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.
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.”
The change did reduce traffic
The mod says that the change did reduce traffic to the subreddit. “After an initial spike to normal levels when the subreddit reopened, overall subreddit traffic fell to between half and a third of normal, though the influx of subscribers paradoxically grew more than the number of people unsubscribing,” the mod wrote. However, they added that “it’s unlikely that it had any significant effect on sitewide traffic, as other subreddits just filled the gaps in the endless feed of content most users consume.”
Two other big communities have switched back, too. r/pics (with more than 30 million subscribers) had perhaps been the most visibly tied to John Oliver: Oliver himself posted a series of silly photos specifically for the community to use, and at one point, the moderators of r/pics invited Oliver to join the mod team. But sometime recently, r/pics removed any obvious trace of its connections to John Oliver; the Wayback Machine shows that r/pics was all about John Oliver as of Friday but no longer on Saturday. I haven’t found an explanation from the moderation team about the change, and the team hasn’t replied to my Reddit DM asking for comment.
r/videos (with more than 26 million subscribers) actually dropped its John Oliver rule back in June; it was replaced by a new rule that all posts needed to contain profanity in the title after a community vote. Earlier this month, the r/videos moderators reverted the rules to what they were before the protests started. “For those who think our protest went on too long, you may want to remind yourselves why we did this in the first place,” a mod wrote in a post about the decision. “Reddit still has some issues to address.”
r/gifs (with more than 21 million subscribers) remains focused on John Oliver, according to the community’s rules. However, the newest post I can find on the subreddit is from nine days ago, and strangely, the second-newest post is from a month ago. I’ve asked the r/gifs moderators about why there have been so few posts as of late.
In June, more than 8,000 communities went dark to protest the API pricing, but in the weeks since, many subreddits have opened back up (some after feeling pressure from Reddit) and are operating as they did before. Many users are still disgruntled, though, and made their feelings known in July’s r/Place canvas.
More than 1,800 subreddits are still private in protest, according to the Reddark tracker.