Reddit launches moderator rewards program amid site-wide discontent 


Reddit logo displayed on smartphone with Reddit logo in the background
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Reddit is launching the “Mod Helper Program” to reward moderators who offer helpful advice to other moderators, along with an updated moderator help center.

The announcement comes amid growing discontent among the site’s moderators, many of whom relied on third-party apps that have since been shut down because of Reddit’s API pricing. Moderators have asked Reddit to improve the official app’s moderation tools, which are lacking compared to those offered by now-defunct third-party apps. Tensions between Reddit and its moderators are still high, as the site’s admins continue to remove entire mod teams for keeping their subreddits private in protest of the API pricing, which third-party app developers criticized as exorbitant and unsustainable.

The Mod Helper Program is a tiered system that awards helpful moderators with trophies and flairs. Reddit users accrue karma by receiving upvotes and awards, and lose karma if they receive downvotes. The program rewards moderators who receive upvotes on comments in r/ModSupport.

Comment karma earned in r/ModSupport will be rewarded with trophies that will “signal to other mods that you are a source of valuable information,” the moderator support team announced on Thursday. Each rank awards unique trophies and flairs, ranging from “Helper” to “Expert Helper.” Reddit launched a similar program in r/help earlier this year, which rewards users who accrue karma by responding to other users’ requests.

“Reddit can be a complex place for newbie and expert Mods alike, and the knowledge that you share with each other here is incredibly powerful,” Reddit admins wrote in r/ModSupport. “This will both recognize Mods who are particularly helpful and reliable sources of knowledge for their fellow Mods, all with the goal of celebrating your support of each other and fostering a culture in this community where mods readily collaborate and learn from one another.”

Reddit also launched the Modmail Answer Bot, which automatically responds with relevant links to the site’s Help Center. If the recommended articles don’t answer a specific request, it will create a ticket that will be handled by a human admin. The bot is designed to streamline moderator requests so the admin team can focus on more complex issues.

Additionally, Reddit is merging the moderator-specific Help Center with its sitewide one to ensure that support resources are “easy to find and accessible from the same location.”

The relationship between Reddit and its moderators has become increasingly strained in recent months. Over 8,000 subreddits shut down for 48 hours in June in protest of Reddit’s new API pricing, which went into effect on July 1. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman claimed that the blackout was led by a minority of moderators, describing them “landed gentry.” The comment sparked further outrage among moderators, who spend hours running the platform’s communities without pay. In recent months, Reddit has ramped up its efforts to smother the rebellion by removing moderators who refuse to reopen their subreddits. Once-thriving subreddits like r/malefashionadvice are crumbling as Reddit replaces protesting moderators with inexperienced users.

Reddit has been slow to roll out moderation tools that were once offered by third-party apps, and the updates that the site has launched are clumsy and inaccessible. Though Reddit made an exception to its API pricing for accessibility apps, which are crucial for blind users, its in-app moderation tools aren’t accessible for blind moderators. Reddit’s most recent accessibility update was riddled with bugs and “introduced a pile of new issues,” according to a moderator of r/blind.

The response to the peer-to-peer helper program was mixed in r/ModSupport. One user questioned whether automating the support request system would only make it harder to receive help from a “real person.” They also noted that the subreddit exists for moderators to discuss issues directly with admins, not with other moderators.

“Admin participation hasn’t been great here,” the user continued. “I don’t know if that’s because you guys aren’t familiar enough with mod tools to provide meaningful support to the mod community, or if you just can’t be bothered. But you seem to mostly rely on the mod community to address questions and concerns here, and that’s not what people come here for.”

In the most upvoted comment replying to the announcement, Reddit user MapleSurpy expressed frustration over the lack of useful moderation features available on Reddit’s official app. Moderators have requested ban evasion tools and “actual help from admins” when dealing with “problem users,” MapleSurpy said.

“We’ve asked for better tools on the official app to run subs now that Reddit took away every single third-party one,” they said. “What did we get? Another automated system . . . and flair rewards. Thank you SO much, I’m sure this will solve a whopping zero problems.”

Another user pointed out that the flairs aren’t based on comments that are actually helpful and that “snarky people who are funny” will reach “expert in no time.”

In a reply to the thread, an admin said that Reddit’s product teams are working on “some of the issues” that moderators have brought up and will be launching improvements to mobile features.

“Our team isn’t engineers — so you don’t want us building you things, however — we do spend our time talking to moderators about the issues you’re facing and advocating back to the product teams,” the admin, who is part of the moderator support team, said. “Automating some of the lower-hanging fruit allows us to spend more time both helping with the more complicated issues and compiling concerns from mods to help prioritize the tools being built.”

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