Reddit blaming website crashing on subreddits going private

Reddit went through some issues for many on Monday, with the outage happening the same day as thousands of subreddits going dark to protest the site’s new API pricing terms.

According to Reddit, the blackout was responsible for the problems. “A significant number of subreddits shifting to private caused some expected stability issues, and we’ve been working on resolving the anticipated issue,” spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt tells The Verge. The company said the outage was fully resolved at 1:28PM ET.

jclinares avatar

To add a bit more context, this comment is from a former Reddit dev, who is now the creator and developer of Tildes, one of the Reddit alternatives that's been gaining traction in the last week:

(I used to work as a backend developer at Reddit - I left 6 years ago but I doubt the way things work has changed much)

I think it's extremely unlikely that this is deliberate. The way that Reddit builds "mixed" subreddit listings (where you see posts from multiple subreddits, like users' front pages) is inefficient and strange, and relies heavily on multiple layers of caches. Having so many subreddits private with their posts inaccessible has never happened before, and is probably causing a bunch of issues with this process.


Anyone happen to have invites? I’m trying to get my foot in a number of different sites


I would also like to throw in for the invite list, if anyone is feeling charitable.


Same for me, would be glad if you'd give me an invite once you're in. (If that's how it works)

vanquesse avatar

If you're serious about joining Tildes I would recommend to read the announcement blog post and follow the instructions. Despite the age and disclaimer it still works, though given the current situation I can't speak to wait times


Same. At this point, I'm open to using almost any reddit-like site that isn't reddit. With this many disgruntled former users, there's bound to at least one major alternative that blows up, just a matter of finding (and seeding) it.


That's the main difference, with federation there is no "main" site, in fact apparently that's not wanted.
What I'm trying to figure out right now is how I can find an app that can access not just Kbin, but Mastadon, lemmy, Pexelfed, Peertube, etc..

Haunting_Tale_5150 avatar

Kbin can access mastodon and lemmy pretty decently even with the cloudflare stuff so there's two done


I'd like better ways to discover external communities/magazines from kbin, tho. I'm finding it easiest to make an account on each of the major lemmy/kbin instances and browse them each in turn.

When I find one I really like, I subscribe from kbin, but I also like to browse things I'm not subscribed to and it's hard to do that for the entire reddit-alike fediverse from within any one instance.

Anomandaris avatar

I think part of the solution here is just patience. All of the Fediverse solutions are pretty immature, and most of them are still smoothing out issues in both hardware and software. Given time, those issues will be resolved and then functionality will expand, including smoother federation and content sharing.

Haunting_Tale_5150 avatar

Yeah that's fair. Hopefully once cloudflare is lifted off it will be easier to do so.

namastex avatar

I like the look of Tildes with the small caveat, there's no thumbnails! I don't have an account so, I wonder if there's an option to allow thumbnails.


I believe it. I was a backend engineer for a different large tech site. The queries and sorting for large, heavily accessed data sets can be expensive, especially with complicating factors like privacy, hierarchy, or Reddit's various hotness/best/rising/etc sorting logic involved. This stuff relies on a whole lot of different layers of caching to function.

Every time a subreddit went dark, there were a whole lot of caches being made stale, getting flushed, or being regenerated.

Funny enough, I bet the way the going-dark process progressed (a steady trickle) was much more taxing on their infrastructure than if the subreddits had coordinated a unified going-dark all at the same time, say at midnight GMT. Easier to regenerate everything all at once than it is to have to repeatedly invalidate caches again and again.


That didn't occur to me, I've done something similar too, your explanation makes perfect sense. A bunch of dev constantly having to throw out the new caches they just finished generating.


Inefficiency in programming?! How where did I hear that before...

ErraticDragon avatar

My initial response was "probably everywhere, duh". But then I remembered that Reddit tried to throw Apollo under the bus, claiming that their API usage was only high because of inefficient code.

As I recall, Apollo (Christian S.) responded by open-sourcing their backend. Maybe Reddit should do the same?


reddit actually used to be open source. It changed a few years ago, and has gotten progressively worse since they closed the source.


