Reddit’s 10% guideline – a shadowban trap for excited gamedevs

In my previous post about self-promotion on Reddit I made a mistake of not taking some site-wide rules in account. To be honest, I didn’t really know about 10% guideline then and ignoring that very gray area, after a couple recent stir ups in certain subreddits, seems to be a really risky thing to do.

If you haven’t already, read all site-wide self-promo guidelines of Reddit. There are a couple of important points I failed to mention before. My bad. I will update my original article, but I’d like to shine more light on that 10% thing, since there are quite a few aspects of it, which worry me and should worry you a lot.

But lets warm up with a pretty straightforward rule first:

You should not just start submitting your links – it will be unwelcome and may be removed as spam, or your account will be banned as spam.

Quite clear, isn’t it? Don’t jump in with a fresh account and start blasting your blog URL everywhere. That might upset spam bots and subreddit moderators. Get to know the place, check the other gamedev posts, leave some feedback, submit your cat picture to /r/aww. Some subreddits have a comment or link karma requirements, before you can post [self-promo] there and the best way to get karma is posting decent content. Check the “new” or “rising” tabs in a subreddits which relate to your interests and you might find a thread to be valuable in!

Now, I can understand if you don’t want to spend a lot of time in another social media website and, if you’re anything like me, you might not have anything valuable to submit, except for stuff you’re working on. Which makes the next part a lot trickier.

10% guideline

You should submit from a variety of sources (a general rule of thumb is 10% or less of your links should be your own site), talk to people in the comments (and not just on your own links), and generally be a good member of the community.

Now, this is a such a huge mess that I don’t really know where to start.  The more I read about it, the less clear it becomes, who and how is actually enforcing it and it seems that even admins of the site are a bit confused about it, since there are too many gray areas to count. I’ll just leave a list of speculations and hope it makes gives you enough information to keep Reddit account safe.

  • It’s safer to assume that domain checking is automated at some level
  • Usually, it’s subreddit moderator checking your submissions & reporting rule-breakers to admins
  • Subreddit moderators can follow or ignore this guideline, so you should always check rules of specific subreddit before posting
  • Posting a self-promo in a self post and not linking directly, while less engaging, is the safe thing to do
  • It’s safer to assume that your comments and being a good member of the community might not have enough leverage for the lack of submission variety in the eyes of moderators
  • You are not completely safe in self-promo subreddits and even in your own subreddit
  • Moderators of larger subreddits might be pushed by admins to enforce spam preventions

What is shadowban?

Well, it’s something you get for violating rules! It’s the shadiest ban of all bans, since you won’t know that you’re banned and will be able to use site as you’d do usually, posting interesting threads & insightful comments. Only no one will see them, thus making you feel crushing loneliness and quickly lose confidence. Just like in real life! One symptom from which you can diagnose if someone has shadowban is visiting user’s profile and checking if it shows his submissions or an error page.

Sometimes a better kind of moderators will notify you that you were shadow banned,  but if you feel like you’re shouting in to the void, you can check your account status here.

Also check this huge list of things you shouldn’t do if you don’t want to get shadowbanned and, finally, what to do if you actually got the ban.

How do I post about my project and stay safe?

Very carefully! It’s easy to get overly excited about upcoming release of your game and get in to a bit of trouble. Unfortunately, avoiding that trouble will require much more time than most of us could and would want to sacrifice, but keep in mind that getting active & known in Reddit (at least in gamedev/gaming communities) is not a bad investment. And, hopefully, it will get easier in the future… when we all become rich and famous for our awesome games and won’t need to promote them anymore!

  • Be as active as you can, leave feedback for other developers fighting the same battle and help out in threads where you can
  • Avoid conflicts with moderators. They might seem unreasonable, but the report button is under their finger.
  • Find a community which is relevant to your interests and try to submit content there to keep your post variety up
  • Liven up smaller gamedev subreddits, which has softer rules, with content you can find suitable for them
  • If possible, keep your game title out of the submission if it’s not vital
  • Do not submit one thread after another. Add some comments in between, it’ll make your profile page look much better
  • If you want to submit the same link twice, it might be better to cross-link (submit a link of other Reddit thread)
  • Link directly to Imgur, or Youtube, instead of blog post, which contains a single image or video
  • Writing this makes me uneasy & fake, but you might look like a better community member if, instead information about your year long project, you’d post some funny cat pictures

Hopefully, this post will be of some use to you and maybe even save an account or two.  A lot of these are my opinion and relatively safe speculations, so you’re welcome to correct me and add anything from your own experience in the comments.


13 thoughts on “Reddit’s 10% guideline – a shadowban trap for excited gamedevs”

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  2. Seems really dumb that these power hungry teenagers can’t just use the ban function on their own subreddit, instead they want to see people banned from the entire site.

