Members of Reddit’s gaming community are engaged in an intense debate about how to end karma whoring -- the controversial practice of mimicking popular posts on the site, especially images, to gain easy Reddit karma, the site’s internal scoring mechanism.
The top 22 posts in the forum over the past week were either image or video posts.
"Who wants to reduce the flagrant karma-whoring and make /r/gaming a better place?" asked AttackingHobo in the title of the post. Reddit, by design, uses a voting system to determine top posts, so doesn’t this just mean images are more popular?
The problem, forum users and mods agreed, is that images take no time to appreciate -- see a mildly amusing image, press upvote, and move on. Browser plugins like Reddit Enhancement Suite will even allow you to view all the images on a single page at one time, making the scanning and relatively mindless voting easier.
An article with substance, on the other hand, requires at least a minute or two, and usually includes an excursion to an external site.
Karma whoring shows how inappropriate the title for Reddit’s scoring mechanism really is -- there’s no metaphysical consequence for doing things that many users agree is detrimental to the site.
Instead, you get your points, and keep them, too.
But in the discussion that followed the post, which went up last night, little consensus was reached.
The idea AttackingHobo proposed came from redditor mizike, and that would be to force all image submissions to be links in a text post, rather than direct links to the images. This would create an extra step in viewing the images and hopefully decrease the instant “kind of like, upvote” response.
But another mod, Deimorz, worried that a policy like this would lead to far too much interference: a kind of slippery slope, where karma whoring posts simply move from images to video to Twitter links.
“Moderators shouldn't be judging the quality of posts, just whether they're appropriate or not,” Deimorz wrote.
The only solution with any broad appeal? Go to the subreddits.
“While I appreciate the difficulty a site like reddit has promoting more in depth content over shallow content,” wrote FatalXception, in an opinion that many shared, at least in part. “I come to /gaming for quick and varied entertainment. When I want more specific news, or not to see certain things, I go to a sub-reddit, or use reddit mods.”
So for the time-being, nothing on the Gaming section will change. Like just about every major subreddit on the site, images and videos will continue to dominate the front page, while in-depth articles and discussions will continue to move to smaller and more specific subreddits.
By this morning AttackingHobo’s post was already buried deep off the front page.
But if it’s any consolation, the top three posts were links to articles.