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April 13, 2024

Over the past 11 years, Bucky has devoted time and energy to managing and mentoring dozens of communities on Reddit, the massive Internet message board.

As a “moderator” of about 80 different topic forums, Bucky (who goes by the nickname “BuckRowdy” on Reddit and asks that his full name not be used to prevent online harassment) and others like him are critical to the development and maintenance of Community matters. A social media site that is one of the largest online discussion destinations on the internet.

Until two weeks ago, Bucky defected.

Reddit just rolled out changes that drastically increase fees for independent developers who build apps using the company’s data. Reddit Chief Executive Steve Huffman is positioning the move in part as a way to shore up the company’s finances ahead of its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO).

But the changes made it so expensive for some third-party developers that the few who built tools for Reddit moderators had to shut down or drastically change their apps. In protest, Bucky and other moderators shut down hundreds of forums on the site, effectively rendering Reddit unusable for many of its 57 million daily visitors. At one point the site was completely offline.

“It’s really demoralizing,” Bucky said. Being a Reddit moderator and dealing with users is already difficult, he said. “‘I took all this abuse for you and kept your site clean, and that’s how you repay us?'”

Reddit, an 18-year-old site that was part of an early wave of social networking, has struggled”grow up’ ,” Mr. Hoffman said in an interview. It’s unclear whether the Reddit community will allow it.

San Francisco-based Reddit has tried in recent years to transform from a chaotic internet message board into a full-fledged social media business by adding executives and beefing up its advertising capabilities. The 2,000-employee company has been mentioned several times as an IPO candidate and has raised more than $1.3 billion at a valuation of more than $10 billion, according to Crunchbase and Reddit. public statement.

Other social media companies have made similar changes as they grew. In 2012, Twitter outraged users and killed some popular third-party apps when it tweaked the rules for how developers use their data before it was made public. Facebook made similar platform changes, which angered developers and sparked a backlash.

But what makes this month’s uprising on Reddit notable is that it shows the immense power of the site’s community. According to statistics, the day after moderators shut down hundreds of Reddit forums, users spent 16% less time on the site estimate From analytics firm Similarweb.

“Reddit is basically completely community driven,” said Reddit user Adrian Horning. data scientist Who builds a bot that “crawls” a website’s data in response to fee changes. “The power ordinary users have is inherent to the platform.”

Hoffman said in an interview Wednesday that his goal is to make Reddit better for new and experienced users and build a lasting business. He said he regretted that developers were surprised by the company’s pricing changes and wished he had been more candid about how the changes would affect them. He added that there is widespread anxiety about changes on Reddit as part of a natural “maturing process.”

“We love Reddit as much as many of our users, and we’re equally worried about losing Reddit,” he said.

Huffman and Alexis Ohanian founded Reddit in 2005, a site with a countercultural attitude to the internet and its advertising economy. Reddit championed free speech, zero ads, and a culture of isolation at all costs, laying the groundwork for Web 2.0’s meme culture.

Reddit’s community has long been chaotic, getting Reddit into trouble on multiple occasions. In 2013, Internet detectives searched the site and misidentified a Boston Marathon bombing suspect. A year later, it’s a dumping ground for nude photos stolen from celebrities’ phones.

But as the site grew and venture capital poured in, its leaders saw potential in Reddit for business. The company has several CEOs, including former venture capitalist Ellen Pao, whom Hoffman returned in 2015 after a six-year absence.

Hoffman eventually bought into the idea that Reddit could make money from advertising, a model he once loathed.he accepts and expands Rule changes enacted by Ms Bao Contains some toxic content that people post to this site. By 2021, he had confidentially filed the paperwork needed to go public on Reddit.

But last year, as interest rates soared and the stock market fluctuated, Hoffman put Reddit’s IPO plans on hold. Since then, he has systematically worked on improving the website, increasing the number of users and increasing the profitability of the company.

In April, Mr. Hoffman announced that he planned to restrict access to Reddit’s “application programming interface,” known in the industry as an API. APIs are the main gateway for outsiders to use company data for different purposes.

In an interview at the time, Hoffman said he wanted to charge major companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook for accessing Reddit data that had been used to train so-called large language models, the brains behind artificial intelligence systems. core.

But Mr. Hoffman did not elaborate on how pricing for API access would change or who would be affected. Then in May, Reddit began telling developers that its pricing plans for such access were much higher.Earlier this month, a developer of the popular app Apollo announced that he had been close the application Because Reddit’s changes will cost him more than $20 million in annual fees to run it.

Many Reddit users were deeply disturbed that Huffman seemed to shut down a beloved app in order to grow his business. Older generations are also angry that the heady days of Reddit’s anti-capitalist roots seem to be officially over.

Huffman defended the decision, noting that Reddit spends millions of dollars to support apps like Apollo that don’t return any money to the company or display ads from Reddit’s ad partners.

To air their displeasure, dozens of “supermodders” quickly restricted access to hundreds of Reddit’s most popular communities. In an effort to eliminate advertising in these communities, known as subreddits, moderators post pornography and other explicit content, forcing forums to be labeled “18+” forums, which are often not advertiser-friendly. Other forms of protest include a move by the Reddit subreddit r/pics to only allow photos of John Oliver to be shared on the forum. (Mr Oliver Take a Reddit Protest, eventually sharing a photo of himself too. )

Mr Hoffman said he had no plans to change course.He stated that Reddit is implementing its Moderator Code of Conduct, prohibiting moderators from shutting down their Reddit subreddits and posting pornography and descriptions of violence in their forums (unless the forum is designated for such topics). Reddit also said it will replace moderators who do not follow the rules after being warned.

Baki said the protests had died down this week, but over time had now morphed into more general discontent.

“Any time we see this kind of outburst, there’s a long-simmering anger just under the surface,” he said.

For now, Reddit subreddits seem to be slowly coming back online, though there are still people fighting the changes.bucky said he was active “Save3rdPartyApps” subreddit, The group was formed to organize protests on the site as Reddit’s rules allow.

Reddit is now further away from a public offering than it was last year, but will continue to grow its business, Huffman said.He added that the community’s revolt is part of Reddit’s success Reddit And said he and his team plan to continue reaching out to top moderators unhappy with the changes.

“For better or worse, this is a very unique Reddit moment,” he said. “This only happens on Reddit.”





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