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Reddit is raising a huge round near a $3B valuation (techcrunch.com)
774 points by e1ven on Feb 5, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 835 comments

I've been a fan of Reddit for a very long time (as the amount of data science work I've done with their data can attest to), but lately it seems like the incentives between Reddit as a business and Reddit as a community leader are not aligned, and that is a problem.

The increasing amount of dark patterns Reddit has been employing lately is concerning. (recent example: Reddit now gates content in mobile Safari to push users to the app: https://twitter.com/minimaxir/status/1086002848926593025 )

That said, it seems like the really bad dark patterns I reported 7 months ago (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17446841) no longer appear to be in place.

2 things about Reddit's "use our app instead!" buttons:

1. They cycle through a couple of different messages, and the buttons get switched around

2. The wording is such that you read it twice and still aren't sure which button will just take you to the damn website

I don't mind them promoting their app, but these dark patterns truely rile me

I do mind them promoting their app, it’s a horrible app and they’ve continually ruined their website. The only way I can stand to use reddit anymore is through Narwhal, at least until they kill their 3rd party apps API.

It’s funny, the web app used to be really good. Much better than the native app. Since then they have been making the web app increasingly worse over time, actively degrading its functionality and pleasantness to use.

The degradation seems to directly correlate with the modern-feel of the page. I'm not sure if that's intentional. It seems that modern front end fashion is a huge step backwards from earlier fashions in web development.

It's completely possible to have a "modern" page that is also nice to use; it's just that with Reddit modernness and horribleness have been conflated together and it seems like they go together.

Can you cite a few? I'm generally of the same opinion to the comment you replied to but I'm always happy to be wrong.

I don't know what exactly "modern" means here, but I think FastMail, Inoreader, and GitHub should count. All three have been fast and responsive. In particular, switching from Gmail to FastMail was a revelation.

Random aside: I've long been very down on web tech, but those 3 have sort of reinvigorated my interest in web stuff.

Do you have any examples of this? Every 'modern' webapp I can think of has been an exercise in making it slower and more confusing than its old-fashioned predecessor. Especially slower. They're _so_ slow.

i.reddit.com. 2010 mobile app feel, blazing fast, light on resources. As it should be.

This is great. Now all I need is a plugin for mobile safari/chrome/firefox that rewrites all reddit URLs to append /.compact

> mobile

Firefox supports addons on mobile.

not on iOS

Blame Apple for that. Not Mozilla.

Apple doesn't allow alternate browser engines in the app store. All browsers have to use WebKit.

Not Mozilla's fault

They are building camouflage for advertising.

You can just permanently set your account to use the old layout/view. I've noticed little to no changes other than user profiles, which are the "old new" ones.

On my phone I use reddit is fun. I have no issues at all with reddit atm in terms of them fucking with my experience.

"permenantly", except for the bug where about 1 pageview in 10 it still redirects you to new reddit. I think it's something related to improperly configured (server-side) caching or something.

I've never seen that happen. I only see it when I'm logged out on computer.

It happens to me frequently. Sometimes they just log me out for no reason.

Its been an accepted 'bug' for a long time but they never seem to properly be able to fix it


I just use one of the many addons that redirect you to old.reddit.com.

"permanently" for Conde Naste defined values of permanence.

Legacy mode will be phased out as soon as it has served their purpose of smoothing over the transition.

Or, it will be allowed to die of neglect, slowly becoming less and less compatible with the site until fully unusable.

And that's fine. I absolutely can't stand the new layout, so if that happens I'll stop using it. Probably not good for their metrics for a 13 year user of the service to stop using it I'd guess. I don't even block ads on it. And I sometimes click them if they're relevant (which, lets face it, they are these days).

11 for me and what used to be 30-60 minutes a day (I like certain subreddits /r/programming /r/chess /r/<proglang> Etc.) is maybe 15 and not at all for days now.

I miss old reddit, nothing else really fills the niche in a unified way.

So where do you go instead?

Reddit and Facebook both have some hold for me because of niche communities that they both let me aggregate/monitor/interact with easily, without going to a myriad of websites. I really don’t want to have to do that - in some cases, I’m not even sure I can find comparable replacements.

I fill that time by deliberately picking tech talks in a domain/language I know nothing about and watching them instead.

It is interesting because it's related to what I do but different enough to be fascinating.

I agree, but it’s jarring going between devices (phone, iPad and computer) and the multiple interfaces. Then the repeated niggling to use the app. If I haven’t after several years, the chances are I don’t want to.

I am never nagged. I use RES on desktop to modify a few things, among others a dark theme. I use the RIF dark theme. Works pretty similarly.

There are many situations where you are presented with the mobile or new desktop designs, such as being logged out. I have to sign in at least twice every time to use the old desktop version.

But for how long is the question. Once they remove that, my use will go way down or maybe stop entirely. I despise the new layout and it isn’t just a “doesn’t want to try something new” phase.

If you're interested in a web app (not downloaded). you could try Redusa. It's still early in development though. It's built in vuejs.


Thank you for understanding my needs! I will check that out.

I actually gave up and switched to desktop on my phone - which is barely usable at all - and yet still somehow less infuriating than the shitty mobile site...

If their API is killed I think Reddit's done for. I wouldn't use it if I were forced to use the official app myself, sure many others wouldn't either.

Folk would probably move over to something like voat.co

Voat is appalling and revels in its terribleness. There has to be something better to migrate to.

The most promising general reddit equivalent I've seen so far is tildes.net. It's the first time I've seen a fork of the reddit model with some actually fresh ideas. However, like all of the hundreds of alternatived, this site is far below the critical mass required to make browsing it regularly worthwhile.

All that it needs is for reddit to commit suicide just like digg chose to.

Would you have an invite to send to try the alpha?

Reddit : Usenet :: Slack : IRC

There will be other places for you to migrate to, as there have been for decades, if not an entire generation.

Reddit has always been some new thing that the kids use. Slack will be dying soon enough too.

I expect people would mostly just use the mobile web site. And there would be a lot of noise. But I can't ever see myself going to somewhere like voat.

Voat? Might as well believe that Facebook users are switching to Diaspora

You usually would move over to something better, not worse.

Yeah, Voat's not an appealing alternative. There's an ActivityPub-powered, federated link aggregator in the works[1], that could work out really well as each community could have their own rules and if you don't want to federate with a particular one, just block them.

1 - https://gitlab.com/mbajur/prismo

Off topic but man do I like gitlabs current UI on iPad, not seen it for a while.

There is an alternative made by a previous reddit dev called tildes.net its invite only and quite enjoyable to use. Classic lightweight website and no trolls

I refuse to use the new design with the same contempt as I refuse to pay for picking my seat on an aeroplane (P.S. Ryanair: my girlfriend is not happy about this... but at least I get some peace and quiet right? /s).

I use Boost for Reddit (Android) and the old reddit style, and RES in my browser. I see why they are going towards the Instagram style route - people generally like what they are accustomed to; and I guess more people use Instagram than Reddit.

Yeah, I use their app on android and it's pretty bad. There's currently a bug that seems to get fixed and then reappear where if someone responds to your comment, you get an alert and when you click on the alert it takes you to the comment, but if the comment is too nested, it just takes you to the top of the thread. This makes responding to a comment in any thread with over 100 comments near impossible. Because of that, I'm using the web app currently and it's really annoying to be constantly pushed back toward a broken app.

Hey there, we've got a fix coming for this, so sorry about that. Thanks for the feedback!

They bought the best Reddit iOS app and then scrapped it. Although the 3rd party APIs still exist I imagine they will eventually disappear.

It's already frustrating to view v.reddit content in 3rd party apps.

old.reddit.com or reddit.com/.compact

I use a third party mobile client and am very happy with it, but I know it's only a matter of time (despite what they've said in the past) before they kill/rate limit/price the API in such a way to kill off all the third party clients.

or until they buy out Narwhal.

