Report: Reddit admins are forcing moderators to reopen subreddits to the public

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 18, 2023

When thousands of subreddits on Reddit went dark a few days ago to protest against new API policies and pricing that would effectively destroy the majority of third-party apps for the site, Reddit's management had two options to deal with the new situation.

It could have announced that it would reevaluate the new policy so that third-party apps would continue to exist alongside the official Reddit app, or it could have doubled-down on the decision.

Reddit doubled-down on its decision, despite millions of users coming together to protest the changes. Reddit's CEO, Mike Huffman, wrote a memo to all employees claiming that the protest would fizzle out soon and that Reddit would not change its course.

When most blackouts did not stop after the first two days, Reddit decided to put pressure on moderators involved in the blackouts and on the subreddits that were set to private.

A private subreddit on Reddit can only be accessed by subscribed members. The only option to get into a group is to send private messages to a moderator of the group asking to join them.

After pressuring moderators, Reddit is now threatening to shut down some communities unless they change the visibility of the group to public.

A sticky message on /r/steam, a subreddit dedicated to Valve's Steam gaming platform, informs users that Reddit administrators asked them to reopen the subreddit or "get removed".

The moderators of the 1.88 million user subreddit made the decision to reopen the forum. They could have decided to ignore the request and face the consequences. Some users of the subreddit decided to push Steam and Steam engine related threads on the subreddit as a consequence. Most threads on /r/steam are currently about Steam as a technology and not about the gaming platform.

It appears that several other moderators of subreddits have also been contacted by Reddit, and that they too were asked to reopen or be kicked as moderators.

Moderators voiced concern over Reddit's threatening behavior on the ModCoord subreddit.

Some users of Reddit have moved to Reddit alternatives already, or are testing them at the very least. It remains to be seen if one of them is going to attract enough users to turn it into a real competitor. Lemmy seems to be one of the favorites for now.

Closing Words

Moderators are unpaid volunteers and they could simply walk away from the site and never look back. Reddit might fill the open spots with new volunteer moderators or even paid moderators for important groups.

Now You: do you use Reddit?

Report: Reddit admins are forcing moderators to reopen subreddits to the public
Article Name
Report: Reddit admins are forcing moderators to reopen subreddits to the public
Reddit administrators have asked moderators of private subreddits to change the status to public or face removal of moderator status.
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  1. Someone said on June 19, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    I use reddit a lot. That thing of subreddits isnt going to stop. And many other famous subs is going to get shut down….

  2. NA said on June 19, 2023 at 10:46 am

    I’m here for the seething fedora wearing plebbitors. I used reddit for about 1 week, and concluded it was a cancerous phenomenon. Too many mods were “working” for a sense of power over others. They are narcissistic cretins bent on “social justice,” which is not justice.
    Of course “former allies” eat eachother – and these plebbitors have no self awareness about it.

  3. Anonymous said on June 19, 2023 at 9:14 am

    I wasn’t by any means a meaningful user there, but seeing the shitshow it is happening now, I don’t regret deleting the account. Fuck u/spez.

    Also he’s Steve Huffman, not Mike ;)

  4. eric pone said on June 19, 2023 at 3:23 am

    Deleted the app. I don’t like being threatened.

  5. Anonymous said on June 18, 2023 at 7:23 pm

    Hopefully this will enrage users even more and lead to mass abandonment of Reddit. I’m done visiting that site, personally.

  6. Timbo said on June 18, 2023 at 5:00 pm

    Finally. There are a lot of mods that are very corrupt in a LOT of these subreddits. They’re too scared of losing their entitled-ness, so they will absolutely cave and reopen. Otherwise, they will feel like self-importance in this world will be gone.

    1. JFK said on June 19, 2023 at 10:24 am

      The only one entitled is actually Reddit. Either become an adult for-profit company and pay people who work for you. Or become a non-profit and rely on volunteers. Researchers at Northwestern University estimate that Reddit’s mods perform at least $3.4 million worth of labor annually. Reddit is the entitled one by wanting to have it all, free labor and acting like a corporation at the same time. That’s entitlement in a whole new level:)

      1. Timbo said on June 20, 2023 at 5:20 am

        Mods know they’re doing it for free. No one is forcing them to do it.

  7. Tachy said on June 18, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    Social Media is not a right people. FFS! Why is everyone so “entitled” these days?

    I do use Reddit once in a while, enough this protest annoyed me.

    You come to my house, you follow my rules or GTFO!

    Seems Reddit shares some of my values.

    1. El said on June 19, 2023 at 6:06 am

      A better analogy would be:

      You have a maid don’t pay, that happily cleans your house so it looks nice to guests. Now, you decide to take away the vacuum cleaner (made by someone else) and replace it with a pair of tweezers you made.

      Maid: “Why can’t I use the vaccum cleaner?”

