A popular Reddit novelty account has been banned from one of the sites largest subreddits for a seemingly mundane transgression: linking to his Tumblr blog.
Shitty_watercolour, an 18-year-old redditor who reinterprets random images on the site with original watercolor paintings, was banned from r/IamA late Thursday night for “self-promotional spamming” and “editing links to his website into high-rated comments,” wrote r/IamA moderator karmanaut. The links, karmanaut said, were to shitty_watercolour’s Tumblr, which allowed people to message him about buying his popular art.
But in a message to the Daily Dot, Shitty_watercolour said that he has never profited from his account. He noted he’s spent about $700 on painting supplies in the last four months and has only linked to his personal site occasionally.
“On a website that supports new startups and underdogs, it doesn't really make sense that when one of their own who has dedicated hundreds of hours, for free, tries to get a few followers on Tumblr, [they act] like I've betrayed them,” he said.
“As far as making money is concerned, I haven't profited from any of my activities at reddit. I've spent far more on supplies than I have received from paintings, and I have given away to charity more than I have sold for the purpose of funding what I do.”
According to Reddit, spam is a big “gray area.” The site doesn’t prohibit people from linking to a personal site but warns users that by doing so they are on “thin ice.”
In a handful of private messages sent over the last 12 hours, shitty_watercolour has been trying to work out an agreement with karmanaut to lift the ban but has been told that the “discussion is over.” Karmanaut and at least one other redditor have been discussing shitty_watercolours posts for the last week and never mentioned it to him, shitty_watercolour said.
Shitty_watercolour also added that he communicated with another r/IamA moderator in the past who said he could post whatever he liked in his comments.
For now, the ban stands. But the event raises concern about the nature of subreddits, which are like kingdoms—where moderators have absolute control and paid Reddit staff hardly ever intervene.
Despite the drama, shitty_watercolour isn’t going to stop being himself.
“I'm not that worried about promoting myself to Reddit,” he said.
“The events of yesterday revealed just how fragile a popular account can be, and getting some kind of following on Tumblr was meant to be something I could fall back on in case it all goes belly up at Reddit.”
Painting by shitty_watercolour