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Reddit's redesign increases power usage of user's devices (reddit.com)
149 points by lucb1e 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 178 comments



Anyone from reddit's dev team reading this? Or youtube's dev team, because my question applies to both.

The previous design was great. The new version of both sites is slow, sluggish and provides me with no benefit. Why was the change implemented? The previous design wasn't broken!

How's the user feedback? A/B testing really indicated to you this was a good choice?!

If you have any insight -- I'm sure this was a decision made much higher up than dev -- please do share.


I don't understand why modern websites need to be these javascript heavy single page apps. New Youtube is super slow, and if you scroll down to the comments under a video and then go back to your subscriptions you end up scrolled down and see old videos.

New Reddit is awful, the only reason I can see for them to make it is busy work for all the new developers they hired after getting a large investment. Again, there's absolutely no need for a single page app, the whole point of browsing Reddit is to load seperate documents, something the web has been able to do since its inception. And that's not even mentioning the actual design, which is like every new design with less contrast and more wasted space on my desktop monitor.

Unfortunately there's no going back, the sunk cost is to high and they think they really are making things better the new way. The linked post make some errors in the calculations, but I would be surprised if the overall point is wrong.


The SinglePage Transfer Protocol


Steve Huffman was asked about the reason for the redesign and he said that it was necessary since users who visit reddit for the first time are completely lost and one of the reasons for this was the design. They hope the new design will make reddit more approachable for new users.

I think it comes to down to the growth at all costs mindset of being a VC funded company. Besides the point mentioned above, I think the new design allows them to increase their engagement numbers :

- they heavily push users to install the mobile apps to the point that it's annoying

- the new design lends itself better to native ads

- they started autoplaying videos and gifs on mobile for some users

- when I browse from a desktop without logging in, I noticed that threads now have a "related content" suggestions after the first few comments (I don't remember seeing this previously. Correct me if I'm wrong on this)

- they introduced new profile pages which make the site into more of a social network. Users can now follow other users, post to their own timeline etc.

- they started collecting more user data (for ad targeting) and have reset users' tracking preferences at least twice so far. Related links [0] [1]

Hopefully they start taking user feedback more seriously.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/73259t/reddit_secr...

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/stopadvertising/comments/87d1sq/psa...


I refuse to use the mobile site because of auto playing videos. I have limited data and I consider it unforgivable for them to cost me money without my consent.

It only had to happen once for me to decide this.


are you a redit PR? honest question.

my personal experience with the old site: slow, nothing works, even on wifi interaction is awful, broken cache headers make the index reload everytime I pressed back from an image (which you never knows if it will open the dhtml preview or change the page url to a jpg) and every time you click the first link, a modal popular tells me that I'd be hapier with the app.

the new site: absolutely the same, but somehow even slower (and it was already the top slower site!) with slightly larger images. plus a broken login flow.

i am pretty sure the only users to ever visit that site a second time on a mobile phone did so clicking a link by mistake. either they got the app or bounced.


I'm just a reddit user, I don't work for the company.


I have definitely noticed that YouTube is one of the few sites that causes my desktop to struggle when loading the page. Gmail is oddly heavy in this regard too. I worry that google might not be paying enough attention to load times or resource utilization.


Which is really too bad because much of the world is on a connection far away from Google and a machine that most Googler's would have recycled already.

I distinctly remember when Reddit rolled out the new "mobile site" because it took multiple seconds longer to load than the previous one and now crashes my IPad 1 and is janky on my IPad 2-ish quality Galaxy Tab.

If these companies want to do something for the environment and their customers, they should make their sites blazingly fast through simplicity not lazily loaded this and that progressive client side whoochathings.


So this is veering off-topic: I remember but cannot for the life of me find a blog post from Google about either the number of bytes in their front page or the number of words on the front page. Apparently there was some guy who would email them just a number "23" or whatever it was that gave the number of bytes/words on google.com every time they updated it. After being puzzled by these emails for a while they figured out what he was hinting at when he sent one that was like "58, getting a bit heavy aren't we?". And that was a lesson about keeping front pages simple - something that was and largely still is unique about Google.

Ironic.

But why can't I find this blog post? I just spent much longer than I ought to have searching for it and can't find a trace of it. You have to wade through a lot of SEO stuff that comes up with the search results, but restricting to older content helps (I think this happened at latest 2010 probably several years before that). The old google blog I think was google.blogspot.com or googleblog.blogspot.com but you need to search it on the wayback machine and I can't see a way to do that except by hand.



Thanks but how did you find this? I guess the fact that it was co.uk meant my site-restricted searches failed.


I had to revert to the 'old' gmail. I mean a MBP 2017 shouldn't drop frames when scrolling emails!!


The"new" Gmail is the slowest website I use. I'm trying to give it a go but honestly I'm gonna have to switch soon. It's nearly unusable.


If you've used the new version of Adwords or Analytics, or had to administer a GApps account in the past 2 years, you've already figured out that Google does not give 2 craps about speed or optimization anymore!


Google Plus was so heavy that it barely ran on my old netbook with 4 Gb of RAM. I think that if it had looked a bit more like Craig's List it would have had a much better chance of success. (seriously)

The Web needs an anti-bloat movement where animation is minimized and documents are mostly server-rendered.


No to the latter.

Instead please extend HTML with useful entries and stop using Javascript for layout and handling connections and refreshes.

What you said suggest the use of migrated like Google AMP. Server side had no idea how things are supposed to be rendered. Trying to force it via JS is an extra crock.


