Reddit Blackout – More Than 300 Subreddits Go Dark
Reddit communities, known as subreddits, have staged a coordinated strike over its API pricing plans. These subreddits feature music videos, TV shows, and video games.
This change could wreak havoc among thousands of users and send shockwaves through marketers relying on community feeds to reach their desired target audiences.
What is Reddit?
Reddit is an online community where users can post and discuss a wide variety of topics. Available in multiple world languages, this community uses “netiquette” rules and guidelines to keep itself free from spam or inappropriate material – all managed by volunteer moderators who monitor subreddits (districts). Some subreddits have millions of members, while some smaller subreddits remain highly esteemed within the community.
Recently, some of Reddit’s most significant communities have gone dark to protest changes to how third-party apps access data from Reddit. Many such applications allow readers and posters to Reddit to read/post content while providing other valuable features; Reddit’s new API pricing plans could push many developers out of business altogether, leading many to shut down.
At its height, over 8,000 Reddit communities participated in the blackout. This included some of Reddit’s biggest subreddits, such as r/Music, r/gaming, and r/todayilearned. Some communities even announced plans to stay dark permanently.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman claims that its blackout has had no discernible impact on user traffic or engagement; however, this may not necessarily be accurate. Many have taken to federated alternatives like Lemmy and kbin, which provide decentralized Twitter-esque functionality without Reddit’s massive scale.
Power users are turning away from Reddit in favor of services that enable them to run their own servers and host communities, thus sidestepping its costs. Over time, this could bring significant change to how Reddit operates and interacts with its users.
Reddit marketers who rely on their audience as part of their marketing strategies could experience severe repercussions from this development, with some companies moving away to alternative platforms while others finding a way to adapt. It will undoubtedly be interesting to watch how things unfold over time.
Why is Reddit going dark?
Reddit, once known as the front page of the internet, has gone dark as thousands of subreddits voice their opposition to new fees it plans to introduce. Reddit bosses want to charge developers accessing its Application Programming Interface (API), which has been freely accessible since its creation by University of Virginia roommates in 2005. Popular third-party applications like Apollo, Sync, and Reddit is Fun all depend on Reddit’s API; their owners say their businesses would likely shut down as a result.
Subreddits participating in the Blackout, including r/aww and r/music, have not returned to the public after 48 hours and threaten to remain private until Reddit reverses its API policy. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman strongly supported Reddit’s business decision and warned protesters that their tactics would only hurt Reddit users more broadly.
Many users who rely on third-party apps to browse Reddit argue that its official app cannot meet their needs; they complain of slow loading times, poor search functionality, and no accessibility features for people with disabilities. Others raise privacy issues or feel as though Reddit is forcing its app upon them.
Reddit has stated that its API changes will not alter its moderation tools, which remain free for everyone to use. However, experts warn that without access to an API, many moderators may struggle to keep their communities free of spam, hateful speech, and other problems and respond swiftly in case of hacking and ransomware threats.
Reddit’s decision has caused considerable outrage, and protest has spread to technology blogs and social networks across the web. According to a BBC interview with a Reddit moderator, protesting communities intend to continue until Reddit reverses its API changes, but they admit that Reddit may push them away by making its app more attractive or compelling for use by making its service more attractive to use than theirs.
What are the subreddits that are going dark?
As of this writing, thousands of subreddits–Assorted communities dedicated to specific interests on Reddit–have gone dark, rendering their content inaccessible except to subscribers. It is part of a protest against Reddit’s decision to charge third-party apps access to its API data, with comments by the CEO during Friday’s “Ask Me Anything” thread adding fuel.
The Reddit community has taken to taking to the streets until Reddit reverses its decision to charge API access fees. Some of its largest subreddits, like r/funny and r/music (both boasting over 40 million subscribers each), as well as fandom-focused communities such as those dedicated to Harry Potter, Taylor Swift, or Star Wars, have joined this effort – over 7,800 communities have closed since this protest started on August 17.
Most have agreed to at least a 48-hour blackout period, though many plan to extend it further. Some have even set up Discord servers specifically for users looking for help staying off Reddit, and others are encouraging people to sign a petition against its API policy changes.
Many subreddits affected by the shutdown have created their pages on Discord, an online platform enabling users to communicate between text chats and voice calls. These have been filled with discussions of its impact, helping spread word of protest across subreddits.
Reddit’s protest may not be without criticism, however. One criticism focuses on its potential to negatively affect disabled users who rely on mobile apps for content access and participation forums, while there’s also concern that its blackout will likely reduce overall traffic to Reddit as an organization.
Though Reddit users generally seem to be heeding warnings to stay off of its site, more than 300 significant subreddits have planned to close indefinitely and won’t reopen until Reddit CEO Steve Huffman agrees with their demands.
What are the subreddits that are not going dark?
Reddit relies on volunteer moderators, or “Redditors,” to moderate discussions and remove content that’s off-topic or illegal. While this system has worked effectively over time, as Reddit has grown, it has gradually transitioned its business model to include additional income sources, including API fees from third-party developers who use its data.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s announcement of a policy change triggered widespread community resistance, prompting thousands of subreddits with millions of subscribers each to go dark in protest and prevent anyone other than current subscribers from accessing them. Thousands of subreddits participated in this protest action against Reddit, shutting their forums off from outsiders entirely and becoming private and inaccessible to non-subscribers.
Many protesting communities had initially planned to return after 48 hours; however, some have since chosen to remain private until Reddit reconsiders its API pricing policy. Reddit began pressuring moderators into reopening their communities if they did not open back up, with threats made if they refused to reopen them and threatened removal as mods if they refused.
The Reddit community has not given up, with numerous prominent protesting subreddits pinning messages to their front pages that explain the issue and call for Reddit to open up its APIs for developers again. Some even created petitions with over 13,000 signatures asking Reddit to reconsider its decision.
One website that monitors offline subreddits in real-time reports that over 7,000 have gone dark, with some boasting up to 40 million subscribers – this includes some of the biggest subreddits such as r/funny, r/aww, and r/todayilearned.
But the consequences of these vast communities going dark go well beyond individual Reddit users being locked out. Due to their size, their absence from the front page means they are not getting as much visibility, and search results could take people in unexpected directions instead of leading them directly to what they need – something which might not matter much in short protests but can have lasting ramifications if they persist for a more extended period.