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Ask HN: What tech choices make “new” Reddit so unbearably slow?
238 points by epistasis 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 158 comments
I never visited Reddit much, but occasionally web searches take me there for tech support questions. Every time I visit in the past year or so I'm shocked at how slow the interface is, and don't even understand how its possible to make web sites so unresponsive to user input. It's as bad as visiting a local news site that is laden with ads and several auto-playing videos, but it doesn't seem to be running that much ad content.

How does one make such a bad web app, and what technology choices should I avoid to make sure I don't end up with a mess like this?

The user experience on mobile is hilariously bad.

1. Google search turns up a reddit result.

2. Click link to AMP page.

3. Scroll to read comments and click another link to open real reddit to view all comments.

4. Get to real reddit domain and watch a long loading screen.

5. Click away 2 notifications saying you should use mobile app.

6. To read a child comment, click again to read below. Page reloads above the parent comment causing you to search the page again to see child comment.

Absolutely ridiculous but still I do this because most Google results are SEO garbage. Google disabled conversation only search. Reddit is unfortunately still the best way to get a real person's view on a topic that most likely not an ad.

Just like with digg, we need a new reddit.

Number 3 is beyond stupid. Someone had the bright idea that people browsing Reddit want to see a bunch of tiles on mobile and "related content" all over the place. Just show me the effing thread! It's all text anyway. There's little bandwidth overhead for comments.

The worst feature of new Reddit was a thread opened as a title plus maybe the top 5 comments and further scrolling transitions to a frontpage feed. But they seem to be A-B testing it on old Reddit also now.

I guess it improves their user session time metrics but as a user the experience sucks and I feel Ellen Pao and earlier CEO's eras would not have sold out the user experience the same way (though maybe that's just because they lacked the dev resources to do so)

That's been on old reddit for years before the redesign and is opt out if you log in.

This is what we call metrics-driven development, the greatest antipattern there ever was.

Everyone involved in the decision-making process for this needs to be fired. They are obviously so incompetent it's hopeless. Have they ever even used their own mobile website before?

You see this sort of shit in a lot of places where employees can't be bothered to dogfood their own platform.

From their point of view, the website is evil. The app has better telemetry. They knew eliminating the site wasn't an option, so they made it just bad enough to push users towards the app. They did exactly what they were supposed to do, maximize income. And it's possible that was executed without any individual designer or programmer thinking they were doing anything wrong. Except the ones responsible for adding tracking outbound clicks, they're terrible people.

If you don't have a holistic view of the product as a designer or programmer that's almost wilful ignorance, especially with something as trivial as Reddit.

I wish Apple would just say to places that try to register an app, "no, you have a perfectly usable website", or at the least if you have a website and is found to have an app with functionality that should be on your website, your account is permanently banned, with no recurse.

I'll disagree with the old saying: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity".

What makes you think that the new design isn’t achieving their goals? That usability is a priority for them?

Or use old.reddit.com. It's annoying to have to delete 'www' and replace with 'old' every time. I don't stay signed in, otherwise there's an option to only use old.

There are browser extensions that replace the `www` to `old` automatically.

And there's Redirector which lets you make your own rules.

And then there is also moz-rewrite, which allows the use of regular expressions and also to rewrite not only the URL but also HTTP headers (both of the request and of the response).

Redirector can use regex too.

Thank you; I was unaware of that. Although I do not generally use Reddit (I think Usenet and Unusenet is better), sometimes when something is linked, I would find it. I have the moz-rewrite extension and can easily configure it to rewrite the URL like that (I do a similar thing for Twitter, which also is not something I generally use, to force the mobile version to be used).

That doesn't work on mobile with no extensions and googling something that turns up a reddit result.

I use the old.reddit chrome extension but I imagine most computer users do not.

Internet community communication should be free to see by the public regardless of the host. The commenter are providing content to other users but it is the host that owns it. Its just not right.

Use i.reddit.com on mobile

Firefox or Brave on Android will allow extensions.

