The Reddit Blackout: a wake-up call for mods to consider traditional forums again?

What are people’s opinions on the recent *Reddit Blackout" community mutiny?

Is this going to encourage some active communities to return to managing their own site or is the barrier to running your own infrastructure still too high?

Does anyone know any Reddit communities who are considering going indie or leaving for an alternative platform?

Is the Reddit model sustainable at its present scale?


Isn’t Reddit - like Twitter - too big to fail now?

Just like people have been frantically looking for alternatives for Twitter - like Mastodon - they quickly find that the winner-takes-all effect that made Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and Reddit so large is that everybody is there and not on their brand new alternative.

In the past, social networks have failed, think MySpace. But they never failed only over management decisions (they failed primarily because they didn’t adapt quickly enough). And that’s what Reddit is doing: it’s adapting. I believe that Reddit had the guts to take these steps because they saw that Twitter got away with it.

Yesterday someone presented their Reddit alternative on Hacker News and the top comment struck me the most:

Congrats on the hard work, and the idea is fine, but the problem is that tech like this is a cheap commodity in a massively oversaturated space, and without a hook that makes the platform exceptional (innovative/clever/beautiful design, unique aggregation features, inherently interesting content, reimagined user/content/moderation dynamics etc etc), this kind of thing is dead in the water because it lacks a network effect.

If there’s one thing that forums are lacking, it’s a network effect. In the past 10 years I have seen Discourse be more and more suitable as a B2C or B2B communication platform, and it’s fantastic for that. But all the hobbyist people that don’t care about owning their data are on Facebook, Reddit or Discord. They get the tech for free and the people they target already have an account.

There isn’t even a barrier or need to run your own infrastructure. You can get managed hosting with us or with CDCK and there’s not a byte you need to touch. The barrier that’s there is that you need to market your forum. You need to get people to sign up and come back.


In some ways yes. However I think reddit is far more vulnerable to protests like this. In twitter, if a bunch of high profile users withdraw, then whoever’s next in line will most likely fill the void within a few weeks. In reddit, if a bunch of high profile communties withdraw, there might not be a replacement.

Communities are far more intricate and take a lot longer to build. It’s a major mis-play from reddit.


This aspect might be less challenging for a Reddit alternative, under the current circumstances, than a Twitter alternative. As you essentially said, it would be difficult for an individual to move from Twitter to Mastodon because it’s likely the majority of the people you follow won’t also move and without a mass exodus, probably most of the people who follow you won’t move either.

With a Reddit alternative, it (potentially) becomes much easier if groups of moderators for massive subreddits, acting together as they are for this protest, start saying “we’re not doing this any more, we’re going over here instead.”

I think the current circumstances create a good opportunity for moving to a federated alternative but for it to actually happen, it would rely on an alternative already existing with the moderation features they want. Those mod groups would also need to make a coordinated effort to bring up instances for their communities simultaneously to avoid any being inundated with more users than they can afford.


They can’t really withdraw though, reddit has a license to the content. If mods leave a subreddit, reddit can assign new mods. So for this to happen the communities need a new place and they need to successfully convince a significant number of people to move to the new place. That’s fairly difficult due to the kind of network effects mentioned earlier.