Reddit pressures mods to end the blackout as they find new ways to protest

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Reddit appears to be ramping up the pressure on moderators to open communities that closed in the blackout protest against recently announced platform changes. A Reddit admin — an employee of Reddit — has told unpaid volunteer moderators of a subreddit that the “expectation here is that communities reopen,” according to a message shared publicly by a moderator of r/DIY.

The pressure worked. The community was closed, but it reopened on Thursday, and a mod said that fears of Reddit actions forced the team’s hand: “We’re re-opening because if we don’t, the mods that Reddit appoint may not care about the subreddit the way we do,” the mod wrote.

The mod’s post also announced a vast number of changes to the subreddit’s rules that hew more closely to Reddit’s general requirements, while also undoing many of the norms and rule tweaks that were in place to improve the quality of content. The changes include no longer requiring users to do basic research and lowering the standard for what the subreddit counts as spam. Reddit has its reopened community, but at what cost?

We’ve seen messages from other moderators where the admin, ModCodeofConduct, uses similar rhetoric. To the moderators of r/homeimprovement the admin said that “to be very clear you cannot remain closed so we need to know if any mods here wish to participate in opening the community.”

To the moderators of r/harrypotter, the admin account wrote that “keeping the community closed is not an option” — even though users have voted for the subreddit to be private, according to a post from a r/harrypotter mod.

More than 2,600 subreddits remain dark in protest, and users on r/ModCoord (moderator coordination) are still sharing their stories of receiving messages from Reddit that they view as threatening and intimidating. “My tiny 27-user sub is being threatened for staying blacked out,” one user wrote. “Reddit is a BULLY,” said another, sharing a screenshot of where they told ModCodeofConduct their messages were “harassment and intimidation.”

Reddit didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. According to Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt, “We’ll no longer comment on hearsay, unsubstantiated claims, or baseless accusations from The Verge. We’ll be in touch as corrections are needed.” In the absence of corrections, then, you can assume Reddit believes none are necessary.

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