Reddit's Doxxing Paradox

You might recall that popular social media site Reddit doesn't like doxxing — that is, the public identification of online speakers and revelation of their personal information. Gawker's public identification of vile Reddit creeper and troll Violentacrez was controversial to many Redditors, condemned by Reddit administrators, and has led to some Reddit mods engaging in a long-term ban of links to Gawker media sites.

So — Reddit's culture is strongly against doxxing. Right?

Well — sort of.

Last week, the online community briefly thrilled to the outing of a bad actor — a St. Louis pastor named Alois Bell who wrote a snide and obnoxious message on a receipt to a server at Applebee's. Another server posted the rude receipt — including Bell's legible signature — to Reddit, and the game was afoot — Redditors promptly identified Bell, her tiny storefront church, and her congregation. When Bell doubled down and successfully demanded that Applebee's terminate the waitress, she made herself more famous; Reddit was flooded with threads about her.

So, I have a question for the Reddit community:

Why is identifying Bell acceptable to your community, but identifying Violentacrez unacceptable to your community?

Both engaged in vile behavior. Bell was entitled and nasty to a server (remember what Dave Barry says — someone who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person), and later vengeful to someone less powerful when called publicly on her behavior. Violentacrez was a purveyor of creepshots, racism, and gleeful trolling. Why is it right for Reddit users to identify Bell by name — inflicting real-world consequences on her — but wrong for Gawker to identify Violentacrez, inflicting real-world consequences on him?

Is the idea that Violentacrez' behavior was "only online," and thus somehow qualitatively different? That strikes me as an archaic viewpoint. A startling percentage of modern life is conducted "online," and the view that things that happen "online" are somehow consequence-free or morally neutral strikes me as difficult to defend.

Is the idea that Bell — who acted in public and signed her receipt — had no expectation of privacy, but Violentacres did? Again, I find this unconvincing. Bell probably didn't expect that her credit card receipt would be published — but she acted in a way that allowed it to be. Violentacrez might have hoped that nobody would identify him — but he left the clues and crumbs that led Gawker to him. Both must contend with the truism that people have an urge to identify and shame bad actors.

Is this a mere crass "one of us, one of us" thing? Do Redditors merely feel that members of their community deserve protection, but outsiders do not? Is there an element of contempt for the religious in the mix?

I don't know that there are any easy answers. I don't know that Reddit admins, or the diverse Reddit community, could justify the difference. I've been writing for a long time about how the internet makes a big world like a small town — how the internet can counteract the anonymizing tendencies of a vast, complex society by subjecting the occasional notable miscreant to village-square shaming. It's like getting struck by lightning — there are too many miscreants and too few hours in the day — and we're still grappling with whether it is "fair" or "proportional" or "right." Colorable arguments can be made for or against the phenomenon. But I'm skeptical that Reddit can make colorable arguments that "it's cool when we do this to outsiders, but not cool when outsiders do this to us."

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. EMS says

    I hate to say it, but I think Redditors are so blind to the victimization of someone photographed in a creepshot or leaked jailbait photo, that they honestly see ViolentAcrez as committing a victimless crime, while Bell's crime had a victim that was obvious to them.

  2. says

    If I had to play Devil's Advocate (and defending those who defend Violentacrez is truly doing the devil's work), I'd say that the difference is that VA committed thought-crimes and speech-crimes by being a hateful scumbag, but Bell was guilty of stiffing a waitress – in effect, taking her labor and failing to pay her for it (very loosely, theft of services).

    Now, taking off the Devil Advocate's suit and returning to my own outfit of simple homespun ripped Carhartts, I'll say: a pox on both Bell and VA for being entitled bullies who depended on anonymity to cover their acting like loathsome trolls.

    Speaking of doxing, I'd enjoy your take on laws that classify police officers' addresses as secret information and make it illegal to publicize them, e.g. MGL 66 sec 10 and 15

    and the associated procedures that hide police property tax records under false names?

    I certainly understand the motivation that police don't want felons getting paroled after 20 years to make their first stop William Sonoma for a hollow ground cleaver and their second stop the public library for a quick run at Google, but I also find the idea that certain animals are more equal than others and have the privilege of being anonymous from their co-citizens over whom they exercise police powers to be somewhere on the continuum between feudal and fascist.

  3. a leap at the wheel says

    Seems like a "one of us" thing to me, though I don't know how much overlap there is or is not between the people getting upset about 1 and people participating in the other.

  4. Grifter says

    I think they draw a clear line of demarcation between "real life" and "internet".

    While I doubt she has one, no one exposed Ms. Bell's Reddit handle. If she did, she would have been able to continue being "DouchePastor69" or whatever, and keep that person separate from Ms. Bell, receipt-writer. That is what they are protecting. You may find the line arbitrary, but I am confused why you are so confused by it.

    Reddit protects the ability to create an online-only persona. While you're right that a lot of people do business online, at the same time, they may want to be one person in one place, another in another; reddit is protecting that ability.

    Violentacrez was a douchecanoe. And anyone was within their rights to post a complaint about him, with links to all his previous douchery. However, reddit draws the line at linking it to his other persona.

    Ms. Bell did what she did under her own name, and was only linked to other things that she did under that same name. That is not doxxing, that is using the phone book.

  5. says

    Amphiboly on "was entitled to":
    ("was nasty and entitled" in her self-presentation to a server)
    ("was nasty" and therefore… "entitled to a server")

  6. PhilG says

    Grifter nailed it. And I kind of feel like this was covered well in your last post about reddit. Doxxing is associating an online persona with a real life identity. That was sort of impossible here given that all of it was happening in real life.

    In my opinion there is a really simple answer here, the definition of doxxing, and you are willfully missing it. You are confusing the term for the actual existence of a lot of other things you mentioned, defending their own, dislike of religion, the near-obsessive need for vigilante justice on reddit. All of those are probably part of this event, but the event itself is not doxxing.

  7. Mike says

    Alternatively, we could say it was the Reddit community doing the investigation in the latter case, versus being the target of one in the former case. One makes them feel like they are fighting against injustice, and the other makes them afraid that what they have written under assumed identities, no matter how trivial (Patrick is right, we can safely say VA was, if not unique, at least not in the plurality of redditers), will come back to haunt them.

  8. says

    David: good point, thanks.

    Grifter: I understand the argument. But my point is this: when so much of our life is conducted online, and where what we do online can have such significant impact, why should anyone accept the notion that people are entitled to a protected separate online persona? When online interaction is so pervasive, why is it rational to believe that a person who acts one way online (like someone you'd want to avoid) doesn't act that way in "real life?"

    Put another way, would you hire Violentacrez to baby-sit, given what you know about his online behavior?

  9. says

    @PhilG: "Doxxing is associating an online persona with a real life identity."

    @PhilG, your rebuttal that "there is a really simple answer here, the definition of doxxing, and you are willfully missing it" invokes a definition that depends on the distinction between online behavior and offline behavior. As Ken noted, that distinction is both technologically and socially naive:

    Ken: 'Is the idea that Violentacrez' behavior was "only online," and thus somehow qualitatively different? That strikes me as an archaic viewpoint. A startling percentage of modern life is conducted "online," and the view that things that happen "online" are somehow consequence-free or morally neutral strikes me as difficult to defend.'

  10. says

    I'm going to say I don't have a problem with either outing. Pastor Bell decided to engage in proselytizing on her receipt. She specifically insured she put her title on the receipt and was acting within her capacity as a pastor. When her actions are hypocritical and in direct contravention to most Christian sects I think she needed called on it. She intended for that message to be read. SHe had a point to make. She wanted that server to know exactly what kind of person she was dealing with.

    What she didn't expect was that the world would learn what kind of hypocrite she is.

    I'm all for free speech. Hell, I'll take a bullet to defend your right to said, but I don't think there's such a thing as consequence-free speech.

    I also think Applebee's is screwed on this one. It's a public relations disaster mishandled with staggering insensitivity and incompetence. I'm not a lawyer, but seems to me like they have some exposure in light of a recent NLRB ruling: I would suggests that bitching about rude customers and lack of tip firmly lands within the "complaining about working conditions" exception.

    For the record, I am on Reddit, didn't care about the first doxxing one way or the other (though I thought those subreddit's were creepy and shouldn't be allowed). I also run I've hated Gawker for longer than this doxxing controversy.

  11. says

    What one hopes will happen on the internet: You present a sufficiently structured and well-reasoned argument, and most of those who read it understand it (including its intent, tone, and tactical approach) and engage its crux productively.

    What actually happens on the internet: You present a sufficiently structured and well-reasoned argument, and most of those who read it engage it by invoking arguments that were sufficiently referenced and prebutted in your initial presentation.

  12. Grifter says


    But that argument can be taken to extremes. Perhaps I want to put cameras in an acquaintance's house. I want to make sure they don't beat their dog, because then I won't trust them to babysit.

    Reddit has said "Here you can be a whole new person. And if someone exposes that new person to be this other person, we shall give them consequences".

    You can dislike that, and that's fine. But your reasoning seems no different than the general anti-privacy advocate, and I know you aren't one of them.

    Reddit didn't try to get Gawker arrested or anything. They just said "if someone doxxes one of our users, they're dead to us". Gawker doxxed a user, and so is dead to Reddit.

    If VA acts like that in real life, then he's probably hated in real life, too. If he doesn't, then he's not.

    I see benefit in allowing there to be privacy. Just like with defending free speech, its usually the douches who get attacked first, so it can be easy to say "Well, eff that guy!", but once you do, you open the door for every trivial, offhand, perhaps trolling comment you make under an assumed name in a place where you were promised privacy fair game to ruin the rest of your real life.

    I think ignoring the fact that the internet is a different place just because it's become such an important place is a bit irrational. The internet has its own culture; trolls are an accepted part of that culture.