Google AMP is terrible for many reasons.

Server side has an idea on how things are supposed to be rendered for content-based documents.

Games and complex apps need JS, but readable documents don't. Not everything should be "an app".

Animation is often not accessible and it's a problem that needs to be fixed.


The new version of both sites is slow, sluggish and provides me with no benefit.

It's about par for the course when a new dev group and/or manager comes in and wants to make their mark. I generally find this sort of thing facepalm-inspiring-not-so-smart. For one thing, there are so many examples out there of how this can go wrong. (see sorenjan's cousin comment) For a mature long-running production system, the right thing to do is to bias for continuity and incremental change. This isn't to say that redesign and progress are forbidden. There are usually benefits to be had. I've been a part of teams that have implemented radical changes to underlying frameworks. (Re-hosting from an object database to Oracle, for example.) My experience is that there is almost always a way to do this incrementally, but that ego and limited imaginations get in the way of doing the right thing.

When you're out to re-architect or re-host a long standing production system, there are two things you should absolutely do, absolutely:

1) Avoid disrupting the current users

2) Preserve the hard won domain, operational, and optimization knowledge of the previous development team

The goodwill of the users and the good reputation of your company/app were won with great effort and expense. They are extremely valuable. Degrade those at your peril! Likewise, the hard won domain, operational, and optimization knowledge of the previous development team were won with great effort and expense and are extremely valuable. Degrade/disregard those at your peril!

I think I would like to ask new managers who are going to "make their mark" by re-implementing something if they can absolutely guarantee 1) and if they can quantify 2) and back themselves up empirically. Then, when the project is done, ask how good they were at answering those questions.

Just the 2 cents of a hoary old veteran.

(A couple of hints, for those wondering how: Automated test suites and syntactic code rewriting are your friend!)


Hows Geocities doin?

Sometimes you need to evolve to survive. We got stuck with the old codebase and adding features was a nightmare - features a lot of users were demanding! With the new design and codebase we can start adding more features.. optional features! we wont force you to use them. And FYI unlike other companies we don't even force you to use the redesign! We've left the old one up at old.reddit.com


Hows Geocities doin?

Sometimes you need to evolve to survive.

Are you suggesting that I think evolution is wrong? Would that really be a fair reading of my comment?

We got stuck with the old codebase and adding features was a nightmare - features a lot of users were demanding!

A positive suggestion for a future project: Implement a new UI with a newer fancy framework -- but have it emulate the old UI. (It should be flexible enough to implement the old UI and the new.) This lets you be maximally flexible in introducing new features incrementally, and lets you easily make comparisons with the old system, especially with regards to performance. In some cases, this can also let you re-use QA assets. Also, this can facilitate allowing users to transition themselves to the new site/new features incrementally, which makes the transaction of switching to the new UI more consensual for the users. (More pull, less push, from their perspective.)

And FYI unlike other companies we don't even force you to use the redesign! We've left the old one up at old.reddit.com

I noticed. Good on you. As a user, the transaction still seemed a bit foisty to me, but it was better than usual. But as a hoary old dev: you can still do better than the naive complete rewrite.


Sorry for the late reply - was out. And for putting words in your mouth. I understand now your more about incremental steps rather than drastic changes.

Thanks for the feedback. As I'm not on the web or redesign team I don't know how feasible that would have been.. I know there was a ton of stuff being done in strange ways with the legacy system.. but I can promise that with the new framework we will be able to make the usual A/B adjustments a lot easier and hopefully evolve more incrementally now into something better than both the current old and new designs.


I gotta say your comments are not inspiring much confidence.

Generally speaking, I love 'new' stuff, and even welcome non-backwards-compatible breaks with the old to get rid of cruft/legacy issues. But with the Reddit redesign I definitely feel that it goes way beyond that and instead does a whole lot of things that seem more 'state of the art front-end bandwagon-ey' than is prudent.

Basically, I get the impression that while the redesign might include a whole bunch of stuff that redditors have been asking for, it's primarily not made with that target audience in mind. Who the actual target audience is I'm not sure, but I imagine their interests don't align with most users. I'd be happy to be proven wrong though.

(and honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the actual target audience is 'front-end reddit devs who like to use the coolest newest stuff')


it's primarily not made with that target audience in mind. Who the actual target audience is I'm not sure, but I imagine their interests don't align with most users.

That's the fundamental problem in such a situation with completely asymmetrical power. The 'bosses' think they are being super conscientious -- and often they are genuinely trying -- but their point of view lets them get away with thinking, "Oh well, they won't mind. Oh well, it's worth it, they can take it."

I wouldn't be surprised if the actual target audience is 'front-end reddit devs who like to use the coolest newest stuff'

That's something to think about. You want to be able to hire the best devs. This is why policies like "Absolute Continuity" are useful for keeping the devs self-honest. Otherwise, because there is no direct accountability, the dev's priorities are going to creep into superseding the user's.


> The 'bosses' think they are being super conscientious -- and often they are genuinely trying -- but their point of view lets them get away with thinking, "Oh well, they won't mind. Oh well, it's worth it, they can take it."

It's possible, but I doubt it. It seems more likely to me that the 'bosses' don't really care all that much beyond whatever they consider the 'bottom line'.


The new design hasn't worked. In particular, when browsing a subreddit, the first page or so of posts will load, but that's it. The "Next" button that used to take you to the next page is gone, which rather limits what you can view. I think its supposed to be infinite scrolling, but that simply hasn't worked, if that's what is supposed to happen.

Make it work. Make it fast (or pretty). That order.


