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Reddit raises $200M at a $1.8B valuation (recode.net)
416 points by snew 109 days ago | hide | past | web | 440 comments | favorite



>the company is literally re-writing all of its code

Wow.

>An early version of the new design, which we saw during our interview, looks similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s Timeline: A never-ending feed of content broken up into “cards” with more visuals to lure people into the conversations hidden underneath.

>“We want Reddit to be more visually appealing,” he explained, “so when new users come to Reddit they have a better sense of what’s there, what it’s for.”

I fear this major re-design will be a mistake. HN is designed similarly to Reddit and if HN ever tried to do a major re-design, I think I would visit it less. I keep coming back to it because of its stories, comments, and its simplicity and minimalism. It has good content and is very easy to use and navigate.


I can't think of a single popular site redesign that actually made the site better. They're almost inevitably worse, usually much worse.

A common failing is trying to make the design more shiny and pretty while decreasing functionality, dumbing the site down, adding bloat, and slowing the site down to a crawl.

I really hope Reddit does not go down this road, because they really have a good thing going now. It would be a real shame to ruin it.


> I can't think of a single popular site redesign that actually made the site better.

Depends on your definition of "better".

Facebook has done several redesigns that the audience has groaned about and here we are 1 billion users later. TechCrunch did a large redesign several years, and here we are, still reading TC articles. The list goes on and on...


> still reading TC articles

That's debatable (albeit for reasons other than design)


Heh, I knew I'd get dinged for that. As much as I loathe TC myself, it does still get linked here often and the design, while funky at first, hasn't appeared to have had a significant negative impact on them.


So many comments here and not a single mention of "Slashdot Beta". It was a huge disaster, every single article had complaints about it while it was in effect.

They changed owners shortly after and it's still a running joke years later.


I was going to quip that reddit has gone full-Digg.


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Coke

'nuff said.

Every brand that has a large enough following will run into pitchforks for large redesigns - a lot of people are fans for something.

If you want to do this successfully, take a slice from Facebooks playbook. Their site looks nothing like 10 years ago, yet they somehow did all those radical UI changes gradually over years, always one step at a time, (mostly) listening to their user base inbetween.


> Their site looks nothing like 10 years ago, yet they somehow did all those radical UI changes gradually over years, always one step at a time, (mostly) listening to their user base in between.

I remember being really annoyed at one of the changes in about 2008. Looking at the timeline of Facebook[0], it was probably the rearrangement of the site into tabs (and then into something like the current layout 2 years later). I think that it's telling that I remember being annoyed at the time (and a bunch of other times, after other changes) than I remember what those changes were. Sometimes it's hard to remember exactly what it was like in the early days. So, I went looking and also found a Cnet slideshow illustrating the different looks of the site over the years [1]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Facebook

[1] https://www.cnet.com/pictures/facebook-then-and-now-pictures...


>Every brand that has a large enough following will run into pitchforks for large redesigns - a lot of people are fans for something.

That is false, "running into a pitchfork" is the better, and least likely outcome.

Very often things develop like this: user logs in, can't find the usual button, and abandons the website - a la Mozilla forefox redesign fiasco that halved their userbase in a single month.

Another famous case is Akamai - at around 2013 they had a relatively insignifican't redesign, yet a single button was moved. They did not realize that they quietly bled users for over a year until they got serious and researched the matter. They failed to understand that a double digit portion of their users were non-tech staff like marketing boys who were taught to work in a manner like "move mouse over red rectangle, and push the button"


I have no idea why I care about the NFL, but I have been going to profootballtalk.com daily for years. NBC partnered with a bunch of independent sports blogs like PFT a few years ago. They then rolled 'em all out on a new redesign. I stopped visiting after the first couple tries, then PFT backed out of the redesign and went back to their previous (crappy, old) layout. The other blogs I used to go to (pro hockeytalk and pro basketball talk) didn't and I've never returned.

What I like about reddit and HN (more so) is the minimal, fast, low overhead experience. It's like the original slashdot.

I hate the new animated, ad heavy slow web.


I also never get why these sites don't change gradually. I mean, Slashdot tried - their code was a mess, and it looked really old. But it took them ages to rewrite this, and they did it all in one go. Bam! Community was pissed. Why not move the broken old HTML to standard compliant one section at a time, and clean up things here and there, and maybe introduce a new font, or section images, ... instead of this huge explosion_ Sure it might be more work and might also not be completely doable, but if you do it all at once, you are almost guaranteed to alienate your users. And if you are Reddit or Slashdot, that's what makes you.

(I somehow triggered a wrong keyboard layout while typing. I tried to find all typos, but probably didn't get them all)


Most likely Left Alt + Left Shift, if you're on Windows. I use it on purpose now, but man was it baffling when I didn't know what was going on.


"The slow web" is a much better buzzword than web 2.0.


PFT looks like one of those blogs that is just made up stuff, but it is a pretty good source. I feel like their layout actually harms their credibility though.


Their reputation among hardcore NFL fans is strong enough that they don't need a slick layout.


Why not have both?


> A common failing is trying to make the design more shiny and pretty while decreasing functionality, dumbing the site down, adding bloat, and slowing the site down to a crawl.

If you look at the new reddit profiles beta, you will see that it checks all these boxes.


Yeah I regret agreeing to the irreversible change on my main account. So much harder to get to the information I care about.


> I can't think of a single popular site redesign that actually made the site better.

Seriously? How about Google.com? Google Maps? Gmail? Apple.com? CNN? Uber? Surely you must believe at least some of those made the site better...


Apple.com is a marketing site. It's essentially a brochure that is expected to change completely for every new release of the product.

The only major Google Maps redesign was from the original boxy low-fi design to the modern pan & zoom gestural design with overlays. The redesigns after that were mostly incremental and rarely affected the general look and feel of the site. There have been a number of design changes recently to unify it with the mobile app and some would argue those weren't always for the better (much like YouTube where it sometimes feels like the UX is getting worse every time).

Google.com always was fairly minimalist to begin with and that never changed much except for additions like the cards added to the mobile site to bring it in line with Chrome for Android. Again, whether these additions are good or not is heavily disputed.

GMail is yet another case of a site that never underwent a significant redesign but merely iterations on the same look and feel.

I can't say anything on CNN or Uber because I don't frequent them sufficiently to have observed any redesign other than Uber's confused rebranding earlier last year.

The way the new design for Reddit is being described reminds me of the Digg redesign. If you don't remember Digg: Digg was essentially pretty much like Reddit, the biggest differentiator was the community. Digg completely redesigned the site because it was failing hard. Digg today is irrelevant and what little community there was has left before the redesign largely been displaced by the redesign (and refocussing).

Changing aspects of a design that are so strongly part of its look and feel (or it's "DNA" if you insist on being poetical) is extremely risky and extremely easy to do badly. It's especially dangerous if you apparently only do it because you want something new/prettier.

HN and Craigslist don't look ancient because of a lack of effort, they look that way because the designs work and there's not much to be gained from changing it.


Actually, Gmail used to be faster before they added dynamic elements to it. (For slow connections, it still has an option to switch back to the previous design).

I hate it when websites use JavaScript for most of their functionalities. I would always prefer static HTML/CSS pages over shiny, bloated, distracting, non-functional JavaScript-enabled ones.


You can claim anything that you don't dislike is "not redesign", but come on, if adding tabs on top of Gmail was not redesign, I don't know what is. And, just look at gmail now vs. 2004, how can you say it's not redesigned?

Any large, sudden redesign is heavily disputed - that much is obvious, and for good reason, since it changes habits. Maps itself goes through continuous redesign, but each modification is "incremental" as you call it. The end result is fairly drastically changed if you look many years back, but well.... I guess it only had incremental redesign, all along the way.

I guess what I'm saying is that if reddit launches one big-bang "completely new reddit" - yeah, I agree, it's very likely to fail. But if they incrementally change it to something else, and backtrack on the bad decisions - few people will notice the radical change, they'll just remember the many small ones.


Google Maps is far worse, CNN is horrible (autoplay by default? Really? Story stubs? Really?) Gmail has always been a design nightmare.

Reddit going through a redesign will almost certainly create a competitor that people will flock to.


You mean like voat?


Probably could have worked if they'd gotten their act together. But Reddit only became Reddit after Digg made their major redesign.

There would have to be something out there that does what Reddit does, and be ready if people bolt.


