It’s been over a week and a half since the 48-hour Reddit “Blackout” began, and some of the platform’s biggest subreddits continue to protest the company’s plans to charge exorbitant rates to third-party developers for API access.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman downplayed the protests early last week, claiming it was a vocal minority of users and had an insignificant effect on the company. However, by the end of the week, Reddit’s tone noticeably changed. The company began sending messages to mods of popular communities taking part in the protest, basically threatening to remove their moderator designations if they didn’t re-open their subreddits.
That ultimatum seems to have worked, somewhat. And Reddit has now even followed through on removing mods from some subreddits still taking part in the protest.
The protest, which initially started with around 3,000 subreddits pledging to go private, making their content either read-only or completely blocked from view, quickly grew to over 8,000 subreddits at its peak. Although there’s around 3,000 subreddits that are still private(opens in a new tab), including some rather large communities, many began opening up over the past few days.
But, that doesn’t mean the actions against Reddit’s API decisions are over. Some subreddits have discovered new, creative ways to protest.
For example, r/steam, the subreddit dedicated to the video game platform Steam, has decided to change up what type of content gets posted now that they’ve been forced to open. The subreddit is now entirely filled(opens in a new tab) with posts about actual steam…as in water in its gas form. Users are now posting about steam locomotives and steamboats. There’s a photo(opens in a new tab) of a pot with boiling water currently on the subreddit’s front page.
As Mashable reported over the weekend, three of Reddit’s biggest communities with tens of millions of members each – r/pics, r/gifs, and r/aww – have decided to only post images of comedian John Oliver going forward as part of the protest. For days now, these subreddits have strictly consisted of photos, fan art, GIFs, and other media of Oliver. The Last Week Tonight host has even chimed in, supporting the action.
“Dear Reddit, excellent work. Attn: r/pics — have at it…” Oliver tweeted(opens in a new tab) along with a thread of photos he took wearing various costumes for Redditors to post.
But, apparently, not all of these new protests abide by Reddit’s rules. Some subreddits have decided to reopen but mark their community as NSFW or Not Safe For Work. When a subreddit is designated as NSFW, users must be logged in to view content in that community. More importantly to the protests though is the fact that Reddit ads don’t appear in NSFW communities either. This action is a direct shot at Reddit’s attempts to monetize the platform, like charging for its API. According to mods in the popular r/mildlyinteresting subreddit, this action also got them removed(opens in a new tab) from the subreddit and temporarily suspended by a Reddit administrator. Admins are employees of the company as opposed to mods which is a volunteer position held by the platform’s users.
“Moderators incorrectly marking a community as NSFW is a violation of both our Content Policy(opens in a new tab) and Moderator Code of Conduct(opens in a new tab),” a Reddit spokesperson told The Verge, the outlet which originally reported the story about r/mildlyinteresting’s locked out mods.
According to The Verge, a different Reddit admin has since reinstated the r/mildlyinteresting mod team. However, other subreddits that marked their community as NSFW in protest such as r/interestingasfuck, are now completely without moderators after Reddit admins removed its mods.
Apollo for Reddit, the popular Reddit client that raised awareness of Reddit’s upcoming API changes, is still scheduled for shutdown at the end of this month. Earlier this month, Apollo’s developer shared that Reddit’s changes would cost him more than $20 million a year, sparking the protests.