Several moderators of Reddit communities participating in today’s protest against API changes received messages from the company. These messages urged them to work towards reopening their subreddits or face potential consequences.
In a recent interview with The Verge, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman expressed his tolerance for protests, stating that the company has no issues with them. However, according to NBC News, Huffman intends to implement changes that make it easier for regular users to vote out moderators. Initially planned to last for two days, the protest involved over 8,000 subreddits at its peak. Many subreddits, including popular communities such as r/music, r/videos, and r/nba, remained dark indefinitely, even during the NBA championship game. As of now, more than 4,000 subreddits continue to be closed.
Even before the protest, moderators were concerned. Reddit released a fact sheet on Thursday, assuring users that they would not shut down discussions or unilaterally reopen communities. However, the admin account u/ModCodeofConduct stated that Reddit could remove moderators who violate the Mod Code of Conduct and replace them.
The admin account further explained that if a moderator team collectively decides to cease moderating, new active moderators will be invited to ensure these spaces remain open and accessible to users. On Thursday evening, spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt confirmed that moderators participating in the subreddit blackout to protest the upcoming API price changes could potentially violate the code of conduct.
Impact on Major Subreddits: r/funny and r/aww Moderators Receive Messages
A moderator from r/funny, the largest subreddit that recently went private but has since reopened, urged Reddit in a pinned message to listen to its moderators, contributors, and everyday users. The message requested that Reddit avoid indirectly supporting malicious individuals by working against its dedicated volunteers. Following concerns of potential forced reopening, r/Apple also recently reopened, stating that they had no choice but to do so or risk having it done for them. Unfortunately, one moderator from r/Apple has decided to resign in protest against Reddit’s actions.
Responding to these events, Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt clarified to The Verge that they have not issued any threats. He emphasized that pressuring people is not their objective, but they are communicating expectations and the platform’s functioning. Reddit aims to facilitate Redditors in their desire to engage and participate while allowing moderators willing to perform their roles to do so.
The Verge reported that moderators of prominent subreddits, including r/funny and r/aww, received messages regarding the ongoing protest. These subreddits are among the most subscribed on the platform, with r/funny being the second-most subscribed and r/aww ranking fifth. While r/funny has reopened after being temporarily closed in protest, r/aww remains viewable but restricted.
On Tuesday, Reddit CEO Huffman’s internal memo appeared to downplay the significance of the protest and its potential impact on the company. The memo described the situation as noisy and compared it to previous controversies on Reddit, stating that it would eventually subside.
Internal Memos from Reddit and Messages to Moderators
We wanted to ensure you know the API update does not impact moderation bots or sitewide tools to control spam or remove harmful content. You can find more details in this article in our help center. You may have seen posts or received messages from users saying these tools are going away or are somehow impacted, but this is untrue.
We also know that some mod team members have expressed wanting to close your community indefinitely. We are reaching out to find out if this is the consensus reached by the mod team.
Subreddits exist for the benefit of the community of users who come to them for support and belonging, and in the end, moderators are stewards of these spaces and in a position of trust. Your users rely on your community for information, support, entertainment, and finding connections with others who have similar interests. Ensuring that communities remain stable and actively moderated is incredibly important to the people seeking out these spaces to make and foster connections.
If there are mods here who are willing to work towards reopening this community, we are willing to work with you to process a Top Mod Removal request or reorder the mod team to achieve this goal if mods higher up the list are hindering reopening. We would immediately handle this request and any retaliation attempts here in this mod mail chain.
Our goal is to work with the existing mod team to find a path forward and make sure your subreddit is available for the community, making it home here. Please let us know if you are unable or willing to reopen and maintain the community.”