Reddit New Zealand: Election Shills and Softball Questions are Okay.

Election time shillings are okay at /r/newzealand

You can tell its election time in New Zealand.

The crazy of this election cycle started with the hounding of Metiria Turei for actions she took while she was a young mother struggling to feed her child.  Turei was firestormed into quitting her political career.

Then came the unseating of Andrew Little. That led to the drubbing the predominantly right wing media handed out to Jacinda Ardern – the charismatic young leader of the Labour Party who replaced Little – and arcane discussions about her fecundity that were taken straight out of the pages of a 1950s women’s magazine.

Now the alt reality has extended to Reddit New Zealand. The sub-reddit moderators have just announced that shills and new accounts are to be given safe passage through the forum in coming weeks due to the “vast array” of Ask Me Anythings or AMAs that they plan to stage.

AMAs are where a person makes themself available to answer questions from all comers,and presumably will make responses to some of them. Shills are people who create accounts to sell or endorse something using the pretense of sincerity.

Twitter users, who are well versed in how to use direct communication channels with public figures, have no need of the stage-managed events that reddit hosts. What’s more, Tweeters able to out shills and bots within nanoseconds of their appearance, create blocking lists for distribution, and swiftly mobilise public opinion against anyone they believe to be shilling.

So what could possibly go wrong in an election free-for-all hosted by reddit New Zealand –  a sub with a murky past tainted by /r/area64 scandals and moderators with their political axes to grind?

Can you imagine if Twitter admin staged AMAs with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, announced their surrogates will feed them softball questions, and told other Twitter users to back off from attacking these shills because they’re new to Twitter? Twitter would be laughed off the internet, crash and burn…and rightly so.

Here’s what /r/newzealand’s moderators say about forthcoming AMAs with NZ politicians and other guests. If Reddit New Zealand was a news organisation it would probably have Fox in the title…

Shilling, new users, and party flairs
Given the vast array of AMAs we’ll be hosting, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between shills and genuine users. Politicians and other AMA guests will announce the AMAs on other social media channels too, and give their supporters the opportunity to get involved – some of which will be new to the subreddit. These are not shills – there will be some softball questions, but please don’t be rude to people who are just new accounts, as they may be genuine…

Ask Me Anythings
We’ve already announced AMAs with David Seymour and the Green Party to take place this week, and we’ll only be getting more involved as we get closer to the time. If you have someone you’d like to suggest for an AMA or someone whom you have contact with and you’d be willing to coordinate one with, let us know and we’d be more than happy to jump on board.

We predict the /r/newzealand AMAs are going to be heavily inundated by both shill accounts and native trolls. the moderators are expecting it too and have called for backup in the form of additional volunteers.

Of course, the sub could just not do AMAs, but then the latent political agendas of its moderators would not be satisfied.

The illusion of free speech is just that in New Zealand. An illusion.


We’ll be publishing the best comments from the AMAs, please send us links to good ones.

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