End of an Era: Reddit’s Decision Sends Shockwaves Through Communities

Reddit might be just a step away from taking a fateful decision. This social news aggregation, content rating, and discussion website has recently decided to raise API fees for third-party apps. Such a move could lead to a shutdown of Apollo, Boost, and Narwhal, to name a few.

The decision, which will be effective starting from July 1, enraged the diverse Reddit community. In support of developers whose apps could die soon, on June 12, hundreds of subreddits will go dark either for 48 hours or for good.

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reddit shutting down 3rd party apps

Illustration: Lenka T

Seventeen years ago, Reddit emerged as a geeky website. Over time, it has been striving to adopt a more conventional social networking approach. As part of this evolution, the company recognized the need to create its own mobile application. 

However, this move was realized as late as 2016. Until then, the responsibility of filling this void fell upon third-party developers. Yet, despite the launch of the first-party app, many users still perceive it as inferior to the alternative options provided by third-party developers. 

A slap in the face 

Everything seemed to be going well until May 31, when Reddit gave a slap in the face to third-party apps with its blatant decision. The famous discussion website announced it would charge apps for API access, much like Twitter decided a few months ago.  

Charging reasonable fees would not mean shutting down third-party apps owing to which Reddit grew popular in the first place. However, the upcoming costs developers of third-party apps need to pay may amount to a whopping $20 million. This is particularly the case with Apollo, a beloved and cherished app among iOS users.  

Apollo developer Christian Selig neither announced nor confirmed that the app will shut down. However, he did admit that it would be impossible for him to pay such a colossal sum of money.  

In the same boat 

Other third-party apps haven’t been spared either. The Reddit is Fun developer believes that such an API pricing plan will possibly kill the app. When the plan becomes effective, Narwhal, another app will disappear within 30 days.  

Selig was the first to break the news about the novel pricing plan. As he elaborated, Reddit seeks to charge $12,000 per 50 million API requests. For those who are not familiar, these requests stand for how the app obtains information from Reddit. As such, they are necessary for the app to function properly.  

The support of the community 

Not only the developers but almost the entire Reddit community has been appalled and disappointed by such a decision coming from Reddit. 

To support the devs and prevent their favorite apps from inevitable death, the community made a new r/Save3rdPartyApps subreddit. In it, members explained what precisely is going on and formulated their action plan to support the developers.  

In addition, the community organized a protest on June 12, calling subreddits to go dark for either 48 hours or permanently until the shameful issue is adequately addressed.  

Why are those third-party apps so significant, you may ask? First and foremost, they are more user-friendly and intuitive than the official Reddit app. Second, they offer features the official app doesn’t have. Last but not least, it is of great importance for subreddit moderators who do a moderating job on a voluntary basis, despite the fact that Reddit makes hundreds of millions annually.  

The official app doesn’t have many of the features and tools moderators employ to filter the content which third-party apps have included long ago. Though the company has promised to introduce them, it will take some time until they have been developed and added to the app. Meanwhile, users might be spammed with posts that are off-topic and inadequate for a specific subreddit.   

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