    To make up a parallel:

    This seems similar to a bar that serves patrons who often travel over the county lines from a neighboring dry county full of deeply conservative employers. The bars have a policy that if you tattle on one of their patrons to their employer back on the other side of the county line, they won't serve you any more. You don't have to drink alcohol in their bar, they accept teetotallers, but they don't accept tattlers (and they differentiate between someone who tattles on you for going over the lines and someone who tattles on you for drinking in the dry county) You seem to be saying (if I drag your logic into my tortured analogy) that the bar owners are hypocrites or jerks for this policy; I just don't see it.

  13. says

    @Christopher L. Jorgensen, I'm not sure that "Pastor Bell decided to engage in proselytizing on her receipt" is the best way to understand what she did. A better reading might be that Pastor Bell decided to rage against a system that she deemed unfair in relation to her stunted understanding of how the tithe relates to other monetary obligations in a broad social context.

    She wasn't saying, "Ima give you !> 10% because Jesus, so y'all come!"

    She was saying "Ima give you !> 10% because Who Do Y'all Think Y'all Are to impose a fee greater than the tithe don't y'all know any imposition of a fee greater than the tithe is presumptuous y'all ain't God I'll show y'all, yabunchopaganfilth…."

    And *that's* not proselytizing….

  14. Grifter says

    @Christopher L. Jorgensen:

    IANAL and I'm sure the real ones can answer better than me, but I don't think it would meet the exemptions for the NLRB because she wasn't discussing this with coworkers, there was no "concerted activity" (I don't think?); the rules they are applying stem from the "water cooler" rules. There has to be at least in theory some kind of collective action/discussion going on, at least in theory, which is different than just complaining publicly.

  15. says

    Grifter: any argument can be taken to extremes.

    I understand that Reddit would like to create an online community where people can act the way they want without "real world" consequences. I think the distinction between online and "real world" is archaic and false, but I understand it. What I don't understand is why I should respect the tribal sentiment that it's wrong to make Violentacrez infamous for his conduct, but right to make Bell infamous for hers.

  16. KW says

    There is one point that I think is important which was overlooked in this whole discussion. The original post on Reddit did contain the signature and some members ran with it to find out information about the pastor. Following that, the better parts of the community and potentially the moderators stepped in, deleting posts that listed identifying information, getting the original image changed to one that did not contain the signature.

    At this point, the initial damage was done, but the overall community and policies of Reddit stepped in to minimize it. Most people likely would not have known the specifics had the pastor not come out publicly, having the restaurant terminate the server and then apologizing. Reddit's policies, or at least those of the subreddit in question, do conform to their anti-doxxing stance, regardless of the person's community membership. Unfortunately in this case, not all members of any community strictly conform to all the rules.

  17. Grifter says


    I don't see the "tribal" aspect. I feel like you're seeing hypocrisy here, a "us v. them"-type morality. I don't see that, and I don't agree with the "archaic and false" concept. If you really thought it was completely "archaic and false", I don't understand why you wouldn't require real names on here.

  18. JSlane says

    This is all based on my understanding of Reddit and their policies…
    Reddit has a clear policy against members posting identifiable/personal information about themselves or other members on Reddit itself. The Admins choice to ban Gawker links could be related to this policy. If someone posts a link that tangentially links to the article linking a Reddit user to is "real world" persona, then the Reddit admins may be at risk of allowing a violation of the TOS. This is iffy, but more likely them covering their butts from being sued by Violentacres (which is the real motive behind their policy in the first place… if someone on Reddit out's someone else that's been a total troll on Reddit and something violent happens to that person? Is Reddit liable? If Reddit linked to a Gawker article that contained a headline link to another article and that headline either included Violentacrez personal info or specifically state the article it was linking to would reveal Violentacrez or even just "Asshole Reddit User's" personal information, would Reddit be legally liable? If there's even a slight chance of that answer being "Yes," then I think the Reddit Admins are within their rights to play it safe and just not link to Gawker for a while.

    The outrage of the Reddit user-base is another thing entirely… It's stupid and hypocritical.

  19. says

    @Grifter, one may find the offline|online dichotomy false but nevertheless endorse the privilege of (and perhaps right to) anonymity on other grounds. After all, the anonymous pamphleteers in {post-1500 conflict of your choice} didn't know about online|offline….

    For this reason, requiring real names on here has nothing to do with the present discussion.

  20. A Different William says

    I agree with Grifter. However I do see Ken's point that reddit has become a lot closer to the real world than, say, Eve Online. In a way what Redditers are saying can be interpreted as "I can touch you, but you can't touch me."

    The difference as I see it: Behavior that was strictly on Reddit as far as we know versus behavior that connected the two. I support outing people who are assholes in real life through Reddit. Outing the people who mess with Bell in real life is fair game. They have taken information from Reddit out into real life and their off the internet behavior. I do not support outing someone who is just a douchebag on reddit.

    I have been playing for Eve Online for years and I freely admit that I am an asshole when I am playing. I stalked other players for hours or days. Figured out what they were doing, found a vulnerability in their routine and then exploited it to blow them up and take their internet space stuff. My internet space friends and I have spent weekends kicking down internet spaceship sand castles that took months to build.

    To me that is the game, and part of the game is making your sand castles as hard to knock down as possible. To other people it is hours of hard work before some asshole destroys it all. To those people destroying their internet space sand castle is the same as going into their back yard and kicking down the shed they just put up. I have gotten in-game hate mail to that effect with real life threats of real life revenge.

    I see the rules and the game differently than they do. I hide my true identity because I want to be able to play the game the way I see it without real life repercussions.

    I do things on the internet that I would never do in real life. Just like I can enjoy a shooting game but the actual action of shooting a person would likely leave me shaking and sobbing on the floor.

    There are parts of the internet that I reasonably expect to be attached to my real life activities and parts that I am allowed to play by different rules. Reddit has stated that it is a place where you can say things with minimal real life repercussions.

  21. Grifter says


    I disagree. Reddit is preserving a specific form of anonymity. If I hacked the site and found IPs of posting users and posted the real names and addresses of people who have posted pseudonymously on here, I assume you'd ban me. Isn't that all that Reddit has done?

  22. Grifter says

    And I'd like to point out, again, that there seems to be a misunderstanding of doxxing…the pastor linked her actions to her real name, and therefore other actions that were under her real name were fair game, but not actions under another name. That same standard is applied to VA, except it was violated by Gawker. Like I said: No one exposed that Ms. Bell had a SN on Reddit, or any other site, as far as I know. She chose to use the same name as her regular business, which was her choice. The fact that it destroyed her credibility is her own fault.

    This is no different than how if a user is usually a rational commenter, then suddenly decides to be a total troll, they may destroy their credibility as that user.

  23. Kasey says

    I feel I needed to respond as both a longtime popehat reader and a longtime redditor…

    According the the article from the Consumerist, when the article was first posted, the waitress assumed that the signature was illegible, and once it became clear that people we're being sleuthy, she changed the picture to one without the signature. However, Redditors are crafty, and seeing as how the original post was put into /r/atheism, there is going to be a lot of circlejerking going around.

    Individual redditors are behind this doxxing. To blame reddit as a whole for this is like blaming youtube for the copyright infringement that gets uploaded. You simply can't. There's a certain amount of self-modding that has to be done, both by individuals and by the subreddit moderators, but sometimes things can't be stopped once they get going, no matter what Reddit does.

    I, personally, and I know a lot of others, are very pissed by the negative publicity this has attracted for reddit, and we all would have liked to help the waitress in other ways, but this isn't the fault of the community as a whole.

  24. neil says

    I'm amazed at how easily people argue that the pastor didn't have a reasonable expectation of privacy on her credit card slip.

  25. says

    Neil: I agree. I think the argument that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a credit card slip you give to a restaurant is at least as convincing as the argument you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your real identity if you leave hints in the course of being a creeper.

    Kasey: I understand; each reference to Reddit or the Reddit community in my post could be shorthand for "some of Reddit." However, as the third link in my post shows, it's a viewpoint about Gawker shared at least by some mods.

    Grifter: again, I don't see why the expectation of privacy in a credit card slip is less convincing than expectation of privacy when you've exposed your identity through your online behavior. I understand Reddit's right to create a community premised on that distinction. I just don't see why it's a distinction entitled to any respect.

  26. Luke says

    Was VA's behavior truly online only?

    The photos were of real people, associated with their real life image. They were not online avatars. You can't traffic in private real life material and then claim some sort of separation between your online only persona and your real life one without being a hypocrite.

  27. Jason says

    As a Redditor myself I can answer this fairly easily.

    Most of Reddit would not have cared about the Alois Bell thing, at least not enough to go dox her. However, the picture of the receipt ended up in /r/atheism, which is pretty much the most hateful circlejerk on the internet after 4chan's /b/ board (and I'm quite sure both share a lot of members).

    Most of us do not find doxxing to be an acceptable way of dealing with problems/people like these and actually do prefer to use the systems already in place (reporting/ignoring/etc).

    That said, there is quite a sense of community at Reddit. Many of us have met each other and maintain good friendships. It IS a community in a very real sense, for many people. Some of us have participated in our chosen subreddits for years. We chat. We make special efforts to meet each other. And without fail, we band together to defend our community. It isn't so much "us-vs-them," in the case of Violentacrez, and Gawker in general, it was more of an outrage that a place which allows much of what it pretends to condemn would attack an individual the way it did.

  28. Linsider says

    When online interaction is so pervasive, why is it rational to believe that a person who acts one way online (like someone you'd want to avoid) doesn't act that way in "real life?"

    Put another way, would you hire Violentacrez to baby-sit, given what you know about his online behavior?

    People often behave differently online than they behave in the real life. Not always, but it is entirely possible that someone who acts like a total scumbag in the Internet is actually a gentle person in the "real life". Of course, that doesn't excuse extreme cases like that of Violentacrez, but we shouldn't judge someone too much based only on his/her online conduct.

    Personally, I do think that for me it is more important how someone behaves in the "real world" than in Internet. Said another way, I wouldn't hire Violentacrez as a baby-sitter, but if I already had a babysitter that was good and I knew her personally, I wouldn't fire her just because I happened to know that she is a really vicious troll somewhere. I should note though, that I don't really know what kind of content was posted by Violentacrez, because I don't care about reddit and this whole story. If it was something like videos with tortures, that goes way beyond typical trolling, then of course I wouldn't want to deal with that person.