The search engine broke, too. Maybe it's it's having a negative term like "javascript -npm" or searching only a single subreddit, but changing "www" to "old" in the url often takes a search from zero results to hundreds.

And that's on top of how much slower it is, how it starts with a sidebar covering the page, janky lightbox scrolling, fixed headers covering the page, autoplay everything, etc. Search and other major features don't work.


Their search is so bad it cannot even find subreddits when I type it in word for word perfectly. I'm shocked they threw all this money into a redesign when they haven't even implemented the most basic of search implementations.


that's your adblocker preventing the infinite scroll from loading more items


What ad-blocking I do is limited to very specific domains; reddit is not among them. (I manage my own blacklists; I do not use the built-ins.)

Further, I see this behavior in Incognito, and my understanding is that extensions are not active in Incognito.


Are you on the team? Was there a clamoring from the users for infinite scroll? Was there a study of how it would effect the typical user?


People love that feature!


How is that quantified?


First off I'm not on the redesign team BTW so haven't been as involved in this analysis enough to adequately answer your question and also my statement is one that you can quantify as such.

But the reason I stated it is that A: it was a heavily requested feature B: comments regarding infinite scroll have been weirdly positive (contrasting my point in another reply about most comments are from very strongly opinionated users) and C: usage statistics ie I can assure you when compared side by side people make more of the equivalent page turns. Personally I like both methods but infinite scroll was a clear winner for us.


But why is there no static fallback for when some script doesn't work? BetterReddit allows me to use both methods concurrently on the old design, why is the new design limited to a method that doesn't work for me?


I work at Reddit but not on the redesign. I would hardly call our old design great. Functional to those who know Reddit for sure, but for new redditors the learning curve is very steep. Heck, I’ve been on reddit for 12 years and couldn’t figure out how some features worked until I started working at the company. It was time the site didn’t look like a “dystopian craigslist” and looked like a website that was made in 2018.

We’ve been through well over a year of development and feedback (both internal and external) and most of it has been positive or constructive criticism that we are working on. Definitely agree the performance could be better, but we’re working on it and it’s still early days.


I guess it's a good sign that a website with such a steep learning curve was able to become the world's 26th most trafficked site. Maybe the average internet user is smarter than many give them credit for.

https://www.similarweb.com/website/reddit.com


Are there any plans to make reddit video better? It's by far the worst video experience i've ever had on, well, anything really. On FF mobile it freezes regularly, audio and/or video, seems to take an eternity to load (and i'm presented with a black screen all the while). You're also unable to link to the videos directly. I get why this was done, but could you not just use some form of interstitial site and check referer headers like every other website out there? On Vivaldi, it just outright (used to) crash the browser.

I get that the Vivaldi issue was an issue with the browser itself, which has just been fixed, but this was only within Reddit, and not the billions of other sites on the internet. What the hell is going on?

With regards to the redesign, i'm actually in awe of how badly it was done. I literally knocked up a browser extension in a weekend a few years ago which performs far better than the current design. I feel really bad having a go like this but i am genuinely curious as to how this massive, relatively simple (i use the term lightly, i know it is complicated) front end has suffered like this. You have a huge amount of money from conde naste, and - from reading the backend/performance blogs - some seriously shit hot engineers; what went wrong? Is there a large amount of politics halting progress? Did you try some new frameworks/technologies which just failed/didn't work as expected? Genuinely curious (and again sorry if it seems like i'm having a go).


> ... but for new redditors the learning curve is very steep.

But the old redditors learned it just fine.


It was time the site didn’t look like a “dystopian craigslist” and looked like a website that was made in 2018.

This is true. However, the transaction needs to seem equitable to the users. Will the improvement in looks and better feature discoverability seem to users like a fair trade-off for performance? Performance of a UI is pretty much the most valued quality to a user.

Given that the developers/company have almost all of the power in the transaction, this feeling of equity is all the more important. The devs/company need to be careful about appearing to foist a new UI on users. Success should be measured against the consensuality of the transaction. To what extent are people switching because they want to, because it's a better deal to them? (Vs, the company can force it on users, because they have all the power.) The more consensual the transaction is to users, the more value is preserved or created by the company.


There is an opt out of the redesign option in your preferences. There is also old.reddit.com where the old design is preserved.

What other comparable network/website goes to that extent to not force a redesign on their users?


First, personal preferences aside, I'm sure that the team would have worked hard on the redesign so congratulations on launching that!

Second, while I appreciate the opt-out option, is it here to stay or is it a fallback mode until the entire site is flipped over to the redesign? I can't imagine the former being the case - having two teams maintain two fundamentally different UIs doesn't seem viable in the long run. If so, to what extent is the rollout of the redesign influenced by the number of people opting out or the opt-out feedback?


What other comparable network/website goes to that extent to not force a redesign on their users?

Ok, let's be fair. Given the dismal record of websites with regard to user continuity, you're doing relatively great! However, I'd also say that this is the wrong pool to measure against if you're looking for the limits of excellence. You're doing better than the peer group -- that can be fairly said to be a positive. But what if your peer group are the delinquents?

So good on you for what you've done! Perhaps I'm a bit delinquent in giving you some deserved praise and credit. It's a good start. However, there's a lot further you could go if you wanted to.

EDIT: What is it with the redesign opt-out form? It feels a bit heavy handed. How about I just get to have the old site by default, and I get to check out the new design when I feel like it, without the inquisition?


Sorry for the late reply - was out.

