Steve Huffman is an American web developer and co-founder of the website reddit. More recently, he co-founded the airfare search site, Hipmunk.
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Hey Everyone, I'm Steve, aka spez, the new CEO around here. For those of you who don't know me, I founded reddit ten years ago with my college roommate Alexis, aka kn0thing. Since then, reddit has grown far larger than my wildest dreams. I'm so proud of what it's become, and I'm very excited to be back.
I know we have a lot of work to do. One of my first priorities is to re-establish a relationship with the community. This is the first of what I expect will be many AMAs (I'm thinking I'll do these weekly).
My proof: it's me!
edit: I'm done for now. Time to get back to work. Thanks for all the questions!
Will any of the policy changes under Ellen Pao actually be reverted or was she really just used as a scapegoat for these unpopular changes that would have happened anyway?
We will reconsider all our policies from first principles. I don't know all of the changes that were made under Ellen's tenure. I'm mostly still getting to know everyone here.
No, Ellen was not used as a scapegoat. She stepped up during a time of crisis for reddit, for which we were thankful. Things didn't go smoothly, for sure, but I will do my best to guide us forward.
Do you plan on reviewing your policy on shadowbanning users? From my understanding this was first implemented as a measure to prevent spam bots from knowing they have been silenced, but has since been expanded to everyday users without there knowledge. Is there any new system in the works were a user being banned would be let know that they
1) have been banned
2)what the ban was for
Absolutely. Shadowbanning is for spammers. I created it ten years ago when we were in an arms race with automated spambots, which still attack us constantly. I want it to be as difficult as possible for the spammers to know when they've been caught so that they don't improve their tech.
Real users should never be shadowbanned. Ever. If we ban them, or specific content, it will be obvious that it's happened and there will be a mechanism for appealing the decision.
edit: Removed the word "moderators" because their tools are different from our tools.
I'm the current owner of /r/SteveHuffman. Any ideas with what I should do with it? I'm lost right now.
Don't forget to crosspost with /r/cannibals. Similar audiences.
She can't surely have been solely responsible for all the negatively perceived changes?
It's hard to imagine she was, but responsibility flows up. I'm sure there will be times I've got to take it on the chin as well. Part of the gig.
So, you're my new boss. When are you planning to stop by "The Annex"?
In case you don't know, The Annex is the coolest, hippest, most jovial corner of the reddit offices. We have candied treats, art, pigeons, and even a sister city (flint, michigan)!
I was just over there, in fact! It's well decorated for sure.
I was born in Michigan. I ran the Crim race in Flight years ago.
Is there any chance you are bringing back number of upvotes and downvotes displayed separately?
This really matters especially in smaller subs, comment can be just not interesting or very controversial.
Will definitely consider it. I want to hear the reasoning for why they were removed in the first place. Perhaps there is a better solution to that problem.
Is it okay if we use Reddit gold as our Greek Currency ?
Would be about as effective...
yeah, because he didnt provide proof. LOL.
I'm not sure how I can provide more proof other than marking it as admin.
When were you asked if you wanted to be the new CEO?
The first time I was asked was way back when Yishan left. At the time I was too focused on Hipmunk to seriously consider it. Since then, Hipmunk has grown into a really nice, stable company-- we've hired very well-- and they can move forward without my complete attention (I will still be acting as CTO for the time being).
The past week was super hectic. A week ago, I didn't know I would be here!
> If we, or moderators, ban them, or specific content, it will be obvious that it's happened and there will be a mechanism for appealing the decision.
Would you agree that real users have a right to know when their post or comment has been removed?
Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.
<rant>Also, I hate seeing [deleted] all over the place. I don't care if it was deleted, I want to read it anyway.</rant>
Please don't do them weekly. Maybe monthly or bi-monthly.
What's your plan on policing vote-brigading in the future? Do you have some way to automatically track vote brigades and people taking part in them?
> Please don't do them weekly. Maybe monthly or bi-monthly.
Ok, you're the boss, Xephryon.
> Do you have some way to automatically track vote brigades and people taking part in them?
Yeah, we do. It's existed for a long time. Maybe it broke after I left. We used to put a lot of effort into identifying large groups of people who were trying to undermine the community.
Are there any specific plans for the Alien Blue app that you can share?
