Two major subreddits, r/pics and r/gifs, now only allow posts about comedians and Last week tonight Host John Oliver. Both reopened after being shut down amid ongoing Reddit protests, and after each subreddit polled users, the new rules are now in effect.
“As many of you know, we recently conducted a poll to decide the future of the subreddit,” wrote r/gifs moderator u/IronSentinel. “This initiative was sparked by statements from Reddit’s CEO, who indicated that the desires of the platform’s everyday users would be dwarfed by those of the moderators.” -Protest changes that will force popular third-party apps to close. However, CEO Steve Huffman argues that not all users support it.
“It’s like a protest in a city that goes on too long, and the rest of the citizens of the city would like to go about their lives,” he told me in an interview Thursday. When I pointed out that the top posts on r/all were about the protests, he noted that those posts weren’t open for comments. “If there were any comments there, I could definitely tell you what those comments would say. They would say, “Stop it, this is annoying.”
In an interview with NBC News, he also equated hosts who are unpaid volunteers with the “country gentry” — a characterization that struck a chord with r/pics hosts. “We – the so-called ‘country gentry’ – definitive “I want to honor the wishes of the ‘royal court’ and they have told us that we need to run the subreddit the way its members want it to be run,” u/pics-moderator wrote. “To that end, we thought that was the only thing reasonable What you had to do was ask directly how to proceed from here.”
Both r/pics (30M+ subscribers) and r/gifs (21M+ subscribers) offered users two options to vote: return the subreddit to normal or only allow images or GIFs featuring John Oliver. The results were conclusive:
- r/pics: return to normal, -2,329 votes; “Only allow pics of John Oliver looking sexy”, 37,331 votes.
- r/gifs: return to normal, -1,851 votes; Contain only GIFs by John Oliver, 13,696 votes.
And indeed, both subreddits are now filled with content about John Oliver. As I write this, the top post in the r/pics hot tab is a picture of Oliver flipping the double bird, alongside a picture of Huffman. On r/gifs, it’s a GIF of Oliver banging on a table and saying “fuck yourself” next to a picture of the Reddit logo.
On Twitter, John Oliver encouraged the subreddits — and even gave them some fodder. “Dear Reddit, Excellent work” he wrote to start a thread that contained several ridiculous Pictures. A speaker for Last week tonight with John Oliver did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 4,000 subreddits are still dark, according to one tracker, but many have reopened in the past few days. (During the peak of the protests, more than 8,000 people walked into the darkness.) Some are reopening under duress; Reddit sent a message to some moderators saying the company could help process a top mod removal request “if mods higher up the list are interfering with reopening,” and a mod for r/Apple said they did would have reopened the community because they were afraid of it otherwise it would be forcibly reopened.
Moderators expressed concern about Reddit’s “threatening behavior” in a post on r/ModCoord. “Volunteer moderators are the lifeblood of Reddit communities,” wrote u/demmian. “Our commitment shapes the success of the platform. It’s critical for Reddit to listen to our concerns and work with us to sustain the thriving communities that make Reddit what it is. Until our voices are heard and our demands met, we will continue our power outages – without fear of any threat.” More than 170 users commented to co-sign the post.
Update June 17 5:51pm ET: Added tweet by John Oliver.