R/Atheism Bans Image Macros, Everybody Loses Their Minds

Senior Contributor
06.07.13 18 Comments

The Reddit page R/Atheism is a place where you can discover intelligent conversation about atheism and religion, and also plenty of people who prove that it’s mindless adherence to ideology that’s the problem in human society, as opposed to any specific ideology. And now it’s a source of comedy, as a war of sulking and butthurt breaks out between the moderators and the rest of the subreddit over an image macro ban.

This needs a quick explanation for those not on Reddit: Redditors love and value karma, which is essentially a pat on the back from other Redditors with no actual value. Image macros tend to collect karma. As R/Atheism has over two million members, and every new user to the site is automatically subscribed to it as a result, that means there are a lot of image macros, usually along the lines of “Hey, isn’t it great that we’re smarter than every single member of every religion EVAR?” In short, literally the only thing at stake here is people’s egos. Keep that in mind as you keep reading.

R/Atheism was essentially unmoderated, as the founder of the subreddit intended, and so the macros flourished. But of course, attention whoring is part of any section of the Internet, so there’s no way that the other two moderators would, oh, we don’t know, essentially stage a palace coup and appoint themselves supreme masters of the subreddit in the name of intelligent discourse, right?

…due to /u/skeen never responding to questions or giving feedback, it was requested to the admins by /u/jij that he be removed as a moderated in this request. This was done by the admins, leaving /u/tuber as the top mod and /u/jij as the only other mod. With skeen removed, tuber and jij discussed via chat and decided that the absolutely-no-moderation policy was no longer effective.

You know, because making unilateral decisions that fundamentally change the culture of something you’re in charge of in direct contradiction of the policy of the person who founded it? That never ends badly. Needless to say, skeen was less than happy about being removed and is trying to restore the community to its free-for-all status as users grouse about the changes.

It is worth noting that you can still post image macros, you just have to click a few times to see them and you won’t get karma for them. And there are some valid points here: R/Atheism is a huge community and basically appointing yourself king of the hill with no feedback, or electoral process, is a crappy thing to do. And to be fair, the moderators will be holding an AMA to try and smooth a few feathers. Still, this seems to be a problem best solved by not taking the Internet quite so seriously.

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Dan Seitz is a grad student and freelance writer. He currently lives in Boston.

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