Their mobile website has also started literally animating the "get the app" button; every minute or so, the button pulses for a bit in a deliberate (and in my case, consistently successful) attempt to make your attention move to the button they want you to click instead of the content you want to read.

The reddit community is great, but the company seems to not care about their users at all.

Reddit has been on a downward spiral for N years (depending on your perspective), yet the data is near-completely crawlable, and no user-friendly sustainable alternative has appeared. Why? The closest is lobste.rs, which is better in some ways and worse in others, and a few (names I forgot) were good but died from lack of content / user interest.

Reddit has been slowly ruining their API for the last couple of years.

I started working on a read only script to grab stuff from reddit years ago and then they changed it so you need to go through the whole register for an api key even for read only requests which didn't work for me because I wanted users to download and run the script themselves

It would be interesting to know how much more a user is worth to them when they install the app; it must be quite significant.

Im wondering if they are able to get more information on user when they use reddit on the app then on the browser

It is about ads. Browsers have adblocks.

I've noticed this as well. Really annoying. Or any website that immediately pops up a "sign up for our email list!" and blocks you from seeing the content.

Isn't there a ton of data that most people don't even use many apps anymore? Or they install them once and then uninstall them or ignore them?

I hope we can move towards a web that stays in the web browser. Apps are becoming really annoying, especially for interactions you only have intermittently (I'm not a daily reddit user, but I go there every now and then, or it pops up on search).

>Isn't there a ton of data that most people don't even use many apps anymore? Or they install them once and then uninstall them or ignore them?

That doesn't mean the app can't exfiltrate data (presumably data useful to advertisers) in the background.

The browser is a client that works for the user (well, Google, Apple, and Microsoft muddy the waters).

The mobile app is a program that works for the developer.

The end result of browsers becoming more adtech-hostile and user-friendly is that more companies turn to mobile apps.

I can understand a developer/company wanting to do the app route to regain control (and not having to deal with the annoying inconsistencies/hacks in different browsers/versions), but is ad / tracker blocking really the major driver of going the app route?

You can see indirect evidence for this by looking at the exponential rise in ad-blocker-blocking efforts from a wide array of sites. 'Hi, we see you're using an ad blocker. Please turn it off.' That literally did not exist several years ago, even though ad blocking has been around for decades. Companies in recent years are getting aggressively desperate as the web becomes increasingly user friendly. At the same time, mobile is still dominated by an OS developed by the the world's largest ad delivery corporation - and it behaves accordingly.

> That literally did not exist several years ago, even though ad blocking has been around for decades.

What is "several years"? This has definitely existed, say, five years ago. Not at this scale, of course, but it's not a recent invention by a long shot.

Yes, Firefox has been consistently blocking nasty advertiser tricks each release and it supports ad blockers on mobile.

The latest Firefox release has a built in list of tracker domains to block and next release blocks auto playing video.

Brave is also making major progress here. It natively includes anti-fingerprinting, ad blocking, tracker blocking, HTTPS everywhere, and one-click in-session TOR windows on demand (similar to how incognito windows work for other browsers). It's also blazing fast.

From a user perspective, now is probably the best time ever to be using the web.

I'd say the worry is not just ad / tracker blocking, but loss of control.

Apple decides to start notifying on cookies or make fingerprinting harder? Poof. There goes a chunk of your ad value per user.

And who knows what any given browser vendor will do tomorrow?

Some would say "So it's like the 90s, where everyone was continually adapting as web specs were negotiated." The difference is that now there are billion+ dollar businesses directly tied to that ad revenue.

Yes. If data can be captured to apply targeted ads, each ad can be worth 2-5x as much to the company. Browser compatibility issues occur sometimes, but mobile device compatibility are always an issue for my apps. It's actually more work keeping an app working smoothly than a website, and the cost must be offset by the ad revenues

I thought modern OSes now pop up notification icons when this happens, so you can detect and punish apps that do that. Doesn't stop them from getting a snapshot of your system on first run, though.

I'm really amazed they still let the old mobile interface work for the most part. Just add ".compact" to any URL and browse almost annoyance free (newer features like video don't work, but that's not too surprising).

I've been switching the "www" in "www.reddit.com" to "old" with good results.

For the lazy, there are browser extensions that do this for you, or you can write a simple user-script in your user-script engine of choice (Greasemonkey, Tampermonkey, etc)

good call!

I find it ironic that their tagline is "The front page of the internet" but they push you to use a proprietary app.

For the record, that tag line was an idea from their users, and chosen hey their users (through upvotes, of course). It wasn't how reddit the company sees itself, it was how its users saw it. I still remember the thread where it happened years ago.

It's the 21st century Clippy. "You look like you're trying to do X. Here, let me help you do Y instead."

I'll take issue with that. For all Clippy's interpretation problems (way ahead of their time), it was still trying to facilitate actions that were useful to you (not Microsoft).

Dark patterns are defined by trying to willfully get you to do something that's counter to your own intent.

What's the difference, if the result is the same? Do you not think that the employees who write big "use the app!" banners believe they're doing what's best for the user?

As for Clippy, it's not hard to design a straightforward auto-correction feature, which detects what you typed and suggests a useful addition or replacement. Google, Apple, etc., all have their own designs that work perfectly well. I have trouble seeing an animated 3D cartoon as anything other than "trying to willfully get me to do something counter to my own intent". That's a classic way to manipulate people.

You are ignoring the general population's and the industry's attitude toward computing metaphors and cartoons in the 1990s. What do you imagine is the exploitative profit motive of Clippy? Microsoft fido get more revenue when you formatted your document as a resume or whatever.

"Here, help us pay our bills instead."

It’s actually working well to curb my reddit addiction by making it harder to idly browse on the phone.

Now all they need to do is remove the old design and I might be able to quit for good.

When combined with an AMP result page you might get when coming from Google, it's sometimes just impossible to view the actual content of a post without getting kicked to the app, or out to another browsing context... Reddit on mobile is a purpose-built nightmare.

Google was also supposed to start penalizing sites that used their AMP pages as interstitials, but...I'm not sure whatever became of that.

For now, https://i.reddit.com seems not to have any of the dark patterns.

A good rule of thumb in these situations is to go for the hard-to-see button.

The worst dark patten in my view is 1) growing an online community around a set of values 2) growing so big you eclipse all competitors 3) suddenly changing your values to appeal to advertisers.

Reddit is in good company here, notably with YouTube and Twitter.

It's the Peter Thiel/Sam Altman receipt.

- http://zerotoonebook.com/ - https://playbook.samaltman.com/

An old-fashioned term for this is: selling out.

Alternate theory is that the sociohopaths (diagnosis not epithet) have won.

The values people can be browbeaten, outnumbered and marginalized. Once that happens it’s hard to change back, even if you identify and remove the ringleaders.

Thanks, I've been trying to put into words what bugs me about reddit so much. Sure, the dark UI patterns are a thing, and the extra ads are not great... but it's all to be expected. But you phrased it very well: first growing a community around a set of values (remember they were even open source once?) and then, when the opportunity comes to make money, do everything humanly possible to go against those values.

I agree that this process sucks. Do you think it's possible to do 1 and 2 without 3? How could a business that remains focused on benefiting free users compete/profit?

In some people's ideal world, Reddit would run an extremely lean organisation. Instagram got acquired when they had 13 employees, showing you can be successful with a very small number of employees.

If Reddit had 10 employees and a $5 million annual salary budget, all the employees would be very well compensated, but they wouldn't need to raise $300 million from investors or aggressively pursue ad revenue by pushing an app to avoid ad blocking.