For mobile there are good third party clients. I'm using "Reddit is fun", very no-nonsense app

I use the old desktop site for reddit on mobile. If you are using Google to search site:reddit.com, you can just select request desktop site first, then you avoid the amp nonsense too.

if you are logged in there is a preference setting. i havent seen new reddit in many months

I have this set. On mobile, this won’t work.

weird. works for me on iphone 8

It’s worked once but then it’d randomly stop. Dealt with trying to get it to keep working on and off for a long time before giving up. Maybe something has changed in the past few years, but out of curiosity, I went and did some searching to see if any others had this same problem. Turns out that the answer is yes.

Unless I get a reply from a reddit dev who can guarantee that it works on my phone, I’m just gonna stick with “it doesn’t work.”

i.reddit.com for the old mobile version.

What makes this even worse is how Chrome now hides “https“ in the URL box until after you click the box, so when you double click “www” to rapidly select and replace it, the first click shifts the “www” eight characters to the right and the double click highlights “https” instead and you are sent to a broken link like “old://www.reddit.com” and need to go back and try again.

You're going to love the fact that the next release of Chrome also hides the www then...

I regularly get to:

5. Resignedly click on “Use mobile app” because reddit.com is basically unusable on a small-screen iPhone.

6. App Store opens at the Reddit app page. I already have the Reddit app installed and, often, open. But reddit.com never sends me there. It always sends me to the App Store to download an app I already have.

You just put into words what I’ve been feeling for months now. If I want reviews or opinions about something, I always prefix reddit to the search query. But the mobile experience as you point I’m out is horrendous.. I pretty much only use it on my computer where I can block ads and don’t see amp.

That's because the internet has mostly become a cesspool of people trying to "get in on the google content pie". There are thousands if not millions of sites dedicated to each unique/specific topic that are just re-hashing the same content. It's a global-level markov-chain-like generator to create "realistic" or "real" textual content. And Google loves it because they're seen as "champions" of helping you find the content you need in this pool of non-sense, whilst simultaneously being the cause of the content-explosion due to the promise of ad money.

I'm subscribed to/r/RedditAlternatives for precisely this reason. Most of the alternatives are worse, either in design/functionality, user base, or both, but I hold out hope that something interesting will cross that subreddit.

I unblocked old Reddit from my ad blocker and would have paid a reasonable monthly subscription to eliminate ads entirely (hated Reddit gold solution though...). Their new site is full of trackers so they're back on the naughty block list.

The site isn't hard to make, but it is hard to get the users. If I could pay ~$5/month or something to get old Reddit without ads and with a completely open source stack, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

They have no motivation to improve the mobile web experience. The goal is to funnel everyone to the mobile app where reddit has more control over ads etc.

At 1/4th the information density and when your screen is 1/3rd full of ads. Its absolutely awful. I use desktop view on old reddit even on mobile, and when they take that away I will stop using it entirely.

Absolutely agree, the experience is terrible.

I hate the AMP page which is a poorer read experience, and to expand comments its now multiple clicks just to get back to reading the entire thread.

Even worse, now comment chains can't be expanded without logging in.

Here's roughly the latest architecture from QCon 2017 [1][2]. Overall it's because of a bloated React frontend even though there's little to no reactivity on most pages. It could all be replaced with some standard JS and CSS animations. Too many API calls pulling too much data for what's being shown and firing serially as components are loaded instead of getting it in batches for the entire page.

The site lacks basic optimizations like virtual scrolling to keep the browser from crashing after a few pages of content. There are also entire npm packages being pulled in instead of any tree-shaking, or browser-specific polyfills.

The backend is cached by cassandra even though content is highly static and DB servers are fast enough for their denormalized and partitioned schemas. It's basically just a few tables used as key/value for each entity type represented on the site.

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUcO7n4hek4

2. https://www.infoq.com/presentations/reddit-architecture-evol...

It seems that the content isn't included in the HTML in the page. Instead, the HTML loads some JS in a second network request. That JS is compiled and run, and makes a third network request to fetch the content.

Using server-side rendering might help get the initial page loaded faster.

