A Reddit transcription community will shut down over a 'lack of trust' in the platform

Moderators of r/TranscribersOfReddit also blamed API changes.

Dado Ruvic / reuters

A group of Reddit volunteers who transcribe media from other subreddits are shutting down their community, in part due to changes the company is making to its API. The community, r/TranscribersOfReddit, will close its doors on June 30th, which is one day before Reddit starts charging for API access.

The group transcribes media from around 100 subreddits. Its aim was to provide some temporary solutions for accessibility features that are missing from Reddit, such as alt text, while imploring the company to address such "inadequacies," according to Rebekah Ginsburg, a Transcribers Of Reddit moderator. As The Verge reports, Ginsburg (aka u/halailah) is also the chair of the Grafeas Group, a nonprofit that provides the technology powering much of the community's transcription work.

"In light of recent events, we now recognize that Reddit corporate has demonstrated a severe lack of willingness to fix core issues with the platform," Ginsburg wrote. "It is clear that these problems are coming from the top, and we do not believe they can be fixed. Unfortunately, while this was an extraordinarily difficult decision for us, these circumstances mean that we can no longer operate this project."

Ginsburg added that "the API changes and the realistic limits on how much work we can take on and our lack of trust in Reddit as a platform and the clear disregard for accessibility from Reddit corporate" made it "impossible" for the team to continue the project.

While Reddit has said it will exempt some third-party accessibility apps from having to pay for API access, members of the community say apps such as RedReader, Dystopia and Luna don't have "sufficient moderation functions" for blind and visually impaired moderators.

Reddit declined to comment to The Verge on these issues. A spokesperson previously said the company was "exploring a number of things" related to accessibility across its platform. In the meantime, it seems that it'll soon be more difficult for some people to use Reddit.

Some communities I'm a member of have volunteers that will add alt text for an image in the comments or transcribe a short video. Still, the loss of a larger, coordinated effort to make Reddit more accessible is a blow.

Reddit said last month that it would start charging for access to its API, which third-party developers have used to build apps (such as ones for moderation and accessibility) that hook into the platform. The move caused an uproar in the community, and several third-party apps, including ones that tens of thousands of people use to access Reddit, are shutting down as a result of the changes.

However, Reddit is pressing ahead with the new policy. CEO Steve Huffman also said he was planning changes that would allow members of a subreddit to more easily vote out a moderator who makes unpopular decisions. Some moderators have taken similar comments from a Reddit administrator as a direct threat, after thousands of subreddits went private to protest the API changes.

Reddit also reportedly removed moderators from subreddits that were suddenly labeled as not safe for work. Not only did those communities allow porn for the first time in protest against the API changes, making them NSFW meant Reddit was unable to monetize them due to its ad policies.