Christian also pointed out that Reddit's own app is equally inefficient, using the same number of API calls as Apollo when browsing the same subreddits.


Actually if I remember correctly the official app was more inefficient



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  • somepianoplayer,

    And it doesn't work properly, and doesn't have many features the official one has.

    I mean it does not even have a modqueue

    fellicious avatar

    I use Android so I can't speak to the Iphone app, but the official android app uses way too much data. Looking at a few posts in the official app uses about 1 gig of my mobile data, while rif uses a few mb, looking at the same few posts.

    LDRMS avatar

    I personally closed 4 subreddits yesterday. Happy to play my part.🤣🤣

    ErraticDragon avatar

    I'm doing my part.... To a lesser extent.

    I'm personally boycotting Reddit at least today and tomorrow. Wednesday I'll probably run one of the Shreddit-type scripts to remove my content and/or leave a protest message.


    I used a tool called Redact to scour and jumble up 11+ years of comments and submissions ... on two accounts last night. It took hours. I got caught in my feels watching all my joke phase from 2012 flit by. It seems so unrelatable by most of the people I know in my real life because I'm the only person who uses reddit in my social circles, but I experienced both grieving and withdrawals today...

    LDRMS avatar

    I sympathize with you. It took me 3 hours to run a script for my main account that was 9 years old, I was sad then felt a sense of relief and thankfulness for finally Reddit shitting the bed and giving me a reason to get tf off of there after being abhsed as a mod and user. I’m just happy theirs alternatives like kbin.

    EnglishMobster avatar

    I closed my 500k member subreddit yesterday!

    It feels sad, but it needs to happen. We've moved here to Kbin - @Disneyland - and I linked it in the "we're going private" message.

    Hopefully we get people to come over. We have half the original mod team and I'm still trying to convince the other half to join up before Kbin closes registration (I'm not sure if you can mod across instances).

    Esquilax avatar

    Is closing different than setting to private? I had seen some comments suggesting that some mods should delete their subs altogether. Just curious if there are some options that are more nuclear than others


    No I don't think you can delete a subreddit. Just setting it to private indefinitely

    EnglishMobster avatar

    There are 4 options:

    1. Public. This is how most subs operate. Everyone can post and comment.

    2. Restricted. This disallows posts. You can set it to "restrict posts only", "restrict comments only", or "restrict both". Mods and "approved users" can still post as normal. /r/polandball used this to make sure that only good content from known people got submitted.

    3. Private. This turns off the subreddit entirely - the only people who can see it are mods and the aforementioned approved users, while everyone else just sees the subreddit description. An example of this is /r/centuryclub, which only approves uses with over 100k karma.

    4. Gold-only. You need to set this at subreddit creation (it can't be changed later). This restricts the sub to only be visible to people who have Reddit Gold.

    Most subs who are "going dark" are setting their stuff to "private" and then changing the subreddit description to say something about the blackout, because that's all that users can see.

    On Old Reddit, you can see the full message. On New Reddit, you see the first 20ish characters. On the official app, you don't see a message about why a subreddit is private at all.


    New reddit and the app not showing the explanation on private subs is a stupid oversight that hilariously is probably making this whole thing worse and more confusing for users who don't know what's happening


    Why does @disneyland say 404 not found for me?

    EnglishMobster avatar

    For whatever reason, Kbin magazines are case-sensitive. So you'd want @Disneyland - - with a capital D.

    It's something I hope they fix soon; I didn't know about it when I made the magazine initially.

    vanderbilt avatar

    Know that it worked! I have seen it on a few subreddits that closed (including yours), which got me to sign up. It is nice here!

    1chemistdown avatar

    "More than 7,000 subreddits have gone private or read-only in response to the API pricing terms"

    Holy crap!

    SaltySalamander avatar
    SerpentPeaked avatar

    Can that be right? 93% of subreddits have gone dark?

    RichardBonham avatar

    And 7% of subreddits are scabs?!

