After the recent unrest at Reddit, sparked by its controversial decision to increase its API prices, the platform is still cleaning up the mess, and trying to establish a better way forward, which will keep its volunteer moderators happy, while also enabling Reddit to maintain more control over how its platform operates.
This could help.
Today, Reddit has announced a new system, which will replace its Reddit Gold gift-giving process, with a new means for Reddittors and moderators to earn direct income for their in-app efforts.
First off, Reddit’s revamping its Reddit Gold process, in order to make it easier for users to purchase and send rewards in-stream.
As explained by Reddit:
“To purchase and award with gold (or “gild”), redditors can long press the upvote icon on mobile (or hover over it on desktop) directly within the post or comment they want to reward. A suite of six gold awarding options will appear, starting at $1.99 for one gold, and up to $49.00 for 25 gold. A golden upvote will appear in place of a regular upvote after gilding.”
So instead of the old Reddit Gold system, which allocated coins to Reddit Premium subscribers, users will now have a new way to purchase and donate in-app rewards to people whom they want to support.
But the next element is a bigger deal:
“Separately, we’re also introducing a new Contributor Program where qualifying redditors, including mods, can be rewarded with real (fiat) money for the content they share and contributions they make to Reddit.”
Under this new system, redditors who meet the eligibility requirements (18+, account in good standing, etc.) will be able to make actual money from their content and efforts in the app, as opposed to just in-app credibility through karma points. All users will still be able to gain karma points, but for those in the program, they’ll also be able to exchange their Gold for cash.
So how much money can you make?
According to Reddit’s program overview, there’ll be two tiers within its Contributor Program: “Contributor” and “Top Contributor”.
“A Contributor earns 100 – 4,999 karma in a 12-month period. A Top Contributor earns 5,000+ karma within a 12-month period. There’s a standard payout rate for Contributors ($0.90 per 1 gold) and an enhanced payout rate for Top Contributors ($1.00 per 1 gold).”
So it’s based on how active you are in the app, with the more active contributors getting a higher rate per gold donation. Essentially, Top Contributors will take home 50% of the donation granted to them by users, while regular contributors will gain slightly less.
“Once enrolled in the program, redditors will receive payments on a monthly basis. The earnings a redditor receives are calculated based on the amount of karma earned and gold received on their eligible contributions.”
So in combination, approved participants will be get paid out each month, which sounds similar to X’s new ad revenue share program, which is not surprising, given Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s noted admiration for Elon Musk’s management style at the app formerly known as Twitter.
Indeed, back in June, Huffman noted the inspiration that he’d gleaned from Musk’s reformation of Twitter, explaining that:
“My takeaway from Elon at Twitter is reaffirming that we can build a really good business in this space at our scale. Now, they’ve taken the dramatic road, and I guess I can’t sit here and say that we’re not either, but I think there’s a lot of opportunity here.”
That was primarily in support of Musk’s decision to raise the prices of API access, with both Reddit and X data being used to fuel various generative AI projects. As such, increasing access prices makes sense, but the problem is that this has also priced out many academics, small-scale app developers, community projects, and more.
In Reddit’s case, it has caused the shutdown of popular Reddit app “Apollo”, among various other impacts. That’s what initially sparked its moderator protests, while ongoing revisions of its mod rules have led to further unrest within its community.
Could this be the solution? Could there be a way for Reddit to re-route some of its revenue to its moderation and creation elements, in order to appease these key players in its process?
If it works out, it could be a good solution, though whether users will be overly keen to purchase gold in-stream, and donate that to contributors, is another question altogether. Up till now, Reddit Premium subscribers have been given an allocation of gold to donate to contributors each month, but now, they’ll have to purchase these rewards separately, and it’ll be interesting to see if this catches on.
As such, I wouldn’t be counting on seeing big payouts from Reddit straight away. But if it works, it’ll enable Reddit to get its top contributors paid, without having to cut into its own ad share to do it.
Reddit says that its new Contributor Program will begin rolling out today in the US, on both web and in the mobile app. Logged-in redditors can find out more about the program via their profile menu. You can find out more about the program here.