I have an interest in science topics, and moderate science related subreddits like r/SkinCareScience, r/TheLongLived, r/CircadianRhythm . The name is basic such that creating a new sub would be sub-optimal. I'll also appoint known relevant and responsible moderators. The subreddit will remain SFW. I will do my best to ensure that the subreddit stays compliant with all of the reddit rules and guidelines.

I can't imagine there being brain drain on /r/science when the new top mod also posts to /r/conspiracytheories, /r/antipsychiatry, and /r/radicalmentalhealth.

sublimeinslime Now is the time to capitalize off of their stubbornness and potentially a pissed of Spez and company. I am requesting all of their closed subs. B)
Indictment

CNBC Donald Trump Miami arraignment crowd

Almost a year ago, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago to recover some classified documents that the former president withheld. I always enjoy the comments section, so I posted a roundup of the good, the bad, and the absurd. I've found that /r/conservative provides a good encapsulation of what you'd see everywhere else, from cable news to the basement of the internet. Before moving onto the recent news, let's check back in on some of the bold preditions from last August.
Some of those lines even made a comeback with last Thursday's announcement:

LostInCa45 LostInCa45 He had a scif in mar a lago. He has secret service there. He was working with them they even suggested an additional lock on one of the doors which they did.

"Banana republic"

Before the indictment was made public, a lot of the commentary was simply assuming the allegations were bogus. Never mind the testimonies, photo evidence, and admissions of the accused party himself. "Political persecution!", "banana republic!", etc. Those cynical takes are all well and good, but only if the charges have no merit.

Forsaken_Cost_1937
/u/Forsaken_Cost_1937
This is what you see in third world countries where leaders go after their political opponents
stoffel_bristov
/u/stoffel_bristov
They are going to make a martyr out of him. Sad day for this country where they go after political opponents on criminal charges.
HWTechGuy2A
/u/HWTechGuy2A
They are making an example out of him so nobody else from outside the swamp ever dares to run for President ever again.
thetaxidermy
/u/thetaxidermy
This is political persecution, same as you'd see in any other totalitarian country like China or Russia.

"Espionage is basically jaywalking"

Running_Gamer Running_Gamer Most investigated man in history and they can only come up with bogus charges for an unenforced law

Discord guy would like a word.

"CNN arrested GEOTUS"

NiceChemical NiceChemical Biden is more corrupt than Trump, but the media always goes after the wrong big guy.

This is the justice department actually.

"4D chess"

ultimis ultimis I think he thought he was being unfairly harassed over them. Presidents have historically taken such documents home for memoirs and other reasons. After years of harassment by government agencies he was done with them. It's also possible he wanted this type of legal harassment. As he was plummeting in GOP support post 2020. He was already playing the victim card about the 2020 election, it was just another way for him to be Martyr.

That's quite a game of chicken.

"Innocent until proven guilty"

BrigadeDetector BrigadeDetector It's not a fact that he did so. Not until a court finds it is, which isn't guaranteed.

While acquittal is a very real possibility, facts aren't actually beholden to the justice system.

"Maybe he actually did it"

Trump indictment dissemination plan of attack

CSGOW1ld
/u/CSGOW1ld
Trumps big fat mouth will once again be his own undoing.
thergoat
/u/thergoat
Also the crimes.

The old standby

kajarago kajarago "We'll get him this time!

The Teflon Don thing only worked when his only path to conviction went through Mitch McConnell.

"What about Hillary?"

With the former president's own words acknowledging intent and the classification of the documents he retained and shared, there is really nothing for his proxies to do except beat the whataboutism drum.

RedditsLittleSecret RedditsLittleSecret Two systems of justice in America: one for Republicans, and another for Democrats.

Mike Pence tho.

LoveWithoutLoss LoveWithoutLoss Trump controlled the DOJ for 4 years. If he had evidence, why didn't he put her in jail like he promised? Nobody cares about the Clintons and many liberals/moderates do not like her. If there's evidence, bring it forth and put her in jail too!

The Netanyahu Maneuver

Stea1thsniper32
/u/Stea1thsniper32
The most damning thing here is the recorded conversations of him showing classified documents to people without a security clearance. It fits his character. He likes to brag about stuff. No doubt he showed these people this stuff because he thought it was cool and wanted to impress them. Classification be damned.

If this is all true. Trump needs to bow out before he takes the entire Republican Party down with him. Accept that he f***** up and do the time for the crimes he committed. I know he won't. He will fight this to the grave because Trump can never admit he did something wrong.
NotMSUPD
/u/NotMSUPD
Trump might view the reelection as his only way out at this point.
BrigadeDetector
/u/BrigadeDetector
Or, he just made a joke and pretended that those documents were still classified. Nothing in his statement btw specifically said they were still classified, just that he couldn't declassify them now.

The mental gymnastics on that last one are kind of hilarious.

Effortpost

mattyyboyy86 mattyyboyy86 So [the Clinton email server] has been investigated extensively by multiple factions of government. I would suggest laying off the pundits and opinions of partisans and look at what the investigations turned up, remember some of these investigations were headed by the GOP.

The Subpoena you are referring to was in accordance with her dealings with Libya and Benghazi. The order to delete emails that came from Cheryl Mills (not Clinton) before the subpoena and was to delete all "none government related emails" (so out of scope of the subpoena) that were more than 60 days old.

An employee at Platte River Networks, who manages Clinton's email server, than deletes the emails that are personal and over 60 days old (according to the employee of the network), but did so after the subpoena, and after the emails pertaining to Benghazi were turned over (according to Mills).

You can come to your own conclusion but those are the conclusions of the investigation and the facts. In the Clinton example there is no clear evidence of wrong doing. As far as anyone can prove she turned over all relative materials on Benghazi in a timely manner. There's also so many degrees of separation between HC and the actual perceived "crimes" that you wouldn't be able to pin the crime onto her even if you could prove there was a crime committed, which at this point there's no evidence to even say there's a crime.

Conservatives have got to stop with this crazy shit. This is not serving the conservative wing of the nation. What started out as misinformation about emails has turned into Trump getting charged for actually mishandling classified information. What started out as misinformation about illegal voting has turned into actual conspiracies to subvert a election. Misinformation and conspiracy theories are ruining the right wing of the nation and if it doesn't stop, the GOP will never win a solid majority of the house or a popular vote (and it'll be difficult to win EC to) for the WH. Because truth is more powerful than lies and BS. Stop, just stop.
Counteroffensive

Video Prigozhin 72nd brigade

The Ukraine counteroffensive began, with Leopards and Challengers and Bradleys. I don't have anything interesting to post on this, but it appears that the Prigozhin/MoD drama still going strong.
RIP Silvio

NPR interviewed Alexander Stille about his book The Sack of Rome that discusses the recently-deceased Silvio Berlusconi. Some interesting tidbits:



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