    JelloBrains avatar

    There's a post in I think it's modcoord about a bot that was setup to help make some of them go dark but it won't work on subs less than 50k members and several people are complaining Reddit has blocked them from closing their subs because they aren't the head mod or are considered inactive mods.

    The admins put a block against new and "inactive" mods from privating or restricting a subeddit.

    /u/modcoord in /r/modcoord

    GreatBigJerk avatar

    Some are support communities with people that rely on the subs. Some have Reddit admins as mods. Others just don't care.


    If you click through to some of the ones that indicate still public you can see they have gone into read-only mode rather than completely private.

    CoderKat avatar

    Yup. I checked a couple out of curiosity and they all locked down submissions with a locked post explaining why.

    It's probably a good thing that some subs did this and other subs went private. For people who only ever view the front page (or /r/all or /r/popular), private subs would simply have been missing. Whereas the subs that locked down with a single, highly upvoted post would instead most likely have pretty much guaranteed that single post would hit the front page. The many subs that went private would ensure that people couldn't just browse older posts for the 2 days that most subs are closed and also that anyone viewing a link from Google will see the shutdown. So yeah, points for both approaches and probably a good thing we had both.

    kunic avatar

    That's not 93% of all subreddits; just 93% of those that committed to going dark.


    Is there a possibility to see which subreddits also have gone dark since the 12th of june?

    kunic avatar

    Your best bet is to probably look at the Twitch VOD of the livestream that happened of all the subreddits going dark. Assume anything already dark before the VOD were dark before the 12th. But it won't tell you which ones, unfortunately.

    DBT avatar

    I shut mine down early on Saturday night because why not. I think there were already about 1,000 private at the time.


    This is hilarious.

    They already were killing the experience by tanking the algorithm, and there was straight up no path to me ever using the mobile site or their horrendous app, but their full on meltdown in response to the backlash is next level.

    ErraticDragon avatar

    Don't forget the bots, which were also ruining things.

    I have never been one for conspiracy theories, but I now ~99% believe the idea that Reddit turns a blind eye to bots since they help with engagement metrics. (1% chance they're trying to do something but are completely incompetent.)

    Blegh avatar

    Well... if it isn't the consequences of /Spez's actions...


    Right? That guy is holding a golden goose and can't keep from f*cking it up if his life depended on it.

    Calcharger avatar

    Damn that sucks. So long as we start getting stronger and stronger activity over here in the fedverse, I'm staying here.

    Human_Potato_Hybrid avatar

    Yup. I don't really care what reddit does now, although it has been fun to watch these last couple of days.

    Even if they decide to walk back the API bullshit I'm still not going back. The fediverse feels different, and I dig it.


    As an older person (relatively speaking), this is my first time on any of these fedverse things. Surprised at how easy this one is. Mastodon absolutely baffled me.


    I think the fediverse model maps onto Reddit waaay better than it does onto twitter


    I’m really excited to be in on the ground level transition to Kbin at this point. This represents a major shift in content consumption, and I couldn’t be happier to be here right now…

    themadcodger avatar

    The fediverse exploded after Twitter became a dumpster fire. This is another huge migration, so the numbers are going up quite a bit again. I'm excited to see what we build with such a large number of new people!


    I'm really not sold at all on mastodon being a viable twitter alternative with their search and discovery issues. That said I can see this model working better for a reddit-like system as inter-sub discoverability isn't as much as a problem.

    I'd still like to see an evolution of the moderation model where for some topics there could be a democratically inspired way to elect and change mods and rules, but overall this could potentially be more successful than mastodon.

    EnglishMobster avatar

    Tildes is trying to solve the moderation issue.

    Basically, they have a "trust" system. You gain trust by getting upvotes and creating actionable reports. If you abuse the report system by creating reports that aren't actioned upon, you lose trust.

    Over time, the most prolific members of the community will have high trust. When they report content, it can be actioned on immediately by AutoMod (the guy who made Tildes is the guy who made AutoMod). Of course, if that action is reversed later, then you lose trust.

    In this way, they are able to ditch traditional moderators in favor of power users and admins. Power users are just people who are active contributors, essentially - so anyone can become a power user with enough effort.

