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Ask HN: Why is Reddit on mobile so obsessed with making me use their app?
1403 points by blickentwapft on Aug 19, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 644 comments
Reddit constantly hassles me to use their app on mobile.

Why do they care so much?

I really don’t want to use their app. I just wish they’d give up and let me use the browser in peace.

It is pretty offensive that they say "reddit works better on the app" when the only reason for that is that they broke everything on mobile (on purpose?) in a series of badly-implemented redesigns.

I'm never going to install it, and I have all but stopped reading it because these prompts are so obnoxious. That's probably +$ for Reddit though.

I don't understand why companies constantly do stuff that serves only _themselves_, and then expect users to engage with it because it exists. Users are able to identify when something is valuable to them. If you make it valuable they will use it. Consider the difference on an ecommerce site between a comment section vs a few company-picked "testimonials" above the fold. _Everyone_ knows the testimonials are garbage. Maybe your conversion goes up a tick the first time you put them on the site, but when a repeat viewer sees the same ones again they're going to roll their eyes and register you as untrustworthy. Whereas a (reasonably-managed, honest) comment section provides loads of information that's actually valuable to the consumer.

MIT economists Acemoglu and Robinson wrote a book "Why Nations Fail" that analyzes why countries at similar starting points can have extremely divergent paths in terms of economic development. One example is South and North Korea. Their conclusion is that some countries have established extractive institutions, while others inclusive. The extractive ones exclude the population from the decision making process and seek to divvy up and redistribute the scarce available resources, while the inclusive ones seek to involve the broadest possible strata of the population in the decision making and wealth-producing activities. Looks like Reddit is turning into the North Korea of social websites.

Yes, they used crowd-sourcing to build their empire, yet they seem surprised that the crowd wants to have a say in how things work.

What does it say about the United States?

The extractive rent-seeking (slavery being the most extractive economic and political institution possible) South was significantly lagging even before the rebellion, which was crushed by the United States whose other regions had more inclusive economic institutions.

In more recent times the authors compare two towns across the US-Mexico border: Nogales, AZ to to Nogales, Mexico. Even thought the language and ethnicity is mostly the same (95% Hispanic), with same climate and what not - Nogales in the United States has three times the GDP per capita of Nogales, Sonora. The difference is more inclusive economic and political institutions in the United States - while Mexico has suffered under one party rule for decades.

> while Mexico has suffered under one party rule for decades

Yet now we suffer under two-party rule.

Which has been the case since almost the inception of the country, as it is a direct consequence of the First-past-the-post voting system that the US government has implemented.

You're correct, and I've love to have something other than first-past-the-post.

However, throughout our history, our two-party system has generally (with some notable exceptions) been able to work and work together. That's no longer the case. As such, it's hard to tell if the political polarization is a reflection of society, or if society is just adopting the polarization of our political elites.

So I stand by my original statement.

This is a tremulously rose colored portrait of history. The most openly hostile, contentious election in American history didn't happen in 2016, or 2008, or 2000, it happened in 1828. Many American institutional families would say that Jackson being a jackbooted thug was the very least damning of his odious traits. Meanwhile Jackson's largely populist supporters would go on to accuse the current poltical body of being wholly corrupt, and hellbent on creating a new feudal aristocracy, where the people's wills and desires were controlled through the national bank. Honestly 2016 just reads like a rerun of 1828, except Clinton wasn't publishing articles about how Trump was likely to gun her down in cold blood if he lost.

I suggest reading more carefully. I wrote “with some notable exceptions” very deliberately. I had exactly the Jackson presidency and the 1850s-1860s in mind.

But I figured that HN is an educated audience, so no need to specify the few exceptions I had in mind.

BTW, 2008 and 2000 don’t even compare with 1828, or 2016. The election of 2016, and the (only partially merited) furor that has followed it will unquestionably stand out in US history, quite possibly as a prelude to our descent into another civil conflict.

And what’s rose-colored is making an oblique claim that our current political situation is nothing more than business as usual.

While I think a slow trend of increasing contention exists, I don't buy that hostilities were really so much better in '08 than in '16, and I think we've a ways to go yet before we starting debating whether capping our political enemies is a barbaric but necessary practice.

Ironically, I believe it's the increase in democratic processes in American politics that's responsible for this.

See, historically, when we spoke about parties, we really spoke about their respective establishments. The voters decided which one would be running the show at any given moment, but internal party politics were not readily accessible to the outsiders, and thus candidates and platforms were also vetted by the party establishment. Since establishment tends to be conservative by its very nature, this provided a screen against more extreme positions. To be clear: the politicians would still run on extreme positions, if they saw it as advantageous - but that didn't mean they'd govern accordingly if they won.

Then we got primaries. It's not that they didn't exist before - the first ones date back to before the Civil War. But they weren't anywhere near as common until the second half of the 20th century, and even then most were non-binding (and their results were often ignored when the "wrong" candidate won them).

And the primaries themselves changed over time, generally so as to broaden eligibility. In most other countries (where primaries are internal party matters), you have to actually be a member of the party in good standing in order to participate in that party's primary. The American system, where you merely need to register party affiliation in advance, is much more lax - and by now, even that formality is no longer necessary in many states.

So, voters now have a lot more influence over party politics. And this caused a nasty feedback loop, where agitprop that's thrown by the establishment at the voters, solely for the purpose of convincing them to vote one way or the other (appealing to emotions, especially fear and anger, since it's the most effective way), is regurgitated and injected into internal party matters and policies. So the party platform moves further away from the center, and its agitprop shifts accordingly, creating even more radicalized supporters, who again feed it back into the party etc.

Tea Party was a wake-up call in that sense, when a bunch of traditional Republican candidates lost to grassroots crazies who said mostly the same things, but who also sincerely believed in those things. Trump is also part of the same phenomenon - he might not be a sincere believer, but he appears as one to his followers. And there's some evidence of similar processes happening in the Democratic party. Slower, because its electorate is a broader coalition with more conflicting goals, and so the direction in which the voters move the party is less clearly defined. But you can see the internal radicalization spill out on some issues already, and there's more to come.

I more or less agree with you. I think social media has also played a large role.

But don’t fool yourself that this kind of populism is only occuring on the right.

It has nothing to do with first-past-the-post. You can have 10 parties, 100 parties, in fact first past the post is designed for more than two parties.

If you have people in 5 parties to vote for in your riding(district?), then first past the post is the only way it works easily! Seldom will one of those 5, get 50.1% of the vote!

And why would they? The most popular wins, the people have spoken.

I... think you may have some reading to do. The subject is pretty well studied.

The main reason FPTP ensures at most 2 parties is that, say you have parties 1, A, and B, where A and B are relatively similar to each other. And say A and B are together more populous than 1, like a 40/30/30 split.

By splitting those 60% mostly-similar votes between A and B, both lose to the less-popular 1. It becomes in A and B's best interest to not cannibalize each other's votes, i.e. merge and dominate (or at least compete). The less fragmented ideology wins, not the most desired.

It's even more compelling during the formation of new parties when there are only 2: by not voting for one of the two dominant ones, you are literally throwing your vote away because it has no chance, and it's worse for your ideology than if you had chosen the most-similar of the dominant party.

Yet, empirically, you're 100% wrong.

Canada has both Federal, and Provincial FPTP parliaments. On the Provincial level, new parties appear, and are elected , minority or majority, all the time. Constantly.

On the Federal level, things move more slowly. Yet new parties are appear, grow in popularity, and replace older parties.

Canada is not only a place of multiple parties, it is a place of constant party renewal.

And as a Canuck, I am all too familiar with vote splitting. We have party mergers. Parties that split and form new parties.

We know all about strategic voting, but because we have the concept of minority governments, and because we don't vote for who our Prime Minister is, the dynamic changes a bit.

FPTP isn't what causes two parties only, it is certain methods of government that do, mayhap combined with FPTP.

It seems the split President (prime minister) and House voting leads to more issues compared to Canadas system. Canada also has no confidence votes vs fixed elections ...

"... by not voting for one of the two dominant ones, you are literally throwing your vote away ..."

That is incorrect. In your scenario, you would be figuratively throwing your vote away.

That makes sense if you think in terms of parties. But if you're interested in policies instead, I think it might be wrong.

For example, if you want them to do something about climate change you might vote for the Green party instead of Democrat. They won't win but your "stolen" vote might cause the Democrat party to lose. They don't want to lose so they might adopt policies from the Green party to attract you and all Green voters. That would be as good an outcome as multiple parties.

If someone is looking for a good explanation i must recommend this playlist by CGP Grey explaining different voting systems.


> FPTP ensures at most 2 parties

Canada uses FPTP, and yet there are five parties represented in the house of commons [0].

While it's true that two parties have the lion's share of seats (155 for the liberals, 121 for the conservatives), as there are 338 seats, the liberals can't just steamroll legislation unopposed; they have to get at least some approval from other parties.

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

Worth noting that Wikipedia uses Canada as its first example of "disadvantages" of the system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-past-the-post_voting#Dis...

But yes, Canada has soldiered on remarkably well in spite of it. USA used to be multi-party as well, the transition to 2-party takes time and there's nothing that truly guarantees it, just innately encourages. There are ways to slow it down / isolate sections... but the dominant parties can also whittle away at those over time.

Yet Canada doesn't really have two dominant parties. Neither provincially, nor federally.

For example, the Conservative Party of Canada:

- formed from a merger between Progressive Conservative Party - and the Canadian Alliance

Of which, the "Canadian Alliance" appeared entirely from grass roots.

It started with the Reform Party, where the PC party lost all but two seats, but the new "Reform" party obtained significant seats:


Which then morphed into the Alliance Party:


Which then, after the merger, with what was left of the PCs, formed the minority:


And then formed the government:


It should be noted that the merger between the older PC party, and the reform/alliance party was with the Alliance party at massive strength, in the House of Commons with a respectable number of seats, and 100% in charge of the future of the merged party.

My point here is ; the willingness for people to embrace new parties, new ideas, and vote for people .. not parties, helps with real political renewal in Canada.

Further, while some provinces aren't, most are MORE dynamic than the federal level at party change. Take Quebec, which has had new parties appear and then even form governments, in a period of two election cycles.

FPTP does NOT mean 2 parties. At all.

USA was never truly multi-party, except for very brief transition periods (like when Whigs collapsed and GOP appeared).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_electoral_system#Firs... > An absolute majority of the electorate is not needed, and is rarely achieved. As a result, power has been held by either of two parties for most of Canada's history. The party whose candidates win the second largest number of seats becomes the Official Opposition.

This is untrue. It takes the position that any conservative party, is the same party as its predecessor. See here:


It doesn't ensure at most two parties. The UK has at least four major parties: Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, and then one or two other smaller parties.

Districts are drawn more or less arbitrarily, and so their residents don't necessarily represent a single coherent political bloc. In practice, this means that you can have a party getting 30-40% of the vote in literally every district, and end up with zero representation.

Worse yet, because most FPTP elections only require plurality for victory, you can have a party get less than 50% of the vote in each district (but more than any other party), and still take all the seats. In which case you literally have the minority running the country - so much for "people have spoken".

>first past the post is the only way it works easily

The key word there is easily. Now that we have computers and instant communication we can do things that would be/used to be considered hard but give better outcomes.

I'll also point out you don't need a winning party in an election you just need to be able to form a government and there's no reason 2 closely aligned parties can't work together or even traditionally opposing parties.

Point #1 -- computers have no place in an election. Or voting.

#2? Canadian parties do this all of the time. We have parties from coalitions, and then form the government.

Why not have a runoff election or instant runoff voting?

Additionally, why do we need to have a single representative for any individual instead of say 10 people representing a larger district?

Why does someone need a magic number of 50.1% to be valid?

Why is that "the number"? Because it's more than 1/2? You're thinking "two parties".

If you're worried about "most people's support", then why isn't the number 80%? 99%? 100%? Why does '50.1%' make it 'OK' and less 'not'?

I don't get this arbitrary fixation on "but, that guy didn't get 50.1% of the vote!!". So?

Let's say there are 5 parties. One gets 40% of the vote. Yet if each party had equal votes, that would be 20% each. The party with 40% of the vote, received 2x the votes compared to the number of parties.

Is that OK? Why not?

I don't get what's wrong with a number less than 50%. I don't get why anything above 50% is fine.

Let's say you have 10 people, and 4 plans. Plans to defend the city from invasion. Each plan has its merits. You ask people to vote. 2 abstain. The next 2 receive two votes each. The last receives 4 votes.

4/10 is less than 50%, yes? Yet, clearly it is the most popular. Must the 2 abstainers vote? Must those that don't agree, be forced to vote for a plan they don't agree with?

How is this undemocratic? Were the people's voices heard? Was the most popular plan voted on?

I literally don't get it, or understand the issue.

Two parties at least can compete with each other.

One party would only have internal competition.

Indeed. This seems to be a natural progression of yin-yang where these processes will unfold as part of an education process, and then once policy is implemented to counter the two party system then I can only imagine society beginning to thrive immensely relative to before; ranked choice voting, $100/year budgeted for each eligible voter to contribute to politician of their choice, etc - a few ideas Andrew Yang was running on.

Two parties, but one set of rulers - the oligarch elites.

Is this a real book someone wrote? Incredible to me how you can call yourself an economist and just write basic observations and conclude they are the root cause of everything without even taking a cursory look at the history of things.

It's kind of like how you can read a post on the internet that mentions two economists and draw any kind of conclusions about the work they've done without even taking a cursory look at it.


I felt that

I would imagine the book contains a bit more justification for its arguments than what was presented by the person you are responding to.

What makes you believe that the author just "wrote basic observations and concluded they are the root cause of everything"? Most ideas are easy to dismiss when you assume that a blurb posted to HN is all there is to them.

Here's a 1hr talk by the author of the book. Knock yourself out.


The most enraging thing is Reddit took over video hosting themselves, but simply declined to have a mobile/text share option.

Links from any 3rd party service show up in the phone as the content i want to share.

Reddit? You try to send someone a Reddit video link and they get affronted by a pop up banner to download the mobile app when they click through. WTF!

I sent a reddit link to a video to my dad, once. He replied 'cant open it.' So f* off reddit. Allow rehosting or change your content policies. Stop making the internet worse.

On top of this, v.reddit.com is abysmal. Videos stop streaming, the cursor is impossible to use, I don't know how its allowed to exist in its current state.

Videos show the wrong duration, sometimes, as well.

A couple of weeks ago, someone was asking for the full video of what looked like a 10s clip (which also played just 10s). Someone else replied, that it was literally the post. He got downvoted to hell (like below 100). He was right. After checking his comment, I went to the video and by seeking I got it to show the whole 2m and something. This was not the first time this issue has appeared for me.

v.reddit.com is abysmal. I agree.

I have a greasemonkey script to filter out such posts. There is enough content without them.


Nice I'm not the only one still using grease monkey :)

It's also useful to auto-redirect to old.reddit without having to log in.

Their video hosting service is pure garbage. It is slow and very often I see pixelated videos even though internet speed is not an issue.

Most people use the reddit downloader bot to download and send the video. You'll see it summoned in every popular video thread.

What's frustrating is that many subs will ban the bot, so getting the mirror link requires actually private messaging it. Every once in a while someone who did this will reply to the empty in-thread request with the download / mirror link though.

v.reddit videos are nearly impossible to watch on the browser version of Reddit. If you download direct you don't get audio because they stream video and audio independently (I Think). They removed the shortlink to the hosted site on the browser version too. They're really doing a lot of user hostile things for monetization.

Furthermore, over the long term it can change the texture of the Reddit community. What sort of person quits using Reddit after becoming frustrated with yet another imposed hassle? What sort of person stays, or is retained by pop-up notifications and whatever other tedious blandishments their app/redesign provides?

There are other sites with similar features and layout to Reddit (Voat, Ruqqus, Saidit, Raddle, communities.win, etc.) but none are really in competition to be "the front page of the Internet". This is because Reddit has a huge community with varied interests which provides self-perpetuating advantages. For example: the activity level is generally higher; if you start a subreddit for a niche topic you have a chance at finding an audience; great comments/submissions will garner thousands of upvotes rather than a few dozen (smaller sites have a proportionately tinier vote ceiling, making it hard to differentiate between "good" and "amazing").

I can see increased retention/monetization maybe leading to a larger user-base in the short term, but if it makes good content less likely to crop up, or leads to less discerning users (ingenious effortposts lose out to low-effort pandering memes), or even if it just narrows the interests/hobbies represented on there, then over time it will destroy Reddit's main source of value.

I'm sure good subreddits still exists, but it has gone way past eternal September at this point and Gresham's law is in full effect. Once an organization reaches a certain size, vested interests on all sides have perverse incentives, and it starts a terminal slide to the lowest common denominator. I suspect the issue is largely in the inherent zero marginal cost to entry for most social media platforms.

Ruqqus is generally better as an alternative and has been doing a better job navigating the line between free speech and not letting neo nazis invade every sub.

Like old school reddit, people do say inflammatory things to get reactions but usually get downvoted. There are also good tools for muting people.

Really? Communities featured on the Ruqqus front page:

* EnoughTransgenderSpam: Transgender ideology makes no sense.

* SimpsInAction: Simp - A man who foolishly overvalues and defers to a woman, putting ...

* JustBeWhite: A place to discuss racial dynamics in the dating market.

* JewishQuestion: This community is dedicated to discussing and exposing Jewish control...

* SoyBoys

...looks like all the worst supremacy and hate channels from reddit.

To be honest, it's a breath of fresh air.

"JewishQuestion: This community is dedicated to discussing and exposing Jewish control.."

This is fresh air?

Fresh? Since the_donald and the other white supremacy reddits got big the air has been stagnant with that kind of hate.

I dunno, just went to the site and the front page is 80% alt-right conspiracy theories. Also, the second DDG result for “ruqqus” is a Qanon sub.

Agreed. I tried consistently visiting and posting for a week or two,and while I feel like the site has been getting more popular, it's not a place for adult conversations.

What finally made me quit was a post of a meme involving Kamala Harris in a non-political section which was one of the most upvoted things I'd seen on the site, yet the meme itself was childish and racist.

I dislike censorship, but if the initial source of people visiting a site which has these anti moderation policies are low quality, good luck climbing out of that hole. Smart people are attracted to smart people, so your initial userbase is paramount. This isn't a condemnation of all on ruqqus, but the majority are looking for a right wing echo chamber.

The site is nowhere near as bad as voat, but give it a little time, it'll get there.

But it'll only avoid becoming voat if people invest time to grow the community into a place of meaningful discussion and beneficial discourse. There are some sub mods who are trying very hard to build welcoming (and non-political) subs but they can't do it singlehandedly.

If you want something to grow, you have to invest in it.

I don't know why anyone would bother with the first party app when there are a bunch of really nice 3rd party ones with all sorts of additional features. All the one's I've used have been free with premium versions that only cost a few bucks.

Which of course leaves me wondering how long it is before reddit pulls the plug on their API and forces people to use the busted mobile site or their app.

I hope they don't do it. If this happens I probably won't Reddit anymore. Apollo is not only the best Reddit client I've ever used, but is actually the most well-crafted iOS app I ever had the pleasure to use.

I keep thinking Reddit just needs to buy Apollo already. But there's no way they could do that and not ruin the the app within 6 months.

This is exactly what happened with Alien Blue.

Which is the client I used before Apollo.

>Which of course leaves me wondering how long it is before reddit pulls the plug on their API and forces people to use the busted mobile site or their app.

Of course. How will they do it? That's yet to be seen. Instead of pulling the API entirely, I'd bet they simply wont introduce API for new features. This will leave 3rd party apps as inferior while Reddit doesn't have to deal with the backlash of pulling the API entirely. I'd argue this is already occurring.

Link for the lazy: https://apolloapp.io/

Relay is so good I've never tried any alternatives

> (...) and then expect users to engage with it because it exists.

This is indeed a troubling trend, so many annoying popups, banners, and notifications only seem to serve to forcefully try and push a small percentage of users towards some feature. If adoption is poor, it's probably because it's not wanted. Of course, in some SaaS contexts, it makes a lot of sense to keep users informed of features that might be of benefit to them and they may have otherwise not discovered, but that's a completely different game from just shoving stuff down their throats.

What's even more frustrating is the dark UX design they implemented. If you make it past their "Continue" pop-up which shows you multiple versions with the options reversed (to work against impulse memory skips), if you touch ANYTHING on the page after that point, it will STILL open up in the app.

What's worse is that once it opens, that post is now permanently in your account's history. Reddit provides NO WAY to remove things from your account history.

Whenever any website says "works better in the app" I always roll my eyes and consider it to be really saying "we really just want to spy on your data (apps installed, wifi networks, geolocation, accelerometer to determine your life habits, ...)"

For a site like reddit there is literally nothing they can't do with pure HTML/CSS/JavaScript.

Also, I like Firefox on mobile because you can block ads and install other extensions.

What's equally absurd is that I assumed they ruined the web experience with their redesign in order to make it mobile compatible. It just goes to show they're ruining both web and mobile experience to pigeonhole users into environments where they can force feedback loops of their users so they have to spend more time in either platform.

Wait, you are saying that they redesigned their web experience for mobile usability to then show users a popup that they should use the app?

Our only hope now is that Google downranks them, until they fix the web interface.

Mobile "compatible". In reality it's pretty bad on mobile too.

I use Redreader on android. The experience is magnitudes better than the "real" app

It's free and opensource, available on f-droid or if you are so inclined google playstore.


In a similar vein, I use Apollo for iOS[1] and it's also magnitudes better. The official reddit app is starting to catch up, but it's designed with advertisers in mind, whereas you can use a different app and pay for ads to go away, or use the old, web version with a blocker.

[1] https://apolloapp.io/

Apollo is among the best. The developer Christian is super engaged with his user base, and the local animal shelter. He has donated $10,000s to them through fundraising!

I second this. Big fan of Apollo and I have bought it as well.

Reddit Is Fun app gang represent!

Redreader is awesome.

The interface is a little clumsy, it is open source and verifiably not making unrequested connections to the Internet is amazing.

I use Alien Blue, but that doesn't stop the popup from showing when you browse to a Reddit page on Safari.

RedReader is ok but a bit basic

"Slide for Reddit" is also open source and has a lot more features

Sync gang rise

Take heart, they're actually doing you a favour. Once it becomes a hassle, you'll stop visiting, and along the way you'll wonder why you ever did. We should be thanking them for helping break the cycle of looking at a bottomless pit of drivel, our time on earth is not without end.

Anything that helps you escape garbage companies run by garbage employees is good!

The same thing happened to Imgur where they slowly stripped features from the mobile site to force users onto the app, culminating in preventing mobile users from even logging in at all.

The worst part about mobile apps is it destroys tabbed browsing.

There's an option in your reddit settings to force them to serve you the old design rather than the redesign, which is remembered for future sessions. The old design isn't "mobile friendly", i.e. it requires a bunch of zooming in and out, but other than that it's completely functional, unlike the redesign which simply doesn't even work on mobile.

The old mobile design is still there. You can add .compact to the end of any Reddit URL to get it.

Reddit is now in a position where they pull a Digg and not suffer the consequences of Digg meaning they can be considered too big to fail. I guess this can allow them to pull whatever they want. Break api used by Android developer. Shove meaningless prompts on users face.

> then expect users to engage with it because it exists

Kinda like saying something must be done because it is "company policy"; passing the buck in the hope you don't question it, and realise company policy is also decided by the company.

It exists, because they decided it does.

> Users are able to identify when something is valuable to them.

I strongly disagree with this. Users are just responding to dopamine sensors that have triggers that they don't understand. "Value" extracted can be detrimental to a person's well-being, even if they chose it for themselves. Gambling addicts at casinos, obese people at fast food restaurants, pay-to-win whales and the newest version of Candy Crush. Reddit is just a casino where you gamble with your time and win addicting emotions like novelty and outrage.

That's not what "valuable" means in this argument. Reddit is huge because Reddit's diverse and novel content is valuable to people, as in, it's valued by them, that is what that phrase means. Doesn't matter if _you_ think it is _actually good for them_ or if it "produces value" economically. Yeah, it hits dopamine buttons, so what.

Using the same sense of value, Reddit's _app_ is not valuable to people relative to reddit-on-mobile which is why so many people in this thread agree with the claim.

> I'm never going to install it

There are third-party apps. I have been using Sync (Android) for years, and it's bloody fantastic.

I wonder when they will cut third-party apps off.

> I don't understand why companies constantly do stuff that serves only _themselves_, and then expect users to engage with it because it exists.

Probably because most users don’t really care and those that do make excuses like “what else am I going to use?” or “I can’t stop using reddit, how will I stay in the loop?” or any one of many other excuses. If you want reddit to change, stop using them. Entirely.

I see a lot of HN users living in HN bubble completely forgetting that we are a minority of consumers. Most of Reddit audience is either not educated enough, don't have enough exposure to see the difference or simply don't care. Did we all forgot about eternal September already? So, unfortunately, no - users won't even notice this because they have no idea what's valuable to them and they will buy anything as long as it's packaged nicely. For the same reason they also won't vote with their wallets even when (as you say) "everyone" knows that testimonials are garbage.

> I see a lot of HN users living in HN bubble completely forgetting that we are a minority of consumers. Most of Reddit audience is either not educated enough ...

Actually, Reddit users are quiet educated. Source: https://social.techjunkie.com/demographics-reddit/

As someone who’s worked with the Marketing Dept. a lot in my prior role, the reason e-commerce sites (and possibly Reddit) do the things you mentioned is because they’re overly focused on new user/customer acquisition vs keeping current customers/users who know the the products’ value happy.

There’s almost always a bit of political drama behind the decision too: Marketing gets to say that they’re acquiring new users in short term (thereby increasing their budget and clout in the Org) while destroying customer value in the long run

Other people are saying "ads," but the story is probably more expansive. Mobile apps have better hooks for pulling people back into the app, like popup notifications. Reddit has natural lifecycle points where they can do this: when people respond to your comments or comment on your posts. They could also notify users of events like their yearly Secret Santa. I wouldn't be surprised if their engagement numbers were much better on mobile: since they can draw users back into the app with notifications, they have better ad views, more people buy Reddit Gold, more people comment (which leads to other people having content to read), etc.

This is correct. It's about retention more than monetization.

With the app, you can not only send notifications, but you also have the app icon which reminds people of the apps existence. Even little things like "badging" (when the app icon shows a dot or number to indicate new notifications) and even that can have a noticeable impact on retention (we're all programmed to click into anything with a notification).

Also, they can recommend better content for you. I don't know if this is still possible and whether reddit does it, but an app used to be able to get the list of other apps installed on the phone, and many companies used that as an input into their recommendation systems (along with your location, etc).

Also worth mentioning that there is no official API for Reddit's chat feature. You have no choice but to use the website or official app if you're on mobile and want or need to use their chat.

Also the chat feature is extremely watered down and doesn't even have support for attaching images. But that doesn't matter if someone on Reddit chooses to contact you via chat and you want to respond. It compels you to use their platforms instead of a third-party client.

If you always use third-party clients or old.reddit.com you'll never even know that someone tried to contact you via chat, which makes it somewhat ineffective at getting people to stop using those.

I'm just now discovering that chat exists.

> With the app, you can not only send notifications, but you also have the app icon which reminds people of the apps existence.

This is exactly why I don't want to install the app. All of these things seem designed to steal my attention and direct it towards stuff others want me to focus on rather than what I want to focus on.

While having a mobile App store is probably a net good, in a lot of ways I wish Steve Jobs' initial vision of having the iPhone run WebApps and just improving the OS level support for improved hooks and functionality with actual websites was the way the world went.

The apps would never have gotten as good and stuff like Uber might never have happened. But it also would have kept Facebook and Reddit and all these other sites focused on making you visit because you want to visit rather than because you're being skinner boxed and nudged into visiting by overbearing tracking technologies.

I believe Apple is going to be allowing push notifications from the web soon, and you can also "Add to Homescreen" a webpage, and it acts like an app, so we might finally be seeing a needed shift away from the app store.

Apple added push notifications to safari, but only on desktop. That tells you that they deliberately do not support this because they know a lot of apps could be pwa’s otherwise.

Last I heard is that it is also coming to mobile.

Heard from where? Many people are clamoring for this, but other than wishful thinking I’ve never heard any compelling claims that Apple actually has it on their roadmap.

I, for one, would love to see support for push on mobile web on iOS. But I’m not holding my breath.

Apple hasn’t announced anything like this. I’m pretty sure you’re confusing it with something else.

There's probably a suffering PM there whose bonus depends on juicing these horrible metrics rather than making their product wonderful. I myself dabbled in product management but got so turned off to it from the constant focus on addiction metrics. 7-day Retention! 30-day Retention! Daily Active Use! Daily Sessions Per DAU! Eyeball-share! Get their contacts! Spam them with E-mail! Spam them with notifications! Red badges on the app icon! Get them back in the app! I felt like a drug pusher, not someone building something great.

> retention more than monetization

FWIW, retention is monetization.

(Mentioned in another comment somewhere else in this thread). In the long-term, yes, but retention and monetization can diverge in the short-term. Classic example is showing fewer ads (better user experience, better retention... but much less monetization). Of course, in the long term, you'd still need to monetize that retention somehow anyway.

I don’t see how. Can you explain how a company makes revenue purely by retaining users? I think they still need a monetization scheme separately. [edited for clarity]

In the context of Reddit, it's only a no-ad website if you're running adblock.

Sorry, I was unclear - I was trying to pose a hypothetical, not to say Reddit has no monetization.

Retaining users means:

- You can sell ads to them

- You can continue to sell ads to them

A proxy, if you will. For a for profit business, what other reason is there if not to drive some monetary value.

Pedantically, retention is the most effective KPI for predictable monetisation plans.

Very true and not actually pedantic. Retention is a pretty solid predictor of monetization, esp in the long-run. But in the short-run they can diverge. For example, decreasing ad units per page could drastically drop your monetization, but be great for longer-term retention.

Yep, I think ads is just another way of saying monetization. The app has lots of annoying notifications like "You might like...", "You got 100 upvotes", etc which, when you engage with more, they make more money through ads, coins etc.

Your attention, retention and engagement is a lot easier to manage and increase through an app than it is through website.

Instead of direct monetization, they probably measure by engagement. If a service has a permanent presence on your device, you get a LOT more engagement and recurring visits than a web version. Websites on mobile are one-time, visit-and-forget/move on things.

I'd love to be proven wrong though; what websites see daily, recurring, long time active usage?

Also not to be underestimated is that a mobile app will always have better UX than a website. Think of the subtle things like page transitions. Navigating Reddit still causes full-page reloads, whereas on the app it's a much more organic process. Speed is also an important factor.

Exactly this. To give you a datapoint from our properties: Our web site attracts 90% of the users, but only 60% of the actual traffic. In all metrics like retention, frequency and time on site, mobile leads by factors of 2-5.

Part of that is definitely self-selection, but as some people already said, other notable effects are push notifications, mindshare, loss aversion (you're on somebody's device already, so they can just as well use it) and partly better performance.

So much about the users, but Monetization is much better as well, mostly due to mobile ad-IDs, which especially on iOS lets you extract double the revenue per user due to targeting. Ad blockers are harder to bypass.

In the end, a mobile app will get you anywhere between 2-10x the revenue per user you attracted to your property, so that's why Reddit is pushing so hard.

To stay in Reddit's lingo though:

`LPT: https://old.reddit.com`

I understand, but they're also pushing many users away with this behaviour.

It's what I like about HN.. It feels like they don't even care how much users 'engage'. I bet they don't even run a report on it. They just let us do our thing here and not worry about it. As a user this is a much nicer experience.

Easy for HN to do that. HN is not incentivized to make money. The people who run HN do not care if HN does not make any money. In fact, they have zero monetization strategies for HN.

HN has ads on its front page. Not many of them, and they are quite hard to spot at a glance (mixed in with the content, not clearly marked as such) but they're there.

AFAIK, the only ads are the ones described in the FAQ:

> A regular "Who Is Hiring?" thread appears on the first weekday of each month (or Jan 2). Most job ads are welcome there. Only an account called whoishiring is allowed to submit the thread itself. This prevents a race to post it first.

> Another kind of job ad is reserved for YC-funded startups. These appear on the front page, but are not stories: they have no vote arrows, points, or comments. They begin part-way down and fall steadily. Only one is on the front page at a time.

I'm not sure either of those qualify as ads in the sense we're talking about Reddit ads -- the first one doesn't bring in any revenue to HN (or cost "advertisers" any money); the second one seems like it's a perk for "graduating" YC and it's unclear whether it's something HN makes revenue from, either.

I've never seen an ad on HN. They must be really hard to spot.

There's currently one on the frontpage for GiveCampus, shown below a regular story:

  14. The Haunted House – Privacy on Google Street View (harpers.org)
      8 points by b0b10101 1 hour ago | flag | hide | 1 comment
  15. GiveCampus (YC S15) hiring Sr Engineers who care about education (lever.co)
      1 hour ago | hide
Distinctive features: no upvote button, no point value, no flag link, no comments.

14. "The Haunted House" is not an ad as far as I can see. It does have an upvote button.

15. is a job posting by a YC company. Perhaps you could classify it as an ad, but I see it as a perk that YC grants its own companies.

Right, I included the Haunted House entry (a regular story) for contrast.

The job posting is certainly "sponsored content", a privileged post put there at the behest of a third party, which blends in fairly well with neighboring posts yet isn't subject to the normal rules. I don't know if money actually changes hands to put it there (maybe each YC company is granted a posting there, or maybe they have to pay for it), but in other respects it's straightforwardly an ad for a job.

All that said, I have no problem with it being there.

>Right, I included the Haunted House entry (a regular story) for contrast.

Ah, sorry, I misread what you said.

The only reason HN isn't incentivized to make money directly is that its owned by a company that makes money on it indirectly.

Your answer reminds me; we are focusing on Hacker News as if it's its own thing, but part of the answer is right in the URL. HN is a part of ycombinator, which presumably pays the bills.

Sadly the grave accent is breaking your link ;)

> what websites see daily, recurring, long time active usage?


Do you really think that people would stop going to reddit if they used the site instead of the app on their mobile? (But, of course, the people more prone to recurring visits are more likely to install an app.)

> mobile app will always have better UX than a website

And again, it's reddit we are talking about here. The app experience is just horrible.

someone compared mobile and web (with data from study) as Web, easier to attract, difficult to retain and vice versa for mobile.

Could be the reason why web to app migration practices are followed. best of both worlds.

They really hurt their own monetisation by making the subscriptions too expensive though. They more than doubled in price recently. It's not worth the price anymore for me.

It's also interesting to note that the old ui on a desktop does not have these useless messages you mentioned.

They also keep adding new stupid in-app notifications (I have OS notifications blocked for them) which ironically you have to use the website to disable. "Trending" stuff in subreddits you're not even in and suggested subreddits and garbage like that. I assume that rubbish does become an OS notification if you let them.

Those kind of “nagifications” are among my biggest pet peeves on the modern internet. Almost every social platform these days abuses the notifications icon to show you a bunch of not-actually-a-notification garbage to boost your engagement. LinkedIn is especially egregious in this regard.

Someone actually installed a LinkedIn mobile app?

May I ask why?

Their mobile website is terrible and intentionally crippled... I've found that when I'm having lots of meetings–whether it's sales, recruiting, or looking for work–being able to quickly pull up profiles of people I'm talking with while on the go is useful.

That said they badge the notifications icon in the header of the desktop web version as well–just now mine had 8 unread "Notifications", 7 of which were suggesting I congratulate acquaintances for work anniversaries or telling me about trending posts. Why can't that just be in the feed? Maybe because I don't actually ever scroll through the feed, because I don't care about the garbage people post on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn actually disables some features, including certain types of messaging on their mobile site when not accessing it via the mobile app.


Are people using LinkedIn messaging for anything other than occasionally responding to recruiters? Can't that just wait until you get home?

Yelp doesn't let you see more than a few photos in mobile web; if you switch to desktop view you can see all the photos but of course all the dimensions are janky.

This one in particular drove me up the wall when they started doing it, because, for at least a year, the Yelp app was so buggy (on my phone at least) that it was essentially unusable. I wanted to keep using Yelp on the web, but because it was so crippled I switched to using Google Maps as my default review-searching app. The Yelp app works on my phone now...but I never reach for it.

FYI you can disable all the fluff notifications in the iOS app at least.

settings > username > notifications.

I left just the comment replies on and turned everything else off.

Ah awesome, thanks!!

If you're on iOS, use Apollo... it's better than the web or reddit app experience.

I've heard it mentioned before, will definitely have to look into it - thanks! :)

reddit notifications are useless now. I do use the app but all notifications are off. I only look at that in app notification thing if I recently posted and am expecting replies.

There are so many mobile apps out there that are little more than wrappers around the mobile site -- but it's vital that they be apps for precisely this reason. Neverthless, as a user, it drives me crazy; I just want to access the site in my browser.

What we are starting to see is web push notifications becoming fully supported by browsers, and I think it's only a matter of time before iOS and Android start allowing app-like websites to notify users without them having to download a full-fledged app.

It would be interesting to see what this does for the iOS and Android development landscape. They're in a golden age now where every major property needs both a mobile site and a dedicated app on both platforms. But if the mobile site can handle more features that were previously the sole provenance of native apps, that seems likely to shift the landscape.

Android support for browser notifications landed in Chrome mobile about five years ago. (And yes, that included support for Android versions that were old even then.)

iOS still has no support, and nothing even on the horizon, as far as I know. Apple is intentionally holding back the open web. I find this infuriating.

I will somewhat reluctantly support Apple on this. There are no web sites that I want to allow interrupting my work/writing flow with notifications.

Also, the new awesome privacy settings in Safari on the beta iOS and beta iPadOS and beta macOS Bug Sur are very much appreciated, at least by me.

The constant nagging to "download the app" is worse. Notifications can be left off, for a website or an app - this constant install-app-nagging is unavoidable now.

It absolutely IS possible to add the feature, as opt-in like with app permissions, and e.g. with some user-initiated event like audio already does.

The REAL motivation here is money, forcing users to use the appstore, instead of the web which is an open protocol.

How is constantly getting nagged to download the app any different to constantly getting nagged to enable notifications?

At least on desktop, browsers don’t allow you to be nagged once you’ve decided against receiving notifications.

“Download the app” is still visible on Chrome.

Nagging will always be good business, no matter what platform or what shape or form.

And reddits App-nag setting is not a permanent choice. When you disable it that's a localStorage thing only, so if you sign out, clear caches, sign in elsewhere, still nags you.

This is true. I usually remove all cookies and data from my devices every three of four days - it just seems tidy to do so, even though I usually open a private tab for following links. There is the slight annoyance of logging back in to a few web sites and turning off notifications. That is definitely an opportunity cost, since it takes a little time.

They support web notifications in safari in the desktop. Whatever annoyances would be caused on mobile are also present there. I am convinced the only reason we don’t have push notifications on mobile safari is because it would enable people to write pwa’s instead of apps.

I'm personally not a fan of notification spam either, but I would assume that notifications via mobile browsers would be opt-in. Is that a bad assumption?

It is not, I haven't seen a browser for which notifications weren't opt in.

In the history of site and app developers so far, yes, a very poor assumption. Assume opt-<whatever drives engagement harder>.

I can't imagine user-hostile features like silently allowing websites to spam you would drive browser share in a wanted direction. That's like expecting people to use your website because you sell their information.

> macOS Bug Sur

Please tell me the beta community is calling it that.

I don't want the trend of browser-as-operating-system to continue.

Aside from the shabby technological issues involved, the applications themselves these pseudo OS features are put to generally are opposed to some of the things I value highly: privacy and stability, for example. Most applications don't need a social component or to harass me to re-engage, to utilize hardware or other software services on my device, or even to export/share data with other applications.

As far as the technology itself: the platform is generally a terrible technology for even the dubious purposes it is usually put. It's clunky, and even with things like wasm the development story for the platform is, at best, terrible. Also, in my experience, the quality of development in the web sphere is generally (not always) poor compared to similarly complex projects in other areas/applications.

If an app is on the Web, it's my choice whether I use it or not. I don't need Apple's permission and I don't need to pay them for using it.

Also, Apple's stubborn insistence on lock-in (and lock-out) is really annoying if many of your contacts are not on Apple platforms.

There are clearly trade-offs, and there is a lot of valid criticism of the Web, but I'm really glad that the Web exists as a sort of operating system that guarantees some freedoms that native platforms are increasingly taking away from us (although not all of them are as paternalistic as Apple).

I've been on android all along, but I think this just convinced me to give an iPhone a shot for my next device.

Why's that? At least on Android you're free to choose another browser that doesn't support notifications, if they bother you so much. Or you could just turn them of.

I appreciate a platform that doesn't add these kinds of misbehaviors in the first place. It means I have less to watch out for or worry about in the future.

Yet all of this could also be easily done with a PWA that could present with a much less intrusive "add to homescreen" bar.

Not on iOS! PWAs can't send push notifications on that platform, ever.

Fortunately Apple can't prevent PWAs from telling users that Apple is the reason they can't have good things. I'm disappointed however in Apple also blocking PWA's from the App Store.

Despite what many might think, everything doesn’t need to be an “app,” PWA or otherwise. Reddit is literally a message board, one of the earliest types of website. It doesn’t need my location — ever. Email works just fine as a notification, if I want it as a “push” notification, I could VIP-enable the notification email address in Mail. Does Reddit need my accelerometer? Or direct access to my camera or microphone? Or address book? Or graphics APIs like Metal?

Nope. It’s just a message board. Sell contextual ads for the different subreddits, don’t bother tracking people, and be done with it. Of course that would likely require a significantly smaller workforce.

What are you on about? Being a PWA doesn't mean it needs to access any of those things.

And no, email does not fit all the same use cases as notifications.

A PWA is a web page and uses the browser engine. You don't have to enable notifications and still get prompted just like the browser.

It’s been under consideration recently, though what the current internal consensus is is anyone’s guess.


Well, good. Being spammed with notifications is the primary reason I refuse to install many apps. Sure, you can turn it off but they really make you hunt around for it.

In that case you'll be happy that learn that notifications on the web are opt-in instead of opt-out! :-)

Yes, that's one big reason I avoid installing apps. But the requests are also a pain. Can I permanently opt out of all requests across all sites, and never see a page ask again?

Yes, in all major browsers you can set notifications to auto-decline just like most web permissions (camera, location, cookies, etc...)

Reddit doesn’t care about being less intrusive. If they did, they could stop the aggressive app-nag today. A PWA doesn’t instantly make them want to be subtle.

it's more expansive, as in more data that can be mined for adverting purposes. I got a presentation from Reddit a few of years ago on their ad-platform and it was terrible (for enterprises). Their sales team were hyping big changes and things that were coming including geo-location, strong user profiling etc.

This was pre-redesign and it became clear what they were doing and their roadmap of features all were to grow the ad business. Mobile makes sense as it's how their key audiences consume content and it enables stronger profiling, richer engagement and better ad-targeting due to persistance.

The mobile app allows reddit to mine user behavior (every outbound link click is tracked, even on the desktop website) and then they're able to link your device profile, to content you consume and engage with. This can be used for ad-targeting or sold to other data brokers to build a richer profile about ABC user with this device, across XY IPs, typically based in ZZZ location.

Would there be confounding variables though?

Users who have the app are anyways likely to be the ones who use Reddit more so naturally it has much higher engagement than on a browser.

Yes! And as a general rule, it's safe to assume their marketing department isn't interested in that issue. Marketing departments can't help but market themselves too, and if BS numbers make them look good even to the detriment of the company, it's almost a sure bet you'll see them do that.

It is monetization.

A guy I know worked for a PC manufacturer years ago. The offered a windows version of a machine, and folks asked why they didn't offer a linux version.

A linux version would cost more money, because they made a non-trivial amount of money by loading up the PC with shovelware.

I've seen this countless times at companies. The decision makers do not want to greenlight projects that do not make money, or worse that cost them money.

So I think if you follow the money you'll find a mobile app makes them more money.

What you said is all true but it still boils down to getting people to see more ads. I'm not sure how big a part of their revenue Reddit Gold is.

Apparently the only platform that you can't send notifications direct from websites on is iOS.

So that needs to get fixed, and then this problem might go away naturally

Of course on web they have email. Of course that only actually works about 5% of the time. No wonder their retention numbers are trash...

Yup, many companies I've worked for see push notifications as the raison d'être for apps.

I mean, most companies are mobile companies now, and the app is the only thing that matters to them.

I mean even existing non-mobile companies.

Also helps them rank higher on app store which is a discovery engine

Also Reddit can offer IAP more easily, since users won't need to input their CC info again inside Reddit.

I think this must be why they require you to register an account to read reddit now.

I’ve given up on reddit on mobile. From time to time I drop in on it using Safari on the desktop, but it’s not worth it to me to deal with their engagement-ification in their mobile app, or obvious crippleware of their mobile web experience.

I’m not pissed off about this: It’s like dropping in on a bar I used to enjoy a decade ago, to find out it has been redesigned a few times and everyone’s a new face.

Sometimes, that’s a really cool experience: “Say, this is neat.” Sometimes, not. But times must change, and we either change with them, or get left behind.

I am not going to change and become an engagement addict, clicking on shiny baubles out of boredom. So in reddit’s case, I am a part of its past, not its present, and I must accept being left behind in its wake.

> It’s like dropping in on a bar I used to enjoy a decade ago, to find out it has been redesigned a few times and everyone’s a new face.

That is honestly the best analogy I have heard to describe my feelings towards the site. It's still reddit... sort of, but its not my reddit. I joined during the digg exodus and I don't know if it's because I was younger or what, but for a while reddit seemed like that go-to bar: always warm, inviting, and socially enriching.

And today, the once best feature for finding new stuff: the front page / popular, is just misery porn and American politics. If you don't already have a healthy list of subscribed subs with actually good content, I find that it's really difficult to find new stuff.

I just have my bookmark for the front page set to r/all, bypasses their dumb location sorting and provides a bit more variety of content.

Anytime I see content I don't want, I filter out the subreddit. Allows me to still see /r/all but don't have to see the subs I don't want

I've been using Sync (formerly Reddit Sync) on Android for quite a few years and love it. I paid for the Pro version (only US$3.99 one time payment) a while back. I turn off almost all notifications (do this for like 90% of apps anyways) and I only use it when I want to, not when I'm being asked to. It's very customizable.

I'm just waiting for the day that Reddit decides to lock down their API enough to hurt all third party apps and force people onto theirs.

Free version https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.laurenceda...

One time payment version to remove ads https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.laurenceda...

[iPhone] I just use Apollo, which is pretty good overall. Used to Alien Blue, loved it.

Alien Blue was great, I was a paid user to get rid of ads. Then Reddit acquired it and put back the ads.

For a few months of gold...

Me too. I used to frequent Reddit occasionally on mobile web. I didn't, and still don't want the app for similar reasons, but also so I wouldn't get addicted. These days I just don't visit it at all because the friction is too high.

I've used Reddit Is Fun on Android for 8 years. Still looks the same and works just as well as it did then. None of this new design crap. Never found anything better

I really like Joey on mobile (Pixel here, not sure about iOS). No pings and is completely silent until I feel the need for wasting some time. It's shareware so please think about contributing if you agree.

Try i.reddit.com

Rather old.reddit.com and opt out from new layout.

Most of the images/videos hosted by reddit don't work with the old design.

Web browsing these days really feels like wandering through a market filled with panhandlers and pickpockets—you're just trying to look around, and everyone's up in your face demanding stuff in the most obnoxious way possible.

As a web designer/developer, this approach offends me. At the risk of sounding like I'm taking this more seriously than I should, I believe that good design is founded on respecting ones' users. Reddit throwing what's essentially an ad in my face every time I try to use their site is bad design because it is disrespectful to me, the user.

Maybe their app is a better experience; there are more respectful ways of highlighting it. As immature as this sounds, not using the app is almost a matter of principle for me at this point, because I don't believe in rewarding disrespectful design.

This is extremely interesting. Could the webbrowser of the future be the one which sways the nagging boxes away, and lets you access actual content? How would we reach that? (or, as more probable: this is the end of the webbrowser, it will die of a million cuts, and all smart TVs are on specific apps, all mobiles run on apps, and the one simple-to-use website that will remain forever will be... HackerNews).

Edit: And the only way to sway those nagging boxes away is to have a code of conduct, which is how appstores can impose a no-nagging experience.

I use firefox on android and immediately switch to reader view. It works wonderfully. The content takes up the entire screen, text always stays where you want it, scrolling response is instant and my phone stays cool while reading it. Plus you have dark and light themes for browsing.

Unfortunately, Firefox for iOS is built on Webkit, so there are no plugins for it, so this approach doesn't work on my iPad.

By now a browser is just a UI platform for a website, so if the website doesn't give you the content, the browser can't extort it from the server.

So far we can filter out some ads because for sites it's just cheaper to use off-the-shelf solutions from ad networks, which are the same for everyone, and to preserve accessibility via HTML. Enter heavy randomization or the canvas, and filters won't work. Look at Yandex: it took the fight with adblockers seriously, so uBlock's lists finally gave up—it just was no use.

If you try to use customization via CSS, on some modern sites the crazy mess of divs with cryptic classes already makes no sense and doesn't lend itself to CSS selectors.

You know, I could see—if this isn't out there already—a browser based on eliminating visual annoyances; essentially, something that operates a lot like iOS reader view, maybe like Brave but for popups and similar interruptions.

My current anti-crap shield is a patchwork of various plugins/utilities, most of which only work on my desktop: a plugin to turn JavaScript off (this alone eliminates about 90% of the nonsense, while preserving most of the valuable content); a bookmarklet that hides fixed-position elements (wipes out a lot of the popups/reminders); and a plugin that lets me edit a site's CSS so I can manually remove the junk that the first two methods don't. (Using adblockers and readability plugins goes without saying.) A browser with all of those baked into it—especially, say, something like smart popup removal—would be something I'd be willing to pay for.

I don't believe the web is headed for death; not yet, anyway. There are certainly trends that are deeply troubling, but for most of us, building a website is still far more feasible than building an app.

Use an RSS reader. You will like the lack of feeling of being forced to comment on things you don't care much about in retrospection. No tracking or ads, only content. You can filter shady sites or posts from appearing.

Here are some readers.

0] https://github.com/GetStream/Winds

1] https://github.com/FreshRSS/FreshRSS

2] https://github.com/feedbin/feedbin

3] https://github.com/yang991178/fluent-reader

If you like something closed source, try feedly.

Reddit provides rss for now. For sources that don't, you can use rss.app or similar.


One more useful thing some readers provide is an email address that you can use for subscribing to newsletters.

I built a better rss feed for reddit to use with Feedly.

Notable features: * Links to the content rather than the comments * Embeds a summary of the content * Supports images, gifs and videos * Extra query params (nsfw block, up vote limits) * Open source https://github.com/trashhalo/reddit-rss



Yes! Bonus points for using software made by a Scuttlebutt friend.

Yes, I have been using your feed and it's amazing. Thanks!

Yup. RSS is the way to go for browsing Reddit without all the dark patterns.

Self plug - you can try my app Plenary on Android (no ads/trackers) - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spians.ple... that has Reddit as one of the RSS Assistant option. It basically creates RSS feed for subreddits, users, search terms etc for you.

A feature of the app that you can't use without buying a monthly subscription or paying £10.49, to whom it may concern.

Interestingly parent’s plug is a dark pattern to avoid dark patterns!

It’s also surprising that even on HN, a place where many people write software for a living, people are avoidant of advertising paid features.

> Interestingly parent’s plug is a dark pattern to avoid dark patterns!

Sorry I didn't find any dark patterns here. If you can elaborate more on this, that would be really helpful.

> It’s also surprising that even on HN, a place where many people write software for a living, people are avoidant of advertising paid features.

Exactly! A lot of users want privacy focused - no ads apps. But many of them are hesitant to pay for it. For them, all apps should be FOSS (that means relying on good will of the developer that he will have motivation to maintain the app regularly or relying on some bug foundations) and no dev should generate revenue from their apps.

> Sorry I didn't find any dark patterns here. If you can elaborate more on this, that would be really helpful.

I don't think you were being malicious, but it would of been useful to know up front that those RSS features cost money is all. Otherwise I see nothing wrong in your initial comment.

Yes I agree, could've been clearer upfront about it being a premium feature. Thanks!

You're right, I do want a FOSS solution and I'm hesitant to pay for something closed and controlled entirely by the dev.

But I am not opposed at all to pay for apps that include the source (and build instructions). I don't mind if it's licensed accordingly to prevent me redistributing it (which would undermine sales). I frequently buy apps like that.

More times than I can count I have bought an app that was later either abandoned when it stopped making money, or got an unwanted UI overhaul that wrecked it, or removed an obscure feature I depended on, etc. I will happily pay for software, but if it's not software I could potentially maintain myself then the amount of money I'm willing to spend goes way down and I'm a lot more hesitant to make the initial purchase.

It's not about money, it's about freedom.

> that means relying on good will of the developer that he will have motivation to maintain the app regularly or relying on some bug foundations

As opposed to paying for it which guarantees you'll get the service you want - except it doesn't. At least FLOSS would give you and others the opportunity to fix bugs /maintain the app themselves.

> But many of them are hesitant to pay for it

Depends what it is. There's a difference paying for a non free app, and tipping for a free app.

Thank you for trying it out. Plenary has monthly, quarterly and yearly subscription options and even has a lifetime purchase plan. That is the way support the development of the app so that it doesn't have to rely on ads and works without any intrusions to users. That is the point of this post, right?

Another RSS reader: https://theoldreader.com/

Been using it daily since Google googled its Reader.

This. If you want something already hosted try Innoreader (https://www.inoreader.com). I like having software I can just support with money instead of seeing garbage ads and having my personal information sold because it's "free" (though they do have a free plan if you can't afford or don't want to support them).

Thanks for those links. Seems there have been some developments since I last checked into rss clients. Are you aware of any good browser plug-ins in that field? I've been using brief:


For people who like text-based programs, I'd recommend newsboat: https://newsboat.org/

this is not my project but I have been enjoying this rss proxy which can let you limit which posts get into your feed by top rank, score threshold, or quantity of posts per day. I use it because even a moderately popular subreddit can be a bit of a firehose.


Additionally, as a browser extension: https://fraidyc.at

I'm still waiting for Google Reader to come back.

As a conversion optimization question, I suspect Reddit would get better conversion on their "do you want the mobile app" banner if they only showed it randomly about 10-15% of the time. By showing it every time, they cause viewers to remember their "why would I want that - I don't" decision from the previous time they saw the question. Reducing the frequency would likely result in more people considering the question as a fresh new question independent of the previous viewing when presented with it the second time, increasing the odds they go with the install (by definition these are people who didn't install the first time, so their remembered decision is by definition no, so encouraging them to consider the question again as a fresh question can only improve the conversion effectiveness of the prompt over their remembered decision).

I learned from working in marketing is you have to let go of your biases and assumptions about user behavior. In the beginning I found myself constantly thinking "why would anyone in their right mind click on this ad", but we know people click on ads. Most of us in tech are very different from your typical internet user at large.

We have to assume that smart people are working at Reddit, that they have tested the living crap out of this model, and have found it to be optimal.

> We have to assume that smart people are working at Reddit

I wish more people in HN thought this way. Perhaps it's there because it's working and getting better engagement is the way to go.

>We have to assume that smart people are working at Reddit,


My guess would be it's meant to annoy you into submission.

> My guess would be it's meant to annoy you into submission

No reason to believe that this is not considered to be optimal by the company.

Please don't suggest them more ideas to make this even more annoying than it currently is :) (and yes, I would consider reducing the frequency of displaying it as an increase in annoyance, for exactly the reasons in the parent comment)

How are fewer interruptions more annoying than more interruptions? I’ve reread the parent comment a few times and I don’t see how it could be worse than it is now.

I believe the parent commenter's logic is that reducing the frequency of the presentation increases the amount of decision making the viewer goes through when it is presented. The commenter's belief is that the added decision making effort would be more annoying than the benefit from the reduction in frequency.

Anti-tracking cookie defenses will mean that, for sites you don't visit with sufficient frequency, any remembered decision will be forgotten a week after your last visit.

I believe this is why cookie warnings have suddenly skyrocketed, and why Google Recaptcha treats us all as robots suddenly. It means that the form of 'intermittent' tracking you describe will only work for everyday Reddit visitors, not for those sufficiently occasional to see their cookies purged.

Reddit shows the same fucking message on nearly every page, which is the worst possible implementation you could have. As with others commenting here, I refuse to use Reddit on mobile anymore.

You don't need to track users forever on end to only show messages a small percentage of the time. Just showing it sometimes on a new visit is good enough to not be annoying. Even better if you wait for a few site interactions before even considering displaying the message. Also, don't show messages more than once for users who have logged in.

This is not a difficult problem to solve. Companies just refuse to understand that no-means-no.

> and why Google Recaptcha treats us all as robots suddenly

Reading that I realized I would not expect to be happy to look like a robot (to another robot I might add) on the internet just 5 years ago.

What you describe has been the case for years if you use "old reddit" on a mobile device. There's a big "GET REDDIT MOBILE" banner at the top of every page that disappears when dismissed, only to reappear randomly a few days or weeks later.

I have nothing against you, but this is always super funny when you get some random people suggesting how to improve the conversation rate of an app, which probably have several people working full time on the issue.

Yes there are always ways to improve, but some people working there are expert on this specific topic, if the topic is important for the company they probably already do what is the best

Did you know that companies that get on top 10 of most stock exchanges around the world don't actually stay there in like 10 years? They slip drastically, anywhere in the world.

Yeah, so companies aren't led by super humans. They make stupid decisions all the time.

That's probably because those decisions are hard to get right, not because the leaders are stupid. And even harder for a random opinion-haver than the CEO.

Ah, but you discount the fact that sometimes people and companies do stupid things

> if the topic is important for the company they probably already do what is the best

Having worked at many companies, I find that statement very bizarrely naive. I don't understand how anyone with any real world experience could possibly actually believe what you said.

Yeah, vaguely reminiscent of... something something “burning platform”... :-?

Trust me. Some Product Manager is leading these design decisions and product experience, probably against the advice of Devs or UX folks.

> which probably have several people working full time on the issue

I think you grossly overestimate the intelligence, creativity, and willingness to optimize of most FT employees.

The fundamental answer to what changed with Reddit over the last 3-5 years – an IPO became the main goal of the company[1](2017):

> Reddit may go public by 2020, said CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman during a keynote conversation at the Internet Association’s Virtuous Circle Summit on Monday. “The time frame is pretty far out,” he admitted. However, he also argued that going public was inevitable for Reddit to both reward employees and investors, calling it “the only responsible choice” for the company.

[1] https://variety.com/2017/digital/news/reddit-ipo-1202613811/

Are there any other tech companies that have IPOed with the same amount of pornography content as reddit has?

Reddit tries ridiculously hard to hide its porn, even though it's 5% of the posts on rising and more than 20% of the posts on new.



What does that have to do with using their web site versus their app

It increases engagement metrics, which is the most important thing for an ad company looking to raise more money in the future.

"Apps increase engagement metrics" seems dubious to me. Maybe for certain companies and products it is true, but the norm is to have a website and app experience. It is not necessarily the norm to have the website aggressively drive people to the app to the extent Reddit.com does.

I imagine Reddit's website gets tons of traffic from "non users" coming in on shares and searches who will never consider installing a Reddit app no matter how many modals they put up but nevertheless driving ad impressions.

> "Apps increase engagement metrics" seems dubious to me. Maybe for certain companies and products it is true, but the norm is to have a website and app experience.

A product that is entirely based on user generated content is exactly the type of thing that requires active rather than passive users.

Mobile websites are generally optimized for passive consumption, and mobile apps – for active creation.

you put it so simply i almost missed it: they are an ad company

Interesting that this was before the most recent Chinese funding round. I wonder if an IPO is still 3 years away.

Reddit has been very aggressive over the past few years to increase retention.

They're barely a link aggregator anymore, they try to self-host as much content as possible. Images, videos, they even attempted to make user-pages à la Facebook (no idea if this caught on). They're competing with Facebook and Instagram, not Hacker News.

On paper that's not necessarily bad, but they don't hesitate to make the user experience worse to achieve this. If you want to link a video hosted on reddit, there's no straightforward way to only link the video and not the full reddit thread. Here's a random example from the frontpage:


No way to share just the video, you have to share the garbage comments as well. Of course many video sharing sites are the same, but Reddit was supposed to be a link aggregator at first, not Youtube-but-worse. They've added a photo gallery feature lately with the same limitation: you can't just link the gallery, you have to link the full comment page. I suspect that they did that specifically because they couldn't really prevent people to share the URL to the image directly since that's a standard feature of the web, so by adding galleries they can "lock in" the content. At least they don't do referrer checks, I suppose... Well, not yet.

And yeah, as you point out, the mobile experience on a browser is atrocious. Especially if like me you're only a lurker: if you're not logged in you can't even browse a subreddit, it forces you to install the app (or alternatively, you can go to i.reddit.com that still works and is much faster to boot).

Vanilla Reddit is effectively becoming less pleasant to use that those shady streaming websites that change their domain names every month to evade copyright enforcement. At least those website usually manage to stream SD video reliably.

Basically Reddit tries to become Instagram for people who think they're too cool for Instagram, and it shows.

The reddit video player is one of the worst/lagging experiences of any video player since Real Player, and that had bad internet to deal with and Microsoft messing with it constantly.

I usually don't like to rag on bad but highlight good, but in reddit's video player they are obviously doing too much tracking in it or it was rushed because it is not responsive many times even on a fast connection on a massive desktop machine. It is hard to seek, hard to play/stop/pause, half the time half way through it goes to down version that is compression glitched and blurry, on and on.

If so much of the site is video, why not make that the slickest player of all time? Youtube has always known how to do this. Streaming services do as well. Open source tools are better than this. What is going on reddit with the video player? It probably has lots to do with tracking, cost savings and more but it is unwieldy right now.

I agree. In general the entire website feels very lackluster, the redesign is heinously slow and the problem has to be in the frontend since old.reddit is not nearly as laggy.

Having to watch a pulsating loading icon while it's fetching a few KiB of plain text comments is frankly shameful, especially for a website that's mostly about comments in the first place (I know there weren't comments on Reddit at the very start, but I can't imagine that it would've reached that level of popularity without them).

I think it's a case of poorly aligned incentives, they clearly only want to funnel everybody to the mobile app. The website being an unusable lagfest might be a feature, or at the very least there's probably not a lot of effort put into improving it.

It uses adaptive streaming (MPEG-DASH), iirc. Starts at a low bitrate and scales upward over time.

Works great for Twitch-length stuff. For a 10 second gif-equivalent, you don't get enough scale up time.

There's no excuse to get such a bad quality for even low-res videos. Imgur, gfycat and Youtube manage to stream higher quality video faster on the same device on the same connection.

I also think they shouldn't even attempt to stream video under a certain bitrate, I'd sooner have a video buffer for 10s than end up with something that's unwatchable because the resolution is like 10x10.

And I'm barely exaggerating, I don't have an amazing connection but I can stream Netflix and Amazon Prime in 720p without any issue, yet I just got this on Reddit:


This is not upscaled or anything, that's literally what I saw on my screen as the video was playing.

It's just half-assed, there's no other explanation really.

imgur and gfycat directly stream a .mp4/etc file, the opposite of what reddit does.

Many uploads on reddit are also repeated re-uploads of compressed and then recompressed ad nauseum videos and stolen content, so I wouldn't be surprised if a fairly significant amount of the uploads started at 360p or less, downloaded from a phone.

> I also think they shouldn't even attempt to stream video under a certain bitrate

You are not the target demographic; the target are mostly on phones, where rapid start and 360p is not a huge deal. You don't get 1080p or 720p from snapchat or instagram. In super blunt terms reddit would rather not want you, they'd much rather have someone with the app downloaded, all tracking on, with push notifications on and the impossibility of ad blocking.

In your example, the video thumbnail implies that this is a recording OF a recording - this is someone that has already uploaded a compressed version to Twitter, where it has been further compressed, and then recorded and cropped on presumably a phone screen, then uploaded to reddit.

If I google the text, the first reddit results are all natively in 240p uploaded original.

Those excuses don't really work for me. At some point you can come up with all kinds of justifications, it doesn't change the fact that from a end user's perspective it's crap.

I activated throttling in Firefox, setting it to "Regular 3G". I went to Youtube, selected a random video I had never watched before (so no cache): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mMIOhoUcCM

It loaded for about 10 seconds then started playing at 480p. Quality was fine, it's SD but sharp. Once it started playing it wouldn't buffer anymore: https://svkt.org/~simias/up/20200819-153915_youtube.jpg

Then I went on Reddit, same settings, this page: https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/ib6gmu/i_pretended_t...

Reddit ends up playing in 96p apparently (judging by the file name, DASH_96, altough maybe it's misleading). It looks like this: https://svkt.org/~simias/up/20200819-153748_redditvideo.jpg

Note that in the "optimal" version of the video the text on top is perfectly sharp.

So you can spin that any way you like, doesn't change the fact that Youtube performs vastly better in the same degraded conditions. But maybe the target demographics are people who have a fetish for ultra blurry video?

I'm not making excuses - I am not a fan of reddit and I hate their godawful business practices :)

They have two completely different use cases - reddit is garbage that you infinite scroll through on a mobile phone, YouTube is content you watch. YouTube also generally has higher/better uploaded source videos, while reddit is a mess of reuploaded deep fried memes.

The use case for this, scrolling and keeping attention and continually pushing new content in, loading for 10 seconds is a death knell and entirely unacceptable.

I personally have never had it scale upward overtime. If anything, I've have it go from good quality to worse and worse quality as the video goes on

> And yeah, as you point out, the mobile experience on a browser is atrocious. Especially if like me you're only a lurker, if you're not logged in you can't even browse a subreddit, it forces you to install the app (or alternatively, you can go to i.reddit.com that still works, and is much faster to boot).

Or a different client (Reddit hasn't gone full Twitter yet), or enable Request Desktop Site.

Reddit's obsession to constantly show me an "ad" to install the app has basically cured me from drifting and spending more time than strictly necessary on the website. I hate it so much that it triggers a negative experience everytime I visit the website and I just tend to watch links shared to me.

Honestly, I thank them for that and I hope they don't remove it.

Their redesign combined with the incessant harassing app crap turned me from an hours-a-day-and-modding-some-decently-big-subs redditor to visiting for 15 minutes a couple times a week when on the dunny. Their entire site is so user hostile now it’s actually bordering on funny. They’ve become a parody of everything they set out to defeat.

Do NOT have your phone with you on the dunny and don’t spend 15 minutes on it! Make it a one minute job.

You’ll thank me when you won’t get piles ;)

Actually forcing the whole thing in 1 minute will get you piles, afaik?

For anyone uninitiated to that particular term, apparently "piles" is another word for Hemorrhoids.

Also, these concerns can be mitigated with a a squatty-potty [1] or a small footstool to get you into the proper position. We've lost the flexibility for that in Western Culture [2]

[1] https://www.squattypotty.com/

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/03/can-you-d...

Give a Squatty Potty a try and you'll only need that 1 minute with no forcing.

For those wondering what "Squatty Potty" is, the company that makes it has a video that explains it well, featuring a pooping unicorn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbYWhdLO43Q

Thank you for making it worth getting out of bed today.

if you can't make a 1-min poop, apart from other specific physiological reasons, it means you should check your diet, in my opinion. If you get the right amount of fiber and enough water, the whole thing shouldn't take more than that. This and a squatty potty have been life changing for me.

Both true! Don't force it, but also don't spend more than 10 minutes there. (Source: med school, personal experience :\ )

If one isn’t actively forcing, what’s the difference between sitting on the loo and sitting on a chair?

Is there evidence that lingering on the loo in a relaxed state causes problems?

I can't find a good article, but my (albeit anecdotal) understanding is that the hole pulls down your butt muscles while the ring compresses the veins responsible for blood return.

For those in the US, piles=hemorrhoids.

The original 'they' are long gone.

Not to ruin you but try https://i.reddit.com

When I click on that link, there's an obnoxiously large button that says TRY REDDIT'S MOBILE WEBSITE at the top of the page.

I thought I was the only one. For a while I really struggled with a crippling addiction to Reddit, and no amount of Screen Time blockers seemed to help (it’s too easy to override).

Simply uninstalling the app did the trick. In the beginning I would open the mobile browser out of compulsion, but the UI was so revolting that it’s essentially cured my addiction.

This comment is a great answer to the originally posed question :)

The Apollo app, that everyone seems to love for reasons unbeknownst to me, had that effect on me. I was happily addicted to the official reddit app when I decided to try something else. It ruined my experience so badly that now I barely even go to reddit.

I was having a similar problem, so I turned to blocking on the network level (pihole). The work arounds were annoying enough to finally deter me off the platform, circa 2016. It was such a relief to have those wasted hours of my life back, as well as abandon some of the echo chambers. It’s also shocking to see how hostile the design choices have gotten since then, so I’m glad I got out when I did.

One handy tip: Reddit I find, is still one of the best sources of user submitted content for niche hobbies, traveling, consumer advice, etc. So I use Google’s cached search results for those instances where I want to take advantage of Reddit’s information, but don’t want to actually go to the site.

That’s the best way to get available time hours up for me. Deleted IG, FB, Reddit and I grab my phone, switch through the home screen pages, I don’t find the apps for those places, and turn the screen off. No more drifting through trash feeds of unnecessary content. It’s been great. Now I only drift through HN and my RSS feed, but at least I choose what I see.


That blocker / screen time app (MacOS only) worked for me. Also having trusted person set the screen time password on iOS is an approach I've heard people using.

I have this problem too, uninstalling apollo right now.

I also hate the mobile UI, I think this will work.

Unfortunately, for every conscientious person that they push away another user is hooked even deeper. Their redesign is insidious. Their page is now aggressively attempting to manipulate you into browsing longer; infinite scrolling, and the way they put questionably-related links in the middle of comments sections is no better than the chumbox clickbait you find at the bottom of bullshit-web articles.

> Their redesign is insidious

I must somehow be immune to the charms. I find it intentionally, aggressively irritating.

I used to lose hours there, but now don't browse around at all anymore. Follow a link in, find what I'm looking for, and dismiss the junk-pit.

Yeah I recall how they used to be different looking -- the ads, I mean. Enough that you could tell they're ads and would only click on them by dumb accident or if they were interesting.

Now they just look 100% like regular posts, and it feels more and more shady.

People didn't need any encouragement to browse longer on reddit, they actually built user solutions to infinite scrolling (RES) years before reddit incorporated it proper.

But I already WANTED to browse Reddit all day... They didn't make it more encouraging for me to do that, they made it more difficult

It's quite irritating if you browse 18+ subreddits and they stop you from seeing content, stating you need the app to see 18+ content.

It's easily circumvented by replacing "www" with "old" in the URL, however, quite irritating nonetheless.

Ugh, imgur does this now too. The one time I don't want to be logged in is if I'm looking at something nsfw...

There are browser extensions which automatically do this.

Really? I just went to /r/gonewild on my phone (browser) to test it out. It gave me the usual "are you 18+?" message and let me proceed to all of the amateur nudity you'd expect.

(Firefox mobile, not in desktop mode if it matters).

It happens ever so often but not always -- maybe they're still phasing it in?

Yeah it only happens sometimes. They also will randomly, occasionally not let you read the comments on a post without downloading the app.

Previously discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21780092

Replacing "www" with "np" also works. Functionally I believe it's identical to "old" but without voting/posting

Thanks for the tip bru

I wonder if it’s partly due to business / product people taking control and trying to aggressively push for more user engagement rather than let the engineers keep the site enjoyable to use.

Either way, it’s turned me off as well, and I thank them for it because I got a lot of free time back.

Maybe, but from experience I can assure you that engineers are just as capable of ruining user experiences all on their own.

Yeah it's driven my usage down now too. I actively try seek alternatives.

Agreed. No, I don't want your app. Why can't I just use the browser? I can't even view pictures anymore in some threads without the app. HN is so nice with its simplicity.

That and the fact that they somehow make video playback continually less reliable somehow.

This. The reddit's video player is a total mess, in both functionality and usability. For the majority of time it simply doesn't load the video, and when it does, the play/pause/seeking is extremely laggy, and often any interaction causes the video to just not play.

I'm having hard time understanding how someone manages to write such horrid piece of software, and how it keeps on being used on one of the most popular websites in the world.

Or how they expect to remain one of the most popular sites in the world if the core functionality doesn’t work right.

Network effects?

The story of social networks depending on network effects alone is the story of Wile E Coyote going off a cliff; it works and until it suddenly doesn’t. Hey, remember Digg?

Reddit’s risk here is that there’s very little value to their back catalogue, since most users use it as a stream of new and novel things. So the only thing protecting reddit is that it’s still the main place people go to post funny videos and similar, which is much easier to move than their back catalog. The fact that video playback basically doesn’t work is a serious problem here.

I felt the same. I've tried to quit reddit several times without success but since these changes the constant annoyances were just too much that I completely stopped using the site.

I have the issue that I find Reddit extremely useful to become proficient.

I knew what problems my tomatoes were having the moment it started. I learned about blueberries needing something stronger than coffee.(and more)

I learned what microcontrollers are popular in the enterprise world by lurking.

I got some extremely useful information in a table form which was impossible to find in a Google search.

I suppose I just need to stop browsing the popular feed and it would always be useful.

I completely and totally disagree. Reddit is of no benefit for anything you could just Google. Reddit's commenting dynamics create a false consensus around whatever the first thing that a bunch of people who Googled it can not disagree to. That's bad enough but when you start talking about subjects that have any degree of subjectiveness people's desire to have their world view confirmed abounds and it becomes even worse.

Pick a subject you're very familiar with the nuances of and start sorting comments by best, go straight to the bottom and among the low quality junk you'll find that there are tons of valid and well informed opinions that get rejected because they required more nuanced thought to understand than a bunch of amateurs who just googled it could muster or wasn't 100% compatible with the ideology of the group at large.

The net effect is that you get "if you just Googled it yourself" quality answers (pretty much every "open to the internet riff raff at large" platform has this problem to an extent) but sent though a filter that removes a substantial fraction of the opinions from people who actually know what they're talking about. Frankly the chans are better in this regard because the only mechanism for disagreement is to reply and the content of replies makes the nature of agreement/disagreement pretty obvious.

As bad as HN is about rejecting anything that doesn't fit it's narrow ideology about how the world works it at least usually doesn't reject things if they're technically correct. The same cannot be said for Reddit.

If you want professional advice you need to go somewhere with some sort of permanence and a higher bar to entry (i.e. the people who wind up there have actually care enough about the subject that they sought the place out), traditionally forums fill this role.

I find this completely wrong. Every time I want to answer a question, googling it will give me 2-3 pages of SEO hypercharged shitty articles that take way too long to go into the point.

Compared to opening 2-3 reddit threads you get 20-30 opinions all without filler and get to then form your meta opinion on that. Its absolutely magic!

And yet... reddit is still probably better than the alternatives.

Half of what I search for nowadays has a "reddit" version tacked on the end in googles auto complete. That is, people are deliberately searching for results to questions explicitly from reddit and it's popular enough that it's surfacing in googles autocomplete.

The only other site that gets that kind of treatment is stackoverflow.

Maybe I need that on HN :p

Use an RSS reader. While HN doesn't force engagement through dark patterns and notifications. There are still things that create FOMO such as the fast pace of the front page. With a good rss reader, you can check back to read what you missed.


Check no proc option too.

Go to your profile settings and play with maxvisit, minaway and delay.

I am giving this a try - it has been great so far!

I like to think of myself as an adult with agency and yet I log into HN on reflex probably over 100 times a day...

I forgot about that, probably because I don’t see it anymore on iOS/iPadOS. I go to the www.reddit.com URI, not the mobile one.

Perhaps it is because I autopay $5/month to Reddit? It could also be the newer version of Safari in the beta iOS and beta iPadOS?

So how many hours do you spend on the site each day?

Funny, they make me not read reddit on mobile with their insistence on using the app.

But the real reason is tracking and spamming you with notifications to get "engagement".

I still use old.reddit.com. Such an improved experience, even on mobile where the format doesn’t fit.

So maybe that’s why they want you in the app? They know their website is terrible?

Honestly even with the tiny text, even with having to pan and zoom around the page. The old.reddit experience is superior on mobile to the modern idea how to design of a "mobile app" for a site like reddit.

At least for firefox, there's an old reddit redirect extension that automatically rewrites any reddit urls to old.reddit.

I warmly recommend that one. Except that since the latest firefox mobile release it hasn't yet been ported. But given that it does exist on the desktop version, I guess it's only a matter of time until it reappears for mobile firefox as well.

I have a tiny script added to TamperMonkey that redirects every reddit URL old.reddit.com equivalent. Funnily, the redirect ends up loading more comments faster than the redesigned "new" site with 2 comments

A big reason is likely so they can place ads in your feeds while using the app and avoid ad blocking extensions, push notifications, etc.

For mobile usage I use the third party app, Apollo[1], highly recommended.

For desktop I use a couple of third party extensions to improve the experience & normalize the UI, Old Reddit Redirect [2], RES [3]. I then disable subreddit css and enable dark mode. Any subreddit I visit looks exactly the same as any other, it really allows you to focus on reading content.

- https://apolloapp.io/ [1]

- https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/old-reddit-redirec... [2]

- https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/reddit-enhancement... [3]

The compact view is even cleaner. Try adding `.compact` at the end of any reddit url.

Awesome! Thanks for the tip.

Alternatively, you can replace the 'www' with 'i'.

Try out i.reddit.com alternately as it's the old mobile-friendly version.

Fair warning that you still get kicked into the new mobile version when selecting some content links.

Use the app 'Infinity for Reddit'.

Open source and neat design

Their website is fine, but no website works as nice on mobile as a native app does.

I'd argue even their old design is better than a native app.

Loads lightning fast, can load thousands of comments on a page without loading bars or context switch. Don't even care if I have to pan and zoom it still works better than the mobile app.

Starting to feel like the idea of a mobile app being a universally better experience is a software industry mass hallucination. A handful of things apps work way better, modern banking comes to mind but sites styled like reddit and HN are just better in a browser with desktop view and high information density.

Obligatory xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1174/

Honestly being able to zoom anywhere is a feature not a bug.

xkcd's need sarcasm tags now? :)

Speak for yourself.

My eyesight’s not great. If I can’t pan&scan your content (or continuously vary text size to suit my needs in the moment), you wont have me as a user. Very few native apps on mobile work this way, so I don’t use most of them.

Their recommended notifications on Android are so spammy that they should be banned from the Play Store unless they change the defaults.

Well, thanks for all the bypass advice. But I only read reddit when a search brings me there, so I can afford to just skip it. I suppose all the workarounds posted in this thread are useful for someone more addicted^H^H^Hinvested into reddit.

This is basically the Tapatalk school of marketing.

Yeah, it's annoying. I've also seen them block entire subreddits for mobile. E.g. this is what I see on my Android phone when trying to read r/Europe: https://veqz.net/reddit_block_europe.jpg («This community is available in the app»).

My two go-to solutions are: 1. Use old.reddit.com/ 2. Stop using reddit

Employees of Reddit must have a very low opinion of their users if they think they're going to fall for "This community is available in the app".

Their customers i.e. marketers prefer people who fall for things like that

Around every twentieth post on the front page of Reddit is a video of someone being punched, kicked, stabbed, or shot. If there are Reddit employees who hold a high opinion of Reddit's users, they should raise their standards.

They block on the subreddit's main page, but individual pages are not blocked. I sometimes request desktop site, click on the discussion I want, than go back requesting mobile site. Works well where there's always a long and daily discussion on the sub.

I will never download the app just because they do this.

> you must continue in Reddit app or log in

They're not forcing you to use the app. Did you try logging in?

There are also alternative much better apps (e.g. redreader from the F-Droid store for Android).

That and the layout of their "new" redesign where you go to a post and it'll show the post, 2 comments (out of 500), not even the full threads of those comments either and then just some unrelated posts and you have to click on more links just to read the actual comments and you can feel your browser choke under the weight of whatever framework they use trying to render a few bits of text.

Noticed Twitter switching to the same pattern too, show 1-4 replies then just some random unrelated algorithm posts from elsewhere.

I'm starting to despise UI patterns that discourage any sort of meaningful discourse.

This includes stuff like hiding comment threads and only showing one or two comments by people you follow on LinkedIn, or features like "canned comments" ("Congratulations, John Doe!"). I don't know why websites stopped respecting their users' agency, but my pet hypothesis is that some product team is being measured on some sort of superficial "user engagement" KPI and ended up optimizing for meaningless reactions instead of actual discussions....

They either optimize for sales (of something), ads, data mining, or something more ephemeral like "discourse control" or "discussion shifting".

You're seeing the latter two happening with reddit, probably other sites like tik tok.

I mean to a point these are good things, HN even has the "flame war" check where it take away the reply button for deeply nested threads.

Yes, but I'd argue that the "HN brand of discourse control" is more about keeping nasty impulsive human tendencies in check, like a forcing function preventing you from not thinking before you speak - while other kinds of "discourse control" actually reward exactly this sort of behavior

This design is just so damn weird. I only rarely find myself at reddit e.g. when some obscure search query lands me there and I am always extremely confused trying to find the actual content of posts and relevant comments. I still don’t even understand how it works and half the time I just give up and leave because I can’t figure out what to do to get at whatever I’m searching for.

KPIs go up – "Sufficiently Powerful Optimization Of Any Known Target Destroys All Value" https://thezvi.wordpress.com/2019/12/31/does-big-business-ha...

Anyone else feel like Reddit is like AOL circa 2002? It's horribly designed, continues to be so despite numerous changes, yet we put up with it because of the user content that we can't find anywhere else.

And they get lucky with people continuing to contribute to their horrible platform for the same reason.

Change the www in the url to old. That'll give you a way superior ui.

It seems web developers these days have forgotten the virtue of keeping things simple. Everything has to be smothered in javascript, and asynchronous requests, and fluid UI that changes on the slightest interaction. I'm guessing it is a case of having a hammer, in the form of the heavy javascript frameworks, a la mode, and using it to treat every simple implementation task as a nail.

HN is a great example of how playing to the strengths of web results in a great user experience (possibly the best of any forum type site). Unfortunately it might also be damn near the only example.

Web Developers haven't forgotten anything. They're designing for more ads/profit, not for end user experience. That's what pays the bills.

It's easy to blame web developers. All too often they are using overengineered hacks to implement bizarre requirements from UX and product managers who don't and won't understand the web but absolutely must see their vision take form (reminds me of the Mad Men quote: "we employ more frustrated artists than the Third Reich").

HN is good, but threaded NNTP/USENET is easily better than any forum (in Emacs GNUS, or even Thunderbird). There might be better forums (something topic/tag oriented).

> you can feel your browser choke under the weight of whatever framework they use trying to render a few bits of text.

Marketing is extremely pleased with the accuracy of the new metrics and analytics, even if the numbers are going down. Large ad-driven companies seem to prefer accuracy of tracking to user comfort

Yeah the new layout is super heavy even on a decent machine and the old one is too 2000's...

Don't get me wrong, I love simplicity like hacker news does. But reddit's old theme just rubs me the wrong way.

reddit’s old theme is great. And I love how different subreddits are able to customize the look.

It falls apart a bit on phones, unfortunately.

>And I love how different subreddits are able to customize the look.

I absolutely hate that. If you still have a Reddit account, it can be turned off in settings. Otherwise, add this to your adblocker:


Just posting in agreement. I've never been a fan of reddit, but have found myself lurking there far more often since the redesign (which admittedly is bloated). Old reddit was too wonky-looking and disproportionate for me to take seriously.

Wow I didn't even realize this is what they were doing. I've been so confused every time somebody sends me a Reddit link in the last year.

The "top" comment always seemed to be referencing some discussion or context I didn't have, and I thought there was always an inside joke I simply didn't understand...

They call it growth hacking because it drives some metric up. I call it betraying your loyal users.

Honestly, I hate how in 2020, every single social media service tries this hard to manipulate its users into spending more time with them. It's nothing but pathetic at this point.

I really hate that aspect of Reddit.

When does it ever make sense to hide thread comments?

Yeah but someone got a big raise because they're now seeing 4x as many clicks as before...

Old design + Reddit Enhancement Suite is the only decent way to use reddit right now.

The problem is that they don’t let you pay for the service.

They show that algorithmic stuff to increase engagement. Of course, if they show related content so close by, people are going to check it out more often. You can’t really argue against that.

What they could do is have a paid tier. Instead of paying with engagement, you’d pay money to have the better UI. But they don’t want to provide that option at all.

>What they could do is have a paid tier

Funny you should say that, they do https://old.reddit.com/premium and an in app currency too https://old.reddit.com/coins for some reason.

You wouldn't have noticed any of this if you're an old.reddit holdout though.

the weird thing is their old design is strictly better.

It’s admittedly a little clunky on mobile, but still preferable to “install app!”

Yeah ads. If you're on iOS check out Apollo, made by a solo developer and does not display ads. I'm not sure what the equivalent on Android would be (someone chime in if you know).

It's not only ads.. well in the end it is, but that app's largely about stickyness and push vs. pull.

By visiting the website, you're the one pulling, wanting to visit and viewing the content or messages on your time. By installing the app, any message or update is pushed to you instantly, pulling you to the website, making it less your decision to visit, but being pulled in. A Medusa-like call that's hard for many to resist.

Reddit are not unique in this. Even updated 'XXX sent you a new DM' from Twitter via email for example.

Anyway, I'm shot of Reddit. Their recent purge shut down a lot of subs that for many were mutual support groups caught in the cross-fire of admins vs. sophisticated trolls using them as flare-scatter to escape themselves.

I also can’t stand using apps because links work better in an actual web browser.

When I click on a link in an app, I have no clue what is about to happen. It could open my web browser, it could open some shitty in-app browser or it could show content in the app.

Also, having apps installed means I have to deal with the absolutely horrendous UX of being on the web, clicking a link and then having the app version of YouTube/Zillow/whatever forcefully opened instead of normal navigation.

So, I uninstalled all of those. I hope Apple gives me a setting to turn that fucking piece of shit feature off someday.

Yes you're right it's not the only reason. My response was a little too cynical. My point is less web vs app and more profitable one person show (without resorting to ads and tracking) vs a bloated behemoth feeding the VC monkey on it's back.

If there's a choice between web and app, I'd take web any day: Works on multiple devices, doesn't need updates or dependencies from an app store.

And agree on one person show / bootstrap vs bloated VC money.

Apollo is pretty much iOS's only good Reddit client, Android has a few great ones. I personally use Boost.


Apollo is definitely the best (as in, it's so feature complete, stable, integhrated with the OS UI/UX and awesome I don't see any reason why anyone would want to use an alternative) but there are alternative's, for example Narwhal.

Narwhal is criminally underrated. It's so fast and fluid, and you always have access to subreddits by swiping from the right. Apollo is good, but Narwhal deserves more love IMO.

Meh. I used it before Apollo came out and it always felt very foreign to the OS and kind of ugly.

My only complaint about it is it doesn’t use WKWebView, but something else to render web content. This means that any site I open in Narwhal does not use my content blockers and is thus an ad and tracker infested slow as molasses experience.

+1 for Apollo. Lots of great features and it follows Apple HIG (Human interface guidelines) unlike the bizarre UI direction of everything Reddit is doing these days.

I’m afraid and won't be surprised if Reddit goes the Twitter route and kills (or somehow cripples) third party apps like Apollo. If Reddit is this adamant on destroying the user experience of their platform, killing off great apps like Apollo seems to fit that strategy.

I have the same tingly sense as well, unfortunately.

I have been using RedReader[1] on Android which doesn't display ads and it's also open source software.

[1] https://github.com/QuantumBadger/RedReader

Infinity is a much better client imo. Best design and has all basic features, plus a few tricks.

Open source too

> If you're on iOS check out Apollo

Webpage[1] and AppStore[2] link to save you guys time, since AppStore search is horribly broken.

[1] https://apolloapp.io/ [2] https://apps.apple.com/app/id979274575

Thanks for that! I forgot to add a link.

> AppStore search is horribly broken

It's working as intended.


Ads only one of the reasons. Reddit also updated Reddit Coins [0] with their new design. With this new "in-app" economy, you can use real money to buy reddit coins and give an award to post. Another revenue stream for reddit.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/coins

They give me Reddit coins because I donate every month. I don’t use their app and have no trouble giving out coins for posts that I like. Sort of fun, BTW.

Now, I really wish Twitter would let me pay a monthly fee for no advertisements.

Lol why do you donate to a company that made $120 million in ads last year?

I think that's the real answer to OP's question. Reducing the friction to buying stuff is a big deal.

This is what I use. It's excellent to the point that when i'm sitting at my desktop I automatically use my phone to read Reddit rather than the web client.

RedReader is a good Reddit app for Android on F-Droid

I worry the day is coming for a Twitter-esque app purge if too many people are avoiding their ads and engagement mechanisms with third party apps.

Maybe I should root for it, for all the time I'd get back not using Reddit though.

To be clear here, the app doesn't have additional ads but it does show reddit ads.

I used Apollo as well on iOS, on Android I'm using Boost.

Quora is even worse for this.

For years they’ve had an extremely hostile user experience on their mobile site — you scroll half way through a long answer, and get interrupted with a modal prompting you to finish reading it in the app.

But the modal cannot be dismissed — there is no way to close it. You can’t scroll the page, it persists on reload... rendering the site utterly unusable.

It’s interesting to compare Quora and Stack Overflow. They both are about questions and answers, and they both set out to use interaction design and aggressive curation to create a high-quality Q&A resource.

But despite having similar goals and a willingness to experiment with behavioural patterns, they ended up with incredibly different experiences.

I used to really enjoy reading responses on Quora, but at some point, it seems to have devolved into pretty low quality spam and self-promotion.

Same here — in the early days, I’d spend hours each week on it. There felt like a turning point, around 2018, when it just sadly became “too mainstream”, for want of a better phrase.

You also can't navigate their site without being logged in. Something Google should crack down on.

When I realized I couldn't read anything on Quora without logging in, I deleted my account and I haven't missed a thing.

There's probably a core group of users there, but I can only imagine it's a stagnant pool now.

Reddit as a social network has two goals:

- Make more money than last quarter

- Having more user engaged than last quarter

Having user engaged is much easier when you have the app installed, as they can send you push notification. As a result of that, the number of users on the mobile web version is probably very low, so they don't put a lot of effort on the product and would probably love to deprecate it.

They also probably don't make the effort to optimize the monetization of those users, as they are so few, so they push them to use the app.

And above all HN users are probably not the ones who click the most on ads, so they don't care if you use reddit or not as you will not bring them any revenue.

On mobile,

I use

1) https://i.reddit.com

2) https://github.com/Docile-Alligator/Infinity-For-Reddit

I don't use neither the official bloated site nor official Android app. They are way much animated, bloated,slow.

I think that current focus of reddit is to become social media. Earlier days,reddit was focused on creating better forum,discussion platform. There is gradual change in focus ,i guess.

> I think that current focus of reddit is to become social media. Earlier days,reddit was focused on creating better forum,discussion platform. There is gradual change in focus ,i guess.

Theres a few people talking about the "unbundling of reddit" that's going on at the moment. I forget where I read it but basically some larger communities are starting to break off again into their own platforms.

There's a lot of subreddits now that advertise their own Discord server, omitting Reddit's own attempt at hosting a chat service.

Trading a centralized proprietary platform for a different centralized proprietary platform. Sounds familiar somehow.

Beyond that, Discord is not really the same thing as Reddit. It's true that reddit tried to compete with Discord by offering their own chat service when they realized that many communities also had a Discord server, but they don't really offer the same service.

Discord is IRC, reddit is BBS/usenet/PHPBB.

Because Reddit is slowly becoming trash.

First their website redesign makes the whole thing slow and unusable, then they start making the app get invasive and abusive.

All in the name of "engagement".

I've identified my biggest pain point when these companies try to pull shit like this: it is the audacity for them to pretend like they have some authority to decide anything for me (as a user), or even nudge me in any directions, be it in content, ways to use their service, etc. ...

Dear Reddit, (and the likes),

You are a service company. You provide me a service. You are not an authority, or a thought leader, or anyone who's opinion I for some reason automatically respect or am interested in. You simply make it easier for me and users like me, to aggregate information and to share data, in a format that we like. You did not create that format out of thin air and you do not own it. It is we, the users that told you that this is the format we wanted to use, by going to your website and not competitors. You A/B-tested it from us. This does not give you any authority or right to pretend like you know what is better for us. You are simply a utility provider. Start acting like one. I do not care about your opinion about anything, let alone how I should use your site, what I should read, what I should buy or not. I just want a service, the aggregation of information. The utility of it. I don't care about how you make money (none of the users really do, let's be honest). If you stop giving the utility, I will go somewhere else. If you can try to provide this utility and also making money in the process - good for you. If you ask me to pay for your service, a fair (!) price, I will gladly do, like I do for any utility like electricity, clean streets etc.

The more shenanigans like this you pull, the faster the decentralized versions of those utilities (a useful forum for quick information, in your case) will come up and eat up into your revenue.

I wish I could give you gold for that comment, thankfully we aren't on reddit

I read somewhere just the other day that the benefit (to the developer) of an app vs a mobile website is that apps can collect more data on the user than mobile websites in their sandboxed browsers can. I haven't looked into this to verify for myself and there are other reasons, like push notifications, but I'm inclined to believe it.

Who wants push notifications from Reddit though?

Another thing they did lately BTW is these "show the rest of the discussion" links, which seem to randomly pop up in a thread, hiding relevant replies. And they are not even JS-based always it seems, they often reload the whole page! And when they do, they hide the other parts of the same thread that were visible on the previous page. What in God's holy name is that??? That is a worse UX in every single way, than what you could have had by simply printing all the replies like you did before. WTF is the point of that? Are you actively trying to get me off your website and go somewhere else? That's a hostile UI for no reason...

I guess the UX is better if you're mostly using reddit to scroll through memes. Like you look at a meme, chuckle, read the top reply, chuckle again, on to the next meme.

It's absolutely garbage for comment-heavy subs, but the vast majority of reddit users doesn't visit those.

It's horrible. They've made the site itself unusable on mobile.

They care so much because as you browse links out to other content, they can keep you in the app using the embedded browser. And when you read that content and share it, you share reddit links, not the source links.

I'm sure time in app blows away time on site for mobile users.

To turn this on its head, maybe the mobile device manufacturing duopoly has made it impossible to develop great experiences on mobile web in order to funnel more development work into their app store ecosystems? Why are we blaming reddit for this trend?

Its worse. They keep breaking stuff on purpose just to push people towards their app and their new 2.0 design.

Seeing how popular the old interface is, they provided an option in the settings to keep using the old interface. A few months ago they decided to not honor that setting on mobile. So now many links on the site are broken and I have to go to old.reddit.com to get around it. Took me a while but now Safari autoprompts and fills it, so not an issue. However I can see a day where they will fully abandon the old interface and that is when I stop using reddit.

I'd recommend using a third party app.

rif is fun is pretty good imo.

Free version (ads): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.andrewshu....

Paid version (no ads): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.andrewshu....

Because they need your data. I don't understand how a website with such bad UX can rank so well when Google is now calculating CLS and other parameters like this. Reddit is a mystery to me.

Reddit usually has more relevant info for me than a raw Google search. My normal search behavior is something like search for “thing”, browse useless blogspam, search for “thing reddit” and then find a link to the answer through a comment or the like.

The UX made me quit reddit. I delt with it (with a screen reader) for a few months. Then, I submitted a PR on GitHub to improve the accessibility of the site (just a very small addition). Then my PR got ignored for a few months. So I commented that I will delete my PR since it is obviously not welcome. Then I got some comments asking me to not do so, because accessibility is supposedly important now. A few months later, still no action. So I deleted my reddit account, because there was really no point in continuing to hurt myself with their terrible UX.

They are all in on AMP, even though its terrible experience on AMP.

> I don't understand how a website with such bad UX can rank so well when Google is now calculating CLS and other parameters like this.

you can still use the old ui via old.reddit.com

i have no use for anything they introduced in the current ui

Despite reddit getting worse and worse over the years it’s still one of the best indexed sources of non-advertised/SEO/sponsored information.

Isn't it one of the most popular sites on the internet? I can't think of where on Reddit the CLS is bad, do you have an example?

It was probably very popular, but for me it has become like Quora, I don't understand how the information is structured and I find it not relevant most of the time.

I worked on user tracking all my life. You can track user activities, interest etc, much better on an app. This data is valuable for in-house use and to sell it to the highest bidder.

Do you think tracking outside the app is done?

Meaning collecting data even if the app is not opened? I would suspect so.

yes yes, there are third party DMPs. Phone companies, offline stores etc. all share data with these DMPs. It is quite disgusting. Particularly shady practices done by FB.

But nothing can defeat first party tracking you get with the app.

The thing I am most astonished is that Wikipedia is even a thing that requires no login, no special app, no annoying popups (except the occasional jimmy wales donation banner). It’s open. It’s fast. It’s comprehensive. You can freely download a dump .

Reddit, quora, yelp, facebook on the other hand are Plagued with dark patterns that give a middle finger to the user.

It makes me wonder the kind of shit we build in the name of “user experience”. What is wrong with our industry?

> What is wrong with our industry?

Capital providers that want a return (or at least not a loss) on their investment. More engagement + more users = decent source of ad revenue.

They need to somehow make up the engagement for all the interesting content they banned over the years.

They've grown to the sixth most visited website in the US (third in the UK), so they're doing something right.

You mean like when ethernal october hit, the internet was doing something right to attract all these wonderful people? Just because the masses like something doesn't mean it is good.

So what should they use as a standard of success?

How many Usenet poseurs give them the thumbs up?

That don't pay the bills.

What's the point in producing trash if your only reason is to have enough money to pay for the trash?

"Trash" is completely subjective. And Reddit's resounding success demonstrates that most people disagree with you.

IMO, net quality of life is the ultimate measure of success. Is the world a better place for humans as a result of some action? Our economic system does a poor job of rewarding the best behavior in that sense.

Related: I shared a link from Reddit with a non tech-savvy family member. The next time I saw him, he had the Reddit app installed on his mobile. I asked why and he said basically "it told me to install the app so I did". I no longer send him Reddit links, I save the image/video and send via text message.

This is most likely to do with the ability to access your storage, and constantly feed you with notifications. Those little annoying reminders to visit the website and instill a fake fear of missing out on something.

If at all you wish to have a smoother experience and no notifications though, I suggest Relay for Reddit on Android.

Short term: you can’t block the ads like you can in the browser.

Long term: to turn it into a chat app and somehow cash out.

Data mining. Get permissions to various parts of your phone and now they know your location, contacts, photos, etc.

You think they're making big money off of Reddit Gold?

I usually assume this of every brand that pushes their native app(s) while intentionally degrading their web offering.

Twitter's (great) PWA is a notable exception.

If anyone from Reddit wants to get an idea how annoying these ads are: I'm using old.reddit.com instead. On a phone. Think about that.

