API Madness

Read to the end for a post about Fast Slow Internet.

The internet seems to be going through a reckoning lately. First, there was the insanity of Twitter's upheaval. This was due to an... ownership change, to put it kindly. But the end result was the change of rules regarding 3rd party apps, and the messy shutdown of those apps such as Tweetbot and Twitterific.

Now we are dealing with a near-identical situation over on Reddit. They're an old-school site too and for 8 years an application called Apollo has been the go-to app for using Reddit. Developed by Christian Selig who interned at Apple, Apollo is what an Apple-built Reddit client would look like. Selig strictly adheres to Apple's Human Interface Guidelines (HIG). Because of this, it has been a major reason I and others have taken to it. The app is a pleasure to use. Of course, the bottom has fallen out at Reddit just like at Twitter.

In ramping up for an IPO later this year, Reddit has made the classic moves: lay off employees and end policies of giving things away. Apollo and other Reddit apps have used its API which has been free. Two months ago Reddit announced it would charge for it, but never released a price until two weeks ago.

When it did, the prices were staggering. Selig did some back-of-the-napkin math and discovered it would cost him $20 million dollars. After a back-and-forth dialogue with Reddit's team, he decided Apollo's last day will be June 30th. Reddit was giving no extensions to transition to a better-paid model for him or anyone else. To make things worse, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman made disparaging comments against Selig unbeknownst to him that Selig had recorded all calls. Selig posted his replies calling out Huffman and bringing receipts.

The craziest part of all this is the fact that Reddit was built on the backs of volunteer moderators, enthusiastic devs like Selig, and a community who felt like the site was theirs. In the span of a month, Reddit has undone all the goodwill it built. So the community has fought back. Yesterday began a blackout where moderators made their communities private. This means nobody can access them. Some are protesting for 48 hours and others are going dark indefinitely.

All Selig has said all this time is he wants realistic API pricing, believes the API shouldn't be free, and give 6-months of a transition period. Reddit has decided none of those reasonable suggestions are okay and has continued forward, business as usual.

Twitter's demise for many has pushed me and others to Mastodon, which is decentralized and not controlled by a single entity. I personally use it exclusively and have found it to be a suitable home. For all the money-chasing Reddit has done in the past few weeks, it looks like Lemmy and Kbin, decentralized alternatives to Reddit, will pick up steam and move people to a similar model.

A popular subreddit (community) is called "Leopards At My Face" which focuses on people who a very pro-something that can harm them and then act surprised when that harmful thing does harm them. The subreddit is described as follows: "'I never thought leopards would eat MY face,' sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People's Faces Party." It's ironic that Reddit itself has chosen to do the same thing to itself.

RIP Apollo. You deserved better than this.

Thank you for reading. I sincerely appreciate it.


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