The line you quoted does seem to go too far (I'm sure there are some redesigns out there that improved things), but your listed examples really compound it.

Google.com has only ever had tiny tweaks, yet if you read the recent HN comment thread on Instant Search it's enough to show that even these small changes were significant regressions.

Apple.com, as has been mentioned, is a different case.

The rest have pretty categorically disimproved with each iteration. I doubt many would disagree here.


https://www.slideshare.net/seosmarty/google-home-page-evolut...

It did evolve, and yes, Google constantly experiments with/ tweaks it, as a matter of fact. I never claimed that sudden radical changes are a good idea - they are very risky, at the very least. And generate dissatisfaction even when done right.

> The rest have pretty categorically disimproved with each iteration. I doubt many would disagree here.

What? That's crazy. Both gmail and google maps have radically improved over their original versions. You're of course free to disagree, since these sorts of things are subjective; but I'm confident that you won't find a majority of users to share that opinion.


It is controversial. For example, Gmail old design was much better for me than current white design which makes much harder to read for me.


Google maps is a disaster.


They killed the yellow person, which caused such an outcry they brought them back.


> trying to make the design more shiny and pretty while decreasing functionality, dumbing the site down, adding bloat, and slowing the site down to a crawl.

Another good example of this is a car forum called AudiWorld after Internet Brands took it over. Initially, it ran on a super minimalistic forum script that loaded incredibly quickly and worked well for the community. It was certainly ugly yes, but it's what the members liked and had gotten used to.

Then IB came in, converted the whole site to vBulletin on a whim and pretty much killed the community there and then. The members revolted, people left the community in droves and a successor with the old software sprung up immediately to get the refugees from the site. [1]

One poorly thought out move to 'redesign' the site nearly killed a large forum and ended up creating one of its more popular competitors in the process. It's like a mini version of what happened with Digg, except possibly even worse.

[1] http://8bit.minimal.net/post/87727243/how-to-destroy-a-commu...


It can't be worse than Digg, can it? Just as bad seems like the worst you can realistically get. Digg lost what, 95% or more of its users within months?


Well's there's always the smoking hole in the ground known as Digg. They royally screwed that site up and crashed and burned hard with their redesign. That's how Reddit rose to prominence in the first place.


Nah it was growing pretty hard even before Digg fucked up, that sure helped but Reddit was going places whether Digg screwed up or not.


I can think of one. Google's material design. I love it and feel it tied their apps together while making them easier to use.


It's all subjective, of course, but if a Material app starts getting more complex the bare bones nature of the UI actually starts making it more confusing to use in my opinion. Maybe I just haven't used it enough, but every time I look at a Google Cloud Platform console or something it takes me longer than I think it should to find what I'm looking for.


Material design ruined Google News on the desktop.


Yes, a thousand times, yes. To me, this is the worst and most offensive redesign of something so pivotal to research, investigative reporting, everything beyond the surface. Being able to dig and dig and find out who is reporting what pieces of the story. I don't CARE if there are 12 articles about the same thing if there are truly 12 different legitimate reports about the event of interest. I want to see all 12 sources in their original place, date stamp, author, etc. The original links are where the real stories hide... not in this curated crap.

Thomas Jefferson said: "Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper." Google already has all the news indexed; why it is choosing to provide less surface area over which to sell its ads is something that makes absolutely no sense.

Company press releases are a gold mine of information. These used to be so prominent in news.google.com; they are completely gone. Multiple pages of results. Gone. All so the already-digested news can belch all over cell phones.

I see it as an attack on our democracy. Basically, censorship. But apparently they don't care.


I stopped using it for what I used it before. But I haven't found a replacement yet.


I found myself laughing the other day when I went to Bing for what I used to use Google news for... because of all the alternatives tested, it seemed to provide the best breadth of what I was looking for.

Redesigns like this make me wish more designers thought in terms of a toggle option for users who don't want the slick and shiny. Seems like such an obvious, idiot-proof solution to pissing off your users en masse.


Material design just doesn't work on desktops. Speed and information density are the way to go, and I'd argue they played no small role in reddit's ascendance.


I'd disagree. I like some of the Material related changes to Google Maps, for example, others seem like they were only done for consistency's sake with no benefit to Google Maps UX. Also IMO they managed to make YouTube even worse with the recent attempts to shoehorn it into their Material design.

The problem with a unified design language is you end up with the lowest common denominator for vastly different products. Material works great for Google Now, somewhat okay for Google Maps, pretty meh for GMail and terribly for YouTube. But that's just, like, my opinion, man.


There's few things in the world I hate more than Google's design. Maybe GoDaddy's control panels. Possibly Ubuntu's installer.

It's absurdly wasteful in terms of space on desktop applications. So many uselessly gigantic buttons with no effort to describe what they do other than an icon.


It tied their apps together, but I don't think it made them easier to use. I feel like I get around in the apps that I use most frequently just by rote. In an unfamiliar app, it's often unclear if something's a touchable option or just a text label. In previous versions, buttons stood out more from the background. I liked that, and I think it was clearer and easier to use.


IMO, the problem is that the kind of people that generally browse this site generally value functionality over looks. Unfortunately, we are a relatively small subset of the population and Reddit is looking to broaden their reach as far as possible. So they are going to make their site more like other social media sites where a big portion of the user base will like it, another portion won't care one way or the other, and a small portion will hate it. I think they know some people will hate the redesign and potentially stop using the site, it's just a small enough portion of the user base that they don't really care.

Luckily for me, I spend > 75% of my time on Reddit on my phone, so it won't really affect me for the most part.


I recall Digg did a complete redesign for version 4, even the backend systems and database. And the users abandoned it shortly after launch.


What killed Digg though, wasn't any change in look at feel, as much as a fundamental change in content policy. It went from 'users submit stuff and upvote it' to 'content publishers can automate a firehose of their stories into the system for a price' people didn't like that.


I'm seeing a similar parallel to Reddit's new profiles though. Not exactly the same but it's a move to appease the content publishers that has been angering their core userbase.


Agreed. I think the profile initiative does feel quite Digg v4


The way I remember it, Reddit had pretty much already beat Digg by the time they attempted the redesign and pivot (which largely went hand-in-hand). Those changes were just the final nail in the coffin. But as far as Digg was competing with Reddit, Digg hat already lost.


For me Digg's real problem was that a small cadre of politically active users figured out how to hijack the site and steer it the way they wanted. That's why I left. Reddit did a way better job of sandboxing those people.


The Orwellian named Digg Patriots

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg_Patriots


Didn’t they also remove user comments? I remember going one day and having no ability to comment on anything.


> web redesign (codename: Reddit4)

I seriously can't tell what's going on at reddit -- are they embracing their Digg-ness?

Ed:

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/6qptzw/with_...


And that fueled Reddit's rise, because the Digg users flocked there.


I believe Reddit had already surpassed Digg by then. Digg's redesign may have been in part an attempt to respond to reddit's rise, rather than creating it.


Reddit was growing, but the Digg exodus gave it a significant boost. I don't know if Reddit was larger than Digg at that time, but even if it was, a near-doubling in users is a pretty big jump.


I'd say Facebook has done a decent job with redesigns, given the new features they roll out to such a huge user base. The advent of the timeline in 2011, and then the single-column simplification a couple years later, seemed to me to be pretty successful https://www.dailydot.com/debug/old-facebook-profiles-news-fe...


From a market, not engineering pov: It's easy and effective to iteratively improve a website, to suit its present users. But once you've got most of that type of user, you're approaching a local maxima, and your growth slows.

When you want to grow beyond that, you have to appeal to a larger, broader, different segment - though hopefully a superset, not (too) disjoint.

For me, reddit is much less interesting than it used to be (HN also). Perhaps, if they alter it to become more like it was? e.g. subreddits partially achieved this.


Youtube has undergone multiple redesigns, each better than the last, in my opinion.


Youtube is horrible more so than ever before. The recommended videos is completely broken, it keeps recommending the same videos, and half of them are not relevant to what I'm watching. It's been like this for years.

If I watch a single video from any kind of niche genre, suddenly half the recommended videos for every video are from that genre. I watched one of those helmet cam videos from a cyclist today, now youtube seems to think I'm infatuated with them. It has become slower and more bloated every time they redesign it as well.


