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I generally agree. I've taken to appending "reddit" to many of my search queries, because flawed though it is, reddit is one of the few places you can read an actual human thought. It feels like nearly all content on the internet is some de-personalized corporate "content marketing" blog at this point. Just give us your email address and we'll send you a PDF (and a drip marketing campaign.)

I think the old internet went away because it was more profitable to create a walled garden distribution channel than it was to develop a syndication protocol like email or rss. I honestly don't see any way around this.

If you tend to do this a lot and use Chrome, you might find the tweak this comment inspired for me useful:

open chrome://settings/searchEngines

add a new search engine, called anything you want, with a convenient shortcut. I use "r". The important bit is the search string this expands to: https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Areddit.com+%s

This does exactly what it looks like: search google for whatever you're looking for, but only for reddit pages. You access it by getting into the URL bar, hitting r<tab>, then you should see whatever you named this, then do your search and off you go.

Sadly, this is substantially better than searching reddit for the same string. (I work at reddit, and hope to help fix this sometime in the first half of next year)

reddit's search has been a running joke for as long as I've been using reddit* and I worry that improving it this late in the game might unexpectedly wipe out the entire site and severely damage the surrounding internet.

*Just checked. 9 years. Gulp.

Johnny come lately, eh? https://www.reddit.com/user/mattknox :)

> I've taken to appending "reddit" to many of my search queries, because flawed though it is, reddit is one of the few places you can read an actual human thought.

Same. It's the only place to find the sort of genuine, informed opinion that used to be common on the first page of Google results, on a wide variety of topics, without an awful lot of digging.

I am six months into reddit detox. The amount of time I have back is amazing. Only semi social site I read is this one. I have internet down to BBCNews, NHK, Reuters, HN, a few comics, Ars, next platform, the morning paper, Matt Levine and el reg. I am much happier :)

I only user Reddit a few times a month, specific focused subreddits, but find it invaluable for hive mind opinion/debate without product shilling (which is all you get on Google or Youtube). Reddit is great. It reminds me of Usenet back in the day

I suppose it can get addictive too, but I haven't found that to be the case for me, not yet anyway. HN on the other hand... :)

The problem with reddit is that you get downvoted simply for going against the hivemind, even if you supply evidence that you are right. It's impossible to have a meaningful conversation on the more popular subreddits, especially on politics.

That totally depends on the subreddit. r/politics? You're absolutely right. But the more focused subs offer a wealth of information about obscure topics. For example, check out this recent thread on r/machinelearning where people have an in-depth discussion about hype versus reality: https://www.reddit.com/r/MachineLearning/comments/donbz7/d_i...

Politics, internet, meaningful conversation - choose two

Can I just have internet?

BBC fell of the wagon for me in the last 2 years especially.

Been checking out The Independent more so lately.

Just thought I’d share as I used to read BBCnews daily.

I stick with BBC News, but I balance it out with news from other sources, and somewhere in the middle of it all, is the 'real' story. In so far as the media are prepared to tell it.

Curious but why do you qualify HN as semi social?

Not OP, but personally I definitely view HN as a comment board that points to links as a way to drive discussion as opposed to a news site that allows comments. Probably not how it is normally described, but it's definitely how I use it.

Agreed. That's how I use it too.

There's no real culture here of meta discussion or throwaway comments/in jokes like there is on more socially engaged platforms.

The majority of discussion here is "on topic" - which is good but very different to Reddit or Slack communities which tend to revolve more around personalities.

Ah, well I guess semi is the wrong word here? I guess I mean HN has a group of people in general that have a shared background. I would guess that a large % of people on HN have some sort of STEM background, which doesn’t match to the reddit community. I do not see many people on /r/the_donald with a STEM background arguing against climate change.

None of those sources of info feel like you're reading information written by a human - there is limited emotional context or web context(ongoing internet history is often excluded)

Some of the stories ARS presents you won't even be able to parse as to why they were written unless you're aware of the general tech and social zeitgeist - which you can see on reddit somewhat

Maybe the old internet is still there but hidden behind the 100th search result page. I often times wish search result were ranked by how genuine the page seems to be, measured by the ratio of content over ads. Indeed, the less advertisement on a page and the more likely it is written by an actual human being with something to say. Sadly, I suspect ranking to works exactly the opposite.