      You: “Because I didn’t make it it.”

      Maid: “@#$&*!”

      You: “How dare you!”

      There, I fixed your analogy for you.

    2. JFK said on June 18, 2023 at 6:48 pm

      Hmm, sorry but no. Either become an adult for-profit company and pay people who work for you. Or become a non-profit and rely on volunteers. Researchers at Northwestern University estimate that Reddit’s mods perform at least $3.4 million worth of labor annually. Reddit should finally be forced to pay like other social media do for moderation. Free labor is illegal.

    3. Christian said on June 18, 2023 at 6:30 pm

      Free labor doesn’t exist. It is banned worldwide long time ago. If you get fired from your work, you would demand severance pay. That’s the law in all civilized countries. So Reddit should pay them if they want to fire them, haha. Reddit will have other problems anyway, like restoring deleted posts from EU citizens, GDPR calling.

    4. David said on June 18, 2023 at 6:14 pm

      @Tachy, I invite you to my house, tell you “mi casa es su casa” and all is well for a while. Then I start abusing my neighbors. You protest. I tell you to STFU. You protest once more. Then I tell you it’s either my way or GTFO. So I’m absolutely entitled by the law to be an asshole. But being an asshole is still the result. This is why people need to leave Reddit.

    5. Hollow said on June 18, 2023 at 5:48 pm

      That analogy doesn’t work when reddit relies on 100% free labor to operate and make money.

      1. Emence said on June 19, 2023 at 6:04 am

        @Hollow Reddit pays for the servers, backend, and frontend so that people can post things. People’s posts generate revenue that Reddit uses to pay the bills. This happens with any other platform (Lemmy, Mastodon, Youtube, etc.); they have to generate money from somewhere to cover the expenses of being online, and the more people use the platform, the more expensive it becomes.

      2. Anonymous said on June 18, 2023 at 8:24 pm

        Volunteer position

  8. JuhaT said on June 18, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    I just deleted my account on reddit and told them why.

    1. No One said on June 18, 2023 at 8:22 pm

      I’m pretty sure no one cares

  9. Lemmy, Websites+comments, Forums, RSS feeds said on June 18, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    Blackouts were only supposed to be a ‘message’ of mobilization. They were meant to accomplish nothing else and the subs should all reopen. Pinning a permanent sticky about the loss of access to api and 3rdparty apps with good access to moderation tools, and an automod reply to new submissions more than suffice.
    They should not convert their subs to spam haven because combined with the blackout, thats ammo benefitting the reddit management, exploitable proof that existing mods are the cause of the future spamming activity and must be removed (imagine getting removed for reopening – brigading will quickly get civil war level out of control, and fake accounts are already drowning the voices of reason).

    Other than that, subs should plan to strengthen alternatives to reddit. Retain control of the subs, mostly keep business as usual, repost new submissions to lemmy instances and similar sites so that it gets a lot easier for visitors to switch to other sites, promote their use. Those alternatives need only a minimum level of steady activity to become viable.

    1. Anonymous said on June 19, 2023 at 6:00 am


  10. Anonymous said on June 18, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    I don’t understand why they keep them closed. Please open them, we want to see reddit to turn into an even spammier shit show riddled with scam ads and bots as soon as possible.

  11. MarkS said on June 18, 2023 at 10:00 am

    Open them, and all will start the good work, moderating half of content of less, people replying nonsense to others, creating new accounts just to promote the new home of the subreddit. This will go well lol, everybody will get tired of all this and will go to find something else. Reddit is forgeting something vital, their whole .. business model is based on volunteer work of other people. It’s very different from other social media like facebook or twitter.

    1. Emence said on June 19, 2023 at 5:49 am

      So your suggestion is to sabotage Reddit. The healthier approach is to leave Reddit if you don’t like it. Just as you suggest sabotaging Reddit, others may go and sabotage alternatives, such as Lemmy instances, and we all know that those servers are easy to take down. Only the ones that are coming from Reddit have slowed down some instances.

  12. Benjamin said on June 18, 2023 at 8:41 am

    This is what happens when we all live within private property instead of public ownership and rules created by open debates and public votes. What only few people understand is, that most so called open source projects are in reality private owned licenses under an open source legal regime which can be changed any time. But there are owners who control everything. Open source and free in digital world are often illusions. The 2nd factor is the so called small print which always tries to circumwent existing laws and regulations

    1. David said on June 18, 2023 at 2:52 pm

      @Benjamin, while you are right there is also a certain dickish behavior found disproportionately in IT bros like Huffman, Musk, Larry Ellison, going back to H. Ross Perot, even our boys Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I would refine that a bit, even replacing dickish with autocratic and authoritarian. There is something about the power of computers that turns these guys into monsters. I noticed this tendency among some of my colleagues early in my career in IT, and now that I am retired the truth of this observation seems more obvious than ever.

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