r/science admins admit routinely deleting top posts
Reddit’s science subreddit is the undisputed front page of popular science on the internet. The subreddit introduces millions of people to high-quality science content on a daily basis, as posts on r/science frequently hit Reddit’s front page.
Due to the filter bubble effect that impacts social networks like Facebook and Twitter, r/science is one of the only places to exist on the internet that serves this function in any serious way. When was the last time you saw a science story at the top of your Facebook feed? I’ll hazard a guess that unless you're an avid follower of science it was probably a lot longer ago than the last time you saw one at the top of your Reddit feed.
It has emerged that trending science content was routinely deleted from r/science by moderators in a bit to promote the subreddit’s popular series of science AMA’s which stands for “ask me anything”. The subreddit announced last week they will no longer be continuing the series, which has previously featured such notable guests as Stephen Hawking and Francis Collins.
The announcement comes following upgrades to Reddit’s algorithm to prevent vote manipulation. In comments to the Daily Dot, Nathan Allen, the head moderator of r/science admitted he would delete trending posts when AMA’s were released to artificially drive AMA posts to the top of the subreddit. This practice has now been halted by Reddit’s new algorithm which will hide a forum for 3-5 hours if this type of vote manipulation is detected.
I’m sure I will not be alone in being sad to see the end of r/science AMA’s, however I am glad this will end the sacrificing of perfectly good science posts and all the discussion that went with them just to give AMA's a leg up.
The news comes as little surprise after reading @dhimmel’s Steemit post on “censorship gone awry on Reddit” in which he describes his own r/science AMA being derailed by excessive moderation and discusses how decentralised social networks such as Steem could help prevent this sort of thing.
Finally, it’s worth noting that for all the misery and fatalistic talk coming from the subreddit’s mods, this absolutely doesn’t have to mean the end of science AMA’s. This is simply the end of official AMA’s organised by the subreddit. Any scientist can still make an AMA post on the r/science subreddit, or other science subreddits like r/everythingscience- and any scientists out the reading, I encourage you to do so. If you want to get your science out to the public then right now there is a great opportunity for you to pick up the mic!