A popular search hack of adding “Reddit” to the end of a Google query isn’t working because of the ongoing Reddit digital protest. Some users are saying it’s making Google less effective.
Redditors are protesting Reddit’s decision to charge for access to its API—the connective technology that allows other sites and services to access the conversations that take place on the website. The API was previously free to access, and some third-party Reddit apps, like Apollo, say they can’t afford to pay for access.
In protest of the new policy, more than 8,000 subreddits went “dark” or private on June 12. Some are saying they may stay that way indefinitely, though Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has reportedly said that he believes the protests will eventually peter out like other “blowups” on Reddit.
A side-effect of the protests is that Google users are being deprived of the conversational feedback and wide-scoping perspectives that the discussions in Reddit forums provide. Many people specifically seek those perspectives when they do an internet search by including the word Reddit in quotes at the end of a search query—as one commenter on Twitter put it a couple of years ago, it’s “the best life hack I could ever impart for getting results from real people rather than affiliate sites.”
But with the subreddits now shuttered in protest, most of the Reddit links suggested by Google’s search engine will be unreadable, taking users instead to a private, unreadable Reddit page. That means, for example, there’s no more quick fix for finding one’s favorite meme on r/Funny, which has over 40 million followers; or to find corroborated home repair advice on r/DIY, which has over 20 million followers.
“The Reddit blackout is making it hard to find anything on Google. I didn’t realize how much I used Reddit for information until so many of its servers got locked down. Is anyone else finding the blackout difficult?” wrote one user on Reddit Tuesday.
The situation is a real time example of the unexpected ripple effects that can occur in the digital economy.
“I’m not an active Redditor at all but my entire search history is “[topic] reddit” because that’s the only viable query for tools, tech, home repair, etc etc,” writes another user on Twitter Monday.
The subreddits that have gone dark can be found on Twitch.