Reddit is famous for its readiness to give. But one charitable community faces internal critics.
The top moderator of Reddit’s beloved charitable community, r/assistance, said he is “standing fast” and “not going anywhere” after days of scamming accusations and vitriol that nearly shut down the section of the social news site.
The controversy highlights the inherent pitfalls of running a pseudonym-based Internet charity where little true verification of identities is possible.
r/assistance, which claims in its header to change the world “one redditor at a time,” has a subscriber base of nearly 4,000 and focuses on providing financial assistance to people in need.
The controversy started last week when some redditors accused the subreddit’s top moderator, backpackwayne, of vouching for someone they claimed was a scammer.
The alleged scammer, MisterFixit, who says his first name is Noel, has been active on Reddit for nearly four years. In that time he has frequently asked for help from the r/assistance community and other charitable sections of the site.
The specifics of the allegations remain unclear and the accusers offered up little evidence of dubious activity on Noel’s part.
The allegations seemed to hinge on the sheer volume of the requests from Noel, who claims he is a married father of a 9-month-old boy. Specifically, they say he has asked for similar types of help from several different people. In recent posts, Noel asked for help paying gas bills for his long commute to work.
The accusers also turned their ire to moderator backpackwayne, who they claim inappropriately vouched for another redditor and censored posts that called him out. The accusers have provided little specific evidence of impropriety. But their anger clearly runs deep: They appear to be downvoting backpackwayne’s comments and posts across the site.
Late last week the section was so overrun with debate that backpackwayne threatened to shut it down for good.
He’s since changed his mind. “r/assistance will continue,” he told the Daily Dot. “I can not let them destroy a good thing helping good people.”
He said he believes the attacks on his reputation stem in part from political posts (weighing in against conservative presidential candidate Ron Paul) he has made elsewhere on the site.
Meanwhile, the Daily Dot is looking into the specific allegations of scamming and will update this story as soon as we learn more.
Photo by Dimitri N.
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