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1 million ways to get banned from Reddit

A glitch in the open-source application Rainmeter causes one redditor to get blocked from the social news site.


Kevin Morris


Posted on Sep 30, 2011   Updated on Jun 3, 2021, 2:30 am CDT

How can you get banned from social news site Reddit?

You can post personal details about another user.

Or you spam the site with links to your Viagra substitute, porn site, or whatever spammy thing you like.

Better yet, you can accidentally launch a denial-of-service attack from your desktop.

That’s what redditor that_narwhals_a_spy discovered earlier this month when he was suddenly blocked from the site (a situation that can lead to some serious Reddit withdrawal problems).

What was going on?

Reddit admins told him his computer had been accidentally attacking the Reddit servers—a million times a day.

That amounted to 40 gigabytes of data-per-day, Reddit admin raerth wrote, or about 1.2 terabytes of data being generated every month, as another redditor calculated.

Reddit had to ban him. That amount of traffic could easily take down a smaller site, and it was “orders of magnitude” greater than any other user on Reddit.

Apparently, that_narwhals_a_spy had installed an open-source application on his computer called Rainmeter. That program displays webpages on a user’s desktop in the form of a widget.

Michael Engard, of Rainmeter’s development team, told us the software is set to refresh every ten minutes, ideally.

“Our software gives the user a great deal of control over this utility’s performance, including how often it connects to the website to check for updates,” he said. “If improperly configured, Rainmeter could be made to automatically refresh the page as often as once per millisecond.”

Engard said that_narwhals_a_spy could have made the changes himself, or a Rainmeter third party app could have done it (the most likely culprit, according to the redditor himself).

“Many websites would interpret this behavior as a denial-of-service attack and automatically cut off all traffic to and from the offending IP address, temporarily or even permanently,” Engard added. “This kind of problem is rare, but not unprecedented.”

As for that_narwhals_a_spy, everything went better than expected. He fixed the problem himself. And Reddit welcomed him back into its warm, addicting embrace.

Photo by ficusdesk

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*First Published: Sep 30, 2011, 7:00 am CDT