GEEK COMPLAINING receptacle Reddit has reopened the debate on the profitability of the internet and the merits of open source as a business model.
A discussion on Reddit (where else?) has pointed out that new apps being built to bring an official presence to Android and iOS are to be closed source, thus bringing out the worst in the notoriously change-resistant community.
The answer was pretty clear when the question was raised in r/technology and several other threads that have since been closed.
"Profit motives. They're desperate to turn Reddit into a profitable website. Profits generally require control," said one.
Another agreed with more words: "I'm guessing that eventually getting rid of third-party reddit apps could allow them to effectively monetise their monopolistic application."
It's not much of a secret that, like many other internet businesses in an inflated market, Reddit has the users but struggles to find ways to fund itself.
"Reddit doesn't turn a profit because they are expanding faster than profit increases," said one commenter.
There are concerns that a switch to a proprietary product would alienate existing users, seen as Reddit's biggest asset, but that in a capitalist economy there is no site without funding.
It's not clear at the moment whether Reddit plans to limit the use of third-party apps such as the popular BaconReader when official apps arrive. Facebook and Twitter apps have already seen a decline in numbers since their official brethren were born.
Reddit has made no official response to the threads and is continuing tests of the official apps in closed beta.
The company has yet to float but was recently valued at $500m. This is all very well, but with Twitter still struggling to be profitable despite its multi-billion dollar value, investors will be nervous about how to get a return when Reddit finally takes the plunge.
We encourage you to read the original thread, where all contributors quoted above are named in accordance with the accreditation rules of the Reddit community. However, don't all go at once lest we see the dreaded 'hug of death' (a bit like a fail whale, but with a cosier name).
Reddit introduced some ground rules for users to play more nicely last year, but you still don't want to annoy them. µ
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