Last night, things got messy in one of the main, most well-known hubs for GamerGate-related discussion as one of its ringleaders had a years-delayed moral crisis. u/david-me set put the subreddit with 96,000 subscribers on private, ousted the other moderators, and deleted the subreddit’s CMS. In an explanation titled “Righting a Wrong” posted in a subreddit dedicated to subreddit conflict, u/david-me said that the subreddit had become “infested with racism and sexism .... and other ism'” and called the creation of the subreddit “a mistake.”
“Until now. KiA is one of the many cancerous growths that have infiltrated reddit,” u/david-me wrote. “The internet. The world. I did this. Now I am undoing it. This abomination should have always been aborted.” u/david-me also cited harassment targeting his diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and generalized anxiety disorder as a reason for attempting to shutter the subreddit.
Gamergate, which took hold as a concept back in 2014, became a way to justify threats of murder, rape, and other forms of violence against women who developed video games and wrote game reviews under a smokescreen of “ethics in gaming journalism,” and r/KotakuInAction was a nexus for this activity from the beginning. More recently, the subreddit is commonly graced by posts defending Jordan Peterson — a man known for recruiting vulnerable young men into the alt-right using tactics that target people with depression — and discussion on the subreddit related to “Social Justice” makes feminism a common target.
r/KotakuInAction has tried to brand itself as a respectful place to discuss all things relevant to the Gamergate dialogue. Its set of rules that explicitly condemns harassment. “Attack arguments,” the rules read, “not people.” But if the treatment of u/david-me is any indication, the community isn’t exactly open to criticism. And as the attempted shutdown by u/david-me indicates, it’s too late for a Hail Mary to shut things down, and it’s perhaps too late to change the subreddit’s culture of the better. u/david-me’s action comes not long after Reddit made sweeping changes in an attempt to clean up harassment, hate speech, and bigotry on its platform, but even more shortly after its founder declared that keeping it clean would be impossible.
By taking action against discriminatory harassment and abuse in /r/KotakuInAction, /u/david-me became another unfortunate target of harassment and abuse — definitely and totally not proving u/david-me’s point at all. “I'm closing shop and I can't allow anyone to exploit my handicap,” u/david-me wrote in r/Drama. “I've watched and read every day. Every single day. The mods are good at what they do, but they are moderating over a sub that should not exist.” u/david-me did not respond to The Outline’s request for comment.