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Why Reddit banned influential moderator Ian Miles Cheong
Known on Reddit as solinvcitus, Cheong submitted links to a gaming site he edited and possibly profited as a result.
Spamming Reddit is no easy task. The social news site’s users are a volunteer army who monitor Reddit profiteers with untiring vigilance. Once their spam radar starts beeping, even buying upvotes won’t help.
Under the psuedonym SolInvictus, Cheong had inserted himself as a moderator at many of Reddit’s largest forums, including r/AskReddit, r/Politics, r/WTF, and r/TodayILearned, all of which boast more than 1 million subscribers.
Meanwhile, he relentlessly promoted content from Gameranx and other sites, including news site Global Post, and Web culture site Uproxx. It’s not clear what formal association, if any, Cheong had with the latter sites, though they comprised an overwhelming majority of his submissions.
Reddit doesn’t forbid posting your own content. As stated in the Reddit FAQ: “It’s not strictly forbidden to submit a link to a site that you own or otherwise benefit from in some way, but you should sort of consider yourself on thin ice.”
A generally followed, unofficial rule states that for every link you post to your own site, you should submit nine links from elsewhere. Cheong was a relentless submitter to Reddit and had accrued more than 350,000 link karma in his nearly four years on the site. (Link karma is an aggregate of upvotes minus downvotes.)
He submitted so much content, in fact, he may very well have met the nine-to-one rule. But there’s another wrinkle in the story: As a moderator of top subreddits, Cheong could ensure his content never got sucked into Reddit’s spam filter. He ducked the rules to his own advantage and profited from the results.
Cheong didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story. And since no one is talking, it’s impossible to know what specifics that led to his ban. (Was he profiting from the Global Post and Uproxx links?) There is a thin line between acceptable self-promotion and spamming on Reddit. Cheong walked it for years. He was finally caught on the wrong side.
As with every other deleted Reddit account, his userpage is now inscribed with a simple epitaph: “the page you requested does not exist.”
Image via Ian Miles Cheong
Kevin Morris is a veteran web reporter and editor who specializes in longform journalism. He led the Daily Dot’s esports vertical and, following its acquisition by GAMURS in late 2016, launched Dot Esports, where he serves as the site’s editor-in-chief.