r/ChangeMyView is graduating Reddit: Introducing ChangeAView.com

(Text as originally posted to reddit.com/r/changemyview)

TL;DR: Reddit has been a great incubator for the r/ChangeMyView project, but we’re very excited to announce that we have built and launched ChangeAView.com (now in beta) in order to take things to the next level.

To those of you who have received or given at least 1 delta during your time on CMV: follow these instructions to add a “legacy badge” to your CAV profile. We hope to see you at Change A View!

What’s this about?

r/ChangeMyView (CMV) has come a long way since its creation in January 2013. I never could’ve predicted its growth to 700,000 subscribers, the team of passionate moderators keeping things in check, nor the many genuine connections made here every day between people willing to listen and learn from each other. As the subreddit has grown, we’ve matured, and so have our ambitions.

Reddit was the perfect starting point for this experiment, but we feel strongly that our positive contribution to public discourse would be better served by having the freedom to forge our own path. This is why, in mid-2018, I decided a “CMV 2.0” was necessary, and shortly formed a founding team with Alex (projectWATT creator), Liz (longtime CMV moderator), and Jon (u/DeltaBot developer) to begin development of ChangeAView.com (CAV).

You may be wondering what exactly inspired us to expand outside of a subreddit—I’ll go into detail below. For those who want to better understand the original motivation behind CMV, and now CAV, please read our mission.

User Experience

As moderators, we don’t have much influence on how Reddit works. Most of the time, that makes sense—imagine ~138,000 active subreddits, existing for wildly different reasons, all getting their wishes when it comes to the fundamental Reddit mechanics. While we had concerns that the Reddit redesign was favoring quick-consumption content over long-form discussion, and led a group that raised these in a proposal named “Design for Discussion” (which the admins engaged with us on), we ultimately realized that Reddit had made the necessary design choices for its needs. Our needs, we understand, are different.

While we continue to enjoy Reddit and appreciate that it afforded us an opportunity to learn and grow, this period of time was undoubtedly a catalyst for pursuing our own ideas and design philosophy. We’ve known for a while now that we’d have done many things differently if CMV had been built from the ground up instead of within the Reddit mould. For example, the purpose of voting would be redefined and ranking mechanics would reflect this, the delta system would be fully integrated, users could filter content geographically or by category, we would make dramatic moderation improvements that cascade down to the user experience, and many other CMV-specific features would be added.

CAV has made this all possible, and much of it has already been built. But rather than continue to develop privately towards perfection, we’re now ready to share this journey with you as we continue to improve the website, including a feedback area dedicated to incorporating your thoughts and critiques.

Moderation Experience

Moderation deserves its own section. Reddit’s mod tools are perfectly fine for probably 99% of subreddits, but we have very specific workflows and record-keeping processes behind the scenes of CMV that use various “hacky” solutions. Tasks that take 7+ clicks, copy/pasting, and two browser extensions for us on Reddit are now completely streamlined at CAV. Removing friction and saving moderators time ensures quality at scale. This matters, as any CMV contributor will know, because what we do here only works if our rules and standards are consistently upheld.

We’ve built a public moderation log with the intention of allowing those who seek it out to verify that content removals are justified. We trust our moderators but understand that transparency in this area is mutually beneficial. Sometimes mods may still need to redact sensitive information from the public modlog—in cases of ‘doxxing’, for example.

We also plan to make the moderation team, led by Brett (CMV mod Ansuz07), a much more structured and valued part of the overall organisation. Our moderators are involved because we want them to be. We think humans need to be in the loop, and even though we are building partnerships to automate some moderation use cases, we want people looking at difficult scenarios and setting coherent precedents. For us, this is a feature, not a bug, and why we’ve spent so much time developing quality moderation tools.

Perspective API

We collaborated with Jigsaw and have integrated Perspective API into CAV’s moderation. In addition to user reports, Perspective is used to increase the speed of our human moderation by flagging comments that may break our rules so that moderators can review and make the final call. We will continuously work to improve the efficiency and quality of CAV’s moderation to keep the conversation productive and inclusive.

Future Plans

Launching CAV isn’t just about improving what we do today, but also having the capacity and autonomy to take opportunities and branch in new directions as we evolve. We have big plans, some of which we’ve made a start on, that will require more resources than we have now to fully execute—concepts like integrating with education, providing private CAV areas to organizations, and a widget to facilitate two-way CAV discussions below external articles. We also expect to eventually introduce a paid subscription on the public site for users who want some extra services/features. The website isn’t monetized today, but hopefully these ideas will generate the revenue necessary to make this project sustainable—we’re determined to avoid the need to display ads.

Let’s go change some views!

I hope this announcement has been informative—as you can probably tell, there’s a lot to cover here, so feel free to ask questions below or at ChangeAView.com, and remember to get your CMV legacy badge if you qualify for one!

Happy view-changing (and thanks for reading),

  • Kal, on behalf of the CAV team

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