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AskScience’s concerns regarding Reddit’s API changes


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In April 2023, Reddit announced they would begin charging for its application programming interface (API) access.

API is used to allow different applications to interact with each other. We are a heavily moderated subreddit, and we use API access for moderation, AMA organisation, and insights into our community. We are using community-driven tools which use the API in order to make management of a community as large as /r/askscience practical for our group of volunteer moderators.

At the same time, we recognise both Reddit's mission as a corporation, as well as the dangers and risks arising from access to the API. Reddit is looking for ways to monetize its user-generated content; the Times article linked above notes has been used to train high-profile machine learning models like OpenAI's.

While Reddit administration has mentioned free access for moderation tools, we believe their current approach of gatekeeping access based on arbitrary and indiscriminate rate limiting has several shortcomings:
It disproportionately impacts people who use Reddit with accommodations, such as screen readers: Reddit has stated that accessibility-focused apps will be exempt from the new restrictions but has offered little clarity on what that means for this rapidly-approaching change
It does not reflect Reddit’s promise to support moderation tools
It does not establish clear and concise criteria for what is legitimate API usage

We also remain cognisant of Reddit’s past promises to improve communication with moderators and build tools for us to improve search and combat hateful rhetoric, anti-vaccination, and COVID denialism. While Reddit has banned hate speech and banned communities spreading science denialism, we feel they have not delivered on moderation tools and support. We feel that 3rd-party tools still offer superior support for moderation as well as accessibility features.

Everyone in the /r/askscience community contributes to its quality and longevity by volunteering their time and expertise to question, answer, and moderate scientific discussion. We feel the Reddit administration does a disservice our passion for large-scale, high-quality science communication by pursuing a unilateral and opaque direction. This damages our community and ultimately Reddit itself by severing the trust we place upon it as a platform for science education and outreach.

Therefore, we have decided to join the protest beginning June 12. During this time, askscience will not be allowing new posts. We anticipate being offline for 48 hours, and we thank you sincerely for your support and understanding.

submitted by /u/AskScienceModerator to r/askscience
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