Reddit had a tumultuous month after announcing changes to its data API. Over the past month, Reddit’s CEO gave interviews to defend the company’s decisionthe social network had fights with developers and moderators, and the platform saw a lot of subreddits are going dark and then protest in different ways.
Since API changes and rate limits went into effect on July 1, Reddit is gearing up for a new chapter with fewer third-party apps, more focus on its own apps, and a disgruntled community. In this story, we’ll look at what’s happened over the past month and what the future looks like.
Reddit’s Controversial June
In early June, Christian Selig, the developer of a popular Reddit client called Apollo, said he had a call with Reddit management. The API price would cost him nearly $20 million per month to run his app. This post and the company’s changes have been followed by many third-party Reddit app developers who share similar concerns about their future.
In response, many subreddits decided to shut down from June 12-14 to protest the changes. Meanwhile, Selig said that it would shut down Apollo by the end of the month. Other apps like Reddit is fun and synced for Reddit also announced closures. From the company CEO Steve Huffman hosted a dramatic AMA on the site and defended his decision saying that Reddit would “continue to be profit driven until the profits come in” while attacking Selig.
Huffman gave a series of interviews as thousands of subreddits went dark. He called the protesting moderators the “earth gentry” and talked about redefining the rules for moderators so the community can vote them out if necessary. Huffman also complained that while third-party developers were making money, Reddit had to incur an infrastructure cost of $10 million a year.
Later Selig and other developers to hit back to debunk Reddit’s claim about trying to work with developers. Selig said in his position that during one of the calls with the company earlier this year, he asked about plans for API changes, and the company said there would be none.
While the June 12-14 protest had an effect on site traffic and even Google search, the company maintained its position that there was no effect on revenue. As a result, some subreddits extended the blackout — some even asked their community members to decide the future of their community. As Reddit admins threatened moderators to reopen subreddits, these communities adapted alternative forms of protest like posting photos of John Oliver, deciding blackout days, and changing the focus of the community.
The company also postponed subreddits that started tagging as NSFW. They removed community moderators like r/interstingasfuck, r/midlyinteresting and r/TIHI (Thanks, I hate that). Notably, the company does not allow ads to NSFW subscribers, and a large number of communities changing their status could affect ad revenue.
As The edge reported last month, r/TranscribersOfReddit, a volunteer subreddit that provided transcription for media outlets, has decided to shut down. Additionally, the report noted that moderators relied on third-party apps for accessibility tools, which are not available in Reddit’s app.
The company allowed apps like RedReader, Dystopia, and Luna to be exempt from API changes due to accessibility features. However, moderators pointed out that these apps might not have adequate moderation tools.
what happens now
When some communities decided to remain private, Reddit admins sent messages to moderators asking them to open within 48 hours. As a result, communities like r/Photography and r/homeimprovement opened up, but with relaxed rules or in restricted mode. r/pics is now NSFW, although the company has said that incorrectly tagging a community with this tag is against the platform’s rules. r/videos publishes text descriptions of videos. The demonstration therefore continues in a certain way.
Apps like Apollo, Sync for Reddit, BaconReader and Boost for Reddit have stopped. Meanwhile, some app developers like Relay, Now for RedditAnd Narwhal are making their apps free while exploring a subscription model.
Moderators always find ways to protest changes. r/IAMA moderators say they will no longer coordinate celebrity interviews, as reported The edge.
Over the weekend, Reddit announced that it was bringing accessibility improvements to features such as moderation tools. However, r/Blind moderators posted this weekend that there are bugs in the official Reddit app that have made it impossible to steer the community. The subreddit also demanded that the social network appoint an “accessibility manager” to make the platform more inclusive and easier to use.
In its blog post titled “Key facts for understanding Reddit’s recent API updates,” the company said it had conducted an external accessibility audit, but did not share further details. on this subject. The social media platform said it exempted apps such as RedReader, Luna and Dystopia from API fees. This way, accessibility-focused apps will remain free. But the company didn’t share the criteria for an app to qualify for the exemption.
As for the company, it is now focused on achieving profitability IPO rumors intensify. In an interview with The edgeHuffman said an IPO is “something we’d love to do one day” but there were “a few things I’d love to do with Reddit before we get to that.”
Reddit’s recent series of actions haven’t entirely wiped out the third-party ecosystem, but the company has made it difficult for developers to build a sustainable model without incurring significant costs. These changes also created unpleasant experiences for communities and forced them to use tools they might not have wanted.
The company seems adamant about its decisions, and further changes to the API pricing structure seem unlikely.