Q&A with Emma
This page shows former Raddle co-admin /u/emma's replies to questions asked by the reporter for a technology news site on 2017-09-20. The replies reflect her personal opinions and not official site policy.
Why did you decide to start Raddle, and when?
I was not the person who started Raddle. Rather, I am its lead developer, designer and system administrator.
I came across Reddit's /r/leftwithsharpedge some time in 2016, and it quickly became an outlet for me to vent frustration with being a queer person in a heteronormative society.
In December, /r/leftwithsharpedge was banned on the same day it was declared 'subreddit of the day' on /r/SubredditOfTheDay. Meanwhile, reactionaries were sending me messages telling me how much they wanted me to die, and that's when I had it with Reddit's lax stance towards reactionaries and hard line towards the left and deleted my account.
Raddle was started under the very original moniker "raddit.me" in December 2016, the day after /r/leftwithsharpedge was banned by Reddit adminis. I had nothing to do with the new site, but there were calls for volunteers to step up and help out with the technical aspects. So I spent 5 hours straight putting together new software that could run the site and threw it on GitHub. After three months of coding (including one month off due to burnout), we switched to the new software.
We only recently changed our name to "Raddle", both to distance ourselves from Reddit and to avoid potential trademark issues that may pop up.
How many users does the site have now (roughly)? How is running it going?
We don't run any form of analytics software, so keeping tabs on the number of users is tricky. Our two most popular communities, /f/Anarchism and /f/Socialism, currently have 281 and 185 subscribers, respectively. This is... slightly less than Reddit's equivalent communities, which have ~80,000 and ~112,000, respectively.
Running the site has gone fairly well--there haven't been any major hiccups. We have had issues with reactionaries brigading the site, reporting us to our hosting providers, and linking the site to every reactionary community on the planet in an attempt to gain momentum for their campaign against us, but none of these actions have created huge problems for us.
I am unhappy about being the only person to make major contributions to the code. Not only does it place a huge responsibility on me, but it gives me way more power over the site than I should have. Being the sole developer makes me the arbiter of what features will make it to the site and which ones don't, regardless of any community consensus. In the beginning, there were several people who offered to step up and work on the technical side of things, but I was the only one to offer working code. And actions speak louder than words.
What were some of the problems you saw on Reddit? Why did you feel like Raddle was necessary?
To me, the biggest problem with Reddit is how its administrators ignore the routine harassment and witch-hunts of marginalised people that takes place, with /r/The_Donald being the most prominent example. This is unacceptable in a time when hate crimes are on the rise, and every election is the West risks putting white supremacists in office.
I could forgive Reddit if T_D owed its existence to a doctrine of absolute free speech (which I'd still think was misguided), but the reality is that T_D is their big cash cow. A post I wrote in February explains this pretty well:
"[...] it's no accident that /r/the_donald remains unbanned despite its countless rule violations, nor is it an accident that the admins use the terms 'conversation' and 'value' in the same sentence. Reactionary conversation brings in tons of trumpkins who click on ads, while left-wing conversation that discusses use of violence could hypothetically become the easy target of a Breichbart article or similar and inspire said trumpkins (who greatly outnumber the leftists) to boycott Reddit, thus making left-wing conversation devoid of 'value'.
Raddle provides a community that's superficially similar to Reddit, but which has a zero-tolerance policy towards attacking marginalised people, recruiting for fascist movements, calling for genocide or praising police violence that predominantly targets people of colour. Having a space where you don't have to constantly listen to or defend yourself from fascists is important, and Reddit has shown that it isn't willing to provide that.
Without any identifying information, can you tell me a little about your background? Do you have computer science/engineering experience?
I am a queer, transgender Marxist living in Norway. Currently I'm earning a bachelor's degree in CompSci. The skills I put to use when developing the site's software are mostly self-taught. My radical politics are largely a consequence of my queer existence, and the subsequent alienation and trauma that come with it, even in a supposedly progressive country like Norway.
What makes Raddle different? What’s the belief system behind it?
Our belief is that freedom from harm trumps freedom of speech. Contrary to what some people believe, Raddle isn't exclusively a site for anarchists, although they are the largest demographic. Socialists of all stripes, social democrats, liberals, conservatives and anyone else who wants to partake in a community where bigotry isn't tolerated in the name of "free speech" is welcome to join. The one condition is that bigotry stays out of the picture.
From a technical perspective, Raddle's software is free & open source, released under a permissive license. This is in contrast to Reddit, which just closed the curtains on its source code. Our software has no dependencies on paid web services from Amazon and few dependencies otherwise, making it easy for hobbyists to set up their own sites with the software. If you wanted to start your own link sharing community, our software is probably what you'd want. QnA_with_Emma