Reddit on protesting mods: Reopen or be removed if API protest continues

The Reddit blackout protesting the company’s unpopular API changes continues, nearly five days after the “48-hour” promotion began Monday. But contrary to what Reddit says publicly, it seems the company has had enough of the protests.

On Friday, moderators of popular Reddit communities began sharing messages they received from the company, urging them to reopen the subreddits they moderate or face removal as a community mod.


Reddit CEO endorses API changes

The news comes in stark contrast to comments made by Reddit CEO Steve Huffman over the past few days. Earlier this week, Huffman downplayed the protest and all the impact it had on Reddit’s business. Thousands of subreddits were privatized Monday in a bid to prompt Reddit to reconsider its fee schedule exorbitant fees for API access for third-party developers building Reddit-based apps. Reddit’s decision to charge up to millions of dollars a year has already coerced indie developers, like the one behind the popular one Apollo for Reddit Client to shut down its apps.

Then, just yesterday, in one interview(opens in a new tab) with The Verge, Huffman claims that the company didn’t want to force mods to reopen subreddits that continue to protest. Reddit also sent Mashable a “Key Facts” sheet detailing the API changes and the company’s position on the protest.

“We are not ending discussions or unilaterally reopening communities,” reads a section of the PDF. “Dissent, debate, and discussion are fundamental parts of Reddit. We respect our community’s ability to protest as long as mods follow our Moderator Code of Conduct.”

However, at some point between The Verge’s interview with Huffman and his conversation with NBC News that same evening, the Reddit CEO’s position on the protests appeared to change.

Speaking to NBC News, Huffman pitched the idea of ​​allowing Reddit users to vote on mod removals, likening their power over subreddits to “country gentry.”

“The people who get there first are allowed to stay there and pass it on to their descendants, and that’s not democratic,” Huffman said, while again downplaying the protests and claiming that most Reddit users don’t support the actions of some mods .

Reddit’s message to mods on Friday begins with an attempt to address concerns that the API changes will disrupt moderation tools that many moderators rely on. However, the note quickly transitions to a call for mods to reopen whatever subreddit they moderate. Such involvement has prompted active protest from the company Comparison with crusts(opens in a new tab) Crossing a digital picket line.

“If there are mods here willing to work toward reopening this community, we’re willing to work with you to address a request to remove top mods or reorganize the mod team to help achieve that goal.” reach when mods higher on the list are impeding reopening.” reads Reddit’s message to mods in r/funny and r/aww, as received by The edge(opens in a new tab). “We would act on this request and any attempts at retaliation here in this modmail chain immediately.”

Reddit’s message to these mods then seems to devolve more into a threat of removal for mods that refuse to reopen.

“Our goal is to work with the existing mod team to find a way forward and ensure your subreddit is exposed to the community that calls this home,” it says. “If you are unable or unwilling to reopen and sustain the community, please let us know.”

This message is sent directly to the mods, Echos Comments(opens in a new tab) Links on the r/ModSupport public subreddit forum, that was highlighted(opens in a new tab) by a Reddit moderator whose subreddit was “indefinitely” privatized as part of the protest.

“If a moderation team unanimously decides to stop moderating, we will invite new, active moderators to keep these rooms open and accessible to users,” the post reads. “If there is no consensus but at least one mod wants to keep the community going, we will respect their decisions and remove those who no longer want to moderate from the mod team.”

Before the protest began, around 3,000 subreddits vowed to remain private for two days starting Monday. By the time the 48-hour campaign was due to end Tuesday night, more than 8,000 subreddits had joined the protest. As of Friday night’s publication, there are more than 4,600 subreddits still participate(opens in a new tab) in blackout.

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