Personally I'm not sure if running as a pseudo-nonprofit would work or not. It's possible there's a cat-and-mouse game with spammers, astroturfers, and griefers that can only be solved with large numbers of employees and high revenue. Perhaps successful online nonprofit projects like Internet Archive and Debian have only avoided this because the don't have the combination of user-generated content and a large user base that make them attractive to spammers. Or perhaps the fact Reddit has so many more users than MetaFilter is a sign sites following this model just don't get big.

There is a difference between earning huge profits and earning a good living.

I would posit that it is possible for Reddit to finance itself and it's operation without going as far as they are doing now.

However, that would imply forgoing possible megaprofits that VCs wants - as well as probably reducing growth in headcounts and interesting internal projects. So there are both internal and external forces pushing in the direction of more monetization.

I think Basecamp is a nice example of forgoing profit for a better product.

Why does it have to profit?

I don't know if you meant to be sarcastic or funny here. However, business have to earn profit in the long run, otherwise who'd pay for all the employees, infrastructure costs etc.?

Paying for employees, infrastructure, etc requires sustainable revenue, not profit.

It's impossible to run an organization at zero capital buffer perpetually (see: even Wikimedia likes to have a capital reserve). That's a great way to end up bankrupt. What you're suggesting is well beyond absurd.

When the recession hits how do you plan to buffer the revenue beating you're guaranteed to take? If you had built up a cash reserve, you can absorb some or all of the hit.

Where do you plan to get a large amount of capital to make opportunistic investments in expanding what you do? Debt? If you say debt / loans, that's just admitting the necessity of the capital buffer (which is better derived from profit via operations rather than paying for debt and the associated debt interest).

What's your plan for surviving a recession or industry change or regulatory hit (which can demand immense spending on compliance adjustment) with either near 0% revenue growth or low single digit growth? That's the most common business scenario, not 30% or 50% growth every year.

What if you have the opportunity to hire N talented engineers from a failed competitor. You've got zero or very low revenue growth and hiring these talented people could very plausibly alter your trajectory. It's an opportunity to jump on. Where is your capital for that coming from?

You can apply the exact same capital outlay scenario to equipment investment / upgrade opportunities.

How do you plan to absorb any manner of business disaster?

Profit is inherently necessary so that when inevitable bad things happen, you can afford to absorb them. It's also necessary for opportunistic expansion and investment, when you see an opportunity that requires a sizable upfront capital allocation. One of the biggest differences between organizations that seize on opportunities and those that don't or can't, is having the required capital to act.

> It's impossible to run an organization at zero capital buffer perpetually (see: even Wikimedia likes to have a capital reserve). That's a great way to end up bankrupt. What you're suggesting is well beyond absurd.

And yet, Wikimedia is a non-profit. So is Harvard. Non-profit doesn't mean you can't have a capital reserve. It only means you don't pay that capital reserve out to shareholders.

> Profit is inherently necessary so that when inevitable bad things happen, you can afford to absorb them.

Some of the longest-lasting institutions in the world are non-profit.

> Some of the longest-lasting institutions in the world are non-profit.

Is it just some or is it all? Honest question, the only very long lasting institutions I can think of are not for-profit.

There are a handful of still-running for-profit businesses that were founded before 1000, which I consider to good enough: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_companies

There are, of course, religious institutions that are older.

You can pay for that without any profit. Profit is what is left after you pay the bills.

> Do you think it's possible to do 1 and 2 without 3?

Wikimedia comes to mind. They're by no means perfect, but they're the closest match I can think of.

You are conveniently leaving out the second portion of the comment which directly asks how profit is possible in such a manner.

One answer to this is it is very hard because your users would need to pay fees instead of being sucked into ads en masse by dark patterns. And who is willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for reddit?

Wikimedia just gets donations instead because they provide useful content. The majority of reddit is memes and images so people will just migrate to Instagram. A faithful rest might pay, but not enough to reach a $3bn valuation.

Re: "Download the app!" gates, banners, etc. Medium does this too.

Why? What's the business reason? What does a native app provide the business that a mobile website doesn't?

The prevailing "business person" thought is that app users are more loyal (high value) while web users are temporary users that Google will eventually steal away from you when they decide they want to be in your market and want to stop putting you at the top of search result pages. See Yelp's decline as Google started putting their own local results above Yelp and the resulting lawsuits.

As a result, most Silicon Valley product managers are trained to think that websites are nothing more than the top of a funnel to eventually convert low-value search engine users into high-value app users. Once you realize this, almost every stupid thing websites do suddenly makes sense. They will do almost anything possible to grow app installs even if it makes the website nearly useless.

Sure, it's terrible if you care about the web and user experience. But most PMs only stick around a company for 1-2 years and they'd rather be able to show a hockey stick graph of "high value" app user growth to get promoted or get a new job then worry about what makes for a good user experience.

It's not the PMs being rogue evil; they (and the engineers) are serving their employers faithfully.

Another reason is that a local app can spy on you more (track your location, for example) to collect data to sell, harass you with notification spam, and display non-blockable ads.

I think the non-blockable ads is a big one. In my browser Facebook has no ads, the app on my phone is full of them.

Yep. Another more recent example is Venmo. Since Paypal acquired them, they've been steadily removing functionality from the website to force users onto the app.

Another good example is Sonos ... they are slowly letting their desktop application die to force users onto iOS or android apps.

In the case of Sonos, it is much darker and user hostile because there is no danger of "web consumers being siphoned off by google" - you have to buy the Sonos components anyway. In this case it is all about metadata and traffic and user profiling.

I barely ever use the Sonos app on either iOS or desktop. I just use Spotify or Apple Music and route music to Sonos from there, so not sure if you are correct. With AirPlay2 I only use the app to set up new speakers. So not sure if you are correct.

e: Most likely the desktop app has seen declining usage the last decade, which is why Sonos doesn't prioritize it.

Agreed. This is a great analysis. Also keep in mind if the funnel thinks web users are low value and app users are high value, if web users fall it is a sign that the strategy is working. Not that you have loads of annoyed users.

Forcing people to use a native app means they can inject ads without having to worry about being blocked by a browser extension.

It's also a way for PMs who own apps to build habit-forming loops. If you download the app, you can send push notifications, deep link from email, etc. "Better experience" and all that, ultimately leading to more ad impressions or a purchases in-app.

And don’t forget tracking scripts too. Another huge reason.

Many users who use mobile adblockers will use one across the entire device (easy on rooted Android) instead of just a browser extension.

I'm pulling these numbers out of a hat, but I would wager users with rooted Android devices are below 1% of the mobile user base, and probably below 0.1% of the total user base including desktop.

On Android, it used to be the case that many ad blocking apps were just Proxy services.

Blokada (https://blokada.org/) acts as a VPN. It slows my connection speeds to a halt.

Counterpoint, installing uBlock in Firefox is a piece of cake, but lots of apps don't work on rooted devices. I know there are ways to hide root from detection, but I don't care to ride that treadmill back and forth.

How many users have rooted Android? Especially people in the west who are worth a lot more to advertisers?

It can’t be that high anymore. All the signals seem to be that rooting is trending down. I could be wrong of course as I have no hard data.

Aren't the majority of users on iOS or unrooted android?

Business has one number they want to increase: app usage (easier to track users, serve ads, make money)

The dev team A/B tests a bunch of options until that number goes up, and then double down on the success. They don't really care about what users actually want, they're just pushing that app number up in any way possible. Their job performance is likely based on whether or not that number increases.

Medium does this too and it's a huge danger of taking a data-first approach to user experience. A/B testing on its own isn't bad, but it's often what drives this business behavior.

A huge investment will likely make them push this type of thing even harder because now they have to prove the investment's worth.

You can probably grab the IDFA or the ADID with an app directly, and having a stronger linkage between an online identity/cookie probably makes the data more valuable for advertising purposes.

100% device IDs are deterministic vs cookies. Advertiser platforms (like Reddit) need to tell a compelling audience story and that requires a strong user identity graph.

> Why? What's the business reason? What does a native app provide the business that a mobile website doesn't?

