Reddit tests warning users about some communities

Reddit often quarantines communities because they don’t remove posts. Now it’s warning users who visit communities that remove too many posts.

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Reddit has started privately tracking post removal rates in its subreddit communities and is testing a warning message that dissuades users from visiting communities that have a medium or high post removal rate.

According to the Reddit user FreeSpeechWarrrior, who has been researching this post removal rate tracking via Reddit’s API, Reddit assigns a “Difficulty Score” between zero and one to communities based on their post removal rates with a score close to zero indicating a high rate of post removals and a score close to one suggesting virtually no post removals. Reddit then uses this “Difficulty Score” to determine whether a community has a low, medium, or high post removal rate.

Some Reddit users who have visited communities with a medium or high post removal rate have been shown a warning message that encourages them to visit another community with a lower post removal rate. Here’s the text of the warning message for communities with a medium post removal rate:

“Medium post removal rate

This community has a medium post removal rate, consider selecting a similar community with a lower post removal rate.


[List of communities with lower removal rates]


medium post removal rate”

A screenshot showing the warning message that encourages Reddit users to visit communities with lower post removal rates.
Source: Reddit – r/ModSupport

Based on FreeSpeechWarrior’s data and posts which have now been deleted in r/DankMemes and r/teenagers, Reddit considers:

  • r/DankMeme’s “Difficulty Score” of 0.5646 to be a high post removal rate
  • r/Teenager’s “Difficulty Score” of 0.8828 to be medium post removal rate

FreeSpeechWarrior says that Reddit is also calculating a “Similarity Score” which is used to present the list of communities with lower removal rates in the warning message. FreeSpeechWarrior adds that for r/politics, this score results in other left-leaning subreddits being suggested as similar.

A Reddit admin has confirmed that this warning message is currently being used in a beta-build of Reddit’s Android app and claims that it’s a “very small-scale and short-term experiment where we’re trying to understand if we can reduce the amount of removed posts in large communities.” The Reddit admin went on to say:

“The big problem we’re trying to solve is users creating low-effort content, that would have otherwise been removed, in communities with stricter rule sets. We’re trying out a few different tests to try and address this. Success here would mean less low-quality or rule breaking content in your existing communities and users finding complementary communities that are more tolerant of their content.”

The Reddit admin also said that “only a small percentage of users will see this” and that Reddit is experimenting with various types of copy, language, and messages to “encourage users to be more mindful before posting into a community with tighter rules and enforcement.” Some of the variants Reddit is testing and considering include:

  • A message that encourages users to read the rules of a community before posting
  • A message that is only shown to users with low or no karma (a score based on how popular a Reddit user’s posts are) in the community

Additionally, the Reddit admin said that based on user feedback, the language that suggested users “consider these other communities instead” will now be removed from warning messages.

However, even with these changes to the wording, the messages are still likely to discourage users from posting to communities because they add an extra step to the posting process and warn users about the post removal rate of that community.

After the Reddit admin confirmed the existence of these warning messages, FreeSpeechWarrior said that they were banned from r/ModSupport for bringing attention to this data. r/ModSupport was one of the main communities where information about these warning messages was gaining traction and FreeSpeechWarrior’s comments history supports the claim that they were banned for talking about this data, with their most recent comments in r/ModSupport discussing this data and where it can be found in Reddit’s API.

Reddit users have voiced various concerns about these warning messages. Some users have pointed out that certain communities have higher levels of spam and will be unfairly impacted by these warning messages. Others have highlighted that moderation is crucial to the success of many communities on Reddit and that these warning messages appear to punish well-moderated communities.

These warning messages also confusingly recommending the opposite of what’s often recommended by Reddit when communities are quarantined. For example, when The Donald subreddit was quarantined, the Reddit admins accused the moderators of being overly reliant on Reddit admins when it comes to removing rule-breaking content and said: “We expect you to enforce against rule-breaking content.”

Now communities that are being more active with their enforcement and moderation will likely get less user engagement because these warning messages are dissuading users from posting.

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