8478 out of 8838 subreddits go private protest of Reddit fees

Originally published at: 8478 out of 8838 subreddits go private protest of Reddit fees | Boing Boing


I’m sure the Reddit executives are shocked and surprised at this user and creator rebellion, as are most tech execs who ensh*tify their platforms to please Wall Street and their own greed.


Holy crap! I’m a mod of a small local sub, and we went dark, but I had no idea it was that universal - I really hope this gets across to the CEO that it’s the community, not the platform, that holds Reddit’s true value.


It’s got some really big subreddits for sure, but I think the number who went dark is a drop in the bucket of total subreddits, which number in the hundreds of thousands now. In fact, it’s made Reddit a far nicer place to visit today with fewer posts getting repeated over multiple subreddits clogging up the feed. I’d be fine if many of them stayed dark for good.


The Finnish-language general affairs subreddit r/suomi, my chief hang-out on Reddit, went off-air too, with IIRC unanimous decision by the mods, and broad support from the users.


Both r/fallenlondon and r/guildwars2 have gone dark. I mean, I think they have but I’m not crossing a picket line to check. I know for a fact that FL is in the top 100 even though it’s for an obscure browser game so GW2 must be pretty high. They can’t profit without our eyes and the Fediverse is looking pretty tempting…


That’s what makes a strike work… good on you!


I don’t use Reddit, and perhaps it is because of this:

Millions of Reddit users use apps like Narwhal and Apollo to access the site, because Reddit’s own app is lousy.

If that’s why all these third party apps exist, because the parent can’t make an actual UX that works, then they deserve whatever fate comes. If they had a good UX and app then these third party apps wouldn’t be so popular…this seems like circular logic at this point.


The frustrating part is that if they really wanted to pass on the expense to users, just have a user’s account provide that authorization for API access automatically after login if the user has puchased a subscription for ad-free API access, then add some basic rate limiting to prevent someone from attaching a scraper to it or something; this isn’t rocket science.

Third party app devs aren’t left holding the bag for the issue (although it would certainly still affect them, as some folks couldn’t afford it) but there is a core of reasonability here surrounded by a bunch of bullshit - it does cost money to run a site like Reddit, and they should figure out a way to make that up. I for once would absolutely pay a subscription fee to cover my API usage with no ads as long as I got to use BaconReader instead of the garbage app.

It’d still be a thing you’d need to give devs more than a month notice for to allow them to restructure their apps, but there’s a world where Reddit is doing this in a way that accomplishes their actual stated goals without being enormous jerks about it.

The problem is that’s not really what’s going on here. It’s not just about the server fees, although I’m sure that’s part of it. Look at the part where spez said ‘oh the apollo dev threatened us’ and then changed his tune to ‘the apollo dev is unstable and leaked private phone calls’ when the reason they leaked those was because the reddit admins literally lied about a phone call and he released it to prove that they did.

That more than anything is extremely damning to me, because it shows that it’s not just ‘business pressures caused us to deprioritize something we wanted to do’, but instead it’s ‘we’re willfully lying about something and then refusing to back down when called out about it.’


This Up Here GIF by Chord Overstreet

Having user authenticated APIs is not hard. They could’ve done this and simply said “only paid users get third party apps”. The apps would need to be fixed with the new auth mechanism, and probably new URLs, but it wouldn’t be major if they kept the call structures the same.

Their goal is to kill the third party apps, not get paid for the API calls.


Reddit CEO Tells Employees That Subreddit Blackout ‘Will Pass’

So will a kidney stone.



Support for extending it swells:


The part I find the most fucking frustrating about all this is that I’m so sick of goddamn ads, and I’m willing to pay just a flat payment to get around them.

I recognize for many people ad-supported is their only option, and certainly I support anyone using adblockers/etc, but I’d much rather just pay for the access. If Reddit had approached this from a perspective of ‘look, if you pay for Reddit API Access it’s 3/month and you get ad-free access through whatever app you want’ I’d be happy to pay it. I pay for youtube premium right now for similar reasons.

Cory’s article about the enshittification of the internet is unfortunately a problem, because more and more apps have to follow the cycle of ‘Be amazing and free’ → ‘Slowly start getting shittier’ → ‘Accelerate value drain before people can leave’ and it’s clear that Reddit is entering the third phase.

I constantly think about Craigslist in this context, a site that was always intended to run as a public good and not as a massive get rich scheme. It’s not a perfect site, but it does a thing, it does it well, and there’s no constant dragging dread every time I view it that ‘oh god what is some vulture capitalist going to think up next on how to ruin this’. It just sucks that Reddit and Discord and all the other tools we love to use are inevitably destined to become terrible.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there about a million clickbait sites like Bored Panda that scrape Reddit for content which they then just staple to a couple stock photos and plaster ads onto?

Are they the actual target for these changes? Because it looks a hell of a lot like they’re making a crapton of money off the site, and I don’t think I’ve seen them mentioned in ANY of the coverage of this.


Only White Supremacists stayed on. So they got to sow their stupid seeds.


AI is set to become a trillion dollar industry; the reddit owners want their cut. That’s why the API fees are so astronomical.


Well, from what Reddit has said they already require API keys for high-volume API accessors, so they know who holds the keys and thus, what would be broken. Certainly sites like that will also be partially broken by this, but they could have gone about it in a way that didn’t fuck over users.

In reality, a random site like that doesn’t need to have API access, they can just use bots to scrape the pages through HTML calls, basically pretending to be a human and getting the data from there. In fact, probably a lot of the scummier bots/sites are doing exactly that already, because they wouldn’t want to sign up for a real API key/etc. This is both fairly difficult to detect (it’s an ongoing thing you need to spend time fighting as botters basically are in an arms race with you on detection) and are more inefficient for everyone involved, so if they were using the APIs, cutting them off really just makes them be more of a pain in your ass.

The big reason is that they just need to periodically go ‘what’s popular on reddit today for us to steal?’ so they only really need to make a few calls a day , and it doesn’t matter if they get delayed/etc, as long as they eventually succeed, and they can scale a botfleet as wide as they need to in order to make it work.


So you’ve subscribed to reddit premium, right?

It does just that.

It doesn’t give third party app access; I haven’t subscribed to Reddit Premium because I barely use the desktop site these days and basically did most of my browsing on BaconReader, which didn’t display ads. Sure, I can use the official Reddit android app, which is garbage, along with Reddit Premium, but:

  1. spez’s actions towards the Apollo dev are in my opinion a level of shittiness I’m not really interested in directly supporting.
  2. As mentioned the official Reddit android app is hot garbage, and the mobile browsing isn’t much better. Especially combined with point #1, I’m not comfortable using it, because it increasingly feels like there’s an enshittification problem here.

The point I’m making is that allowing users to use third party apps isn’t actually tied to the problem they’re saying is the issue here. They could absolutely say ‘we’re requiring Third party apps to show users ads unless they’ve opted out’ or even ‘Third party apps are only available to users with Reddit Premium’, but they didn’t, and further, they openly defamed one of the app devs until they were proved to be wrong, and then continued being shitty about it.

None of that was required to accomplish Reddit’s stated goals, especially around the context of charging companies like Google or OpenAI.