Reddit Blackout: Thousands of Communities Are in the Dark Today — Here’s Why | Science and technology news


Some of the most popular Reddit communities are going into the dark today in protest of “ridiculous” price changes.

The main subreddits of the platform for gamingwhich has more than 37 million members; Music, which has 32.3 million; and r/todayilearned, a site dedicated to sharing facts with 31.8 million users, are among those being shut down.

Pages dedicated to specific fandoms, including Harry Potter And Taylor Swifthave also decided to go offline.

While some communities involved in the blackout have said they will return after 48 hours, others suspect they may not return for long Reddit backs down on the forthcoming changes.

What are the changes?

In April, Reddit announced that it would charge developers for access to its API — which stands for Application Programming Interface.

This allows third parties to access information on the platform and, most importantly, allows developers to run alternative smartphone apps for users who don’t like Reddit’s official version.

Previously, access to the API was free for everyone, but fees will be introduced starting June 19.

Wait, explain the API again…

Reddit’s database is filled to the brim with everything that makes Reddit what it is – the posts, the comments, the profiles, and so on.

Whenever you use a Reddit app, you are essentially asking the platform’s API for permission to display the posts, comments, and profiles you want to see.

Like the staff at the entrance to a British museum who used to only wave you through without cash, they now demand payment.

That’s not an issue if you’re using Reddit directly, either through the web or the app, but it does mean that third-party developers pass the cost on to them.

And it will soon be expensive?

Reddit hasn’t publicly revealed exact pricing details, but makers of popular third-party app Apollo have claimed they’d be billed more than $20 million (£15.9 million) a year at current API usage .

“The price they quoted was $0.24 for 1,000 API calls,” read a post on Apollo’s own subreddit (a “call” being one of the above requests).

“With my current consumption [that] would cost almost $2 million a month or over $20 million a year.”

Subreddits dedicated to Taylor Swift and Harry Potter are among those going offline. Image: AP
Image: WB Games

Why can’t people just use the official app?

Crucially, while Reddit started back in 2005, it didn’t release its own app until 2016.

This meant that users were dependent on third party apps for years and many became so used to their preferred choice that they stuck with it and never turned to the official app.

Popular options include Apollo, Narwhal, Relay, and Infinity.

These apps differ from and are shielded from the official Reddit app with their own unique aesthetics and features unpopular changes Reddit is making to its own app.

Apollo, Reddit Is Fun, Sync, and ReddPlanet have all said they will be forced to close on June 30, while others may follow suit or charge their users to keep up with costs.

What did the offline subreddits say?

Some congregations that decided to abolish operations today did so after consultation with their members.

R/gaming said its members are “overwhelmingly supportive of the blackout” as Reddit’s API changes would make running third-party apps “ridiculously more expensive for developers.”

The music subreddit, which will be closed to members or general visitors for 48 hours, encouraged people to contact Reddit to clearly express their opposition to the new policy.

Moderators of the Harry Potter subreddit have written an open letter, urging Reddit to reconsider API fees to “preserve the rich ecosystem” that has developed around the platform.

Subreddit Taylor Swift has also raised concerns about the impact on users with disabilities, among other things, stating that some third-party apps offer much better accessibility options than Reddit.

What did Reddit say?

Reddit has defended the looming API fees, saying the platform must be “paid fairly.”

“Broad access to data has implications and costs. We spend millions of dollars on hosting fees and Reddit needs to be paid fairly to continue supporting heavily used third-party apps,” it said in a statement to Sky News.

“Our pricing is based on usage levels that we believe are comparable to our own costs.”

The company said developers could make their maps “more efficient” to reduce the number of API calls required, adding that access would also remain free for moderator tools and bots.

It added, “We are committed to fostering a safe and responsible developer ecosystem around Reddit – developers and third-party apps can improve Reddit and do so in a sustainable and mutually beneficial partnership, while maintaining security.” of our users and data.”

The company does this by laying off 90 employees, about 5% of its workforce, to cut costs.

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