Readers unsubscribing from r/news after Reddit drama following terrorist attack

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Reddit drama is a popular topic on this blog. With so much content being produced every day, sites like Reddit and Digg helped filter and verify relevant stories. Dubbed “the front page of the internet”, scanning the top stories of Reddit gave readers a glimpse of what was really popular around the web.

So it was something of a surprise when waking up this morning, and hearing of the terrible attack in Orlando, that there was little mention of the event on Reddit’s top news section. In fact the moderators of r/news seemed to be deleting posts and comments at an alarming rate. Other sub-reddits on the site picked up the slack, and discussions surrounding this tragedy were had on less than appropriate political and reaction forums.

Officially, this censorship was enacted to help focus discussion on the one major post used to consolidate discussion. This might have been understandable, as when news breaks like this, one would imagine a popular sub-reddit would be inundated with submissions. On a top post, the moderators of r/news claimed they were being brigaded by other communities seeking to spread an agenda of conflict with hate speech comments and posts.

/r/news was brigaded by multiple subreddits shortly after the news broke. This resulted in threads being filled with hate speech, vitriol, and vote manipulation.

We did a poor job reacting to the brigades and ultimately chose to lock several threads and then consolidate other big threads into a megathread.

Brigades are still underway and there is still a lot of hate speech prevalent in the threads.

While there were absolutely some less than civil comments being submitted, it’s somewhat disturbing to see a “kill it with fire” approach to post moderation. Eliminating all mentions of the shooters affiliation with terrorist organizations, and even disrupting discussions where folks were sharing information on emergency responses and pleas for blood donations.

Yet again we see the problems inherent to a business model which depends heavily on volunteer labor. Moderators of a news forum totaling almost 9 million subscribers are not paid. Building a small fiefdom, we see that either those individuals in charge are easily co-opted by outside interests, or are in a position of power where they can easily run an agenda. Adding gas to this fire, when questioned about these policies, one moderator for r/news not-so-helpfully suggested that a person seeking an explanation to this censorship should “kill yourself”.

I6duX4rIt would seem that posting about blood donations or questioning the mods is hate speech, but this moderator’s response to the situation has garnered no public disciplinary reaction.

These situations have become a bit more frequent of late for Reddit. We saw similar policing of content following the New Years Eve sexual assaults in Germany. The official response claiming protections against hate speech, yet using tools to recover banned and deleted comments finding little evidence for such draconian moderation.

In the wake of this story, a number of smaller “news” sub-reddits have been created to spread information, and in response to the initial backlash, r/news has reversed some of its policy on banning stories. Still, its not surprising to see the subscriber base for r/news slowly eroding. Over the time its taken to write this editorial, we’ve seen roughly 2500 people remove r/news from their feeds. That still puts r/news at around 8.9 million followers, but this debacle has certainly delivered all of Reddit a black eye.

If you can’t find relevant news on “the front page of the internet”, what is Reddit good for?

 

DirecTV Introduces BYO Internet Content Streaming Later this Year

directv logoThe future of multimedia is becoming more fluid. Consumers seek to stream content to any screen, at any time, anywhere they want.
With AT&T and DirecTV joining forces, it would make sense that the content offered through a satellite TV company would eventually find its way to home internet and mobile streaming devices.
Three new options will be delivered to subscribers later this year, and all three options are internet service agnostic. Regardless of carrier or ISP, media will be accessible to TVs, computers, phones, and tablets. The most basic option will be ad supported with limited content options, but higher tier plans (dubbed affordable by DirecTV reps) will allow for more access and content mobility. h
“We are looking at these offerings differently than others in the market. We often hear from customers who want more content from streaming services, or who can’t get or can’t afford a traditional pay-TV service,” said John Stankey, CEO – AT&T Entertainment Group.
Pricing and availability will be announced later this year. Full details on specific plan options in the press release below.

Continue reading DirecTV Introduces BYO Internet Content Streaming Later this Year

Sony Removes Fingerprint Scanner From USA Bound Z5 Smartphones

Why Sony? Why do this?

Our on-going saga of scattered support and terrible relationships between Sony, USA carriers, and customers continues. Their new line of Z5 smartphones was announced back in September of 2015. We’re only a couple weeks away from Mobile World Congress, where it’s likely we’ll start hearing about new Samsungs and LGs, but we’re only just now getting word from Sony about them selling their phones unlocked here in the United States.

The Z5 and the Z5 Compact will be shipping unlocked to retailers like Amazon and B&H starting February 7th. The flagship Z5 will sell for $599 and the smaller Z5 Compact will sell for $499. There’s no word about selling the Z5 Premium, which is the first phone to feature a 4K display.

04. Z5_white_groupThe phones are sleek devices, and feature very good cameras. Lifestyle features like waterproofing are certainly appreciated, but they’re saddled with 2015 tech like Qualcomm’s 810 processor, which has a nasty reputation for running hot and draining battery life. We’re only weeks away from phone announcements featuring a new 820 processor which is performing well enough to get Samsung back on board Qualcomm’s CPU for their next batch of phones. Samsung opted to use their own Exynos processors last year due to performance concerns.

To add insult to injury, we now have confirmation from Sony that because of a “business decision”, USA bound Z5s will not have fingerprint scanners built into the power button like international versions of the phone currently include. This is a terrible feature to remove, as more consumers are starting to embrace biometric security solutions not only for locking their phones, but also for utilizing banking and payment services.

This really isn’t a great strategy for building a fan base here in the USA. Months late to market, denying us the high end 4K version, and withholding features that consumers are starting to embrace. But if you do still decide a Sony is the right fit for you, at least Sony has the decency to charge you full “new phone” price for the privilege.

