No apologies as Reddit halfheartedly tries to repair ties with moderators

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close-up of olive branch on tree

Reddit is publicly extending an olive branch to the moderator community that it largely enraged over recent weeks. In a post on Wednesday, a Reddit employee detailed outreach efforts from the company, including new weekly feedback sessions, that it hopes can help repair ties with the social media platform and over 50,000 volunteer mods that it relies on. But as you might expect, mods remain skeptical.

Extending an olive branch

A Reddit admin going by Go_JasonWaterfalls on the site and claiming the title of Reddit VP of community (Ars attempted to confirm the identity of /u/Go_JasonWaterfalls, but Reddit spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt declined to confirm the employee’s identity by name) acknowledged the shattered relationship between mods—who spend thousands of hours providing free labor and have recently engaged in variously disruptive forms of protest over API pricing on the site—and Reddit—which has responded to said protests by ousting some protesting moderators from their posts. The company has also offered contentious interviews with CEO Steve Huffman. Reddit also reportedly forced some subreddits that moderators labeled “not safe for work” as a form of protest (claiming to have taken member polls beforehand) to revert back to “safe for work” and threatened to forcibly reopen subreddits that had gone private in protest.

“So, we’ve all had a… time on Reddit lately,” Go_JasonWaterfalls wrote. “And I’m here to recognize it, acknowledge that our relationship has been tested, and begin the ‘now what?’ conversation.”

Noting that Reddit’s “role is facilitation” and to give mods a platform they “can rely on,” including necessary tools and resources, Go_JasonWaterfalls emphasized the need for “consistent, inclusive, and direct connection” with mods before detailing outreach efforts, like Weekly Mod Feedback Sessions.

The sessions will take place every Tuesday and Thursday through October and “continue into the future as valuable,” the Reddit admin said. Redditors have to fill out a form of interest to participate. Reddit can easily turn away those with inactive accounts or who it views as currently being in violation of Reddit’s mod or content policies.

Go_JasonWaterfalls said Reddit will share notes from feedback sessions in the r/modnews subreddit.

Go_JasonWaterfalls also underscored Reddit’s Mod Council and Partner Communities programs, the next monthly meeting for the Accessibility Feedback Group, and upcoming in-person events in the US, Brazil, Canada, England, France, and India.

Mods have low expectations

Mods, meanwhile, traumatized by a tumultuous past couple of months, have very low expectations of Reddit’s efforts. Ars spoke with some who have already participated in similar efforts, like feedback sessions or the Mod Council, and claimed mixed results in regard to Reddit making actual moves in response to mod critiques and suggestions.

“The Reddit Mod Council in particular has been one where they will yo-yo on whether or not they listen to moderators. Sometimes they do, most times they don’t,” Alyssa Videlock, a mod for numerous subreddits, including large ones like r/tumblr and r/lgbt, told Ars.

Reddit is refusing to give way on virtually any of the mods’ demands, which has included things like more accessible API pricing or more time to adjust to the new pricing for apps they value and broader exemption for apps used by users (including mods) with accessibility needs. Reddit’s removal of troubling mods has also helped to obliterate Reddit community trust.

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