  29. Kevin says


    I think the distinction between online and "real world" is archaic and false, but I understand it.

    I agree, but that's not what this is about. "Online" vs "offline" is not the relevant distinction here – it's that it's a social space in which anonymity/pseudonymity are understood to be respected and preserved. Imagine an offline community/social space in which similar rules applied… say for instance you opened some kind of bar or club with a gimmick that everyone has to show up in costume, wearing masks… and at this club you get to be whoever you want to be, and nobody is allowed to unmask anybody. That could be kind of fun and liberating – getting to be a whole different person from your normal self for a few hours without fear of anything you say or do getting linked back to your "IRL" persona. If someone agreed to those rules, went to that club and then started pulling off people's masks, that'd be kind of a dick move, wouldn't it?

    Now of course I'm not aware of the existence of any such hypothetical social spaces "offline"… but that's just because the technology makes it much easier to create such communities online than off. But it's not the online/offline distinction that's actually relevant.

  30. PhilG says

    @David well, I disagree that separating an online persona from a real life person is technologically or socially naive so I'm not sure where we would go from here. Frankly, while I respect Ken's opinion on many topics, I don't believe him to be qualified to speak on the technological aspect of anonymity and I disagree with his take on the social aspect. That doesn't make me correct, and I wouldn't assert I am, but neither does it make his opinion conclusive proof for me.

    @Ken again that difference in expectations of privacy has nothing to do
    with doxxing. It might have been a violation of her privacy, although she clearly intended to share the receipt with at least her server, given she wrote a message for her server on it. I hate when people get into the "guess their motivation" game so I'm going to try to not go down that rabbit hole, maybe she absolutely believed it would be kept private and nothing would come of it. Either way, it is still not doxxing unless you extend the meaning of the word until it becomes meaningless. And to answer your question from before, I would never hire Violentacrez to baby-sit, because Violentacrez doesn't exist and that is the point.

  31. Deadly Laigrek says

    I love how people disregard the fact that Violentacrez was using his on-line persona to try to ruin other people's real-world lives. That, to me, is no longer on-line, and he no longer has any right or reason to privacy once he breaches that barrier.

  32. Grifter says

    While a credit card slip, itself, may be considered private, I don't think the actions you do in real life under your own name are: her lack of tipping and rudeness were only proven with the card slip. I guess I could agree that posting the slip was wrong, perhaps, but what if the server had said "A pastor named Ms. Bell came in and didn't tip and wrote obnoxious note X to me!". That's no different than saying "VA posted this pic then sent this troll PM to me!", which would be perfectly allowed.

  33. neil says

    Jason: Why does Reddit tolerate behavior out of /r/atheism that it won't tolerate from, e.g., Gawker?

  34. says

    It's not my experience that /r/atheism is "pretty much the most hateful circlejerk on the internet."

    Also, I don't see why Reddit should have to allow links to a site if it doesn't want to. They don't even have to have a reason.

    I don't see much difference between these doxxing or outings, but then I don't have an issue with either.

  35. says

    I would never hire Violentacrez to baby-sit, because Violentacrez doesn't exist and that is the point.

    @PhilG If "Mars" and "The fourth planet from our sun" and "BellicoseMarsAcrzzz" all refer to the same purposive agent, then in what sense can we say that one of them "doesn't exist" while another does?

    You seem to feel that pseudonymity confers a special ontic privilege that nymity does not (or vice versa).

  36. princessartemis says

    @PhilG, Are you suggesting that Reddit is a MMORPG the likes of which hasn't been seen before? Or perhaps a massive shared delusion? That is the only way I can imagine Violentacrez simultaneously not existing *and* having enough agency to gather creepy photos of people who do exist to post for the consumption of other non-existent entities.

    I'm perfectly OK with the idea of online personas. It is a bit of role-playing. But just as one wouldn't expect the actions of a character in a LARP to not affect the player if the character actively broke real laws (for example), online personas affect the people who take them on. They are not seperate and distinct creatures that live without consequence, no matter how hard one community may try to defend the players from their actions taken while "in character".

  37. Luke says

    @Kevin – If you went to that party and told one person you were a waiter, told another you worked at a steak house and a 3rd that you had long blond hair and blue eyes, could you really expect your anonymity to stay concealed from someone curious to figure it out?

    @PhilG – Um doxxing is simply the act of compiling information (dox) on a real life person. So yes, the term applies in both situations.

  38. PhilG says

    @David first things first, nymity, I like it. Next, the choice of Mars seems odd but let's roll with it, Mars exists, has agency now (like Mogo!) and chooses to maintain a separate persona (hell, let's call him Mogo now) in an online forum. That persona, which may or may not be wholly different from Mars' persona – people craft rather distinct identities for themselves, is not the same agent as Mars in that context. The persona exists in a form that is wholly separate than the real world (and yes, actions in one can have consequences in the other but that does not mean they are the same) and Mogo cannot appear in the real world to baby-sit my kids (which would be an apocalyptic scenario anyway) regardless of how much I might want that to happen.

    A green lantern baby-sitter would be awesome.

    I think this is where the conflict arises, you would say (I think) that the persona is a construct of Mars, and Mars is the actor in the piece. I would say that Mogo exists in the context of the forum as separate from Mars and it's own actor. In fact, it would be possible and (probably) fairly common for Mars and Mogo to each exist and maintain completely separate lives in that context.

    I hate that Violentacrez is so intimately tied to the doxxing conversation because most people find him morally reprehensible and thus disregard the concept outside of similarly morally reprehensible scenarios. I think the option of Mars being able to create and exist as Mogo (as-near-to-wholly separate from Mars as possible) is valuable and should be protected. Others disagree.

    Meh, I've rambled too much. Time to get back to work.

  39. says

    You know, Patrick and I were doing to redo our commenting policy "Rules of Magic" style. And we may still. The rules of magic can be useful in different contexts, though.

    @PhilG – the relevant rule to cite here is"As above, so below". Aka, "Things look like what they are". Mars and Mogo may differ considerably, but Mars is Mogo is Mars at the end of the day. I think attempts to argue otherwise simply wander off into the tall grass. The two personalities might be complete opposites (or perhaps it might be better to say that Mogo is a complete and deliberate fabrication) but this does not mean they exist separately. Sans Mars, Mogo can't "go".

    We're fans of various forms of nymity here, I would note.

  40. Orv says

    @PhilG – I'm definitely familiar with the concept of roleplaying. I'm extremely uncomfortable with the idea that people should get a pass on the real-life consequences of actions taken while roleplaying. Once the consequences go beyond the fantasy world the character exists in, those actions are affecting real people, not other people's role play characters.

    If I'm playing Al Capone in a stage production and I shoot someone with real bullets, I'm the one who committed murder, not the character of Al Capone.

  41. says

    @David first things first, nymity, I like it.

    Thanks. See my administrative assistant for information about licensing.

    Next, the choice of Mars seems odd but let's roll with it

    This means war.

    Mars exists, has agency now (like Mogo!) and chooses to maintain a separate persona (hell, let's call him Mogo now) in an online forum. That persona, which may or may not be wholly different from Mars' persona – people craft rather distinct identities for themselves, is not the same agent as Mars in that context.

    With respect, this is where you drift into delusion.

    You seem to think that projecting a semi- or wholly-fictive persona in a given discursive context means that the "person" thus projected does not exist. But that's beside the point. The projector of that persona exists, and in that context (and for the usual reasons) is named by way of the persona thus projected. In short, you confuse actor and role.

    You see, all the worlds a stage, give us this day our daily mask, and ob-la-di. Even so, your model is inadequate, since fictive personae thus projected do not simply arise fully formed from the head of Zeus, and since they do not land in discursive contexts all on their own without the purposive effort of the one who projects them.

    For this reason, one rightly draws distinctions among (a) Johnny Depp's playing Sweeney Todd and (b) Johnny Depp's actually slicing people's throats and (c) Johnny Depp's playing Sweeney Todd, with attending special effects, at a backyard party of kindergarteners.

    The fact that neither Sherlock Holmes nor Sweeney Todd "exists" independently does not exonerate Depp of whatever burden comes with his choosing to project that persona at a child's fête rather than in an overtly theatrical, age-appropriate venue.

  42. Ben says

    I'm not sure that they both had comparable expectations of privacy.

    I might be inclined to argue that there was an implicit contract of trust when V disclosed person details to members of the reddit community, which they then violated. And that Gawker, in effect, knowingly aided and abetted the violation of that trust. If V had gone straight to Gawker and told them his name, and they'd subsequently published it – well, I suspect the attitude would have been something like 'what an idiot.'

    Such a trust did not exist in the case of the pastor giving a receipt to the waitress. He had no reason to believe that she would not publish it.

  43. evan says

    It's completely because Reddit literally believes that pedophilia is not wrong, and they believe that religion is wrong. Any other explanation is ultimately reducible to this.

  44. PhilG says

    @David I'm supposed to be working not answering you!

    Anyway, I think my choice of actor didn't come across as I thought it would, I should have said character because I think the Depp analogy confuses me there. The split between the real world and the online forum is closer to Doyle believing in procedural criminal investigations and writing about his character being a huge douche bag to poor Watson. Am I to infer that Doyle, who created and maintained and believed in some aspects of the character deeply, also was a huge douche bag to some poor guy who just wanted to be his friend?

    Obviously, at a certain point (@Orv responding to you too here) the creator may bear some responsibility for the real world consequences of their creation, but we're talking about the rare becoming the rule.

    Let's roll with Sweeney Todd now, let us assume, since I can't use Mogo any more, that Depp playing Todd isn't a known fact. We are dealing with levels of nymity here so bear with me. Let us say that Depp loves to play Todd because of reason X and Y that he finds lacking or unfulfilling or unachievable as Depp. Doxxing, in most cases, is not because Depp-as-Todd is running around knifing children at parties (although I find that oddly amusing), it's that someone is so upset with Todd that they forcibly publicize the Depp-as-Todd connection. They forcibly remove the level of nymity not because of some level of safety or real world consequence but out of spite. To remove the ability of Depp to enjoy his continuing to be Todd with some level of anonymity.

