I've (mostly) left reddit. It's a lot like quitting cigarettes.
I've been a reddit user for a long time, it scares me how big the number is (death is marching my way quickly).
Before reddit I was on digg, and before that, usenet (before google ruined it). God I miss usenet. I know it technically still exists, but it seems to be mostly binaries and spam.
But the new interface really stinks, and since they've killed .compact, I decided it was time to go. (There were dozens of us using i.reddit.com! Dozens!)
And like the title says, it's a lot like kicking smokes. I was pretty jonesd the first couple days, and the experience comes like an impulse (Brain: "I'm bored! Check Reddit!"), followed by my conscious, no thank you, followed by, "What? No! We have to check reddit! Have to! We must do it now! Now! NOW!" followed by a gradual diminution in intensity of that same message, then a period of life, then repeat. The repeats slowly diminish in frequency, duration, and degree, so that now, only once or twice to I want to hit it.
A couple exceptions: I still check my relevant geographic reddits once in a while, and if relevant, I'll add "reddit" to my google results. I also use stackexchange and wikipedia more for some of those informational reasons, but those two, due to their labyrinthine and fiefish rules constrain content. Another discussion. There are also certain, ah, visual distractions for which reddit is still a good source (and for that I use teddit.net, thanks friendly tilderino!).
To ease withdrawals, I've been clicking tildes a lot more, also slashdot, and fark, and also ibooks. I'm proud of myself, and happy I've done it.
A moment of reflection-why do I like these sites so much? And why not facebook, twitter, etc.? I do like to argue, occasionally even as a third grader, but facebook and twitter have plenty of opporunity for that sort of thing. No, the difference is that reddit (and tildes, and usenet) are structured around ideas, whereas facebook etc. are structured around personalities. I'm an introvert, smarter than most people I encounter (at least along certain axes, many of which may be of dubious merit), curious and interested. Interested in ideas. Which is not to say I do not find people interesting, or do not value close, intimate, personal relationships. But I like to talk about ideas, and most people do not, except on places like reddit and here.
Perhaps I will start my own substack now.
I feel you…
I don't get why Reddit hates its own users so much. I think a lot of people are stuck in this stockholm syndrome, that they have to put up with how shit the UI is, how bad the community is in many subreddits, how the company is so desperate to monetize, etc just because… idk, good memes and some news.
Reddit at one point in my life was a huge, practical way to get informed, discover good quality content, and improve myself. But since a few years it's just become "junk food for the brain". Really bad. Like cigarettes as you put up.
Twitter's gotten more like this since the takeover. I've quit it too.
This applies to so many of the better known services people use the internet for in 2023 (or other recent years). Why does Twitter hate its users? Why does Discord? Amazon? Twitch?
It's not stockholm syndrome, it's the fact that everyone else is already there and no one wants to be one of those struggling to move to something better. Those people are up against everyone else's irritating inertia and have to significantly downgrade their own experience in exchange for an unlikely dream.
In an successful attempt to lower my time on reddit, I've stopped going on r/all which was by far the biggest timesuck. Once I've decided to do so, I've removed the r/all quicklink from the top navigation bar from RES which was how I accessed it 99% of the time. The week after was really eye-opening and scary at the same time. The amount of times my brain subconsciously moved the cursor to where the button used to be, just to realize it's gone, was really absurd. If you would've told me I'm clicking this button without thinking about it, I'd laughed in your face and said "yeah... sure...". But sooo often I subconsciously "wanted" to click it and a few seconds later "huh, where is.... oh yeah". I don't exactly remember how long the whole process took, but I'm fairly sure it was a few weeks until it finally happened less often. Nowadays it doesn't happen at all anymore, but it took way longer and way more often than I'd ever imagined. There were situations where I had the realization that the button was gone, closed the tab, literally went to reddit.com again just to click the missing button again back to back. Within seconds. Really creepy stuff.
Wow those guys are still around!?
I've also kicked Reddit recently, but it wasn't really intentional. It just seems like none of the stuff I used to enjoy about it is there anymore. Places like AskScience and AskHistorians are kind of dead, with interesting questions not really being answered and many of the credentialed experts striking me as probably not being the "cream of the crop" in terms of eminence in their fields. I used to think the low-effort memes and advice animals were bad because they drowned out everything else, but now it seems like if they were still there all they'd be drowning out is reductive political takes and rage bait.
My local city Reddit is mostly just complaining about crime and giving advice to tourists now.
The religious subreddits I follow (Hinduism, Buddhism) are mostly middle-school homework assignment tier questions and a lot of disinformation from right wing Hindus or Western Buddhists being smug and dismissive towards actual extant practices in Asia.
