Reddit warns moderators of the blacked-out subreddits
You must have heard about Reddit's recent API changes and their backlash on the community.
Certain subreddits have initiated blackouts on Reddit, protesting against the platform's plans to implement steep prices for its API. This move has sparked a clash between Reddit and its moderators, with the company threatening to replace resistant moderation teams to maintain accessibility for users. Let's delve into the details of this ongoing controversy.
Reddit has notified the moderators of blacked-out subreddits about its intention to replace the moderation teams. The company claims that this action is necessary to ensure that communities relied upon by thousands, or even millions, of users remain open and accessible. According to Reddit's Moderator Code of Conduct, moderators who do not comply and reopen their private subreddits will be removed from their positions.
Why are Redditors revolting?
Starting from Monday through Wednesday of this week, numerous popular subreddits participated in a blackout, either by going private or by halting new posts. The protest aimed to oppose planned API changes that would result in the shutdown of third-party Reddit apps, such as the popular Apollo app.
The blackout was an attempt to pressure Reddit into adopting fairer pricing for developers and granting them more time to adjust to the API changes. However, Reddit opted to wait out the protests instead of making immediate adjustments.
Extended blackouts and moderator discontent
As a response to Reddit's stance, certain subreddits, including r/Apple, have chosen to prolong their blackout indefinitely, as shared by r/Apple moderator @aaronp613 on Twitter:
Reddit is just digging the hole deeper and deeper.
— Aaron (@aaronp613) June 15, 2023
This decision has left millions of Reddit users without access to these communities. Reddit's plan to forcibly end further blackouts by removing entire moderation teams has further intensified the discontent among moderators.
Reddit CEO's perspective
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman addressed the blackout protests, stating that they have not yet caused any significant impact on the company's revenue. While acknowledging the noise generated by the two-day protest, Huffman expressed confidence that it would eventually subside. He argued that Reddit's API was never designed to support third-party apps and that these apps do not add substantial value to the site. Huffman emphasized that Reddit developed its API primarily for internal tools, bots, and enhancements.
Huffman confirmed that the blackouts have had no influence on Reddit's API pricing plan. The company remains firm in its decision, stating that it will not reverse its business choice. In a recent interview, Huffman contradicted earlier messaging, asserting that Reddit will not force communities to reopen.
The clash continues
Reddit released a blog post outlining "key facts" about the API updates, emphasizing its respect for dissent, debate, and discussions within the platform. However, moderators and users remain dissatisfied with the unreasonably high API charges and the limited 30-day timeline provided to third-party developers for adapting to the new fees.
Developers, such as Christian Selig behind the Apollo app, have calculated that adopting the new API would cost them exorbitant amounts. Selig has decided to shut down his app on June 30, a day before Reddit's charges take effect. Consequently, there will be a scarcity of third-party apps available for accessing Reddit content, leaving users with the option of relying on the Reddit website or the official Reddit app.