Maybe we need to bring back "web rings" and blog rolls.

Web rings were indeed great. "Sites similar to ..." queri3s in search engines are not a good replacement.

Someone linked me to this on HN a few days ago: https://neocities.org/browse . It definitely brings back that old geocities/webring vibe the internet used to have.

I just read in another HN thread about Million Short. Knock off the top 100,1000,10000... sites in your search results


That's fascinating, thanks for sharing!

A search engine that filters out first (direct marketing) or second (blog spam) degree commercial links would be extremely powerful.

Build it!

Easier said than done. How do you programmatically define "genuine" in a way that can't be easily spoofed?

* let content producers sign their content and discount producers who have a lot of content on the web

* presence/absence of ads from known ad networks

* presence/absence of google analytics etc

* ratio of a page's download volume in bytes versus number of square centimeters of the viewport when rendered by a typical user

* cap the point at which higher update frequency scores you "ranking juice". real human beings doing a website for a non-commercial motive and who set a high bar on meaningfulness of their communication aren't going to update their site multiple times a month. you have to outsource the creation of thin content to achieve that, which is what we don't want.

* cap the point at which younger content ranks higher & cap the point at which older content ranks lower, for similar reasons. information that is great information today because it's topical, and no longer great information tomorrow was probably never great to begin with. and if content is great, then it will age gracefully. -- as a matter of fact you may want to downrank content that's very young for that reason. web search is about searching something that should be a permanent information store / archive sort of thing. if you're looking for something that's more like a newsfeed, discovery mechanisms other than search should be used.

i'm sure i could think of more. but one thing that strikes me about the above list is that a lot of this stuff is the exact opposite of what google is doing right now, so the shittiness of today's web is, to a large extent, engineered. i don't think it's within the nature of the web that it inevitably has to be like what it's like today.

information that is great information right now because its topical, and no longer great information tomorrow, was probably never great to begin with.

I absolutely agree, but if it's true then maybe Wikipedia is to blame.

Step one: don't get paid for showing non-genuine search results.

Votes to get accepted, votes to get kicked out.

Like any "social ring", esoteric or not.

Edit: and vouching, if someone messes up the person that introduced her wll be obstracized as well.

Any community voting system runs the risk of very quickly becoming politicized and then backfiring.

It would be great it a indexing service like Duckduckgo allowed using custom ranking algorithms.

Do you not find Reddit to be a bit of a cesspool? I tend to avoid it for that reason, but how true it is probably depends on which subreddit(s) we're talking about.

It has all the ups and downs of humanity as a whole of course, but as other users have said specific subs (usually less popular and well moderated) are where the gold is.

My main problem with Reddit is the repetitive in-culture jokes, memes, and reposts. A lot of content is pandering to the Reddit audience with a flavour that is calculated to win over the crowd (see all the complaints on /r/pics of political signs or weight loss progress pics - it pisses a lot of people off because there's better places for it, but gets upvotes from the masses).

If reposts are a problem for you then you're spending too much time there.

Had an account for 12 years, lurked for at least a year before. The reposts are extremely frequent. They just get lower resolution as the years go on.

Reddit is now a couple visits a week for me because of reposts etc.

Rule of thumb for reddit: You want a small community or a heavily moderated community and never a (former, I don’t think this concept exists anymore) default subreddit.

Besides some intra-reddit jokes, the site is more like a directory of forums with a unified interface.

There are still the default subscriptions, but the front page has switched over to a more diverse selection of posts. r/askhistorians is I think my favorite example of a very well run and moderated subreddit.

They also have a great podcast!

Spend enough time on 4chan and you'll realize reddit is a safezone kid gloves hug box.

And 4chan isn't even that bad in terms of bad or illegal content so that goes to show how relative it all is.

4chan is outright fantastic in some aspects.

/g/ is actually quite useful and friendly, especially the DPT (Daily Programming Thread), more-so if you're a beginner.