The endpoints themselves also seem to be very slow. I clocked a page taking 800ms to just return the bare html (vs. about 90 ms for hacker news).

It's more than that, though. I've been working this weekend on a basic Reddit frontend (https://reddit.spiffy.tech) and it feels much faster to load the front page there on my phone than the mobile Reddit web app.

Any way to see what the frontend looks like without giving a weekend project full access to my Reddit account? :)

I've updated it to allow anonymous browsing. The github is also here if you want to self-host: https://github.com/spiffytech/LurkerForReddit

So far it just does read-only behavior, but in comparison to the Reddit mobile web app, it does enough network traffic to replicate the same view: (1) fetch the front page, (2) fetch your list of subscriptions.

You can always make a new account.

I like the idea of a split view, so you can continue browsing frontpage/possibly a subreddit while still looking at a comment section.

If there was a way to incorporate mod controls and refresh just for the right pane, this would be a GODSEND for monitoring active threads.

I would consider going that direction. I haven't moderated subs; can you point me towards a resource that lists the most crucial mod features to have?

Sounds like some slow authentication middleware, and who knows what else.

TL;DR: the new framework uses multiple roundtrips to fetch content in different requests.

I think there is also an illusion of unresponsiveness at play here. With a traditional interface, the browser doesn't refresh until the main content is already ready, whereas with the new framework, the new page is eagerly displayed, before the content is retrieved. So you have a period of noticeable lack-of-content and this is perceived as slowness.

Slowness and deception: they prepopulate the empty framework with grey placeholder non-text that implies "here will be text once it rezzes in" but is never what the layout suggests.

A bunch of fake paragraphs that just resolve to "F" are an aggravating user experience.

> deception

Whoa, that's some strong language!

> never what the layout suggests.

I suppose that the current fashion's major problem is that the silhouettes are too sharply defined. Probably, one way to fix it is to have multiple of them with some offset, so that the silhouette suggest the kind of media (text) that would eventually be displayed, without also suggesting how they would be formatted.

> aggravating user experience.

That's a legitimate criticism for the choice of placeholder, but not pertinent to the current topic. My claim was that the lack of actual text presented to the user makes the user more conscious of the delay.

I'd bet this has less to do with developer incompetence or frameworks and more with the Peter principle(maybe even the Dilbert principle) inevitably causing orgs to be run by boobs who hand wave about features and redesigns under ridiculous timelines.

I can just picture the board meetings where some poor soul did a presentation of the "new reddit", and one of the bozos saying "That's great, but how will users know that we have a mobile app? Can you add a banner to annoy them into using the app that they don't need? There's a company that promises the greatest analytics in the world ever. You can add their tracking pixel, right? We were wondering about tracking the user's mouse movements. You can do that, right? We hear that JavaScript is the big thing right now. Are you sure we have enough of it?"


Hmm, I don't disagree a lot of factors affect decisions like this, but... That's not really how board meetings work.

I think it came from a genuine place. You may not agree, and I understand your perspective, but I think there's two things Reddit believes that explain everything you've complained about.

First, that their app is a better mobile experience. And I'd agree, actually, but I understand why someone would disagree. From their perspective it's an easy download and it's native app and it's way better.

Secondly, the best way to build something good is to have more data. This involves tracking people. I think most people have two opposing options: tracking people sucks, and making product decisions in a vacuum is wrong. It's a tough balance.

I think most decisions are done without malice and without "suits" involved.

The breakdown of this generous interpretation to me is that everyone knows people really don't want a ton of apps on their device, specifically for privacy/security reasons. I visit no other site that force feeds their app to the extent reddit does. If they can't set a cookie and fuck off for a long while, forget it. I will never install it because of this, and if ff mobile with desktop requests did not exist, I would no longer visit their site on mobile.

Also what is the point of a native app for a website? Doesn't the browser do a better job already? Are they not just using a webview?

> The breakdown of this generous interpretation to me is that everyone knows people really don't want a ton of apps on their device, specifically for privacy/security reasons.

"But Our Company is different, and that's why we need %useless_feature_they_saw_in_another_app_unrelated_to_industry% to help hook users in."

