Reddit has moved to the next stage of its countermeasures to end the ongoing API pricing protests in the app, with the platform now taking control of the biggest subreddit still holding out, which had been restricting access in response to Reddit’s changes.

As reported by The Verge, Reddit itself has now taken control of r/malefashionadvice, expelling its previous volunteer moderators in order to re-open the community to outside users.

r/malefashionadvice, which has over 5 million members, is now seeking new volunteer mods, with this note pinned to the top of the group.

Reddit mod removal

As you can see in this example, the post was pinned by user ‘ModCodeofConduct’, which is the account that Reddit has used to take over a range of protesting subreddits, as mods continue to protest the platform’s API changes, which have priced many popular third-party apps out of the market.

Reddit has been threatening to take over communities that failed to re-open and allow users and advertisers back in, which has further heightened tensions between its moderators and app management. That’s prompted many to launch new communities on Discord instead, which could have a big impact on Reddit usage, as more of its most passionate users shift to other platforms to continue their groups.  

Really, it does feel like a line has now been crossed, and it’s unclear if or how the platform will be able to get back to the ethos that it was founded upon.

More than any other social media platform, Reddit is built on its community, with volunteer moderators managing subreddits based on their passion for each, and their interest in keeping things running smoothly, and in alignment with each group’s rules and focus.

For a long time, Reddit’s approach has been the envy of other platforms, with up and downvotes highlighting the best content, as voted by users (as opposed to algorithmically amplifying the most engaging content), and unpaid mods overseeing that feed, and keeping things on the right track. The risk, of course, is that this also leaves Reddit heavily reliant on volunteer labor, which may not be sustainable, but then again, it actually has been for the app’s 18 years of existence.

But now, it seems like we’re at a crossroads in many respects, where Reddit will need to re-examine this approach, and consider, potentially, a new way forward. Sure, most subreddits are now back up and running, but the fact that Reddit is now holding the threat of replacement over any mods that don’t comply with its rules significantly alters the dynamic, and could change Reddit itself forever.

Is that a bad thing? Maybe not. Maybe Reddit wanted to force a change, as part of its push to launch an IPO, with its reliance on volunteers potentially looming as a concern for investors. Now it can establish more definitive controls to lessen this concern, which could also be in line with its broader moves to remove offensive subreddits and institute more control over activity in the app.

But it could also kill off the magic that Reddit has had, in terms of that community ethos, that fraternal camaraderie that made it feel like a massive group hangout, as opposed to an AI system pumping out what it thinks you’ll like.

It feels like that could be a big shift. Now we wait for the next stage for the app.