/trv/ (travel) is just good and perfectly slow where you won't feel pressure to keep up with a thread because it will still be there tomorrow.

/fit/ has good information and really encapsulates what happens when the internet meets bro-gym culture.

Compared to parts of Reddit, I would honestly take 4chan over it. I mean even some of the formerly "default" sub-Reddits are cesspools of hatred with the occasional call for targeted violence and Moderators who will ban you by association. Some of the big sub-Reddits openly discriminate based on race.

I know journalists have zero motivation to investigate sub-Reddits or the incestous circle of Reddit moderators that control the groupthink in most of the major sub-Reddits, but one day that will come out and it will be an internet scandal. If they time it right it could sink any hope of an IPO or serious monetization.

Yeah 4chan is great but it differs from reddit in a fundamental way.

You can have a normal thread where someone will casually drop the N word or other slur and it will just sit there, maybe not even acknowledged but also not downvoted or deleted.

That alone is enough to turn people off immediately. They need that sense of retributive justice for a wrong they see in the universe. You're right that reddit can be just as bigoted than 4chan if not more so but I think you realize it's way more subtle and dogwhistley. The only reason a 4chan post will ever dance around being blunt bigotry is usually for the sake of humor not to ban evade.

Also I can't imagine browsing 4chan without something like 4chanX and your average person probably isn't going to bother installing that.

>but also not downvoted

Well, there is no way to downvote. Point-based systems usually turn out bad if the community is too big. Just check big subreddit like the defaults, posts get too catering to group-think. Not having downvotes or even upvotes, means that you have to deal with crap posts.

For some people 4chan has "upvotes", what they call "(you)"s, basically a reply, people post too much bad content just trying to provoke a reaction.

The introduction of the "(You)" feature arguably changed the spirit of 4chan, since now people know that when they get a reply their comment will get more attention because the list of replies is listed on the comment itself. I don't think there was enough pushback against its introduction a few years ago.

If I still had an imageboard, it would never implement a feature like that.

Exactly. It's bigger than an upvote!

Of course, people could still get it from extensions, but not everybody uses them.

Still, the provoking nature on 4chan would still remain even without (you)s as it's the quickest way to get answers.

> You can have a normal thread where someone will casually drop the N word or other slur and it will just sit there, maybe not even acknowledged but also not downvoted or deleted. That alone is enough to turn people off immediately. They need that sense of retributive justice for a wrong they see in the universe.

Choosing not to hang out with people who casually use the N-word makes me vindictive?

If i understand it correctly, its an rather interesting system working as intended. As an open "community" (to use the term very very loosely) image boards have an intrinsic problem of how to keep away unwanted behavior, and with that people, as they are designed to have as low of a barrier of entry as possible. Here the definition of unwanted behavior just differs, the focus seems to be that there is no drastic shift in user base and atmosphere. If you look at an image board a decade ago and compare it to now, the goal of a successful imageboard seems to be to have the impression when coming back as if you have never left. You cant achieve this with just (voluntary) moderators. Something like the far right taking over /r/europe/ over night with the moderators being overrun by to many new posters and old users leaving as a result would be the super gau for an image board. So how do you keep away drama and people who "feel the need to correct every wrong"? Thats how you get some of the profanity and racism. Making unwanted people want to leave instead of relying on unsustainable bans. If you look at the historical development of 4chan, the founding of /pol/ was in 2011, if memory serves right, that was shortly after 4chan introduced stricter moderating of outright illegal content. While granted necessary and the right thing to do, with that the last thing that kept people seriously engaged in the far right away was gone. As such the only option left to protect the remaining boards was giving them their own. Put differently imageboards are designed in such a way that filters for rather specific users by making sure that everyone else would never want to be associated with one and be disgusted by the sight. To give a real example, remember the guy in the first semester of university who brought up streaking in casual conversations and browsed old /b/ in the middle of a packed learnroom not giving a shit? Thats who they are looking for. So if you look at the history of 4chan, apparently you can either have an image board which gets spammed with gore and child pornography or you get one with an active far right userbase. The creation of /pol/ is in my eyes a direct result of former filter strategies no longer working. There is apparently very little that can disgust a Nazi. Who would have thought?