Admittedly this thinking was a lot more common in the earlier half of the decade, but I've still seen it at other orgs.

There are third-party apps for reddit that are pretty good, including Slide which is GPL and available on F-Droid.

Third party is a bird of a different feather. The point is to modify the site to make it more useable, ala RES. But I have res on ff mobile and that is enough for me.

I use RES with FF on the desktop but on the phone an app like Slide is easily 10x better, IMO.

> Secondly, the best way to build something good is to have more data. This involves tracking people. I think most people have two opposing options: tracking people sucks, and making product decisions in a vacuum is wrong. It's a tough balance.

I disagree. In the past decade companies have been collecting more data than ever and software actually became a lot worse than what we used to have. Now it’s all about catering to idiots (the lowest common denominator) and wasting user’s time.

The app is only better than the mobile website because the website is absolutely terrible. I do read reddit on an app ... but not the official one, I use BaconReader.

One day I suppose Reddit will ban third-party apps for the same reason Twitter did: they're more usable than the official one and feed less surveillance back.

I would be done with reddit the day they ban third party apps, the new site (both mobile and desktop) are insanely slow and tedious to use.

Firstly, I want to thank you for your politeness. HN can lack basic understanding.

"Board meeting" was probably the wrong choice of words. I have in my career been a part of the kind of meeting I describe, but they weren't actual board meetings, I suppose.

I do agree that Reddit probably thinks their mobile app experience is better. The reason I don't think they have a good excuse is because their mobile site is a prime example of self-sabotage. If they actually wanted people to use it, they would have had just about any redditor tell them that the experience is crap and that it should be fixed. Instead, it comes off like they're intentionally making the web experience bad(or at least neglecting it) in order to convince people to install the mobile app. The way their little popup that they frequently show at the bottom of the screen presents itself even suggests that the native app is the proper way to view Reddit. It's bollocks because Reddit is completely text and image centric; if the web can't do its fundamental job to display those two things, then may God have mercy on our souls.

Don't get me wrong, because I don't think that those in charge at Reddit are doing this things out of ill intent. A bunch of people with good will can convince each other of bad ideas, especially the further removed they are from the front lines of engineering.

I think the only reason they have an app is, that it makes it easier to extract user data. If the app just was “another” choice, without any advantage for reddit, they wouldn’t display a huge and annoying hint to download the app with every page visit.

Many modern webpages are data extraction machines, which is why things got worse in many places. The design is still functional but the main function changed — where it was previously focused on the user and the content it is now clearly all about analytics and ads.

I’d like to say I can’t blame them, because the money needs to come from somewhere, but I am not sure if this is the long term sustainable decision they will praise themselves for when they look back onto things in a decade.

> First, that their app is a better mobile experience. And I'd agree, actually, but I understand why someone would disagree. From their perspective it's an easy download and it's native app and it's way better.

It’s been two years since I last used the native iOS Reddit client, even though I think the responsive web version is embarrassingly bad, because of one reason alone: battery life.

I doubled my screen-on battery life by abandoning the native client.

Maybe in the two year interval they found a way to not be battery vampires but I’m not particularly in the mood to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Keep in mind that just about two literal years ago, the mobile experience was pretty much exactly the same as it is today, if not worse.

I imagine I’m not alone in this perspective: the “smooth, slick, native” app is worse than the stuttering, crashing, mobile web version. Period. Because I value my battery life.

> Secondly, the best way to build something good is to have more data.

The best way to build something good is to have talent, intuition and ideas.

There are people creating wonderful things from a single idea without a minute of market research, and there are people just navigating blindly driven by a bunch of metrics they try to optimise separately.

Usually the latter are mediocre optimizations of mature products, and they often reduce its value for the user.

>First, that their app is a better mobile experience. And I'd agree, actually, but I understand why someone would disagree. From their perspective it's an easy download and it's native app and it's way better.

It is still worse than other reddit apps.

>Secondly, the best way to build something good is to have more data. This involves tracking people. I think most people have two opposing options: tracking people sucks, and making product decisions in a vacuum is wrong. It's a tough balance.

