Reddit Communities Go Dark in Protest Against Controversial Developer Charges

Thousands of subreddits temporarily shut down as users express discontent

In a show of dissent against Reddit’s recent decision to implement charges for third-party app developers, thousands of Reddit communities have gone dark.

Moderators of some of the platform’s largest subreddits have made their communities private for 48 hours, leaving users unable to access their content. This protest highlights the reliance of Reddit on community moderation and raises concerns about the direction the platform is taking.

Reddit’s Heavy Reliance on Community Moderation

Reddit, a popular social media platform, heavily relies on community moderation to ensure its functionality. With tens of thousands of unpaid moderators, known as “mods,” monitoring the content, subreddits strive to keep discussions on-topic, remove banned content, and address any illegal activity.

This approach has allowed Reddit to host a diverse range of communities without charging any hosting fees to individuals who wish to create their own interest-based communities.

Controversial Charges Imposed by Reddit

However, recent changes announced by Reddit have sparked outrage among users and moderators. The platform’s CEO, Steve Huffman, acknowledged the need for Reddit to become a self-sustaining business but emphasised that it should provide an open and accessible place for communities to thrive.

Reddit’s new charges primarily affect developers of third-party apps, which offer an alternative way for users to browse and engage with the platform.

These charges have drawn criticism for being exorbitant, leading to several popular third-party apps, including Apollo, Reddit is Fun, Sync, and ReddPlanet, announcing their closure.

Strength in Numbers

The protest against Reddit’s changes has gained momentum through the collective action of moderators across various subreddits. Over 3,500 subreddits, including some of the most popular ones like r/gaming, r/aww, r/Music, r/todayilearned, and r/pics, have participated in the blackout.

Moderators emphasise the significance of their unified stand, asserting that if it were just a single subreddit going private, Reddit might intervene. However, the sheer scale of the protest puts immense pressure on Reddit to address the concerns raised by the community.


A Message to Reddit Admins

The moderators argue that Reddit heavily relies on their voluntary work to maintain and operate the site. They want the platform’s administrators to recognise this fact and understand that harming Reddit’s traffic is the only way to make their message heard. By demonstrating their collective power, moderators aim to convey their opposition to the changes imposed by Reddit.

They question whether Reddit would risk alienating its dedicated user base and destroying the vibrant communities built over the years.

Reddit’s Justification and Counterarguments

Reddit’s spokesperson defended the charges, stating that third-party apps like Apollo were less efficient compared to others. The spokesperson justified the need for payment by highlighting the platform’s substantial hosting fees and the importance of fair compensation to continue supporting third-party apps.

It was clarified that not all third-party apps would be subject to charges, particularly those that improve platform accessibility. However, the protesting moderators express skepticism about Reddit’s intention to reverse the changes based on recent communications between moderators and the platform’s administrators.

Continued Blackout and Indefinite Inaccessibility

While the initial blackout period was set for 48 hours, some communities have expressed their intention to extend the blackout until Reddit reverses its policy.

For example, r/Music, a subreddit with 32 million members, has stated that their community will remain inaccessible until the desired changes are implemented.


The blackout of thousands of subreddits serves as a powerful demonstration of user discontent over Reddit’s decision to impose charges on third-party app developers. The protest highlights the vital role moderators play in shaping and maintaining the platform’s diverse communities.

As the blackout continues, the pressure mounts on Reddit to address the concerns raised and find a resolution that preserves the vibrant ecosystem of the platform while ensuring its long-term sustainability.

Source: BBC