Posts tagged api

How Reddit Got into Trouble

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…

Google Vs Web Developers

With the recent news about Google’s App Engine pricing, i kinda want to give my own 2 cents, not only on that but also on Google’s attitude towards web developers in general.

So just incase you werent following up, Google on its spree of canceling products, decided to not cancel the App Engine product but instead turn it into a enterprise product, the App Engine is basically a scalable hosting solution, were you can build websites or applications.

So when the App Engine debuted it was touted as a one stop app hosting solution, were you could build your web applications quickly and they would run on Google High End Systems, kind of like Amazon Cloud offerings but simpler and easier to use, well it wasnt really easy, you have the choice of Java or Phython (pretty much) and the system is a bit trickier, but at least it was cheap and once you got it up and running, it was pretty cool, so that premise brought a bunch of developers to the App Engine, hey it wasn’t perfect but it was pretty easy and cheap.

 So fast forward to now and the App Engine is a completely different beast, by switching their pricing model the App Engine has become way more expensive (mostly because before you paid for what you used and now you pay for what you need to use, even if you don’t use it, big difference) and im not saying like 20%, im saying 200%, and so Google’s answer to the outcry was:

  • Pack Up and Go, well that would be great, but most cant, cause to make the site or application you had to custom build it to fit App Engine, even if the languages were universal, moving away turns out to be a costly en-devour, so Google has you locked in (whenever i see Google announce another fake information liberation campaign i cant help but chuckle),
  • Optimize your Code, if you optimize your code you can make a lot of savings, yeah im actually all for that, but to me, like many other developers, we optimize code for performance and for security, optimizing code to run cheaper is for lack of a better word idiotic! developing something is most of the times a hack job that you perfect and improve with time, with App Engine your code better be perfect from the get-go or you gonna have to…
  • Pay More, you betcha, this one is easy, pay enterprise level prices or fuck off.

 So basically Google did a bait and switch, pulled in all this small developers that had the time, interest and risk to create stuff on an untested new platform as the App Engine (cause understandably Large Companies seldom risks trying new things), but now that the system is somewhat stable and ready for prime-time, those same developers get shafted, so in the end whats the point of having a scalable hosting solution if a developer cant afford it.

But this wasn’t the first time and it wont be the last, Google’s only interest is Google bottom-line, that’s it, developing anything on top of Google Services is a huge risk, they also recently disabled a ton of API’s, that a lot of sites depended on and were created on top of, also pushing Google Chrome Only/Optimized features, as well as a bunch of other services.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing Google for doing it, i’m just saying that when Google says they are making new tools for developers, new API’s, new hosting platforms, support open source, supporting webmasters… that you should take those offers with a huge grain of salt, for myself, well im off the App Engine and most of my apps wont be moved over, im keeping to what i know, i learned this lesson before, with Ning, with several Hosting Providers and such, never build anything you don’t have absolute control of, lesson learned.

Review of Facebook Comments

Well this isn’t a rant just about facebook comments as to the facebook API in general, I’ve learned this the hard way, you should never ever, EVER EVER put any part of your site under someone elses control, that means that hosted software or software as a service, regarding websites is a big NONO, only completely internet illiterates should go that route, cause its a very tricky one.

Lets say that my hosting provider goes down, or bankrupts, or decides my site is ugly, well that sucks, but i can move my site elsewhere, even if they shut me down in the middle of the night without any warning, i have my offsite backups, i can move on, it could take some hours or days, but its not the endgame, same goes for any of my domains, even if someone steals them or the government decides that a site about anime panties could burn children’s eyes, i would lose traffic, but i can always move to another domain, see no single point of failure, there is a fail-safe for all my work.

Now with facebook you are relinquishing control of your comments, login, data, for the sake of easiness and more widespread promotion, so what happens when facebook bans your site, or decides to change/end the API and you are left with nothing or at least a big headache, cause your users are not your users, your comments are not your comments, they are facebook’s, and they decides what is best for them, not for your site.

Also facebook as a kinda personal social effect on people, by basically forcing you to be yourself and not a nickname or handle, and transmitting to your friends pretty much everything you say, it breeds a different kind of internet user, one that instead of honest or idiotic commenting, you have a bland audience, that says stuff as much about the subject as about what they think their friends would want them to say, its vanity commenting, and for that shit, you can just stay inside facebook’s walls.

I don’t think what you get from facebook is all that great, the conversations are bland and it detracts most of the time, you get a bland looking comment box and bland people talking on it about bland things, were is the awesome juice?, trolling most of the times is comedy genius, like when techcrunch put facebook comments and said it was the best thing evah!, well i guess not, cause they went back to their old comment system, ill say it again, when you put your data in someone elses pocket you lose value and in the case of facebook comments you lose value and gain boring banal conversations instead, winwin? not really.

Anyways don’t get me wrong, its not just facebook, the disqus, intensedebates and cocomment of the world, with the rare exception, like if its a temporary page or comments are not the focus, just a add-on for help or faq, yeah then its a somewhat good idea to outsource, but for all other cases, naaa the shinny extras you get, don’t pay for the fact that what you create from their own is out of your hands.

Well there is an exception, the “like button”, but i view that as any other “share me” button, maybe it has better hits than most, but nothing completely awesome or mandatory, you can as easily turn it off, with no impact to your site ^_^ .o( may