    The hitch comes when Todd does start running around knifing children at parties. Then the connection between the two, at least in regards to properly dealing with/punishing/law-abiding-justice-making, must be discovered and made known. That doesn't somehow mean that every other case of doxxing becomes valid, or that the communities that support letting the Depps of the world make their Todds need to stop. There are easily going to be situations where the negative aspects of doxxing of Depp far outweigh anything Todd might have done.

    @Grandy Why does Mogo cease to exist without Mars? Does the death of Mars remove Mogo from all contexts in which it was created, if that was true I totally want to know how cause there is plenty of stuff I'd like to not last after my death. In fact, couldn't Jupiter, who happens to know Mars is Mogo, step right in and continue to live as Mogo afterwards?

  45. SassQueen says

    The fact is that no one would give a shit about Violentacrez if all he did was post pictures of kittens on reddit. He was a douchcanoe on reddit, often and repeatedly, and enough people got tired of it that they outed him (or caused him to be outed by Gawker – the distinction is irrelevant).

    I choose not to "out" myself on various forums that I frequent, mostly because I want to be left alone in my "real life", but also because I don't know and therefore don't trust 99.9% of the people in those communities. I might occasionally "get to know" someone well enough to share my real email address or something like that, but that's on an individual basis and the number of times it's happened can be counted on one hand. To that end, I try not to be douchy in those settings. Mostly because I try not to be a douche in all my dealings w/ my fellow man, but also because I don't want to make myself a target for someone who might have the power and the inclination to find out who I am.

    Reddit can whine all it wants to, but it can't really be too surprised when one of its most infamous members pushes one too many buttons one to many times.

  46. Dan Weber says

    A bit late to this party. I also composed this before reading Grifter's comment.

    Reddit's position today (and since about a week after the VA fiasco) is that doxxing VA was okay, and you won't get banned sitewide for linking to his doxxing article, because it was done in "the media." Lots of redditors gripe that Gawker isn't "the media," which I think they're generally wrong about. (Although some members of the Gawker family, like Jezebel, are little better than personal blogs, so this slope be slippery. If I could just set up a blog and dox someone and then link to it, the anti-doxxing rules are useless.)

    If the patron of the restaurant got doxxed outside of Reddit, they would be following consistent anti-doxxing policy. If individual redditors doxxed the patron, they should get the shadowban penalty from reddit.

    Keep in mind that moderators of individual communities within reddit have wide latitude about what they won't allow. Individual subreddits can ban sites for all sorts of things.

  47. thrwaway says

    Honestly, you're hitting on some key points that have been discussed to death on /r/TheoryOfReddit. If you want links to specific threads, I could get some. Great article!

  48. Dan Weber says

    Reddit's anti-dox policy has applied to non-reddit people. If someone posts a picture of a guy kicking a cat, the rules on reddit are set up that you *aren't* supposed to figure out the guy's name and address and publish it.

    Because that specific incident has come up. Internet mobs form quick if you don't have something in the substrate to discourage it.

  49. says

    @philG – I think David already spoke to that. The fact that Mars or Jupiter could invoke Mogo isn't proof of the argument you are trying to make. I think instead it's proof of the counter; Mogo must be invoked, period.

  50. Andrew says

    I don't think the reddit community finds the pastor's doxxing acceptable. As previously mentioned, it was posted to /r/athiesm, so there was a ton of circlejerking over it, but from a site wide community policy perspective, it isn't acceptable. I didn't follow all of the comments on the issue too closely, but I imagine those defending the action came from a place of moral outrage – not logical argument that it is consistent with reddit's clear personal information policy. I doubt the admins would justify any distinction between the two events.

    Reddit's rule is do not post personally identifiable information or link to it. The posters who played internet detective on the credit card receipt clearly violated that rule. That rule doesn't exist solely for the protection of the online-only persona of a reddit account – it's a blanket rule intended to neuter witch hunts.

    We all get outraged by the ignorant things people say and do online, but witch hunts and vigilantism hurt innocent people and certain individual information, including personal info found online is often false.

    Questioning how some of reddit reacted is certainly fair (as an investigation into online social dynamics), especially if those same people were against VA's doxxing. That hypocrisy hasn't been demonstrated though; I see inconsistent reactions from a community of millions. The policy and admin actions seem to be pretty consistent.

  51. says

    @David …The split between the real world and the online forum is closer to Doyle believing in procedural criminal investigations and writing about his character being a huge douche bag to poor Watson. Am I to infer that Doyle, who created and maintained and believed in some aspects of the character deeply, also was a huge douche bag to some poor guy who just wanted to be his friend?

    Here, you're mistaken. Specifically, you're confusing (a) the passive engagement of reading static literary fiction (e.g., actual-Sue reading about virtual-Holmes in The Blue Carbuncle and enjoying no intercourse with actual-ACDoyle) with (b) the active engagement of reading dynamic forum-based discourse (which I'll generously call "sub-literary fiction"). In the latter case, actual-Sue reads about virtual-Whomever but enjoys intercourse, in the form of threaded dialog, with actual-ACDoyle.

    Forum-personae are not like static fictional characters, pre-generated and non-dialogic; rather, they're like dynamic fictional characters concurrently or interactively generated and dialogic. In the former case, moral culpability incurred by Holmes is generally intransitive; Holmes can be obnoxious to Watson while actual-Sue looks on, but ACDoyle is not thereby obnoxious to Sue. In contrast, in the latter case culpability is transitive; ACDoyle actively posting as Holmes cannot be obnoxious to Sue, or to Sue's forum persona, without at least raising the issue of actual (non-virtual) morality.

    In short, playing a role in a uni-directional medium is not the same as playing a role in a bi-directional medium.

  52. Orv says

    I think these Internet forums that value anonymity culture — Reddit, 4chan, Something Awful, etc. — are best seen as being like groups of playground bullies. If you're in their bully clique, they'll protect you from any consequences of what you do. If you're not in their clique, they form a circle around you and kick you. It's what they live for.

  53. says

    @TJIC "but Bell was guilty of stiffing a waitress – in effect, taking her labor and failing to pay her for it (very loosely, theft of services)."

    While tipping is the norm, it is just that, a Tip. While morally we can say you should tip and bemoan the true fact that wait staff are grossly underpaid, I don't think you can make the leap that it is theft of services.

  54. Keira says

    The idea that Reddit is a single community is a huge misconception. Reddit is a group of online communities of varying size that are hosted on the Reddit site. By writing an article that represents Reddit as a single entity you are either ignorant of Reddit or deliberately misrepresenting the situation.

    I'm inclined to think the latter because the fact is that there has been nothing resembling any kind of consensus regarding the Violentacrez or the Alois Bell doxxing. There have been many threads started in many communities about those scenarios and doxxing in general. Some people are for it, some against, and some just don't care.

    The truth is that there are all kinds of people on Reddit with all kinds of interests and all kinds of opinions. Some people go there to hang out in sports communities; some in various hobby communities; some in lifestyle communities; some in geographical communities; and yes, some are there to swap nude pictures. To lump all these people into one entity with one viewpoint is like treating the entire population of New York City as one entity, i.e. "NYC thinks this…NYC does that…" It's ridiculous. So again, I have to wonder: are you ignorant about what Reddit is or are you deliberately misleading your readers; and if so, to what purpose?

  55. Orv says

    @Keira – While Redditors might not all agree, there seems to have been widespread consensus at a fairly high level of influence that the Violentacrez doxxing was out of bounds (hence the widespread blocking of Gawker links) and the Alois Bell doxxing was a-OK. I think it's reasonable to ask what made the two situations different.

  56. princessartemis says

    Unfortunately, tips aren't "tips" anymore. I think it is rather horrible that wait staff are paid so little now because what *should* be a gratuity is now considered their pay. Many waiters are taxed as if they recieve tips but their employers don't actually pay them as much as they are taxed. Seems to go along with restaurants calling their patrons "guests" now, as if the "guest" is there at the restaurant's leisure…and of course, expected to pay the salaries of the waitstaff as well as pay for the privilege of being a "guest". Given that tips are part of their taxed pay, it's not that hard for me to see the leap.

  57. Orv says

    @princessartemis – In many states restaurants are also allowed to pay below minimum wage, on the theory that the difference will be made up for in tips.

  58. Andrew says

    @Orv – re: "consensus at a fairly high level".

    There was consensus among user of a few sub-reddits. Mods are regular users and do not act in any official capacity at reddit – they are appointed by the user who created the sub-reddit, not the admins.

    Specifically regarding the VA situation – people were as riled up by the fact that Adrian Chen and Gawker have a well worn axe to grind with reddit and solicited personal information about VA via reddit as they were about 'doxxing' one of their own. People saw it as too much of the same from an unprofessional tabloid. If Anderson Cooper, who did a report on VA's sub-reddits that sparked some debate, had followed up with a report outing VA you probably wouldn't have seen such consensus; CNN's authority would factor less into that than the perception that they're fairly unbiased. I'm not saying no one would have defended VA in that case – many users believe free speech and anonymity are paramount – even in the VA case because he was never accused of violating a law.

    I think it is reasonable to ask why the two cases were perceived differently by some users, but the official policy against doxxing is broad and covers redditors and people who don't even know what reddit is precisely because witchhunts in reddit's past included users, mods and unsuspecting members of the public. Given that the motivation for creating the rule is to prevent all those types of witchhunts, there are no grounds for questing how the admins would defend the distinction some users made.

  59. zouhair says

    Can you all please stop talking about Reddit as if it is a single entity that thinks the same all the way or at least should do so.

    This article is flawed for thinking just that, in Reddit you can have /r/feminism and /r/MensRights, /r/libertarian and /r/communism and even in some big reddits you can have different group of people posting thing diametrically opposites.

