‘Rampant distrust’ on the platform results in closure of Reddit transcription community

A community of dedicated volunteers who transcribe media from various subreddits is closing down, partly because of recent changes to Reddit’s API. The community, known as r/TranscribersOfReddit, will cease operations on June 30th, just one day before Reddit starts charging for API access.

The group’s main objective was to provide temporary solutions for the lack of accessibility features on Reddit, such as alt text. They urged the company to address these “inadequacies.” Rebekah Ginsburg, a moderator for Transcribers Of Reddit and also the chair of the Grafeas Group, a nonprofit that powers much of the community’s transcription work, confirmed this.

“After recent events, it has become evident that Reddit corporate has shown a significant unwillingness to fix fundamental issues with the platform,” wrote Ginsburg. “These problems stem from the top, and we believe they cannot be resolved. Unfortunately, despite the difficulty of this decision, we can no longer continue this project under these circumstances.”

Ginsburg further explained that the API changes, along with the team’s limitations and lack of trust in Reddit as a platform, made it “impossible” to carry on with the project.

While Reddit has stated that certain apps, like RedReader, Dystopia, and Luna, will be exempt from API charges, community members argue that these apps lack “adequate moderation functions” for visually impaired moderators.

Reddit declined to comment on these issues when approached by The Verge. A spokesperson previously mentioned that the company was actively “exploring various solutions” to enhance accessibility across its platform. However, it seems that accessing Reddit will soon become more challenging for some users.

The loss of a coordinated effort to improve Reddit’s accessibility is a significant setback, even though some communities still have volunteers who add alt text or transcribe short videos in the comments.

Last month, Reddit announced plans to charge for API access, affecting third-party developers who rely on it to build apps for moderation and accessibility. Consequently, this decision stirred backlash within the community and led to the downfall of several third-party apps that thousands of people rely on to access Reddit.

Despite the backlash, Reddit remains resolute in its new policy. CEO Steve Huffman has also expressed support for a feature that will make it easier for subreddit members to vote out moderators with unpopular decisions. Some moderators perceived these comments as a direct threat after protesting against the API changes.

In addition, Reddit faced backlash for labeling certain subreddits as not safe for work. These communities, in protest against the API changes, allowed explicit content for the first time. However, by categorizing them as NSFW, Reddit couldn’t monetize them due to its ad policies.

 

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