I got the opposite impression. It got better. If I watch something I usually don't, it seems like recommendations on the topic at hand are temporary and go away after not much long. Video player is superb now as well. JKL keys still work, buffering got way better and it just works - compare it to abomination of vimeo's player, for example (that crap is just broken).


I agree the recommendations is too moody, but it has nothing to do with any redesigns per se. The same backends feed recommendations independent of what the web page or mobile clients looks like.


I hope the new design will not become mandatory. Currently I am on the old design. New is too white for me.


YouTube is a pretty trivial piece of work compared to Reddit. Nobody would lose a moment's sleep if YouTube's comment system were radically revised, and few would complain if it went away entirely. On Reddit, the comment system is everything.



The integration complaints had absolutely nothing to do with design aesthetics. There were some serious privacy concerns that arose when Google unified YouTube accounts with accounts used for other Google services.


YouTube's comment system was revised a few years ago when Google+ launched, and people definitely "lost sleep" over it.


Not because of the design, though. The way they introduced unified IDs was viewed as problematic (to put it mildly).


>A common failing is trying to make the design more shiny and pretty...

That, and trying to make it behave like more successful (read, profitable) sites, even if the purpose/audience is totally different.

That is, "well if it works for FB it should work for us".


The New York Times had a major redesign earlier this year or last year, and it's as incredible. MUCH improved, way better comments, lovely UI, and loads quickly on many devices.


Go ask the SoylentNews people how the Slashdot redesign worked out for them.

Disclaimer, I have the UID 10 on SoylentNews.


So they're doing a Digg. End of an era.

What's the "reddit" that everyone will migrate to when they change the UX?


Voat (https://voat.co/) is also an option I've heard of before but never used. However I just looked at their front page and the number 2 post is titled 'How to solve the Voat's antisemitism problem' and the image contains an antisemitic slur so that's not very promising.


Voat is a complete shithole these days unfortunately. It was very quickly overrun by disgruntled members of Reddit's alt-right fringe community.


Voat is just the latest in a never-ending cycle.

"We want free speech! Everyone move to our alternative venue where we promote free speech! [...] Wow, there's some truly hateful content on here, how did that happen?"


Some reasons this happens:

* Most people don't actually need free speech because in large their ideas are popular, tame, uncontroversial, and respect the established order.

* We are quick to define ideas that disagree with popular opinion as hateful which drives those that hold them to the fringe. Only the loudest and angriest will have so little to lose socially that they'll dare speak in public (i.e. the top and bottom of the social ladder).

* By in large we like to be surrounded by people that think like we do and believe the same things we do. This leads to partitioning the internet into disjoint communities and social bubbles so strong that, despite being almost 148 million people in the US, a common sentiment is 'I don't understand the issue, I've never met someone in person who opposes gay marriage'.


No. The people that are saying black people are bad, gays are bad, muslims are bad, women are bad, etc etc, are hateful, they're the definition of hateful. It's not "PC" to call them out as hateful. In fact, there's a new Political Correctness saying we can't call bigots bigots. If you want to make a safe space for hatefulness then nobody else is going to want to be there. These hateful people are terrorists in that they feel the need to be around as many people as possible so they can inflict the most the maximum amount of pain. They are not interested in having a nice discussion site. Nobody wants to be around them and any non-hateful community will leave if they are allowed to inflict their damage.


What a simplistic point of view. People not often say "black people are bad, gays are bad, muslims are bad, women are bad". I am moderator on a national sub on reddit, and it's a very difficult question. A few examples :

- What are you supposed to do with people who think it's unfair that men can be tricked in impregnating a woman and sued for child support ? Is this sexism ?

- What are you supposed to do with people who feel unsafe in a specific neighborhood because of the great concentration of immigrants there ? Is this "muslims are bad" ?

- Is someone against surrogacy a "gays are bad" people ? Or is this legitimate concern ?

- What about people who use IQ per country studies ? Is this racial hate speech ?

And for these examples, we have people who deeply consider all these as "bad", and harangue us mods as people who leave hate speech, yada yada.

Where do facts stop and propaganda start, where does a fast generalization ends and real, systematic hate for a whole group of individuals begin (over a common denominator considered "bad" by PC, because no one will ever harass you or call you hateful if you think people who wear fur are douchebags) ?

And by doing so, you don't allow any discussion, private or not to be made around these questions, as they are directly flagged as "good vs bad" and arguments are an expression of the hate, and not legitimate questions. Which I don't think is good, but that's my own opinion.


Since attempts to establish the genetic inferiority of specific races and ethnicities has been a bedrock of organized racism for centuries, yes, clearly abuse of race/IQ research can be "racial hate speech". Now, that's a term you didn't define. But whatever definition you choose, clearly articles from Der Stürmer will fit comfortably into it.

Obviously that begs the question of what "abusive" recourse to race/IQ studies would be. And again, I don't have to define the concept precisely to illustrate that research is routinely abused. For instance: if one makes simplified pronouncements about the genetic inferiority of black people and then adds a cite to J. Philippe Rushton, you're abusing the research in order to make hateful arguments about black people. Secondary and tertiary sources arguing the intellectual inferiority of other races based on work like Rushton's is, in fact, the modern equivalent of Der Stürmer articles.


See here for illustration : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14917702


I think you are being fairly dishonest with these examples of what people talk about when they talk about "hateful" people on sites like Reddit.

People are mainly talking about places like /r/coontown or /r/fatpeoplehate. While I'm sure there are some people annoyed at discussions about people "who think it's unfair that men can be tricked in impregnating a woman and sued for child support", I would argue the vast majority have no problem with those discussions as long as they are argued honestly.

People not often say "black people are bad, gays are bad, muslims are bad, women are bad"

I have a hard time believing you actually think this is true...


>People are mainly talking about places like /r/coontown or /r/fatpeoplehate.

You'll note the examples of OP were about people of color/muslims/women/gays, not fat people... So I don't think I'm being dishonest there.

>I would argue the vast majority have no problem with those discussions as long as they are argued honestly.

I did mention that I am a moderator on a national sub (150,000 users), and these examples are sadly not made up. We have some people who are adamant about those things and constantly bother us. Maybe they're trolling, in any case they are constanly saying how much our community stinks, is racist, homophobic, yada yada (this community being, as indicated many times by surveys, mostly made of young leftists men).

One user even regularily sends compilations of the "most disgusting comments" which are absolutely not sulfurous, and another has a sub dedicated to it.

It's probably a minority, but a rather vocal one. And you can't say things that are not 100% favorable to these topics without having people saying how anti-X you are.

So yeah I probably read OP's comment in the light of what I see everyday in our modqueue. Which is people calling out others for things which I definitely don't read as "x is bad". Honestly, you'd be surprised.

And most of all, in my experience, people who call out others and think it's a legitimate attitude are not the most pragmatic ones on these topics.


Eh, that's just equivocating. Some views genuinely are hateful, not just transgressive.


Imzy attacked the problem from the other side of the spectrum and failed even harder.

The problem is that neither the "unrestricted free speech" nor the "absolute safe space" models scale. Nor, ultimately, promote their putative goals.


So, the only answer is a bunch of hermit kingdoms with their own rules and incentive structures? You mean like the rest of the internet? Who'd have guessed.


I'm not sure that's the only option, but at the very least, a mix of contexts, spaces, and communities seems likely.


The free speech part of Voat is great. I don't think it's so much overrun as that the only people there are the ones with radical opinions.

I wouldn't use Voat for other reasons, but that's just me.


I will never understand this romanticising of free speech on private platforms. Why would a service that cares about its members _ever_ implement free speech policies? That's just asking for assholes. If anything, popular services should have _more_ filtering and removal of asshole users.


The problem is that in the space of {things that are unmentionable in polite company}, there may be a few nuggets of important new ideas, but those nuggets are lost in a torrent of shit.

I think it's important to be able to discuss taboo topics to find those important nuggets. From my perspective it's not totally crazy to have complete free speech platforms to pursue that goal, but it's probably better done in private among trusted friends, where it has been established that you are not generally assholes, than on a semi-public platform, where you will drown in a torrent of shit brought on by the mass of contrarian assholes who will inevitably flock to the platform.

It's analogous to Peter Thiel and Paul Graham's argument that most successful startups will look like bad ideas at the outset. (http://www.businessinsider.com/this-venn-diagram-shows-why-s...)