If you're on Android, I'd recommend Reddit Sync Pro (it's a few dollars/pounds for the paid ad-free version). It has a clean design, looks great and has most of Reddit's good functionality.


It's a lot nicer than mobile sites or offical app.

If only they cared. It’s pretty clear they’re not optimizing for user experience.

I think you should just use old.reddit.com

There are annoying quirks like some links in comments and wiki/sidebar can take you to new reddit site and it is harder to solve this on FF mobile. But I strongly prefer that over whatever abomination their new design is.

Even leaving aside the UI aspects, the annoying thing about their new site is, it progressively keeps turning bad, earlier it was just that ugly banner for app install or the collapsed comments, or the new page redirection. But now for some reason a lot of communities fail to open in the new design. I don't know why Reddit hates the web so much, they can very well show the ads there as well.

It cannot really be that hard to teach a deep learning engine how to surf the web while tailoring itself to a given user's tastes and filtering out all the egregious crap. It should be substantially easier in fact, than teaching a DL engine how to play a video game, because all the HTML and JS that generated the page is available to the engine to reason about in addition to the pixels.

As an added bonus, it should be easy to teach the engine to "see" all the monkeyboxes and eliminate them while at the same time giving no clue to the upstream server that AI was involved in improving the human user's experience.

My reply will probably get drowned out, but part of what's going on here (for me at least) is Google Amp. I browse reddit as a registered user, and I set the flag for them to stop directing me to the app on mobile. The problem is, if a Google search sends me to a reddit page, because that page is generally served via Amp, it doesn't have my user details, so I get hassled about this.

As a test, I switched to Bing. Problem went away. I'm assuming there's some way to disable Amp on Google as well for my account, but I haven't gone any further in researching this.

I like to use Hermit[1] to browse sites that have a dedicated app for viewing (Reddit, Instagram, and Twitter are of note). It's marketed as a "Light app browser". and lets you add your own with relative ease. Unfortunately they do not have an iOS version[2] yet -- but the Android experience is quite decent.

[1] https://hermit.chimbori.com/ [2] https://hermit.chimbori.com/early-access

If you register an account you can go to settings and turn off that prompting. Definitely not ideal and I don’t even understand why they have an app to begin with but this is what I did.

It's a problem with many businesses and web sites (e.g. banks). That's why we have "U+1F4A9 PILE OF POO".

A lot of it is that they want to violate your privacy, particularly track where your body is. There are some legit uses: McDonald's can put your burger on the grill when you approach the 'restaurant', if you want to snipe an Uber driver you'll need to have somebody be bait for the trap unless you can figure out how to spoof your location...

Resisting the urge to mindlessly browse reddit has done wonders for my productivity and peace of mind.

It's like removing a giant time sink that was not adding any value to my life.

Edit : user https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=jakevoytko has a much more concise view of the same. I swear I didn't steal this from him :)

I can speculate a bit but let's look at the product from a VC POV. The key metric for all I know they are tracking is "engagement - a.k.a amount of time spent on site which is a proxy for number of ads viewed/clicked etc". This has a few implications :

1. A mobile site (e.g. on mobile Safari) can't entice a user to view articles when Reddit wants them to. In other words, "I" open reddit when "I" want to.

2. I haven't accessed mobile site in a while but (hopefully) it won't have infinite scrolling which means I tire quickly of clicking "Next" and leave the site. An app removes this possibility

3. As alluded in #1, an app can have all sorts of notifications which entice me to access reddit a lot more and can possibly track a lot more than a browser will allow. This is valuable for Reddit in terms of "targeting ads" and hopefully makes the mobile users more valuable than us plebes.

Thank you reddit for pushing the app so much. I hate it and will not install it.

Reddit is hardly the only one. Way too many sites that work perfectly fine on a mobile browser (or could have worked perfectly fine there hadn't they crippled the experience) keep bugging me to install apps I don't need.

I really don't want to have to install a separate app for every website that I visit. These sites should just cut it out. You can ask me once, or maybe once a year or something, but don't keep bugging me every day.

User retention on mobile is much higher as compared to websites. Now, people are more attention deficit. Everyone I know has a weird habit of opening their phone and checking their "FEED" (could be reddit, could be fb or insta even). All this on mobile.

Ads is a good reason too. In my past workspace, we spent a crazy amount of money on facebook ads and got 80% of traffic from their mobile app.

Reddit is trying to follow the same too.

Is user retention really higher on mobile? Or is it that web users can’t be tracked so look like they drop off and come back.

I think people make too many definitive statements and bad assumptions based on what they can measure. Leaving off understanding gaps where data doesn’t exist or never will.

Measuring retention is going to be mainly useful for logged-in accounts. And that is is something that could be trivially measured and compared between platforms.

My guess based on experience in this area in other companies is that app users will report a better experience, stay much longer, and return more often.

I use reddit a lot through my browser and about half the time I’m not logged in. I’m still retained, but not measured accurately.

Mobile gives you way more options (notifications, widgets) to drag users back in which have a nonzero success rate.

I'd wager it's because the average user only blocks ads in the browser.

Related, why had the reading experience on everywhere become so useless: only the first 6 posts or so are loaded and you constantly need to wait to load more posts. It’s an annoyingly sluggish experience - even with their anti-user pattern of hiding 90% if each conversation by default, they could at least preload the data and show it instantly.

No one has actually answered this - the short answer is that mobile users who use the app have a higher Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) that mobile users who do not use the app.

The difference is high enough that converting one user will more than cover the CLV losses of all the other users who are driven away by the popup.

The reddit marketing team will be trying to maximise CLV and A/B testing tonnes of different ways to do this.

For reddit CLV is based on ads and premium subscriptions/reddit gold, and these figures for mobile app users will be based on a number of factors including data mining, ability to send push notifications to device, control over the ad experience, avoidance of ad blockers, likelihood of returning to reddit, posting frequency etc. Using the website, especially on mobile, will make a lot of those metrics fall off a cliff when looking at CLV, and I wouldn't be surprised if an app user has a 20x or 30x CLV than a mobile web user.

The following is mostly speculation. I don't really know the inner workings of the Reddit business model.

Businesses that rely on advertising revenue will always seek optimal channels for peoples attention. The mobile app gives them two very import things:

1. Push notifications. Push notifications give companies the ability to advertise to you without you even visiting their website. Also, it allows them to piggyback on the Pavlovian response that has been conditioned in your brain by smart phone companies. Essentially this allows them to "mainline" their product into your brain. Just woke up? McDonalds breakfast PN. End of a long day of work? PN from reddit to remind you to binge their content for your entire evening.

2. People can't run adblock on mobile applications. Even if that only accounts for 10% of it's users, it's still a huge increase in ad revenue.

I do not browse Reddit using the web browser; I use the free Slide client, available on F-Droid.

[0] https://f-droid.org/en/packages/me.ccrama.redditslide/

This has been the most infuriating thing, and as someone who works in media - can trace it directly back to the hire of the former Time Inc COO: https://www.ozy.com/the-new-and-the-next/can-she-make-brands...

They turned Time Inc into a spammy content factory - did huge deals with Taboola/Outbrain, along with creating stuff like a short FB video show about brunch foods. Came over to Reddit and keeps spouting off these huge proclamations about billions of users. They came over right after the huge raise so it's clear that the clear mandate is to commercialize at every possibly touchpoint.

I've noticed this as well. It has gone on for a significant time now. That leads me to believe that they have data that says that it's more profitable to alienate users that hate it rather then remove it. I'd be very interested in seeing that data.

As part of this they have also other things that they do that I think are downright dishonest, for example, when you land on a subreddit and are asked to log in or use the app, the top bar logo link no longer leads to homepage but to /register. For me that's why shady and made me immediately leave the site but it's still there which suggests that it works on a significant part of the userbase. Again, I'd really be interested in seeing their data.

They recently redesigned their mobile site as well and added some major flaws (you can't even see the user who submitted it on /hot unless it is promoted, switching the "vote" and "share" buttons etc.). Its death by a thousand cuts tbh.

I wish it was just prompts. Some days I can't even access Reddit through my phone.

Randomly locking subreddits for mobile users saying: "Sorry mobile browser user, but, /r/xyz is only available on your device through the mobile app." is just infuriating.

I desperately wish I could still use the old Google feature to block certain sites from appearing in results. Reddit threads frequently get into the top 5 of my searches on gaming or programming questions, and clicking through gives me the question, and the first line of the answer, and then I have to deal with all the garbage the site now stuffs down your throat. To top it off, Reddit NEVER has usable answers to what I want to know. 99% of the time, that first answer is something unrelated, and that's the extent of the thread. The bottom line is that they're royally screwing up search results, and I often add `-reddit -site:reddit.com` to my searches now.

It is kind of amusing that they are so aggressively pushing their mobile apps when prior to april 2016, they didn't even have official mobile apps. Probably shows the differences in strategies before and after the acquisition. For me, when I am clicking on browser search results that bring me to reddit, I almost never want to switch to the mobile app. It breaks my flow. If i do not find what I am looking for in the reddit post, I need to switch apps back to the browser app instead of just tapping the browser back button.

Tangential annoyance: the youtube app attempting to have me sign up for some premium service _every time_ i use the app is frustrating.

It's bad, but not as bad as Grammarly which outright refuses to serve me their otherwise perfectly working website on mobile in order to force me to use their spying keyboard. To add insult to injury I'm a paying customer already.

To everything others have said, I'll add this:

It's probably not that they "care so much", it's that they simply don't care. The random people who occasionally navigate to a Reddit thread from a web search, but otherwise don't engage with Reddit in any consistent way, are basically just white noise to them. It's a demographic that represents such as small and unreliable source of revenue that it's just not worth thinking much about from a business perspective.

One certainly wouldn't want to risk reducing the conversion rate among people whose attention is easier to capture, just to mildly appease the never-downloaders.

Recently I noticed that reddit will hide posts on a mobile browser and try and force you to use the app. e.g `/r/AusFinance`. You can get around it by going directly to `/r/AusFinance/new`. Terrible experience.

The annoying part for me is I do use an app, and I'd love to open it. But I don't use Reddit's app, so the popup is worthless. If they had a way for me to pick the app to use, I'd happily open the redirects!

Most mobile websites are intentionally gimped because native apps can target ads better.

But Reddit is one of the worst. I wouldn't ever visit the site if it didn't rank so high on search results. I've noticed the frontend has gotten worse and worse every time I look at it. Ever since they changed to a React type frontend, at least 5% of the time the comments won't even load. It just doesn't work. Reddit really is a cautionary tale of attacking your users. I expect it to follow in Mozilla's footsteps as another company that makes no money but pretends it's a unicorn.

I admit that I like Reddit for product or local-area research.

But whenever I find myself filling my time by scrolling through popular subs, I end up feeling like shit. They're teeming with misanthropes and the low-IQ'd. For example "Ask Reddit: What's one thing you wish guys knew?" or whatever. Or r/WatchPeopleDieInside (you mean watch someone have a disappointed look on their face... why is this entertaining?).

Reddit is like any popular entertainment (music, film, Nascar...), with a typical bell curve of un-intellectual stimulation.

> Reddit is like any popular entertainment (music, film, Nascar...), with a typical bell curve of un-intellectual stimulation.

There are a lot of good subs, but the big ones ain't it.

Cause then they get deeper access to mobile data collection that they can monetize beyond the web browser. I consider this a dark pattern, shame on you for obfuscating your true intentions Reddit.

Because the 'suits' decided you'll be (nearly) forced to use it, like it or not, to improve their KPIs... read quarterly bonus.

Abandon the site and perhaps they'll learn it was a bad idea.

Because getting ublock origin working in the app is more difficult? Also: Why does it always show me "Continue in browser" with a Chrome icon even though I'm on FireFox mobile?

Didn't they recently change it so that you do see a Firefox logo when on Firefox?

I did see that a couple of times, but not anymore.

My second most useful decision to leave social media was to stop using Reddit (except browsing r/<programming_language> groups occasionally). No points for guessing the first one.

Because a mobile user tracked with native ad frameworks brings in much more money than a mobile user tracked via the web browser.

Reddit deserves their Digg moment so much. I shall cherish the day it arrives.

Because there's some product manager somewhere with a line on a spreadsheet called "Mobile App Engagement" and their career status depends on that number going up.

Which is a good metaphor for the success of Reddit as a company.

Simplest possible explanation: by writing this post, you've put more thought into it than they have.

Perhaps someone wanted to increase app install numbers (and/or user engagement), this sounded like it would work, and they did it. Simple as that. They did not ponder whether it might have negative effects. They just did it and moved on to something else.

Of course I have no concrete evidence of this, but with the state of product management in our industry, I can't dismiss the possibility.

Data collection. More data, more targeted the ads, more income.

I guess at some level, their data costs too go down with an app, when compared to a site.

Also, with constant notifications, apps have a better chance to become addictive. At some point, someone saw data of the time spent by users on their site, to that on app and thought, wow !

It allows for better gamification and better avenues for making users buy awards for posts.

I have seen more 'gold' posts than ever after the app became popular.

The desktop site version also became unimaginably slow. I didn't even know it's possible to make it so for something simple like the message board.

It’s less obtrusive if you browse via: old.reddit.com and the much superior legacy interface allows you to see more content with a much faster load time :)

Anecdata: It also completely stopped working on my iPhone 6 about 2 weeks ago. The site will only load the header and logo, then stay stuck as if it was loading forever. Same thing happens on safari and chrome, nothing happened after clearing all browser data. Currently going to old.reddit.com, but the mobile experience with that is pretty bad. I guess it's a good thing, as I'm using it a lot less now.

I recently launched an alternative Reddit client, because like you, I am also very annoyed by this behavior [1].

Here is the link if you want to check it out: https://rdddeck.com

[1] https://www.producthunt.com/posts/deck-for-reddit#comment-11...

Greater analytics and no ad-blocking. I took a quick look at the Android app permisions

Identity: add or remove accounts; find accounts on the device

Contacts: find accounts on the device

Other: use accounts on the device; toggle sync on and off; run at startup; read Google service configuration; draw over other apps

(I deleted a lot of stuff but left the things that Reddit might find more useful). Compare that to the information about the user Reddit would have via a web login.

Apps means it's easier to hook up privacy-violating analytics that can both do a lot more than web-analytics and is harder to block for the user.

And why is Reddit so obsessed with its redesign? I cannot think that more than single-digit percentages prefer the slow, ugly, comment-hiding redesign over the fast, attractive, useful old design.

Just write the redesign off as a failed experiment and build a new design off of the old one. Seriously, even at Reddit what proportion of employees and developers use the new design when given the option?

This doesn't answer the question, but with Firefox on Android + uBlock, just block the element from being displayed with the element zapper.

The real question is why does everyone use bootstrap, when twitter is also constantly saying the app works better on mobile than the webpage.

Are you on iOS?

I was on Android until a few months ago. If I was sent a Reddit link it would open in the Reddit app I liked, no need to ever even look at the mobile site. I was shocked that that seemingly basic feature ISN'T available on iOS. Instead my options are view the Reddit link in browser or on the official Reddit app.

Most of the time I just choose not to click the link because of that.

Remember with commercial stuff: if you're not paying for it you are paying for it some other way. In this case ads and personal information. Currently you are circumventing info they want from you to make you more valuable to their customers. You are not their customer unless you get reddit premium. Then I suspect it will still bug you to download the app

Ads and tracking (i.e. $$$) On Desktop, uBlock Origin blocks 13 trackers on the reddit.com frontpage. Use Reddit in incognito mode on mobile, and you'll see how many ads there are. With more users blocking ads and content trackers on mobile, Reddit would rather monetize you (the user) in their app where you don't typically block trackers/ads.

The Reddit Enhancement Suite extension/plugin dramatically improves the desktop experience: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/reddit-enhancement...

My guess: tracking. On web you are limited how much you can track. On apps you are free to exploit your users as much as you want.

The most infuriating part of this is that they haven’t implemented a functional deep linking system. I mostly come across Reddit on my phone from google, and would happily use the app to read whatever page I’m trying to get to, but the “open in app” button opens the App Store (even with the app installed). This is on iOS, maybe android is better.

Nope, Android sucks too - it either does the same thing (links to Google store), or deep-links to an incorrect page.

not sure if i'm the only one, but for me, on the latest macbook pro 16' top spec, the browser stops responding once i scroll enough. it's un-fucking-usable. if i click on a video after browsing for a while it's as slow as if i'm browsing from my toaster. the rest of the tabs work fine.

i hate the UI/UX for reddit, it's atrocious.

By the way, maybe others don't know but I think old.reddit.com is a way better clean browsing experience than the new crap.