  3. Some clarifications about how 10% works:

    Yes, domain checking is largely automated. There are some very large automated bots that check this stuff, some even do automated reporting. And the ability to check the percentage of posts is something that’s built in to the biggest moderator tools.

    Yes, subreddit moderators (at least of most good sized subreddits) check and report rule breakers. But anyone can, and a lot of users do as well. The tools to check percentages are available to anyone, and anyone can post to /r/spam.

    Lots of moderators will try to help users out by giving them warnings when they’re in the danger zone.

    Also, it should be noted that the 10% is not actually a self promotion rule, though most people talk like it is. It doesn’t matter if you violate the 10% rule with your content or if you’re just a big fan of a particular site or newspaper or blog.

    Subreddit moderators can follow or ignore this guideline, so you should always check rules of specific subreddit before posting”

    This isn’t exactly true. The problem is that 10% is a site wide rule, so while some reddits have tighter enforcement, a moderator in Sub A may report you even though the majority of your posts have been in Sub B or C. And subreddits of a particular size do attract the attention of the admins who will step in if they consider the sub too spammy. So you might find some wiggle room with smaller subs, but there’s no way to know how much or be certain.

    Subreddits do generally have their own self promotion rules though, so do check subreddit specific rules. Many subs ban them, or have various requirements.

    Posting a self-promo in a self post and not linking directly, while less engaging, is the safe thing to do

    Yes, this is safer simply because of how automated checking works. That’s one reason that it’s a requirement in many subs. That said, you can still be shadowbanned for spam through self posts, it’s just harder.

    Also, some users may be tempted to delete old posts so their domain numbers don’t look at bad. Don’t do that. It’s against the rules for many subs, and it looks like a huge red flag to both mods and admins. Even if you aren’t violating the rules, they may assume that you are and you may get in trouble.

    It’s safer to assume that your comments and being a good member of the community might not have enough leverage for the lack of submission variety in the eyes of moderators

    Yes, subreddits generally want engaged submitters who comment. But comments don’t affect the 10% rule and being an excellent commenter really doesn’t do anything to affect 10%.

    You are not completely safe in self-promo subreddits and even in your own subreddit
    Moderators of larger subreddits might be pushed by admins to enforce spam preventions

    Absolutely correct. It’s a site wide rule. Also, if a subreddit has too much spam or too many users the admins consider spam, the admins may step in and shut the subreddit down, or change the moderators.

    /r/indiegaming self-promotion rule set is currently under construction, so game developers should either post self (text) posts or avoid it until the dust settles down.

    Not true. The rules are up and active, and if they’re changed again they’ll be an announcement. The rules are located here and there’s a Q & A thread here

    If possible, keep your game title out of the submission if it’s not vital

    DO NOT do this. First, the title is not going to affect any of the automated tools like bots. Second, a lot of subs have rules against this. And even when subs don’t, moderators don’t like people trying to slide on the rules and may interpret this is as trying to duck rules. Also users (and mods) tend to really hate submissions without context. DO NOT DO THIS.

    If you want to submit the same link twice, it might be better to cross-link (submit a link of other Reddit thread)

    Be careful with this. Lots of communities don’t allow cross posting or may require NP submissions. Especially if the post didn’t actually generate conversation.

    Link directly to Imgur, or Youtube, instead of blog post, which contains a single image or video

    Youtube links are counted in 10%. All of the bots give youtube channel breakdowns and you can be banned for posting over 10% of one users videos.

    And as for direct image links, a lot of subreddits have rules against this. If the subreddit does allow it, remember to include a descriptive title with context. Contextless images are one of the things that drive lots of subs to write rules against straight link submissions.

    And one big warning: it may be annoying to have to submit lots of varied content to keep your account around, but trying to dodge the rules tend to get you in more trouble. If someone gets SBed repeatedly, they may have harsher steps taken against them, you can even have your domain banned from all of reddit. This means that submissions by anyone to any subreddit would get caught in reddit’s spam filter and not seen. If you can’t keep under 10%, then try buying some advertising. You can target your ads to particular subreddits, so that’s a great way to do extra promotion in a sub without getting in trouble for it.

    If you have any additional questions, feel free to poke me on reddit.

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  8. Individual subs like r/funny, r/television, r/WTF will ban you if you post more then 10% from even a popular news website. I suspect if you piss off certain reddit users, they team up and report you anonymously to the subs respective mods resulting in automods being activated and then mods not giving a fuck in reinstating you and admin also not giving a fuck.

    Most of reddit mods are little poofs with no life.

  9. Really good points brought up here. I disagree heavily with the shadow ban process and I feel like there’s a better way to handle it and I would like to see Reddit address those concerns before they re-design a website worse than before.

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