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Ask HN: Why is Reddit so awful?
63 points by recursion 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 47 comments
The website itself, not the content.

Although I'm just a casual user of Reddit, it's hard to avoid the fact that Reddit is absolute garbage. It seems to me as everything they've done in the past few years is to the detriment of users; especially with them following the trend of writing it all in a shiny SPA (that doesn't work half the time).

Apart from constant connection errors, lots of the time the site "forgets" I'm logged in, then all a sudden remembers, actively bombards users on mobile to install their app (even though the site could work fine on mobile, alas they are probably trying to crank their app install numbers up), uses dark patterns all over the place and is just generally unpleasant to use.

Thank goodness for old.reddit.com but I don't know what all of the users who have starting using the old subdomain are going to do when they eventually shut it off.

Really makes me wonder as a small time dev what's went wrong in Reddit the company to produce this absolute garbage site.

Just my 2c of course, and this was just a small list of the problems, I'm sure if you really wanted too you could spend all day listing them.

Interested to find out what others feel.

Reddit used to have an absolutely flawless mobile browser experience, which after they launched the app they're slowly making worse and worse (now with UI elements missing seemingly only provided by API/app UI).

I understand that Reddit needed to monetize (e.g. ads, better engagement, etc) but a lot of these UI/design changes don't really seem aimed at that goal, they just seem like change for changes sake.

When old.reddit.com finally goes dark, I'm leaving. I highly doubt Reddit will notice or care, but I don't think I'll be alone and ultimately a lot of people who leave are the first-mover types that made Reddit popular to begin with.

Honestly, Reddit desktop is one of the worst SPA implementations I’ve used. (And I’ve used some really snappy social media SPAs.) My pet conspiracy theory is that it’s deliberately bad to get more mobile app users.

What is SPA?

single-page application


>When old.reddit.com finally goes dark, I'm leaving.

I browse on desktop via FF and have RES installed, along with uBlock Origin and uMatrix; even though I am not a power user ─ the experience is great. For the phone, I use Apollo on iOS and settled for Joey on Android (after using other clients) with an adblocker. If old reddit goes dark, I am sure there will be other enhancements, to retain some form of 'clean' experience. Incidentally, I use Octal for HN (iOS & macOS -- which provides a 'reddit like experience'.


Not to mention if you google for "<thing> reddit" you're taken to an amp page

Use Firefox.

just downloaded it on ios, yep you are right. FF>safari

Use Firefox and save the web

Monetization without restraint. (Gold sub was one thing, the awards are just out of fucking control.)

Growth at the expense of usability.

Redesigning to appeal to Social Media/Web 2.5 types.

Hijacking the status quo to provide inadequate me-too integration. (Reddit self hosted images and video over Imgur and Youtube, for example)

Add that to the existing problems that Reddit has always had that were never addressed, such as the powermod system... and you basically have a toxic environment that caters to the lowest common denominator.

I honestly don’t mind the redesign, it is more aesthetically pleasing and allows people who weren’t used to old school BBS/top sites a more familiar UX. But the implementation of these designs is terrible, constantly I run into errors when even just /upvoting/ a post.

Think about that, the one thing that is Reddit’s most basic functionality, that has been there since the beginning and should be so tested it works 100% of the time, throws more errors today than it did 7 years ago when I began using Reddit (I seldom, if at all, remember getting errors from just upvoting a post before 2-3 years ago.)

Wait till you try Reddit app, it is a bigger fuckup. Every update to app, resets your settings. Reddit keeps introducing myriads of new user preferences and defaults are most permissive options.

For last few months, I kept thinking these frequent changes sooner or later gonna compromise security. Sure enough recently I had to abandon my 10 year old Reddit account because it got compromised. Once I noticed account compromised, I put a note of account being hacked in my account about page and changed password, few hours later receive email from Reddit security that my account is compromised, they locked the account, and I should change password. Only thing I could mutter, “no geniuses you didn’t detect account compromised, you detected my actions after account was compromised and trying to show you care”. Instead of trying to get account unlocked, I decided to abandon it. At this point I don’t care.

Previously you could create account without providing email, no more.

Reddit's org is broken. Free unofficial apps maintained by random devs in their spare time are better than the official one

could you suggest some of these apps ?

Reddit Is Fun on Android and Apollo on iOS

Alien Blue used to be great until Reddit bought it and turned it into the official app. Very sad.

Recently renamed to rif is fun, probably copyright related

Boost is my favorite Reddit app on android

The days of old.reddit.com are obviously numbered. For those who simply want to lurk there are sites that scrap reddit and provide a less awful experience. One example is teddit.net, they even let you subscribe to subs with cookies so you don't even need an account -- which is probably a good idea since reddit has been collecting more and more data on users.