There is a difference between analytics that just track usage, and full blown tracking - but nowadays storing data is cheap so why not gather everything and then filter the rest for analysis...

The problem is that analytics, or i should say profiled user data is profitable to sell. Maybe not directly, but allow advertisers to serve ads to very specific users.

> that their app is a better mobile experience

the main purpose of their app is to open third party links. that can't be a better experience in any native app imho

> the best way to build something good is to have more data. This involves tracking people.

This just leads to faster horses. The best way to build something good is to use it

If your goal is a better product, what do you get out of tracking that you don't get out of just number of clicks? Trying to draw conclusions based on how users maneuver the site seems more dubious with a lot of confounding variables, not to mention creepy.

Software has become more and more slower and obnoxious. Everything old, without that magical data is better and faster.

I don't believe that's what the board said. They probably just have a KPI somewhere to increase the share of app usage. Users that have the app are more likely to become long-term reddit users, so increasing that share makes sense. Implementing it in such an annoying way is then someone's decision where the career is dependent on scoring on that KPI.

Some tracking is not going to slow down the site and UI like this. It's just bad architecture and implementation.

New Reddit is horrific. If they ever get rid of old reddit it will cure me of my reddit addiction for good.

Agreed. I've given "new" reddit tons of chances. I've tried it out for days at a time, only to find that I was annoyed enough by the interface that I was using it MUCH less.

The only reason I'm still there now is because the old version is still accessible.

And encountering the mobile site from a mobile search is incredibly painful when just trying to view some simple information. Should not require an app or a purposely-hostile mobile experience to simply view text on a webpage.

Exactly this. Old reddit is good for you but bad. Just disable old reddit already. Liberate me!

how come reddit has become such a bad habit? it works ok for me as a general purpose forum, as long as i avoid the major political subs

Because every major sub is also a political sub, now.

To build on this point, even the discussions which aren’t literally US politics are predominantly incredibly negative. To a degree that’s the internet these days, but Reddit exhibits it quite strongly.

That is also a HN thing, sadly. At least on reddit, it is easier to find a different community.

but reddit is topical. If you frequent only well-moderated communities you don't really have that, even in political subreddits. E.g. r/machinelearning, r/futurology, r/goldandblack

I just visited a SubReddit, turned off all my anti-tracking and adblock extensions and compared:

Old Reddit: 51 requests 3.87 MB / 1.14 MB transferred Finish: 4.83 s DOMContentLoaded: 1.96 s load: 3.69 s

New Reddit: 185 requests 13.70 MB / 7.44 MB transferred Finish: 12.99 s DOMContentLoaded: 2.38 s load: 7.80 s

Key Takeaways:

Use less Requests. Every request can fail, or have latency too it which can slow down pageload in general. Use less JavaScript, while necessary for some stuff it can easily bloat your website. Also, don't load shitloads of CSS, keep it simple. Think about fonts, do you really need several of those from external servers or do system fonts and defaults do a good enough job?

Not that JS files need to be ginormous, but the application files should be cached by the browser. The technical problem isn't so much the bandwidth use but the terrible architecture and design.

I think OP is excluding cached files, I did it in incogneto mode and got 58 mb of transfer from 300 requests...

Cache was disabled for the test, however, the experiment was just really quick and not representative. I opened a random subreddit that had no image or video posts, so your mileage may vary depending on the sub chosen.

This is also an anti-pattern, since you should make sure that user generated content can't bloat your website too much.

Also worth pointing out that browsers limit concurrent requests to single digit numbers, which draws out all those requests.

My stats in incognito mode: 375 requests (94 XHR) 58 mb transfered (of which 64 resources (of which 11 XHR))

Honestly reddit needs to fire their entire product, ui/ux, and front end teams. The recent decisions made by all of them have made me avoid reddit like the plague and fill me full or range when I even do attempt to use it.

From what it looks like to m they're tying to transition to a more Facebook-like experience.

