Reddit on Wednesday announced that it has updated its content policy, including a change that will hide some potentially offensive parts of the site to anyone who doesn't chose to view them.
Chief executive Steve Huffman, the Reddit co-founder who returned to lead the company last month, announced the new policy in a post on the Web site. And he said that the policies are still open to change:
Today we are releasing an update to our Content Policy. Our goal was to consolidate the various rules and policies that have accumulated over the years into a single set of guidelines we can point to.
Thank you to all of you who provided feedback throughout this process. Your thoughts and opinions were invaluable. This is not the last time our policies will change, of course. They will continue to evolve along with Reddit itself.
Our policies are not changing dramatically from what we have had in the past. One new concept is Quarantining a community, which entails applying a set of restrictions to a community so its content will only be viewable to those who explicitly opt in. We will Quarantine communities whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average redditor.
Today, in addition to applying Quarantines, we are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else. Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations.
I believe these policies strike the right balance.
After the announcement, Huffman said in a Reddit discussion board that six communities, all of which were dedicated to sharing racist content, had been banned, including /r/CoonTown. Huffman said that the moderators of these communities will be notified of the decision.
According to the new policy, quarantined sections of the site will generate no revenue, either through ads or through Reddit Gold, it's premium membership service.
Reddit has struggled in the past with policing the content on its site, which is user-submitted and moderated. Its users have come to look at the site as a place for free discussion and expression. But as the site's popularity has grown, so too have questions about whether it should take a heavier hand in eliminating racist, sexist, graphic content on its site — as well as taking greater steps to curb harassment on the site.
Former chief executive Ellen Pao implemented a new harassment policy at Reddit in May. She left the company last month after criticism over the way she was running the site. When Huffman took over, he said that he would continue to evaluate the company's policies to find a way to preserve open discussion on Reddit while also dealing with the worst the site has to offer.