4ch is honestly great. In many ways, it's so much better than reddit:

- No "ego"-moderation. Mods and janitors are invisible, and seem to do their jobs well. Compare with the constant mod drama (years of the stuff) on various subreddits.

- No "retaliation culture" via downvotes. If you really really hate something someone said, the worst thing you can do to them is just ignore it.

- No identity. Posting with a name gets you shamed into being anonymous pretty quick unless you have a very good reason to do so. This means there are no karma/score/image issues, you just say what you think.

Like you mentioned, /fit/ and /g/ are great boards. /p/ is solid too if you're into that sort of thing.

As a long time user of /g/ I must say that it is more and more frequently the case that threads which focus around gender, race or other controversial items, which users do not consider it a requirement to know anything about to speak on them, massively outstrip genuine threads like DPT. They're usually not removed by mods either.

that is because of replies being the only "reinforcement" (gamification of behavior) you get on 4chan. There is no point system or similar, what keeps a thread a float is replies, and some people like having many responses under their posts.

This means that creating inflammatory posts, sometimes is the only way to get attention, or worse, when you actually want information and you post in a way that would get attention otherwise it would be ignored.

Identity politics usually gives plenty of reactions. Just like calling something bad gets more reactions that call something good. Want opinion on something you want o buy? start a thread calling it shit, and wonder why there are so many bad threads there.

Is it still? I thought /pol/ ate the whole site and drove everyone who wasn't a Nazi or edgelord troll away.

It's as good as it ever was. If anything, it's probably better since 8ch imploded.

I disagree. If it was ever good, it was because of the randomness, which generated the occasional gems (in a sea of bad trolling and shitposts). Now it is just repetitive.

True. I learned a long time ago that 4chan is not my sort of place at all, and never bother going there. I do pop into Reddit every so often, though.

The nice thing about google is that it cuts across all subreddits, so if you're looking for something specific there's a good chance you'll find a real, honest opinion about it.

not my experience. I Google "Reddit" plus any podcast I listen to (all popular podcasts) and find little to no discussion. none is more common than little.

No. It's not a monolithic entity. Various subreddits can be extremely well-run and vibrant.

I do and it saddens me. It reminds me of the end days of Slashdot, right before I stopped commenting there entirely after a decade of positive interactions with like-minded people.

More than half of the top-voted content on Reddit is indistinguishable from bot-generated random memes.

Someone please explain to me what "blursed" means and why it's use means that it gets to go straight to the top of "/all" regularly...

“Blursed” is a mix of blessed and cursed, it’s a sweet-n-sour style tension in a comment or picture that doesn’t resolve cleanly one way or the other, and from that it’s more interesting than a basic setup with a 180-degree twist ending that has a definite answer to whether it’s nice or nasty, wholesome or mean, kind or cruel, etc.

And because most of Reddit is young people with lots of time on their hands, looking for entertainment and pastime, content with no particular niche and with a twist that isn’t an explicit joke or reference, is widely engaging.

The default subreddits for sure. There are however some great interest specific subreddits with good moderation and quality posts/discussions. With that said even those good quality subreddits can suffer from the reddit plague which is minimal effort picture posts with a tangentially related subject.

I find Reddit more healthy than HN, to be honest. At least it seems human compared to HN sterility. But of course, it all depends which subreddits you read.

Do you not find Reddit to be a bit of a cesspool?

More than a bit, and quite frankly there's plenty of advertising masquerading as earnest content. Unfortunately it's also got a lot of useful, user-generated content.

Do you prefer discord or slack closed discussion channels that cannot even be searched without being part of their closed community ? There's no sharing there. Reddit shares with the rest of the world.

> Do you prefer discord or slack closed discussion channels

My only experience with either of those is Slack, and that was only in relation to a job. So I have no idea if I'd prefer them or not, really.

