4 min read

Reddit, my Favorite Dumpster Fire

Just like with a popular open-source community, there's a tacit agreement between Reddit and its users.
Reddit, my Favorite Dumpster Fire
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash

I love Reddit. I spend a lot of time on their consuming links and interesting bits of information. It's a wonderful community and I love my accumulated karma. It's so damn popular that it is estimated to have 52 million active users per day and is valued at $10 billion. That's impressive for a site that started in 2005.

So why do I call it a dumpster fire? It's because of CEO Steve Huffman's idiotic and out-of-touch heavy-handedness. He's got a bad case of "I'm the CEO and I can do whatever I want" syndrome. Little does he realize that Reddit isn't just his platform, it also belongs to all the Redditors.

It all started when CEO Steve Huffman stated that the Reddit API was changing and third-party applications would no longer be supported. He's also been quoted praising Elon Musk's staff layoffs and changes to Twitter. On the surface, I believe he sees the treasure trove of data that Redditors post to the site every day and wants to monetize it.

I get it, he's got an IPO to prepare for and needs to shore up income to support lofty valuations, but here's the rub. He might claim rights to the data on his platform but it wasn't his staff that put it there. It was put there by unpaid and dedicated Reddit users and moderators, and they're the ones that are pissed.

The users and moderators are so angry that they staged a Reddit blackout in protest. Several groups have come back online after the blackout, but those that didn't have their moderators replaced by Reddit staff.

The ongoing and increasingly weird Reddit blackout, explained
Subreddits are continuing to protest Reddit’s new moneymaking idea, as profit becomes central to how social media works.

Things started to get weirder over the last few days when users started clogging up their subreddits with photos of comedian and Last Week Tonight host John Oliver.

Three of the biggest Reddit communities reopened in the funniest way possible
“All posts must be images of John Oliver looking sexy.”

In some cases, users just upload long videos of white noise, hoping it will eat up Reddit's bandwidth and storage.

All this protest begs an interesting question, who really owns this site? The simple answer is that the Reddit corporation does but it might be more nuanced than that. Without the users, Reddit is nothing. They're the ones that toiled away posting thoughtful comments and idiotic memes. They're the ones that created safe spaces and allowed freedom of expression.

Just like with a popular open-source community, there's a tacit agreement between Reddit and its users. Reddit gave them a platform and the users added their data to it. Everybody won, up till now.

As I read through the countless articles and watch Reddit turn into a raging dumpster fire, I watch many of the subreddits I read shut down. I come to a sad realization that this can't be stopped, it's a sign of times. CEO Steve Huffman is in the business of exploitation and wants to IPO. He wants to make millions on the backs of all the volunteers, users, and moderators that made Reddit the awesome community it is (was).

Reddit and the End of Online ‘Community’
A standoff between the site and some of its most devoted users exposes an existential dilemma.

In the end, he'll win and Reddit will IPO with the API changes. The question I ask is will Reddit become a shell of its former self, just like Twitter? Will Lemmy take over as a Fediverse alternative to Reddit? I don't know the answers but what I do know is that the Internet is changing.

Hold on tight because things are going to get interesting.

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