Simple: you can’t block ads in a native App (at least not by installing an ad blocker or other methods accessible to normal users, you‘d have to modify DNS responses or similar).

A lot of people are mentioning tracking, etc..

I think another major reason is that if someone is seeking to amuse themselves then in a browser they're as likely to skip over to another website; whilst in an app there's a mental barrier to that. I imagine people are more likely to change and view another subreddit, rather than jump to another website altogether.

There's a censorship angle too, wherein the app operators get greater control over the message their users receive than do website operators.

It gives users easier access and a better experience, so they're more likely to return and to spend longer. The ultimate goal is to become a "default time waster" for as many people as possible, who open the app whenever they're bored.

There's no "better experience" in an app, unless it relies on native features like low-level high performance graphics, accelerometer/sensors, and other physical phone attributes not yet exposed to browsers.

Specific native features that you're missing are platform controls, better UI performance, and support for APIs like notifications.

A comments section on a news site doesn't need high performance UI controls or native notifications.

The fact that Apollo exists and is popular (though, I personally don't think its controls are native enough) means that this isn't really true.

And Sync and AlienBlue if they're still around. It blows my mind that one dev is able to push out such a high quality product where the official app feels amateurish by comparison. It really highlights the difference between development that serves Reddit vs development that serves the user.

Yup, Reddit Sync is great, Relay for Reddit also! The official app is such a disappointment in comparison.

I found Apollo last year and was so impressed that it inspired me to finally get into iOS development.

Until then, not being much of a phone user at all, I'd been convinced that mobile experiences were always worse than desktop ones.

Also, out of the reach of adblockers or tracking blockers.

Sure, but on mobile people don't run ad blockers very often and if they do it's system wide like AdGuard.

It's a lot easier to run browser based ad blockers now than it used to be. Mobile Safari now allows them and installing an adblock extension in Firefox for Android is as easy as on desktop.

Aside from the other mentioned reasons, browsers can have ad blockers installed. The reddit mobile app ensures they can monetize.

[edit] now that I think of it, probably the same reason Twitch was pushing its desktop app.

Metrics, ads, notifications, install base.

Biz reason: No adblock, push notifications

Product reason: (potentially) better ux/design, but obviously a lot of people think they went down the wrong route

I think it has to do with analytics but maybe someone else knows more.

I would guess that with an app users are signed in and precisely identified 100% of the time, which allows for very reliable and deep user analytics.

Users are more likely to give apps e.g. location permission, or contact list permissions, which make a user value (in eyeball models) aignificantly higher than a web user.

I wish that button actually works reliably.

More often than not, I got redirected to App Store to re-download Reddit app, instead of launching the post in the app.

Don't forget their still live email signup approach.

Clicking 'Signup" brings you to a single email form field screen that in no way indicates you do NOT need to provide an email.

Clicking 'Next' without entering one lets you create your username and PW without an email address.

As a marketer, I understand (but don't condone or agree with) the thinking behind some of what they've done, but as a user of over a decade, I'm nervous about the direction they've been taking the service, and this is not good news IMHO.

People bring that up all the time, but I can't really think of fainter "dark pattern" criticism than an optional email field. I bet nobody would even comment on it if it was actually required. Reddit should probably just go ahead and require it to eliminate the complaints.

Hell, I'm more ready to call it an easter egg than deception.

I'd wager you are correct that if it were required, nobody would comment on it except existing Reddit users familiar with their more privacy-respecting leanings from their past (ie. not new users).

The dark pattern is that there is zero indicator that it is actually optional and they appear to go out of their way to hide that fact. It is about being upfront with your intentions, and what you are offering users.

Would help if they dumped the AMP pages too. Landing there results in a useless "not logged in" and "partial content" page. AMP is just a terrible fit for Reddit pages.

But the AMP pages give them preferential treatment in Google search results. I doubt they'd want to give that up.

So you are saying Google is blackmailing websites into having a terrible user-experience?

I guess everbody sucks on this new, modern and JS-USB-enabled (thanks again Google!) web.

> So you are saying Google is blackmailing websites into having a terrible user-experience?

Pretty much, yes.

AMP compliance gets you a better Google search placement. So, every site is going to make sure they get their AMP placement and then funnel you to something non-Google.


AMP is an absolute cancer and its adoption would probably be 0% if google didn’t forcefully shove it down everyone’s throat. (And they are very good at learning from their own history, because that totally worked with Google+.)

I wonder how important Google Search is to Reddit, though. They are big enough (like Facebook) that they may not need it much anymore, and may have used AMP based on the promise of a better experience (meanwhile deliberately degrading mobile experience).

I bet Reddit does pretty well on long tail queries. It's one of a few high pagerank sites that has a little content on just about every subject.

I think there have been some linked articles on hn on amp pages actually performing poorly for seo

There are so many more issues with Reddit, I'm surprised they haven't been digg'd or myspace'd yet.

As soon as a viable alternative pops up that doesn't seem tailor made for racists, I'm there. So far every competitor I've seen pop up seems to think Reddit's biggest problem is their (rather weak) stance against hate speech and user harassment, and not all the actual problems being discussed here.

There was an attempt a few years ago to do just this. Remember Imzy? If the answer is "no," you're probably not alone; it shut down after only two years of operation. They didn't have any of the problems that we're discussing here, as far as I remember. (Personally, I suspect its extremely weird and confusing UX design was at least part of what did it in; I found its navigation so baffling I gave up pretty quickly.)

If I remember right, you couldn't see any content on Imzy without creating an account. I assume that instantly turned away over 90% of the users. Then, their design was extremely childish, and it looked like a safe place for kids, rather than a site for adults to socialize. I think they did a really poor job at understanding the market, and I'm not surprised they failed.


How are you going to get any traction when after losing 90% of your visitors to that home page's design you lose 99% of the remainder because nobody is going to join for content that may or may not exist, let alone be interesting. That level of disincentivisation ensures that the site's user base will consist of 90% employees of the site, 5% their friends who signed up and never logged in again, and 5% of randoms that love having a captive audience... until it dies.

There's a great video by Folding Ideas which talks about the issues with secondary services (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3snVCRo_bI - this is in the context of video platforms)

One big 'bootstrapping' problem is that the first to adopt a new platform are the people who are _too toxic_ for the original.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world...”

What part of reddit makes it tailor made for racists? The fact that pictures of members of the KKK appear when you sign up, or the fact that when you're writing a comment you're suggested to include as many racial expletives as possible?

I think you misunderstood babypuncher's comment (I did too on first reading). It's not that reddit itself is racist, but all of the reddit alternatives that have popped up ARE super racist (Voat anyone?) because they are a backlash against reddit's attempt to tamp down on overt hate speech.

The thing is that there's really no other nascent burgeoning platform that could take its place (like reddit did to digg). The Internet has become much more centralized in the past ~8 years ago. And so because of that, users have no choice but to deal with it. I feel like one such event that could do it though is turning off their API for 3rd party applications. Wouldn't be surprised if it happens soon either, given the advertising pushes they've given their native application over the past year.

I hope it remains. I find it extremely useful for solving niche problems. A recent example of mine was Docker on Synology. It’s a weird interface with some niggling bugs. It turns out Reddit has this nicely covered and I’ve found this repeatedly. It’s way less technical than Stack Overflow but sometimes that’s what I need. The toxic stew can be avoided while the little subs have solved hours of pain.

Which subreddit had that information?

r/synology I think, but I was into the sonarr and radarr subs too. The Synology GUI is initially helpful, but quite quickly gets frustrating as some actions can’t be undone without starting from scratch. As an entry into the world of Docker, reddit was by far the best resource for me and there are lots of links to helpful blogs. Between permissions, ports and paths it’s more than a touch complicated.

All the issues stem from new populations of users contributing to the site, not a top down change. Reddit 5+ years ago was a different place because it was a much smaller place.

