Tag Archives: reddit

Linkspam and the Angry Inch (14 December 2012)

  • Hidden Communities of Reddit: “Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace, where the relationships between users are explicit, have been mined to death. But social communities like Reddit, StackExchange, Hacker News and SomethingAwful have barely been mined at all. I’m working on a project to try to predict social cascades – when new memes are going to spread, and where they are going to go.” Bonus: you can interact with the visualization yourself!
  • See 3 female fighter pilots who got cut from Return of the Jedi: “So we’re left to ask the most obvious question—Why? Why were these women cut? Why are there so few women in Star Wars? Maybe it’s a moot point, but we’d love to hear those stories. And more important still, we want to see some serious female representation in the new movies.”
  • Women in science: confronting failure, developing resilience: “Training in resilience… may be as beneficial to seeing an increase in the numbers of senior women engineers and scientists, in academia and outside, as more subject-specific interventions during their education.”
  • women in tech infographic – Scientista Foundation: An optimistic outlook on the future of women in tech.
  • If Code Is Law, Then Coders Are Lawyers – Jotwell: Cyberlaw: Highly complimentary review of Coding Freedom, a F/OSS ethnography by E. Gabriella Coleman.
  • quick and dirty metric for privilege: “obviously this chart doesnt account for a lot, but it tells me that white feminists seized power only for themselves, 1970-2010, and it tells me that as a white person i should stfu unless im critiquing more powerful white people, because any critique im making of anyone else is part of their observable oppression by a system that favours me.”

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

I spent years building up a tolerance to linkspam (19 October, 2012)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Photograph of camera by Elliot Bennett

Discussion starter: Reddit, Predditor, and outing bad behaviour

So there’s Reddit. For the Reddit abstainers like me (I’m also not on Tumblr or Facebook, I’ll move on and set up neo-Luddite Feminism Blog any day now), a quick intro: discussion forum, encouraging the creation of Reddit subforums (subreddits) around any topic you can think of. Hugely popular: the mainstream press tends to cite Barack Obama’s Ask Me Anything thread as proof.

Reddit is strongly committed to what their users call freedom of speech, but that isn’t a very specific term on the Internet: it can mean anything from “I believe governments should not restrict expression” to “I believe that never deleting comments* from a forum improves the quality of discussion” to “I believe that never deleting comments from a forum is the only ethically correct way to run a forum.” (Or the disingenuous version: “I believe that I personally should be able to say what I want in any forum.”)

In Reddit’s case, freedom of speech basically amounts to “we believe that any user should be able to create a subreddit and moderate it how they and fellow moderators choose.” They host, for example, hate speech subreddits. They also until recently hosted r/CreepShots, a subreddit for sharing non-consensual photos of girls and women (up-skirting and such).

Over the last week, there’s been several eruptions around Reddit. Recently, Samantha** set up Predditors, which posts publicly available information about contributors to r/CreepShots, gathered from other sites linked to their Reddit pseudonym. It’s up and down: right now the first entry lists the full name, date of birth, employer, marital status and several photographs of one Eric Gore, Reddit username “ocbaud”, who submitted covert shots of women taken in his workplace. Jezebel posted about Predditors on October 10: How to Shut Down Reddit’s CreepShots Once and for All: Name Names. Predditors was temporarily closed by Tumblr shortly after, although at time of writing it is back with two profiles of Reddit users.

“Reddit’s defense of [CreepShots] is that it’s ‘technically legal,’ [Samantha**] explained. (The subreddit’s bio mansplains it well: “When you are in public, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. We kindly ask women to respect our right to admire your bodies and stop complaining.” You can also click here for information on how little Reddit’s administrators seem to care about policing the subreddit.) “So I’m doing something that’s technically legal, but will result in consequences for their actions. These fuckers think they can get away with it scot free, which is one of the reasons why sexual violence is so prevalent around the world.”

In addition, on October 12, Gawker published Adrian Chen’s Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web, identifying Reddit user Violentacrez, a moderator of r/CreepShots and several other subreddits hosting racist, misogynist and/or sexually abusive content, as Michael Brutsch, a computer programmer in Texas. Brutsch apparently moderated most of the subreddits out of a commitment to a “I believe that never deleting forums from Reddit is the only ethically correct way to run Reddit” version of free speech, but was more personally interested in r/CreepShots, regularly contributed content. Chen also describes a reasonably close working relationship between Reddit staff and Brutsch, who was active in training other moderators, and in identifying illegal content so that Reddit could remove it (that they don’t want to host).

It’s not yet clear how things will go from here: will Predditors survive, will Samantha** survive burnout, will creep shots remnants pop up all over the web like zombies? (The last is already happening***.)

Some of Geek Feminism’s authors have had a backchannel discussion over the last year or so about various Database of Harassers proposals. The proposal there is for documentation of in-person harassment incidents, for people who would rather not make their harassment accusations public in a blog entry or etc for the usual reasons We’ve taken a pretty skeptical view of the likely success of such a project. What do you think? Does the success of the wiki’s own incidents listing (which relies on third party public reports) or Predditors change your opinion?

