Reddit bans major publications for allegedly spamming and/or cheating

The popular social link-sharing site has begun temporarily blocking entire domains

Reddit, a popular link-sharing and discussion site, announced this week that it has begun blocking content from entire domains - including some belonging to the Atlantic, Business Week, Phys.org, Science Daily, and Discover Magazine - for "spamming and/or cheating."

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It's unclear exactly what the banned domains had been doing to provoke the move, and the site's administrators have not publicly commented on the specifics of any given case.

"There's not a public list because we felt that'd be too much of a 'wall of shame' for the domains involved. That said, it's completely transparent in that you know we don't allow the domain rather than silently spamfiltering," lead programmer Neil Williams wrote in a discussion on the site.

Reddit implemented the domain-level ban functionality a week ago, saying at the time that "we're initially rolling this out for link-shorteners which have long been discouraged on Reddit as they conceal the true destination of the link."

While general manager Erik Martin confirmed in another discussion that the bans are temporary, no information has been forthcoming on their exact length. Systems administrator Jason Harvey added that Reddit has been in direct communication with the owners of the affected domains.

Although Reddit does not bar publications from submitting their own content, the site's FAQ states that "if your contribution to Reddit consists mostly of submitting links to a site(s) that you own or otherwise benefit from in some way, and additionally if you do not participate in discussion, or reply to peoples questions, regardless of how many upvotes your submissions get, you are a spammer."

In addition, the site strictly forbids any collusion among users in the interest of artificially boosting the apparent popularity of submissions.

The recent wave of bans, however, has rubbed many in the site's user base the wrong way. Complaints about a lack of transparency in the process and questions over the decision to ban well-regarded sources like the Atlantic and Business Week were common.

"I am failing to see the logic here. Seems like it just neuters the content on reddit, and could be used to censor opposing viewpoints," wrote one Reddit user.

However, others applauded Reddit's move.

"Reddit is essentially saying, 'We don't care how big you are - play by the rules or [expletive] off,'" said one.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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