Mobbed By Moderation: A Cause of Failure

Dec 16, 2022
9 min

You spend a double-digit number of hours and a three-digit dollar amount creating content for a community. When you finish, excitement rushes across your body.

You did it!

Now, it’s time to share that content with the world. So you attempt to do that, only to be met with this…

Message from r/venturecapital moderator removing post of SwitchUpCB

More on that later.

The Mob

Moderation is an important job.

The goal of this article is NOT to discredit moderators or the work that they do to keep communities enjoyable. That said, it’s inevitable for contributors to conflict with moderators from time to time. 

This article outlines my struggles with moderators as part of the 1%.

What is the 1% Rule?

The 1% rule (of Internet Culture) outlines the phenomenon where 1% of users create content while 99% are consumers on any platform. The 90–9–1 variant of the 1% rule indicates that 90% of people lurk, 9% edit or comment, and 1% create content on any platform that allows content modification.

The 1% rule is typically reproducible on many websites (especially YouTube video comments), but NOT the population as an aggregate. Its significance is that — on a platform such as Reddit — the percentage of people moderating and creating actual content is less than 10%.

Who is the Mob?

Moderation requires time to be executed effectively. However, most people would rather spend time doing other things. So, platforms such as Reddit use unpaid, voluntary moderation to fulfill their moderation responsibilities.

The role of a voluntary moderator tends to be filled by a specific personality type. This personality type — "The Mob" — contributes to the culture of moderation on any platform. So, “The Mob” does NOT refer to a specific group of people working together, but rather the typical personality of a moderator.

Since the personality type of each voluntary moderator is not unique, a contributor is likely to encounter aspects of said personality across various platforms. As a contributor, encounters with these people make you feel like a “mob” is working against you. Of course, this is not the case.

The Problem With Self Promotion

Where do you draw the line? This is the main problem with self promotion.

It’s almost impossible to tell — in an automated manner — whether someone is posting their own content for their own gain or whether someone is posting their own content to benefit a community. This uncertainty results in extremes where self-promotion is banned on platforms entirely.

For example, the following text is from the self-promotion guidelines of Reddit.

But it’s not spam! I worked hard on that, I make no money from it, it’s original content! I’m not a spammer!

We’re not making a judgment on your quality, just your behavior on reddit. Your stuff’s probably amazing and someone would be really interested in it but…

Reddit Self Promotion Guidelines

So what is the result of the most extreme policy against self-promotion?

The reality is that Reddit bends the line for specific individuals and especially other companies. And these policies support the preference of low-effort content among users.

What is Low Effort Content?

When a contributor references low-effort content, that is content that takes a low amount of effort to create. This definition has several implications.

For one, low-effort content is not necessarily correlated with the amount of appreciation a consumer derives from said content. The inverse may be true as high-effort content may take a high skill level to appreciate. So, uncurated popular content tends to be low-effort since more people can understand it.

An example of this phenomenon can be seen on Reddit, but don’t take my word for it. Take it from the owner of a 12 Year Old Reddit Account with over 5 million karma: What a 10-Year Old Account Learned Using Reddit.

All of these behaviors result in the same outcome: Higher-effort content — even that which can be assessed with a glance, but which requires some consideration in order to be understood — gets eclipsed by lower-effort content, thereby teaching us to expect the latter. When that expectation is challenged, people often react in surprisingly aggressive ways. The prevailing sentiment appears to be one of “This submission interrupted me… and since I didn’t immediately benefit from that interruption, it just made me angry.”

— u/RamsesThePigeon

This is the same phenomenon that I discuss in “What is the Best Song or Album” regarding mainstream music.

When you visit the front page of Reddit, what do you find? 70% of the front page consists of image posts. Twitter reposts. TikTok reposts. “Low effort” memes. News headlines. That’s before you enable the NSFW posts…

It gets to the point where the most basic of bots can farm karma. But God forbid someone engage in self-promotion.

If someone contributes their own content to a community, that person believes that it’s good content; notwithstanding Sturgeon’s Law.

