The Reddit protest has taken a surreal turn, with two of the most popular subreddits deciding to only post images of comedian John Oliver.
The mast majority of Reddit’s largest communities joined what was meant to be a 48-hour strike on Tuesday, effectively taking their subreddits offline. However, the strike has carried on well past the 48-hour deadline for many communities, who are starting to protest in more novel ways.
Both the r/pics and r/gifs subreddits polled their subscribers on whether they should continue as normal or only allow pictures or GIFs of John Oliver to be posted. In both cases, John Oliver won by an overwhelming majority. In the case of r/pics, the vote specified that the community will only “allow images of John Oliver looking sexy” – arguably a contradiction in terms.
With many alternative subreddits continuing to remain on strike, subscribers to r/pics and r/gifs have consequently found their Reddit feeds dominated with images of Oliver such as these:
Reddit refuses to back down
While the protests continue well beyond that initial 48-hour deadline, Reddit is showing no signs of backing down.
The company’s CEO has publicly attacked the volunteer mods who have organized the strikes in an interview with NBC, branding them undemocratic. “If you’re a politician or a business owner, you are accountable to your constituents,” he said. “So a politician needs to be elected, and a business owner can be fired by its shareholders.”
“And I think, on Reddit, the analogy is closer to the landed gentry: The people who get there first get to stay there and pass it down to their descendants, and that is not democratic.”
Reddit is also exploring the possibility of replacing moderators who refuse to return their subreddits to normal operation. In a note sent to moderators of some high-profile subreddits that went on strike, the company wrote: “If there are mods here who are willing to work towards reopening this community, we are willing to work with you to process a Top Mod Removal request or reorder the mod team to achieve this goal if mods higher up the list are hindering reopening. We would handle this request and any retaliation attempts here in this modmail chain immediately.”
Reddit “threatening volunteers”
That has, somewhat predictably, prompted a strong reaction from the Reddit moderator community. “Reddit, a community that relies on volunteer moderation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for users, has now taken to threatening those very volunteers,” reads a post on r/modcoord, a subreddit for the site’s moderators.
“These threats against the very individuals responsible for maintaining Reddit’s communities cannot be ignored,” the post adds. “Between June 12-14, we as Redditors showed how much power we truly have, and we are prepared to do that once again. During the blackout, approximately 7.4 billion comments from 77 million authors went dark. Even now, over 4,000 subreddits remain closed.”
“Volunteer moderators are the lifeblood of Reddit’s communities. Our dedication shapes the platform’s success. It is crucial for Reddit to listen to our concerns and work with us in order to maintain the vibrant communities that make Reddit what it is. Until our voices are heard and our demands met, we will continue our blackouts – without fear of any threat.”
The Redark site, which was set up to monitor the Reddit strike, shows that many of the largest subreddits have re-opened over the weekend, even though some continue to protest, such as r/pics and r/gifs, both of which are among the top 20 most popular communities.
It is the smaller, if still sizeable, communities where strike action still remains commonplace. For example, Redark shows that of the 41 subreddits with between 5 and 10 million subscribers, ten remain ‘private’, with a further three imposing restrictions.
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