All the Indian and Indian-American subreddits are just arenas for poorly educated political hot takes and self-loathing. The level of sad-sackerry I see on display there would have been at home on a LiveJournal or Xanga page back in the day. But at least you had to follow people to see that, not just have it inflicted on you like Reddit does. And Indian culture war bullshit makes American culture war bullshit look tame, I promise you. It's just exhausting to deal with.
Insofar as there is anything interesting on the more public Reddit pages, it's just crossposts from Instagram or TikTok. I think the ecosystem of there being a lot of open published content on the public internet for a link aggregator to pull is kind of hollowed out now. Too much stuff is paywalled or registration walled, and even the stuff that isn't walled off is spammed up with content-blocking ads and SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER lightboxes that it makes general surfing the internet too much of a chore to just scroll for dopamine anymore.
I've also mostly left Twitter, only seeing it maybe once a day when someone links me to it. And every time I look it seems to be getting worse. More garbage, more trolls, more obvious wumao or Russian state sponsored agit-prop. I think it's high time we just start socially shaming people who still use that site as being rubes and easy marks.
I check in on Mastodon now and then, it's okay and feels like Twitter in the older days when you could check a couple of times a day and kind of be finished. I check Tildes, though I talk less than I used to, largely because I got a promotion at work that keeps me more busy (except today, evidently) and I have a baby now that occupies my evenings. I am on Discord a lot, which seems to have replaced a lot of the idle scrolling I used to do with more free form chit-chat about topics of interest with people I get along with. It reminds me a lot of the old days of forum culture and IRC, which really was the peak of the internet for me. I have a server for Indian History, one for polytheistic philosophy, one for a twitch streamer I follow, and one for RTS game enthusiasts, and a couple for Indian-Americans and Leftist politics with people who actually got their political theory from books instead of memes.
I feel this one. I'm using reddit more and more as an information repository than a discussion hub but the scope of that information is steadily shrinking. Niche subreddits that 10 or even 5 years ago had a good SNR with great participants have grown to the point where that signal is drowned out or has evaporated entirely in the noise.
In the case of the AskExperts subs, I don't even think it's an SNR issue. I think the site literally just doesn't attract the kinds of people who used to give educated, thoughtful responses to questions anymore. I think such people came for the memes and articles and maybe some GoneWild action and popped in on the educational subs while they were around. But the memes got stale, the articles disappeared, and even the adult content feels less innocent/fun and more professional and sleazy now. There's nothing to attract normal people anymore.
I used to delete my Reddit account every couple of years as a doxxing prevention mechanism. I had a few too many incidences where people trawled through my comment history trying to find personal info or dredge up random comments to take out of context. But I've found less and less need now because I just don't post much anymore. I'm not even trying not to post, I just find everything about the site less engaging.
NoblePath's cigarettes analogy is very apt. If you smoke pipe tobacco or cigars they can actually be quite nice smelling. But mass-market cigarettes optimized for addictiveness and treat it very much as a nicotine delivery mechanism rather than an enjoyable activity. Seems this is what Reddit (and social media in general) has done by A/B testing for retention and engagement to the exclusion of all "intangibles."
I think it's a site one almost has to have an account on, but it's as good as it is bad. One of the worst things I've done was to start browsing /r/all which became sort of an addiction on its own, and I just. can't. stop.
I definitely relate. I stop when I start getting angry (there's a lot of ragebait) but always come back. I'm hoping to try to kick it for good.
I actually feel like it's one of the sites you have the least need to have an account, since it doesn't really do all that much if you just want to consume content.
Fair enough. My biggest issue is I can get on Reddit what I would need 10 dedicated message boards for back in the day, for better or worse, but for just consuming content an account is definitely not needed.
Thank you for articulating something I felt subconsciously, but could never put into words. This is exactly how I feel about these sites.
I gave up Reddit, too! Until I didn't. :)
I have an "Algernon_Asimov" account over there. I've been on Reddit for nearly 12 years now, and I was a high-profile moderator for at least some of those years: I was on the mod team for /r/Help and /r/ModHelp for a few years, among others.
And it's not like Reddit was the best place on the internet, even then. 10 years ago, a co-mod and I would often discuss how our little boutique subreddit focussed on high-quality non-toxic discussion was an island of sanity surrounded by an ever-rising sea of inanity. At times, we felt like King Cnut, demonstrating the futility of trying to hold back the tide. But we held on anyway!
But then the redesign happened. And happened. And just kept happening.
And I was caught in an insidious position, as a moderator of /r/Help and /r/ModHelp, of not only having to explain these changes, but also defending them (or at least remaining neutral). Eventually, I couldn't take it any longer. I stepped down from most of the subreddits I moderated, particularly /r/Help and /r/ModHelp, and heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Along the way, I had created an alternate account, to focus on some more specialised posting and commenting - and ended up becoming a big fish in a small pond in a limited number of subreddits, then a moderator of a few... and now that secondary alt account is the one I spend most time on. It's just a couple of small-scale pet projects, rather than large-scale subreddits, but they're mine, so I can't give them up.
