- Over 8,000 subreddits, including major communities like r/Gaming, r/Funny, r/Music, and r/Science, shut down in protest against Reddit's upcoming API pricing change.
- The change threatens third-party developers and could make vital moderation tools unaffordable, causing major disruption to Reddit's volunteer-based management.
- This situation accentuates the growing disconnect between Reddit's management and its vast community, which could impact the company's planned IPO.
When the clock struck midnight last Tuesday, the Reddit community's leading lights in r/Gaming chose to disappear from the spotlight. Dac Croach, known online as Dacvak, and his fellow moderators pushed the private button, bringing a 48-hour hiatus to a community of over 37 million members.
Their action was a protest against Reddit's impending business alteration - a steep hike in the price for third-party developers to leverage the company's API. The moderation team had earlier surveyed the community, finding that the majority supported a shutdown. A brief discussion on Slack led to a group decision: an online blackout.
This wave of protest spread swiftly across Reddit, engulfing over 8,000 subreddits, including r/Funny, r/Music, and r/Science, all of which boast millions of users. Croach and his team aimed to stand up for outside developers and protect the tools they regularly used, fearing these might become unaffordable and therefore unavailable due to Reddit's new pricing structure.
Croach told CNBC that unlike other social media platforms, Reddit relies on independent developers to provide essential services, not employees. This led to increased frustration, especially given that moderation is managed by volunteers and their voices seemed to be ignored.
Reddit's controversies highlight a widening chasm between its management and its legion of outside supporters. This friction could have serious implications, especially with Reddit's upcoming IPO. A prolonged blackout could send shockwaves across the internet, as Reddit's massive user base is a significant source of content for search engines.
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