Reddit Implements Tipping System to r/FortNiteBR
Reddit, the popular social news and media aggregation website, announced that they will be experimenting with a tipping system in the r/FortniteBR subreddit. r/FortniteBR was chosen as the guinea pig for this experiment due to how active the users are in the one million-plus subscriber subreddit. A brief summary of the details of the tipping system is as follows: When you tip a content creator on either a post or a comment, 60% goes to the creator, 20% goes to a community pool, and 20% goes to Reddit. The community’s portion will go to a common pool of funds managed by the top moderator on the subreddit. He has the trust of the mod team to spend the fund appropriately on the community. The mod team hopes to give the community as a whole more influence in how the fund is managed in the coming months. Not every user can receive tips in the early stages of this experiment, only a select list of users approved by Reddit can receive tips on their posts. For the official post on the system, click here.
This sounds like a great idea on the surface; a system built into Reddit where users can tip real money in support of content creators and other users that contribute to the community. However, when you analyze the system a little further, there are some glaring issues that deserve criticism. Many Reddit users did just that, leaving constructive criticism comments as well as some less constructive ones.
The first thing many users noticed about the tipping system is how disingenuous it comes off. Reddit is advertising the system as a way for users to support creators in the community but the actual creator they want to support only receives 60% of the tip. Compare this to a platform like Patreon where the content creator receives a cut of 90%. If Reddit really cared about giving users the option to support creators they would let creators advertise their Patreon's or personal PayPal’s; this is obviously not allowed though because then Reddit would not receive their cut. Reddit moderators attempted to justify this by comparing their rates to platforms like Twitch, posting that Twitch takes a cut of 70% from tips and 50% from subscriptions. Users were quick to jump on this, telling the mods that they cannot compare themselves to Twitch due to Twitch having much more money and resources tied to their systems. This experiment seems like an ill-thought-out attempt to monetize Reddit and make a profit off of content creator and user posts. Reddit user u/hamakabi wrote “it has nothing to do with “supporting creators” and everything to do with monetizing posts…Reddit just created a monetary incentive for posting”. Users fear that this system is just the beginning and after testing is done on r/FortniteBR it will eventually be integrated into the whole site. This could have terrible implications for the direction of Reddit and lead down a path of corporate greed, something Reddit was originally a safe haven from.
Going off of the first point, Reddit and the moderators did not even wait until the logistics of the system were fully complete before rolling it out. It would be one thing if they released this system complete with only the implementation and user reaction/feedback needing to be tested. Instead, they released a tipping system where 20% of what a user tips goes to a “community pool” with no specifications on where the money will go. One would think it would be foreseeable that users would respond with skepticism upon finding out this information. Reddit states that the money will be managed by a single trusted moderator and spent on the community with no further details than that. Not only is one sole person managing what could be a large sum of money leave users having reservations, but there is also no clear direction for how the money will be spent. Announcing this tipping system before the logistics were fully figured out is a recipe for disaster and leaves a bad taste in the mouth of most Reddit users.
Finally, many users worry that implementing this system will hurt the overall quality of content on the r/FortniteBR subreddit and eventually all of Reddit. Reddit is special in that content rises and falls organically. If a post is received positively by the community it is upvoted, giving it more exposure and sending it to the top of the “hot” page. If a post is received negatively, users downvote it, giving it less exposure until it falls into irrelevancy. The community as a whole decides what reaches the front page and what content deserves visibility. The implementation of this new tipping system raises many concerns over the effects it will have on the Reddit culture.
One side effect could be an increase in unoriginal and stolen content. Facebook and Twitter, for example, have an epidemic of stolen content being constantly reposted in order to garner likes and retweets. This was already present on Reddit in the form of “karma whoring”, but the fear is that now when money is involved this type of activity will skyrocket. Approved content creators will constantly be reposting and stealing unoriginal content from other users and platforms in an attempt to receive tips from unsuspecting users.
Another possible result will be the r/FortniteBR subreddit and other future subreddits being brigaded by famous content creators all looking for another revenue stream. Top streamers can make posts and then promote it on their stream and social media, telling subscribers to go upvote their posts. This would result in content that normally wouldn’t see the light of day being blindly upvoted to the top by fans of the creators and hurting the overall integrity of the subreddit.
Lastly, this system opens up the door for manipulation by the less ethical Reddit users. Even now there are various forms of sympathy posts, many that get exposed as fake, made in an attempt by the poster to gain karma. "Karma" is essentially Reddit's scoreboard system. Users gain karma when one of their comments or posts gets upvoted and lose it when a comment or post gets downvoted. Karma has no real value, imagine what will happen when money is involved. For example, an immoral content creator could make a hoax post about honoring a sibling that loved Fortnite and unexpectedly passed away. Clearly, a post like this would tug on the heartstrings of many users and result in the post receiving tips. One can see how a system like this could be taken advantage of and have adverse effects on the subreddits it is implemented in.
For now, it looks as if Reddit will move forward with this experiment, despite mixed feedback from the userbase. This is understandable from a business perspective, as this system allows Reddit to profit at no real expense. It will be interesting to witness what comes of this tipping system and if the concerns we discussed here are valid. We will update this post or dedicate a new post to it when Reddit announces the results of their experiment and/or any other major details surrounding it.
Let us know in the comments what you the reader thinks of all this. Do you think the tipping system belongs on Reddit? Do you have any issues with its implementation, such as the 60%, 20%, 20%, split? Do you think the concerns listed here are valid or are they easily countered? We would love to hear your opinions.