    There are still issues with this system - and Tildes is still centralized, so you're at the mercy of a single guy at the end of the day. But I think this should be possible to bring into the Fediverse.


    Tildes is also open source so anyone could make a fork and continue development/hosting if the main guy decided to shut everything down.


    So was Reddit, once upon a time.

    CoderKat avatar

    In hindsight, we perhaps should have been a lot more concerned when Reddit abandoned its open source ways. I wonder how many pieces of software that were open source for a considerable length of time (but then decided to go closed source) didn't go evil eventually? I'm sure there's some such projects that manage to stay true to their original goals, but it seems like a major red flag.


    Until 2017


    Wow that's actually pretty interesting. How do you find the UI? I understand there's no mobile app yet. But that the former Apollo dev is working on one?

    EnglishMobster avatar

    I don't mind the Tildes UI. It's basically Old Reddit (and that's likely on purpose).

    I don't think the Apollo dev is working on anything at the moment. Last I heard he's taking a break for now.

    Nepenthe, (edited )
    Nepenthe avatar

    Meaning, in essence, those who rise to modship will always be the most terminally online. May fast track the power modding. But I'm trying to think of a better way to represent a community and it's not like nepotism and electing randos are more glowing.

    Would this even be doable for something not centralized? You'd have to find a way to separate a user's reputation in each individual community, or what's to stop the guy who posts lots of beloved anal gifs in another mag or nazi comments in a nazi instance coming over to m/cats or whatever and mass reporting posts for a lark



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  • HandsHurtLoL,

    This was a serious problem on reddit. Users like GallowsBoob were power content creators and reposters, and then they got invited to become the mods of the same subreddits they were dominating. Now they went from power users to gatekeepers. Lots of people complained about how GallowsBoob would ban them from becoming competitive with him as a power user.



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  • HandsHurtLoL,

    That was also the concern with someone like GallowsBoob - that corporations could see the value in the reach of his content sharing and gatekeeping, so they bought him off so that he would subtly promote Netflix.

    wagesj45 avatar

    search and discovery issues.

    the algorithmic crack can be hard to kick, but is worth it in my experience.

    -spam- avatar

    That's what I'm hoping for.

    Trying to be a bit more deliberate with what I'm subscribed to for a more focused discussion experience.

    I'll still hop into all from time to time for some chaos though.


    It's not even recommendation. I tried mastodon at least 5-6 times, each a serious go. Between not being able to search for things I like, and some instances being open only to those on those instances, and toots being subscriber only or instance only, it was just impossible to find anything of value.

    I understand there is a lot of tech on there, but there is no science, no general news, no art, no history. The only "science" I managed to find was an open server that only pedalled fake science and misinformation and a closed server that you had to be a member of to see anything.

    aebrer avatar

    I'm also sure this is just a taste of what's coming. After a year or two I imagine we'll have features that we can't imagine not having.

    mochi avatar

    I'm glad to see it happen. Twitter was awesome back in the late 2000s, but it really turned into something unhealthy and dangerous. I feel like the distributed nature of the Fediverse is a better way to prevent information manipulation and keep conversations real.

    root avatar

    Unexpected? They knew this was coming and still had to react to it. Sounds like a company I would invest in /s

    onceuponaban avatar

    To be fair, having the website's infrastructure start folding on itself because there is less content is not something I would have expected.

    The fact it did happen is not reassuring, though.

    awsamation avatar

    Well it's not like they could look at the public discussions of when the protest would be, how it would be executed, and who would be involved.

    Wait no that was exactly what it was like. There was even a nice graphic I saw posted somewhere listing all the top subs and exactly which ones had committed to joining and which hadn't.

