Yesterday it was reported that some publications began criticizing Reddit, the democratized social sharing forum, for banning certain domains from being posted to its website. The banned domains included respected publications such as The Atlantic and Phys.org. The reason for the domain bans was not made explicit, but it was stated that the banned domains were caught by Reddit moderators involving themselves with cheating or spam on its website. A Forbes article provided some of the most outspoken criticism of the new policy, and now Reddit has responded to Forbes.
Erik Martin, general manager of Reddit, spoke with Forbes contributor Dave Thier and shed a little more light onto the issue. Martin admits that one of the most difficult issues Reddit faces is dealing with the manipulation of content on the site that is of obvious quality and may have become popular on the site anyway. Reddit allows members to "upvote" or "downvote" posts, in theory surfacing the best content. Martin dismisses speculation that employees of banned domains were over-submitting their own content, and instead said, "We're talking about relitively sophisticated, coordinated manipulation of votes."
Martin stated that it could be the case that the management of the banned domains was not aware that their site was involved with the sketchy practices, but that Reddit would not make an exception. This all but confirms what was insinuated earlier this week - that the domains had hired marketing professionals who, unbeknownst to them, were cheating Reddit. From the Forbes article:
“There is a long history of high-quality publications doing this on Reddit and sites like Reddit — People in the industry know exactly what I’m talking about, even people who are pretending like they don’t,” says Martin. “I hope that this very clear message to this whole industry, that is a subset of another industry, that tries to manipulate social message on behalf of publishers.”
Martin also addressed the secrecy of the banned domain list, saying that a public list would give spammers a "roadmap to avoid detection." He reiterated that the bans were temporary, meant as warnings to the domains. This might serve as a lesson for domains to keep a tighter rein on their social network marketing strategies, but there will still be marketing professionals who promise to increase Reddit traffic.