The internet is at its best when it’s used for giant, cheesy goofs — especially if those giant, cheesy goofs involve banning more than 210,000 subreddit members, all in the name of Avengers: Infinity War.
The moderators behind r/thanosdidnothingwrong, a forum dedicated to the Avengers’ arch-nemesis, will ban half of its members on July 9 in honor of Thanos’ ultimate goal: destroying half of the world’s population to protect survivors from starvation and overcrowding.
Infinity War makes it very clear this isn’t the best way to handle major problems afflicting our very survival, but some fans have clung to Thanos’ theory. That means taking his word as gospel and annihilating half of the subreddit’s virtual population.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
There were approximately 20,000 subscribers on the three-month-old r/thanosdidnothingwrong, when the idea popped up. Dragonphlegm, another moderator, posted a thread calling the meme’s seriousness into question.
“You seriously want us to ban half of the subreddit?” Dragonphlegm wrote, as redditors began petitioning to carry out Thanos’ plan online. “Restore order to this meme haven to please Lord Thanos? It would be the biggest massban in reddit history and we’d probably get into some serious trouble, but for the good of Thanos, maybe we will. (We probably won’t) snap”
Subreddit members were into the idea, but many pointed out that the moderation team should check in with Reddit administrators before trying to ban anyone en masse. People pointed to an incident with r/counting in which its members created one of the longest comment chains on the site, and were effectively told off by Reddit’s admin staff.
So, the moderators did just that — they went to Reddit’s administrators, but not before staying true to the democratic process and taking a vote. One moderator, The-Jedi-Apprentice, declared that, if the voting thread received at least 60,000 upvotes (half of the subreddit’s population at the time), they would put in the effort to make the Thanos ban happen.
The thread received 150,000 upvotes. The-Jedi-Apprentice posted an update a couple of hours later.
“I am now in talks with one of the admins,” they wrote. “He doesn’t want me to ban half the sub but maybe, with your support, I can convince him to allow it.”
The-Jedi-Apprentice noted that the admin they spoke to didn’t encourage a mass ban, but they didn’t explicitly say no either. People in the subreddit suggested that Reddit admins couldn’t really do anything if they did it anyway, and asked for more information as to why it was such a big deal.
“They know we want it but are afraid it will mess up the stability of the entire site,” The-Jedi-Apprentice said in response to one member’s question.
The-Jedi-Apprentice promised that the mods would make the ban happen, no matter what it took — and then something happened: The administrators said OK.
“As you all know, I was in talks with one of the admins of Reddit,” The-Jedi-Apprentice wrote in a later post. “He told me that doing a massive ban the day before July 4 was a terrible idea, because many of Reddit’s engineers would be out with their families. Also, the engineers would not be prepared for a mass ban so close to it.However, I presented a solution to these two problems, and I now have their permission to ban half of the sub! The random 50% ban will take place on July 9. The admins are designing a bot for me that will allow me to do the job in a quick and easy manner.
“So, be patient, and thank you all for your support.”
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
There are currently more than 210,000 members in the subreddit at the time of this writing. People are joining en masse just to have a chance at being banned; Reddit administrators are preparing for the technological feat the mass ban may take. A successful mass ban of more than 105,000 people would be the largest in Reddit history.
The idea is to randomize the entire process, but extra work will be needed in order to pull off the joke. Those who make it through the slaughter (like the original Avengers team) will remain in the subreddit. Those who don’t plan to officially unsubscribe from the community after they’re banned, ensuring the balancing act actually has an effect on the subreddit.
The joke doesn’t stop there. People who are banned plan to congregate in several, newly founded subreddits like r/inthesoulstone, a reference to a popular theory about what may have happened to everyone who died in Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s a brief explainer from a previous Polygon articlewe ran after the movie was released:
Those involved in the joke are ready to play into whatever role they’re handed. People are already hanging out on r/intothesoulstone, and there are more than 4,000 people already subscribed to the sub.
This is a joke that just about everyone can jump on, and that’s part of why people are so excited to join a new Reddit community in the hopes of becoming one of those notorious banned members. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the internet’s grotesqueness; anytime we log onto Twitter, Facebook or even Tumblr, we get reminder of the internet’s cesspool of hateful comments and vile behavior. But this is a rare, genuine, good-natured joke that people aren’t trying to tear each other down with. And that’s what makes it so exhilarating to watch.
There’s still some time to join the subreddit before the Thanos-style bans occur. Good luck to all those who choose to participate.