Leaving Reddit and taking all my contributions with me

By | 19 Mar 2024

In April 2023, Reddit announced that it will start asking for money to use their API for commercial purposes. This also included 3rd party apps, e.g. the famous iOS Reddit client “Apollo”.

While there was hope it won’t get too pricy at first and the other changes looked manageable, that hope got crushed when Reddit’s new pricing scheme got published. Due to this, many developers of 3rd party Reddit clients decided to close down their apps.

On Reddit itself, this spawned the so-called APIcalypse and the search for alternatives.

Many people found a new home in either Lemmy or kbin or went on to completely different realms. And of those, many decided to completely wipe their account on Reddit as a sign of protest. And as deleting content on Reddit only sets a flag in their database while the actual text is kept, there was a desire to overwrite all old comments before deleting them.

One tool to achieve this is the PowerDeleteSuite – a browser extension that collects all available posts and comments by remote-controlling your browser session and going through your Reddit profile.

There’s only one issue: Reddit only associates the latest 1,000 comments and posts with your profile. While you might be able to find a few older items by using the different available filters in the Reddit profile, with 10 years of Reddit history as in my case, you will barely scratch the surface.

I was able to find various more comments from me via a Google search for site:reddit.com "mbirth avatar" that didn’t show up on my Reddit profile but were still in their system. (The added “avatar” string makes sure to only return actual comments from me and not just mentions of my username.) A data export finally revealed that of my 9,000 comments made over those 10 years, over 7,000 were still there and publicly accessible. So I started looking for a way to wipe them in an automated fashion.

Other users of the PowerDeleteSuite noticed the same problem and created this issue on GitHub. User @confluence turned the posted snippet into a working script and published it as a GIST – which I used as a starting point. After adding the deletion of comments to it, I couldn’t help myself and fleshed it out with 2FA support, optional skipping of entries (it you want to resume work without it having to check all previous entries) and a progress bar including calculation of time remaining (thanks to the wonderful Rich library).

Screenshot showing the script running, currently processing comment 3820 out of 9003 with 8 hours 21 minutes remaining.

I’ve published my version of the script and instructions here: https://github.com/mbirth/reddit-cleaner.

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