Update: Free Reddit Check has been taken offline by its creators, apparently because they have been harassed as a result of creating the site.
Do you know all your friends' Reddit usernames? Do they know yours? Probably not, right?
That's because whatever quasi-anonymity that Reddit usernames grant us has allowed people who probably don't seem that shitty in real life to become members of racist, misogynistic, or otherwise harmful movements. Even if you do know someone's Reddit username, it's a pain in the ass to look through all their comments to discover if they are, in fact, The Worst.
A new tool called Free Reddit Check doesn't change Reddit's anonymity situation, but it is designed to streamline the cybersleuthing process of the usernames you do know. Enter anyone's username into the tool and it will tell you, roughly, how terrible said person is, based on their participation in some of Reddit's darker corners and the words and phrases they use.
"We live in a world where people don't want to share their Reddit username because they're ashamed of what they have said or ashamed of what they have confided," Natalie Roman, one of the site's founders, told me. "We need to send the message that you can quantify user bigotry in a meaningful way, to let people know that people are paying attention to what's posted."
It's a pretty unscientific process that has at least part of a tongue planted in cheek. As the service runs, it says it's "checking privilege" and "wondering where it all went wrong," in order to give you a "terrible" score, expressed as a function of what subreddits the user is most active in and whether they use anti LGBT, racist, or sexist terms. A full list of terms and subreddits that are considered "terrible" is not yet available, but kotakuinaction, tumblrinaction, mensrights, and many others are included. Sexist terms include "gamer gate," "false rape accusations," "whore," etc.
The tool doesn't necessarily do a perfect job of quantifying terrible-ness. The moderator of r/greatapes, a very racist subreddit, is apparently only 16 percent terrible, because of his or her doubtlessly important contributions to the r/movies and r/Pokemon subreddits.
Reddit (and the internet's, and society's) massive sexism, racism, and homophobia problems aren't going to be addressed by a site hacked together over the course of a few hours, but making it clear that someone’s watching is probably a step in the right direction.
As you might expect, moderators of some of the included subreddits are quite terrible: