Reddit has informed moderators of protesting communities that are still private that they will lose their mod status by the end of the week, according to messages seen by The Verge. If a moderator tells Reddit they are interested in “actively moderating” the subreddit, the company says it will “take your request into consideration.”
Here is the full message, which we have confirmed was sent to moderators of at least two subreddits:
After sending a modmail message on June 27, 2023, your mod team indicated that you do not want to reopen the [name of subreddit] community. This is a courtesy notice to let you know that you will lose moderator status in the community by end of week. If you reply to let us know you’re interested in actively moderating this community, we will take your request into consideration.
In message threads we’ve seen, moderators of both subreddits told ModCodeofConduct they do want to reopen, but said they would need Reddit make changes before they would.
“We see no reason to reopen as I don’t think we’re the bad guys here,” yoasif, an r/firefox moderator who received the message, tells The Verge in an email. “Reddit has had a chance to reconcile with the protest for weeks now, and they haven’t.”
However, although r/firefox was private when we first published this article, it has since reopened — though it’s now a community focused on red pandas instead of the Mozilla web browser. “Those who know the subreddit and have been here for a long time know that it has been actively moderated for years in order to maintain a positive environment,” the moderators wrote in a post. “We don’t wish to let the subreddit fall into the hands of someone who would undo the good work we have done or would even foster an anti-Mozilla community here.
“All legacy technical posts will remain available so that searching for help related to the browser is still available, but henceforth and until the reddit admins appropriately reply to our concerns, the only new submissions allowed will be ones that contain the cuddly fuzzy little animals from which the subreddit indirectly received its name: the red panda! Also known as fire foxes.” At some point down the line, browser-related posts will be allowed again, the moderators said.
Reddit’s declaration that it is going to remove the mods follows escalating messages from the company this week that indicated it might take action against them. On Tuesday, the Reddit admin (employee) account ModCodeofConduct asked some moderators of private subreddits (a designation that means the community is only accessible to approved users) to let it know within 48 hours if they planned to reopen their communities.
But when some replied, the admin took a far more aggressive tone. “This community remaining closed to its [millions of] members cannot continue” past the deadline, ModCodeofConduct wrote in one message seen by The Verge. “This community will not remain private beyond the timeframe we’ve allowed for confirmation of plans here,” the admin added. ModCodeofConduct also argued that switching to private in protest is a violation of the Moderator Code of Conduct.
Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt declined to comment.
Although more than 8,000 communities went dark earlier this month in protest of the company’s imminent API pricing changes, many subreddits have since reopened; according to one tracker, about 2,300 remain private or restricted in some form. Some, like r/firefox, have reopened with a twist.
Update June 29th, 10:25PM ET: r/firefox has reopened.