    So, please stop with such silly articles, Reddit is and will never be one single entity, thinking in one way. Stop the generalization.

  60. says

    VA was doxxed, everyone got steamed, there was controversy, and the consensus on Reddit ended up being "Don't do that"–but it wasn't like VA could be un-doxxed.

    Bell was outed, everyone got steamed, there was controversy, and the consensus on Reddit ended up being "Don't do that"–but it wasn't like Bell could be un-outed.

    I'm not seeing the substantial difference here.

  61. Dan Weber says

    there seems to have been widespread consensus at a fairly high level of influence

    I too would like to know what the inside information you have is.

    that the Violentacrez doxxing was out of bounds

    Again, the official Reddit policy, ever since about a week after the VA blow-up to the present, is that you are allowed to link to doxxing if it occurs as part of a legit piece of journalism. That obviously allows (and the people running Reddit readily admit) games over just where the threshold of "journalism" is, but there you go. They had some paroxysms in the middle of the brouhaha, but that was the end result.

    Again: current reddit policy is that the VA doxxing was allowed.

    and the Alois Bell doxxing was a-OK.

    How do you know this?

    From what I know, the people who doxxed Pastor Bell should be shadowbanned per Reddit's policies. They don't announce this in flashing neon signs when it happens so I don't know that is hasn't happened. Do you know that it hasn't happened? What were the posts and are those users still active on reddit?

  62. Skitrel says

    Oh look, a bunch of people generalising the population of a website that receives 35million+ unique visitors per month. That's 1 fucking fifth of the population of the United States… And people want to generalise and say that entire population has x view?

    Seeing some people generally holding one view or some people generally holding another view on reddit is not indicative of hypocrisy at all. It's merely indicative of the fact there are hugely differing camps on reddit with massively different opinions.

    That said, the submitter WAS informed that it wasn't right that the personal information was released and DID edit to reflect that, albeit too late. Needless to say however it wasn't doxxing anyway, doxxing refers to DOCUMENTING a username's identity that is otherwise undocumented. You can't DOX someone that doesn't have a username, it's not doxxing, it's releasing personal information in relation to an accusation, something that's flagrantly against the rules of reddit and leads to horrible horrible witch hunts.

    Before comparing the two things, please use the right terminology. You do not help things by misrepresenting hypocrisy, misunderstanding the scale of and breadth of the community and so on. In fact, to do otherwise is tantamount to writing low quality clickbait.

  63. says

    In fact, to do otherwise is tantamount to writing low quality clickbait.

    One of the few broadly accepted Redditor sins, aside from miscaptioning a cat.

  64. bao says

    Calling Reddit a community is like calling the internet a community. It is the most inaccurate generalization you can make, there is no macro community. Might as well say, "humans, why do some of you like this and some of you don't"

  65. Dan Weber says

    Yes, Reddit is like a bunch of communities with all different rules — but there is a "Federal" government that enforces a very few basic rules. One of them is no doxxing releasing of personal information.

    They of course cannot turn back time, but they can delete and sanction people who break that rule. If people were googling Pastor Bell's personal information and posting it in the subreddit, that's a violation of the site-wide policy, and it should be enforced.

  66. John David Galt says

    I'm only an occasional redditor (haven't logged on for probably 6 months), but I think I see their point of view. The whole point of the "no doxxing" custom is to prevent way-out-of-line forms of retaliation such as trying to get a person fired from their job or evicted from their home just for a personality conflict in a social situation (online or not).

    But Bell tried to — and did — get his opponent, the waitress, fired first. That, in my opinion, makes Bell fair game for the same to be done to her.

  67. Ro says

    Reddit's problems aren't its users, it's the system in which they operate and how that system allows the less benevolent aspects of it to thrive. Reddit's defenders can protest all they want about how they shouldn't all be painted with the same brush, and that it's more a 'community of communities' than an actual single collection of like-minded people. That's fine, and it's definitely a valid thing to consider. However, by pointing this out, you are stating that you are still willing to be part of the structure that also condones the nasty behavior that is being written about here. You are not powerless to do anything about it, instead you spend the lion's share of your time running to other sites that would take issue with what is objectionable, and have semantics debates over what it means to 'be a redditor'.

    Reddit is not the internet. It's a privately operated site. Reddit's admins fully have it in their power to say, "You know what? We can't be party to some of the hateful stuff that goes on in some of these subreddits, and we're not going to stand for it anymore." They don't, in the name of freedom of speech. Moderation is left to anyone who wants to moderate when they create their own subreddit, and few are decent at understanding how the karma system stacks the deck against them. The vocal subsection of reddit tends to cry havoc whenever someone wishes to instill any kind of rational policies outside of upvoting and downvoting, and in only a few very special cases has there been much success in this endeavor. Misogyny is rampant, attribution is something to be mocked, reason and thoughtfulness are discarded for a rush to the extremes and burying ideas that are disagreed with. And then, once a year a gift exchange is had and everyone pats themselves on the back for how awesome of a community it is. Wooo.

    So, to those who do not wish to be vilified along with those who deserve the blame, I ask you this: If your complaint is not wishing to be associated with the less respectable among you, what are you still doing there? The door swings both ways on this one. Reddit is responsible for a lot of good, and it's responsible for a lot of shit. You can't crow about one while attacking anyone who makes plainly valid points about the other.

  68. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Just a thought;

    OK, a credit card slip might be considered a private matter between the card owner, the card issuer, and the business where the slip was generated. It seems to me that by writing a message to the server, the cardholder has broken that expectation. If somebody writes a message to me that I consider insulting or outright insane, I don't see that they have any reasonable expectation that I will not show that message to others. And I'm not sure what writing it on a credit card slip does except demonstrate the cardholder's profoundly poor judgement.

    None of which has a lot to do with the behavior of Reddit, severally or collectively.

  69. Andrew says

    No, I don't think the complaint is not wishing to be associated with the less respectable. Those people exist just the same as the more respectable. It's inevitable when you give anyone a platform.

    You seem to recognize the nature of the platform yet you say the problem is that system which allows the less benevolent aspects to thrive. That problem you is the very nature of free speech. Yes, reddit as a private company certainly has the ability to squelch what it doesn't like, but that's not the ethos behind the company's founding. Reddit was founded by a couple of computer science students; free speech is a pillar of that culture. One need only look to co-founder Aaron Swartz's activism for example. It's completely consistent that they would stick to that principle in all but the most extreme circumstances. Illegal activity, witch-hunts with physically dangerous consequences and sexualizing children certainly meet that criteria. As distasteful and revolting as bigotry and misogyny are, they don't rise to that same threshold.

    Criticizing reddit for not crossing that threshold is certainly valid, even though I personally think providing a platform for maximal free speech justifies their actions.

  70. James Pope says

    Part of the problem with doxxing, as I understand it, is that, as a persona not a person, sometimes you can run into the position of "outing" someone who is in fact not the someone specifically regarded as the actor. Back in the 90s especially, there were times when several personas I was engaged in running for MUDs and moderated forums were actually shared responsibilities; and I remember vividly having a confrontation with an asshole Lt. Colonel who assumed that since he knew I was involved with a particular board in an administrative function that I was in fact the only person (out of three to five) that was posting through our computers. Beyond that, when my child was very young they shared their online gaming activities with me so I could both act as asshole cop and police the internet a bit and because they didn't like performing all of the boring tasks gaming sometimes attaches to things. So there were a whole set of personas there that were anonymous and subject to doxxing but would you out me or my kid? Because of Facebook and everyone declaring "never share your password with anyone!" all the time people like to assume these days that people's avatars are never complicated collaborative functions, but that's not always the case – and in fact because there's often an issue with identity theft on the internet (never give out that password, kids) outing the wrong person entirely is always possible.

  71. Deadly Laigrek says

    @Andrew – he's not commenting on reddit's free speech platform. What's being said is that one cannot crow the benefits of reddit while refusing to acknowledge the shortcomings and downfalls. That's just flat-out dishonest. We as humans can't go to aliens and say, "Oh we're all good little children here. What, you mean those racist assholes? Oh no, they don't count as part of us." Same difference.

  72. James Pollock says

    @TJIC "but Bell was guilty of stiffing a waitress – in effect, taking her labor and failing to pay her for it (very loosely, theft of services)."

    While tipping is the norm, it is just that, a Tip. While morally we can say you should tip and bemoan the true fact that wait staff are grossly underpaid, I don't think you can make the leap that it is theft of services."

    Not entirely true. Many restaurants apply the "automatic gratuity" (effectively converting the tip to a service charge) for large parties (usually because, if a server gets stiffed on one table out of 20-30 for the night, they do OK if they can make it out on other tables… but large parties tie up several tabletops and remove the server's ability to "make up the difference" on another table, because the cheapskate is also all of or most of the other tables, too. Sometimes this rule is clearly stated, and sometimes not. If it WAS clearly stated, AND the person crossed out and did not pay the automatic gratuity. Then they haven't paid their contractually-incurred bill in full… a theft of services.
    If you don't like having an automatic gratuity added to your bill, don't go out in large groups. If you don't like tipping, don't go to restaurants where it is customary.

  73. says

    I think a fair interpretation is that the obnoxious note—I don't see how it can be called "nasty"—was written to the restaurant, not the server personally or professionally. It was criticizing the mandatory 18% tip, which was pre-printed on the slip—the server should have felt stiffed, but had to be hyper-sensitive to feel insulted. Bell was a mega-jerk, but the fury directed at her is out of all proportion. And how you get to the position that writing a rude note on a receipt constitutes a waiver for web shaming is beyond me.

  74. John_Barleycorn says

    "Despite scratching out the tip added to the bill, Bell claimed that she left a $6 tip in cash, adding that she subsequently discovered the 18 percent gratuity had been charged to her credit card"

    Most interesting post Ken. I will not wade into this conversation as I think both the server and the pastor are assholes and deservedly or not found themselves on the karma train.

    After all two assholes never make a non-asshole regardless of the ethical argument.