There's been a lot of features on the site that never ended up being backported to old.reddit. Case in point, if a submission is autofiltered/spamholed or removed by a mod, you get a bar at the top of the submission saying so. ONLY on the new page. As a moderator, this really pissed me off as I was accustomed to using the old subdomain and reporting posts for other subs (I wasn't a mod in) I didn't know were already removed.

At this rate, despite the guildings being a cash cow for Reddit (some subs note that total guildings equals HUNDRED of years of server time paid for, r/pics, for example, is at 229 years alone.)... They still insist on shuffling people onto their own app when others are much better. What exactly are they doing with the user data if they're effectively set for life on guildings alone? (And then there's the Tencent funding on top of that.)

Then there was some content filtering that left a really, really bad taste in my mouth. In a private sub, I quoted what a cop had said to me when I tried to report an assault. I was given a suspension for 'hateful content.' An admin agreed that I shouldn't have had a timeout for that post, but by then it was too late. I had enough. They're content to let automation take place of personal judgement, in a PRIVATE SUB even. Still saw plenty of offensive terms in other, public, subs... clearly in an antagonistic context. The ongoing drama, the consistently terrible judgement of admins, the bullshit that is reddit chat and the pornbot spam problem they did nothing about for months... I just had enough.

I ended up purging my reddit accounts. I had a 14 year, 13 year and 11 year account (split up for subs, my way of doing multireddits before multireddits existed, also helpful when you're a mod and get some crazy, spiteful banned users trying to follow you around.)... I still browse select subs occasionally but my days of being an active poster, moderator and enthusiastic user of Reddit are dead and buried.

Doesn't matter what kind of sub you run or what you encounter as a user... if you're not a powermod, you're the last thing they care to hear feedback from.

Thank you for the heads up about teddit. I'll be glad to have another layer of separation between my browser and Reddit itself.

Edit: Another hilariously myopic example of how autofiltering is broken on Reddit. Friend of mine has a bot in a private sub that welcomes people into the sub. He pinged a user named chink_in_the_armor and got permabanned as a result.

holy shit how have i never known about teddit. this is great.

I worked at a smaller social media website. We were constantly pressured by investors+management to grow new users and grow engagement of existing users. It turns out these 2 requirements were constantly in tension, so naturally we had 2+ teams that were constantly changing the same page templates in a perverted Yin/Yang struggle.

One of Steve Job's best (IMHO) jobs at Apple was to constantly apply pressure on all teams+products to _simplify_ everything. The universe (including social media websites) tends towards entropy, so it takes a special kind of product team to both achieve primary goals and continue to keep the UX/UI clean and unobtrusive.

I've noticed sites that combine

  - cookie warning,
  - app download prompt,
  - browser notifications permissions,
  - browser location permissions,
  - nudge me to login just to lurk,
  - use tracking/analytics such as QuantCast which occasionally offers the viewer a survey to gather demographics,
  - display multiple ad networks,
  - then pop up dialog/modal for a "special offer" after my mouse leaves the viewport
Each of these in isolation is a business requirement, perhaps even a reasonable one. It requires a rare type of business hierarchy to allow one department to override another's business requirements for the sake of something as vague as "a better look and feel".

Craigslist is the only site I'm really envious of. It has been around for basically the lifetime of the web, but has managed to keep the UX/UI the site very minimal and still managed to provide a decent product which makes a healthy profit.

> Thank goodness for old.reddit.com but I don't know what all of the users who have starting using the old subdomain are going to do when they eventually shut it off.

I looked it up once, and Spez mentioned somewhere that they plan to keep it alive indefinitely. Although this can always change in the future of course, given that i.reddit.com is still online, I'd say that Reddit has a pretty good track record of keeping old versions alive for people who want it.

The biggest issue is that some new features aren't supported, like ``` ... ``` code blocks which render badly. I looked at the new reddit code to see if I could hack around that in some way by ajaxing the new Markdown in to the old reddit or something, but turns out it's rendering all the Markdown in the browser... which is probably one reason it's so slow.

As for why it's so bad ... I don't know. Last time I used it I couldn't even scroll with more than ~2fps; it was truly horrid. I think there's probably an interesting engineering tale here somewhere, but AFAIK it's never been made public by a (former) reddit engineer.

Interestingly, Gab is very similar in its technical horridness (and before people get the wrong idea: I just registered to see what's going on there).

