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closetpuritan

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09:06 am: "Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists"
I don't have any criticism of the body of Rebecca Watson's post. (It is written by an atheist frustrated with the community dynamics of the atheism subtopic on Reddit--in particular, a bunch of creepy sexual comments after a 15-year-old girl posts a picture of herself with a Carl Sagan book.) But man, that title.

-Could you put up a more obvious linkbait title?

-If you care about having a nice comments section that people actually want to read, maybe you shouldn't put up the type of headline that will piss people off, cause them to not read or not really "get the point" of the post, and just talk about the title--or people who are legitimately critical of the title will also just talk about the title--and so we have a big discussion about the title and not about the point of the post. For example, from the most recent comment at the time I'm writing:
"Instead of making you hate atheists, it would make more sense to hate the assholes and their upvoters which you cite in the article… and the non-moderator at reddit who allowed this crap to flourish."

People should post headlines/titles that reflect the actual article/post, instead of inflammatory titles chosen to try to generate traffic, but the fact that they don't is expected at this point. People should read the actual post, but the fact that some people won't is expected at this point.

-Ha ha, I hate a religious group! That's so clever! What a great title!


This kind of thing is pretty common (Slate, which I otherwise like, is a serial offender), so why did this one set me off? I think at least in part because of this part from a post by Kate Harding (also an atheist) linking to it:
"Similarly, if you’re an atheist whose first response to something like this is, “Don’t blame atheists! Most of us aren’t assholes!” you are awful, too. You’re right–most of us aren’t! And that has nothing to do with the fact that this is happening on an atheist forum–not to mention at atheist conferences–and yet, instead of wondering, “How might I help clean house in this community I care about, which I do not wish to see filled with assholes?” your first instinct is to explain to women why they’re wrong."

You know what, I'm sorry, but that's a completely predictable reaction when you call your article "Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists". I know that you like the actual post and stuff, Kate Harding, but that title is crap. It's inflammatory linkbait. And it is designed to provoke exactly that reaction, with the hope that people will read the actual post and get the point of it and by the time that they're done, forget about the inflammatory headline, which isn't exactly a reasonable expectation. And since you just said that you agree that most atheists aren't assholes (and so, probably, does Rebecca Watson), how is saying that most atheists aren't assholes "explaining to women why they're wrong"*? It is changing the subject, but in an entirely predictable way given the stupid inflammatory linkbait title. It's the reaction that I'm basically having, even though I am a woman who thinks that the problem you guys are trying to write about is a problem (or, moreso, a symptom of the problem of a toxic culture that goes beyond moderated-in-name-only Reddit threads).

*Except, I guess that if you feel the need to point that out, either you think that Rebecca Watson/Kate Harding are saying that most atheists are assholes, or you think that hating atheists because the ones on a Reddit subthread are assholes, even though you know most atheists overall aren't assholes, is the wrong conclusion to draw, or you think Rebecca Watson chose a terrible title and she was wrong to choose that title. Then you are "telling women that they're wrong", I guess. Is Kate Harding seriously suggesting that anytime feminists say something that seems offensive to some other group, pointing out the offensive part is just derailing? Feminists being racist/anti-gay/etc has happened. Kate Harding has talked about it being a problem. So what is going on? Is this some Oppression Olympics thing where you can only critique things if your group is oppressed enough? I don't think that's it. I think that she's decided that the title should be given a pass because the writer is an atheist... and then because she's given it a pass, she forgets about its very existence when writing her response.

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