Reddit moderators are saying they have been contacted by the company, which is apparently threatening them to reopen subreddits that are currently closed due to ongoing protests.
One moderator for r/Apple, aaronp613, notes that Reddit threatened to remove moderators that would not reopen the subreddits that are currently going dark. Reddit cited the Moderator Code of Conduct as justification for these moderators to reopen these communities, noting that it's their responsibility to keep these subreddits open.
"If there is no consensus, but at least one mod who wants to keep the community going," an admin for the Mod Support Subreddit wrote. "[W]e will respect their decisions and remove those who no longer want to moderate from the mod team."
Reddit is just digging the hole deeper and deeper.
— Aaron (@aaronp613) June 15, 2023
In an email sent to IGN, a Reddit spokesperson says it has not "threatened anyone." It asserted that its goal is to not pressure moderators, but rather it is "communicating expectations and how things work." The statement also explains more about how it is enforcing the Moderator Code of Conduct.
"It’s important to note that the Code of Conduct isn't just about what mods can and cannot do; it's also about protecting our users' right to assemble and discuss topics they're passionate about," the statement said. "Redditors want to reddit. It’s also important to reiterate that mods want to mod. We want mods who want to mod to be able to do so."
The Verge reported that some moderators of subreddits got messages from Reddit explaining that it was "willing to work towards" reopening those subreddits and that it would process a Top Mod Removal request or reorder the mod team in an attempt to reopen these communities.
The news comes less than a day after Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced that the company plans to update the moderator removal policy. The new policy would give ordinary Redditors the ability to vote out moderators more easily.
The statement emailed to IGN also said Huffman’s quote from NBC News “was included without full context,” adding that Huffman told the outlet that “users have been vocal about wanting their communities back open.” It said the company “could look at developing a way for community members to vote out a mod if they disagree with decisions being made that impact the entire community.”
The protesting is in response to Reddit's new API pricing policy, which was announced back in April. Following the announcement, Reddit has received backlash as it was discovered the new policy would negatively impact third-party apps, including Apollo for Reddit, which is shutting down on June 30 with the app's developer citing it would cost him $20 million annually to keep the app operational.
Reddit threatening moderators to reopen closed subreddits is interesting for a few reasons. Huffman told The Verge that Reddit does "not have problems with the protests." Earlier in the week, Huffman sent out a memo to employees saying that the protests "will pass" and that it had not been "a significant revenue impact for the company."
Update, June 16: This story has been updated to include statements from Reddit.
Taylor is a Reporter at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.