It happened: popular third-party Reddit apps like Apollo, Sync, and BaconReader have shut down due to the company’s planned API changes.
Ever since Apollo for Reddit developer Christian Selig revealed he’d be on the hook for $20 million per year due to the changes, Redditors have been furious over how the updates might affect third-party apps. More than 8,000 of Reddit’s communities went dark as a part of a coordinated protest.
Though Reddit announced it would exempt accessibility-focused apps from the pricing changes, things looked grim for other developers. On June 8th, Selig announced he would have to shut down Apollo, and soon after, other developers said they’d be shutting down their apps, too.
As the protests have gone on, Reddit has pushed moderators to reopen. While some have returned with their own spins on the protest, Reddit has told some mods of at least one community that it “will not” stay private and warned moderators of some closed ones that it will remove them — and it seems like Reddit’s efforts may have worked.
However, the company brought back its r/Place collaborative project in July, and some people used it as a place to express their unhappiness toward the company.
Here’s our coverage of the changes and unrest on Reddit.
- Here’s how to watch the evolution of Reddit’s r/Place canvas — including its protest art
- The Reddit app-pocalyse is here: Apollo, Sync, and BaconReader go dark
- How Reddit crushed the biggest protest in its history
- Reddit CEO Steve Huffman isn’t backing down: our full interview
- Why disabled users joined the Reddit blackout
- Apollo’s Christian Selig explains his fight with Reddit — and why users revolted
- A developer says Reddit could charge him $20 million a year to keep his app working
After a month of outrage, protests, and unrest from the community, Reddit has finally flipped the switch to shut down some third-party apps.Read Article >
Apollo, an iOS app that became a rallying point for the recent protests against Reddit’s imminent API pricing, no longer loads any content from the platform. When I open it up, all I see is a spinning wheel. Developer Christian Selig confirmed to me that Reddit is the one that turned things off, not him: “would have been nice to have been given a time,” he says in an email to The Verge.
Reddit’s moderator purge could have real impacts on reliability and information safety as it rushes to replace mods with inexperienced, poorly vetted volunteers, according to Ars Technica. With testimony by both expelled former moderators and some of those who replaced them, Ars Technica’s report shows the trouble with the company’s push to quickly replace the mods who sent their subreddits dark, marked them NSFW, or turned them into jokey John Oliver fan forums earlier this year.Read Article >
Reddit began removing protesting moderators in June and said it would continue doing so
until morale improvesunless subreddits opened back up. Since then, Reddit has been trying to replace those it’s expelled.
Aug 24Reddit announced some new ways it will be supporting mods.
It’s adding a “Mod Helper Program,” trophies and flair for users in r/ModSupport, an answer bot to help mods find Help Center articles, and a forthcoming merger of the platform’s Mod Help Center and the main Help Center. Some mods haven’t been particularly happy with Reddit as of late, so efforts like this and its mod roadshows could help Reddit regain some trust.
Aug 23Reddit shared the schedule for its mod roadshows.
They’ll be taking place through the rest of the year. There will also be a virtual Global Mod Summit on December 2nd. Reddit has had a rocky relationship with some mods because of the recent protests, so perhaps these events will help thaw some of that ice.
Reddit had announced a loose schedule for the roadshows in July. At the time, it also invited people to participate in an accessibility feedback group, though moderators of r/Blind said last week they won’t be joining it.The Return of Mod Roadshow!
Aug 21A new third-party Reddit app for iOS is now in public beta.
The developer of Narwhal 2 is now in beta, and you can read more about it on the r/Apple subreddit and sign up for the beta on the app’s website. Like some other third-party apps, Narwhal 2 will have subscription tiers at some point down the line.
The developer Relay for Reddit, of one of the remaining third-party Reddit apps for Android, detailed the potential prices for planned subscriptions for the app in a new post on Thursday. The costs of a subscription will go up based on a user’s daily average number of API calls, essentially meaning that the more things a person does in the app, the more they might have to pay.Read Article >
In July, Reddit officially transitioned from a free API to one with costs depending on usage, meaning that some developers would have to pay the company for accessing Reddit’s data for their apps. The change forced many popular apps to shut down, but a handful of developers, including the one who makes Relay for Reddit, said they might be able to continue making their apps if they charged a monthly fee.
Three of Reddit’s biggest communities are no longer focused entirely on John Oliver in a form of protest against Reddit. The subreddits had made the switch in June to push back on Reddit’s API pricing that ultimately made some popular third-party apps shut down, but now, they’re operating pretty much as they did before the protests.Read Article >
One of the subreddits, r/aww (which has more than 34 million subscribers), posted a long explanation for the change. While the r/aww community did vote “overwhelmingly” for the John Oliver rule, “it was never intended to be permanent,” a moderator wrote in the post, which was published earlier this week. “More than a month has passed, and as things on the internet go, the passion for the protest has waned and people’s attention has shifted to other things.”
