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Reddit has recently been caught in a storm of controversy. Changes to its API, aimed at monetizing its data, have sparked a significant protest across the platform. Over 6,300 subreddits, representing some of the most active corners of Reddit, have gone ‘dark’ or private, effectively disappearing from public view.
At the heart of the issue is the future of third-party applications like Apollo, a popular app known for its customizable interface that enhances the Reddit browsing experience. Under the new policies, apps like Apollo could face substantial charges, potentially leading to a significant reshaping of the way users interact with Reddit.
The Reddit community’s response to these changes demonstrates a powerful collective action and raises serious questions about the dynamics between digital platforms and their user communities.
The orchestrated protest on Reddit has shown the power of coordinated action, almost like a commander leading a simultaneous strike. This protest has revealed the strength of these subreddit communities. However, not all large subreddits have gone dark, adding another layer of complexity to this digital uprising.
What Are the Goals of the Reddit Protest?
The Reddit protest, coordinated by /r/ModCoord, aims to achieve the following goals:
- Address API technical issues.
- Improve accessibility for blind people.
- Ensure parity in access to NSFW content.
The planning behind the Reddit blackout
Coordinating a surprise birthday party can be tricky, let alone orchestrating a blackout involving thousands of subreddits with millions of members. Yet, that is exactly what happened recently on Reddit, and the scale and execution of this coordinated action is nothing short of impressive.
As a Reddit user for over eight years, I found the blackout remarkable, not just in its outcome but also in its planning. The level of coordination it required was monumental, akin to directing a vast, complex orchestra to play in perfect harmony.
One need only look at the thread on /r/ModCoord to grasp the extent and organization behind this support.
The impact was magnified by threads about the blackout appearing across thousands of large subreddits, significantly amplifying the visibility of the protest.
You can see how the community feels about this by looking at what happened during Reddit CEO Spez’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, where every comment by him was downvoted, demonstrating the community’s dissatisfaction with the proposed changes.
The power of the subreddits that joined the protest
A casual scroll through Reddit now could leave many active users feeling a void. Numerous engaging and lively subreddits have decided to participate in the blackout. But while some communities have gone quiet, others remain active.
This begs the question: how widespread is this protest, really? What kind of traffic hit is Reddit taking? A handy resource in this situation is Reddark, a website that keeps track of how many subreddits have gone dark in support of the protest.
The sheer number of subreddits joining the blackout is staggering. But when you start digging into the numbers, the true impact of the protest becomes clear. Take /r/funny, for example, with its massive 49 million subscribers. This subreddit is one of Reddit’s most popular, bringing in 170k organic visitors a month and helping Reddit attract new users. Then, add in other big subreddits like /r/aww, with 34 million subscribers and 50k organic visitors a month, and /r/gifs, with 21 million subscribers and 50k organic visitors a month.
A quick look at subreddits related to /r/funny shows how many major ones have gone dark. It’s a big deal.
Popular subreddits such as /r/cryptocurrency, /r/cryptomarkets, /r/gaming, /r/music, /r/todayilearned, /r/art, /r/science, /r/space, /r/sports, /r/videos, /r/dataisbeautiful, /r/gadgets, and more have also joined the protest. When we think about how much traffic Reddit is losing because of the protest, we have to consider not just the traffic from within the Reddit community. We also need to think about all the people who come to Reddit from search engines and external shares. This kind of traffic is super important for getting new users.
The real power of the protest is not just in how many subreddits are going dark. It’s also about how popular and dominant these communities are. For many people, Reddit has become basically unusable because their favorite subreddits are now hidden. This has a big impact on how people experience Reddit, and it shows just how important these communities are to the platform.
Why haven’t some large subreddits joined the protest?
While many active mod teams from large subreddits have joined the protest, there are some that haven’t. The reasons vary. Some mod teams might support Reddit’s new API changes, others might be inactive. For example, /r/pcmasterrace, one of Reddit’s largest subreddit with 7.8 million members, hasn’t joined the protest. My guess is that most active mod teams would talk about this issue in their subs. If they haven’t, Reddit employees might be managing the subreddit. Interestingly, some subreddits not in the protest are getting community pressure to join, like in this /r/webdev thread:
Here’s a glance at some of the major subreddits that, as of now, have not joined the ongoing protest against Reddit’s new API changes. This table highlights the size of their subscriber base and the substantial amount of monthly organic traffic they attract:
|Monthly Organic Traffic
This Reddit protest is a wake-up call showing the power of community. Reddit isn’t just about posts and content, it’s about different voices and unique communities. That’s the magic of Reddit, and it’s missing right now. The protest may be temporary, but it gives us a glimpse of a Reddit without its heart. If things don’t change, we could lose the unique charm that makes Reddit, well, Reddit.