The Reddit volunteer-based transcription community, known as r/TranscribersOfReddit, is disbanding due to the platform’s imminent changes to its API. The community, which will dissolve on June 30th, a day before Reddit commences charging for API access, is disheartened by the changes.
The group, which transcribes media from approximately 100 subreddits, was created to offer temporary solutions for absent accessibility features on Reddit, such as alt text. Their goal was also to press the company to rectify these shortcomings, stated Rebekah Ginsburg, a moderator for the Transcribers Of Reddit. As reported by The Verge, Ginsburg, also known as u/halailah, presides over the Grafeas Group, a nonprofit that supplies the technology enabling much of the transcription efforts.
Citing recent events, Ginsburg stated that “Reddit corporate has shown an extreme unwillingness to rectify fundamental issues with the platform.” She further added that they believe these issues stem from upper management and seem unresolvable. “Given these circumstances, it’s become untenable for us to continue this project,” Ginsburg stated.
Ginsburg also noted that the changes to the API, coupled with their limited capacity, the loss of faith in Reddit as a platform, and the clear indifference towards accessibility from Reddit’s corporate division, made it unfeasible for the team to sustain the project.
Although Reddit has announced it will exempt some third-party accessibility apps from API access fees, community members argue that apps such as RedReader, Dystopia, and Luna lack “adequate moderation functions” for blind and visually impaired moderators.
Reddit refrained from commenting on these issues to The Verge. Previously, a spokesperson for the company indicated that they were investigating various accessibility-related matters across the platform. As it stands, the Reddit user experience is poised to become more challenging for some individuals.
Volunteers from certain communities contribute alt text to images in the comments or transcribe brief videos. Nonetheless, the loss of a larger, organized initiative aimed at increasing Reddit’s accessibility is indeed a setback.
Last month, Reddit announced it would commence charging for API access. This tool has been used by third-party developers to create apps that integrate with the platform, including those designed for moderation and accessibility. The announcement sparked outrage within the community, leading several third-party apps—used by tens of thousands to access Reddit—to cease operations due to the changes.
Despite the backlash, Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman is intent on implementing the new policy. Huffman also plans to implement changes to enable subreddit members to more effortlessly vote out unpopular decision-making moderators. Some moderators perceive these remarks, echoed by a Reddit administrator, as a direct threat, following the decision by thousands of subreddits to go private in protest of the API changes.
In an unexpected turn, Reddit reportedly ousted moderators from subreddits that were abruptly tagged as not safe for work. As these communities allowed explicit content for the first time to protest the API changes, their NSFW designation meant Reddit could not generate revenue from them due to its advertising policies.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Reddit API Changes
What is r/TranscribersOfReddit and why are they shutting down?
r/TranscribersOfReddit is a community of volunteers on Reddit who transcribe media from various subreddits. They are shutting down due to a lack of trust in the platform and changes being made to Reddit’s API.
What was the purpose of the TranscribersOfReddit community?
The community aimed to provide temporary solutions for accessibility features that were missing on Reddit, such as alt text. They also advocated for Reddit to address these accessibility issues.
Why are they disbanding?
The decision to disband was driven by several factors. The changes to Reddit’s API, limited capacity, and a perceived lack of willingness from Reddit corporate to address core issues with the platform all contributed to their loss of trust and made it impossible for them to continue.
Will the API changes affect accessibility on Reddit?
Some members of the community are concerned that the API changes may impact accessibility. They argue that certain third-party accessibility apps, often used by blind and visually impaired moderators, do not have sufficient moderation functions.
What is Reddit’s response to these concerns?
Reddit declined to comment on these specific issues. However, they have previously stated that they are exploring various accessibility-related matters across the platform.
Will Reddit continue with the new API policy despite the backlash?
Yes, Reddit intends to move forward with the new policy, which includes charging for API access. The decision has caused an uproar within the community, leading to the shutdown of several third-party apps that relied on the API.
Are there any other controversies surrounding Reddit and its changes?
Yes, there have been additional controversies. CEO Steve Huffman’s remarks about enabling subreddit members to more easily vote out moderators and the sudden labeling of certain subreddits as not safe for work have raised concerns among moderators and the Reddit community.