An Important New Truth probably looks stupid at first, otherwise someone else would have figured it out already.


There's a difference between discussing taboo topics and simple abuse. Calling people libtards (the #2 when I just looked at Voat) is simple abuse, not discussing a taboo topic.


I think a not-Voat will ultimately win any protracted contest simply because people will get sick of the fact Voat is mostly free speech absolutists, racists, and trolls.

That said...

> I will never understand this romanticising of free speech on private platforms. Why would a service that cares about its members _ever_ implement free speech policies? That's just asking for assholes. If anything, popular services should have _more_ filtering and removal of asshole users.

Realistically, we need moderation based on community standards the same way the US handles obscenity. (i.e. A jury of users declare content unfit and boot it with a very substantial majority being required)

"Heavy filtering" tends to result in being an asshole or creating an echo chamber. Both are undesirable.


Exactly. The best subreddits on Reddit are the ones heavily moderated like /r/science.


I think it's just an outcome of of the comparatively good state of the scientific community today which in turn doesn't necessitate contrarianism or radicalism. Galileo would probably think that r/science is among the worst of subreddits.


/r/science is a terrible sub. It's pretty much people from /r/politics pretending to be scientists. It's a politic sub.


If you think /r/science is great, check out what is the top post of /r/science right now.

"Google searches for “how to commit suicide” increased 26% following the release of "13 Reasons Why", a Netflix series about a girl who commits suicide."

https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/6qwdgo/google_sear...

Something that is societal/political rather than science.


Too many mods can be just as destructive as too few. Look at what happened to SomethingAwful.


Because some people LIKE to come across differing opinions.

Some people prefer having an open marketplace of ideas, where they can be challenged, and come across opinions and ideas that they wouldn't otherwise in real life.


Absolutely, but I think you're being a bit naive. I like to hear different opinions (I like that /r/ChangeMyView is a thing), but there's a difference between reading a different opinion and reading "Kill yourself, faggot".

If you advertise being a place of COMPLETE free speech (Like Voat), you're gonna get assholes that think free speech means having a place to be an asshole.


And some people have a thick skin and are fine with others insulting then.

Places like 4chan are fairly popular, even if the discourse is often mean. Sometimes things can be so mean that it is simply ridiculous, and therefore funny, and therefore not really insulting or offensive.


When platforms become as ubiquitous as YouTube or Facebook it doesn't feel much different than a government regulating speech.


> Why would a service that cares about its members _ever_ implement free speech policies?

But reddit did implement free speech policies. It defended free speech for many years.

> That's just asking for assholes.

Or open discourse.

> If anything, popular services should have _more_ filtering and removal of asshole users.

What's an asshole to you? Atheists? Muslims? Environmentalists? Trump supporters? Hillary supporters?

Who gets to decide who an "asshole" is?


>> That's just asking for assholes

> Or open discourse

I think you're being naive.

Certainly, most people will agree that open discourse should be allowed. Even if people disagree, they should be able to discuss their points of view.

But there are plenty of assholes out there that abuse "free speech". There's a difference between defending a controversial point of view and telling people to kill themselves and simply slinging slurs and insults.

Generally, reddit tries to allow free speech while keeping out the assholes, whereas Voat let the assholes have free reign.


> But there are plenty of assholes out there that abuse "free speech".

Yes. That's why free speech was created. To protect the "abusers". This is something you learn in your first year of college. At least I did. As my jewish philosophy professor said, free speech rights that doesn't protect neo-nazi speech is worthless. Think about it? What use is free speech rights if it doesn't protect "offensive speech". We wouldn't need it if free speech only protected "acceptable speech".

> There's a difference between defending a controversial point of view and telling people to kill themselves and simply slinging slurs and insults.

Not really. If you believe in free speech. If you were correct, atheists who insult the religious would be banned. The civil rights movement that insulted racists would have been banned.

> Generally, reddit tries to allow free speech while keeping out the assholes

It really doesn't. Reddit is an openly hyperliberal free speech.

> whereas Voat let the assholes have free reign.

Absolutely. Voat is where the rightist assholes reign free. Reddit is where the leftist assholes reign free.

That is the problem you get when you don't have free speech. You get echo chambers.

The only people who defend reddit are the hyperliberal people with an agenda. Just like voat is filled with hyperconservatives.

If you don't like voat, you really shouldn't like reddit either. They are fundamentally, the same kind of anti-free speech madness. Unless you have a bias and a hatred for free speech.


> I don't think it's so much overrun as that the only people there are the ones with radical opinions.

This is the issue with a lot of pro free speech websites, or a a lot of 'alternatives' to popular platforms in general.

Unless the more popular site completely jumps the shark, only the more extreme users (read, those angry with the old service) move over. So the site gets more extreme due to them being the only ones represented, and hence attracts more extreme users as a result. Repeat ad infinitum, until the new site is filled with people who are so far to one extreme of the political spectrum that it actively puts off a lot of more moderate potential users.

The only way Voat can get out of this is if it can draw in people who aren't interested in Trump, GamerGate or fringe politics.


+100000. "Overrun" sounds too deliberate. It's just the result of a population biasing as you say.


I would say the "alt-right" rejects and anti-social people.


You buried the lede a bit. The image contains a slur in its proposal to kill all Jews


Unfortunately Voat got overrun with Reddit's least desirable people and content, as you've already seen.

More than that though, Voat doesn't seem to have any significant funding or even team behind it, so even if people do end up flocking to a site primarily known for its ardent bigotry, it's unlikely Voat can withstand a large spike in its traffic and scale to even a fraction of Reddit-level.


Isn't it obvious that Voat would be filled with the more extreme forms of speech given that they are the ones not allowed on Reddit? Faulting Voat for that reason is kind of a clueless thing to do. If walking your dog becomes politically unfashionable tomorrow I'm sure they would be the next to migrate to Voat.


I think if there's a mass exodus from Reddit and the choice is Voat or something not Voat, the majority will choose not-Voat. If Voat hadn't absorbed much of the subreddits rejected for extreme and hate speech, then it would have a chance at growing with a more natural makeup. As it is now, any community that moved there would have to accept that there's a much higher percentage of extremist views there than present in reality. Initial adoption of a larger more general set of communities will be a hard sell for those communities.


Agreed. If there's any migration it will likely be towards more actively moderated forums - if you just want to talk about slow cooker recipes you're probably not hoping that it comes with a side of genocide advocacy.

Reddit has been an interesting exercise in shaping online communities, and the zeitgeist has changed in response. Where extremist views were originally approached on the basis of maximum tolerance, the resulting loss of more mainstream users (and the extremist domination of even unrelated subreddits), has shifted away from it. My suspicion is that mainstream users will gravitate towards forums that have a heavier moderating hand.

An interesting question is if this will cause a general return to more independent, freestanding online communities (as opposed to Reddit's model of centralizing a vast number of topics under one roof).


I'm a little confused why I'm getting upvoted and you're getting downvoted, when we're essentially saying the same thing. All you've done extra is explain what Reddit already did, and opine on what you think it means for future trends, yet it somehow it tickles people very differently. Odd.


Voat can be the replacement to reddit if they implement the "popular" section as reddit has - people with accounts will see what they currently see, but new users can see a more regular site. The over the next 3 inevitable reddit scandals, they can take progressively more and more reddit users. If reddit screws up the site design, and Voat doesn' screw up, Voat can take it all.


Voat has a reputation as an extremist haven.


I fear people are downvoting you for merely pointing out that alternatives already exist, even though you indicate your distaste at the site in your post.


Isn't Voat where The_Donald threatened to go when they finally got slapped around for their antics?


It was amusing when Voat booted them out by refusing to tolerate their power mod-y BS.

Watching that little civil war was entertaining.


Yet not a peep about spez surreptitiously editing user comments.


Not a peep from who? The community universally uses "spez:" instead of "edit:" to this day.


Fair enough. There was a lot of Drama from TD, and I'm pretty sure a signifigant slice of TD was TRDT's data mining/scientist campaign using bots to amplify semi-organic user input. That said, there was a lot of fuckery from the admins and mods in that and other reddit sagas, and the spez drama never materialized anything more than a half-assed apology for essentially violating some core principles that should be behind a privately run limited public forum.


TRDT?


I don't know but one of the top links on google for it is [1]this video, which is amazing.

[1]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSUkpVPJ1sQ


The real Donald Trump.


