Tag Archives: reddit

The biggest tech turkeys of 2015

The year’s most notable embarrassments in technology run the gamut from the industry’s inability to secure our personal data to the blunders of Airbnb, Twitter and Tinder.

Thanksgiving is almost here, but a look at this year’s list of tech turkeys may stir up memories of Halloween.

It’s scary just how vulnerable we are.

In 2015, hackers went to town with seemingly nonstop breaches. Anthem, the big health insurer, fell victim to the theft of personal information of 80 million customers and employees. That’s one out of every four Americans. Meanwhile, the identities of 30 million would-be adulterers were revealed after hackers got into Ashley Madison, the cheat-on-your-spouse website.

Companies also had a frightening habit of tripping over themselves. Airbnb insulted its hometown of San Franciscowith a billboard campaign that appeared to gripe about paying the taxes it owed for short-term rentals in the city. Sean Rad, CEO of dating-app maker Tinder, meanwhile, demonstrated surprisingly poor knowledge of the English language.

Volkswagen gets a special mention for gaming fuel-emission tests via the software in its cars. And BlackBerry, long proud of going its own way, finds itself pinning its comeback hopes on a phone that leans heavily on software from another company, Alphabet’s Google.

Lastly, all of Silicon Valley gets a turkey this year because the tech industry still can’t figure out how to hire, retain and promote more women and minorities.

Since innovation apparently can mean figuring out new ways to screw up, we’ve rounded up a supersized 17 examples of the most cringe-inducing tech turkeys for your holiday entertainment.

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Say hi to Reddit, the budding Netflix wannabe

Reddit just joined the original-video scene. With its first series of documentary shorts debuting Wednesday, Reddit wants to raise the profile of its brightest communities and appeal to more outsiders.

A cuddlier, friendlier Reddit is taking a page out of the Netflix script.

Reddit, the social news site that bills itself as “the front page of the Internet,” on Wednesday debuted its first free-standing video series, a collection of documentary shorts about the intersection of humanity and machine called “Cyborg Nation.” The idea was championed by Reddit co-founder and Chairman Alexis Ohanian, who turned to a science and tech community on Reddit as a think tank to sculpt it.

“The hundreds of thousands of communities of Reddit generate more original ideas in one day than the world’s best newsroom could produce in a lifetime,” Ohanian said to mark the series premiere.

Over the past six months, a small video team at Reddit has been turning the site into the next tech property to hang its hopes on original video. Reddit wants the sleek clips to highlight the expertise in its forums and win it more mainstream appeal. If you’ve never visited Reddit before, or if you ran the other way in confusion, its videos may make its forums approachable for the first time.

More 200 million people already make up Reddit’s communities, known as subreddits, which obsess over far-flung topics such as solving crime, comparing fountain pens and debating politics. That’s about eight times the number of people who tune into Hulu, based on a study of the streaming site’s total audience by traffic tracker ComScore.

The video effort is also an olive branch to Reddit’s populace, still smarting from a summer of conflict. Many groups revolted this summer when executives cracked down on controversial behavior like harassment and fired a well-liked employee who bridged the gap between Reddit’s leaders and its volunteer moderators.

A collaborative relationship with Reddit users is half the goal of the video programming, said Michael Pope, Reddit’s creative projects manager. With the videos, “we’re seeing the value in our community and propping it up more,” he said.

The other goal is to make Reddit’s communities known to a wider audience, he said. To do that for “Cyborg Nation,” Reddit joined forces with Conde Nast Entertainment, the digital video arm of the magazine publishing giant that owns Wired and Vogue. Conde Nast helped mold the storytelling and wrote the check. The series will play on Wired’s site, channels and apps, in addition to Reddit’s page and YouTube channel. “Cyborg Nation” will also run on Conde Nast’s syndication network, which includes Yahoo, AOL and MSN, and on its The Scene app for devices like Apple TV and Roku.

That could raise Reddit’s exposure to the masses.

However, original video doesn’t always work. Amazon, for example, initially intended to build the “movie studio of the future” by letting anybody upload scripts so talent could rise to the top, according to a 2011 promo video by head Roy Price. Amazon Studios later realized it needed industry pros to make series with less trial-and-error.