> Apart from constant connection errors, lots of the time the site "forgets" I'm logged in, then all a sudden remembers, actively bombards users on mobile to install their app

I use reddit most days, and I never had any of these kind of issues. I set it to prefer old.reddit.com in a distant past and it has kept working for me ever since without issues.

Maybe some anti-tracking thingies can make a difference here? I use uBlock Origin + Cookie autodelete in Firefox, but reddit.com is whitelisted.

> (and before people get the wrong idea: I just registered to see what's going on there).

You should not need to say this.

I don't it's that strange of a thing to point out on a site that's mostly known to harbour people with some rather extreme views. I created an account for a HN discussion some time ago[1] and it wasn't especially pretty. They've also been sending me hilariously delusional emails.[2]

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25926564

[2]: https://twitter.com/arp242_martin/status/1374197605022887939

The day old.reddit dies is the day I'll stop using the site.

...which may actually end up being a positive thing, for my productivity and sanity.

That log out error is infuriating to say the least. The other day I typed out a huge response to an argument I was having only for me to be redirected upon clicking submit to the page that says something like, “logging you in,” which redirected me to the front page where I was logged out. When I’d click on the login button I would then be looped through the same “logging you in page,” until I just gave up and decided the conversation wasn’t worth it. I’ve wanted to ask a similar question and when I google this people only seem to think the content is bad, with very few hits discussing how it is technically an atrocious mess that would never pass a QA at where I work, let alone a company on the cusp of going public. I’ve wanted to stop using Reddit for over a year now (and I don’t mind the redesign, I just want it to be stable and work) but there simply isn’t a single alternative that fills the same niche.

    The other day I typed out a huge response to an argument I was having only for me to be redirected upon clicking submit to the page that says something like, “logging you in,” which redirected me to the front page where I was logged out. When I’d click on the login button I would then be looped through the same “logging you in page,” until I just gave up and decided the conversation wasn’t worth it.
I totally agree that this is annoying but I can't help read this situation and think that I would look back at it like "hm I'm kinda glad it did that", hahaha

Oh definitely as it was a heated argument, but still when the goal of your platform is to keep people engaged (keep them arguing) I can’t see this as anything but bad for Reddit itself.

Absolutely agree I doubt it was on purpose. I bet there's a cheeky browser plugin in that "feature" somewhere that helps you disconnect from an argument by literally frustrating you until you stop trying haha

They stopped being open source, added far more telemetry, changed the gold system to incentivize purchases, changed the design to the new one (slower, far more js), etc.

Personally I stopped browsing reddit a few years ago. It used to be amazing.

what do you use now? i find that there are almost no alternatives to niche communities.

that's the problem. there's practically no other alternative if you want the variety reddit has. Hackernews is a great solid community, however it's only one community.

I actually quite love the Hackernews UI and wish that there was an implementation/self hostable package of it that could be expanded to cover other topics ala Subreddits. But alas, I'm not much of a coder.

For what it's worth, I only use oldreddit too. I used to be a big user, but now I only ~~subscribe to~~ have browser bookmarks for half a dozen subreddits, most of which are more or less inactive like Z80, CPM, etc.

I recently deleted my account, but I too was only following a couple of subreddits - including /r/z80, /r/cpm, and /r/esp8266.

I tried to use the old. site a lot, but kept on getting redirected to the new one, and also suffered from the problem of constantly being logged out for no apparent reason.

The final straw was getting spammed via their integrated chat-system (the chat thing, not the message interface).

Sad to see the place go away, as the local group /r/helsinki was often full of interesting information and links, but I think I'm better off for not having another distraction.

"Interested to find out what others feel."

I used to spend hours daily on Reddit while commuting. The "absolute garbage" website you mentioned pisses me off so much that I often just close the browser after browsing 2-3 pages.

I am actually quite thankful they keep paying people to mess up their website for years, I read more books :)

I believe the UI is being managed to death. I noticed the same with Slack recently.

The old UI was probably built by engineers for performance and ease of use.

The new one is pretty, does all the stuff marketing wants, has loads of features, uses shiny new tech. Or, all the original engineers that knew how to build a good site left. Maybe both.

It's a dumpster fire. I haven't found anyone that disagrees and I have all the same bugs you do.

What’s wrong with the app?

The app is very spammy with notifications/suggestions/recommendations and features nobody asked for like chat. It can all be disabled, until they add the n+1 feature next week that will need to be disabled too.

Some of us don't like installing apps for what should be perfectly usable websites.

They understand that, and have been making changes to the website accordingly.

Like forcing users to go to the app

And yet, they continue to grow, faster now than they've ever grown before.

How do you explain that?

More mainstream appeal? Which isn’t necessarily a plus to niche people.

What is a SPA?

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