In short the "card" advert ui rather than the text article advert ui is vastly more convertible

More general tangential question: How come, just as when google is saying that every website is mobile-first now, the SPA frameworks have become so popular? The tons of JS and HTTP requests they require are clearly ill-suited for someone browsing in their phone in a subway. How did that happen?

Part of it is developers on fast PCs with good internet connections. Slow? It's fast for me.

I recommend using the old.reddit.com subdomain, it's better and less javascripty.

Also install this to always use the old subdomain.


According to this[0] its react and redux

[0]: https://www.reddit.com/r/reactjs/comments/9e77jz/whats_every...

Not that I think react+redux was a particularly great choice for reddit (given that it's mostly just static content), that post doesn't justify your conclusion that this is the bottleneck at all...

(But is new reddit slower than old reddit, in the first place?)

Subjectively, yes. Haven't bothered to quantify, but old Reddit (which you can still use at old.reddit.com) is more responsive; comparable to HN or Craigslist or other "last of the good old web" sites.

Both take more or less the same time to show a page, they just pushed it from the backend (old reddit) to the frontend (new reddit), but I'd say it is equally slow.

I'll stick to old reddit so they pay the bill (literally) for their ineptitude.

(But is new reddit slower than old reddit, in the first place?)

Extremely. I try to avoid complaining about the work of others, but it's genuinely so bad I have to wonder why any front-end developer at reddit has a job.

I’d argue the disaster was caused by front-end developers. “Let’s replace a perfectly functional website with megabytes of JavaScript browsers now have to parse & execute on every single page load.”

Technically the framework and payload is gonna be cached by your browser. That they don't server side render anything means all that JS has to load all the content into a big engine, which takes up a bunch of network calls. Also tracking + ads.

The framework & payload still needs to be initially loaded which can be a problem on unreliable mobile connections. Unlike a classic HTML page where a single request failing just means an image or font is missing, in this case the entire SPA won’t load and you’d be looking at a perpetual blank page.

Server-side rendering still means the browser has to parse & execute a ton of JS after the initial SSR-rendered page is loaded which is still going to be slow unless you’re running a big CPU with lots of RAM.

I don't work at Reddit but I take personal offense when someone so unfairly criticizes the "working class" of a software house like that (ie the non manager level software engineers).

What makes you think that whatever is wrong with Reddit is due to lack of talent? It almost never is.

Why do you think software engineers never blame themselves and have such a poor opinion of their management?

Working class? Check the compensation levels of engineers at reddit.

I think you missed the fact that I'm talking relatively (i.e. within a software house as I say) and the quotes around "working class".

Still, If we want to be pedantic and literal (i.e. assume I'm talking about the Marxist definition) it still holds true, as class is not defined by compensation but by the role of the individual within the production process.

I am sure those making the decisions earn more.

New Reddit is built around the idea that when you go to the next post only the content and comments sections update. When you close the post viewer you go back to the subreddit listing without having ever navigated away.

It's not a bad approach really it's just ungodly slow sometimes in places it really doesn't make sense to be so slow such as going to the next post for the 15th time still resulting in a cold load of the 15th post content and comments.

On my MBP from 2014 the website is basically unusable, so the only time I actually use Reddit is via a third party iOS app that I can only recommend: https://apolloapp.io

It's amazing to me how bad the reddit.com desktop browser experience is. I have no affiliation with Apollo, but the 3rd party native app makes Reddit actually usable.

you can also do old.reddit.com and get the old reddit back so its usable on your machine.

It could have to do with all the tracking the new reddit does. Just open the network tab and see it firing off network requests as you move the mouse.

And to make it worse, they started sending that tracking data through "functionality" endpoints to make it difficult or impossible for extensions like uBlock Origin to block without breaking the site. I believe it would pick a random endpoint out of a few possible choices, but as one example, it would sometimes use the same endpoint as voting, so that couldn't be blocked without also preventing you from being able to vote.

It's possible to detect the difference between the request types if you examine the actual data on them, but the common privacy extensions don't usually examine the requests on that level.