Breaking The Rules Of Self-Promotion

What is the solution to a self-promotion policy?

From a contributor’s perspective, it’s breaking the rules.

For whatever reason, creating a fake account to post your work is fine. But using the name of your official brand? Game over…

So, to reiterate, posting content that you made on your own account is NOT OK. Yet someone else posting the content that you made is met with open arms.

This social rule means that users are encouraged to benefit from the work of others. On the other hand, contributors require multiple people to promote their content.

The irony of this behavior is that it benefits a group of people — such as a company — the most. Small creators and niche content are never posted on their own accord. So, it’s no surprise that platforms such as Reddit are inundated with reposts and branded marketing campaigns from fake accounts.

What is the result of a self-promotion policy?

Lots of work goes into banning people like this, who make up the 1% of content creators. Then 99% of consumers turn around and complain about the “quality” of the platform.

The same pattern occurs with monetized content: A creator is expected to make high-quality content (which costs money and time to create). Then, consumers complain when that work is monetized (with ads, etc). So, the creator is forced to stop creating high-quality content since doing so without monetizing it is unsustainable.

Well. The creator isn't forced, but...

Why Self-Promotion Is Required To Succeed

The hate for self-promotion is universal. No one likes a braggart or a narcissist. However, any contributor understands that self-promotion is necessary at a certain level.

When you are creating content no one knows about, you must start somewhere. The world isn’t a meritocracy where whatever you build is immediately recognized. Thus, self-promotion is prevalent among beginners.

My journey with self-promotion started the moment I attempted to make music seriously. But there is a natural conflict at play here.

When you are a beginner, chances are your work is not as good as it could be. In addition, your strategy for self-promotion may NOT be restricted to a target audience (that is prone to enjoy your work). This conflict results in the spam of low-quality work across numerous platforms and contributes to the hatred of self-promotion by consumers.

Due to the above issue, self-promotion is not advised since consumers may associate your work with the low-quality spam prevalent among other self-promoters. However, there may be additional reasons why self-promotion is not recommended.

In What is the Best Song or Album, I cover the concept of critical state, which refers to how critical a consumer will be towards a work when it’s encountered naturally, as opposed to a forced manner. This consumption state is influential concerning music since familiarity is a huge factor in a song’s assessment of quality.

So what are the alternatives to self promoting your work? 

Go ahead… Tell me. Anything you think of will be a convoluted form of self-promotion or a heavy reliance on luck.

Consumers love to believe that their favorite artists are the result of skill and luck that follows. Yet that's never the case.

What would these artists need a record deal for then?

What Do Independent Artists Need To Be Successful? Oh… Money. To do what?

Promote themselves. 

There is no way to avoid self-promotion, only specific strategies that don't look like it.

My Experience With Self Promotion

We must dig deeper to understand my frustration with this topic. Here is my experience with self-promotion as a contributor.

Creating a work is one thing. Doing so sustainably is another. You must promote your work when you want to remain a contributor.

But how?!

You ask all of your (consumer) friends, who proceed to tell you to create memes and TikToks because {insert artist} did it. But that doesn't work.

You wonder why you have yet to make progress. Then you realize that {insert artist} is signed to a record label that pays people to create TikToks in the first place. 

And suddenly, it makes sense why these TikTokers are earning so much cash on an — at the time — unmonetized platform…

So, similarly to posting on content aggregators (e.g., Reddit), promotion becomes a game of masked inauthenticity. 

What can you do to drive engagement to your page without making it look like it’s you?

Doesn’t matter. The record labels have you beat in many ways. 80% of advertising doesn’t work. Not to mention the anti-self-promotion bots that waste your time.

This entire anti-self-promotion culture benefits the same companies people rally against.

So, you start posting anyway…


I used to post on r/wallstreetbets frequently. In fact, it’s how I got my first 1,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Back then, you could post videos, which created a music scene on the subreddit. A music scene that u/Nukkil and I started.