Check out Hubski (https://hubski.com). It's got a great community, and a unique way displaying and moderating posts.

Instead of subreddits, you follow users and tags. When you upvote posts, you share them with whoever follows you.

It's sort of like a community web of trust. It works really well.


One thing that makes traditional forums and groups work is that if any one participant leaves, the group conversations will continue without them.

I'm not really sure how that would work in a site where the conversations are focused around specific users.


Good point. Here is why I don't see that as a problem.

1. Things are democratic overall. You tend to follow people that share things that you like. You see what they post AND what they "upvote". Whenever someone votes on something, it also shares to their followers. Combined with some weighting on how popular a post is, and how recently it has been touched by someone else, this effectively means that you get a list of posts relevant to your interests, sorted by popularity. Any one person leaving would have negligible impact on your feed's content.

2. You also follow topic tags.


Some alternative's I have bookmarked:

https://hubski.com/

https://lobste.rs/

https://snapzu.com

https://soylentnews.org/

and Voat.

I don't really use them so I can't do a good review. I had some more bookmarked but can't find them at the moment.


If you're giving out invites, I'd sure take one.

lobster at_sign laro DOT se


Would you be able to send me an invitation to signup to lobste.rs please? mail at-symbol therobotking dotcom


I sent you the invite.

For some reason I can't reply to am1988 but maybe he's right, I don't know.


Any site which requires this type of thing to signup sounds like one I don't want to be a part of. Seems like a recipe for a hive mind.


You get a hive mind or you get regression to the mean, by which I mean you either aggressively filter for people with specific qualities, which is apparently a hive mind scenario, or you end up with the same kind of commentators you find on every other let-everyone-in platform.


So Hacker News is a regression to the mean, then?


Sure. It's much more general-interest than it used to be, and business content has cratered.


People have been saying this since the very first day comments were enabled on reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/17913/reddit_no...


If it ain't broke don't fix it.

I miss the early days of Digg before people starting getting concerned about their points and front page drama started.


If it ain't broke don't fix it.

What 'broke' looks like for a business like Reddit is a question about generating revenue rather than design (though the two things are intrinsically linked). If the company can't make money with the current design then it has to change.


Reddit does make money though - Gold sales alone started paying for the servers after the admins added a meter to the side of the homepage that showed a daily "goal" to pay for server time. At the time, it was posited as an opportunity for the community to fund their own party. Of course, the monetization train just kept rolling from there - starting with AMAs, now (according to some) with sponsored content embedded organically. Presumably this redesign will only accommodate the trend further.


Server time doesn't pay employees.


Good point! I'll admit my bias, I pretty much lost faith in the site's administration after they bungled the monetization of AMAs so poorly. It was exactly as predicted: AMA was the most obviously monetizable community, and was completely ruined in the process. The administrator who ran them quit over it and the quality has never recovered. I don't even bother reading most celebrity AMAs anymore because they're either a transparent advertisement or/and clearly written by someone with no understanding of reddit.

The management just seems to "miss the point" so often. The best AMAs in the early years were by a vacuum cleaner repair technician, not a movie star.


> Reddit does make money though

AFAIK Reddit has never been cash flow positive.


Why does everything have to be increased in income? That is just a plan for disaster for something like this in the long term. Sustainable and paying for employees is not acceptable?


yes but a redsign does not gaurantee that and then you are actually in a tricky situation as you will need to do a lot of testing out designs but your users arent used to that and becuase its affinity based and not friend based the community can make a lot of noise. facebooks biggest advantage from a design perspective is that their users are used to change and that many wont even notice, that keeps things together there, with reddit it might not be so easy, buy we will see.


I stopped using digg as soon as digg.com/videos stopped working.


Hacker News


I think it is starting to happen already. A few too many jokey comments appearing, puns and the like.


I agree but I find that they are pretty quickly downvoted and therefore greyed out, or sit as a parent only comment without any discussion.


HN is protected a bit better with its karma requirements. But I feel like recently I've been getting way more upvotes than I feel I "deserve" for some comments, which scares me a bit.


It's easy to get massive upvotes on anything that jibes with the HN groupthink. It can also be instructive to "troll" with anything that the groupthink will be appalled by no matter how true or rational it may be. That's the surest way to compensate for undeserved karma.


I love the joke comments and puns. It makes me sad when they are down voted.


Me too, but there is a place and time for everything.

I believe allowing them would open a floodgate and start a race for reputation.


There is already a race for reputation, it's just for who is the smartest know it all nerd.


People have been saying this for almost as long as Hacker News has existed.


So it's like Mad Magazine and was 'at its best' when you first started reading/using it?


Good analogy! And like Saturday Night Live as well, I've heard.


I started reading it in the 80s, and think that the best content was from the 60s and 70s, and took an objective drop when they started to include advertising (as does anything when you start slapping advertising on it).


HN takes itself too seriously. This site isn't brimming with intellectuals having significant, deep discussions. It's a bunch of hackers, nerds, and interested people who aren't either of those things kibbitzing about things (sometimes only marginally) related to technology. I find the resistance to even a little humor to be hilarious (and embarrassing, for them).


I don't particularly think of HN as lacking humor. There is an extreme attitude against puns, jokes and such which I think is well deserved, since the conversation devolves into who can be most creative with them.

And I kinda disagree with your assertion that this site lacks intellectuals. There seem to be intellectuals from very diverse backgrounds (doctors, lawyers, even farmers). Sure, the discussion may not be as intellectual as, say, r/AskHistorians, but its still more intellectual than most other forums.


There's tons of humourous comments these days. When I first started here (well after the name change), if there was even a hint of comic intent in your comment, it'd be pounded deep into the gray, never mind anything like the comments you see now that are terminated with /s. I even used to have a screed against the extreme humourlessness of the site in my profile. In those days, the only way you could get away with making a lighthearted comment was to be a 'name' (like pg or other prominent users).


I don't think the site lacks intellectuals. I think it isn't brimming with them. And I also disagree that it's more intellectual than most other forums. Some, perhaps. Generally though HN tends to think too highly of its own intelligence and the intellectual qualities of the conversations.


The fact that you are being downvoted for sharing your opinion is quite funny.


what bothers me the most is: people downvoting an opinion that differs from their own. In a contrived example, if someone says jobs was nothing without wozniak, I dont think a person should be downvoted for voicing their opinion.


HN in general will tolerate dissent, if you can provide good argumentation.

Sure there's groupthink in HN as in any other forum, but HN is more open to different ideas than any other forum that I have known since the days of Usenet in late 1980s.


Yes, I came to realise that when it comes (among other subjects) to 'tech' criticism, it easier to have an open discussion with various points of view on HN than on my generic national subreddit. That takes the biscuit!

I just wish someone could come up with a new Usenet (<rant>instead of a dozen of open-source copies of damn Twitter</rant>). Something that doesn't depend on a company or a couple of individuals. In similar vein to what happens for the Twitter copies I ranted about, but for long, threaded discussions in Reddit/HN/Usenet style. Oh, and Reddit lacks proper hierarchies, so the discovery of subreddits is pretty bad. So, yes, more like Usenet.


What is wrong with the "old" Usenet? It's still there, there is only a need for a decent web gateway and some tutorials on how to run nntp servers.


Good point. Never had thought of that.



And this too: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=658683

But then see these, which seem to acknowledge downvote to disagree is a problem:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1057338

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2403716


In that sense why not go to a "stars" system? It requires more cognitive overhead, but I think HN members can handle it.


Because people only ever vote 1 star or 5 stars. 3 at a push for neutral. They map to up, down and no vote so may as well just be that


> I find the resistance to even a little humor to be hilarious

There is no resistance to humour. Funny comments get upvotes.

There is a resistance to unfunny comments, and most attempts at humour are just bad.


> This site isn't brimming with intellectuals having significant, deep discussions

If you stomp out humour you can pretend it's exactly that.


Hacker News has its niche that's only interesting to so many people. Which is good, I hope it would never be inundated too much by people making lower-effort posts or just looking to be entertained.


Steemit.com probably. It literally pays to post or comment there. Still rough around the edges right now, in part because the algorithms aren't as good as Reddit's, and in part because it has a small user base, but it has huge potential.


So they issue Steem (their own cryptocurrency) and you earn it when you post and it gets voted up? Can you actually cash out with it?



