Moderating as Volunteer Work

Operation: Destroy Reddit

So now that Reddit is becoming a publicly-traded company, 4chan trolls apparently think that they will destroy Reddit by encouraging moderators to unionize and demand pay for their services.

Cool beans.

I don’t expect or want to be paid as a moderator though.

(I realize I’m in a privileged position to be able to say that. There are people who live pay-cheque to pay-cheque and would welcome a bit of extra money.)

Here’s why.

Just say no to monetizing hobbies

There’s a saying along the lines of:

Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

However Adam J Kurtz, author of Things Are What You Make of Them has rewritten it as:

Do what you love and work super fucking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.

Turning moderation into a job would mean tracking hours worked, meeting quotas, and having a manager who would assign which communities you could moderate. I would need to set aside time of my day to do it, rather than just squeezing bits in when I have free time and the inclination to do it.

If you try turning a hobby into a way to make money, it inevitably takes the fun out of it. The pressure to monetize hobbies is a toxic effect of our late stage capitalist world.

I’m not doing free work for Reddit

I’m doing free work for the antiwork community, not Reddit. The fact that Reddit also happens to somewhat benefit from it is incidental. I don’t have any loyalty to Reddit as a platform; they’re just the place the antiwork community happens to be. If the antiwork community moved elsewhere, so would I.

We are not working for Reddit. Reddit is working for us, by providing free hosting for our community.

Moderation is a perfect example of antiwork

When post-capitalist anti-authoritarian economic systems are discussed, a question often raised is who would do the work if there’s no financial incentive and nobody forcing you to do it?

But moderation is perfect proof that people are willing to be productive without financial motivation. People see something that needs doing in their community and step in to help out.

Of course it’s not the only one. People are naturally creative and industrious, and like to keep themselves occupied. Other good examples of this are open source programmers, Wikipedia editors, and fan fiction writers.

The idea that moderators ought to be paid by Reddit is pro-work. It turns voluntary labour into commoditized work.

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