The [Confusing] Aftermath of Reddit’s Crackdown On Subreddits

Reddit has taken drastic action against the moderators involved in the continuing protests, only to reinstate a few later on. This move has caused quite a stir within the community and has far-reaching implications for the site’s future.

The protests revolved around the labeling of subreddits as Not Safe For Work (NSFW), leading to various consequences such as an age gate for desktop viewers and restricted access on mobile devices. By implementing these measures, Reddit inadvertently disrupted its own revenue stream, as NSFW content doesn’t display ads. This decision directly impacts Reddit’s monetization efforts, which include charging apps for API usage. Notable subreddits like r/MildlyInteresting, r/interestingasfuck, and r/TIHI (Thanks I Hate It) were among those that switched to NSFW labels in solidarity.

When questioned about these actions, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman defended the move, stating that a small group of users shouldn’t be subsidized while the majority contributes and is monetized through ads and Reddit Premium.

“90-plus percent of Reddit users are on our platform, contributing, and are monetized either through ads or Reddit Premium. Why would we subsidize this small group? Why would we effectively pay them to use Reddit but not everybody else who also contributes to Reddit?” Huffman told The Verge.

This decision to penalize moderators who mistakenly marked communities as NSFW was seen as a violation of both Reddit’s Content Policy and Moderator Code of Conduct.

Initially reported as suspended, a moderator from r/MildlyInteresting confirmed that the entire mod team has been reinstated. This reversal came from a different admin than the one responsible for their removal. It’s worth noting that the suspension of the mod’s account, which lasted seven days, was also overturned.

However, when pressed for confirmation regarding the reinstatement, Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt declined, stating that they wouldn’t provide updates on their actions to ensure user access. This response raised questions about the effectiveness of removing an entire moderation team without proper communication, especially since the communities remained accessible with the limitations imposed by Reddit itself.

According to a post in r/ModCoord (moderator coordination), the moderators of r/MildlyInteresting proceeded with the NSFW switch after a user vote. But according to the former mod who authored the post, immediately after the switch, they were logged out and locked out of their account. It became evident that Reddit-employed administrators, rather than the mods themselves, were involved in these actions.

As the situation unfolded, another mod posted an update on their behalf. However, the u/ModCodeofConduct account, which is a Reddit admin account, swiftly removed the post and reverted the subreddit back to restricted mode instead of public. Following this, the second moderator also experienced being logged out and locked out of their account. The remaining mods attempted to re-approve the post, but one of them was similarly logged out and locked out.

Consequently, the entire mod team of r/MildlyInteresting was initially removed from the subreddit but was eventually reinstated. Unfortunately, other NSFW subreddits such as r/interestingasfuck, r/TIHI, and r/ShittyLifeProTips, which had either gone NSFW or relaxed their rules, are still without moderators.

Reddit’s decision to remove moderators represents one of the most significant actions taken against these unpaid volunteers who dedicate their time to managing communities. The messages sent by the company last week, indicating a potential removal of moderators who failed to reopen their communities, created a sense of unease among the mods. Now that this threat has become a reality, the consequences for these affected communities could be immense.

Earlier this month, Reddit was hit with a major outage on the very first day of a massive sitewide protest against its proposed API changes. Thousands of subreddits went dark as users voiced their opposition to the new API pricing terms, and the resulting blackout caused widespread disruptions to the website.

The subredditors are protesting the platform’s plan to change the pricing terms for its API integration, charging developers 24 cents per 1000 API calls.

Reddit seems to be applying pressure on subreddits that are keeping their communities closed. One subreddit, r/DIY, reopened after a prompt message from Reddit admins saying that “expectation here is that communities reopen.”

“We’re re-opening because if we don’t, the mods that Reddit appoint may not care about the subreddit the way we do,” the moderator of the subreddit said in a post.

Asked about the reinstatements and veiled threats, Rathschmidt further declined to respond, saying “I’m not going to set a precedent of confirming with The Verge every action we do or don’t take to ensure users can access their communities.”

Information for this briefing was found via The Verge and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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