Reddit ohhh Reddit the “community”-driven social media site, is currently facing a major crisis as the “community” grows increasingly dissatisfied with recent decisions, leading to a strike by moderators and an exodus of key users. This situation kinda highlights a crucial error made by a lot of social networks, they think that users seek only the services, but in fact they mostly seek connections and a kind of sense of community, and erecting barriers to access ultimately erodes what users want and need.
I think the key factors for Reddit’s success were that they capitalized on other similar platforms shooting themselves in the foot (I’m looking at you, Digg), letting each topic create a community around it and let each community grow, and finally being somewhat open with an easy API and letting anyone use the site in creative ways, something that other platforms have been cracking down on for years, like Facebook, Twitter and such.
But here lies the crux, if the users and mods are the ones really creating the content and moderating it, then the only thing Reddit needs to-do is keep the platform running and run ads and account subscriptions, which seems like an ideal setup.
Unfortunately, it seems that Reddit like other networks before it, wants more, and as slowly been creating new revenue streams, creating more schemes, things like pushing web users to its kind of lousy app, app only features, having a new slow design that favors Tiktok like mindless media consumption instead of community consumption and interaction, not implementing or supporting the mods, pushing gimmicks like NFT’s and community awards, creating restrictions and paths to make it increasingly harder for mods to manage and grow their communities, and pushing the users to a more “reddit is the main page” instead of “reddit is all about the communities”.
Also, the current path Reddit is heading is that instead of 100,000 small interesting and quirky communities, they really just want and promote 100 super large communities, with never-ending posts of boobs, cute and fails, If it sounds like TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram, you wouldn’t be wrong, and that’s… a shame, more of the same is boring, it might make money, but it has no future; they will be just another one..
And even after all of this, Reddit is still apparently in the red, I think it’s in the red because it’s badly managed, it wants to run like a Facebook with huge budgets and staff working on a billion unrelated things, a network like Reddit can and should run more slim and could be profitable with little adjustments and by cooperating more heavily with its mods and communities, just look at Wikipedia!
But no… Reddit and its CEO Steve Huffman view Reddit as a cash cow that has just not been milked enough, so they decide to turn the free API to an extremely expensive and restricted API so as to kill all competition and fuck what the communities need or want, its literally another one of those killed by a thousand cuts, when this time he just cuts a little bit too deep and the cow decides to give a nice kick, so what happens…
Thousands of Reddit moderators initiated a blackout, blocking access to over 8,000 subreddits (including my community). With several demands, like the implementation of accessibility features for blind users and revisions to the API to support third-party apps, both in price and restrictions.
And this puts Reddit in a bind, since the value of Reddit is its constant flow of content, its communities, and its enormous database of information, so if channels go dark, all of this disappears, if Reddit pushes forward and channels start deleting, then this treasure trove starts depreciating even more, if Reddit decides to kick its mods and force open channels, then who is going to manage and moderate? Is Reddit who is the red going to be able to afford to pay moderators? Naaaa, it will turn into a dumpster fire…
This, of course, is not what everyone wants, mods are weaponizing their channels and communities to try and pressure the company, but the company that was supposed to be all about community doesn’t seem to care, and this opens up a bad precedent of communities not trusting the platform, it’s all about the money and fuck the ethics, so here we are in a tug-o-war with some channels open, some channels restricted, and some channels private, all waiting to see who folds first.
I’m writing this because I’m also Reddit user and a mod, so my views are not exactly the mainstream, but alas my channels are closed for the time being, so I have some skin in the game, but I’ve been burned before, one of the reasons that 90% of what I manage is 100% under my control is because I’ve been rugged pulled before, several times, I’ve joined great platforms with awesome features and I’ve sometimes spent years making something amazing for that platform to eventually see it all just crashing down, my work erased, decide that I should pay 100x more or change the rules for no reason, and most of the time there is no recourse for me, it’s a deep breath and move on, so this time with Reddit I’ve decided to make a stand, it’s a small stand but its one nevertheless because what makes Reddit strong it’s the communities and mods and if these turn on Reddit then the cow dies… a slow painful death…