The Reddit community has been rocked by a recent decision to implement API changes that have led several third-party developers to shut down their apps.
Reddit’s decision sparked widespread protest, with thousands of communities going dark in response. Despite the backlash, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman remains steadfast in his support of the changes.
In an interview with The Verge, Huffman argued that many third-party apps do not add significant value to the platform. Clearly, the community disagrees.
Christian Selig, the developer of the much-loved Apollo app, disclosed that Reddit’s new terms would cost him an eye-watering $20 million annually. Selig announced that he will be forced to shutter Apollo at the end of this month.
Selig’s revelation triggered a wave of protests, resulting in more than 8,000 subreddits going dark. Despite the initially planned protest duration of June 12th to June 14th, many communities have chosen to extend their blackouts as a sign of discontent.
Huffman asserts that the API was primarily intended for tools, bots, and enhancements created by developers, not for third-party apps like Apollo. He takes responsibility for allowing these apps to exist in the first place, admitting that he was a proponent of their inclusion.
Part of the criticism of Reddit’s changes is not just the extortionate pricing but also the short deadline given to third-party developers to adapt to the changes. Many of the developers have built their livelihoods around creating apps to bolster Reddit’s platform.
Huffman admits that he did not anticipate the financial impact on these developers and acknowledges that the deadline provided was challenging. However, he defends the decision, claiming that setting a deadline fosters negotiation.
Despite the protests and blackouts, Reddit maintains that the majority of its communities remain open.
According to the company, over 80 percent of the top 5,000 communities by daily active users have resumed normal operations. Reddit also provided some statistics, indicating that there are over 100,000 active communities, with 57 million daily active unique users and more than 50,000 daily active moderators.
While Reddit acknowledges the community’s right to protest and promises not to force communities to reopen, it asserts that the impact has not influenced its decision to implement the API pricing changes. Huffman maintains that the changes are a business decision that will not be reversed.
However, some exceptions have been made for certain apps that contribute value and prioritise user accessibility. Apps like RedReader, Dystopia, and Luna, have been exempted from the changes. Huffman confirms that Reddit will bear the cost of supporting these exceptions.
As the Reddit community continues to grapple with the aftermath of the API changes, the protests serve as a reminder of the tensions that can arise between platform owners and third-party developers.
The outcome of this conflict will likely shape the future landscape of Reddit and other platforms reliant on third-party contributions.
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