The use of homophobic slurs on Reddit have sharply declined, according to a study.

Research by RedditAlerts scraped data from the the user-generated community news site – known as the ‘front page of the internet’ – across a two year period, from early 2012 to 2014.

Reddit does not conventionally moderate most of its comments, instead using a system of users upvoting and downvoting to dictate what is acceptable on the grounds of facilitating free speech.

The website – which has around 15 million monthly users – saw the frequency of comments with the words “fag” or “faggot” in decline from a peak of 1.8 in every 1000, to a currently low of 0.3 in every 1000.

The study author said: “We see a pretty clear trend here. Redditors seem to either be using the word less, or down voting anyone who does.

“This might be a change in the demographics of Reddit or it might be a change of sentiment within all demographics. Either way – the changing landscape is clear.

“This data set isn’t representative of all Redditors or subreddits – but it is representative of the community standards as a whole.”

Last year, Star Trek actor William Shatner criticized Reddit for its lack of moderation, which he said allows sexism, homophobia and racism to prosper.

He said: “I am appalled by some of the immature, horifically racist, sexist, homophobic…posts that are just ignore.

“Reddit has been the first ‘mainstream’ site that I have been to that actually appears to allow racists and other hate mongers to congregate.”

“The fact that someone could come here, debase and degrade people based on race, religion, ethnicity or sexual preference because ‘they have a right’ to do so without worry of any kind of moderation is sending the wrong message.”