* No one seems to believe this about spam.

** The pseudonym that was used in the Jezebel article.

*** Link is to a Jezebel article, not directly to a creep shots site.

Go go gadget linkspam (28 September, 2012)

  • On Seminars and the Sex Ratio of Geosciences Departments | downwithtime: It turns out that the more women a department has, the fewer women it has presenting at seminars, at least for this small sample. What’s going on?
  • Minimal Posters – Six Women Who Changed Science. And The World.: What the title says
  • How Many Programmers AreThere? | The Computer Boys Take Over: Critical look at data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on programmer employment
  • Why the Death of Mom-and-Pop Pharmacies Has Been Great for Women | The Atlantic: “according to new research, the rise of big national pharmacy chains that have wiped them out has been a great triumph for women in the workplace.”
  • Reddit Users Attempt to Shame Sikh Woman, Get Righteously Schooled | Jezebel: “A Reddit user going by the handle “european_douchebag” posted a surreptitious photo of a Sikh woman with the caption “i’m not sure what to conclude from this.” The user’s apparent confusion stems from the fact that the woman—bound by her religion not to cut her hair or alter her body—has an abundance of dark, untrimmed facial hair. But then something totally lovely and unexpected happened. The woman in the photo responded.”
  • Feminism and Romance | Laura Vivanco: from the link suggester, “There was a linkspam entry on 7 August containing a “feminist romance” link. Unfortunately, the linked article effectively denigrates romance novels and perpetuates invalid stereotypes. Statements like “in romance, the man always saves the woman, and we should have women who help themselves”, “there is no LGBT romance” may have been true some 20 years ago, but such books are easy to find today. Laura Vivanco is a blogger who critiques romance from a academic literary perspective, and her entry contains a more balanced take on romance and feminism – as she says, not all romance novels are feminist, but many are, and I think this is important to get out, or otherwise it’s just bashing women’s writing (which romance is, essentially – women writing for women about women’s concerns).”

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Privilege denying atheist: "We should be more skeptical of feminism: who knows, maybe women aren't people after all"

Quick hit: rAtheism fail

Warning: linked posts have, and quote, misogynist commentary.

  1. 15yo atheist woman Lunam posts pic of herself with Carl Sagan book to the atheism sub-reddit.
  2. Misogynist jokes about rape, women’s appearance, women’s intelligence, women’s attention-seeking follow. (You are awful, too is being linked widely as well.)
  3. Lunam has updated on reddit also.

    Finally, have some Scumbag Privilege Denying rAtheism:

Wall of Spam, by freezelight on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Linkspam shattered on impact (19th September, 2011)

  • The GNOME Women’s Outreach Program is running paid internships (for women, and not only students) from December 12, 2011 through March 12, 2012. The application deadline is October 31.
  • Just 12% of CSIRO’s senior scientists women: While at entry level almost 50 per cent of post-doctorate graduates are female [at CSIRO, Australia’s government research agency], just 12 per cent of senior specialists are women.
  • Women, swearing and the workplace: Since [Carol] Bartz’s very public departure from Yahoo last week, her penchant for blunt, profane language has become recurring themes in discussions of her career, driving conversation about what women can and can’t be in the workplace.
  • (Warning: self-harm and harassment mentioned.) Naming Names on the Internet: Three years ago… It required contributors to Web portals and other popular sites to use their real names, rather than pseudonyms… Last month, after a huge security breach, the government said it would abandon the system.
  • (Warning for sexual assault and denial.) Reddit Users Find New Way To Be Assholes. When a woman posted about her sexual assault on Reddit, she enraged doubters, who eventually convinced her to post video proof of the crime.
  • Introducing Ladydrawers: it’s the female-identified creators who aren’t being encouraged to submit [comics] work, aren’t being sought out and aren’t getting books turned into big movie deals. In comics and elsewhere, women creators of all sorts of media are starting to ask: Why? Ladydrawers, a new semimonthly comics collaboration, will look at a few possible reasons and impacts in comics form.
  • Across the digital divide: This doesn’t change the part where, every time a discussion of ebooks turns, seemingly inevitably, to Print is dead, traditional publishing is dead, all smart authors should be bailing to the brave new electronic frontier, what I hear, however unintentionally, is Poor people don’t deserve to read.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious, freelish.us or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Sexism on Reddit

Programmer and self-proclaimed geek Mariya Lysenkova runs Verdage, a consultancy whose offerings include the CMS system Webist. Although happy with her roster of clients, including American Express Publishing and The Economist, she would love to build more websites for woman-owned startups.

Tits or GTFO
sudo make me a sandwich
Go back to the kitchen!

