Today the community site Reddit finally banned several controversial forums, including /r/Rapingwomen and the racist forums associated with /r/Coontown. The problem is that CEO Steve Huffman did it by putting a terrible set of policies in place. At the root of the problem is a basic issue Reddit’s leadership has with what constitutes a bannable offense on the site. When former CEO Ellen Pao was in charge, she instituted the idea that the company should ban subreddits that “threaten” other Redditors, or that encourage violence. Those rules led many people to call for the banning of the site /r/rapingwomen, which clearly calls for violence against women. It wasn’t until now that /r/rapingwomen was banned, after Huffman formalized the new Reddit content rules. In an update today, Reddit says that content or an entire subreddit may be banned if it (and this is a direct quote from Reddit): Is illegal Is involuntary pornography Encourages or incites violence Threatens, harasses, or bullies or encourages others to do so Is personal and confidential information Impersonates someone in a misleading or deceptive manner Is spam There are also three categories of “behavior” that Reddit has prohibited: Asking for votes or engaging in vote manipulation Breaking Reddit or doing anything that interferes with normal use of Reddit Creating multiple accounts to evade punishment or avoid restrictions Previously, Reddit’s new CEO Steve Huffman had said booming hate communities like CoonTown were acceptable because it was important to have a vital meeting of the minds: “I don’t think you can win an argument by simply silencing the opposition.” Not anymore, I guess: 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. It took months and months of public criticism and internal controversy, and general tumult for the site’s management to decide that “WatchReggiesDie” did not belong on Reddit.