I have lots of ideas! But, I'm sad to say, I don't want to publicize them here until I've got more support internally. It's shitty if you're on a product/dev team to come into work and find everything's been upended without any of your input.
There's been a lot of talk recently about the need to further monetize reddit in order to ensure it's financial longevity - what kinds of steps do you think need to be taken? Do you have any ideas or goals about how to approach this?
reddit has a lot of cash. Monetization isn't a short-term concern of ours. Yes, we will continue to experiment with different efforts so that when time is right we know what works and what does not.
Who is your daddy and what does he do?
My father was an engineer at GM for 30 years.
My step-father was a heavy hitter in the business world for a while, most publicly he was the CMO of Unisys, but that place is a cluster, so he left.
Are /u/kickme444 and Reddit Gifts coming back? Please tell me Christmas isn't dead.
Is Reddit Gifts gone? I'm pretty sure it is not, and we have no plans to shut it down.
As for Dan, I didn't work with him, and really don't know much of that situation.
Hey Steve! Weekly, or at least semi-regular, AMAs are an awesome idea. Maybe different admin teams at reddit could step up and do some too!
Any thoughts on how reddit should prioritize the needs of brand new users (who may find various aspects of reddit's design complicated and confusing) with the needs of core users and mods (who reddit relies on for its great content and dankest of memes)?
Really good question, thank you.
I think the new user / core user dichotomy is the biggest product challenge we fact right now. Solve it, and we are unstoppable. A vague answer, I know, but this is one of the big things on my mind.
What do you plan on doing about censorship on reddit?
An example would be /r/News censoring topics on TPP
They can ban what they want, but I'd like to make it transparent what was actually banned. Some sort of "garbage can" or something.
For those not aware, /r/AMD was closed down by the top mod abruptly without any warning. This forced users of that subreddit to move to /r/AdvancedMicroDevices.
As for a potential answer if spez doesn't reply....reddit hasn't intervened in subreddit's closing down and such when a mod does it on their own. If the AMD mod had done something fishy then it could be opened (like /r/wow was).
Thinking in realtime: we probably don't want to undo a mod's decision, but if they leave forever, we can re-claim it.
How would you define the current culture at Reddit? Is it in line with where you want it to be?
Too soon to tell. I've only got to meet the team for the first time late in the afternoon, and I still haven't had a chance to meet everyone, let alone have substantive discussions.
The vibe around the office is pretty fun, but the reddit team has been through a lot the past while. I hope I can bring some stability.
What about subs like r/askhistorians where they have high standards? The deletions in that sub serve to get rid of unsourced, off-topic, and just plain wrong answers; and the mods there are really upfront about why posts are deleted and what rules they break.
I think mods should be able to moderate, but there should also be some mechanism to see what was removed. It doesn't have to be easy, but it shouldn't be impossible.
Are you threatened by Voat? Do you see it as reddit alternative as reddit was Digg alternative?
reddit had better technology than Digg. I don't think Voat has better technology than reddit.
Finally caught one of these right when it started!
What are your plans for an official Reddit Android app?
I think we need more official Reddit Android Developers.
What's your viewpoint on the life, death, and legacy of Aaron Swartz? Any of his philosophy going to be present in Reddit going forward?
Aaron and I were very close for about five months. During that time we ported reddit from Lisp to Python and collaborated on a lot of ideas that are still important to reddit today.
We had a falling out around the time reddit sold, and I regret to say I didn't really know him when he passed. That whole situation was ugly, and the world is worse for it.
So, AFAIK you'll remain the CTO of Hipmunk. Do you think that you can realistically manage two jobs of this caliber at the same time? How will you arrange that?
It's going to take a little time to find the right balance. Hipmunk is in a stable place, and most of my value is provided in a few key meetings every week, which I will still be attending. Also, they're five blocks away, so I can go over there whenever I need.
You said elsewhere you're against shadowbanning of real users. Given that brigading is currently mostly countered by shadowbans, how do you plan to punish them instead?
Undermine them with technology, of course.
Steve, I'm a huge fan and I'd like to ask what your thoughts are about reddit being a potential game changer in politics and pop culture. Do you believe that the reddit community has an ability to sway public opinion and policy? Did you intend this when you created reddit?
Yes, we have an amazing opportunity to change the world.
No, I just didn't want to look stupid in front of my parents.