No, that’s not a haiku. Those are some of the comments I’ve come to expect as a girl with an arsenal of geek interests: programming, politics, and of course, silly internet memes. I’m not easily offended. Tits or GTFO. Ha ha ha.

Millions of battered women and I’m still eating mine plain?


Please post a nude pic in the Gone Wild sub-reddit, so we can determine if you are just an ugly angry pig or if you are attractive and therefore have a serious point to be considered.


Yet even these increasingly offensive comments are not enough to rattle me. After all, what would the interwebs be without trolls angling for the maximum shock value? Don’t feed the trolls, as they say, and that means ignoring most of the blatant sexist nonsense left in the comments at Reddit.com and other social news sites.

Nor, in the interests of space, will I delve into my experience debating controversial topics: abortion, alleged IQ differences between men and women, appropriate punishments for false rape accusations, transgendered rights, legalization of female toplessness and so on. Suffice to say that my thoughts on these topics have prompted less than enlightened responses.

What really gets to me — I mean really, really annoys me — lies in longer threads, where the topic is too mundane and the exchange too long and nuanced to warrant trolling. That is to say, I’m shocked by what some average Joes think about the average Jane.

Take one hot topic that recently popped up on Reddit, my favorite social news site. The Onion, in typical Onion fashion, published this satirical piece about a girl who torments her lovesick male friend. It’s a funny piece, especially since I’ve been on both sides of the lovelorn friend equation. But boy, what a misogynistic crapstorm ensued on Reddit. If a woman has a platonic friendship with a man, the consensus seemed to say, she is likely manipulating his sexual attraction to her. The comments ranged from “Girls are fucking retarded” to equating coquetry with rape. Never mind that a man might befriend a woman even if he is married, gay, or just not sexually attracted to her. Never mind that a truly unhealthy friendship can be ended by either party at any time. A man out there is not getting laid — and it’s a woman’s fault!

And when women aren’t viciously cock-teasing their friends, they are, of course, busy cheating on their boyfriends, according to some other threads. “If the girl truly cared about her current boyfriend, she wouldn’t maintain contact with her ex” wrote one poster. “Let’s say 5% of women who hang out with their ex’s still sleep with them,” noted another. “I do not like those odds and will not put up with it.” Sure, many couples break up precisely because the “spark is gone”, but remain great friends, but why put your new boyfriend through that? Apparently, the insecurities of a woman’s current partner should determine whom she does and doesn’t associate with.

Besides manipulation and philandering, no misogynistic portrait would be complete without greed. “How often have you or your female friends offered to pay for a first date, or even offered to pay your share of a first date?” asked one Redditor. “Would you expect a man to purchase a ridiculously expensive ring for you before marriage? Have you ever considered what it must feel like to be obligated to do something like that? Do you think you would forgo the jewelry or offer to help defray the costs of it?” Never mind that I’m currently cohabiting with my partner in Scandinavia, where couples are expected to split expenses 50/50, and that we have no intention of bringing diamond engagement rings into the equation. Never mind that this is the attitude shared by most of my female friends back in the U.S. No – this is how all women think, everywhere. Period.

The regular readers of social news sites are predominantly younger males, and it’s troubling that the next generation of men are soaking in such caricatures of women, portrayed as something fundamentally different and even dangerous. Indeed, if one constructs a composite image of a woman based on comments seen online, she is a self-obsessed, manipulative, ball-busting harpy. With a penchant for expensive shoes, of course.

Our society has recognized that it’s inaccurate and inappropriate to draw conclusions about a group based on the actions of a few. For example, “Muslims are terrorists” and “Blacks are violent” would make even the most immature Redditor cringe — and downvote. Yet comments like “Women are materialistic” and “Women are manipulative” get electronic nods. Generalizing about a gender is still acceptable.

Some women, of course, also make gross generalizations about men. But, just like our governments and other institutions of power, women are hugely underrepresented in the geekosphere. This is illustrated by the fact that my comments, under a gender-neutral Reddit username, are often met with, “Well played, sir!” So with women in the minority, a comment like “men are pigs” would be downvoted into oblivion, while “women are bitches” stands a damned good chance. And this makes it harder to open a dialogue on the subject. When I posted on Reddit about sexism on the site, only a handful of women responded, most of them through private messages. Bullying, it seems, can drive a minority opinion underground even in an anonymous setting.

But is online misogyny a real cause for concern? One man responded to my post with, “I treat women the same way I treat men; Like shit. Don’t blame it on sexism.” It may well be that people in anonymous settings are, well, jerks. Penny Arcade thoughtfully illustrated this phenomenon:
Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad

So what is a geek girl to do? My advice: make yourself heard online, but don’t take any of it personally. In the words of one wise Redditor: “Getting offended at the attitudes of a bunch of teenage boys is like peeing into the wind. You’re always going to get it in your face.” Never mind, of course, that not all Redditors can pee into the wind.

Daughter of Link Roundup (August 31st, 2009)

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr

Photo by lyrabellacqua on Flickr