Now, that scene is dead. 

What happened?

The moderators shut it down: Posting videos from other websites isn’t possible on that subreddit anymore. You can upload them, though.

Moassepedia Table of GME Music with Yung Quant in the first three entries.
I’m a pioneer. This is Proof.

When you open the subreddit, what do you find now that YouTube is banned? A holy grail of uploaded content that is higher quality than you’ve ever seen? Content that — by being unmonetizable — is solely serving the r/wallstreetbets community? No. 

You find Twitter reposts, TikTok reposts, low-effort memes, and the occasional “insightful” political discussion.

There is no point in creating high-quality content for r/wallstreetbets anymore. The phenomena described in this article result in your posts ranking lower than low-effort content. 

It’s also uncomfortable to leave the visibility of your own content in the hands of a Reddit moderator, who can remove your post at any time. And moderators are likely to do so on a whim.

Once YouTube videos were banned from r/wallstreetbets, I was done. The creators I planned to work with were done. The music scene died that day.

It doesn’t matter how many upvotes you receive: An uploaded video to Reddit results in no conversion to other platforms. Therefore, the entire exercise is unsustainable for anyone who creates high-quality content.

Not to mention, Reddit’s video platform doesn’t support captions. That’s a big f*ck you to the disabled.


So, now we have the incident at the beginning of this article.

I attempted to post a recent song about venture capital in r/venturecapital, which is nearly a dead subreddit. Of course, I expected people to be happy that a song was created for their niche topic.

I was wrong.

My 2c: Did you know that video is the highest-polluting form of communication there is? You know, the form of communication that generates CO2 pollution. More CO2 pollution = more climate change.

— u/Pi31415926

What is this? Climate change activism by advocating against video creation… I couldn’t believe my eyes. It would be the best troll I have ever seen, if only it wasn’t completely serious.

It’s no wonder people fail to take climate change activism seriously. This person ruined it for us all!

So what can I do? Here’s a fun fact.

The first time I posted a music video on r/wallstreetbets, it got removed. So, I found footage of the mod who removed it without watching a single second of the music video on Twitch, then created another non-music video centered around calling him out.

That mod and I would eventually reconcile: We even fought together during the second coup of r/wallstreetbets. So, I could go down that confrontational route or I could just ignore it.

I mean, I’m so tired…

Not to mention, my post also got penalized by HackerNews. Dang provided an excellent explanation of what I would need to do to be able to promote that work. And that made me think…

Is it worth it?

Tech nerds who dislike black people probably won’t care about rap anyway.

And that brings me to the entire point of this post.

The Reaction Olympics

It would be a conflict of interest for me to propose that an entire platform change its self-promotion rules. So, I’m not going to do that. However, I will provide my perspective on policies such as these from the standpoint of a small creator.


A ban on self-promotion requires me to focus on content that spurs a reaction out of people (to the point that the content is shared). People flock towards negativity and drama. So, I could do that while also making easy-to-consume “low-effort” content. 

Some people reading right now may even be frothing at the mouth saying, “Why not?” already.


I could continue to ignore the rules, because you miss every shot you don’t take. That would work if the content I currently create has value. If not, then it begs the question: Why are you creating (public) content anyways?

If no one likes your content, keep it to yourself, right? It’s nothing personal.

Give Up

I could adhere to the rules and make failure inevitable through unsustainability.

  • Music isn’t a product.
  • Merch sales are exponential.
  • Ad revenue is not sustainable.
  • 35 articles now and I still can’t get paid by Medium.

Nothing is free in life. When something makes a person happy, why would it be free?


I could ask people to post — within relevant communities — on my behalf to support my content. I could ask people who enjoy my content to engage with it by commenting, following, subscribing, etc. I could ask people who see potential in me for funds to create content that we both want to exist. 

I could ask…

Make a Decision

Let’s be honest, there’s no “correct decision” here. That’s where I am right now. I have identified the cause of failure, but there is no straightforward solution.

What will I do next?

Read More