One issue is that reddit is not just one big social space. In addition to the front page and the main subreddits, it made up of many different small, but often quite active communities. People who used to form interest groups on various forums, random fan websites and blogs have moved to interest based subreddits instead. A lot of these communities wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for reddit making it so easy to create a subreddit on any topic possible.

While everyone on Digg or MySpace could easily move to reddit or facebook, it is much harder for a subreddit centered around say gardening, astrophotography, headphones or a tv show to just jump to a new website. I do hope that these communities won't be lost when reddit does end up losing its charm and popularity.

Well, you could be the one to do it.

Taking down an incumbent is hard, though. Might need deep pockets for a while.

I've seen this dialog (the misleading "[OPEN] [CONTINUE]" one) on mobile Firefox as well. Besides that you have the pulsating "open in the app" at the top of every page.

Fortunately I have u-block origin so I could just add a few filters to get rid of that nonsense. It doesn't solve the terrible performance however (because apparently you need a top-of-the-line smartphone to load and display a few kB of plaintext comments).

The app is even slower. It's amazing how bad their stuff is. I avoid Reddit on mobile altogether because of the terrible performance.

> a few filters to get rid of that nonsense

Care to share?

I've always thought that the day they crossed the line was when they arbitrarily changed which subreddits were default, removing some (such as /r/atheism) with no real reason. At the very early days of reddit, discussing atheism positively was still kind of unusual in the news. Then, over time, it became a very popular position and advocacy case especially among developers, and new users found the stridency and repetition of the subreddit annoying. I think they ultimately took the decision to remove a default subreddit that supported a community that is in general still one of the most hated in the US and in the world, just in order to appeal to new users outside of the hacker culture demographic that reddit started in.

/r/atheism was absolutely obnoxious, to the point that the obnoxiousness of some of the users is still a meme:


> a community that is still one of the most hated

As far as I can see in the USA and in most of Europe it’s way more socially acceptable to declare to be atheists, rather than observing Christians.

> As far as I can see in the USA and in most of Europe it’s way more socially acceptable to declare to be atheists, rather than observing Christians.

I can't speak for Europe, but as of 2015, at least, about three-quarters of Americans identified as Christian. There are still large swaths of this country where being relatively outspoken about your atheism is, if not out-and-out dangerous, likely to have a negative impact on your social circles and even your career.

Remember that the HN crowd -- e.g., tech workers who by and large have pretty cosmopolitan outlooks -- is not really representative of "median America."

My experience is that there's rarely a time that is appropriate for it to come up in polite conversation. People talk about it all the time within their social communities as the social communities are more likely to be in line with their beliefs, but not really in "public" IE work, etc. The guy running around talking about "god is dead" at work is just as much of a jerk and treated as such as someone who loudly proclaims their christian beliefs as the basis for everything they do.

The two things go hand in hand. People strike a more defiant attitude when they anticipate punishment. They can seem clueless and overly confrontational when they cop that attitude in a context where it isn't warranted.

Also, religion comes up routinely, though perhaps not frequently, in contexts where religious belief is assumed. In an ordinary conversation about the right way to handle a situation, people will ask you, "Do you think God wants me to ______?" It's just a manner of speaking, but it forces you to either pretend belief or out yourself and face their judgment. It's only in "mixed company" where people avoid the topic.

I spent some time noodling with Buddhism. One of the interesting things there is that outside of certain places in Southeast Asia that means you are an atheist.

This gets interesting when talking to theists because, if you don’t point it out, many people will hear “he has a religion, he’s one of us”. Many assume Buddha is a deity.

If you do push the point, you learn that some people’s brains short out when you tell them there is a religion with hundreds of millions of followers that doesn’t have a God. The Venn diagram in their brain of Us and Them can’t process this fact.

When I was in high school in the late 90s, it certainly wasn't a popular opinion to be an atheist, the few times I brought up that religious organizations were questionable, or seemed to do a lot of backtracking through history, it did not go over well. I kept my atheistic beliefs to myself. This wasn't bible belt territory either, we are talking about a suburb of NYC.

I read Nietzsche on my own in high school, and just felt so relieved that I wasn't alone with these thoughts and wasn't just some weirdo. The internet was nothing like it was today, chatrooms were the forum for discussion and there might have been some geocities pages devoted to atheistic belief, but it was still in the dark corners.

It amazed me when I saw that /r/atheism was a front and center thing when I first started going to reddit. It devolved over time into a version of /r/IamVerySmart, but that IMHO was an amazing outlet for those having doubts about all the crap being shoved down their throat their whole lives. It would have saved me a lot of anxiety growing up.

Al Gore got up and apologized for a funding policy theory he had. He thought if we brought the Internet to rural areas that the brain drain would stop. (I argue that with Seattle and the Valley getting so crowded we might be on the cusp of something like what he thought would happen, but with smaller regional cities).

What happened instead was that marginalized people all over the US found out they weren’t crazy or bad. There were people who thought just like them three hours away. So they picked up and moved to the city faster than ever.

That is an interesting thought. It might also help explain why we have become far more polarized as a nation over the last 20 years. I think net/net we are better off as a society though, I don't recall the source, but I do remember reading a research paper that concluded that colocating minds had a multiplicative effect on increasing scientific knowledge.

On a somewhat related note: A lot of people cite the "faces of atheism" meme/trend whatever you want to call it as being the tipping point when /r/atheism just went too far and it became cringey. I mean some of those posts were a bit cringey, but overall I think it sent a very needed message- that there are lots of people out there from all walks of life that think like you do, don't think you have to give in to the prevailing beliefs. I don't think my upbringing was that abnormal- questioning the existence of god, my parents/family would have smacked me, probably verbally but if I really pushed it they likely would have punished me. My friends all seemed to firmly believe as well but were generally tolerant, it certainly seems you could be a social pariah in more religious parts of the country. Being exposed to new ideas like this I am sure spawned some people to say to themselves I don't have to go along with all this crap, there are bigger and better things out there.

> As far as I can see in the USA and in most of Europe it’s way more socially acceptable to declare to be atheists, rather than observing Christians.

If you believe that then you're living in a bubble. Please, go outside your comfort zone and see how the rest of the population thinks. Hint: It's not what you believe.

If you really think that's true I'd invite you to count the number of politicians (in the US at least) who are self-declared athiests. I think the data speaks for itself.

> it’s way more socially acceptable to declare to be atheists, rather than observing Christians

This was a story line in HBO's Silicon Valley.

> As far as I can see in the USA and in most of Europe it’s way more socially acceptable to declare to be atheists, rather than observing Christians.

If you believe that, I don't even know where to begin.

People in the US Bible Belt get death threats if they declare their atheism.

Online isn't offline. And most people still exist more in the offline world.

Both of your viewpoints are right - it entirely depends on what one is considering community.

In meatspace there are plenty of social communities where you will be looked down upon for being religious (if you really don't believe this, you either need to travel more or you need to keep questioning social dogmas even after you've found some place you fit in). The many more places where you'll be looked down on for being atheist does not support making one sweeping generalization - opposing flavors of intolerance do not cancel each other out!

It's similar to how the KKK is still a problem, yet we've got this new trend of oppressing free speech online. It's tough to affect the entrenched players in any game, and all too easy to attack easy targets in a simulation of fighting the good fight.

> Both of your viewpoints are right - it depends on one's actual surrounding community. It's much easier to choose your online community, which creates the impression of the whole space lining up with your beliefs.

No, I'm not letting you get away with "equivalency". That kind of mental gymnastics is what allows these kinds of "talking points" to exist.

Christian churches are not taxed. Atheist non-profits are. Christian religions get "marriage" enshrined in law and get to define what "marriage" is. Atheists get their partners decisions questioned in the hospital. I can go on and on about the privileges that religion enjoys in the US.

