Reddit, Karma, and Mob Rule

I’ve been using reddit for some years. For a while, I was convinced that reddit’s system of karma was a good thing. It discourages and prevents a lot of crap. I wished that YouTube or even Facebook would adopt such a system, because there’s a lot of useless and harmful junk there. However, I have come around to the conclusion that reddit-style karma does more harm than good.

Take r/relationship_advice for an example. I’ve earned a lot of karma there, but I’ve also lost some, and I’ve learned that I have to be careful about what topics to respond to. For example, rational comments on topics related to jealousy will be unpopular and cause you to lose karma. It’s not that such comments are wrong, untrue, or bad advice. However, they dare to defy the mob rule about jealousy, cheating, open relationships, and polyamory. The mob identifies strongly with jealousy. Jealousy is, by its nature, an irrational phenomenon. The mob does not understand jealousy in a rational sense and has probably never thought about jealousy in a rational way. So when redditors read a rational comment touching one of these topics, it tends to conflict with their emotional understanding of jealousy (which is the only understanding of jealousy they have), and they downvote it. Sometimes they reply with indignant comments, and other members of the mob upvote those comments.

Redditors are much like lemmings.

Consequently, reddit is not a platform for truth. It is not a place for the open-minded. It is not a safe place to think out loud or to express unpopular opinions.

Reddit is a circle jerk.