Sorry if the opt-outs a lengthy process. I guess the redesign team want to extract as much info from you as possible. I would just go to old.reddit.com if I were you ;)


I would just go to old.reddit.com if I were you ;)

That comes across as condescending and smarmy.

Again, I'm not against evolution. This whole things is yet another example of what happens in asymmetrical power situations.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17092795


oh hey Dave!


I'm on Reddit's dev team and yes, we're reading this. We read as much of the criticism as we can and incorporate it into our planning as much as we can. We have a team of developers working on performance, and one of the nice things about the redesign is that we can make radical changes to the stack, if needed, to support better performance.

There are a lot of core Reddit users that just like it how it is, which I get, but there is so much that can be improved. I could write pages about this, but just to give one example: one thing many people aren't aware of is how much work the moderators do to make Reddit a good place. Right now they rely on some pretty janky tools to do that work. The redesign allows us not only to give them better tools to do that work easier, but also allows us to add things like submit validations that prevents users to posting garbage to their subreddits which they then have to take down by hand. If you think we should just add those features to the old Reddit, all I can say is you've never looked into the sad, tired eyes of someone who has worked on that codebase.


No direct insight but I do look forward to reading a blog post or two in a few years detailing the internal politics and reasoning behind this push. Hopefully I find it on Reddit, most likely I'll see it on HN.


> Why was the change implemented?

There's no easy back peddling from a year of development. It may be crap, but they put so much time & effort into it they can't turn back now - even if a lot of users hate it. They're also working more on becoming an Advertising platform, and this redesign allows for more flexibility there, like linkedin's auto-play videos when scrolling into view.


None of that justifies it. They wasted their time, so now everyone has to pay? I don't think so. If the old design wasn't easy to go back to, I'd only view reddit through API based things (app) at this point.


> They wasted their time,

They didn't waste their time. They got promotions and padded their resumes with "designed and implemented" sections. In the process they also justified their salaries. Imagine they are well paid designers getting nice 6 figure salaries. During review they say something like "we didn't do anything, all the stuff actually worked pretty well" vs "yeah, we identified these million things wrong then went and redesigned and modernized all the stuff". Which one will they go for. Which one does the management go for? Or future employees.

That's why I believe GMail was changing its UI every 6 months. You sneezed and you got a new UI in it, even though the old one was pretty decent.

Even if the new UI is crap nobody in the chain has the incentive to raise their hand and say it, because they've all been praising it and approving it for a year.

This highlights I think why it is very important to get impartial test users, who perhaps are paid to be brutally honest and just give their opinions whatever they are.


This highlights I think why it is very important to get impartial test users, who perhaps are paid to be brutally honest and just give their opinions whatever they are.

Better yet, link bonuses to actual feedback from real users. However, the best thing to do, is to implement a policy of strict continuity. Even radical architectural changes can be implemented under such a regime. Strict Continuity means being accountable to users. Relaxation of strict continuity generally means management/devs have their own agendas, and those stupid users be damned!


If they need the eyeballs focused on forced content, expect the API to die soon.


This will be the day I delete my reddit account. Most of my redditing is done on my phone and the API is the only thing making that usable at all.


> There's no easy back peddling from a year of development. It may be crap, but they put so much time & effort into it they can't turn back now - even if a lot of users hate it. They're also working more on becoming an Advertising platform, and this redesign allows for more flexibility there, like linkedin's auto-play videos when scrolling into view.

Yes there is - you call it what it is, a failed Epic. Pivot and see what you can salvage before moving on.

As for the why did this change / previous design wasn't broken - you're abstracting away the interface and systems from the careers which built them. We must endure constant change to allow new generations space to fail and grow. A cynical perspective would say that careers aren't made through maintenance work.


We must endure constant change to allow new generations space to fail and grow.

I call BS. I know for a fact that policies of strict continuity can be maintained, because I've done it -- that you can implement radical architectural change without rocking the boat and without throwing the users/UX under the bus. The fact that we, as a field, aren't aware of this just goes to show how "half a field" programming still is.


Users and UX somewhere will be thrown under the bus. The question is - will it be a heavily used multi-million dollar valuation site, or will it be a rarely-used development site?

A big part is the blur between toy and product. We disregard end-users as "sheeple" while simultaneously receiving gratification from their auth count.


Users and UX somewhere will be thrown under the bus.

I call BS. If you're moving to a new UI framework, these are usually powerful enough to emulate the old UI. Getting the new framework to feel as snappy as the old UI is a very good benchmark for performance as well as for feature parity. (They usually have more features, but there might be some corner-case overlooked.)

The question is - will it be a heavily used multi-million dollar valuation site, or will it be a rarely-used development site?

Management sometimes will decide that it isn't worth the effort, and sometimes that will be the right call. But for a user-oriented site, high value should be placed on the user.


Do the developers, administrators, management, and owners of any given website consider the needs of users like yourself?

In their place, would you? How much money would it make for you to think about your users, and how much would it cost you?


How much money would it make for you to think about your users, and how much would it cost you?

That depends on the rate and cost of user acquisition, as well as the ROI of user retention.


Yes, there is. You stop, cut your losses, do a heavy post mortem to get something out of it, and fire the responsibles.


Sunk cost fallacy.


precisely! This is what I was thinking of. I see it a lot in web development and engineering.


I've recently come to this tough realization myself after seeing what a mess javascript heavy apps can create. I'm sure theres some way to do it "right", but I felt like building a js clientside app inherently put me behind where static sites where starting.

The solution? Server side rendering through next.js, same code via redux+react-router+react.


