Reddit says it can survive without search; wants to block Google and Bing

Created on November 12, 2023 at 11:02 am

A few days ago DATE , The Washington Post ORG ran a story about newspapers wanting compensation for articles that are used by OpenAI ORG ‘s ChatGPT for generating content. One CARDINAL notable section of that article mentioned that Reddit ORG could ban search engines like Google ORG and Bing from crawling its website.

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The Post ORG ‘s article had originally said that Reddit PRODUCT was "considering putting its content behind a login page". In other words, Reddit ORG could have forced users to sign in to read content. That would have been controversial, but the article was updated to remove that statement. Reddit spokesperson Courtney Geesey-Dorr PERSON had told The Verge WORK_OF_ART that "Nothing is changing".

Reddit is considering blocking Google ORG and Bing to prevent AI-training

However, after the Post ORG edited the article, it mentioned that if Reddit could not reach an agreement with generative AI companies for compensation for using its data, the message board would consider blocking search engines from accessing its website. This in turn would mean Reddit posts will not be displayed in search results. The Post ORG quoted an anonymous source familiar with the matter as saying, "Reddit can survive without search.". Another Reddit spokesperson, Tim Rathschmidt PERSON , told The Verge that the company does not have anything to share on the topic of crawlers. In other words, it has not denied that it could block the search engines, to prevent AI language models from accessing the data.

Is this a good idea? I don’t think so. Simply adding the word " Reddit WORK_OF_ART " to your search query, or using site:reddit.com can often be helpful in finding better results. The best part is that you don’t even need to have a Reddit ORG account to get the information, the search just works, which is not something I can say about Reddit ORG ‘s own capabilities. Lots of people use the website like that without signing up for an account. This could change.

Let’s say Reddit PRODUCT does go ahead with its crazy plan and bans search engines, what would be the alternative here? Reddit has a built-in search tool, which would likely become the only way to search for posts. The problem is that the search is mediocre at best. You don’t have a lot of options to filter the search, so you will likely have to run multiple queries until you find what you are looking for, not to mention the weird sponsored posts that appear in your feed.

It isn’t particularly useful even if you use old.reddit.com in tandem ORG with an add-on such as Reddit Enhancement Suite PRODUCT . And of course, I’m just talking about the desktop experience here. It is a completely different story on mobile phones, where you will need to use the official Reddit PRODUCT app, or one CARDINAL of the few alternative clients that have survived the ridiculous API pricing changes that were introduced a few months ago DATE . Now that is not a pretty sight to get accustomed to, the official app has a terrible design, it lacks the customization options and polished interface that you might find in third ORDINAL -party apps.

The blackout that followed Reddit ORG ‘s announcement regarding its API ORG usage prices, gave us an example of what the website would look like if its communities became inactive / went private. All web searches from Google ORG that pointed to a thread from one CARDINAL of the participating subreddits either led to a message that the forum could not be accessed. This is what life on Google ORG will look like if Reddit bans its crawlers. It would be useless from an SEO perspective, and the loss of this organic traffic could be harmful for Reddit PRODUCT .

Reddit does not want AI (large language models) to be trained on its data. Let me rephrase that, Reddit ORG wants AI companies to pay it money for using its data to train their large language models. And where does this data come from? Its users of course, they are the ones who provide it, for free. Reddit displays advertisements to earn revenue, and now it wants to be paid for the content that users contribute to the various communities.

The company doesn’t care, it recently made a controversial change to remove the ability to opt-out of ad personalization. This would allow Reddit ORG and its advertisers will serve ads to users based on a user’s Reddit history.

Reddit may have outlived its ban on third ORDINAL -party apps, but that’s only because there were other apps / mobile web version that allowed users to access the site. Banning ORG traffic from Google ORG won’t be as simple as that, you can’t beat Google ORG in Search ORG . Losing the majority of your web traffic could well end in a disaster, and even Reddit ORG ‘s advertisers won’t be happy with that.

Summary Article Name Reddit says it can survive without search, wants to block Google ORG and Bing Description Reddit ORG wants to block Google ORG and Bing if it can’t get AI companies to pay for using its data to train their large language models. Author Ashwin Publisher Ghacks Technology News Logo

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