Update June 20th 10:31pm ET: Since we published this story, the mods at r/mildlyinteresting have reported that their accounts have been restored. We’ve updated the following story to reflect the change.
Reddit has begun removing teams of moderators who manage subreddits that have changed their communities’ flagging to Not Safe for Work (NSFW) amid recent protests against the site.
For subreddits tagged “NSFW,” Reddit not only applies an age limit for desktop viewers and restricts mobile access to logged-in users in the Reddit app, but also does not display ads. This hurts the ability to monetize them, which is a significant part of Reddit’s controversial effort to charge apps for using the API. On Thursday, r/MildlyInteresting was one to go NSFW, following in the footsteps of others like r/interestingasfuck and r/TIHI (Thanks I Hate It).
CEO Steve Huffman told me in an interview last week, “Over 90 percent of Reddit users are on our platform, contributing, and being monetized through either ads or Reddit Premium.” Why should we subsidize this small group? Why should we effectively pay them to use Reddit but not everyone else who also contributes to Reddit?”
“When moderators mistakenly flag a community as NSFW, it violates both our content policy and the moderator code of conduct,” said Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt The edge to the question about the suspended mods. When asked if Reddit removed the mods, he declined to comment.
SShortly after we published this story, one of the moderators from r/MildlyInteresting shared The edge that the entire mod team has now been reinstated – by a different admin than the one who removed them. The mod’s account was banned for seven days, but that was also lifted, it said. A edge A commenter identifying himself as the r/MildlyInteresting mod also says the team has been reinstated and suspended.
When asked if Reddit could confirm the reinstatement, Rathschmidt declined, saying, “I will not set a precedent for confirmation.” The edge every action we take or omit to ensure users can access their communities.” He didn’t elaborate on how removing a subreddit’s entire moderation team without communication ensures users can access their communities, particularly since these have never been completely inaccessible beyond the limitations imposed by Reddit itself.
According to a post in r/ModCoord (moderator coordination), the moderators of r/MildlyInteresting pushed ahead with the sub’s transition to NSFW on Tuesday after a user vote.
However, according to the now-former r/MildlyInteresting mod who wrote the post, they were logged out of their account and banned shortly after the subreddit transitioned. It quickly became clear that admins employed by Reddit (as opposed to the mods who don’t work for Reddit) were involved:
Then another mod posted our update instead. Right after that the u/ModCodeofConduct [a Reddit admin account] Account removed the post and moved the sub back to restricted instead of public. Then the second moderator was also logged out of his account and blocked. Other mods tried to re-approve the post, one of them was immediately unsubscribed and banned as well.
After that, according to the earlier r/MildlyInteresting mod, the entire mod team was removed from the subreddit before eventually being reinstated.
While r/MildlyInteresting got its mods back, other new NSFW subs who lost their mods Thursday still don’t have them. r/interestingasfuck (11 million subscribers), r/TIHI (1.7 million subscribers), and r/ShittyLifeProTips (1.6 million subscribers), all of whom have left NSFW or relaxed their rules, are not currently moderated.
Removing mods is perhaps Reddit’s biggest action yet against its moderators, who are unpaid volunteers who sometimes dedicate years of their lives to managing these communities. Some mods said they felt threatened by messages the company sent out last week. They implied that this would depose moderators who have not taken action to get their communities reopened, and now that this is a reality, the impact on those communities could be massive.