Reddit has a number of communities on their platform that are controversial. The ones that were marginally legal and outright illegal have mostly all been shut down now in an attempt to keep share prices up and avoid authorities from requesting their server data for an investigation. Now the landscape is what Reddit hopes is a happy, informative, and positive place. That’s the goal anyway.
The stumbling block to that has been a number of subreddits that, while not technically doing anything illegal (In most cases), are often viewed as being at the least inflammatory. That gray area is where r/KotakuInAction resides. A lot of people find content there inflammatory, and the comments even worse, but for the most part, they generally operate within the very broad definition of what Reddit deems as acceptable.
The subreddit r/KotakuInAction (KiA), was founded by the user, david-me, in 2014, in the wake of GamerGate. GamerGate, as Polygon succinctly describes it, was a “reactionary, hateful campaign that targeted women and marginalized people in the games industry and manufactured a cover of being interested in ‘ethics in games journalism.'” In this story, david-me isn’t really the hero. He’s more like Dr. Frankenstein realizing the monster he created needs to be put down.
KiA was an overflowing fountain of material for anyone that wanted to take shots at diversity in gaming, women in gaming, and ethnicity in gaming. Just about anyone but straight white males was a target, and david-me was a ringleader of it. He created the space to spew all that hate. It was so bad, that for the past four years, petitions and pleas to Reddit have been constant, begging them to shut it down just as any other subreddit that might harbor such outright hate speech, and often threats. But Reddit wouldn’t do it.
At some point, david-me had an awakening, revelation, or whatever term fits, and realized that the world didn’t need KiA, it’s harassing speech, hate speech, and vitriol, and if Reddit wouldn’t kill it, he would. He provided his explanation to Reddit in a post titled “Righting a Wrong.”
“Until now. KiA is one of the many cancerous growths that have infiltrated reddit. The internet. The world. I did this. Now I am undoing it. This abomination should have always been aborted.”
With his manifesto in hand, david-me made KiA private and started the cleansing by banning the moderators. Then he began the process of trying to close the 96,000-plus member subreddit, deleting the CMS. And he would have made it happen if it wasn’t for those meddling kids. Someone reported that things weren’t looking right, and an employee of Reddit, whose identity is being protected so that they can avoid being harassed, breathed life back into the subreddit and made it whole again.
In the wake of all of this, david-me has become a target for hate speech and threats from people in the subreddit he created, according to The Outline. By trying to point out that the subreddit was out of control, and needed to be stopped, he is on the receiving end of their abuse. And while some express sorrow for him, others point out that he built this. He fostered it and kept it open all this time. While it’s good he tried to clean it up, and that is applauded, as he said, it never should have existed in the first place.
In private chats and safe space groups among female gamers, the reaction to the attempted closure has been positive. It’s something most women in gaming tend to agree has no need to exist. In public, few will speak up because why put themselves in the cross-hairs of an angry mob? Why reignite a fire if you are almost positive it is going to burn you? It just isn’t worth it in the minds of many female gamers.
The only people to appear to be happy about Reddit saving KiA are the current members of KiA, and the people in other subreddits that are often cited for similar offense like r/incels and r/The_Donald. This is a victory for them. Reddit has to enjoy it as well, as membership numbers went up after the closure attempt, and it is a big community, which helps advertising. Andrew Tarantola at Endgadget summed it all up as well as anyone has so far.
“To the detriment of gamer culture as a whole, the subreddit was reinstated by Friday morning and all 100,000 of its members were once again able to share their conspiracy theories about how humans with ovaries are somehow incapable of understanding how video games work. If that sounds like an argument that only a misogynist would make, congratulations, that’s because you’re actually a functional member of human society.”
To this point, david-me has not responded to any queries from the press for further comment, and Reddit has not issued any statements explaining why they chose to allow the subreddit to be saved.