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In case you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, people are kind of mad at Reddit.

This all started because Reddit decided to start charging for its data API, which has been free until this point. This comes just a couple of months after Twitter, under new leadership, made a similar decision which made its data API prohibitively expensive, effectively killing third-party apps and tools for interacting with Twitter data. The reddit API price increase also effectively kills third party applications such as Apollo, Reddit Sync, Reddit is Fun, and more.

After a disastrous AMA from current reddit CEO Steve Huffman, many subreddits are going dark indefinitely until Reddit agrees to backtrack or re-evaluate the changes they are making.

Reddit has problems for sure, but despite that it is home to some of the most interesting and niche communities on the modern web. I have discovered so many cool hobbies and fun things thanks to reddit. I am proud that moderators and users are standing together with these developers in order to push for change, but a bit of me is sad that these communities may whither and die - or maybe even worse, hide behind closed doors such as Discord. In some cases, users are already using scripts to “shred” their reddit comment and post history, tearing holes in the knowledge graphs that make up these small communities. Enough holes and those communities lose real value.

I don’t use reddit for the “default” subs or many very large one. Some of my favorites and most-visited are small subreddits with a small but vibrant community. It won’t matter in the slightest to me if something like r/funny or r/pics dies. Those are largely a waste of time (albeit a fun waste of time for many). The small subs are the ones I worry about the most. Moving a community like that is very challenging, if not impossible.

There’s something to be asked about the relationships between these web companies, the data the have, and the users. In the case of reddit and twitter, the content is all user generated. Who really owns this data?

I believe it is within Reddit’s right to charge for accessing and using that data. Storage, bandwidth, electricity, and engineering hours aren’t free. But I also think that Reddit (and other social media companies) should do everything they can to make that data reasonably available. Getting rid of third party applications and tools tends to disproportionately affect the users that provide the most value to your site. Maybe not the value that advertisers recognize, but the value in actually creating content that makes a site worth visiting.

Anyway, I think I’m going to poke around some forums again. I never truly gave up on forums when I started using Reddit in 2010, but I certainly stopped visting most of them over time. I wonder if many…any…of them are still alive. And I wonder if there are new ones out there that I have missed over the last few years.

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