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Shiny doodad blog Engadget clubbed with Reddit banhammer

Publishers, the community is on to you

Application security programs and practises

Sysadmin blog Earlier this week, a number of Reddit users noticed that links to tech news site Engadget were returned with “engadget is not allowed on Reddit: this domain was banned for shilling and vote cheating” if they tried to post a link to anything on the Engadget domain.

Moderaters detected many comments getting stuck in the moderation queue with text containing links to the Engadget domain.

Reddit describes itself as “a source for what’s new and popular on the web. Users like you provide all of the content and decide, through voting, what’s good and what’s junk”. Each submission on Reddit has a score, and anyone with an account can upvote or downvote the submission.

These submissions can be links to other websites or text discussion threads that the original poster (OP) thinks other “redditors” might find interesting. Submissions with more upvotes (and thus more community approval) will “bubble” up to the top, so the front page of any given category (or “subreddit” as they call it – for example r/Android & r/Technews) is constantly maintained by fresh and interesting content.

The system is not without its flaws, but it does an extraordinary job of aggregating top quality content from around the internet.

As someone who uses Reddit to the point that it could be clinically diagnosed as an addiction, I often encounter content in my circles on Twitter and Facebook that I saw days prior on Reddit. Redditors have a distinct knack for picking out viral content long before it goes viral (Gangnam Style exploded on Reddit long before most of you had it force fed into your eyes and ears) and finding the most interesting things on the tubes.

Reddit also has guidelines to follow in order to contribute to the community. They are quite reasonable, and mostly boil down to “Tag the NSFW stuff as NSFW, don’t try to game the system, downvote people’s comments if you don’t think they contribute anything as opposed to because you don’t agree with their opinion, and don’t post people’s personal information.”

Don't try to game the system

They refer to these guidelines as “reddiquette,” which users are expected to understand and follow, but very rarely are they actually enforced.

Engadget broke one of the most holy of guidelines: Don’t try to game the system. They broke this rule repeatedly by creating accounts, submitting links to Engadget articles and then never submitting anything again – making it very easy for a savvy Reddit user (much less an actual moderator) to find that they are creating smurfs to try and drive traffic, increase impressions, and so on.

Many redditors do not take kindly to having their holy commandments broken, as is demonstrated by the community’s response. reddit’s decision to ban Engadget domains came as no surprise and it’s one that could cause a bit of pain, as Reddit has over 80 million unique visitors a month.

A few redditors pointed out that one could conceivably exploit this rule to deal some damage to competitors by spamming their content and getting their domains banned. No official word on whether the smurf accounts in question came from an Engadget IP address, but a few days have passed since the ban and no changes have been made.

Update

It appears the ban has been lifted today and Engadget links can now be submitted to Reddit once again.

Josh Folland is a junior sysadmin, based in Edmonton. Next month he sets fire to a NAS on El Reg.

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