/r/tomscott

Update, November 3rd: after multiple people have emailed me, it seems I wasn't clear enough: please do not set up a subreddit about me. I realise this can only ever be a request and not a requirement, but I'm hoping that folks won't go against it. Thanks.

November 1st, 2018

Back in 2016, when I found out someone had created a subreddit about me, I hated it. I asked the moderators if it could be deleted.

I've made no secret of the fact that I dislike Reddit. It's seen as toxic, as dangerous, as a bad thing to be associated with in many of the communities and friend circles that I work with -- and particularly in those that I base my career on. It has a reputation based on endemic racism, celebrity photo leaks, and harassment campaigns. It's generally considered a thing to steer well clear of. I'm uncomfortable even typing that, because, hey, that'd be exactly the kind of paragraph that gets a harassment campaign sent my way.

I know that's not true for a lot of folks who used it, or even the majority of folks who used it. But in short, "he's got his own subreddit" is the sort of thing that scares away people I want to work with. However, back in 2016, we agreed that as long as the subreddit was very clearly flagged as unofficial, and that it didn't turn into a horrible pit, it was a better idea to attempt to keep the place running safely than to come in with a heavy hand and shut it down.

But: yesterday, I got an email about the subreddit, which prompted me to come in and check what was going on. In short: there was a long thread speculating about my personal life and history, including someone digging up ancient details about partners and, frankly, getting close to doxxing me. That's so far over the line that I don't really have words for it. Scrolling down, there's similar digging into my past, some ha-ha-only-serious jokes that were really unsettling, and someone bragging that they vandalised Wikipedia to add a useless reference to an old video, which was greeted with approval.

I realise that I can't stop unfortunate individuals doing things like that. But I can, at least, stop there being a centralised, easily-searchable location for folks like that to co-ordinate and encourage each other, particularly on a site that has a history of hosting racists, misogynists and conspiracy theorists. To make it all worse, the large warning that the page is unofficial was removed with a site redesign, and there's no way to show it any more. This means that, to a casual observer, all this is being done in my name and with my tacit approval. That isn't okay.

To the vast majority of folks who used it, I apologise for the sudden heavy-handedness. And I understand that none of the moderation team intended to cause distress to me or my friends -- but that is what's happened. I'd sooner bite the bullet now and disappoint a small number of people than have to come back in a few months or a year when something really bad's happened. That's probably what I should have done back in 2016, but I hoped it'd work out better.

I sent an email to the mods earlier today, and they've agreed to close up shop, which I'm extremely grateful for. That sounds like a platitude, but it's not: I am really, genuinely grateful that this is a quick and clean shutdown of something that's really, really worrying me.

The subreddit's been set to private, and the automoderator and spam filter have been set to automatically remove any new posts and comments. I'd ask, please, that you not try and set up a backup subreddit to replace this.

And yes, I'm sorry; I apologise that this isn't the sort of message you'd hope to get from me, and that it's such a sudden end.


Note: I use /u/tomscott to send messages about this on Reddit. If there's any other username, it's not me.

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