Reddit no longer allows posts or comments on the r/Place subreddit, according to a post from a Reddit admin (employee). The company hosted the third iteration of the collaborative art project, which let users place individual pixels on a giant canvas, over the course of a few days in July.Read Article >
While you can’t post or comment in the subreddit, you can still view posts and comments. A pinned post at the top of the subreddit, for example, features images of the final canvas before users posted white pixels to essentially erase everything. That post also links to a time lapse where you can see users banding together to write a very large message protesting CEO Steve Huffman in the waning moments of the r/Place project.
Jul 30Keybase seems to be running into Reddit API issues.
The identity verification service no longer seems to be able to verify identities on Reddit — at least, not for me and a handful of others who have tweeted about it. I’m guessing this is because of Reddit’s change to start charging for API access.
On the other hand, it could be because Zoom, which bought Keybase in 2020, seems to have mostly stopped updating the service. On iOS, it’s only gotten a single bug fix in the past year.
Reddit wrapped up its 2023 r/Place collaborative canvas on Tuesday, but if you missed it while it was happening or want to relive the evolution of the artwork, there’s a few ways to look back on the project.Read Article >
If you just want to take it all in as it happened, I’d recommend watching Reddit’s official r/Place 2023 timelapse, which I’ve also embedded at the top of this post. The coordination on display is impressive. While the project was going on, users would be able to place one individual pixel every few minutes, so to do any sort of complex artwork, groups of people across Reddit would have to work together to bring their designs to life. If you want to look at the evolution of r/Place more granularly, you can scrub through the canvas’ history from the subreddit itself. (Note that you’ll need to be on New Reddit or one of the company’s mobile apps to do so.)
Reddit is testing ‘official’ labels for profiles and making parts of its app compatible with screen readers
Reddit is starting to test a new “Official” label that will make it easier to spot if an account is authentic. The new label will appear sitewide, meaning that it won’t be up to the moderators of individual subreddits to have to verify specific accounts.Read Article >
“Starting today, we’re beginning early testing of placing a visual indicator on certain profiles to provide proof of authenticity, reduce impersonation, and increase transparency across the platform,” a Reddit admin (employee) wrote in a post. “This is currently only available to a *very* small (double-digit) number of profiles belonging to organizations with whom we already have existing relationships, and who are interested in engaging with redditors and communities on our platform.”
- r/Place users are leaving one final message.
The collective project is ending soon, and users can only write in white, but they’re working on one last piece of protest art to send r/Place off. (Smaller versions of the message have been dropped in throughout the multi-day event.)
We’ve captured the final moments of r/Place in the gallery below.
- The r/Blind moderators shared an update on how things are going with Reddit.
There are some positive updates — including the creation of a new email address to report accessibility issues — but overall, the moderation team still seems very dissatisfied. r/Place, for example, is “not blind, low-vision or even keyboard accessible.”
- The old Reddit app logo is back on iOS.
Recently, all of Reddit’s free iOS app icons were ugly — the default became a pixelated version of the usual logo seemingly to promote r/Place — but as of a new iOS update available Monday, the app icon is back to its usual, non-pixelated look.
- Let’s check in on r/Place.
Reddit has expanded the collaborative canvas multiple times since it first launched on Thursday, and while a lot of the protest art and messages have been largely buried amongst the many other designs, users are making a renewed push on a new section with a giant message cursing CEO Steve Huffman. “Targeted hate and harassment” are against the canvas rules, so I’m guessing the new message might not stay up for very long.
There is some legitimately awesome art on this year’s board, including an impressive recreation of the classic Charizard Pokémon card.
Jul 24A Clippy Reddit alien: the adorable Thing That Should Not Be.
Apollo app developer Christian Selig dropped new wallpaper art of a cute hybrid of Clippy and the Reddit alien today.
Selig has been hawking fun wallpapers for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS via the Apollo app since Reddit started down a dark path of hostile changes earlier this year and Selig shuttered the popular third-party Reddit client. He’s also selling the wallpapers outside the app.
Jul 22The r/place canvas expanded again early this morning, and protest messages are back.
And the German flag apparently expanded to fill the new space within under three minutes. How did they do it? According to Redditor HellsOnWheels45, a Discord server with 50,000 users in active coordination.