Taking away undeserved privileges is not persecution. If you want to see persecution, go to the middle east--THAT'S what Christian persecution looks like.

The US qualifies are one of the most religious of the countries that don't qualify as theocracies. Claiming that Christians are being persecuted in the US is hogwash.

If you want to talk to me about persecution, come back after every church in the US is actually paying taxes--I won't hold my breath.

It's not "mental gymnastics" to attempt understanding the viewpoints of a different group of people. FWIW I'm atheist myself - I've just gotten to the point where I can accept that religion as a concept has some positive aspects, and that knee jerk dismissal is the exact same vein of ignorance that atheists are persecuted with.

> Atheists get their partners decisions questioned in the hospital. I can go on and on about the privileges that religion enjoys in the US ... Taking away undeserved privileges is not persecution

So, you have implied that it would be progress for a traditionally-married couple to have medical decisions for their spouses questioned, in the same manner that an unlegalized gay couple does. This is the inherent problem with framing things in terms of privileges instead of rights - it implies that the way to make things equal is to tear others down, rather than supporting rights for all.

IMO, but I'm certainly not a scholar here - if you look at the actual messages of Jesus (et al), they were preaching against the oppressive power structures of their time. Their specific dogmas were then calcified and turned into their own oppressive power structure, because real understanding requires continuing vigilance.

If you're not yet to the point where you can forgive the overly religious, then I understand. But closing that door is just setting your dogma up to be a tool of the next oppressor.

You are giving a great example of why r/atheism was removed as a default subreddit.

Lots of people were fatigued by daily threads like this microcosm. It’s obviously important to folks in the sub, but it was many instances of people just not caring. There must be some form of directed apathy where a description is not that I care about something, but I definitely do not care enough to be aware of it. It’s not apathy as I dislike encountering it, but I am fine with its existence.

> As far as I can see in the USA and in most of Europe it’s way more socially acceptable to declare to be atheists, rather than observing Christians.

I don't know what it's like in Europe, but in the US, it's a very divisive topic. Really divisive. Like brawls in the streets divisive. Like secede-from-the-Union divisive. There's cities that will shun you for being religious, and other cities that will shun you for not being religious, sometimes even in the same state.

That's why the government shut down happened, frankly. The religious and non-religious parts of the United States literally hate each other so much that they'll act against their own interests just to hurt the other side.

There’s an episode of Silicon Valley that talks about how hard it is these days to be a Christian and work in the valley.

For workplaces, I think that ship has sailed. But it probably won’t help you with awkward thanksgiving or high school reunion conversations yet. All the kids I know hang out with the atheists but I can’t tell if that says something about these kids or kids in general.

Another clear red line was when spez started editing comments.[0] It was childish and non-consequential, but should have resulted in an immediate exodus from the platform. I'm not politically aligned with r/The_Donald, but I think this sort of petty power abuse should not be forgiven; the platform needs to die, as an example to other platforms.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/5ekdy9/the_admi...

Really? I thought it was a fantastic reminder to users: they hold all the cards, and pretending otherwise is just diluting yourself.

If only other online platforms were that honest! Imagine Google sending out misleading gmails in your name, or Facebook mining your private messages for incriminating secrets and offering to "share" them with all your friends.

There's nothing technical preventing any of these kinds of abuses, and the sooner average users understand that, the sooner we'll have support for strong legal protections to rein in big tech companies.

For the record, systems at both FB and Google prevent internal employees from doing either. "There's nothing technical preventing any of these kinds of abuses" is only true in the sense that you can imagine implementations that don't prevent these kinds of abuses.

You're claiming that a rogue employee can't take it on themselves to do that on their own initiative. Either of those companies could trivially choose to do those things as a management decision. Maybe it doesn't make good business sense today, but who knows what the business landscape of 2025 or 2030 looks like?

And then my comment would be false. But as it stands today, it's true.

I do think you overestimate how trivial it would be for "management" (who? a senior PM? Sergei? Zuck?) to decide to turn off all internal security controls so individual Googlers could send emails using someone else's identity--it would likely run afoul of multiple current laws and contracts, to speak nothing of the universal, strong internal objections there'd be to that change and the high engineering cost to migrate off those systems. And I can't imagine a business landscape that would encourage any company to let individual employees do that.

There are tons of things to worry about wrt BigTechCos, but preventing and auditing rogue employees are something where their incentives align pretty strongly with the public good.

FWIW I do support stronger legal and privacy requirements (with some caveats, mostly because compliance is very expensive and potentially harmful to smaller companies).

Do they actually prevent malicious abuse, or do they just catch people after the fact and fire them? I know from reading about the NSA that they watch what data agents retrieve, and they're restricted by policy from going snooping, but there's nothing except fear of losing their job that stops them.

Google's servers have the ability to send email from myname@gmail.com and it comes with all the appropriate DKIM signatures to be from "me". They have some kind of auto-reply system such that their computer can automatically send "as me". They're already 90% of the way there: I think you've overestimating how big a change this would be.

I'll also say that I have little to no confidence in "strong internal objections". VW engineers built the emissions-cheating system, Facebook engineers built Beacon, Google engineers dutifully slurped up everyone's private wifi traffic. As long as management dressed it up a little bit and/or reassigned any dissenters, I'm sure they'd get a compliant team to build whatever garbage they wanted.

Obviously you think you're the good guys, and you'd never do that, but you'd be surprised how "good" people can gradually slide into really unethical behaviour. If you haven't read them I recommend https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/558867.Disciplined_Minds and https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37976541-bad-blood

I... kind of agree with you, actually, with the caveat that I see decentralised platforms being the solution rather than laws. I think moving to a different platform is better than staying on the known-manipulator, but moving to a platform without a potential-manipulator is better still. Proper decentralised solutions would be and are prohibitively expensive at the moment, in a number of senses, but if we valued free (as in freedom) discourse more this wouldn't be the case, and the costs should decrease over time anyway.

Also, when they created comments and manipulated their timestamps to make it seem like they were created far earlier than they actually were, for advertising purposes.

They also obfuscate the real upvote/downvote numbers, purportedly to stop vote manipulation but I don't really see how it does anything but provide a mask of plausible deniability for editing the up/down figures for advertisements, subversive posts, etc.

It ensures batters cannot tell if their account has been shadow banned.

What incident is this referring to? I can't find anything via a quick search...

It didn't blow up like the comment-editing incident, but I was referring to https://www.reddit.com/r/redditdev/comments/7a2mle/possible_...

That was beyond unacceptable because it didn't show the comment as have been edited with an asterisks. Which means they have and use special admin powers at will.

The only issue to Reddit it seems was that he was caught doing it.

I don't think admins can edit comments using the regular website interface. The CEO edited the comments directly in the database. That's why the asterisk never appeared. (Which, by the way, means the CEO has direct access to the database. Why?)

There are people sitting in prison RIGHT NOW from Reddit posts. Now think about the damage admins editing posts can do. You're right, it is beyond acceptable.

> Now think about the damage admins editing posts can do.

Why, their actions can lend plausible deniability to incriminating information in posts that have not been edited.

I'm a proud atheist, in part thanks to early Reddit. /r/Atheism at the time it was removed from the default subs list was a toxic cesspool filled with a lot of the same kinds of hateful rhetoric and magical thinking they criticize religious groups for. Removing it as a default was the right call.

>I’m a proud athiest

Might we say you are a religious athiest?

Not really. I don't claim to have proof that there is no god. I merely assert that not existing is the default state in the face of evidence-less existence claims. There could be a god, but that possibility has no bearing on how I live my life. If you want to ascribe a set of beliefs to me, the closest might be secular humanism.

Perhaps you might consider yourself to be agnostic?

Would you call yourself agnostic simply because you didn't believe Russel's teapot existed?

