Reddit plans to weaken moderator control over of its most popular communities as the volunteer mods extend a userbase "strike" against planned changes to the platform. Many subreddits have gone "dark" this week, typically by switching to a private mode open only to existing members. "Moderators have too much power," says Reddit CEO Steve Huffman.
"If you're a politician or a business owner, you are accountable to your constituents. So a politician needs to be elected, and a business owner can be fired by its shareholders," he told NBC.
"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."
Huffman's comments followed a 48-hour blackout that close to 3,500 subreddits took part in on Monday and Tuesday, where users protested Reddit's new pricing policy.
His sudden interest in more "democracy" on the site has exquisite timing. It's interesting watching executives appropriate historical user anger at the site's volunteer moderators ("landed gentry") in hopes of turning users against moderator actions that seem generally popular with users. Which users hate moderators more than the blackout? It functions as an appeal to reactionary types who are historically most hostile to moderation: people who covered the homepage in Nazi swastikas to protest censorship but couldn't care less about Reddit being "enshittified" so that it can IPO profitably for investors. But are Huffman and co., even clued into any of these things in the way normal users are?