Seriously. I'm not a huge fan of the term 'edgelord' but I don't know any other way to aptly describe what's going on over there. If you're a subscriber to the subreddit, you probably have no idea. This is because the edgy mods are censoring every discussion about it and acting like nothing's wrong.
So how did I find out? Well, I noticed that the top comment in a popular thread was a blatant prison rape joke. Normally I don't mind slightly offensive jokes, but these ones kind of piss me off. There's a major problem with normalizing rape against men. For some reason it's fine to make rape jokes if it's a man, especially in regards to prison rape. Here's a fantastic video about the prevalence of it in the media:
This comment making light of it was being upvoted. No one was being critical of it at all, which disturbed me a bit. So, I reported it with the built-in reddit report feature, which sends an alert to the mod team. This was kind of late in the day, so I waited almost another full day to give them time to respond to the report.
But the comment was still up 20 hours later. So, I decided to directly message the mods to see if it was going to be removed. I didn't expect the response I received, not for a second. I'm not sure when this changed or if it's always been this way, but apparently it's possible for a subreddit moderator to reply to a modmail message anonymously. The response I got was sent with this feature, so I didn't know who specifically was replying to me.
In fact, I still don't know for certain, although I have a pretty good idea of which mod it is. In the first reply I received, the anonymous mod played dumb. They said that there's no talk of rape in the comment I reported. But I'll let you decide. The comment was on an image post, which was a picture of a bag with multiple sex toys in it abandoned on the street in Vancouver. Here was the comment:
I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a bait bag from the VPD. For good measure they filled it with sex toys for a joke and for some ominous, awkward foreshadowing for the thief.
I explained that the 'ominous, awkward foreshadowing' is obviously referring to the thief getting raped in jail. The next response I received made my jaw drop. Here's a screenshot:
The quoted text was from me, it was my response to the person who originally posted the rape joke. This anonymous mod just admitted that they believe that non-violent offenders should be raped in jail. Steal an abandoned backpack on the street? Get raped in jail. Think about that.
If you're a rational person and not an edgelord, you'll understand that that is an absolutely insane stance to take, with it being even more insane to reveal that from your position of power as a moderator in a major city's subreddit. This person has the ability to control the flow of discussion. They can remove any comments or posts that they don't agree with it. I can't even imagine what kind of content has been censored by this mod.
I replied once more to the modmail to again ask for the moderator's username, and they told me it was /u/Mackenzie-T. My reddit username is /u/Mackenzie-S. Man, I could physically cut myself on this mod's edge. Hilariously inappropriate conduct for a mod.
Obviously at this point I realize that sorting this out through modmail is fruitless. So a few hours later I decided to bring attention to it on the subreddit, to let the userbase know who is controlling the content on their city's subreddit. I checked the rules of the subreddit to make sure that meta posts about moderation are allowed. There are no rules forbidding it, so I typed up my post.
Quickly after submitting the post, it was being steadily upvoted. The comment count was slowly starting to rise as well, but no comments were actually appearing on the post. A few comments about how joking about rape is indeed inappropriate, especially for a mod, got through, but the rest were being deleted instantly. A few minutes later, the entire post was deleted.
Unfortunately that meant I had to return to modmail. I asked why my post had been removed, since it wasn't breaking any rules. I didn't get a reply. Instead, I was muted (blocked from modmail) and permanently banned from the subreddit. Yep. The edgelord strikes again.
Here is a link to the archive of the meta post that I made. You'll notice that some of the comments couldn't be archived because they were deleted too fast. This is the ban message that I received:
Read the part where it says 'Note from the moderators'. It's now perfectly clear that I'm dealing with someone with the intellectual ability of a 12 year old. This situation was getting so ridiculous that I actually had to take a break from the internet.
When I came back, I decided to reach out to a few of the mods individually since I couldn't send messages to the modmail anymore. I found what seems to be the only good and rational mod on the subreddit, who was able to unban me a day later. Since I now had a mod on my side, I formulated another meta post with more information about how I was banned and the first post was deleted.
Alas, the second post only lasted about 3 minutes before it was also deleted. Not only is this anonymous mod edgy, they also seemingly have no life and monitor the modqueue all day. Oh, right, I was also banned again. Of course.
