This article was published on January 28, 2022

r/antiwork’s train wreck Fox News interview shows moderators aren’t leaders

They should be more like janitors

r/antiwork’s train wreck Fox News interview shows moderators aren’t leaders
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW Writer at Neural by TNW

The runaway anti-work train had a brutal crash on Fox New this week.

The driver of the mangled vehicle was Doreen Ford, a moderator of the wildly popular r/rantiwork subreddit.

The sub had exploded from 180,000 subscribers in October 2020 to almost 1.7m this month.

That growth was dramatically stalled by Ford’s appearance on Fox.

The interview was an obvious setup. A right-wing network had found an ideal target to denigrate a leftist movement: a 30-year-old dog walker who works 20 hours a week and wants to teach philosophy.

When the cameras started rolling, she appeared unprepared and uncomfortable.

The interview was a disaster for the sub — and an embarrassment for the movement.

But it also exposed a tension on Reddit and online forums in general: moderators aren’t leaders.

A mod’s role is to maintain a forum. They enforce rules,  remove offenders, and add other moderators.

It’s an important and underappreciated role — but it’s not one that makes them representative of the sub.

Antiwork moderation

Mods aren’t leaders, spokespeople, or faces of a movement. Nobody elected Ford to her position; the sub never voted for her to do interviews.

Some mods say a more appropriate comparison is to janitors: they keep things running, clean up the mess — and are typically undervalued.

In the antiwork fiasco, the irony is that an equalizing movement has been tarred by an individual with some power.

Some argued that Ford exposed the flaws of extremely online people in social movements. But that doesn’t mean they can’t play a useful role.

The sub goes under

The remaining mods said they were aware of the interview request — and advised Ford to decline it.

Some of the sub’s subscribers remain angry that their cause has been discredited by representatives they didn’t choose.

In the aftermath of the interview, r/antiwork promptly went private. It soon reopened with a statement about the debacle:

We’re going in the short-term future not accept any media interviews and we will ask the community on feedback regarding whether we will accept an interview or what kind of media outlets are outright banned.

The statement also introduced another moderator: a “21 years old male, long-term unemployed and an Anarchist.” 

They said they have no plans to do more interviews — but have already done a few that are yet to be released.

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