Tensions are rising once more at Reddit with fresh protests against the company’s management, and the company expelling rebel moderators.
Reddit has been subject to weeks of protests over its recently implemented API price hikes, which have resulted in the closure of popular third-party apps such as Apollo.
Earlier protests have seen many of the site’s communities—or subreddits—turned private for extended periods by volunteer moderators, effectively taking those communities offline. Others have amended rules to mock the site’s management. For example, r/pics is only allowing users to post pictures involving the comedian John Oliver.
Now the sites users are continuing to display their anger on Place, an interactive artwork in which each user of the site gets to place one pixel on a huge graphic. Last year’s Place turned into huge collaborative artwork that was sometimes disrupted by organized factions trying to overwrite each other’s artworks.
This year—rather predictably—users are working together to deface Place with artwork and messages that attack the site’s owners. Earlier today, Place was showing a graphic of guillotine, under which an avatar of the site’s CEO was placed.
At the time of writing, Place contained messages such as “f*** Spez”, Spez being the Reddit username of CEO Steve Huffman. There was also a large message that read: “Never forget what was stolen from you! r/save3rdpartyapps.”
The site’s moderators are seemingly fighting running battles to get the offensive images and messages removed from Place.
Moderators Moved On
The fresh protests come as Reddit begins to take a hard line against unyeilding moderators who refused to reopen their subreddits.
The Verge reports that Reddit has taken over the r/malefashionadvice subreddit, which has more than 5 million subscribers. The subreddit had been made private and the volunteer moderators were reportedly pushing users toward new communities being created on rival services Discord and Substack.
The subreddit now has only one designated moderator—u/ModCodeofConduct—which is an account controlled by the company itself. The three former volunteer moderators of r/malefashionadvice told The Verge they were warned to reopen the community or face being replaced.
The Verge notes that several other popular subreddits are now in the sole charge of u/ModCodeofConduct, many of which took part in the recent protests. Moderators have also resigned en mass from one community, effectively forcing Reddit to take charge and attempt to find replacement moderators.
Reddit Protests: Where Do They End?
The ongoing protests are becoming a significant problem for Reddit. Almost 2,000 of the site’s 8,829 subreddits remain locked in private mode, according to the Reddark site that was set up to monitor the protests. Five subreddits with more than 20 million subscribers are continuing to protest in some form or another.
Short of recruiting thousands more volunteer moderators to replace the protestors, Reddit will either have to take over the running of the subreddits themselves or leave the rebel moderators in place.
The company has shown no indication that it’s willing to back down on the API pricing that forced third-party developers to retire their apps, meaning there’s no end to the protests in sight.