    GreatBigJerk avatar

    Yeah it's not like there were lists of subreddits that were going dark both on an off Reddit or anything.

    cfx_4188 avatar

    Frankly, this Reddit shutdown fuss looks petty, pathetic, and ridiculous.Beg me pardon, I'm just sick of this gloating over Reddit's death. A month ago you were all sitting around in different subreddits reading news about whiskey, used cars, big boobs and cats. Now you're united in your desire to dump Reddit in the trash. Reddit will endure, and you will be left on your own in an empty and weird federated social network.

    ngmi avatar

    Dumbest explanation possible. I think they are trying to cover up

    Lemur avatar

    Someone just posted the notes of a call with the mods and Reddit. Interesting stuff but I don't know if I am allowed to upload the imgur file. One thing I noted was Steve/spez still accused Christian of threatening reddit.

    VulcanSphere avatar

    Reddit Blackout: Not only the moderators and users are out, but the system as well...

    Poor Snoo needs some break.


    Are we missing the point that they could be prepping the ground to say "we're declaring martial law and unlocking everything and reverting all the deletions because they broke the website". Or do I give them too much credit?

    Teppic avatar

    Wouldn't work, the moderators would revolt and stop moderating - and Reddit themselves don't have the bandwidth to moderate even a small fraction of the 7,000+ subreddits which have gone dark.


    They could but if is right with their numbers they would need to find around 26000 mod as i assume most of the Mod would still do nothing in protest

    RoboRay avatar


    They are welcome to undelete my years of deleted posts... they'd be swallowing a poison pill if they do it. All of my posts were edited to replace the text with strings of randomly generated words prior to deletion.

    If enough people did this, it would actually be harmful for LLM developers to use the data and they would stop paying Reddit's new API fees.

    masterX244 avatar

    Backup has entered the chat...

    RoboRay avatar

    You seriously think they will restore individual posts from backups, one user at a time?

    Because that's the only way to undo it. They can't do a mass-restore without overwriting legitimately updated comments by users who didn't leave, or even losing new comments posted since the backup.

    abff08f4813c avatar

    I agree with the person who quoted the former reddit dev/founder of tildes. The programming issue is more likely than a deliberate server fail.

    But they don't need to prep to do the rest of that stuff. It's widely anticipated that reddit will unlock those subs that stay dark forever and hand them to someone more cooperative.

    (Deletion is trickier - we own the content, and also there are privacy rules involved. The GDPR wouldn't allow reddit to undelete stuff for a user against that user's will.)

    EnglishMobster avatar

    They absolutely can do that. It's their website.


    • There are 8300 subreddits participating, by the latest numbers.

    • Collectively, these include 28,606 unique mods.

    They can absolutely force the subs to reopen. I don't know where they're going to find 28k mods.

    Reddit relies on people to make the site work. Without them, Reddit is nothing.

    Worse - if Reddit appoints 28k people (whether for free or by paying them), then they lose safe harbor protections. Moderators appointed by Reddit are assumed to be under Reddit's editorial control... which makes Reddit liable for everything posted on their site. See Mavrix Photographs vs. LiveJournal.

    abff08f4813c avatar

    I imagine that Reddit could get around this by posting an announcement reminding reddit users about the existing rules for taking over a sub.

    There's probably enough folks in the conservative and libertarian subs - folks who likely disagree with the blackout period - who would jump at the chance to fill in one of those mod spots.

    And if it is the volunteer who officially requests to take over a sub, rather than an appointment by that person from reddit, that probably gets them back safe harbour.

    Also, reddit might not need to replace every single mod, just make sure they find one volunteer per blackout sub. So the number could plausibly go down.

    EnglishMobster avatar

    Reddit Request has certain rules; as long as a mod logs in often enough then by Reddit's rules you can't displace them. Hence why I didn't delete my Reddit account so I could periodically log in once a month and be registered as "active".

    Granted, Reddit can just change those rules. But it'd be hard to avoid hitting subreddits that aren't participating in the blackout without singling out subs that are.

    abff08f4813c avatar

    True. Alas, I feel very pessimistic on this point. Considering how reddit has behaved recently with these API changes, I suspect at some point they will feel that they have to change the rules to be able to replace mods more quickly and easily, and if some non-blackout or even anti-blackout subs get hit, then that collateral damage is simply the price to pay for a successful IPO.

    abff08f4813c avatar

    They could just bring back a few of the most popular subs. r/funny and r/aww would probably get enough traffic returning to the site. If they pay a temp to mod them for a few days then they might just survive.

    abff08f4813c avatar

    Paying a mod gets back to the safe harbour issue. But yeah, they might have enough time for a volunteer to pop up and ask to take over those most popular subs, and the rest will be history..