Even well-known content fails. Last month, Yahoo reduced its estimate of how much its original content is worth by $42 million. Programs like its revival of the former NBC show “Community” just weren’t going to make as much money as hoped, the company said.

Reddit is avoiding some of the pitfalls that trapped Amazon and Yahoo. It’s working with professionals at the outset and keeping a focus on subjects that are much cheaper to shoot. But Reddit is also playing it cool as it reaches for its video goals.

“Cyborg Nation” was shaped by guidance from members of a subreddit called r/futurology and shot by outside production company Acres with input from Ohanian and Pope. But Reddit and r/futurology’s involvement is apparent only if viewers click on a credits link. For both, that’s a hat tip rather than outright promotion.

Still, the company has other opportunities. “Cyborg Nation” builds on a recent string of recorded “Ask Me Anything” video interviews with celebrities. The company is making another series, called “Formative,” in collaboration with Google and the r/entrepreneur subreddit. Pope said its presence in the “Formative” videos may differ because Reddit is spearheading the series from start to finish.

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Russia bans Reddit pages over drug growing discussion

Russia has blocked access to some parts of social news site Reddit for “promoting” use of banned substances.

Several pages on the sites are believed to have been banned over a discussion about how to cultivate hallucinogenic mushrooms.

The Russian media watchdog initially planned to block the entire site if it got no response from Reddit.

Earlier in the week the same agency threatened to ban Reddit for discussions about growing marijuana.

Blogger registry

The block was enacted by Roskomnadzor – Russia’s Federal service for the Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media.

It had called for a block on pages posted two years ago about the best way to grow psilocybin mushrooms.

Roskomnadzor maintains the list of all sites banned in Russia and added Reddit to that roster at the behest of the country’s national drug control agency, reported news site Meduza.

The agency also posted information about the block to its own page on Russia’s VKontacte social network.

In that message, it said it had sent information about the ban to “multiple addresses” at Reddit but had received no response. It assumed the lack of response came about because the site was understaffed in August as people were on holiday.

However, it said, this was no excuse to “risk losing its entire audience” in Russia. It asked anyone with ties to Reddit’s site administrators to let them know about its actions.

In a later message it thanked those that had got in touch with Reddit for their help in ensuiring the pages could no longer be seen in Russia.

Reddit is one of many organisations that Russia has banned or threatened recently. Google, Facebook and Twitter have all received stern reminders from Roskomnadzor about complying with the nation’s laws on handing over data.

Last year, Russia brought in a law that placed restrictions on bloggers and forced those with an audience of more than 3,000 people to register with authorities.

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Reddit Begins Purge of Offensive Content, Bans Racist Communities

Reddit’s publicly announced crackdown on hate and harassment on the social news site has begun, with a new content policy put in place and a handful of racist communities being banned outright. In a post to the official announcements subreddit of the site, CEO Steve Huffman on Wednesday explained a few of the changes to the official content policy and answered questions from the perennially skeptic user base.

“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,” Huffman wrote, using his Reddit username, “spez.”

Subreddits dedicated to child pornography and white supremacy were also banned — not simply because the administrators of the site disagree with the ideas, Huffman said, but because they were illegal or inciting violence or harassment.


Reddit

Other communities deemed merely offensive, graphic or highly controversial will be “quarantined” — hidden from users by default and only accessible by opting in and providing a valid email address.

This is just the beginning, though. The policies and actions Reddit takes will “continue to evolve,” Huffman wrote, in order to keep the site safe and legal.

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Bill Gates Reveals What Makes Him Feel ‘Pretty Stupid’

Bill Gates is part of the world’s elite brain trust but there’s still one thing that makes the Microsoft founder feel “stupid.”

During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session today, the global philanthropist said his one big regret in life has been not learning a foreign language.

“I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages,” Gates said. “I took Latin and Greekin high school and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese.”

Gates said he hopes to follow the example of fellow tech titan Mark Zuckerberg, CEO ofFacebook, in learning a second language.

“I keep hoping to get time to study one of these — probably French because it is the easiest,” Gates said. “I did Duolingo for a while but didn’t keep it up. Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students — incredible.”

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