> It's possible to detect the difference between the request types if you examine the actual data on them

With things like this and the trend towards first-party CNAME records for adtech partners, I think this is the next step in the adblocker arms race: content-sensitive request firewalls.

I'm not sure exactly what adblockers will hook where, but I'm sure if necessary we'll see people LD_PRELOAD'ing and injecting DLLs into their browser to cut this shit out.

Not that I condone it, but FWIW this is a common form of analytics called session recording. I use it on back office apps for troubleshooting, but I would be horrified if someone asked me to add it to a consumer facing app that people use in their day to day lives.

That's crazy. By the way it probably even is possible to fingerptint a user by their mouse moving patterns.

When you capture this data you can replay a user's session as if you were looking over their shoulder. Logrocket is a good example of this kind of platform. You can configure it to blacklist certain elements, but it is undoubtedly creepy as hell when used on a site like Reddit where people are communicating with each other.

Design by committee that goes against the initial spirit of the site in hopes of increasing monetization in spite of user grievances. It's a race to the bottom and they simply want to get as much money out of the site as possible at the expense of user experience because someone, or some people, decided the cost (user experience) was worth the benefit (monetization).

I want a new internet.

I have a feeling they will completely remove old.reddit in 2020, citing fake security risks and there will be a medium sized digg like exodus

In 2010, there was an alternative in reddit, and people left digg. What's the alternative to reddit now? There is nothing.

tild.es is the best alternative but last I checked it was text only.

That sounds like a feature to me.

It is, but a vast swath of useful stuff on reddit is related to images. That crowd will still need to go somewhere. Whatever replaces reddit will need to allow image links as well as text posts and content links if it wants to get serious usage like reddit.

Tild.es is okay but it has very few users. Because reddit has so many users I can find good discusion on just about any topic that I'm currently looking into, etc.

I think the crowd that favors images mostly uses the new redesigned reddit without complaining.

At least that's my subjective impression from some of the youngsters I've interacted with on that site.

That may be true to an extent, but there is a huge difference between wanting high-density, fast loading websites, and wanting to get rid of image/video/non-text links altogether.

subreddits can be insanely useful sources of information, but the less serious ones are still enjoyable. Not to mention there are picture-heavy subreddits like /r/malefashion | /r/malefashionadvice.

There are better examples of picture-heavy subreddits than that ;)

You're right though, and there's no reason not to have them. I like the expandable-thumbnail interface presented by RES.

Like Tumblr, reddit is pretty good for porn links. Those are less interesting if text only.

People won't fall for it. But also-- why disrupt the userbase? It probably doesn't cost much to keep it up. Why unnecessarily rock the boat. Accepting risk for little to no gain.

Why even create this new UI at all then?


Above is profilers of the 2 apps.

There's a MASSIVE amount of JS that has to start and run. Note 1.2s of scripting for full load on old, with 4.6s of scripting on new. Rendering also triples in size because they're using a lot more CSS.

Note also that the "rich" sidebars in themselves have an extremely long load time and pop in.

They do this because they made bad technological decisions, and took an off the shelf low-content SPA-style framework to make what is mostly a static site. Its also quite likely that they haven't done much tuning. They probably were tasked with making widgets and new features over anything having to do with performance, and especially the ad delivery network.

Even more tragic is seeing what has happened with the imgur-reddit situation. Tapping on an image in the reddit iOS app takes literally 4 or 5 seconds to display.

It fails constantly in Firefox Android as well. Very common that a page just gets stuck on the loader and never renders any content. I find it fails less often in Chrome. Maybe they develop and test on chrome and ship it!

> Maybe they develop and test on chrome and ship it!

Nowadays, it's basically a given. And people scoff when we bring up browser monoculture.

One of these days I'll debug it and see what exactly is failing. It's just I'm never near a computer when I'm looking at Reddit on my phone. But I also can't really be bothered to do entry level QA for them for free.

I think a lot of the issues stem from focusing on the mobile app, and not prioritizing performance of the web app (or possibly, deprioritizing the web app and expecting users to migrate to the mobile app).

