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What happens after Reddit bans more than 350K users because of a joke?

Not everything went exactly as planned

Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War Marvel Studios

Reddit’s largest role-playing campaign, brought together by adoration for a meme that should have died off weeks ago, came to an end in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Company administrators and the moderators behind r/thanosdidnothingwrong, a subreddit dedicated to Thanos, managed to successfully ban half of the subreddit’s members. More than 300,000 users were banned, and more than 40,000 people tuned into the “snapping” process on Twitch to participate in the event. Reddit, Marvel Studios and Marvel itself all tweeted about the ban, blasting the news to millions of followers.

It was a momentous occasion, and one that clearly caught everyone’s attention, but not everything went according to plan. A list of questions over what happens next now linger over the subreddit.

Thanos Reddit
Twitch stream of Thanos “snapping” on Reddit.

Changes afoot

Changes are already happening. The-Jedi-Master, one of the moderators at the forefront of the mission to ban half the subreddit’s users, announced he was stepping down following the event. A popular Reddit user, n1407, finished his six-part series, Reddit: Banfinity War, which is a hefty re-edit of certain Avengers: Infinity War scenes set to focus on the impending ban. Most importantly, there was cause for concern that not everyone was going to participate in the banning rules, which stated that those who are banned must unsubscribe from the subreddit to ensure that the number of subscribers reflects the ban.

There are just under 590,000 members still in the subreddit, which proves that people are slowly unsubscribing, but it’s going to take some time. Most of the top threads on the subreddit’s front page are questions or shitposts about the number of subscribers still in the subreddit, with people pointing to a lack of coordination as part of the issue.

“Kinda deluded to think people will do the extra work,” one member wrote. “Even us nerds who are super into it would just go shitpost in the other sub.”

The other sub in question is r/inthesoulstone, a place where those who banned were supposed to congregate. There are currently more than 222,000 members in that subreddit, proving that people did move over after the “snapping” occurred, but that not everyone unsubscribed from r/thanosdidnothingwrong. The top posts on r/inthesoulstone are mostly just shitposts about this exact conundrum.

Reddit Thanos
A Reddit post mocking r/thanosdidnothingwrong’s sub count.

It’s a confusing time. The entire point of the joke is reliant on people fully participating. The moderators are aware of this, and like any good team overlooking a subreddit, they’re working toward a democratic solution. Subreddits are active and passionate virtual communities. They explicitly work through proper voting procedures, giving everyone a chance to voice their opinions and thoughts.

The “mad snapping,” as it’s referred to by many, was organized through this process, and executed the same way. Moderators asked for upvotes to act as digitally raised hands, and moved forward as one collective unit, working toward a shitposting strategy that works for everyone.

That’s what’s happening right now in r/thanosdidnothingwrong. Moderators are asking members to help them figure out what happens in the coming days and weeks as the subreddit returns to some semblance of normalcy.

“We now have enough resources to run the balanced subreddit smoothly, but in this new world, we first need to rebuild,” moderator DigitilizedOrange wrote. “As you can probably tell, the subreddit needs some work. Maybe a lot of work ... But that’s why I’m making this post. Don’t worry, your shitposts are safe, but we would also like to see more Thanos and Marvel related content.”

A few suggestions have already picked up quite a bit of attention. Flairs (an image or text that appears beside someone’s username) should be instituted to prove who actually survived the snap and who’s just lingering around, one person said to a chorus of praise. Another member suggested an all-out shitposting war with r/inthesoulstone to keep the friendly rivalry going between the two groups. One of the biggest suggestions, however, is asking moderators to try and keep the “karma farming,” a term that refers to posts that are strictly looking for upvotes, to a minimum.

Karma farming became a big part of r/thanosdidnothingwrong’s campaign in the final days before the ban. People joined the subreddit and made posts strictly in the name of increasing their karma, which acts like a digital currency of sorts, on the site. Most people were OK with this in the hours leading up to the mad snapping. Members who plan on staying in the subreddit, however, are now asking for karma-farming posts to quiet down.

“Yeah when I use Reddit I want to talk to other people, not constantly see a bunch of posts just asking for karma,” one Redditor said. “The memes are totally fine, it’s the posts literally asking for karma by any means (a dare, a deal, etc). They are super annoying. Also this whole karma farming thing has even gotten me to try and get karma by doing things I normally wouldn’t do.

“This is the type of thing that made me quit social media in the first place (caring about the upvotes rather than the content; it was on instagram) and then I found Reddit and came here to talk without worrying about upvotes or anything like that.”

The moderators are replying to people’s suggestions, and seem to be working on a plan to figure out how to deliver on all of these requests. It’s proving slightly more difficult to return a once-obscure subreddit back to its original culture following a bout of mass popularity. Nobody wants to leave the subreddit, if the posts are anything to go by, but they’re all working together to figure out how they become a community again instead of a meme-inspired circus act.

Polygon has reached out to the moderation team for more information.