Reddit added more space to the r/Place collaborative canvas on Friday, giving users additional room to collaboratively draw pixelated art. Almost immediately after the space was added, users started to write in their protests against the site and CEO Steve Huffman.Read Article >
The expanded canvas now stretches further in both directions. When I first wrote this, there was a massive land grab taking place, including a spot memorializing the YouTuber Technoblade, the continuation of the German flag at the top of the canvas, a vertical French flag on the right side, and many iterations of the phrase “fuck spez,” a reference to Huffman’s username.
- The r/Canning mods have been canned.
The moderators said they kept the sub private to protest Reddit’s API pricing after a community vote. But after getting some messages from the ModCodeOfConduct admin account pushing them to reopen, one mod said Friday they were removed from the subreddit.
“Please don’t feel bad for us — in the end, the ones being hurt here are Reddit itself and the r/Canning community,” the moderator wrote.
The community now open again, in restricted mode, and under the sole management of ModCodeOfConduct, like what I reported about r/malefashionadvice on Thursday. ModCodeofConduct is also the only moderator of r/homeautomation.
One of the weirder phenomena of the low interest rate era in tech was a tendency to see companies primarily as investments. The goal was not to have a functional business, but an exit, often via IPO or acquisition. I have begun to wonder if that explains what Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has been up to lately.Read Article >
Before the Sturm und Drang of the Reddit protests, Huffman had been feeling some heat. Fidelity, an investor that led Reddit’s 2021 funding round valuing the company at $10 billion, sliced Reddit’s valuation by 41 percent; its stake, which it spent $28.2 million to acquire, was now only worth $16.6 million.
Reddit is now in charge of r/malefashionadvice, which for a time was the biggest subreddit still closed in protest of the platform’s API pricing changes. The subreddit is now open, meaning Reddit users can browse content in the community once again, though in a restricted mode, meaning only certain users can make new posts.Read Article >
As we reported last week, the moderators of r/malefashionadvice, a subreddit with than 5 million subscribers, had taken the community private and were pushing its users toward Discord and Substack instead. At the time, the moderators expected to be removed after receiving a message from a Reddit admin (employee), ModCodeofConduct, telling them they would be replaced if they didn’t reopen.
- Reddit actually shared a time lapse of some of the r/Place art today.
Even though the canvas is littered with messages cursing CEO Steve Huffman, Reddit still posted a video of its evolution. If Reddit decides to take the video down, I’ve been adding screenshots of the canvas throughout the day to this article.
Reddit officially launched the 2023 edition of its r/Place collaborative art project on Thursday morning, and it’s littered with messages protesting Reddit and Reddit’s CEO. You can see the current iteration of the canvas on the r/Place subreddit or by following the prompt at the top of the app. (Note that you can’t access r/Place on Old Reddit; you’ll need to be on New Reddit or one of the company’s mobile apps.)Read Article >
In r/Place, individual users can drop a single pixel of color every five minutes on a huge canvas, including overriding other pixel placements if you want to try and claim some turf. In the utopian version of this idea, r/Place becomes an ever-changing piece of art where users work together to draw all sorts of pixelated images in one giant collage.
- There’s already a subreddit to plan r/Place protest art.
In Reddit terms, that’s a comparatively tiny community, but they’re not the only ones thinking about how to use r/Place to share their discontent: a lot of people on Reddit’s announcement post are discussing ideas, too.
Reddit has had something of a contentious relationship with many of its moderators as of late, but now, the company is trying to make amends. A Reddit admin (employee) identifying themselves as the company’s VP of community reached out to moderators through a new post on Wednesday, inviting them to participate in things like weekly feedback sessions, an accessibility feedback group, and in-person moderator road shows.Read Article >
Reddit and many moderators have been at odds since the June protests over API pricing changes that ultimately forced some third-party apps to shut down. At one point, more than 8,000 communities went dark in protest, but as the protests wore on, Reddit began sending messages to moderators pushing them to reopen, and in an interview, CEO Steve Huffman characterized moderators as “landed gentry.” Reddit’s pushback largely worked, and now, just under 2,000 subreddits remain dark, according to the Reddark tracker.
Reddit is bringing back r/Place — a collaborative project where individual users can edit pixels on a giant canvas — at a time when users are still furious over things like Reddit’s API pricing that forced beloved third-party apps to shut down, the company’s decision to remove chat history from before 2023 with hardly any warning, and its recent announcement that it would be sunsetting the current system to give Reddit Gold. The 2023 version of r/Place kicks off on Thursday, July 20th.Read Article >
As you might expect, users are already using the announcement post to air their grievances toward the company. The current top comment in reply to the post just says “fuck u/spez” (“spez” is CEO Steve Huffman’s Reddit username), and many of the other comments say only “API,” so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that sentiment show up in some way on this year’s r/Place canvas.