Free Reddit Check

This is a belated post about something that happened a few weeks ago, but it’s worth recording in the annals of personal history.

I’ve been wanting to participate in Cultivated Wit‘s “Comedy Hack Day” foreeeeeever, and a few weeks ago I got my chance. I rocked up with a couple of my own ideas but was quickly swept up by someone else’s pitch: a tool which would let users scan the online comments of potential dates/employers/friends for bigotry before choosing to engage. Less comedy, more real-thing-that-should-actually-exist, but still… it’s all the presentation, right?

Speaking of which, here’s our presentation:

We called the tool “Free Reddit Check“.

How it worked

Type a Reddit username into the search box. If the comments of that user are already in the database, you will be redirected straight to their report. If not, it will prompt you to connect your Reddit account to the site so we can access the Reddit API and scan the history of the target user.

Our system was pre-programmed with a list of “bad” subreddits, areas where the community typically hates on a certain kind of person. For example, WhitesWinFights is a white supremicist subreddit. Some of those choices were controversial, but 99.9% of them were fairly cut-and-dried.

We also made lists of hate speech terms. Again, few surprises here – if someone’s saying “feminazi” a lot on the Internet and you’re a woman, you probably wouldn’t want to be around them.

Once we had all the comments from a user, we generated a report containing:

  • “This person is X% terrible” – based on number of hate-subreddits and hate-terms they’ve used, roughly divided by how much total speech.
  • “This person probably hates X” – their main hate-target, based on the number and type of hate-speech terms used, e.g. This person probably hates minorities
  • A list of their subreddits, with the “hate subs” in red
  • A list of hate speech terms, categorized by the target of their ire – women, LGBTQ, minorities

So that’s it! Fairly straightforward, and with lots of caching and whatnot we were able to withstand all the traffic that we were getting from various corners of the Internet, mostly articles on Engadget, Vice, fastcodesign, etc.

We’re sad to see this iteration of the site go off into the sunset, but it’s given us lots of ideas for future projects and we were amazed and humbled that our simple idea won Comedy Hack Day 9 and brought a smile to so many faces while it lasted. w00t!



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