    CoderKat avatar

    There's the risk that if they piss off any particular mods, though, then mods could get angry enough to quit en mass. I mean, 28k mods largely agreed to blackout reddit because of API changes that impact the apps and tools they can use. How many mods would agree to another (or longer) blackout if reddit directly fucked with mods by removing or overriding mods?

    I think the mods have the advantage that reddit needs them more than they need reddit (at least as a moderator). Being a mod is largely a thankless job. They're not being paid for it and it takes up a fair bit of their time. Reddit benefits considerably from having these moderators work for free.

    I think reddit never even realized how much they were gonna piss of mods with their API changes. You'll notice that they focused almost all their efforts on trying to assure mods that they were developing all these mods tools and that any third party tools used by mods would be allowed to exist. By comparison, they did practically nothing for non mods.

    abff08f4813c avatar

    That's a good point. Long-term they could recover and replacements for the mods would show up (like I mentioned earlier the pool of pro-Reddit mod wannabes may be larger than most think)

    However, it'd certainly be very chaotic. Also, some of those new replacement mods - upon feeling that frustration - might simply not mod at all but hold on to the title. Driving the content of the subs way down, with the fairly obvious consequences..

    Hearing that Reddit tried to reassure mods is the first good thing I've heard about this.


    I'm really wondering if they're going to remove moderators from specific subreddits and add in some their own hired ones. Hopefully this darkening lasts until Spez gives in. Cause 48 hours, during weekdays, isn't going to cut it, IMHO. Even saw an article stating Reddit will not back down even after the darkening.

    abff08f4813c avatar

    They wouldn't even need to hire. Just reopen those subreddits, remove the original mods, and have a call for new mods. Plenty of reddit users of the right political persuasion would jump at the chance to take over for free, as independent mods. Quite a power trip for them.

    Did you notice any conservative political subs joining the blackout? I didn't either. The person who said that Reddit's going to see a massive right-ward shift was right.

    Now, r/conservative is a 300k+ sub? Fewer than 10,000 subs took part in the blackout. Getting new mods won't be a problem for them.

    Beyond the blackout, we've got to start moving out our content. Reddit got to where it is now because we gave them our content. All the useful info in those discussions on reddit. But if we delete it and move it elsewhere, people will have to start to use the kbin or fedia google hack instead of the reddit google hack to find useful answers and avoid the SEO blackholes. This will be much more difficult for Reddit to recover from.

    masterX244 avatar

    There is a archival running that works on getting all of reddit into the wayback machine. 40% or so of the pre-2021 posts was gotten in the 2 weeks before blackout


    I can apparently comment, but can’t see any comments. If anyone can see this, help! I’m new here and confused!


    It could be that kbin is being hugged to death. There's been some lag here and there. I'm new here too, but when it's working, everything seems to load fine.

    mitexleo avatar

    We need more servers. I thought about launching one. But I don't think I have enough funds to maintain large server at this moment.

    originalucifer avatar

    are there metrics anywhere on what it would cost to run an instance on some of the main providers?

    I'm building an instance on AWS now for giggles.. kinda curious what it would need at volume.

    mitexleo avatar

    AFAIK there is no metrics for Kbin or lemmy at this moment.

    I'm currently using AWS EC2 (t3.small) for our Pixelfed instance ( It's very costly. I will soon migrate to a normal VPS provider. You'll need too much bandwidth for federation.

    You can start with a 4 GB RAM and 2vCPU Server for kbin.

    mitexleo avatar

    By the way, is costing me around 30-35$ per month. I'm not paying for the cloud storage at this moment (I use Storj DCS which provided 150GB storage for free. Stori DCS cost around 7-10$ max per TB/mo if you have high traffic). So it would increase in the future.


    That's some WinStupidPrizes material right there!

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