30 December 2013

An open letter to Reddit's founders and administrators: protect the vulnerable.

My photo has been misused on Reddit it three times now. Its been dissected, discriminated against and threatened. This post isn't about giving the cruel Redditors attention, me seeking attention or whoring myself to the media as some have suggested. It's not about ignoring it or pretending it isn't happening - because it is. It is about me taking back the power.

The first time I was discussed on Reddit, it made the international news, after I responded gracefully.

The second time was in a subforum titled I am going to hell for this, the the post was called 'A sophisticated lobster'. There were nasty comments saying I should be killed with fire. It was removed after I reported it to the general manager, and he said "sorry that happened to you".

The third time was in this same subforum, titled "guys, you've angered the lobster again'. I reported this to the admins but haven't responded directly. Someone linked to my blog and so traffic is being directed here, educating Redditors about my condition. I'm not responding directly because I am not going to add fuel to the fire.

See, I have ichthyosis, a severe, rare and lifelong skin condition. It's medically challenging but the social challenges like this can be worse. Every day I am judged on the way I look, before opening my mouth. I was alerted to the discussion about my photo on Reddit through my blog comments. These people were sitting behind their screens discussing me - and discussing others' lives in the most hurtful way.

And sure I put myself out there on the internet, my photo is splashed all over. But I do it on my own terms. I started blogging so I could educate people and have a sense of control of how my condition is being portrayed.

I stood up for myself on Reddit because I had the confidence to do so after blogging about my appearance for so many years. I thought I was brave enough to take it on (again), but I'm not. I can't stop this cruelty.

The founders and administrators of Reddit have a duty of care for people's emotional and physical safety. Right now I'm not feeling safe.

I feel pretty confident about my appearance. Words on a screen are not enough to make me hate or feel disgusted about myself. But they scare me. They make me realise that it's going to take a long time for diversity to be accepted.

Above my safety, I worry about the people who cannot defend themselves - those who aren't strong enough to do so, those who might take their lives over comments like the ones I've received. And they do.

Reddit should not perpetuate this. I hope they reconsider their policies and police their forums better so this does not happen.

Enough. Stop this disability hate, this body and appearance shaming and ridicule.

And yes it's better to stop reading the nasty comments, walk away from the internet, but I will not let my picture be used like it has been. Ever.

I've seen the worst in people through this Reddit drama, but my gosh I've seen the best. The lovely people have outweighed the haters. I have that in good perspective, and do feel so loved. A sincere thank you for all of your support.

I'm switching off the Internet today and going to live my life.


To report any offensive behaviour on Reddit, contact their administrators or message team members directly.

Lifeline: 13 11 14


Not good enough.



  1. Perhaps honey you can give us a contact email and pro-forma so we can add our voices of support? x

  2. You're amazing Carly! I hope Reddit takes proper action this time. So many people aren't as strong as you and this could have a devastating effect on them. I hope you have a restful, joyful day today. Rachel xx

  3. Steve just said to me they would only be people too gutless to meet you and say anything to your face. If they actually had any courage at all to meet you they'd only be able to speak of you the way I do all the time. He's never met you but through me he's come to know the amazing woman you are.
    take time off. Let your heart heal. We will take take over the fight for you xoxo

  4. Hello! I'm a moderator for a subreddit that had your picture posted many times and you've sent us a message stating it be taken down.

    We did take the post down but it will still be accessible to anyone who has the direct link. Anyone just browsing will be unable to see it. To request getting the picture removed from the website completely you'll need to ask the administrators. Our apologies.

    -A moderator of /r/ImGoingToHellForThis

    1. Dear Anonymous Moderator: Maybe it's time you Redditors re-evaluate your game-plan. Perhaps, letting go of that "Anonymous" thing, since that's kind of cowardly, isn't it? And then maybe giving moderators some power to actually, you know, "moderate."

      If you can't delete photos, threads, and posts, then set some rules for your forums. Behaving decently would be a good start.

    2. A helpful lesson in how reddit works:

      There is reddit.com. The website at large is run by the admins. In the screen shot Carly posted, an admin replies and is designated by a red name. These are the paid employees of reddit, and are responsible for day to day operations of the site, changing site code, and dealing with legal issues.

      In this website, there are many subreddits for various interests, such as the NFL subreddit (Which is at http;//www.reddit.com/r/NFL ), the politics subreddit ( http://www.reddit.com/r/politics ), and so on so forth. Each was created by individual site users, and is also run by site users. Each has their own rules, as well as their own moderators (Who are volunteer users.) who enforce those rules.

      In addition, the person who creates the subreddit is also its first mod, who can then add more mods at their discretion. The subreddit they create becomes their space to do with what they want. For example, you could create http://www.reddit.com/r/CarlyFindlay and dedicate it to Tennis, if you were so inclined.

      Moderators are limited by the powers that people at the moderator level have, which mean that while they can remove posts from the listing of their subreddit, as well as remove comments from the subreddit, these are hidden from regular users, and not deleted from the site entirely. They are inaccessible without the URL of the thread in question. Comments are slightly better, in that they would only be accessible by finding the profile of the user that posted them. To delete a post or comment from the site entirely would require the admins to intervene.

      I would also note that in the screen shot Carly posted, the moderators (whose names show up in green.) of that subreddit made what they did, as well as what they are unable to do abundantly clear.

      All of that said, the /r/ImGoingToHellForThis subreddit is about dark or inappropriate humor. Expecting people in a space created to be about dark or inappropriate humor to refrain from this dark or inappropriate humor probably isn't going to work out well.

    3. r/iamgoingtohellforthis isn't about "dark humour," it's about getting cheap laughs by mocking minorities, the disabled, etc. It's a pretty shitty way to waste your time. I'm sure Carly isn't the first person to be hurt by your shithole of a subreddit. Grow up and find something better to do with your life.

    4. A helpful resource for anyone who wants to fight this kind of ridiculous excuse for non-moderation of subs and the continuation of toxic and harmful culture disguised as 'free speech': http://www.reddit.com/r/ShitRedditSays/wiki/faq

  5. Carly, I love you. Those jackasses using Reddit can go do things that I shouldn't put in a reply on blog that is read by people who might not appreciate my severe potty mouth.

    You rock, don't ever forget it.

  6. Hi Carly,

    I just watched your interview on Studio Ten. Good on you for standing up for yourself and others.

    Keep it up! Your bravery inspires others and your stand challenges those who bully.

  7. Hi Carly, I came across one of your blog posts about this Reddit abomination on my Facebook feed. I want to say I'm sorry you experienced this, and thank you! For standing up so courageously; for yourself, for speaking out for many who are too distressed by this nastiness to speak for themselves, in a sense you speak for all vulnerable people who are attacked in this vicious and cowardly way.

    I'm working towards having my own blog about growth and resilience in the aftermath of childhood abuse and neglect. But with complex mental health problems due to abuse I am not there yet. What scares me, even more than the likelihood of being attacked myself, is people working out where I am and having a go at my kids.

    When people such as yourself call out this cowardly, hateful behaviour - we are all en-couraged to find the strength to be ourselves. Kindest regards, Kristin


    Are we:
    black or white
    male or female
    left or right
    straight or gay
    up or down
    broken or whole
    slave or free
    human or alien
    theophile or atheist
    agnostic, Christian,
    Jew, Muslim, Hindu,
    etcetera to eternity?

    Or are these
    merely labels –
    boxes we strive to inhabit
    at our own, or others’,
    whilst we foster
    the courage
    to open-heartedly

    Surely this
    is the gift
    we have to offer
    to ourselves
    the world
    (however we name,
    decry, or deny)

    Kristin Gillespie© June 2013


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