#SGGQA 26: New Years Contest Winner, Lumia 950 Comparisons, and Are USB Cables Interesting?

Due to issues with my internet connection (thanks Time Warner Cable) we’re FINALLY getting around to announcing the winner of our New Year’s Fitness Gear contest. We’ll also chat you’re reactions to my Lumia 930 vs 950 comparison, and I ask you how interesting USB cables might be. Make sure you’re charged and ready! It’s Podcast Time!

Download this week’s show as an audio podcast!
Subscribe to #SGGQA via iTunes!
Subscribe to #SGGQA via RSS!
#SGGQA on PlayerFM!
#SGGQA on Stitcher!
Most Recent Episode on SoundCloud!

I wrote a book! If you want to take your smartphone photography and video skills up a notch, you’ll want to read my book! ‘Take Better Photos: Smartphone Photography for Noobs!’ is now available – http://amzn.to/1LZMa52

Continue reading #SGGQA 26: New Years Contest Winner, Lumia 950 Comparisons, and Are USB Cables Interesting?

AT&T Revives Unlimited Data for AT&T TV Subscribers

ATT logoAs we’ve seen another carrier struggle recently with unlimited video streaming, and the Net Neutrality implications of throttling or degrading performance for network stability, AT&T looks to be returning to a business model consumers will understand easily: Unlimited Data.

Of course there’s a small catch. Unlimited data plans will be offered as part of a bundled service with AT&T TV (formerly DirecTV).

Earlier this week, Big Blue took the wraps off of their new Unlimted plan for DirecTV, AT&T TV, or U-Verse TV subscribers. They’ll pay $100 a month for the first phone, additional phone lines will cost $40, and the fourth phone line will be free.

It’s an exciting move. Instead of cherry picking a handful of individual services or apps, a fully bundled AT&T customer will have few restrictions on streaming any content they desire. As of now, the only limit appears to be a vaguely worded footnote that at 22GB of usage in a month “reduced speeds may apply”. How that might be enforced is still unseen, but it’s a fairly healthy chunk of mobile data for folks looking to move up from plan that often start users off around 10GB per month.

You can read the full AT&T press release below.

Continue reading AT&T Revives Unlimited Data for AT&T TV Subscribers

Microsoft Working on Project Fi Competitor?

Companies like Google and Microsoft consider themselves “services” companies, even though they sell hardware like the Nexus and the Surface. Those brands exist to make sure that other hardware partners have the proper “incentive” to continue producing high quality devices to utilize the software that Microsoft and Google produce.

While it’s important that consumers have access to high quality gadgets to run these services, it’s equally important that consumers have access to affordable data networks to utilize services which are becoming increasingly data intensive.

We’re seeing progress in some areas, carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile embracing practices like rollover data, but we’re also backsliding in other areas with Comcast expanding the number of areas where they will be capping data for home broadband even though it won’t have any significant impact on bandwidth or service stability.

For Google and Microsoft, it’s becoming increasingly important to support initiatives which improve coverage, data speeds, and reduce prices for their customers. Where those initiatives don’t exist, it’s up to those two tech giants to create them.

Continue reading Microsoft Working on Project Fi Competitor?

#SGGQA25: BIG STORAGE, Bone Conduction Audio, and the New Years Contest is Wrapping Up!

I finally got off my butt and got a MUCH bigger back up solution for all my photos and videos. We’re also chatting about bone conduction audio, and we’re quickly wrapping up my New Year, New You fitness gear contest! Make sure you’re charged and ready! It’s Podcast Time!

Full contest details and where to enter: http://goo.gl/eqXp42

Download this week’s show as an audio podcast!
Subscribe to #SGGQA via iTunes!
Subscribe to #SGGQA via RSS!
#SGGQA on PlayerFM!
#SGGQA on Stitcher!
Most Recent Episode on SoundCloud!

I wrote a book! If you want to take your smartphone photography and video skills up a notch, you’ll want to read my book! ‘Take Better Photos: Smartphone Photography for Noobs!’ is now available – http://amzn.to/1LZMa52

Continue reading #SGGQA25: BIG STORAGE, Bone Conduction Audio, and the New Years Contest is Wrapping Up!

What a $600 Oculus Rift Means for the Future of Virtual Reality

Back in October of 2015, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey responded to rumors that Rift would cost $350. To help mitigate any potential pricing backlash, Luckey told reporters that their VR headset would cost more than $350, but would be roughly in that ballpark.

Now that Rift is available for pre-order we know what that ballpark is. It’s $599 before taxes, shipping, and it includes and XBOX controller, but not the Touch tracking controller. We can be fairly certain that most people weren’t expecting this price point when we were told that $350 was too low but in the ballpark, and the Reddit Oculus and VR subreddits are awash with angry members decrying the headset as too expensive.

Screenshot (8)Sticker Shock

I’ve never much been a fan of how gadgets are valued online. I find the discussion pretty toxic when geeks try and grade something as being “worth it”. The second that phrase pops up, you can almost always find a radical justification for why someone isn’t going to buy a product.

I would buy this bleeding edge piece of technology if it instantly came with one hundred games, did my dishes, had month long battery life, and only cost $17 and a half a ham sandwich. Then it would be worth it for the monies.

While the above is an exaggeration, the tone of this kind of commentary often lands just shy of “a company failed me by making a product too expensive for me, so I will punish them by not buying said product”. I think it’s a defense mechanism. It’s not that the individual is cheap, or they can’t afford it, they would totally buy the thing IF it were worth it. Totally…
Continue reading What a $600 Oculus Rift Means for the Future of Virtual Reality

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