I'm sure theres some way to do it "right", but I felt like building a js clientside app inherently put me behind where static sites where starting.

For a long standing production app, my suggestion is to start with a plan for a better layout/architecture in your fancy new framework, but start by emulating the old UI. The new framework is often flexible and powerful enough to do this. If it isn't, then I might question its validity.


I'm reading!

First off the linked post wasn't a very fair analysis and redditors pointed that out in the comments.

But to answer your questions: The previous design wasn't broken per se but it wasn't particularly user friendly. Whilst there are plenty of redditors who are used to the layout, a lot of potential users (first time visitors) never came back and became redditors - including many people I tried to introduce to reddit. The redesign is doing much better in that regard. Remember starterupers out there - you don't hear from the satisfied customers so much on the internet but you do get usage metrics :) So take the negative comments with a pinch of salt.


I'm curious what the technical reasons for you to choose to re-build it as an SPA rather than just gradually improve the layout and some new features? I don't use Reddit as an application. I have my favorite subreddits in my bookmark bar in my browser, under a folder called "Reddit". Everytime I switch between them I am forced to do a re-render from the ground up now, which takes about 4-5 seconds on my quite beefy hardware and network (overclocked i7, TITAN X, 1Gbit fiber), while the old design only took a second, 600ms of which were TTFB for the main html of the page.

I understand if your reason for a redesign is to keep new users, but what I don't understand is why it had to be a single-page application?


I think the old reddit is one of the most useable sites on the internet. I spend a lot of time there because it's a lot more functional and text oriented than other sites.

Did the design team consider that reddit's core user base likes the old design and may be there because of it?

i.e. The redesign may be more pleasing to non-redditors, but displeasing to the site's actual users. Did you test on regular users or just new users?


>The redesign is doing much better in that regard.

I'm curious what the numbers shows on how much is attributable to making the list of links look more like a social media timeline vs. all the other changes combined. Over the last few years, the writing on the wall is that Reddit sees the path to grow as evolving into Meme City, USA. Did you test that in isolation to other UI changes?


> The previous design was great

Is this a bad joke?

I don't want to judge the new design, but the old design was really, REALLY bad. It was complicated, bloated, a lot of stuff was hidden, the colors were ugly... nothing was right

Is this some kind of HN-wide practical joke or do you really believe that 90's style design was somehow any better? Also if this is actually your opinion, do you realize it's probably marginal amongst users?


Was it slow?


No, but it sucked either way


make-work


My favorite comment from TFA:

> None of your math makes sense. All your measurements have only the consumption at one exact instant, not over time, the total energy used is the integral of the energy flow over time. You'd need to measure the consumption over time, or total discharge of the battery, to actually have the energy used to load a page (in J, not W, you can't measure the energy required to load a page in W).

> You just multiplied a banana times Pi. And showed the results in meters of strawberries.


Everyone's dodging the point of the post (versus the exact numbers and terminology). As I said on reddit as well:

> The issue is that the redesign uses more power across millions of devices, and that has an impact.

> I might have gotten the exact number wrong, but the exact number doesn't matter that much. It's about it being a significant difference.


Simply put, you don't have the expertise required to measure this. It's not just that you didn't get the exact number, it's that you haven't got a usable measurement at all. For all we know from your tests, the new site uses less power than the old one.


> I might have gotten the exact number wrong, but the exact number doesn't matter that much. It's about it being a significant difference.

Of course the exact number matters. Let's say you're off by a factor of 1000. Then the power difference isn't really worth worrying about.


The only reason we're even talking about this article is because of your outrageous number. When folks who recognize how these kind of measurements actually are done say, "this seems extremely wrong" you should definitely expect some pushback.

To be honest, this reads to me like a reddit user angry about a site change trying to make a sensational article to protest it, knowing cynically that even if it's very wrong it won't matter, the headline is too sticky for reddit to ignore.


How do you know it's a significant difference if you haven't measured it correctly?


Haha, yeah. I was considering jumping in with my usual "learn the difference between power (W) and energy (Wh)!" lecture, but couldn't have improved on that response.

This is the same mistake typically made by the "electric vehicles will overload the grid and we'll need 500 new nuclear plants!!" folks.


Also, the measurement involves reloading the same page infinite number of times which is really not even remotely represents how users probably use Reddit.

May be the new design is preloading content to make the subsequent clicks faster? May be the new design enables usage of HTTP resources with better cache lifetimes?


Between...

* feeling completely overrun with sensationalized politics;

* the new design feeling sluggish and painful even on my maxed out late-2016 MBP;

* the general community feeling more hostile and downvote-heavy than ever before;

* and the content being increasingly image-, video-, and meme-focused...

reddit has really lost a lot of its magic and appeal to me. I do still use it, but I find it almost intolerable if I'm not logged in with my very carefully curated set of subreddit subscriptions.

I don't really know what the solution is. I don't think reddit is dying, but I do think it's becoming something different, and there increasingly feels like there's space for something more like the old reddit to coexist. HN is a considerably higher quality site IMHO, but also considerably more focused and with much stronger moderation.


"I don't really know what the solution is."

"HN is a considerably higher quality site IMHO, but also considerably more focused and with much stronger moderation."

I think that's the key, making a site specifically not for everyone. Community sites, built around something tangible that a semi-large group of people have an affinity for, is what I'd like to see more of. I've spent more time on atariage.com than /r/atari this month because the redesign pushed me away. I took me almost 2 weeks to get my account approved on AtariAge but I didn't mind because a) I know they're busying doing other things than worrying about how to squeeze every last dime out of my page views and b) there was plenty of quality content for me to consume in the mean time. I will eventually be buying at least $100 worth of Homebrew carts through them and, even though I don't know how much they make off that, it will likely be infinitely more than Reddit ever made off me.