Imzy was quite literally ahead of it's time, perhaps.


Snapzu.


Hacker News.


Facebook.


steem would be cool


Like Craigslist and its downfall, the migration isnt going to be to one large community, but many smaller ones.


As of 2015 Craigslist was valued at an estimated $5 billion and had annual revenues in excess of $381 million. Not sure what it is today 2 years later but my guess is more now. Plus CL has been around for 20 years now. It is a cash cow and serves over 20 million page views a month. I don't really consider that a downfall.


a lot of startups emerged from Craigslist niche offerings Airbnb being probably the most successful.


Craigslist had a downfall? I thought it hadn't changed substantively in a decade at least.


I'm guessing he's referring to this article:

https://www.quora.com/Why-hasnt-another-product-disrupted-an...

Which had quite a lot of visibility a few years ago.


The author argued in 2011 that craigslist would be an afterthought within 10 years. Its revenue has grown from 122m when he wrote that to in excess of 380m now. I think he's pretty clearly wrong.


I had no idea either. I use it almost every day.


While you're getting downvoted for the Craigslist aspect, I suspect the rest of your comment is probably right here. There isn't going to be another big Reddit or Digg like community. The audience just seems too fractured for one to take off like it could have done years ago.

So stuff like Voat, the shut down Imzy, Hubski and Snapzu represent parts of what Reddit was, and the different aspects of the site that different communities either enjoyed or now want.


> There isn't going to be another big Reddit or Digg like community.

What makes you so sure of this? I would argue that this is wildly inaccurate as there will almost certainly be another platform (probably many as you look outward into the future). Imzy was poorly designed, branded and executed (internet safe space?). While their effort and aspirations were righteous, they didn't deliver something people wanted. Honestly I watched that platform since the day it launched and knew it wouldn't last. Digg is old news. I've seen others like topick.com that tanked as they weren't innovative enough. Gab.ai is gaining some traction but it's product isn't innovative and it's too political so it won't scale.

The barrier of entry isn't that high for a new social platform, it's only a matter of time before something newer, less corporate, less "reddit" comes along and gets people's attention. The same could be said for facebook, twitter, and others. No one has a monopoly on ideas.


What happened at craigslist?


I'm not surprised about the total rewrite at all. I've mentioned before about how reddit appears to only be hiring for Node.js and React.

I am not enthusiastic about the redesign at all. From what I've seen so far, it will be uninspired, blocky, and slow.

There is a preview of the direction here, on the new profiles page [0]. This may be because I'm not logged in at the moment, but it does seem a little faster than it was when they first launched it at least, but it is still slow. As an example of the slowness that is to come, click from 'Posts' to 'Comments' and watch it blank out before loading in new content.

They "improved" something else (user reports) recently [1], and again the redesign is uninspired, blocky, slow, and more painful to actually use. What really gets me about reddit is that in a thread like that they get tons of (free) feedback, and don't bother responding to any of it. The admin that submitted that thread is down in the depths of those comments replying to a meme post instead of any of the feedback. Many mods are against the change, and they don't get a reply either.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/user/spez

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/modnews/comments/6oi3jw/improvement...


can't agree more, I understand why they feel the need to update but I think the direction is just a reaction to current trends, they're not tapping into what really makes reddit tick.

-un-needed design - Reddit gets money and hires a designer, designers want to make something fresh and elegant and beautiful! Just let it be text, all the sites that people really use on the open internet are just text. Wikipedia, Craigslist, Google Search, Reddit, text!

-un-needed new stack - Reddit gets money and hires a developer, developers want to use React and Node.js because it's fresh and elegant and beautiful! The only place I see any potential benefit from react-ification is in super-high pace threads like sports games or big AMA's, but reddit's long tail is essentially static content please dont make me initialize 300kb of javascript OS every time I hit a reddit thread from Google.


Yeah, I really appreciate the spartan quality to the UI. IT simply lists the topics, be they link submissions or text-posts, with a score and a comment count.

I also really like the Reddit forum / discussion UI. It makes it very easy to see who is replying to what, and let's you easily hide or collapse away whole uninteresting side-conversations.

I fear any "Facebook-style" visual embellishments will actually make it harder to discover the underlying conversations...


The whole appeal of reddit for me is the conversation - similar to HN.

I don't want a flashy link aggregator, I want bare bones design with a link/img and discussion. That's it.

Anything that tries to model its UX/design on Facebook loses my interest immediately.


I don't like flashy Facebook/Twitter UI either but I wouldn't mind as long as they had an option to switch to "simple/text only UI" or something similar.

"Please select the interface you want: New flashy Facebook-like mode® or Boring text mode®."


FUCK.

The design of reddit is one of their biggest assets. It's perfect for what the site is there to do. You can quickly and easily skim through and look at what's interesting to you. It sets them apart from the garbage design of a majority of sites out there. I don't want facebook, and I don't want digg.

This is really sad to hear.


I still use i.reddit.com which I think is a better mobile interface. It loads very fast, I can scan through posts very quickly, and it uses very little mobile bandwidth. If I want to click through and see an image, I can easily do that.

They keep adding more things to the default mobile interface (suggestions, ads, pictures) that slow it down and make me avoid using it.

I think they don't realize how much of their community actually likes that reddit is text based. Changing to an image based platform or video based would be disappointing.


The old mobile page is awesome and the day they kill it is the day I will stop using reddit on mobile.


why not use Sync, Boost or Slide? honestly if it were not for desktop i would not even know how looks Reddit at the moment, all clients are superior to their website and official client

that's like visiting hacker news website from mobile instead of using Materialistic


The HN mobile site is perfectly fine now that they tweaked the CSS.

I personally find all Reddit apps to be too opinionated and prefer the reduced mobile site + an RSS reader for smaller communities.


> the company is literally re-writing all of its code

The old and ugly mobile website is _perfect_ (apart from some bugs). The new one is a horrible piece of garbage.


I disagree. I use the extension reddit enhancement suite and _that_ makes it useable.


For the desktop site, yeah. But whenever I mistakenly end up on the new mobile site (usually by using the in-app browser of my HN app, normal links open in Reddit Sync) I'm annoyed. It's slow and crappy.


It's not perfect, but it's not the end of the world. I'd prefer it if they'd stop the 'oh, but the app is 50% faster' modals; who installs apps like that these days?


I just resort to using the desktop version on mobile. I can't really stand the current mobile design, let alone their app, way too much space wasted.



I agree, I have no idea how you use Reddit without it. If there people out there clicking on URLs/pictures, then going back to see the context/comments, I would love to hear how long this process takes you. This is my main negative to using Reddit on mobile, which I almost never do because it would lake about 200 taps to view a small amount of content.


New tab guy reporting in. I just open a few articles at a time, and go to the comments if I feel I need more input on the issue. I haven't noticed it impacting my workflow. I've used RES on and off, but when I install a new browser I always forget to add it, and rarely miss it.


There is an option in reddit to load links in new tabs. I click on a link, look at the image / read the article, close the tab and end uo back where I started.


I am talking about mobile, not desktop. On desktop I also use RES, but on mobile I am fine with the old mobile website.


I still remember Digg. Great community, but once they changed the UX and some features, everything went downhill.


the UX changes weren't the real problem, though they exacerbated the real problem. the real problem was a dramatic change in the content promotion algorithm that de facto transformed the front page of the site (which was much less cuztomizable than reddit's) into a corporate sponsored content billboard.


I don't care much either way about sponsored content - just relevance. I attribute Digg's downfall to when it started adding professional sports content to the front-page.

I'm looking at the Archive.org history and it's pretty telling what happened:

2004 - https://web.archive.org/web/20041214033211/http://www.digg.c... - Pretty much the same content as Slashdot, but with a cleaner UI.

2005 - https://web.archive.org/web/20050609031143/http://digg.com:8... - No significant change

2006 - https://web.archive.org/web/20060615092431/http://digg.com:8... New "Web 2.0" site design - less industry news, but still technology-centric.

2007 - https://web.archive.org/web/20070613060232/http://digg.com/ - Slight redesign, but note the addition of the Sports and Entertainment categories - but at least an article on the Double Slit experiment has six times as many diggs as a Sports Illustrated gossip piece.

2008 - https://web.archive.org/web/20080730182035/http://digg.com/ - Zero pure technology stories or industry pieces on the frontpage at all - it's all general interest - the site's content is unrecognizable from four years prior. 2009, 2010 and beyond continue this trend.