I was still messaging back and forth with the aforementioned rational mod. They said they would try and keep my post active, and it was reinstated a little while later, enough to get a few comments and upvotes before being removed once more. Here is an archive of the second meta thread.
My new friend on the mod team told me that they were trying to reinstate my post and unban me, but they were being outnumbered 3 to 1. Which means, as insane as it might sound, that 2 other mods support the edgelord. There are only 6 mods on the /r/Vancouver mod team (the 7th one only moderates the livechat). That means half of the mod team holds the same views as the edgelord.
The Vancouver subreddit is half-edgelord.
The mod team is not a unified front...
I'll say. Remember how I said I messaged a few of the mods directly? Well, after a while another mod replied to me when I asked if I could be unbanned. I thought at first that this one seemed normal, maybe even nice, but then things took a more interesting turn.
A lot to take in here. If you didn't read the whole thing, here's the highlights. This mod wanted me to apologize to the edgelord for my 'attempt to call them out'. Ahem. Ok. Interesting. I ask what I would need to apologize for. Apparently, making a post about the disturbing comments and conduct of a mod on their subreddit is considered 'attacking users'.
Doing that to the people that have the power to ban you is an especially bad move.
*Sniff sniff* Do you smell that? Is that the overwhelming scent of a power trip? I'm told to wait a few days, apologize, and hope that the edgelord doesn't get to my message first. Ah yes, the sign of a well-moderated community; users having to walk on eggshells around an irrational moderator. Is that the /r/Vancouver way?
As it stands now, it's been a week and I'm still banned. I'm not even bothering to contest it now, as dealing with these literal children is very emotionally draining. I'm done with them. Now, I'm turning elsewhere to try to make this issue known.
But wait, you might be thinking; "Why should I care?" To that I say, valid point. Why should you care? Let me try to explain why this whole situation is so disturbing to me. It wouldn't matter if this was almost any other type of subreddit. The way that the reddit admins have designed the site enables this type of 'power-hungry' behaviour.
But this is a geographical subreddit. In fact, it's the only general subreddit pertaining to the Greater Vancouver Area, which happens to be the third most populous area in all of Canada. The Vancouver subreddit has a userbase that represents 20% of Vancouver proper, and 5% of the Greater Vancouver Area. That's nothing to sneeze at.
/r/Vancouver is also one of the go-to place for official correspondence from many Vancouver companies, organizations and public services. They are unknowingly participating in a corrupted community that is controlled by radical moderators. This is not a good thing.
The nearly 125,000 strong userbase also has no idea of the issues and controversies behind the mod team. I myself have no idea, I've likely only scratched the surface. They've done so well at censoring my attempts at making these issues known, so who knows what other controversies they have swept under the rug.
Allow me to make what may seem like a bit of an outlandish comparison. The relationship between a subreddit's userbase and its moderation team is akin to the relationship between a population centre and its governing body. Meaning, the Vancouver subreddit is basically a less impactful scale model of the municipal government of Vancouver (or the provincial government of BC) and its population.
Can you imagine if the Mayor or Premiere were sending citizens that speak out against them to jail? Taking away their electronic devices and censoring them from social media? Or if they cut out their tongues? We live in a first world country, how can it be okay for this type of censorship to exist on an official city subreddit?
This isn't just a problem with the Vancouver subreddit, it happens all over the place. It's an inherent flaw in the way that reddit allows subreddits to be created. Squatters Rights apply, meaning whoever is the first person to create a subreddit is the owner of that sub. They decide how to moderate it and who else can be on the mod team. The reddit admins will only intervene in extreme circumstances, or if the subreddit owner has abandoned the sub and is inactive across reddit.
Want a relevant example of these squatter's rights? Supposedly /r/Canada is run by white nationalists. A spin-off subreddit was made because of this, but the userbase still pales in comparison to /r/Canada. In the same vein, I've created a back-up subreddit at /r/theGVA. I'm not telling anyone to go subscribe and start using it instead of /r/Vancouver, but keep it in mind if things go really sideways.
This is going off the rails a bit, so let me rein it in. Actually, let me simplify it:
The Vancouver subreddit needs an overhaul of the mod team. The userbase needs to know what is happening and who is controlling the flow of information for the Greater Vancouver Area's representation on reddit. If we allow this to continue, who knows what else will be censored and whose opinions will be inappropriately swayed in a deceptive way?