Ben Thompson has been writing about the Reddit strike in his daily updates. I like this excerpt from the one he wrote yesterday:
Reddit is miffed that Google and OpenAI are taking its data, but Huffman and team didn’t create that data: Reddit’s users did, under the watchful eyes of Reddit’s unpaid mod workforce. In other words, my strong suspicion is that what undergirds everything that is happening this week is widespread angst and irritation that everything that was supposed to be special about the web, particularly the bit where it gives everyone a voice, has turned out to be nothing more than grist to be fought over by millionaires and billionaires.
That, though, takes me back to Bier’s tweet; the crazy thing about the Internet is that said grist is in fact worth fighting over.
It’s easy for me to say this, as I’m not a user of Reddit, but I have full sympathy for the striking moderators.
You spend much of your free time volunteering to keep a community on a site, producing value for it’s users and owner, with the expectation that the site would recognise your efforts and reciprocate by serving your needs with, say, an API. I can understand how enraging that would feel when they turn around and “alter the deal” while expecting the mods to continue as if nothing has changed.
So good on the moderators showing that they too have leverage.
And as to OpenAI using the API to train its model: well yeah I can understand the CEO of Reddit feeling shitty about that, but I would’ve hope he would have the ingenuity to solve that while maintaining the needs of those that actually provide value to the site. Either he doesn’t which, given that he’s one of the founders, I find hard to believe; or he just doesn’t want to.