Reasons Not to Upset Reddit

As anybody who's visited the site will admit, the power of the Reddit crowd is impressive if it's on your side, but you don't want to get on Reddit's bad side. Just ask the bean counters at Go Daddy.

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Update (1:59 p.m.): A little over 24-hours after Reddit launched its boycott threat, Go Daddy cancelled on its commitment to SOPA.

Original Post: As anybody who's visited the site will admit, the power of the Reddit crowd is impressive if it's on your side, but you don't want to get on Reddit's bad side. Just ask the bean counters at Go Daddy. Since the domain registrar voiced support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Go Daddy's lost a lot of fans -- not that they had many fans to begin with, some would argue -- largely because Reddit decided to launch a boycott campaign. So far, it seems to be working painfully well. Painful for Go Daddy, that is.

There's really one big reason not to upset Reddit: when Reddit gets upset, Reddit takes action. On December 29, hundreds if not thousands of Go Daddy customers will walk out. It all started with one Reddit user, selfprodigy, posting an idea, that idea winning upvotes, racking up comments, winning more upvotes, more comments, tons of rage. "The idea itself is pretty simple: I'm suggesting Dec 29th as move your domain away from GoDaddy day because of their support of SOPA," selfprodigy wrote, "Who's with me?" It would appear that every Redditor near a computer is with selfprodigy, the suggestion took hold, producing not only comments supporting the idea but also detailed instructions from Reddit's web savvy users on how to quit Go Daddy quickly and suggesting other domain registrars. If we had to identify an instance when the boycott's momentum hit a tipping point, it would have to be this tweet from Ben Huh, the chief executive of the Cheezburger network and king of the memes. (Huh's company runs sites like I Can Has Cheeseburger, FAIL blog, etc.) He said on Wednesday afternoon:

It's tough to estimate how much business Go Daddy will actually lose on December 29th -- we'll have to wait and see who follows through with the boycott -- but the company is putting on its strong face, brushing off the boycott warnings. A few hours after Huh's tweet, the company offered a statement to the tech blog Ars Technica. "Go Daddy has received some emails that appear to stem from the boycott prompt, but we have not seen any impact to our business," the company said. "We understand there are many differing opinions on the SOPA regulations." Clearly somebody at Go Daddy missed the part about the boycott being scheduled for next week. That or they're a smart PR flack who realizes that it's sometimes best not to appear neutral, if even sort of sunny in the face of the Reddit threat. It didn't really work out that way. The response itself is currently leading the Reddit front page. Go Daddy, neutral as they tried to stay, just threw a bundle of kerosene-soaked rags onto the community's smoldering disdain:

We're kind of on the edge of our seats. To say that the SOPA debate has been heated is kind of like saying Reddit is a place to find interesting links. It's a true statement but an understatement, first and foremost. We've been following the story pretty closely since the protest against SOPA exploded just before the first House Judiciary Committee hearing, in which only one out of the six witnesses came from a technical background. (Everybody else represented the interests of the entertainment industry.) And a durable protest it's proved to be; actually, viral might be a better word. The anti-SOPA meme is a fierce one, and now that Congress has left for the holidays, SOPA won't be discussed again on the Hill until "early next year." But we doubt SOPA's opponents will rest. Aside from the Reddit-powered Go Daddy boycott, a number of other efforts to hold accountable the companies that support the bill are underway. The simplest of them all come in the form of lists of the SOPA proponents (and their phone numbers) that have been passed around and presumably put to use -- probably by Redditors, too.

December 29 is judgment day for Go Daddy, and in a certain way, it could represent a turning point in the anti-SOPA protest. If Reddit proves that it can rally its powerful community behind a protest that will actually have a commercial impact, Hollywood might think twice about continuing to push its allies to support the bill and its potential for Internet censorship. Imagine what happens when you turn the Reddit army on to the movie studios? They hate boycotts.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.