Here’s what the internet might look like without Reddit

    We are on day two of the Reddit Blackout, as thousands of subreddits protest the company’s decision to steeply hike the price of access to its API, which many popular third-party apps like Apollo rely on to work. These apps are now being priced out to the extent that shutting down is the only option left for them. Their failure deeply impacts popular Reddit communities as well, since moderators and admins depend on superior mod tools offered by these apps to effectively run their subreddits.

    For this very reason, thousands of subreddits, such as r/videos, r/aww, and r/gaming, have gone dark for a two-day protest. Some subreddits have said they may remain private for longer, as Reddit’s leadership seems disinclined to change their plans f(opens in a new tab)or the API price hike.

    Reddit loyalists who used to depend on their favorite forums for advice, social connections, and entertainment are getting a peek at a world that exists without it. The blackout has also inspired a tongue-in-cheek Twitter meme relying on the old stereotype of Redditors as solitary basement dwellers, imagining what happens when they’re suddenly forced to confront life outside Reddit:

    But this meme misses some of the more consequential things that users are learning about life without Reddit: The site is much more than a collection of forums for basement dwellers. Think of a craft, or niche interest, or identity, and there’s probably a subreddit for it. Whether readers are fascinated by lucid dreaming (r/LucidDreaming(opens in a new tab)) or obsessed with lobsters (r/rarelobsters(opens in a new tab)), Reddit has something for everyone.

    Every day, thousands of people go on Reddit for advice and how-tos of varying practicality, such as how to uncork a wine bottle(opens in a new tab) or wear heels without feeling pain. (opens in a new tab)Some of those visitors are regular Redditors; others may find these posts through a Google search.

    Reddit’s role as a repository for irreplaceable advice and documentation is an established fact in some communities. Twitter user @makeavoy, who uses Reddit for programming advice, feels that work is being affected because of the protest. “The #RedditBlackout is actually hurting my workflow as I rely on Reddit for a lot of programming advice. Do not take advantage of developers or they will shut down a whole industry,” @makeavoy tweeted(opens in a new tab).

    Indeed, programming subreddits such as r/WebDev and r/AskProgramming and many others have gone dark in response to the API changes, making it hard for developers to access them.

    Although Reddit leadership seems confident so far that they will weather the blackout relatively unscathed, the protest has been effective at doing what the blackout was designed to do: drive attention to the ways in which the company relies on its users to make it valuable. But the decision to participate in this demonstration hasn’t been so simple for some communities that cater to users dealing with trauma, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental health issues — precisely because of how vital their presence is to people caught up in these vulnerable situations.

    Reddit communities that feature sensitive content related to addiction and mental health have had mixed reactions to the protest; while many have gone dark in solidarity with other communities, some subreddits where Redditors share their personal trauma(opens in a new tab) to seek aid and advice from other users facing similar situations have declined to go totally private.

    r/CPTSD(opens in a new tab), for instance, has opted out. They explained why in their announcement about the blackout:(opens in a new tab) “Many of our members rely on this community for support and resources that they are not able to get elsewhere. Removing access to this space would be disruptive and potentially dangerous for our users.”

    Not all support communities have remained accessible during the blackout, however. r/Drugs(opens in a new tab), a popular Reddit community that aims to help its users with de-addiction and drug withdrawal, has decided to participate in the blackout to show its stance against the API price hike.

    While many popular subreddits have gone dark, not all of the best-known spaces on Reddit were completely inaccessible this week. r/AmItheAsshole(opens in a new tab) — a popular subreddit community that provides catharsis, emotional support, and solutions for people seeking advice about tricky interpersonal situations — has decided against becoming private for the blackout. Instead, they’ve set the subreddit to “restricted,” mode which means that visitors will be able to see the subreddit and its current posts — including an announcement from the mods(opens in a new tab) about the blackout — but will not be able to create new posts.

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