Just fyi people now say Hackernews is a cesspool and devto is the new hotness. or is it mastodon? all i know is i keep going back to reddit to actually get some meaningful discussion on a topic and not just an echochamber of "yeah that's what i think too!"(if you sort by controversial)

I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one who did this, but I’m glad to know for sure. I do the exact same thing, because otherwise it seems nigh impossible to actually find decent human conversations online that aren’t in some unindexed walled garden.

You may be interested in https://millionshort.com, a search engine that lets you filter out results from the top 100 to 1,000,000 (your choice) sites. Depending on the search and the number you pick, it'll give you lots of personal websites and small forums.

I also just found https://boardreader.com, which searches forums exclusively.

Yup, I was about to suggest this before noticing that it had already been said.

It is remarkable how many of the top domain that show up on search (amazon, ebay, others) have little or nothing to do with long-tail search terms.

millionshort.com looks promising! I will give it a try. Do you know what engine they use? Google or Bing, or something completly different?

I had to dig for it, but apparently they use "a Microsoft Bing API and some in-house information." https://www.networkworld.com/article/2188911/million-short-s...

I should edit the Wikipedia page; it makes it sound like they rolled their own engine and crawler, which seemed pretty unlikely.

I miss the "discussion" filter that Google used to have. For a while it still worked if you added a parameter to the URL. Now it's often difficult to impossible to search for stuff without 99% blog spam.

What's the difference between blogs and hobbyist sites though?

A defined purpose? monitization?

I suppose it would be a hard fight to get google to specifically favour non-adsensed sites.

I just ran a google search for "Power Inverter Van". All of the results are either direct sales or affiliate advertising brochure sites disguised as a lifestyle blog.

I guess you could argue that if I google that search term I'm probably planning to buy one or something, but if I append reddit I can get a really crappy discussion tab-esque function.

If I try "Solar Powered Van" the results look a bit better but are basically the same kind of lifestyle sales content.

I think we accidentally hacked the internet into some sort of Möbius supermarket magazine aisle.

To find any useful content, first thing you do on the modern Internet is search for relevant forum for the topic you are interested in.

Then you have to wade through miles of posts calling out "blatant astroturfing"(people paid to write positive forum posts) on the site. Finding open and honest discussion is really hard

The intent.

A desire to express an opinion vs an attempt to lure you to buy something while telling you banalities about the topic.

Forums mostly see the latter as spam and evict.

How about weirdos like me and other infoproduct indies? We intend to express a genuinely valuable opinion in a useful way and try to convince you to consider buying our stuff.

Whitepapers are ads.

Cool ads, interesting ads, but still ads.

I don't tend to mind the pitch if it follows the genuinely valuable information.

Same. I find it very interesting how crude, limited and untrendy (old)reddit was and yet you kept coming back. It wasn't engineered value, it was something else.

> I've taken to appending "reddit" to many of my search queries

On duck duck go you can use !r to search reddit if you're so inclined.

Unfortunately that redirects to Reddit's own search engine, which is often worthless for what I'm looking for.

For example, if I'm looking for a comment that refers to my lat 2014 model of some widget, Reddit's search will fail to find it, and try to show me subreddits instead that are tangentially related to what I'm looking for.

Still a good tip, don't get me wrong. But I find that asking the search engine to do the search for me—with "reddit" as one of the search terms—often gives me the result I'm looking for faster than using Reddit's own search.



to your search works even better IME

Heh. That’s what I do. I just didn’t remember!

Sure that makes sense. Their search engine is not amazing.

I've been doing this quite a lot for finding useful opinions or reviews on products. Reddit comments have a surprising consistency when it comes to tone and objectiveness which I've come to appreciate when I need a second opinion on something.

Web forums are really big part of modern Internet, reddit is just the one of them.

In the classic web forum sense? Culture and all? I haven't been able to find any (but also I haven't looked very hard in the last 2-3 years). How are you finding out, just word of mouth?

Classic, yes. Forums like XDA-Developers, EEVBlog, Head-Fi, or DIYAudio.com. You can pretty much just search for "<topic> forum" and find them. Many of the best forums in the modern Internet are Russian and Chinese by the way.

