The moderators of Reddit's popular IAmA community have announced they will no longer solicit and coordinate Ask Me Anything (AMA) conversations with celebrities and high-profile individuals. The decision was largely influenced by Reddit's recent move to impose high charges for API usage, which has been met with widespread dissatisfaction among the site's moderators.
Dramatic Change in AMA Management
The IAmA subreddit, with over 22 million subscribers, has been a popular platform for AMA sessions, where regular users have the opportunity to interact with notable figures. However, the moderators, who are unpaid volunteers, have decided to cease activities such as active solicitation of celebrities for AMAs, coordination with PR teams, maintaining a scheduling website, and running various bots. They will now limit themselves to removing rule-breaking material.
The moderators stated, “You may have noticed that, in spite of our history of past protests against Reddit's poor site management, this subreddit has refrained from protesting or shutting down during the recent excitement on Reddit.” They clarified that this does not mean they believe the site is being managed better now, but rather reflects their belief that protests would not make a significant difference this time.
They also highlighted the significant amount of time and effort they have put into the site, stating, “Reddit is not our job, but we have spent thousands of hours as a team answering questions, facilitating A.M.A.s, writing policy and helping people ask questions of their heroes.”
The moderators plan to discontinue several activities that they previously performed as volunteers. These include actively soliciting celebrities for AMAs, coordinating with celebrities and their PR teams, running and maintaining a website for scheduling AMAs, maintaining a sidebar calendar of scheduled AMAs, and running various bots.
This change means that the Reddit community will need to be more vigilant in verifying the authenticity of AMAs. The moderators have retired their IT infrastructure and bots, including a website for scheduling AMAs and submitting verification info. The decision was made primarily because none of the team members with the technical qualifications had any interest in maintaining it.
AMA-Team following Minecraft Subreddit
This decision comes in the wake of Reddit's controversial API changes, which have sparked widespread protests across the platform. The Minecraft subreddit, r/Minecraft, with over 7.4 million members, is one of the latest to feel the impact. The developers of Minecraft, Microsoft-owned Mojang Studios, have announced their departure from Reddit, stating that they no longer consider Reddit an appropriate place to post official content or engage with their player base.
Reddit's API changes have led to rule and moderation alterations across many subreddits, causing a ripple effect that has reached even the most prominent communities. Now devoid of official updates from Mojang Studios, the Minecraft subreddit will likely see a shift in its day-to-day use. However, the community is expected to continue its discussions and unofficial update threads.
While the Minecraft subreddit will continue to operate without official updates from Mojang Studios, the developers have encouraged players to visit their feedback site or contact them via their official social media channels for updates and feedback about the game. This shift represents a significant change in the way one of the world's most popular video games interacts with its player base, and it remains to be seen how this will impact the broader Minecraft community in the long term.
Controversy and Backlash
Reddit's new API pricing scheme has been a significant point of contention among its users and developers. The new pricing scheme could make many third-party apps unaffordable or unsustainable for their developers. This led to a sitewide blackout on June 12, with hundreds of subreddits going dark for 48 hours. This protest aimed to show Reddit how much users value third-party apps and how much traffic they generate for the site.
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman addressed the ongoing issues related to user and developer protests, platform accessibility, and new API fees in a recent interview. Despite the backlash, Huffman expressed optimism about Reddit's future, stating that they are committed to building a Reddit that's better for everyone. However, many Reddit users and developers remain skeptical of these statements, accusing Reddit of being greedy and dishonest. They claim that Reddit is trying to eliminate third-party apps and force users to use the official app, which has more ads and fewer features.
The full statement of the The IAmA Moderator Team
“To our users, AMA guests, and friends,
You may have noticed that, in spite of our history of past protests against Reddit's poor site management, this subreddit has refrained from protesting or shutting down during the recent excitement on Reddit.
This does not imply that we think things are being managed better now. Rather, it reflects our belief that such actions will not make any significant difference this time.
Rather than come up with new words to express our concerns, I think some quotes from the NYT Editorial we wrote back in 2015 convey our thoughts very well:
Our primary concern, and reason for taking the site down temporarily, is that Reddit's management made critical changes to a very popular website without any apparent care for how those changes might affect their biggest resource: the community and the moderators that help tend the subreddits that constitute the site. Moderators commit their time to the site to foster engaging communities.
Reddit is not our job, but we have spent thousands of hours as a team answering questions, facilitating A.M.A.s, writing policy and helping people ask questions of their heroes. We moderate from the train or bus, on breaks from work and in between classes. We check on the subreddit while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting at the D.M.V.
The secondary purpose of shutting down was to communicate to the relatively tone-deaf company leaders that the pattern of removing tools and failing to improve available tools to the community at large, not merely the moderators, was an affront to the people who use the site.
We feel strongly that this incident is more part of a reckless disregard for the company's own business and for the work the moderators and users put into the site.
Amazing how little has changed, really.
So, what are we going to do about this? What can we change? Not much. Reddit executives have shown that they won't yield to the pressure of a protest. They've told the media that they are actively planning to remove moderators who keep subreddits shut down and have no intentions of making changes.
So, moving forward, we're going to run IAmA like your average subreddit. We will continue moderating, removing spam, and enforcing rules. Many of the current moderation team will be taking a step back, but we'll recruit people to replace them as needed.
However, effective immediately, we plan to discontinue the following activities that we performed, as volunteer moderators, that took up a huge amount of our time and effort, both from a communication and coordination standpoint and from an IT/secure operations standpoint:
Active solicitation of celebrities or high profile figures to do AMAs.
Email and modmail coordination with celebrities and high profile figures and their PR teams to facilitate, educate, and operate AMAs. (We will still be available to answer questions about posting, though response time may vary).
Running and maintaining a website for scheduling of AMAs with pre-verification and proof, as well as social media promotion.
Maintaining a current up-to-date sidebar calendar of scheduled AMAs, with schedule reminders for users.
Sister subreddits with categorized cross-posts for easy following.
Moderator confidential verification for AMAs.
Running various bots, including automatic flairing of live posts
Moving forward, we'll be allowing most AMA topics, leaving proof and requests for verification up to the community, and limiting ourselves to removing rule-breaking material alone. This doesn't mean we're allowing fake AMAs explicitly, but it does mean you'll need to pay more attention.
Will this undermine most of what makes IAmA special? Probably. But Reddit leadership has all the funds they need to hire people to perform those extra tasks we formerly undertook as volunteer moderators, and we'd be happy to collaborate with them if they choose to do so.
Thanks for the ride everyone, it's been fun.
The IAmA Moderator Team (2013-2023)”