Notice the similarities with Reddit - albeit Reddit progressing at a slower pace: Despite similar ages, Digg took five years to go from niche to mainstream, Reddit's mainstream appeal came after eight or nine years.

Reddit has the advantage of making it easy to opt-out of irrelevant interest areas, but it can't keep everyone happy. HN is my go-to for news because the content is relevant even without me having to log-in, but Reddit's default homepage is no interest to me unless I login, which I'm less likely to do from a computer I don't own.


The diggbar, wrapping the digg iframe around linked content wasn't well received either. I think that was a contributor to the downfall as well.


There is tons of corporate sponsored content on Reddit but Reddit has learned from Digg's mistakes and made the ads appear like normal posts made by normal users.

Basically Reddit is what happens when product placement ads go to the extreme


Most major redesigns end up being a mistake. It's cool that they're re-writing, but they should change things for users in an iterative way or they're going to get extreme backlash. People do not respond well to drastic change to the point where even quantifiable positive change is often met with complaints.

It could very well be superior, but the moment someone says "like Facebook" about any sort of newsfeed the response will essentially be "BURN THE WITCH"


Honest question, why is it cool that they're re-writing?

To me this signals that the company has stagnated, or has grown beyond technology; it's an engineering team with no new ideas, no innovation, that's desperately trying to remain relevant in a company that is becoming less and less about the technology.

That's just my experience, but think about it. If a company has other revenue streams they can capture using new tech, how could they justify a rewrite vs. developing that new tech?


A lot has changed since they started, I imagine it's a nice "if you had to start all over again how would you do it differently" moment. A lot of companies don't really get that chance, hence: cool.

Now, maybe it's completely wrong for them and they shouldn't be — that's a totally fair assessment. I honestly don't know.


The moment they make reddit less of a bulletin board is the moment I imagine I'll end up using it less. Partially because it will be less useful for finding what I want on there easily, and partially because it will be less useful for what everyone else wants, so they'll post less, so there will be less to find. The subs that want more graphical options seem largely able to do so with customizations for their subreddits.


I recall seeing a comment by reddit's CEO that the new mobile website saw 4x more engagement. That probably gives them the confidence that this will pay off.


I also fear a redesign, the core of Reddit is a fast consumption of a high number of links and text snippets. Everything that goes against readability and speed (i.e. ads or a pretty UI) will hurt my experience... but should increase their revenue.

I really fear the future of Reddit, it's a website that I deeply love but I cannot see how it can be improved or made sustainable as what makes it so good is also what makes it a place where ads do not have their place.

Hacker News offers a very similar experience but I trust YC and its community. HN is a small place run by people that could recreate this website in a day, I don't see how it could ever die or change in a bad way. That's not the case of Reddit.


I believe Reddit's code is open source -- is that still correct? I'd guess this "rewrite" won't be?

In any event, I find it hard to believe this won't be Digg all over again.


All of reddit's code, except spam prevention, is open source.


_Why_ exactly are they doing a redesign? Is there something deeply wrong with the current one? Is there something it's not accomplishing?

It just smells of executive/marketing meddling to me.


This is explained in the article.



I share your sentiment that a significant redesign could be a huge mistake.

I think resisting the urge to redesign over the years has been huge for the growth of Reddit. And I think even a perfect redesign will be instinctually rejected by large swaths of the community (Markos Moulitsas used to say 1/3 of the community will hate a redesign no matter what it is.) In reddit's case the potential for rejection comes not just from typical human nature reasons but from specific cultural reasons particular to reddit: its propensity for hiveminding and collective freakouts, and consolidating around a narrative.

They may be too big at this point to be undone by a redesign. But I hope the devs really, really know what they are doing.


Did they learn nothing from the digg exodus?

>“We want Reddit to be more visually appealing,”

"Visually appealing" isn't the reason people visit reddit.


thing is, reddit is visually appealing. It's a list of links in purest form. If it wasn't saturated with gifs, images and shitposting, it would be ideal UX. It works quite well in Lynx (the comnand line browser on Linux) which is a pretty good test of an easily navigable, content first, site.

My main reddit account is 8+ years old (predecessor accounts long forgotten) and over the years on web-dev and UX subreddits there have been numerous user's redesigns put forward all of which have one thing in common: they all fail to grasp that simplicity is what made it popular and keeps it popular. On a 10 year old laptop PC it still works, loads fast and functions. RES (hardware depending) expands it and slows it down, but is not a necessary tool to make the experience acceptable.

I guarantee reddit is on a downward slide. But for myself, it's good it's becoming less interesting to visit because it is a time vampire, where once it was a valuable source of information.


I too think that a major re-design will be a mistake. But on the other hand, it doesn't have to be. Everyone assumes it'll be awful because previous efforts have failed, but who knows?


Yeah they should learn from digg. I still have thumbnails turned off on Reddit and hate the site when they are visible. Moving further away from a text heavy screen is a bad idea.


Same here. Nine year member, no thumbnails. I'm pretty sure the people running Reddit now aren't even aware that Reddit became prominent only because Digg bungled a redesign that sent users fleeing.


It was a content model change, not the pixels that sent users to Reddit. Digg started allowing brands who paid them to have a firehose (RSS feed) post ability.


Maybe re-write is back end improvements rather than UX change? The site often is overloaded which could be the reason they want to rewrite.


> I fear this major re-design will be a mistake.

The awful mobile app/site justifies this opinion. If there weren't alternative mobile apps then I would already have left reddit.

Here's hoping we can go with something more distributed and standards based this time so we don't have to keep jumping from ship to ship like this.


Didn't DIGG try a similar approach? I can't quite remember what killed DIGG off for most folks


From what I remember it was mostly too many advertisers trying to push their accounts/products to the front page and killing a lot of the user-generated content people wanted.

Helped that reddit was primed and ready as exactly the site the migrators were looking for. We don't quite have the same alternatives ready to go rn.


Wow they're going to Digg themselves into oblivion, pun definitely intended!


This could easily kill Reddit. I hope they'd do deep-long A/B test.


... because that worked really well for slashdot.


Well, you need to use intuition as well to design the test as well as get qualitative feedback.


> I fear this major re-design will be a mistake. HN is designed similarly to Reddit and if HN ever tried to do a major re-design, I think I would visit it less

I've been a reddit user for 11 years now (and a lurker for a year before that), I think I was the first (and I think only) blogger from my country that wrote about reddit's rewrite from Lisp, I've seen the comments section implemented, the move to programming.reddit.com, the move back to sub-reddits, the exodus coming from digg, the "what has pg had for breakfast?" memes, the Ron Paul memes, the 2006 astroturfing by the Israelis, the 2008 astroturfing by the Russians, the Obama memes in 2008, I've seen it all. As such, I think that the re-design that they're talking about will be a huge mistake. It's enough that they've managed to mess with some users' profile pages which are now unusable (they now look like some sort of FB/MySpace kind of thingies), but making the first page (or the first page of any sub-reddit, for that matter) a mess like FB's front-page will just kill the product for people like me.


Its especially hilarious considering Reddit really took off because of Digg making a huge re-design mistake.

One thing that drives me nuts about the new profile pages is that comments are not even shown on the first page when it was the almost the ENTIRE content of the previous "profile" page. Really silly to hide it behind the 2nd tab and only cater to content submitters who are a massive minority of users (but that's obviously where the corporate money will come from...)


The new profile pages and the reddit mobile site also load/behave very slowly. It's really annoying when I land on a reddit link through mobile and have to watch their splash animation while their crap pile loads.


Twice! One animated logo for the subreddit banner, one for the posts underneath.


Seriously. Though that means the Reddit killer is lurking in the waiting.

I vote for some type of legit upvotw downvote system backed by a legitimate crypto currency. It would stop lots of the spam, though leave it more open for financial manipulation.

Would be interesting though to see people actually making a living by being active members of the community.


Steem is almost exactly this: https://steemit.com/trending

As you could imagine it has a rather heavy bent towards cryptocurrency-related posts at the moment, and the pushy salesman vibe I get from nearly all the popular posts there is extremely off-putting (the monetary incentive will inevitably attract these types of people), but I think the idea has potential.


