The r/games subreddit temporarily closed on April Fool’s Day, but it wasn’t a prank. It chose to go offline to draw attention to the bigotry and vitriolic attacks it says are a pervasive issue on the site and in the gaming community as a whole.
“Though certain memes (such as ‘gamers rise up’) surrounding gaming are largely viewed as a humorous interpretation of a mindset, at the core of the humor is a set of very serious issues that affect all gaming enthusiasts,” the subreddit’s moderation team wrote in a post on Monday. “By showing disdain or outright rejecting minority and marginalized communities, we become more insular. In this, we lose out on the chance to not only show compassion to these people, but also the chance to grow our own community and diversify the demographics of those involved in it. Whether it’s misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, racism or a host of other discriminatory practices, now is the time to stymie the flow of regressive ideas and prevent them from ever becoming the norm.”
The mods then shared an image gallery filled with dozens of examples of the transphobia, islamophobia, racism, misogyny, and other attacks they say are hurled at commenters on a daily basis.
“From bigotry to vitriol, this album merely scratches the surface of the magnitude of the problem,” they said.
The mods ended their post with links to a variety of charitites that support women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.
The r/games subreddit typically gets high traffic on April Fool’s Day, which made it a good opportunity to draw attention to the issue. Although the mods believed the odds of their post taking off were slim, it received widespread coverage from gaming outlets and a flood of support from the community. But, there was some negative feedback as well. The post got a “huge number” of false reports, the mods said in a follow-up post on Tuesday. There were also negative responses via private messages as well.
“However, we are profoundly thankful and extremely gratified that the amount of positive responses greatly outweighed the number of negative feedback, both via modmail and in other subreddits as well as other forums of discussion,” the mods said. “It shows that our message received an immense amount of support. Thank you all so much for those kind words. We greatly appreciate them.”
Going forward, the r/games subreddit said it will continue iterating its moderator program to improve how effectively it manages its 1.7 million member community. It also recently increased the amount of moderators for the site.
Reddit, like many social media platforms, has faced criticism in the past for its failure to moderate hate speech. CEO Steve Huffman told one user it’s hard to ban such behavior because it’s “difficult to define,” according to the Huffington Post. He also reportedly said that enforcing a hate speech ban is “a nearly impossible precedent to uphold.”
“There’s a reason why it’s not really done,” he said.