Banishing zombies and tracking down Russia propaganda—on the front lines with the social site’s volunteer army. It’s a zombie. No, I insist on doing it for free. (Cats are also popular tools for the undead, but there are so many cats on the web that it’s tough to know which cats will attract eyeballs.) “This just makes it much more difficult,” CEO Huffman wrote to him, arguing that Elliot’s decision to go public got in the way of the staff’s investigation into the problem. It’ll have to be on another subreddit, though; with the account quietly banned, no more of its posts will show up on /r/aww. He left one final comment on his way out. He passed one of his moderating jobs to another mod. I’d characterize it another way. There are fewer than 500 paid employees at Reddit, but tens of thousands of us volunteer moderators, for 14 billion pageviews a month. Revisiting the account later, I saw that the posts I’d removed had also been deleted by the owner, erasing the evidence, leaving MQ ready to attempt another fresh start. • In anxiety, all of this changes. It is, Heidegger insists, "nothing and nowhere". One day last March, Elliot was reading a 2015 article from The Guardian about two former employees of an unnamed “troll enterprise” in Saint Petersburg, Russia—the now-famous Internet Research Agency. A guide to busting through confirmation bias, the cognitive fallacy that's destroying our discourse. He told us, in back-channel chats, that he was leaving. Once, on /r/AskReddit, someone invited health inspectors to describe the worst violations they’d ever seen. We sort through queues of posts, hundreds at a time, getting trolled and insulted and shat on by the internet—for one moment like this one. It often feels as if we can read a digital room better than most people can read a physical one. But on closer inspection, it hadn’t posted a single thing. It’s tough to accuse someone of being a foreign agent for showing you a pic of a six-week-old Labradoodle. These are the rules: Users of /r/aww aren’t allowed to post about dogs that are dying, or sick, or just back from the vet. Clicking it, he found it redirected to usa­, a known Russian propaganda site. He has a beard. Elliot makes no bones about why he went after /r/The_Donald looking for bots: He suspected that if there was Russian activity anywhere, it would be there. I think about the cliché “You couldn’t pay me to do that.” For 20 or so hours a week, the line feels apt. He hit publish right before leaving for the gym, on the morning of September 20, 2018. That’s because it had been uploaded and shared and redownloaded so many times. Anxiety is perhaps the philosophical mood par excellence, it is the experience of detachment from things and from others where I can begin to think freely for myself. And I could see that the hugging-dogs image was kind of blurry. Our rules. Submissions always welcome! Anxiety is the first experience of our freedom, as a freedom from things and other people. But that isn’t why I spend 20 hours a week arguing with people on the internet and banning trolls. For my 19 million aww subscribers, /u/Magnolia­Quezada never existed. “My stepdad used to be a baker,” Chamale began. It appears to me as an inauthentic spectacle, a kind of tranquilised and pointless bustle of activity. But the existential resonance of anxiety is much more than methodological. And that could have made it easier for MagnoliaQuezada to share less obviously lovable things, like links to websites where its owners could say or do whatever they wanted. There was just one, from none other than /u/MagnoliaQuezada: ;;’}{{{}}}}}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}”}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}?}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[,,,,,,,,,,. As much as we love our volunteer work, Reddit moderators do leave when the work becomes work, when it stops being fun. And this time he felt sure he had found something—something that needed to be made known. Others join in: They are programmers and engineers for design firms, graduate students studying business, government employees in the UK, parents home from work at night, college kids in their dorms taking a break from Spanish homework, railroad workers laid up with broken legs, waiters and writers and clerks and cooks. Because /u/MagnoliaQuezada was many months old, it was able to bypass our subreddit’s homegrown spam filters, living and digital. The question Heidegger asks in Chapter 6 is: how is the being-in-the-world as a whole to be disclosed? Soon, Elliot was in an email chain with several of them, and he sent links to dozens of suspicious accounts. If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware. Which is to say: If we sometimes rise to the occasion of, say, fighting propaganda, it’s because we’re drawing from a deep camaraderie that has developed over thousands of more mundane interactions. Completing the CAPTCHA proves you are a human and gives you temporary access to the web property. It can arise in the most innocuous of situations: sitting in the subway distractedly reading a book and overhearing conversations, one is suddenly seized by the feeling of meaninglessness, by the radical distinction between yourself and the world in which you find yourself. He also deleted his public posts about his findings. Our Best Hope for Civil Discourse Is on ... Reddit, For Russia, Unraveling US Democracy Was Just Another Day Job, How the Internet Tricks You Into Thinking You're Always Right. One of my co-moderators—I’ll call him Elliot—wanted to do better. Then, as the inspector was ending her visit, she walked into a doorless building attached to the bakery. Sounds perfect Wahhhh, I don’t wanna. This article appears in the April issue. Looking for the latest gadgets? The excitement Elliot felt at this moment, the nervous anticipation, is something I envy. Twenty minutes later, when Elliot arrived for his workout, he set down his things and checked his phone. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. To find them, his basic script scraped through all the public posts on any page, made a list of people who often replied to one another, and spit the list out into a spreadsheet. So zombies probably sneak through as often as we catch them. “The admins put forth a genuine effort regarding the domains I alerted them to,” he wrote. You couldn’t pay me to mod No, no, they aren’t. Upward of 50 of them rolled in by day’s end. To establish our rules, moderators have staged pure democratic votes, building websites to host them and bots to count the tallies. Quickly, he found one such domain:, which was apparently only ever shared on /r/The_Donald. It's Cornertime! If fear is directed towards some distinct thing in the world, spiders or whatever, then anxiety is anxious about being-in-the-world as such. From being a player in the game of life that I loved, I become an observer of a game that I no longer see the point in playing. From dawn to dusk, scammers—be they bots, trolls, or propagandists—scour the internet searching for pictures or memes that have gone viral in the past: comfort foods, videos of things falling over, puppies. The undead hordes of unused accounts grow larger by the day as Reddit pushes upward toward 400 million active monthly users. Anxiety does not need darkness, despair and night sweats. It’s not enough to take away a zombie’s privileges, to warn it to play nice. How do you think we convince redditors to let us run giant forums? There stood an escaped cow licking all of the bread loaves. Submissions always welcome! My rules are both obvious (kittens are great; no gore porn, no threats) and designed to prevent misuse of the platform (no social media links or handles, and no spamming). The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. The title of the post was “I miss you so much,” and it consisted of a picture of two dogs, a husky and a yellow Lab, hugging over a fence. Ad Choices, The Punishing Ecstasy of Being a Reddit Moderator. For Elliot, that time had arrived. The volunteers put out a call for people to join their ranks, and I applied, writing that I wanted to bulk up on meaningful hobbies before I joined the world of full-time work. Your IP: He’d actually uncovered an effort to share concealed links to disinformation on the site.