I know a pretty heavy user of that site and when it first emerged, some were making thousands USD (in the Steem currency) when others upvoted their posts (though there's a slightly convoluted method/timeline for accessing all earnings).

Anyway, the amounts have since slowed, but it's still a pretty active community. There are, however, quite a few schemes around some version of paying people to upvote posts, which is surprisingly allowed. Overall, it's an interesting concept but seems unsustainable over the long-term.


It's the constant pressure from VC's for better monetization. One of the features being discussed on the thread over on Reddit that is planned to be introduced is a location-based front page. This will make targeted ads by location an easier product for Reddit to sell and mine data from.


And many many users will leave, as they did with Digg. It's too large and lowest common denominator already, and a major redesign will be the impetus for a brain drain as all users will have a shared gripe. HN is a very likely spillover target, and already is for a lot of the programmer focused discussion that used to be Reddits core user base. I've watched so many communities die from monetization, the cycle really writes itself.

Eventually even HN will get too bloated and need to fracture.


I used to use 99% reddit, now it's 50% HN, 50% reddit. Reddit is too full of crap, except for specific subreddits.


I definitely think there is a risk. However, reddit is much larger now than Digg was then. And reddit existed as a clear alternative to Digg at the time of the redesign.

I think there's a very real risk of a redesign going wrong, but it may be large enough and better enough than alternatives to weather the storm.


"Better enough" is a funny thing when it comes to redesigns, because all the previous routes to value that are ingrained into your brain are now gone, or look funny/different. Thats why I predict a brain drain as people pick up and realize it really doesn't do much for them anymore.


Ugh. I've become the product.

Necessary or not squeezing more profit out of the site is going to drive many people away I saw it we all saw it with digg and slashdot.

I can even hear "Let's try for 5% growth next year!"

Then if there is no growth the cuts begin from the bottom up to protect the executives. Be warned! First they will come for the lunchroom coffee creamers...


Not just the rewrite but I worry very much about their entire current philosophical approach to transparent content vs view curations. The selective content filtering with r/popular vs r/all, the ever heavier embedding of native ads in the mobile apps, spez editing user comments in database, ohanian hiding in the background while yishan and ellen took the heat.

I fear the redesign is just a symptom of a larger widening philosophical divergence between the founders and the Ron-Paul-sympathetic user base.


I was there for most of that, as well as the shadow-ban days. I left and never went back because of that.


> It's enough that they've managed to mess with some users' profile pages which are now unusable (they now look like some sort of FB/MySpace kind of thingies)

I was very confused and put-off by this as well.


I completely agree. Part of what has made reddit great has been being scrappy. Reddit hardly had the resources to roll out new features. Like craigslist, the site has remained relatively unchanged over the years. This $200M will be used to expand the operations. The new employees will be put to work on new features. And those new features are going to kill reddit. It'll be like Digg all over again.


I haven't used their app, but I use the desktop site with the custom subreddit CSS option disabled because otherwise I wouldn't be able to tolerate it. Even /r/webdev is more usable with the default styles, and the ones that disable downvoting are downright offensive. If they're just cleaning up that side of the fence, it could be an improvement.


I am reminded of the time FARK did a minor remode on their site. Users were maaaaaad. Then, the site's effective senior VP wandered in and told everyone they'd get over it. They did not.

A small but significant of why Reddit is as big as it is is the exodus of users after Digg and FARK started monkeying with formats and generally went deaf when users freaked out.


I dont see why they're marketing this so positively given the Digg fiasco. I feel like it's "remember when digg was redesigned and everyone hated it and came to Reddit? Well we're gonna redesign the site too!"


Ha, I remember that too. I actually emailed Drew and tried to explain how the site didn't feel "sticky" for me anymore.

I never did end up going back.


> Reddit is re-writing all of its code ... new design ... looks similar to Facebook News Feed ...

Sounds like Digg.com v4. We all know the rewrite and new design didn't work out, people left for Reddit and back to /. and to HN.

It's time for HN to add different channels ;)


Holy crap. This is going to kill Reddit. The digg moment is finally here. Where do we all go next?


Absolutely. Before reddit "digg" was the big site. And suddenly digg died and all users moved to reddit. And digg died because of a "re-design". Can't believe reddit is doing the same mistake.


I hope they aren't using the mobile version for inspiration, either. To this day I "request desktop site" on mobile because information density and pinch-zoom are too valuable to give up for UI du Jour.


Their mobile UI is one of the biggest shitpiles I've ever had the displeasure of using. Minimum one second loading splashes, low information density, and if your tab gets evicted from memory and you want to return, it'll complain that "something went wrong"


As long as reddit allows sub-reddits to display their feeds how they like, they should be fine. reddit's strength is allowing reddit to be tailored to every individual user.


Well the are already phasing out custom subreddit CSS so I don't think it will be part of the new design.

https://www.reddit.com/r/modnews/comments/66q4is/the_web_red...


As far as I know, they reversed their decision on getting rid of CSS. A bunch of subreddits decided to rebel against it and they changed their mind.

https://www.reddit.com/r/modnews/comments/6auyq9/reddit_is_p...

They're going to work with mods and make sure CSS still works.


making reddit more homogeneous for everyone will probably be a mistake. customization was really what made everyone flock to reddit post digg


Really? I can't stand the custom CSS, feels like every sub Reddit is a unique website. I've had custom CSS disabled for as long as I've used CSS, I thought it was a terrible idea.


The CSS customization really does work wonders for things like sports-related subreddits or national sub-reddits, where you can attach your hometown/county to your profile name, so that everybody can make fun of you and you can make fun or everybody else (the same goes for /r/europe).

I also found CSS customization extremely valuable for the /r/syriancivilwar subreddit, where users can attach the flag of a certain faction from that war to their username: Government, Al-Nusra (or whatever they're called now), the Kurds etc. At some point a couple of years ago there were several users who had the ISIS flag attached to their username. That was an excellent way of knowing where the other party was coming from when writing down their comments.


Reddit became popular because Digg pulled exactly this redesign and drove away all their users.

Who wants to join me in founding the next Reddit, ready for the exodus?


Good content can be found all over the place. HN and Reddit aren't a prerequisite. You will find it or it will find you. Don't worry.


Also good luck selling a new design to the hive mind.


They already did -- the official reddit mobile app, and default mobile skin of the site, are already close to what's being described, and mobile use of reddit is pretty heavy. If it were going to cause a mass exodus, it would've already.


Mobile use is heavy, but any idea about the default app? I use Relay Pro on android, which is very popular. I don't know about the non-default iphone apps though.


Who actually uses the official reddit mobile app? RIF is king on android, baconreader is decent. Alien Blue reigns on iOS.


Alien Blue is gone, I think. Reddit acquired and replaced with their app. Which currently has 5 stars and 700+ reviews, fwiw.


By what metric are you basing that on?


> if HN ever tried to do a major re-design,

I'd love it if they did. I find its minimalism too extreme, and the way they hyperlink unintuitive,


I'd be surprised if they implement a change as jarring as it sounds like they're considering. We'll see though.


another reason i like reddit is that i can easily load it up on a bedside fanless cherry trail system with no lag. Redos pretty much guarantee added bloat and response time. Sounds like reddit might go the way of that other post site that preceded reddit whose name I can't remember...ohh yeah, digg...


Speaking of redesigns, am I the only one hating the material design feel added to google chrome settings?


Piss off one early adopter power user to bring in a hundred casuals. You've served your purpose.


Yep, they are trying so hard to rollout Digg v4, it's ironic.


"HN is designed similarly to Reddit and if HN ever tried to do a major re-design, I think I would visit it less."

Wait, are you saying there is people reading HN without custom CSS?


Anyone remember Stumbleupon?


the re-design sounds like reddit4 in the making


Reddit is pretty bad without the RES extension, it's not surprising they want to change that.


If you click here (no need to be logged in) you get the HTML layout of the rewrite.

https://www.reddit.com/profile-beta-confirmation

https://www.reddit.com/user/kn0thing

Seems to be JS-heavy.


"JS-heavy" says it all. Thing is slow as hell.

It's not quite as bad UI-wise as I thought it could be, but I'm not sure why all these sites are pushing in the direction they are.

I think the interest in static site generators and brutalist design says something...

I agree with others that Reddit will be in for a rude awakening if the performance doesn't get a lot better.


This sounds awful.

Time to startup a competitor kills reddit the same way they killed digg?

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