When Tildes turned up, I signed up eagerly. I transferred most of my "Algernon_Asimov" attention here. But then this site proved disappointing in its way.
So now I mostly just run my little pet projects on my secondary Reddit account, and I'm content with that. It's a big step down from how involved I was with Reddit between 5 and 10 years ago, and that's probably a good thing.
How did it prove dissapointing?
Tildes didn't grow. It stagnated. It became stale and repetitive.
Some people like the small intimate atmosphere here. That's not what I signed up for.
I was looking forward to the next big Reddit competitor, with thousands of members posting hundreds of items. I put in a lot of time and effort in the early days to help things along, expecting to build a thriving busy community. Instead, we ended up with a closed group with a handful of people posting a few items, all about the same things, because that handful of people has a limited range of interests (because of the low numbers of people, not because of the quality of those people).
Tildes is okaaayyyyy... but it could have been so much more. The bones are good, but there's not enough flesh on them. Even the creator has all but abandoned it these days.
( How's that, @NaraVara? :P )
I'm in partial agreement.
I quite like Tildes. It is small and intimate, but that scale allows for real conversations instead of crowd-driven bandwagoning and sloganeering. And I like that the signup process is high-friction and induces slow growth.
But I do feel that Tildes would really hit its sweet spot at 10x its current size with more active niches.
I agree with you. The bones are good but I think there just isn't enough active recruitment to bring in new people and it's not big enough to have a self-sustaining pipeline of referral and cross-linking traffic. And what active recruitment there is tends to go to the same niches in Reddit and HackerNews.
I occasionally tried sharing stuff around in various places but it's too quiet to really draw much interest and/or I think people find the vibe a bit stuffy.
I also wonder if the era of the link-aggregator has passed. Even on Reddit all the content is just posts from Twitter or TikTok or clips out of Discords now, which is basically stuff that's verboten to share in here. I think we might be holding out on a paradigm for internet content that has been overshadowed. The mainstream today like their feeds algorithmic and infinite scrolling, and the alt-culture hipsters like their stuff community curated through discords or group chats instead of point-scoring.
Google Reader nailed it in a way that worked. Then Google killed it because reasons.
I wasn't here in the beginning, but was tildes ever meant to be a reddit competitor? Everything I heard about it before signing up sounded like an anti-reddit space. With how people couldn't even sign up for the site without an invite code, it seems like the goal was not growth but rather that small community of like-minded people you mentioned.
Even the people on r/theoryofreddit, which is where I learned about this place, would refer to this site as being very rigid as to what thought processes were allowed.
Having gone through old posts, however, it was interesting to see that one post about a user here supporting Trump. But that never really seemed to stick.
Here's how it was announced on Reddit: "An ex-Reddit administrator is aiming to create the Reddit we've always wanted–Tildes is a non-profit community site driven by its users' interests"
And here's how Deimos described Tildes in his first blog post about it: "Combined with my own experiences, everything I've learned affects how I've been building Tildes, a new link-aggregator-style community site". Note: Reddit is also a link-aggregator.
Here's all the discussions about Tildes in /r/RedditAlternatives on Reddit: search results
Actually, the goal was controlled growth, especially because Deimos was building the site from the ground up, as he went.
Basically, Tildes is in a beta-testing stage that just never ended.
Reading this comment gives me a feeling akin to seeing a child with a rock in hand within range of a hornet's nest.
"Is he going to do it? He looked at it. Is he winding up!?"
My curiosity got the better of me!
Reddit was very much usable and decent until around ~2014-15, it was pretty much what tildes is right now behavior wise. Somewhere around 2016 vested interests started creeping in (Pao controversy if I recall correctly?) and things started getting worse.
Technology is rapidly evolving and social media is still in it's infancy (we have barely even stepped into the digital age considering the span of human history!). I'm sure the folks will figure a way out and make the net a better place within a decade or so.
Social media will probably collapse in on itself to be honest. I think its impact on culture was only possible in the brief time when it was new enough that the hip people were on it but not quite consequential enough that state and institutional actors, as well as endemic scammers got on it. Once the latter three groups get in it just no longer seems fun does it? And with automation and AI in the mix, the scammers and spammers just drown everything else out to the point where it's a drag.
I only use the "old" version of the site, and only for browsing pc parts deals, buy/sale/trade subreddits, and some IT related stuff that can be useful (sysadmin, homelab, linux, etc)
But I use it probably 10% of the time that I used to use it years ago, and that's actually a good thing. It's only gotten worse over time anyway.
Once the "old" version of the site is gone, I will probably leave, or my usage will become an order of magnitude smaller again. It's unfortunate that a site that has become a part of my search terms often because it helps lead me to a technical answer or opinion/honest review is just... adrift... running away into some user-hostile nightmare.