Most Reddit Forums Still Dark, After CEO Doubles Down

Moderators of thousands of Reddit’s forums maintain blackout in protest at API fees, after Reddit CEO doubles down

The CEO of Reddit has doubled down in the face of an ongoing protest by the moderators of thousands of of Reddit’s forums.

In a memo to Reddit staff, seen by the Verge, CEO Steve Huffman said that the subreddit blackout ‘will pass’.

It comes after the moderators of thousands of Reddit’s forums earlier this week made their forums ‘dark’ in protest against policy changes by the company.

Moderator protest

The site’s unpaid subreddit moderators said they are protesting a plan to increase charges to third-party apps as of next month.

In protest at Reddit’s changes the moderators of thousands of subreddits made the subs private for 48 hours or longer.

The move means the sub can only be accessed after the moderator grants permission.

In all, more than 6,000 of Reddit’s 7,265 subreddits had gone dark as of Monday morning, according to Reddark.

But in an internal memo sent Monday afternoon to Reddit staff, CEO Steve Huffman addressed the protests, telling staff to block out the “noise” and that the ongoing blackout of thousands of subreddits will eventually pass.

The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Verge, advised staff not to wear Reddit gear in public and the company anticipates that many of the subreddits will come back online by Wednesday.

“We do anticipate many of them will come back by Wednesday, as many have said as much,” Huffman’s memo states. “While we knew this was coming, it is a challenge nevertheless and we have our work cut out for us.”

Steve Huffman Reddit
Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman. Image redit: Reddit

“We have not seen any significant revenue impact so far and we will continue to monitor,” he wrote. “There’s a lot of noise with this one. Among the noisiest we’ve seen. Please know that our teams are on it, and like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well.”

“I am sorry to say this, but please be mindful of wearing Reddit gear in public,” he added. “Some folks are really upset, and we don’t want you to be the object of their frustrations.”

Still dark

The memo has essentially doubled down on the policy, and according to Reddark, Steve Huffman’s hopes of that many subs will return by Wednesday has failed to materialise so far.

As of Thursday morning, Reddark found that 5,401 out of 8,829 subreddits are still currently dark.

This is only a slight decrease from 6,000 of Reddit’s 7,265 subreddits going dark on Monday, suggesting that there is so far no sign of moderators backing down.

The Reddit API charges also affect the most popular third-party apps for using Reddit itself, which also draw large amounts of data from the company’s servers.

Apps such as Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync and ReddPlanet were set up long before Reddit had an official app of its own. All four said they would be forced to shut down when the charging system is introduced on 1 July.

Apollo developer Christian Selig said he would have to pay $20 million (£16m) a year to continue operating under the new charges.

Non-commercial, accessibility-focused apps and tools will continue to have free access, Reddit said.

Delayed IPO

Reddit filed for an IPO in late 2021 but has seen the value of its privately held shares fall since then amidst turbulent economic conditions, which led it to cut its workforce earlier this month.

Late last year OpenAI disclosed that its popular chatbot, ChatGPT, was trained on vast amounts of content from Reddit, amongst many other sources.

In response Reddit said it was increasing charges for third parties that use large amounts of data.