Culture is what gives value to a web forum. If it's just an exchange of ideas it gets bogged down with astroturfing

Ha! I was just thinking this exact thing last night. There's lots of examples, but the one I experienced was searching for info about a product I am thinking about buying. Nothing but stores and marketing on the first couple pages. Tacking on review to the search brought up nothing but marketing copy and fake blogs from the various retailers. Tacked Reddit onto it and finally found people's actual thoughts and experiences. It's a damn shame and I suspect only a matter of time before Reddit is overwhelmed as well.

Glad that you've found useful sections. I've always found reddit to be this generation's ExpertsExchange, based on quality of content. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places.

That would be Quora! But I agree, Reddit has pretty poor quality discussions, sometimes with as little depth as most Facebook comments.

This might just be my experience, but I've found Quora to be of extremely poor quality questions/answers with a few outliers. Reddit on the other hand seems to have both good answers and people just horsing around, but not as much astro-turfing as I find on Quora answers.

StackExchange consistently has the most technically informed content of any site I know. And the most focused / on-topic comments, which limits its social appeal of course.

If you can find the right set of people, twitter's "people you follow" filter can be a great way to search for things, for similar reasons to those you bring up.

yeah and then your feed gets bombarded by whatever political leaning that person has coz twitter has no way to "follow" someone without seeing retweets/likes

where are you looking on Reddit? I find crickets for every topic I look for.

I think they mean searching using a search engine but appending reddit to the query.

For example if I search “best vpn” I’ll get loads of VPN review blog spam who are just pushing the provider with the highest affiliate commission.

If I search “best vpn reddit” I should get discussion from real people about services they have used.

reddit is 75% teenagers. You might get human thoughts, but you won't find high quality ones unless you filter carefully.

(Teenagers, and yes I was one and I remember, usually have an inflated sense of their own abilities and knowledge, and they write that way.)

What I wish we could bring back is usenet and/or mailing lists. Or at least highly targeted forums, where people spend years curating relationships, and sharing knowledge.

> reddit is 75% teenagers. You might get human thoughts, but you won't find high quality ones unless you filter carefully.

Pot, kettle, etc...

> What I wish we could bring back is usenet and/or mailing lists. Or at least highly targeted forums, where people spend years curating relationships, and sharing knowledge.

You are describing the non default subreddits.

I think that depends on how you use Reddit. You're right, there are lots of teens on there, but I'm not subscribed to the subreddits they frequent, nor do I browse r/all, which is the equivalent of Youtube's "Trending" tab.

r/webdev for instance is one of the subs I'm subscribed to, and the culture there is not really meme or inside joke-oriented like a lot of the entertainment-type subs are.

The other day I was googling info related to legal review of real estate documents, and my top search results were all keyword-heavy content mill articles that weren't helpful at all. I decided to do the same search with "site:reddit.com" added, and the information was much better, as you're often hearing people's stories of working with lawyers when buying property. It was very helpful to get this kind of 'organic' information instead of the 'corporatized' version that's really a lead-up to their sales pitch.

> What I wish we could bring back is usenet and/or mailing lists.

Let's shoot for a more feasible goal: bring back Gmane.org and let web forums federate to it if they so choose, not just mailing lists. That's the closest we can get to what the old Usenet was like.

Did those forums go away? Or are new ones not being made?

Yes. For all intents and purposes they went away. And there are mostly no equivalent discussion boards (beyond narrow mostly invite only mailing lists) that allow only the sort of people (for better or worse) who had access to the relatively early Internet. Some large companies, students and staff at elite universities, and so forth.

Mind you it wasn’t perfect. But people tended to be posting under their own names associated with institutions. And the masses were kept out if they were even aware.

Unfortunately they are less popular but they didn’t go away. They offer more features than Reddit and have more real communities and discussions. Add “forum” or similar to to your searches.

Forums are alive and well. Take XDA for example.

If you want something like (old-school) Reddit AND is decentralized...

Check out P2P Reddit: https://notabug.io/ (Warning! Beware of content!)

It runs on the GUN protocol (mine), which is running in production with about 8M monthly active users.

So yes, Old Internet is making a comeback with #dWeb!

Unfortunately reddit will also deteriorate quickly now. Half of reddit is bots these days.

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