Most of your criticisms are solved by unsubscribing from those bad subreddits like politics, funny, and all the picture/meme ones.


I don't disagree -- I wrote as much in my own post. The site is okay once I've unsubscribed from virtually everything it throws at you by default and instead subscribed to a heavily curated selection of subreddits that I found over the years.

Even then, though, subreddits that used to be great have often degraded significantly -- in many cases simply by getting too big. Perhaps that's the primary difficulty. Even some "niche" subreddits often now have 100k+ users. The site is just so much bigger and more active than it was when I first started using it that it's very difficult to capture what it used to feel like, even with extensive subreddit curation and filtering.


Your point about the content is true and always tips the hand to Reddit's other issue.

The content moves so quick, and the user base switches so much, many subs wind up with the same post/style of posts over and over.

The search has at least gotten better and sidebars help somewhat, though the new redesign kills both of those items.


I think the problems are symptomatic of a larger issue. I suspect it has to do with advertising and ultimately money. Thinking back - it might have started around the time Ellen Pao left.


I do not understand what extra functionality is gained by making the site so much slower. I go on Reddit primarily for text content. Threaded comments and HTML <a> tags.

WHY does it NEED to be so SLOW?

For this degree of sluggishness, it feels like you could build a site that fulfills all of reddit's functionality—and have a crypto miner running in the background.


I had the same feeling when Chase redesigned their online banking and I had to upgrade my dedicated linux banking computer from an old Lenovo Ideapad to a somewhat more powerful old Thinkpad.


Wells Fargo took a mediocre but functional site and made a slow and useless site


It's not about the users. The users have become the product - their new user base is advertisers.


Because the comment thread has to pop out and have a fancy grayed out background and infinite scroll and ... and ... because Javascript, dude! More Javascript makes everything slower, but it's so much better.


Do you REALLY think they engineered it intentionally slow?


A couple of statements followed by a point.

Performance is readily acknowledged as a feature.[0]

There are gradations of intentionality and prioritization.

I don't think anyone said, "Let's make the thing slow." That being said, there was definitely someone(s) out there intentionally prioritizing something(s) other than performance.

[0] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=performance+is+a+feature&


Yes they did, by not engineering it to be intentionally fast.


To switch from black/white hat hacker to tinfoil hat... who would make money from Reddit's site being slower and using more electricity?



I deleted my Reddit account which kept the old design on it. Now when I occasionally browse Reddit as a non-user, it looks like an awful implementation of material design with tons of wasted space. For example, I see about 1.5 cards per page on my 13" laptop. Who designed this? It is horrid and nearly unusable. Not that I'll be using Reddit that much anymore, but it's like they deprecated the desktop version for mobile-everywhere. There's a reason the form factors are different!


We left up the old design on old.reddit.com if you really want it :p


Stfu , how may weeks before you remove it...


One metric I'd love to see is the comparison between use of the link to visit the old site from the new site as opposed to the link to the new site from the old


Interesting. New users can't access the old design at all?


https://old.reddit.com

I believe it's possible to set that as a default regardless of account age. But it's a PITA.



Not on Android ...



I'm very glad Firefox for Android supports the same extensions as the desktop version.


Last time I checked reddit you could open the dropdown menu from your account name, upper right corner, and OPT OUT of the new design.


What are the best Reddit clones these days? I've seen voat but heard it's overrun by the alt right. Hubski seemed interesting but basically seems dead now. Anything else out there? Reddit is really losing its appeal to me with their desktop/mobile site changes. That and I feel the contents been getting less interesting. Like it's just memes or sensational politics everywhere. Maybe I'm just getting old.


The key is subscribing to subreddits that match your interests. /r/all is like the sun: it can brighten your day, but if you stare at it you might just go blind.

Also, if you find The Next Reddit, let me know so I can build a new AskOuija there. :P


For me, just casually dropping in to subreddits from a web search, I recoil at the suggestion of signing-up and slogging through curating and filtering until I achieve Reddit Nirvana. Life is too short.

Particularly when other topic-focused communities already exist i.e. what problem are subreddits solving?

And to invert that to the whole set, what problem is Reddit solving? I think they've asked themselves that and the response is this new UX which has the non-answer 'don't know, but let's keep eyeballs on our site and away from Facebook'.


> Particularly when other topic-focused communities already exist i.e. what problem are subreddits solving?

Subreddits don’t necessarily solve a problem... they’re just a well-made framework for content sharing and conversation, combining ideas from previous message board systems to provide a good user experience. But it’s the way Reddit combines them that makes them useful, which means I can’t answer this question without answering the following one:

> And to invert that to the whole set, what problem is Reddit solving?

Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but the answer seems blatantly obvious to me: it allows you to have all of your communities on a single platform. It creates a kind of meta-community... a user you interact with in one subreddit may show up later in another. Why would you create multiple independent accounts at multiple message boards across the web when you can have one account and one simple feed of relevant posts from all of your communities?

> I recoil at the suggestion of signing-up and slogging through curating and filtering until I achieve Reddit Nirvana. Life is too short.

I’m honestly perplexed as to why you think setting up a Reddit account is this gargantuan task. You find a few communities based on your interests and you subscribe to them. That’s it. And you don’t have to do it all at once. You can join as many or as few subreddits as you like, whenever you feel like it.