As a general rule, things "work better on the app" because the companies deliberately crippled all other means of access to get you to install the app so they can harvest location, call history, contacts, and all manner of sweet, sweet data. The app isn't there to benefit you, it's there to benefit the company.

Quora does this too. Can read first topic, but then they want you to login and then another topic or so they want you to download the app. I think apps do this because of push notifications and being on your home screen is likely to draw you back into their app and increase the metrics. I think it’s annoying and a dark pattern.

r/mobileweb is the “official” subreddit for the mobile interface, yet it’s filled full of complaints that go completely ignored.

Try the legacy mobile website https://i.reddit.com/ there’s no thumbnail view but otherwise it’s much faster and less annoying.

It's because they follow the doctrine of "mobile app as a walled garden". Presumably you will engage more over time if you're using the app (because you can't leave it as easily.)

I'm not sure how effective it is. But it's dogmatic for this generation of product designers.

I literally caved and installed the app just because using the mobile page was infuriating or even straight up impossible (e.g. when the full page popover add for the app craps out and you can't dismiss it to see the content). As a longtime user I really resent it.

Try using the Apollo app instead. It's a clean, pleasant experience.


I thought I was the only one irked by this. The instagram web-page does a great job acting as a web-app without trying to force the user to do their bidding. I hope Reddit atleast stops trying to force users to install their app if not making a mobile-friendly website.

It's mere existence requires to push to it. Having superior UX usually is expected for an app compared to a website on any given device.

Building an app and still tolerating web usage (on the same device) requires a level of self-confidence, few seem to have. Obviously not reddit.

The “ad” itself wouldn’t be so frustrating if it actually worked! For the last year or so, clicking open in reddit opens the app store even though i have the app. i also prefer the apollo client, so either way this ad should be something i can remove.

Do you actually want to use their godawful mobile website, or do you just want to not use their proprietary app?

Because there are multiple third party apps that are actually good, and at least one that is fully free under the GPL (search for Slide on F-droid).

Even on web I keep using old.reddit.com, as the new layout is just a waste of screen real-estate and looks more like dig.

I loved reddit's original UI, similar to HN, you can quickly scan the headlines, not stare at empty space into the oblivion.

Bad UX all over reddit...

Is there a positive relationship between how much someone complains about Reddit and how much time they actually spend on Reddit?

I don't think Reddit cares about how you feel about the platform, just as long as you continue to spend half your day on it.

There was a way, hidden deep in your user settings, to tell them "No, really, I'm never going to use your app".

This has switched off all of those reminders and popups and crap for me on mobile.

Last time I went looking for the setting though, it had gone.

They shall hassle you to switch to their app until the end of time.

I have been using Sync and joey on android for years. Never used the official app. I dunno if eventually Reddit removes all api eventually that makes these app not work anymore. If that happens I will probably not use reddit again.

They're kinda going in the opposite direction of the industry.

Properties that were app only at one point, such as nextdoor, robinhood, instagram and tinder, now have mobile and desktop interfaces that are almost nearly all there.

It's a very 2013 era move

That's because they need to drive growth, and in established markets, desktop still represents like half of all web traffic.

Venmo moved back to a mobile-preferred;crippled-desktop experience. So it is possible that most of these properties will pull a similar move. Especially IG and Tinder. Like with Venmo & Paypal, IG is the mobile-first version of Facebook, and Tinder doesn't make much sense as a desktop product, outside of maybe some messaging capabilities.

That's becoming old fashioned. An increasing number of people want to limit their time with a platform and want to use a website to interface with it to help themselves in that effort.

This is a thread with hundreds of comments, +95% of the people here have either stopped using or dramatically deceased their use of reddit, it drove shrink instead, vast, incredible de-growth.

They've certainly increased the number of children on the platform, which could be their goal but I don't buy that either, reddit is full of porno

Their Aaron Swartz days are long behind and they've become just another spammy internet property run by buzzword speaking dunderheads with PowerPoint slides.

The force the app formula is stale and lots are migrating away from it

My hunch is that it’s way easier to track people in apps than on websites these days.

Every time it comes up, I am reminded that I delted the Reddit app and why. It was a tremendous time suck, with basically zero return on my time invested. (As opposed to HN of course which is an everlasting fount of wisdom...)

I finally gave in and just installed the damn Reddit app. And now it sends me constant push notifications. I thought I found an obscure way to turn them off but now they're back sp I think I'll just do without Reddit.

The amount of analytics data that can be pulled from mobile is insane. They want to track everything you do. It's also less bandwidth as API calls can just pull the necessary data to hydrate the screen.

Everytime I use Reddit on Chrome mobile, eventually the videos and gifs will stop playing. I have to restart Chrome to make it work again. Does anyone else run into this problem and know how to fix it?

Imgur recently got the _exact_ same ui doing the _exact_ same stupid shit.

There's a part of me that's looking forward to the day that Reddit gets rid of old.reddit.com, i.reddit.com, and third-party app support, because then it will be easy for me quit Reddit.

Reddit is still better than some other websites (Yelp being the biggest perpetrator), that open up the Play store link for their app when you click on links. Annoying and rude.

I even went on a twitter rant, didn't help. I left Reddit.

All the business reasons:

- on desktop adblockers are prevelant. On mobile not.

- on desktop you can't send push notifications thus keeping engagement up.

- Getting into the habit of using mobile apps gets engagement up.

What's sad is that the mobile app is perfectly usable and it's obvious that a lot of thought and care has gone into it. I feel bad for the people maintaining it.

I tried the app, but it doesn’t work for me at all. As a platform, Reddit is very flexible and can be used in many different ways. Their app has been designed for (or to create) social media crack babies that can’t stop swiping and infinite feed of SMC (Social Media Crack). It isn’t designed to be useful to users, so I assume it is designed to improve engagement metrics with an Instagram effect.

In my simple case, I follow specific subreddits, but I check other ones from time to time. The web browser is much easier to work with URLs on my phone. I can go to specific reddit’s very easily by just typing in the URL on my phone browser. Even better, there is still old.reddit.com which is much faster and less glitchy (media not loading, complicated UI frames appearing resulting in unexpected scrolling/zooming issues) than their new website for tablet and desktop usage. Further, the new site constantly loses my place and resets to the beginning of the subreddit losing my place.

The constant ads for the mobile app, and the automatic switching back to the new app on browsers are a massive hurdle, so I do seek out alternatives. However, there are some great communities and information on Reddit, so I will keep using it until critical mass moves on.

While the UI is fine, I'm concerned about optimization and loading.

Is it really required to keep ALL previous scroll history in memory and on-screen?

If they only showed what you're currently scrolling, it wouldn't be the most battery sucking app on my phones.

They care so much because they want to be able to track your location and listen to your microphone for who-knows-what level of frightening analytics and ad targeting.

Yeah, started avoiding reddit links just because of that and also because you usually land somewhere else than what you where after and have to scroll. Not interested

Reddit believe the engagement they get from the app and aggressively advertising it outweighs the engagement lost from users who prefer to disengage than install it.

Life Pro Tips:

You can use their classic mobile site by going to i.reddit.com

Tip: You can turn that off!

Hamburger menu > settings > ask to open app

Really Reddit isn't doing anything that isn't already a trend on the rest of the web anyway. What you should be asking is why the web sucks so much.

Install lockdown on iOS. It’ll block ads anywhere i assume. It’s such an hostile approach, like medium, I will never install their app or open an account.

Because 3rd Party apps don;t tend to show the ads, so they really want you to get used to the official app and not be tempted away, would be my guess.

Bacon reader is a pretty good no-frills client app

Makes me wish we could have more browser plugins on mobile. On my desktop browser I just use adblock to block annoying popup elements.

For 5 or 6 years maybe I've been using the reddit is fun app, because I like the UI and it doesn't pull any dirty tricks.

Here's why I think this is actually good.

I used to be regular surfer of reddit's nsfw subreddit and also lurked around randnsfw for quite a bit of time.

The simple idea that being able to open incognito and browse indulge in porn and erase all (I mean most, uhh ahem) traces of your browsing activity is quite soul destroying in my opinion.

The upside of this limitation even though it is extremely annoying is it stops (to an extent) this mindless indulgence.

It actually made me be less addicted to reddit and the dark and wild usage pattern.

Use i.reddit.com or use a lightweight open source client like redreader or slide (for android, sure there is something for iOS)

So they can track you (the product) more effectively. You are worth more money when exposing data accessible to native mobile.

I still use the "redditisfun" third-party app on mobile. It hasn't changed in the years that I've used it.

It has changed its name, now it's "rif is fun"

For Reddit, just as with Twitter and several others, I’d recommend using a third party client.

Apollo is an excellent Reddit client for iOS.

Ads (you can't block them in app) and notifications (you can block them, but not that easy, especially on Android).

Why isn't it easy on Android? If you long press on any notification it gives you the option to turn off all notifications from that app...

But most users do not know that.

Because the mobile application is a much better, richer and faster experience for daily active users. For a casual user who is following a link from a google search, perhaps the web version is better. Reddit would like to convert users from the latter group to the former, because stickiness on their platform is what drives revenue. It's not a public service that owes you free information at ease, it's a business.

Turn off the prompt. Tap the menu at the top right of Reddit, go to Settings, and uncheck Ask To Open In App.

I wonder if these web design trends are more or less annoying than the Flash banner ads/MSIE popup ads.

I am pretty sure i read once “this community can be visited only on mobile app”. I thought it was a joke?

i use the apollo app on ios... it's quite fantastic and a much faster and better user experience. can't attest to the official reddit app though.

other than that the reddit app wants you to use it because there is no ad blocker and they can keep pulling you back in with push notifications.

The same reason Facebook and Linkedin do the same thing. They get more access to your personal data.

It drives up their mobile metrics, and they can track you better and show you more ads via the app.


It’s hassle free.

I use Slide from fdroid. It really has all the features I would want and is very customizable.

one answer i haven’t seen mentioned is because mobile web is another platform they have to maintain. and it requires a lot of dev work to make sure every new feature works there instead of simply saying it’s unsupported and pushing people to the app

this summer I uninstalled the app and only browse their website on mobile, apart being able not to crash the whole browser as the app does, it permitted me to spend less time on reddit and detox a little..also the website seems faster to open posts.

it's annoying, but you can go to the hamburger menu in the top right > settings > and uncheck 'ask to use app'. Leave this tab open in the background and you won't be prompted again.

There's also i.reddit.com, which works really well.

Between reddit mobile and google amp the reddit experience has been truly horrible

On my old iPad mini, the app is unavailable, and therefore Reddit is unavailable.

Because apps can display apps more easily and can collect (more) data more easily.

I'd love to see how many people are on old.reddit.com vs. the primary site.

I've been using narwhal for years and had no issues. Highly recommended.

Yep, I'm not on reddit anymore. Ciao, Reddit. Twitter is way better.

Go to your settings and ask them to stop prompting you to use their app.

The web works so well, why would anyone install an app? Makes no sense.

Why does every popular "Ask HN"-Post receive so many reports?

Makes me not want it and think they don’t know how to do any marketing.

Reddit is a wart on the butt of the Internet. Why bother to begin with.

Media consumption is all about retention. Websites are not good for retention. Apps are super efficient. I finally gave up and installed the iOS app. Even my conscious self couldn't resist the icon on my home screen and I visit the app almost every day.

Trying to avoid these psychological tricks became a constant in my experience with my iPhone. Notifications were just the begin for the retention sociologists. Now Is like... much more subtle and well thought, as the modern stupid shows in television.

(I am addicted to a game from apple app store that is slowly becoming a gambling game. I realized how well thought is this kind of brainwashing and i feel cheated)

I have a theory that states "monetization ruins everything"

It's becoming infuriating as the mobile experience is god-awful.

Same reason why Google always releases new projects and then quietly closes then a couple of years later: politics.

Some product manager at Reddit has his perfomance measured by app adoption, and not by the reputation of the company and future of it's service.

The reasons company do end up with experiences like this is because they optimize for what they can measure and unfortunately user discontent with such experiences is often delayed or hard to measure.

Large companies which have a diverse user base in the hundreds of millions make decisions based on how a particular change affects the entire user population. The larger their user population, the more diverse their user base is and the harder it gets to cater to the needs of each type of user. The folks commenting here are a vocal minority, an important one given many people here are probably early adopters and also have the skills needed to build a Reddit competitor, but it's hard to see the reactions of this minority on a dashboard. A problem worth solving IMO but non trivial.

Typically initiatives like this come from a team within the company who's objective is to improve a key metric, in this case let's say user engagement. Some individual in the team probably spotted the trend that users on the app are more engaged than users on mobile web browsers. They then launched an experiment to test getting users over to the mobile app. Many users who end up on reddit via SEO probably don't know that reddit has an app and on seeing this end up downloading the app which makes them more engaged with reddit. Overall on the dashboard this shows up as a win where user engagement in the enabled group is up compared to the control and given that they give users an option to continue using the web app there is not a significant user drop. At this point, a decision needs to be made on whether to ship this change or not to ship. Folks making this decision do understand that it might be annoying to some people but the data in this case overwhelmingly supports a ship decision. They talk about it, mention their reservations, but eventually make a decision given the data and don't think about it anymore. They also don't have to feel the pain as most employees have the reddit app installed and don't see this again and again.

The key thing to know here is that there are lots of incentives in the company to make this decision a ship decision vs a no-ship decision - the data, the success of the team, the success of the individual who pioneered this change but there is not enough evidence or visible push from users to not make this change. Let's say there are some customer reports for this but unless they reach a very high volume no one is going to notice it.

Posts and discussions like this are actually a great way to get your word known to companies. This will probably stir a conversation in the team that made this change and hopefully bring out some change in the experience. Don't expect it to go away but maybe they will remember your preference of not wanting to use the app.

Especially when you can redirect to apps or open apps with links

In cas you want to remove the popup:

1. Go to the website on mobile

2. go to Settings

3. Uncheck “ask to open in app”

I do like the app, but the prompts are completely abnoxious.

I only exclusively use old.reddit.com in browser on mobile.

I’m done with Reddit- please somehow keep this thing going

I still use old.reddit.com. new reddit is sooooooooo slow

Lemmy is an interesting federated alternative to reddit.

The app interface is optimized to serve ads, not content

I think it's because they want push notifications

Because we live in the worst possible timeline

Try this: old.reddit.com/r/$foo

A little bit cleaner.

If you must use Reddit, use Alien Blue.

To collect your data and show you ads.

While we’re at it, have you met Yelp?

To sell you more targeted ads, sadly

To get your data through the app.

Harder to block ads in the app.

Reddit is busy building a Trumpian wall around itself. You can't export images easily; you can't get a link to shareable videos. You can't browse on a browser on a mobile device, they just simply won't let you.

On the content side: moderators are becoming more and more authoritarian: they hand out bans if you don't toe "their" line. Diversity of opinion is frowned upon.

It's a dumpster fire.

Because the 3rd party clients have their own ads... now reddit wants to get more income and control over their mobile counterparts

To spy on you. Why else?

some shit PM must have thought that was a good thing to add

Same with quora !

even oldreddit is better than reddit itself


1. Amateur porn aggregators. 2. Financial noobs with Robinhood accounts.

Fight me.

HN: holier than thou rich white men on high horse

You’re not wrong.

what’s the issue with using their app?

tiktok is better for memes anyways

It has gotten really obnoxious, especially if you aren’t signed in. Apart from the multiple pop ups that require dismissal on each page load, there are also dialogs that can’t be dismissed or bypassed on content marked sensitive/NSFW that only let you see the post if you use the app. With the hostile design choices and ever more draconian censorship, I’m hoping one of these Reddit alternatives like Ruqqus gain enough traction to recreate the old days of Digg/Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/RedditAlternatives/comments/hi97fz/...

I don't see anyone else mentioning this in the thread- I have used a mobile app called "rif is fun" (it used to be called 'Reddit Is Fun' before reddit forced the change).

I have used this app for like 7 years, it is fast, simple, and keeps the old style format. If you want to use reddit but don't want to use the garbage that their interface has become, check it out.

Another thing about reddit is that it is one of the only site that reloads everything when I hit the back button instead of using the cache (I'm using Firefox). Do they do this to be able to claim that they get more users then they are actually getting? It's been like this for years, not sure when it started.

It's probably a consequence of them using the history api + lazy programming, rather than anything nefarious.

Reddit is a PoS platform owned by a company most of us revile.


Explained in three sad letters.

It's called asshole design.

“We know that Redditors are so privacy-conscious,” says Victoria Taylor, director of Communications at Reddit, referring to the site’s community of registered users. So privacy-conscious, indeed. A number of sub-Reddits, which are user-made discussion and link-sharing forums, are devoted to the practice of online privacy tactics, education, and information. A noble Redditor respects “Reddiquette,” refusing to reveal the personal information of a fellow Redditor.


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