No, because that doesn't make sense.

r/atheism was made no longer a default because it became notoriously toxic

There was a actually a meta-game of where you'd (1) take a horrible quote, (2) mis-attribute it to Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson or Stephen Hawking, (3) put it on an image of space and (4) post it to r/atheism to see how many up-votes it got.

It was a very easy game.

You didn't need to be religious to find /r/atheism obnoxious. Anybody remember that "faces of atheism" meme years back? Possibly the most obnoxious, pretentious and self-congradulatory thing I've ever seen become popular on reddit. At first it was funny, but reddit is pretty good at pushing jokes long after they've become stale.

It was a place meant as a consolation/safe-space for people being hated on for not believing in stuff without proof.

It became a place to hate on everyone who didn't believe in atheism.

Isn't that how every online community devolves? It starts as a place for a group to feel accepted, and then evolves to demonizing the other?

Evangelical Atheism

I welcomed that change. They had handpicked a few left-leaning subs like that one. I also remember there was one about feminism. I believe that was a bad idea, to position themselves like that. Maybe it was a good idea when reddit was a niche website. Now, as far as I know, they simply have an algorithm that shows the most popular posts of all subs, except a few ones that are banned (like the popular the_donald, a sub for supporters of Donald Trump). I'm not saying that I like the idea of a blacklist or that it is the best solution, but it's better than a whitelist.

/r/the_donald should have been closed a long time ago, due to their users and their mods breaking the rules (hate speech encouragement, mainly) that the rest of subreddits have to respect. Reddit has a dark incentive to keep it open, because it's a very popular community that helps Reddit make money, via ads and Reddit Gold.

Go read r/politics comments for 5 minutes and then go read r/the_donald comments for 5 minutes, then come back and tell me which subreddit has the most hate speech. Also let's not forget that r/politics mods sold the subreddit to Shareblue for $2 million.

Challenge accepted.

The current top comment on the current top post on /r/politics [1]:

>David Frum said it best this morning on NPR, his call for unity isn't actually a call for unity, he's demanding that everyone to support him and his policies.

The current top comment on the current top post on /r/The_Donald [2]:

>Schumer looked disgusting. Glasses at the end of his nose. Very disrespectful.

The politics comment might be biased but it is a least a political opinion worth discussing. The comment on The Donald is at best a childish insult and while I personally wouldn't call it "hate speech" I wouldn't be shocked if it was some form of antisemitic dog whistle. I think you are showing your own biases if you think those two subs have a similar level of discourse.

[1] - https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/anf6vn/trump_will...

[2] - https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/anf6ov/i_see_sc...

It's a reference to a classic Trump tweet: https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/14958910416893952...

(Edit to the guy below: I'm not saying I disagree with you, just adding some context.)

The disgusting and disrespectful portions might be a reference, but it was the "Glasses at the end of his nose" line that jumped out as a potential dog whistle. The response with 25 upvotes that talks about Shumer's "sniveling nose" also doesn't help.

I know that politicians getting criticized for their looks is just part of the equation and Trump is a big victim of that. However it is a little different when you are criticizing a Jewish person's "sniveling nose", especially in a community that is routinely accused of being hateful and antisemitic.

EDIT: This comment is being heavily downvoted, but I am not sure why. Like I said in my original post this wouldn't meet my personal definition of hate speak. However is it really outlandish to suggest that a community that has been accused of antisemitism might be signaling their antisemitism when their criticism of a Jewish person is the most stereotypical physical characteristic of the Jewish people?

The antisemitism accusation is completely over-the-top ridiculous. Trump's own daughter is a Jew. Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, and not one democrat showed up for the ceremony. There are a couple openly antisemitic members of congress now, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. Louis Farrakhan hasn't even been disowned.

This is a case of projection if there ever was one.

> Trump's own daughter is a Jew.

She's also a woman, but I don't think anyone would see that as sufficient to refute the claim that Trump is a misogynist. Not that Trump was even referred to here except as a victim of the popular act of mocking politicians appearance.

> Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem

Being a Christian Zionist, or politically pandering to Christian Zionists, isn't incompatible with anti-Semitism.

Ok so what exactly has he done that IS anti-semetic then?

There is a lot wrong with this comment.

To start with, nothing I said here was directed towards Trump so Ivanka isn't relevant. Even if she was, aren't we past the whole "some of my friends are black" excuse for bigotry? Plenty of people otherize a group while thinking the people they know in that group are "one of the good ones".

The next big problem is the equating Jews with all of Israel. It is entirely possible for someone to be antisemitic and pro-Israel or anti-Israel and not antisemitic. Israel is an independent nation with its own politics and there are plenty of Jews there with any number of political ideologies. Over recent years the political climate of Israel has been skewing right (in part due to the support of the American right/Evangelicals who are pro-Israel and not necessarily pro-Jews). It is therefore natural that members of the political left in this country are reacting by distancing themselves from the political actions of Israel.

I am not going to get into a debate about Palestine, Farrakhan, or anything more political than than what I mentioned above. HN is not the place for that discussion and I don't think that discussion has any relevance to the original question of whether mocking a Jewish person's nose is potentially antisemitic.

Yeah Trump broke people's brains. Look at this anti-semite: http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170522092440-02-tru...

How many Trump tweets can be classic? I’d wager you’d try to give this context for any reference to any Trumpian thing. Which dilutes it meaning anything.

Do you have a citation for the $2M figure? I tried searching a bit. All I found were random sites saying roughly the same stuff conspiracy subreddits or sites were saying.

I’m not saying something didn’t go on, but if something did happen, where did that number come from besides “anonymous source[s]”



This is hilarious. Yes the reason the subreddit for the President of the USA is allowed to exist is so the FBI can gather evidence.

on Russians, yes.

We're at such a weird area in American politics that I literally cannot tell if you're joking or serious.

Also the ‘Open Reddit App’ button at the bottom of the screen. Blocks content, can’t remove for the session, and a close button that is purposefully small in order to make it difficult to click. Enraging.

i.reddit.com bypasses all this

reddit also injects unique tracking into every outbound URL click, allowing them to monitor individual user behavior and engagement (similar to Google Search results)

I got so sick of the "use our app" shit on every page that I installed a third-party reddit app (Apollo). They wouldn't be pushing the app so hard if it was actually to my benefit.

I was browsing it using Firefox Focus, it pointed me to two options to use reddit: the app or Chrome (with its logo). I didn't want to open Chrome, so I closed and tried again. Only then I noticed that it was referring to any browser instead of Chrome... Not entirely bad, but a bit annoying.

Assuming you’re on Android. Using Firefox Focus on iOS I had the same issue, but the browser icon shows Safari. Still not sure whether they are being deceptive or incompetent.

For me, the "read in Chrome" option in Mobile Safari never works. So there's a choice between two options, and actually your two options are to read in the native app, or to let the popover dialog take up half the screen in the mobile browser. This would be truly evil if it was intentional and not just a bug.

The worst thing in promoting their app is that I would gladly use it if it was faster than a web site, but it loads so much slower that it's just a much worse experience.

Google realized that load times are critical 20 years ago. Facebook realized it when Google was launching G+.

> Google realized that load times are critical 20 years ago.

They seem to be forgetting it, lately.

Yes, Google transformed from an engineering driven organization to a tech driven one. Still, they want to make moneycin developing countries with crappy internet connections as well, so Google doesn't have any choice, it still has to look at latencies.

> incentives between Reddit as a business and Reddit as a community leader are not aligned, and that is a problem.

But Reddit is only one of those things.

The AMP pages with mobile app pop-up are the worst.

Especially as the cookie is broken so that you get the pop-up every single AMP visit.

Their current CEO seems to be a bad actor. Despite people reporting shills or Russian trollbots, the admins basically don't do anything in the name of "free speech" but to me, propaganda and counter-intelligence ops shouldn't really qualify... I wish they'd just clean up all the racist and weirdo (incel) subreddits and focus on nurturing the interesting communities (ebikes, woodworking, vinyl, guitarpedals). There's a lot of good stuff on reddit and it'd be a shame for them to get dragged down by the worst communities.