I must be missing something here. What topic-focused communities do you prefer? Are you talking about Facebook Groups?


Hacker News isn't a bad alternative ;)


This place has a really strong pro-cloud pro-JS bent tho


Pro js?

Seems every thread about something built in javascript is full of people bashing it.


JavaScript is a pretty popular language. Also HN is a slice of the developer community at large. I think anything that discusses JS is going to look pro-JS to a person that hates it.

I don't think parent will find any high traffic developer discussion forum where people don't discuss JavaScript.

I admit I don't like the language, but there's definitely both camps on this site, seemingly in similar proportions.


We are but tiny voices against the masses


No other language executes in browsers for historic reasons.[0] And there is reduced friction to developing all parts of the stack in a single language. Not all Javascript developers support the current state of the Node ecosystem.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17051521


Of course it is because it serves the startup community and something like 99.999% of startups are web apps and ... well... javascript.


It beats the pro-meme bent of other sites though.


Lobste.rs


How is life over there? The idea of an invitation tree certainly sounds nice.


There just aren't any. The same thing goes for the forums (bulletin boards) I go to.

But Xenforo is a really polished CMS with some good skins beside the god-awful default one. It's no vBulletin.


Like with anything, you need to carefully curate what you consume. Like Twitter, Reddit can be an excellent place if you follow only subreddits that intrigue you.


Exactly. There are some really good communities on Reddit and really awful communities on Reddit.

A couple examples of good ones:

/r/homelab /r/homeserver /r/selfhosted


This is just a symptom of the webdev world's over-reliance on JavaScript to draw interfaces nowadays. The web stack has HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for reason. Quit doing everything in the third layer. Make your stuff with progressive enhancement. Knock off the do-it-all-in-JS stuff and your web apps will perform better.


Their redesign looks like something you would have seen in the early 2000s. It's (barely) one step above a Geocities site.


Given the old site was built off of older libraries/frameworks and the newer site is presumably built using more modern ones, wouldn't this be an indicator of latest tools being heavier and/or more bloated?


The old site also did mostly server-side rendering while the new site is largely client-side rendering of structured data.

One of those isn't necessarily heavier-weight than the other, but it does shift the energy usage from the company's data-center to the user's computer or mobile device. Server-side rendering also opens up more opportunities for cross-user caching, which AIUI Reddit used extensively.


Is shifting costs from servers to clients such a massive savings that it could outweigh annoyed users? I genuinely have no feel for the relevant amounts here.


I would bet that both directions were a minor consideration in their plans. A bigger concern is probably development time (much easier to find React developers than Pylons or whatever Reddit used to use now) and the ability to integrate new features like r/thebutton or r/place.


The argument is not right though, because the data reddit needs to display can be rendered much faster. Come on, browsers on Giga(!)-Hertz computers (I added the ! because I come from the single-digit MHz era). It requires a lot of attention to detail to make them so slow... /s


Headline is wrong. 68GJ per month, not GW, which is roughly 26kW.


And this is why it's always good to do a quick order of magnitude "does this make sense?" check on computations. Off-hand, the total electricity generating capacity in the US is about 1,000 GW, so it'd be quite obvious that making one webpage less resource-intensive wouldn't result in a reduction of 6% of that total.


When converting 68GJ to another unit of energy, it would be 18,888KWh or ~18GWh (note that h!).

EDIT: But of course, 18GWh/68GJ "per month" also gives us an average continuous power consumption of 26KW, as you have said.


No, he just dropped the per month part. 68 GJ / month, is 68 * 1 billion watts / 30 * 24 * 60 * 60 seconds, is 26 kw


EDIT: Doh! It appears I missed what blutfink was trying to say and that their changing of quantities from energy to power was intentional. Sorry for the confusion.


Whenever you have an energy use figure over a specific period, it is perfectly legitimate to calculate the average power, just as if it took you 30 min to reach your grandmother's house, which is 60 miles away, then you averaged 120 mph. In this case, an average power is an appropriate measure, as we do not know how long this page will be in service.


Yes. I was not sure how familiar people are with joules, so as I said in the post:

> (In the headline I used GW because people are more familiar with that, and it's kind of the same.)

Saying "kind of the same" won't please engineers who know what they're talking about and are used to correct units, but for the general public who won't read beyond the headline and (if I'm lucky) the conclusion, I think it's close enough. I am just hoping to get people's attention to the fact that an inefficiently coded redesign of the 6th largest website on the planet has impact.


Rather than just being flat out wrong, why not use gigawatt-hours which is a well known unit.


Because I find Wh (or kWh or MWh or...) a very weird unit. The Watt is already a "per second" unit, and the appended hour makes it have a double time component in the definition. While a Wh has a simple joule value (3600 if I'm not mistaken) and so it's directly convertible, I still find it more difficult to wrap my mind around. Joules seem like a better unit, but they're not known to people... but maybe you're right and I should have picked that.


"Adding the hour" doesn't make it have "two time components" -- it makes it have no time component.

The joule is a unit of ENERGY.

The watt is a unit of {WORK,POWER}. Confusingly, the germanic languages use "Work" for the concept ("Arbeit" in DE or "Arbeid" in NL), but in English it is "Power". Power means transfer of ENERGY over TIME. Specifically, the Watt it is defined as one Joule per second.

So Watts are a unit of POWER. And POWER=ENERGY/TIME. Note that this is a divison, not a multiplication!

So what do you get by multiplying a Watt by a unit of time (in this case hours)?