I.E. I'd guess it's a business focus issue, not specifically the tech stack used.

reddit has been intentionally making the web experience horrible with multiple popups and hiding comment threads, pushing users to use the app and log in. so it makes sense that overall performance is also bad. for a better experience use the app! ugh

In addition to that, they also seems to be testing a version which completely disables access to some content to users which are not logged in - it simply says that you can only view it in the app.

Logging in does allow you to view it on the web, but that's still a pretty horrible thing to do!

I'm just grateful that old.reddit.com is still live! I also dread the day they decide to shut it.

Unless it's performing better for session length or something, my question is how did something with significantly worse load time get past beta?

Maybe fire up the dev console in your browser and run profiling? Or check out webpagetest, which has metrics like "time to first paint"


Reddit's performance is wildly inconsistent. Profiling might be useful but then again, it might just tell you some particular server you're connected to is experiencing some random quirk that only manifests itself now and then. And of course there is only so much you can tell from the client side about issues if they've server side.

Clearly the rewriting of the entire site, the old site loads so nicely.

I never really thought reddit would degrade in performance like this, I immediately went back to old.reddit.com and went on with my life. I still don't get why every rewrite of a website I've ever used almost always ends up being ridiculously bloated.

SPA and all those javascript libs

Add an extension or user-script that turns all "www.reddit.com/" links on your web pages to "old.reddit.com/". The old reddit is the one used by most nerds and those who initially joined reddit for its spirit.

If you don't want to add the extension, you can also visit the preferences section and there is also an option called "Make new reddit experience the default" which you need to untick. Try it and see for yourself!

I really don't see it - can you give an example? I just tried the homepage and first few links on reddit.com and old.reddit.com.

What do you see?

Tons of glitches.

- You click on a post. Comments don't load. Click the 'reload' button repeatedly, comments still won't load. Hard page refresh fixes the problem, but if you were in a modal, you've lost the context to where you were in your subreddit post list.

- Click on a post. It doesn't exist anymore (mod removed, etc). What's odd about this, is the post's body is loaded, because in the list view, you see a preview of the body. But in the modal, it won't even show that. The information is already loaded in the browser, but it won't display it.

- Searching: results temporarily display as "no results found", then load. This sounds like a simple one to fix. They logic must say "if 0 posts, show a 'no results' message". Except, we're waiting for the API response. It's a bit presumptuous to say our query resulted in no data, if we didn't even receive the response yet.

Not OP but it is unberably slow. It took 9 seconds acording ot firefox for it to stop making network requests. That is me opening reddit.com without doing anything. Then another 3 seconds for me to click a link and have it load the new page.

By the way, isn't there an open-source desktop-native client for reading (and searching through) Reddit?

How to use reddit in 2019: put "old." before every url... (e.g. https://old.reddit.com/r/all), you get the good old version that works fine IMO...

Maybe the same things that google mail used to "enhance" their site

The new website is so bad I just stopped going to reddit.com, or commenting

I haven't specifically looked into it, but 10+ years of optimization went into the old reddit, and a lot of that was at a time when LTE and HTTP2 didn't exist.

Roughly only 20% of the top comments (excluding mine) try to address the question OP asked. 80% is mostly venting about the new UI.

only a very small % of people here work for reddit so as to be qualified to answer

Being a web app, everything we need is delivered to the browser or can be inferred.

Reddit has always been a steam hot pile. At least they now managed to get their servers to be overloaded monthly rather than daily

I only use old.reddit

They're using Python and webpack. Not sure what they were using before and unsure if Python is really dragging them down, but I like their design (although watching videos on mobile and going through posts on desktop is extremely gimmicky and buggy).

It has absolutely nothing to do with Python (which works on the server side), since their old web interface is working just fine. The issue is the bloated monstrosity of UI that they build recently and are trying to shove down users' throats.

I think they recently adopted react. They used to be pure python/pyramid (if I recall correctly). Idk why things are so slow now. They also were open source for a long time but closed it like 2 years ago.

> They also were open source for a long time but closed it like 2 years ago.

Makes me wonder why, to protect their amazing IP, or was the code base just getting too embarrassing to look at?

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