Well that’s a slippery slope to start editing or deleting posts you think are Russian propaganda. You might end up editing posts by real people who are misinformed or have those beliefs for some reason. And that is totally against free speech.

>lately it seems like the incentives between Reddit as a business and Reddit as a community leader are not aligned, and that is a problem.

That's by design. Reddit is just another data mining company. Of course they'd rather have you on the app than the browser. Apps can gather info about you even when you're not using them.

>recent example: Reddit now gates content in mobile Safari to push users to the app

They've been doing that for months now. Plus their mobile site is hideously slow and bloated.

Here's a tip: http://i.reddit.com. Looks old but does the job.

Apollo and an "open in Apollo" shortcut is IMO a much better solution.

It’s funny you say dark patterns. Reddit has been full of dark patterns long before that, between censorship and shilling. It doesn’t surprise me at all that they’re lining up to cash out, just like Facebook. They are positioned, more than likely, as good as they are ever going to be, without a serious financial transformation. Maybe once sold, Reddit will hang onto the limelight another 10 years. As it stands, I see a new Reddit clone about every 4-6 months or so. It’s not a guarded or protected model, like Facebook was. The supposed anonaminity of Reddit is nice, but anyone who knows about browser fingerprinting knows that’s basically a farce. The people paying for your data with Reddit are the same ones paying for it with Facebook. It’s hard for me to envision the data APIs getting any more secure, simply because that’s the thriving business model. But Powered by Reddit instead of Facebook. It’s gone from sociopath founded, to stolen by sociopaths. Slight improvement.

So what are you all's theories on why they want to push users to the app? Does that enable them to track more movement, target you with ads easier, etc?

I’m guessing a lot of it has to do with making it harder to circumvent ads

Their mobile interface takes ages (several seconds on a bad mobile connection!) to load and keeps pestering you about using the App.

I'm glad they keep their old mobile interface (https://i.reddit.com) which loads instantaneous. Unfortunately some links redirect you to the new interface, which is when I just close the site.

The gating is even worse on Android. They ask you to "continue" with the Chrome icon even when you're not using Chrome.

I only use the webapp, and the "Use the app messages" was very annoying, until I found that you can actually turn these messages off using some obscure setting (which, of course, I can't find right now...)

It's easy to turn that dialog off 'permanently' (as long as you don't clear the cookies) on any Android browser: When the dialog appears, click on the hamburger menu at the top right of the reddit page, then turn off the "Ask To Open In App" option. The option disappears when it's off, so it's not possible to turn it on manually (not that anyone would want to). I've set it off months ago in my main browser and it's still off.

I am using reddit less and less because of the insistence on using the app no matter how many times I decline.

They have also become particularly creepy and anti-privacy lately.

I'm probably the minority here but I wouldn't really call the way they're pushing their app a "dark pattern." It is an annoying pattern for sure, but I'm struggling to see what's unethical about it.

We should probably be cautious about using the term "dark pattern" so liberally, otherwise anything on the web that we don't like could eventually be categorized as such and the term loses its power.

I think that new banner is so much better than the old one, though.


It's still bad. They should cookie the choice so it doesn't always pop up every time.

That wouldn't fit the business model of "push them to the native app as hard as possible"

This doesn't work for people who browse Reddit without cookies or signing in, such as for those who use Private Browsing.

So what? That demographic self-selects to be hard to track, so there isn't any good way to track their decision on the pop-up regardless.

Allow me to send a request parameter “?stfu=Y”

Which breaks on search result and referral traffic, forcing users to install third party extensions to maintain, thus creating new security vectors.

Why not just load your own css and set the div to "display:none;" then?

This is what I do on browsers that have greasemonkey. The downside is that I have to be aware of their div and other things they make to try to make me switch to mobile.

Specifying a parameter of reddit’s specification allows me to work with them as a user to follow their parameter. If their users don’t like certain features (like nag popups) then it helps them to proactively solve this problem before their users leave.

Sure, but as a PM at reddit, you're not going to release new features like blanket URL parameters that push behavior that leads to security issues. Just to cater to a self-selecting demographic that doesn't directly contribute to your P&Ls.

Honestly, that's a good idea. I should block the XPromoPopup class with a content blocker.

You can do that, it's just a bit hidden away. https://i.imgur.com/qIDu7q3.jpg

Of course. Looks like it's stored server side? I couldn't see where they are storing it. Good find.

The sad part is that it's not better in the app. I tried it.

It's an interesting question. "Reddit as a business" would seem to have an incentive to keep their esoteric and weird communities going, otherwise it's hard to see their appeal over other social-media sites. The notable thing about the dark patterns you correctly point out is that they hit the casual users really hard, but most dedicated users (the folks who plausibly provide the content and indeed community that ultimately gives Reddit its value) can easily get around them. It will be interesting to see if this pattern can prove sustainable.

they also hate TOR users

the captcha is not completable, and when it is, the next section says the captcha signature is invalid

but you can always circumvent that with a clearnet VPN, just need to isolate its use to just reddit, that session.

differently from Google, reddit was bootstrapped by dark patterns! their founders even brag of it!

my point being that with Google your complaint is valid. But on reddit case, you are just signaling that you liked one dark pattern (which probably benefited you) more than others.

Max, would you be willing to evaluate Reddit alternatives? One is https://notabug.io/ after the Aaron Swarz quote, has seen hypergrowth since it started a few months ago using our P2P tech.

You emailed me about this so I'll reply here:

I call shenanigans on the hypergrowth, where the metrics you sent me imply ~1 million pageviews per month yet there is barely any engagement or new/original content on the site itself. (and the few comments there appear to be very Voat-esque)

Semi-related, I dislike straight-up Reddit/Hacker News clones, including the UI. If Reddit/HN has enough issue to warrant a competitor by cloning the UI, that just repeats the same problem.

I think ~1 million pageviews (according to SimilarWeb: https://www.similarweb.com/website/notabug.io) is notabug.io+snew.notabug.io (see subdomains section: snew.notabug.io 97.85% notabug.io 2.15%).

So notabug itself is 2% of 1 million ~ 20k pageviews.

That makes more sense, thanks for that clarification!

However, snew.notabug.io is a mirror of the corresponding Reddit posts w/o censorship, which makes it not an alternative! Shenanigans identified!

As one of the most active users of notabug.io: you're not wrong. There's no hypergrowth.

But the tech has real promise and that's the story here. Of course 'alternatives' get the scoundrels first so criticizing it on that merit is a bit generic.

There's value in federated systems with a p2p overlay even if they're not attracting the money driven crowds. You can't post sci-hub links openly on reddit. You can't even discuss how to handle DRM and bypass it.

Centralized systems are always going to go through the same lifecycle after they reach a critical mass requiring real money. It's not pretty. If anyone can self-host from home or even contribute hosting by visiting with a webrtc enabled browser it benefits a lot of groups pushed out for perfectly cromulent reasons.

You do realize that reddit owns Notabug, Inc, yeah?

notabug.io isn't owned by Reddit.

I'm aware of that, I'm just saying they own the corporation with the same name, which they got when they acquired Aaron's company.

They own Notabug Inc, not notabug.io

There's also a namespace collision on Freenode IRC. The #notabug channel is definitely not for notabug.io it's for the free code hosting group https://notabug.org

The UI is based on some open source repo by Reddit.

Yeah, it's based on the old open source reddit.

Using Gun and Blockchain to mirror content on other servers to prevent data loss.

Notabug.io is a P2P tech using the old Reddit UI.

http://k666.kr5ddit.com/ Is a free and open source version of http://kr5ddit.com made to look like the old Scoop and function like Reddit.

I hate how comments pop-in out of order. It's distracting.

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