Reddit has announced(opens in a new tab) new exorbitant prices for access to its API, effective July 1, a change perhaps inspired by a similar move over at Twitter back in March. Now, the moderators of over a thousand subreddits, including the popular r/aww, r/Music, r/videos, and r/gaming, are going to temporarily shut down in protest by setting their communities to “private” for a 48-hour period, starting on July 12.
In an open letter(opens in a new tab) to the Reddit community and management, moderator BuckRowdy detailed how moderators and admins use mod tools, customization options, and streamlined interfaces offered by third party apps that rely on Reddit’s API to effectively manage their communities. Since Reddit’s own app is clunky at best — with a basic UI that is inconvenient to use — a vast number of Reddit users prefer third party-apps like Apollo, which make it much easier for users to access and moderate Reddit content.
“The potential loss of these services due to the pricing change would significantly impact our ability to moderate efficiently, thus negatively affecting the experience for users in our communities and for us as mods and users ourselves,” BuckRowdy said in the letter.
Users argue that the price change will cause undo harm by reducing the diversity of perspectives on Reddit. For instance, a forum where everyone is supposed to have a voice might become inaccessible to visually impaired iOS users since the official app lacks necessary elements, including tools for proper navigation for this group. These elements are offered by third-party apps like Dystopia and Apollo, but they may soon be priced out of the API.
User, fastfinge, moderator of r/blind, had the following to say:(opens in a new tab) “I depend on third party apps. Once the apps are gone, I may be left with no choice but to step down and close my 17 year old account.”
BuckRowdy, who moderates r/Ask and other popular subreddits, posted the letter to r/ModCoord, a subreddit for Reddit’s volunteer army of moderators to discuss the future of Reddit communities after the API price increase. It was soon joined by 1,554 subreddits (and counting) who signed and agreed to participate in the protest.
Several popular apps that rely on Reddit’s API, including Apollo, Reddit Is Fun, and Bacon Changer, have said that they might have to discontinue their services if the API price hikes go through.
Apollo developer Christian Selig is calling this change “bad news” for his app. According to the new rates, 50 million API requests cost $12,000. Apollo’s API requests stood at 7 billion last month. Taking that as average, Selig will have to pay 20 million dollars per year to Reddit.
“I’m deeply disappointed in this price. I’ll be in the red every month,” Selig wrote(opens in a new tab).
Reddit, on the other hand, is doubling down on its decision to enforce new API pricing.
“We spend multi-millions of dollars on hosting fees and Reddit needs to be fairly paid to continue supporting high-usage third-party apps. Our pricing is based on usage levels that we measure to be comparable to our own costs,” Reddit spokesman Tim Rathschmidt told Mashable.
After facing severe backlash from moderators, Reddit has announced(opens in a new tab) a series of new mod tools they’ll launch from now until September. These mods will improve upon content density and allow for faster loading times, among other advancements.
Reddit user YangWenli1 said(opens in a new tab) the following about the new mod tools: “Is this a joke? Many of those [mods] are basic features that should have been present Day 1. It’s been 5 years since the official app was released. Instead of adding basic features during this time, you added NFTs. Get your priorities straight. This is exactly why I use Apollo.”