    However, what I really want to know is, is the "mandatory large group gratuity" note on almost all restaraunt chain menus legal?

    If The pastor is telling the truth in the above link and the server or management adjusted the tip to include the 18% gratuity even though she scratched it out I want to know who adjusted the tip the management or the server?

    Furthermore if it is illegal does anyone know if the major credit card issuers have a policy on this that they enforce?

    If it is not legal and simply a bluff by the restaurant chains WTF?

    And just for the record I tip 15% on food and 10% on booze for shitty service. 20 and 15 for decent service and 30 and 20 for excellent service. Not because I am a good guy but simply because I find that to be reasonable and have a rudimentary understanding of what a vital factor tips are for the economic health of the service workers in this country.

    And just incase you were wondering… For completely absent and thoughtless servers who are also complete assholes that would obliviously rather be somewhere else altogether I usually leave 10% in cash and as much lint as I can possibly scrounge out of my pockets.

    Even assholes have to eat.

    And one final thought as I do not attend religious gatherings. Can anyone tell me if God accepts credit these days and if God does, does God accept American Express?

  75. Billy says

    @Ken There are a few issues with your lack of understanding about reddit which is one of the main reasons that you seem to be having a hard time understanding why one is ok and one is not.

    First of all while you seem to agree that it is a subset of reddit users, you still group the moderators as a single unit. Any sub-reddit can be started by any person and that person is a moderator and can add or remove any other moderator below them. So the first person that the original sub-reddit creator adds is #2 and can remove #3 even if #3 was added by the original creator.

    While there are reddit admins (actually employed by reddit inc.) and they can moderate any and every post on reddit, they do not do this. There is no admin team that is there to moderate every new post and they generally take a hands off approach to the site in terms of moderation unless they feel compelled to.

    I have been around reddit for many years now and have seen the userbase change dramatically, for example when you had the digg refugees come over. As it has gotten bigger, more people have become vigilanties / assholes and moderators can only do so much to stop it (they can for example remove a post and ban said user from that subreddit). The moderators all have lives (well sort of…) of their own and every subreddit does not have a moderator on at all hours of the day, some may even go days or weeks without one being available.

    As for online privacy, I was a strong believer in it and then I got out of high school and realized that there is no such thing. I personally do not post something online I would not tell someone to their face. I also recognize that there are many people who become their unique persona online and feel that it is their right to do this. To truly have a persona that cannot be traced back to you in next to impossible if you piss off the wrong group, I know of one persona that has done this and that is th3j35t3r, anonymous has been trying for years to dox him and has always failed.

    One of the biggest things I think you are missing however is that your definition of 'doxxing' is different than at least a majority of those on reddit. If you do something in real life and not online and someone calls you out on it (posts your name, address, whatever) then it is ok. However if you were using your persona then that persona is not linked to your real identity and thus the 'doxxing' is of the wrong person and incorrect doxxing is basically a felony on the internet.

    Personally I think VC crossed the line and have no issue with what happened, however I really thing that the 'reporter' was not trying to put him in his place or make him stop, it was all about making a name for himself and like all others that do that I think the reporter was wrong for doing it. I also think gawkster was 100% in the wrong for allowing it to happen and deserved the site wide ban. If you want to stop someone like this a simple e-mail with his personal details to him would have done the trick.

    As people say you are the company you keep, however to base the entire community on the actions of a few would be like trying to say all Muslims are bad because of the extremists or that all Catholics are bad because of the Crusades.

  76. John_Barleycorn says

    One final point of clarification and an idea.

    If the pastor did indeed leave six bucks for the server which would have been just over 17% the server is an asshole with hemroids even if she had no idea the pastor was going to get doxxed.

    If the pastor is being truthful about the six bucks than I am curious if Ken might reconsider his characterization of her note.

    However, seeing as though I am reasonably confident Pope Hat will not doxx me I will say the pastor is still an asshole although one without hemroids as surely she should know God does not eat at Applebee's and proselytizing on credit card receipts is a violation of the 11th commandment as it is written in the revised King James edition that the evangelical prosperity doctrine folks just put out this last election cycle.

    Proselytizing about money is cool but on money or its incarnations is a sin.

    Anyway, thinking like an evangelical, I think now that one party has been doxxed and the other fired I think they should milk this fucking situation for all it is worth.

    I humanely and humbly suggest Ken should pause this post, contact all relevant parties seeing as he has Pope like connections and ask if they would be willing to take part in a modern day first of its kind doxxing trial. Just for shits and grins. All advertising proceeds and dinstions to be equally split between asshole and asshole with hemroids.

    Ken can act as Judge/moderator the pastor can be represented by Gawker and the server by Reddit.

    Pope Hat readers will act as the jury.

    Those that read Pope Hat, Reddit, and Gawker can act as the mob and ask Violentacrez if he will play along and take a few photos of himself in some medieval wooden cage to act as some sort of symbol of who knows what at the end of the trial the one who doxxed the pastor will be abliged to spend one hour in the cage with Violentactez if the verdict is unfavorable.

    Then and only then once all the "evidence" has been presented will Ken's question be answered IMHO.

    That question was:

    Why is identifying Bell acceptable to your community, but identifying Violentacrez unacceptable to your community?

  77. Guns says

    @Ken: There are three things you should never forget when thinking about communication on the internet:

    1) There are a lot of people on the internet.
    2) What happens on the internet, stays on the internet. Forever.
    3) For the vast majority of communication over the internet, no-one has a face.

    You seem to have some problems with the notion of "online vs. real life persona", as if due to the ubiqiutous nature of the internet these days there is nothing to merit such a distinction. But the increased amount of communication has for the most part not done away with those three important points, and they make communicating over the internet vastly more treacherous than communicating in real life.

    When you say something stupid in real life, it is usually heard by half a dozen people, tops. They might pass it on to a couple of dozen more. Most of those people will know you or will have met you and they will give you the benefit of the doubt, allowing you to clarify or retract your stupid comments. After a couple of days/weeks/months, only an embarrassing memory remains. On the internet, however, your stupid comment will be viewed by hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of people. Whatever defense or retraction you would like to make will drown in their comments. And it will remain there forever.

    Now add to all this the third point. Not having a face is a handicap that is often seriously underestimated. You post a light-heated quip with a big smile on your face. In cyberspace, nobody can see you smile. Suddenly your light-hearted quip becomes a douchey insult. It is incredibly hard to have a civil discussion when you cannot convey any emotion at all. Your opponents will view everything you say in the worst possible light. You are pretty much your own straw man on the internet. Why else do you think so many online discussions, even among civilized, intelligent people, go absolutely nowhere incredibly fast?

    Now, considering all this, think about what it would mean if everyone communicated under their real name. It wouldn't be possible. No-one in their right mind, with any idea about the internet, would say anything at all beyond "lol" and "fail". The risk is too damn high. One misstep and that's your name linked to a big, epic fail, forever.

    Now, I'm not saying that someone like Violentacrez is just "misunderstood". There are certainly people who abuse anonimity for their disgusting purposes. What I'm saying is that for most people, anonimity or pseudonomity is not really about "At day, he is your friendly neighbourhood insurance agent, but at night, he becomes the nefarious DOUCHECUNT473!", but more about having a fail-safe against the incredibly treacherous nature of internet communication.

  78. Greg says

    One thing to note here is that the server that posted the copy of the receipt online was not the server that actually served the pastor in question. The pastor's server showed it to another server, who took a picture and posted it later.

    As to the 18% automatic gratuity, that generally isn't controlled by the server. The software used by the restaurant automatically figures out if there are more than x number of people at the table (probably by the number of entrees), and then applies the 18%. The server generally has no way to override from my understanding, but managers may or may not be able to.

    As to the automatic gratuity and the cash left on the table, I suspect that the pastor hit and run and left the receipt (with note) and cash on the table and then immediately left. The server was probably left without any way to explain to the already departed customer that she couldn't take off the automatic 18% and no way to give back the cash tip. I can't fault her, even if what the pastor said is true (and given the pastor's arrogance and general attitude, I don't think that is a given).

    The server that actually served the pastor I don't think did anything wrong, with the possible exception of showing it to her friend. Given that I show friends asinine emails that they shouldn't necessarily be privy to (just because they weren't addressed, not because there is anything sensitive) in order to get a laugh from time to time I really just can't fault that.

    The server (Chelsea Welch) that posted it apparently tried to keep identifying information off of it when she posted it. She deemed the signature unreadable and didn't think about that, which was a singularly stupid act that she tried to make up for after the fact. If the signature hadn't been included in the original posting, I would say she had done no wrong, and was just venting online about a shitty customer in a shitty job. It obviously got out of hand, but she was doing no more than thousands of other low wage workers around the country (world?). I can't say she was evil or bad, just stupid for not making sure that the customer couldn't be personally identified by signature.

    The pastor is an arrogant ass and deserves whatever happens to her from this. She is the epitome of why religion has lost so much ground among the middle-age and youth demographics. Though she is a blatant example, I could spend five minutes on Google and find numerous other exasperating incidents involving priests/pastors/etc, and that isn't including the obvious pedophilia issues with the Catholics or the incidents I've witnessed myself growing up. May she burn in the court of public opinion, and may she serve as an example to other pastors, priests, etc who arrogantly think themselves better than their fellow people.

    As a note: Ken, You're alive! Great to see you posting again.

  79. D506 says


    I'm a bit confused by your position. You yourself:

    1) Actively defend the rights of anonymous commenters who've said something offensive enough that legal action is attempted to protect their anonymity.

    2) Actively 'name and shame' many people for various reasons, from abuses of authority and power, to censorship, to things they've said at the privacy of their own rapist party.

    I don't see how these are more consistent then Reddit's approach honestly. Though, to be fair, doing what's right doesn't mean doing what's consistent and you do, at least, consistently do what's right.

    In any case, I suppose it boils down to whether she had the right to privacy here. And I really can't see how she did. There is no way she wasn't, at the very least, expecting the employee – who knew her name – to at least verbally share the story. And I don't think anyone could call into question the employee's right to do so. If someone comes to me at work and say "I'm John Doe and you're an asshole" I'm probably going to say later "Weird day: dude named John Doe called me an asshole".

