Barring the gate for trolls

A new "block" feature for private messages should make things harder for those who seek thrills by annoying users on Reddit, the social news site.

Mar 11, 2019, 7:28 am*

Internet Culture

Kevin Morris 

Kevin Morris

Social news site Reddit rolled out a new feature late yesterday that should make the site a safer place for its nearly 20 million monthly visitors.

The site’s users now have the ability to block other users from sending them private messages, Reddit admin Keith Mitchell announced in a post to the site’s official changelog.

The decision came after numerous subforum moderators complained that they had no way to prevent abusive behavior in private messages. While the site’s voting system easily controls abusive behavior in public comment threads, private messages had previously been untouched.

Moderators of r/suicidewatch, a subreddit devoted to helping suicidal individuals, had been particularly vocal about abusive private messages, complaining that trolls—Internet troublemakers who delight in provoking reactions through obnoxious behavior—had been flooding the subreddit over the past six months.

But it wasn’t until PanGalacGargleBlastr posted to the moderator subforum late last month that the site’s operators really began to take notice.

Now, a “block user” button appears at the bottom of every private message. If a redditor is a victim of trolling, he or she can just press that button and never be bothered again—the block is silent, meaning the abusive redditor will never know.

The feature means redditors will have yet another tool to control their experience on the site as it continues to experience a rapid influx of new users.

But one redditor, AndreII, found a solution to the problem long before the admins addressed it:

“Turns out most people will stop messaging you if you tell them you’ve blocked them, without actually checking to see if that feature exists. You’ve made an honest man out of me.”

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*First Published: Jul 8, 2011, 5:17 am