If you don’t harm anyone, you’re free to live your life as you please. I believe that freedom of choice and the ability to decide for ourselves what is best for us is what separates civilization from chaos. Even if we do things differently ourselves, we should respect each other’s rational choices. For instance, full disclosure: I want to have a large family of my own, however, I know that having children isn’t the right choice for everyone. I am fine with that. Some others? Not much.
More people are choosing not to have kids than you might think. The r/childfree subreddit is one of the main places online where they discuss topics related to their childfree lifestyle. Some of the best jokes and memes shared on the subreddit might amuse you. If you scroll down, you will find them.
There are many issues that r/childfree touches upon in its day-to-day posts. You can find a huge FAQ about living childfree right here. It is an in-depth read.
I reached out to the r/childfree team and one of them was able to give me an answer to my questions about running the community that existed before the site was founded. You might think that moderating r/childfree is easy. Due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed there, the moderators have to remove quite a few comments from public view.
We wanted to know how the community is managed. The membership count is staggering. According to u/Raveynfyre, there are some very fine tools that are provided by Reddit to help them get their job done. The mod would have a hard time keeping up with the comments that need to be removed without them. Members of the community help identify problematic comments.
“Comments get identified for removal by user reports, so I have to give our community a shout-out as well. For many reasons, they are why we’re here,” u/Raveynfyre told. “I’d say that daily we get upwards of 20-30 reports which tell us to go review a comment because it might be against the rules. Our community is great at reporting trolls and disrespectful parents to use with the ‘Report’ function in Reddit.”
The mod made it clear that the r/childfree mod doesn’t actually remove anyone’s comments. They hide them from the public. This way, anyone on the mod team, as well as any of the administrators working for Reddit, can review the content and make a final decision about whether it stays or goes.
“If I had to give a percentage, I’d say half of them remain removed,” the mod said, adding that comments can also get removed by the report system if there’s a sizeable volume of reports on them. In short, the system is very efficient at weeding out hate and vitriol.
The team has to deal with trolls on a daily basis and the Moderator was very blunt about it. “We deal with trolls daily. Just yesterday, I had a terrible one who, within the space of an hour, managed to post 44 trolling comments from various threads. Three of his comments had been reported by the community, so I went to his profile and took a deeper look. I’m glad I did because the problem was worse than the automated system was indicating to us,” they opened up about one such instance.
The rules are in place for more than just show. They were polished to reflect the reality of the situation. “We have Rule 4 in place specifically for things like petty BS arguments that often devolve into name-calling and threats of bodily harm and we also have a rule about ‘joking’ or otherwise making light of harming a child and we don’t discriminate in regards to this rule. We often ban active members of the subreddit, due to them not reading or caring about the community rules until it’s too late,” the mod explained that nobody gets special treatment if they misbehave.
“Rule 5 is an instant ban offense, no exceptions. We take this rule very, very seriously. This rule helps set us apart from other subreddits and demonstrates through our actions, that we do not want children to be hurt. Anyone who posts here is subject to that rule. We refuse to let this community be ruined by the lowest common denominators.”
The ‘Childfree’ community is older than many people think. “This community has been around for a very long time, even before Reddit existed. We weren’t heard of or focused on previously, but we were around,” they said that Reddit has given them a platform for talking about their lifestyle.
I was interested in learning more about the FAQ. The mod says that it’s best viewed via desktop because the official app loads up an old version of the sidebar. “The information in the FAQ has been gathered and curated for well over a decade now,” they said. “We add information to it when it’s pertinent, and we actively maintain both a domestic and international CF Friendly Doctor lists, all of which have performed at least 1 sterilization on a member of this community.”
Even though there is a lot of information, not everyone takes the time to read through it. “New members have a difficult time finding our resources due to the redesign Reddit undertook awhile back, as well as the official app linking to old material that has been updated. It’s a rare thing for our readers to even read the rules of the sub, much less the various resources.”
The online group of the r/childfree community draws a line between two definitions. Both childfree and childless. Childfree people don’t have kids because they don’t want them.
Childless people are unable to have children due to various reasons, such as financial pressures or infertility. Being childfree is a measured choice. The reasons differ from person to person. They might be financial, ecological, emotional, anything in-between, or something completely different and personal.