    What she didn't expect was for anyone to care that she was a douchebag to a minimum wage service worker.

    I think the only argument one could potentially make was that the receipt photo itself shouldn't have been posted. Which is true, and why the employee who posted it lost her job. But this isn't about the receipt photo, it's about her name.

  80. says

    D506: My position, which I've articulated before, is this: (1) people have a legal right to anonymity that is protected, to some extent, from state intrusion, (2) there should be tight controls on use and abuse of legal process to out people, but (3) there is no right to anonymity enforceable against private parties — that is, no protected right to prevent people from figuring out who you are and writing about you.

    In other words, if someone got angry at you and wanted to file a frivolous lawsuit to force your ISP to reveal your identity, I'd defend you and seek help for you. But if you annoyed someone and they put your identity together from evidence and outed you, I'd recognize the distinction between state action and private action.

    I think some outings are contemptible, but think social sanctions against people who indulge in them are the correct remedy — more speech, in other words.

    My criticism of some elements of the Redditor community — including some mods and some admins — is that their approach towards anonymity doesn't seem entirely consistent. Also, although I understand putting a high value on anonymity as a part of a private forum embracing a vibrant approach to free speech, I'm not sure I agree with the weighing of that value with others such as, for instance, sexualizing children. It's the difference between thinking, for example, that people have the right to have a racist society, and thinking they are dicks for having it.

  81. Billy says

    @Ken I agree for the most part that there is some consistency issues, however the VC and the Pastor Tip happened in separate sub reddits. You still seem to think that there is a general mod community to deal with this when there is not. There were different mods that handled each issue (and in the end they removed the post about the pastor) and to ask them to be consistent is against what reddit is about.

    It's kind of like US law there are general laws set out by the federal govt that all states have to follow (the site rules) and there are state laws that are different in each state (the sub-reddit rules). You cannot expect California and Texas to have the same laws on guns and then call America hypocritical when the laws are different in different states. The laws were setup to be this way, just like reddit was setup to be this way.

  82. Dan Weber says

    Coincidentally, I was looking through bookmarks for something work-related, and found this gem:

    It's yishan's post from just after the VA kerfuffle. It sums up their policy as I said before. Oh, and "doxxing" is used synonymous with "posting of personal information."

  83. says

    Both parties in that Applebees incident were wrong, but the waitress was "wronger" and should have been fired.

    The server has no right to take a customer dispute and make it public.

  84. Laura K says

    I am not as informed as I ought to be–but didn't someone else–not the waitress post the receipt image?
    Also INAL–but I am in theological school pursuing ordination as a minister. When my friends and I in the school community saw this story there were a few diverse reactions. At least one of them involved the furious pinching of upper nasal bridges while connecting to the link and the muttering of "Oh (insert Deity) please don't let that crazy sanctimonious non-entity "pastor" be from MY denomination, please, please please…Others questioned whether the woman who wrote the receipt was even capable of understanding the difference between tithing and ministerial ethics and we all speculated on her moral capacity.
    It was a lesson for us. It was an important reminder of just what people calling themselves "clergy" are capable of inflicting in the name of self-centered greed and badly done theology. Actions like that lay a path of scar tissue over people and communities and our ministries may never be able to heal it–because each incident adds to personal histories and human history, and can reinforce the idea that we all act like that.
    People have leaked footage of unsanitary conditions in the food business, of inhumane or unsafe treatment of animals, and that has led to change. Important change. I certainly can't say getting the receipt and info on Reddit was legal–INAL–and I am close to the slippery slope of claiming ends justify means…but in this case, I think the story needed to come out. So, slippery slope accordingly slipped upon…

  85. Vega says

    I would also like to know why an employee has no right to make a customer dispute public.

    If you come into my place of employment and treat me like shit, I'm going to tell people about it (the number of people I tell and the detail with which I describe you will be in relative proportion to how badly I was treated). It's not my responsibility to protect you from the potential long-reaching consequences of your actions.

    Seems like a logical person might take this as incentive to not be an asshole to service workers in the first place but ymmv.

  86. Greg says

    Ditto, I strongly feel that it is the employee's right to go public, even if that's not exactly what happened, in the absence of a non-disclosure agreement or similar binding contract. I think the major thing the employee did wrong here was not editing out the signature, and she has admitted it was a mistaken (albeit because she didn't think the signature was legible enough to read). That could be, potentially, a security risk for the customer who is suddenly targeted by internet rage.

    If you do a quick Google search you can find hundreds if not thousands of sites of compiled complaints from various employees of various companies in various fields of the service industry. Everything from computer techs complaining of the idiocy of their customers, to waiters/waitresses complaining about customers and tipping, to everything else you can imagine. It's not immoral, unethical, or wrong. It may get the employee fired if it can be traced back to them (as happened in this case), but those are the consequences of doing business.

    And, as the movie "Waiting" showed, it's not a good idea to piss off the people that prepare your food. How were your pubic-hair flavored mashed potatoes, by the way?

  87. says

    The employee has every right to make the dispute public. Free speech does not mean speech without consequence. She's not under arrest for this. The government is taking no stand on the issue. No one filed any kind of take down notice or DMCA. She was perfectly free to commit these actions. Applebee's was also completely free to fire her.

    I think they were idiotic and stupid for doing so and I think the public relations hit is amazing. They also need to fire the people who are their official spokes-people.

  88. Dan Weber says

    I think the employee probably had the legal right to take the dispute public.

    But I'm not sure the employee should have. We all have disputes, and when they are taken public, usually the side that "wins" isn't whichever side was right, but just how the wind happened to be blowing and what people's emotional reaction was on the way it was framed when they first saw it. (Reddit's atheism subreddit is best described as teenagers who just realized they don't have to go to church. They are the worst of the default subreddits.)

    Someone has posted the theory that the Pastor did leave a cash tip on the table but refused to let the restaurant add an 18% tip automatically. I don't know if this is true or even if I believe it, but if that's true an Internet mob after her is an unjust outcome. But Internet mobs don't care about details. They run on pure emotion and the desire to see your enemy stomped into the ground.

  89. Dan L. says

    The argument so far:
    -Redditors believe in privacy for Redditors on Reddit. Anyone else is fair game.
    -Trying to point out harm caused by Reddit or Redditors is totally unfair because Reddit is a bunch of completely different communities that just happen to share domain space.

    If you guys don't want this sort of stuff to happen you need to moderate your communities better. That's really all there is to it. "Free speech" is a nice little slogan but it doesn't get Reddit or Redditors off the hook for any harm caused by their laissez-faire approach to content moderation. You don't have to moderate, of course, but if you don't expect to be held responsible for harm that is caused by your community or related and barely distinguishable communities.

    Or you could do a better job of distinguishing those communities yourselves. No one should be obligated to exhaustively research Reddit's culture before complaining about something on Reddit.

  90. says

    I'm barely a Redditor and I think those arguments have been addressed. The first is a straw-man and untrue. There is a privacy policy in place site wide and was actually applied in the case of the pastor. The thread was modified to obscure the signature and when that was failing to address the issue it was deleted. Sometimes it's pretty hard to unring a Bell (pun intended).

    The idea that there are different policies for different areas means if you don't want to see gore and disgusting crap stay out of WTF. Etc. Moderation is only so good as the people doing it.

  91. Dan L. says

    The first is a straw-man and untrue. There is a privacy policy in place site wide and was actually applied in the case of the pastor.

    And yet a fair number of Redditors showed up to argue this point anyway. You can't give all of Reddit credit for good opinions and refuse to take any censure upon Reddit for bad opinions. or you can but you'd be a hypocrite.

    Moderation is only so good as the people doing it.

    Sounds like another excuse not to take responsibility. That's essentially what all Redditors' arguments have been so far.

    I'm not talking about different subreddits with different policies. I'm talking about the fact that Redditors simultaneously defend the technological and social structures that enable harms and refuse to take any responsibility for those harms. Sorry, that's not how the world works. You can let people shoot guns in your back yard but when someone in an abutting property gets shot you better expect your laxity to become the subject of public scrutiny.

  92. says

    What was argued doesn't matter. The realities of how it was dealt with do. The opinions of the membership carry little weight. If you want to argue hypotheticals though that's fine. In you analogy about the backyard a better example is if I say it's fine to drink in mine, but my neighbor says it's not, then stay in my yard if you don't want trouble, just as if you want to look at pictures of My Little Pony without ridicule…find some place else to do it. Each sub-reddit does have it's own rules. Some moderators are better at enforcing them. There's also the idea that someone needs to complain before anyone knows there's a problem. I'm not sure how this could have been better handled.

    I don't think I've argued a hypocritical view at any point. I said I was fine with the outing of both parties. I'm also fine with reddit deciding how it wants to govern itself. Hell, I'm even fine with them being inconsistent and hypocritical if they want to be. It's their site.

  93. Dan L. says

    What was argued doesn't matter.

    Frankly, when the discussion is about whether Redditors' moral stances are consistent and whether they take responsibility for problems they cause it does matter.

    The opinions of the membership carry little weight.

    But it's community moderated. Make up your friggin' mind.

    In you analogy about the backyard a better example is if I say it's fine to drink in mine, but my neighbor says it's not, then stay in my yard if you don't want trouble,

    You completely missed the point of the analogy and so you seem to be responding to an argument I never made in the first place. Care to try again or shall I explain the analogy for you very slowly?

    Each sub-reddit does have it's own rules.

    Again, non-sequitir. Has nothing to do with my argument.

    I'm also fine with reddit deciding how it wants to govern itself.

    Is reddit an independent institution capable of governing itself? Or is it a loose coalition of independent communities incapable of governance? Make up your friggin mind.

    This is exactly my point. You guys don't want to take responsibility for harms caused by the structure of reddit and so all your arguments are essentially, "Oh, that's someone else's problem." Where does the buck stop? And if it doesn't stop why should anyone take your excuses seriously?

