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BW Explains: Why Are Reddit Communities Going Dark On 12 June?

R/videos (26.7 million followers), r/lifeprotips (22.1 million followers) and r/earthporn (23.3 million followers) are some of the other communities also taking part in the protest

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If you’ve been on Reddit any time as of late, you might have seen that many communities (known as “subreddits”) have announced that they will be “going dark” from 12 to 14 June. “R/pics will go dark on June 12th in protest of Reddit's API changes that will kill 3rd party apps,” says the pinned post on r/pics, the subreddit for pictures and photography, with over 30 million followers.  

Pics is not the only subreddit to be staging a protest against the new API changes, r/videos (26.7 million followers), r/lifeprotips (22.1 million followers) and r/earthporn (23.3 million followers) are some of the other communities also taking part in the protest.  

But what is going on? And why are they protesting in the first place? 

To answer this question we need to go back two months, Christian Selig, the creator of a popular Reddit client on iOS named “Apollo,” announced that Reddit would be charging a fee for client apps to use its application programming interface (API), an intermediary software that allows two applications to talk to each other, which in this case is the piece of software which allows third-party applications to receive and send files and other information between itself and Reddit’s servers. It is important to note that while these changes will affect third-party apps, it will not affect the official reddit app, which many claims is far inferior to third-party apps.  

In his post, Selig noted that the cost of this new usage-based API had not been finalised yet and that “plans are within two to four weeks.” 

Fast forward to 1 June and Selig returned with news that Apollo would need to pay upwards of USD 20 million a year to Reddit in order to keep running as is. “50 million requests costs USD 12,000,” he said in his updated post, “Apollo made 7 billion requests last month, which would put it at about 1.7 million dollars per month, or 20 million US dollars per year.”  

The Apollo developer’s post regarding the news garnered 160,000+ upvotes since then, with developers of many other Reddit clients, such as Relay, Reddit Is Fun, Sync, Boost and many others, having similar news in regard to how much they would have to pay to Reddit in order to keep functioning.  

As the news broke, the moderators of many popular subreddits began putting up posts on their subreddits that they would be staging a protest from 12 to 14 June, meaning that people would neither be able to access or interact with already existing posts nor create new posts.  

As time goes on, more subreddits have announced their participation in the protest against Reddit’s new API changes.  

But it is not just a change in pricing structure that users, moderators and developers are protesting against. According to an infographic making the rounds with the protest announcements, the current plan devised by Reddit will also kill off many of the bots that moderators use to “fight spam, caption images, and run their community.” 

What happens next remains to be seen, while many users have expressed their disappointment with the social media site, others have joked about how these changes will mean that they will finally stop using Reddit and be more productive.  

But at the end of the day, it was Selig who pointed out the grim reality of it all, “I don't see how this pricing is anything based in reality or remotely reasonable. I hope it goes without saying that I don't have that kind of money or would even know how to charge it to a credit card,” he said in his post.  

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Reddit protest BW Explains