  > We're multiplying: WORK * TIME  [Watt * Hour]
  > Which is: (ENERGY/TIME) * TIME  [(Joule/Second) * Hour]
  > And the result is.....: just ENERGY
As you can see, the Watt-Hour is a unit of energy, just like the Joule. There is nothing weird about it.

Hope that could clear things up -- best greetings from the Netherlands!


All over the world, the watt-hour is the unit of electrical power consumption among the general public.


I suppose you're right at that: by trying to dig deeper to understand it, I confused myself and stopped using what is the generally accepted standard... I guess I should indeed have used kWh.


Hey I don’t mean to pile on you. This is cool work that you did that highlights an important issue.


https://www.google.com/search?q=68GJ+in+kwh

It's not that hard to specify kW.h, which is what people are used to paying for in their utility bills.

18888.9 kW.h are worth about 3k USD, depending on your local rates.


Shameless plug:

Here's a minimal UI for browsing r/politics/rising specifically:

* https://www.f6oclock.com

* https://www.f6oclock.com/#ninja if you want something more discrete

It updates live and throttles way back when the page doesn't have focus.) The default links go through https://outline.com which is a reader-mode like service (sadly it requires JS - I've got a prototype of a non-JS/server-side rendered version here: https://www.f6oclock.com/readability-demo/test.out.html )

(viewing the stories from r/politics is a guilty pleasure of mine that I'm a little bit ashamed of.)

---

The reddit feed-reading APIs are very easy to use. Just add .json in front of a URL and make sure to send a User-Agent. You can whip up bespoke UIs to suit your particular needs--e.g. I have some things that I send through IRC.


Hey, that seems pretty cool. What'd you build it with? Any chance there's a repo I could check out? I'd love to try replicate something similar.

Edit: Nevermind, found it - seems like I wasn't looking very hard! https://github.com/j3parker/f6oclock


Reddit's Digg moment!


I was hesitant to think/say this, because it is a different beast.... but the more i read about what other people think, as well as my own usage of it - it might be. Although to be fair, reddit has had it's fair share of past dramas too.

I think it's time we move beyond reddit and build something bigger and better. It was nice while it lasted.


Reddit getting bigger is the whole reason started going bad.


I created my HN accout 7 years ago after lurking for a couple years. People have been saying the same thing about HN the whole time I’ve been around.


It's a bit different though with the moderation and lack of revenue focus.


Well I think the self moderation the HN crowd does can’t be scaled. Reddit also didn’t moderate enough at fist. I also don’t like being at the mercy of bad subreddit mods.


I keep thinking that can't happen, right now it seems to be because there's not a good competitor. That's a scenario we've seen play out enough in the past, I'm personally waiting for something and have been on reddit since 05/06 time.


I've been using the old format, only partly because of this. Mostly I just prefer the old look -- simpler, cleaner, easier.


Also fewer clicks and no drags required for me in the old interface. They pretty much hid all the useful navigation stuff.


Oh wonderful. Domain search. Missing. https://www.reddit.com/domain/news.ycombinator.com/


No it doesn’t, people don’t leave their devices refreshing reddit 24/7. Also, watts aren’t joules.


> people don’t leave their devices refreshing reddit 24/7

But if the new website takes more power, and we know that there are roughly X million pageloads a month, then we know it will use a lot more, right?

> watts aren’t joules

The very definition of a Watt is one joule per second. Not the same, definitely, but it's close and in specific cases 1:1 convertible.


It's decreased the power usage of mine, because now I won't spend time on reddit anymore.


The new design fundamentally feels worse to use. It feels slower for sure. I don't mind the cleaner aesthetics, but the animations, layout, and general feel of using the site makes me feel like I'm one one of those blogs that has the "dickbars" and other UI elements that feel more annoying than useful. The mobile site is frustrating as well (but using apps gets around this easily).

I've gone back to using the old.reddit.com for now, but who knows how long that will remain


The redesign is a single page app, so refreshing it is not a normal workload. I can understand a large amount of pageviews on the old site since each person has to constantly reload everything, but in the redesign a user should only have to load everything just once (or a couple times depending on how many tabs they want to open). Or did they address this and I just missed it?


For me it's not a matter of taste or choice, I just could not use the new model. It's slow and it looked like my laptop had turned into a toaster. The same goes for facebook. And that's why I use it in the mobile version, even when on the laptop.


I hate it.

And I also hate to say that a little bit of spit and polish on old-school Reddit, probably would have done a lot more good, been a lot more lean, and more useful.

I would trade all this crap for a little bit better markup language for a few more options in posts and comments.


Yep, this page set my fan running.


You are just browsing the new reddit wrong, stop spawning new tabs from the front page, just click on a thread, it is so mush faster than old reddit because it only load the content, not the whole markup.


I use the Redirector Firefox addon to make sure that I always visit https://ns.reddit.com because I hate the new design.


It is time for green web design and green application design (eg. lite versions of applications which are otherwise bloated like Skype with large emoticon animations).


After a bunch of back tracking on his much I hate site redesigns I try to give them a chance but this one really takes away from the experience of using reddit.


I never use Reddit outside of Relay ...the app just works perfectly and has everything I need and not all the bloat/ugliness.



Great example of why you should not keep designers on staff.


And here are a hundred great examples of why you should: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMHUKij1yUE


Well I could have told you reddit was a waste of energy.


Bazinga


Reddit new design is amazing, SPA websites are clearly the future, you guys will complain about anything more than just 100% static html pages that can run on lynx


Thank you!!




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