If you've not been living under a rock, you'll have heard the recent hubbub around Reddit. Long story short, the Reddit community isn't exactly pleased with the company's decision to start charging third parties for using its API ahead of an upcoming IPO.
By Reddit charging for its API, many moderators and users of the site feel that the company is essentially doing its community dirty, as the decision could very well put third party apps out of business. Thanks to its API, Reddit's users can access the site using various third party apps in addition to the official Reddit app, and many prefer doing so. Those apps may be forced to cease operations thanks to the prohibitively high fees.
API fees will also likely put an end to lots of community-created bots, which trawl Reddit posts doing everything from monitoring posts for illegal content to responding in the voices of Lord of the Rings characters... and my axe!
It may not sound very important to an outsider — just another instance of internet beef — but it's crucial to remember that Reddit is known as "the front page of the internet" for a reason: it is and has been pivotal to many peoples' experiences of the internet, and that status quo is now being threatened.
Furthermore, Reddit charging for its API also symbolizes how, in most places now, the internet has gone from being an open, democratic public asset to a privately owned, commercial one. This move is seen by many in the community as Reddit betraying its user base ahead of its IPO in order to appease its future shareholders. In short, many people involved with this see it as corporate greed.
Many subreddits (essentially the individual forums that comprise Reddit) have been set to private by their moderators in protest. This is being called a blackout and is aimed at causing Reddit headaches by negatively impacting its traffic. When a subreddit is set to private, it cannot be accessed or posted on, nor its previous posts viewed by internet users.
Originally, the blackout was supposed to last from Monday 12th June to Wednesday 14th June. However, many people have realized that a two-day blackout isn't going to have much effect long term — this was hammered home by Reddit CEO Steve Huffman's comments to staff, reported by The Verge, essentially saying the two-day blackout wasn't giving him much sweat.
"We have not seen any significant revenue impact so far," said Huffman to staff, according to the Verge. "Like all blowups on Reddit, this one will pass as well."
To counter this, some subreddits have now gone on indefinite blackout, with over 300 subs said to be in the protest long term, according to r/ModCoord (a moderator subreddit helping organize the protest) moderator u/SpicyThunde335.
Meanwhile, there are many other subreddits, now reactivated, currently voting to see whether their communities would like them to continue with the protest and go back to private.
This means there's a good chance you won't be able to view many Reddit subs or posts going forward.
However, there is a way you can still view some important posts if you really need to.
So why would I want to view Reddit posts during the indefinite blackout?
While I, and many others, personally support the Reddit blackout, and refrained from using the app or website during the original timeframe, I understand not every Reddit user feels the same.
A quick browse of discussions on open subs proves this, as does the fact that many subs are having votes in the first place. As such, you may wish to view a post if you're determined to use still Reddit.
There's also the fact that many posts on Reddit are genuinely helpful. If you've asked for help with something pressing, perhaps on a sub like r/buildapc or r/howto, you may be waiting desperately on a reply. If you're genuinely in need of crucial advice and have found your answer on a Reddit page via Google Search, you may seriously need to view a previous post, even if the sub is shut down for now. I know that when I need help, I sometimes add in "site: reddit.com" at the end of my search.
If either of those things are true, you'll be interested to know that there is a method to view some posts. It won't work for every post, but can be worth a try.
It's worth noting that many subs may support the blackout, but have chosen to remain public due to the importance of their subject matter — subs that help people with addiction, for example.
To demonstrate this, I've used r/Music, as they're currently one of the few subs still blacked out. Sorry, r/Music. As you can see above, the post was initially not visible due to the sub being private.
How to view Reddit posts during the indefinite blackout
Once again, this won't work for every post, but is worth a try if you're really desperate to find something out. We're going to be utilizing Google's web cache. Essentially, if Google has saved a page, you can often access a cached version of that page. Not every page will have been cached by Google, which is why
1. Paste the post URL into a browser
Open up a browser (I've tried this on Chrome and Safari — it works best on Chrome) and paste the URL into the search bar. Now highlight and delete "https://".
2. Type ":cache" before the URL
Now type "cache:" in front of www. and hit return.
3. View the cached version of the page
You can now view Google's cached version of the web page.
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Peter is Editor of the How To and Camera sections at Tom's Guide. As a writer, he covers topics including tech, photography, gaming, hardware, motoring and food & drink. Outside of work, he's an avid photographer, specialising in architectural and portrait photography. When he's not snapping away on his beloved Fujifilm camera, he can usually be found telling everyone about his greyhounds, obsessively detailing his car, squeezing as many FPS as possible out of PC games, and perfecting his espresso shots.