  94. Dan L. says

    Christopher, when people suddenly show up in the middle of a conversation to have an entirely different fight about Reddit than the one the post started and everyone else was having, you don't have to engage them.

    When you don't want to have to engage a legitimate argument accuse its author of being off-topic. That one goes back to usenet as well.

    The topic is about how redditors seem to have a different attitude towards privacy of redditors vs. privacy of real human beings, right? Like that was what the OP was about and almost all the comments, so it's what I'm talking about. "Entirely different fight" indeed.

  95. says

    Frankly, when the discussion is about whether Redditors' moral stances are consistent and whether they take responsibility for problems they cause it does matter.

    And I already stated they seemed consistent in my mind. You are welcome to disagree. The image was altered to obscure the identity. When that failed to work the thread was removed. I have no idea if any users were disciplined or banned over this and I would be shocked if reddit moderators commented about this.

    But it's community moderated. Make up your friggin' mind.

    There are actual moderators. People. Not everyone is one. It's not a democracy. I don't get a vote on what the policies are or how they are handled. I can post comments, links, and I get to upvote or downvote the same. I don't get to remove comments or posts. You make it sound like everyone is some sort of admin. The members input on policy may be solicited, but they don't make the rules. A wiki is as close to community moderation as you can get and reddit is not a wiki.

  96. Vega says

    Someone has posted the theory that the Pastor did leave a cash tip on the table but refused to let the restaurant add an 18% tip automatically. I don't know if this is true or even if I believe it, but if that's true an Internet mob after her is an unjust outcome.

    That's not a theory, that's what the Pastor claims happened ($6 being a tip of just under 18%, incidentally). She also claims that Applebees charged the 18% to her card despite her crossing it out. To me, it sounds like she realized that having not tipped makes her look like an asshole. If she could just make that connection with the rest of her behavior, that would at least be a good start.

    An internet mob after her is an unjust outcome regardless of whether she tipped but expecting to not deal with any sort of repercussions for being an asshole is something else. That's a sense of entitlement common among people who are Better Than You(TM). Even though I don't think she deserves Internet "Justice," she definitely deserves her friends and neighbors finding out how she apparently treats people who are below her.

    A friend saying "Dude… you were kind of an asshole when X…" is how a lot of us learn what we're doing and how to stop doing it.

  97. Dan Weber says

    If she struck out the automatic tip (assuming she hadn't agreed to it by being part of a large party, and with a bill of about $35 she probably hadn't, although maybe it was a separate checks deal) and left the tip as cash, that doesn't strike me at all as the behavior of an asshole. Instead she was objecting to the restaurant automatically adding a tip for her. But she still gave the server the tip she thought she deserved via a separate channel.

    That strikes me as very normal. If I'm donating time or money to a charity, and someone else tells me that I'm obligated to do so, I will resist doing so where that person can see me, because I am not their bitch and they don't get to control me. However, assuming I think the charity deserves my time or money, I will still donate it, just not when that person is watching.

    (Again, this is all assuming that what the Pastor said was true.)

  98. says

    If you laid out $6 cash and then noticed they had added $6.49 to the ticket you would cross out the one on the ticket and still leave the $6? Most rational people would just pick the $6 back up. Instead pastor Bell decided to use the receipt to preach.

  99. Dan Weber says

    If by "rational" you mean "path of least resistance," sure. But this blog tends to celebrate people who avoid the path of least resistance.

    The "rational" thing to do when Games Workshops wants you to remove "Space Marine" from your title is to remove it from your title. The "rational" thing when your school wants you to remove your poster of Mal is to just remove it. The "rational" thing when the student group wants you to hide your rutabaga is to hide it.

    If the Pastor was just refusing to be cowed by the restaurant but still left a good tip for the server, that seems to be handling the situation perfectly. The only reason to go all atitter is because she mentioned "God." Oh, dear, fetch the fainting couch.

  100. says

    It wasn't that she mentioned God. She made sure she was acting in her capacity as a pastor. She put her title out there. I'd have had the same reaction if a doctor had made a comment about the fat content of the food and then wrote "Doctor" above his name.

    Your definitions of rational are pretty stupid.

  101. Laura K says

    To me the issue is beyond whether or not she mentioned God–her note suggests that she went out of her way to avoid some aspect of standard tipping policy at the sarlac pit–sorry, Applebees–or to refuse a tip to her server (who earns what, 2.50 an hour without those tips?) because of what she claims SHE does for God. This is beneath contempt. You don't violate Wheaton's 'don't be a dick' law and THEN cover your ass by claiming some special relationship with or justification from A) God, B) Allah, C) The Great Spaghetti Monster and his Noodley Appendage! — or whoever.

  102. Dan Weber says

    Laura, specific to my comment was the assumption that she did leave a cash tip for about the same amount for the server.

  103. says

    You know what they say about assumptions. They make and ass out of you and God.

    This pastor suffers from a credibility issue, so I don't believe she left a damn dime.

    Don't mind me though. I'm just relaxing on this feinting couch.

  104. Laura K says

    –Dan–thanks. I was responding more to what you said about mentioning God and the fainting couch,–and I still think that leaving a tip for the server but defying applebees and making it about God is not something anybody but a fairly insecure 'clergywoman' would do.–but I understand you were discussing a hypothetical of this woman leaving an additional tip, and didn't mean to express otherwise.

  105. Andrew says

    I'll admit I'm a bit late to the game here, but I wanted to respond to the initial discussion. The difference, in my mind, is that there is a difference between "icky" and "harmful" behavior, and that while I may not particularly agree with ViolentAcrez's proclivities, I don't see any harm in them.

    Pictures of attractive women in public, even pictures of young women, is not harmful to those women. And aside from speculative "if people look at these pictures and figure out where a given picture was taken and go to that place and engage in illegal activity" there is no harm to society. And, frankly, I don't buy it. There is no evidence that looking at pornography on the internet encourages illegal behavior, and the tenuous "these pictures will lead to stalking/rape/bad stuff" argument holds little water.

    Admittedly, we're talking purely about ethics rather than anything legal. But for me, as a Redditor and an attorney, there is a distinction between "promoting icky stuff" and "denying a tip to a worker while proselytizing."

    But, a lot of it also is whether someone has acted within their individual capacity, or within the protection of anonymity. Part of the value of anonymity is the ability to promote ideology (and I would say that Violentacres has a particular, if peculiar, ideology) without needing to defend it in ones personal lives. The Silence Dogood letters come from Ben Franklin's ability to write freely and without being forced to defend his positions personally. I doubt, in some respects, whether you would be willing to post everything you post if it could impinge on your personal life.

    And that's a choice which should be left to the individual. When I write in opposition to current obscenity laws, I should be left the choice whether I want to have to explain my positions to my cousins. But, Reddit's response to Pastor Bell was not about revealing the identity of someone who had acted anonymously in order to advocate unpopular positions. It was a public response to a public act.

  106. says

    Pictures of attractive women in public, even pictures of young women, is not harmful to those women. And aside from speculative “if people look at these pictures and figure out where a given picture was taken and go to that place and engage in illegal activity” there is no harm to society. And, frankly, I don’t buy it. There is no evidence that looking at pornography on the internet encourages illegal behavior, and the tenuous “these pictures will lead to stalking/rape/bad stuff” argument holds little water.

    Sure, no harm done as long as you discount the fact these images were posted without subject consent. Personally I consider that victimizing, but your definition may be different. There's also the fact they weren't comply with records laws on the age of the "models" depicted in the pictures. The guy was a sleaze, the people viewing that sub-reddit were sleazes, and reddit is better off having done away with that area.

    If you disagree, send me a shot of your wife or mom and I'll put it somewhere where anyone can say anything they want about them. Actually, keep the pics of your mom (I have enough).

  107. Andrew says

    Well, no. I can include the fact that the postings were without consent because no consent was necessary. If someone wants to take a picture of me and my girlfriend (or just my girlfriend) while we're in public and post it on the internet I have no objection to it. It'd be no different than someone walking down the same street looking at us and making a comment, which they have every right to do.

    I may have missed the point when the laws for recordkeeping for adult films were applied to non-explicit, non-sexual, non-pornographic pictures taken in public. Those exist because it is illegal to create child pornography, but even as Orwellian as we are when it comes to what constitutes "child pornography" (including a drawing of two stick figures one of which is labeled "sixteen years old"), this is not pornographic.

    I'll agree that he's sleazy, and that those viewing creepshots were… Well… Creepy. But until you can draw me a line between those pictures being posted and actual harm, I don't see the justification. While not government-mandated, this was little more than viewpoint-based censorship.

  108. says

    I don't have a problem with it. Actions have consequences. If you don't want to be associated with posting a picture of a woman online to try to find her lookalike then don't post a picture.

    I find if more disconcerting that reddit allows this section. If the posts came from someone with permission, then great. Otherwise it's creepy and stalkerish.

  109. perlhaqr says

    I'm not a redditor at all.

    I don't really have much of a problem with the VA doxxing, honestly. If you want to be pseudonymous, be fucking pseudonymous already, don't half ass it.

    I think I mostly have a problem with a photograph of a financial document being posted online. Other than that detail, the poster saying "This noxious bitch, Rev. So-and-so, fucked my co-worker on her tip, and wrote her a sanctimonious note about it on the receipt which said '$message'." isn't really any different than a newspaper website posting an article which says "Mr. Such-and-the-like was quoted as saying how he likes to molest small dogs."

    Either one is the publishing of a person's name online, associated with a description of an act they committed, and a statement they made.

    I think the difference is that the act and the statement and the person were already clearly linked, and this is reporting on them. The VA thing, or the theoretical(?) dog / cat kicker is different in that you're attempting to associate a currently unknown person with a name.

    I may have misunderstood your position, though, and the objection / difference you're seeing comes from the posting of localising info ("This person lives at $address") vs: identifying information ("This person is named $foo"). Though I don't think you actually object to either, you just want to know what the reddit difference is. *shrug*