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I was the EM for Reddit's Growth team around this time. I am responsible for / contributed to a few features like the current signup flow, AMP pages, push notifications, email digests, app download interstitials, etc.

There was a new product lead who joined with many good ideas, but some of them were dark patterns that I heavily protested. After a few months of this, it was obvious that I was going to be reigned in or let go[0]; I immediately transferred to a different org.

Now let me explain the other side of the story. 4 years later, Reddit's DAU, MAU, and revenue have all grown at ridiculous rates[1]. Yes, power users complain—and still continue using the site—but the casual user does not. These dark patterns have been normalized on other websites.

These practices are done because it works.

_____

0: They changed it so I would report to the product lead, which is odd for an EM to report into a product chain and the only instance within the company ever.

1: Many friends are startup founders and I've been at a few startups myself—a byproduct of being in the Bay Area—and Reddit's growth numbers are impressive. As a former employee, I am quite happy about my equity growth.




I ran Product Engineering at a competing startup (hundreds of millions of MAUs) that tested/employed similar flows. And yes, they work in the short-term, and unless you are very principled, it's hard to avoid them. I'm glad you heavily protested them. But I'd like to further the argument for why they should be avoided.

First, yes they do work in the short-term. You run an A/B test with some adversarial flow that blocks mobile web traffic users from doing certain things. Most of them get pissed, but enough of them download the mobile app (which allows you to build up their engagement via phone presence and notifications) that the A/B test is positive. Rinse and repeat. A few dozen experiments later, and now these patterns are pervasive across your product.

Apart from whether they work (in the short-term), there are three other questions readers of this thread should think about because I'd hate for people to walk away thinking "these patterns are normalized and they work so, sigh, i should just do them too".

One is whether they work in the long-term. Yes, you can juice your metrics in the short-term, and sometimes that translates to long-term growth, but it's harder to measure secondary effects. Can you accurately measure product brand damage and quantify the long-term impact?

Second, and as an EM you should appreciate this, can you measure secondary brand damage like _recruiting brand_ damage? Dark patterns (and threads like this with hundreds of passionate engineers talking about how much they hate those dark patterns) _will_ damage your ability to hire the type of engineers you want to help you build your product.

Finally, there's some subjective ethical question in here. Even if these patterns work in the short and long term, do you _want_ to spend your life, your intellectual energy, your time turning the internet into this? Do you want to go out and hire smart, passionate people and get _them_ to spend their time and intellectual energy turning the internet into this?

(side note: I have no affiliation with the author of this post, but I wrote the original Disrespectful Design post he links to in his first paragraph)


One of the ways to measure long term impact is through the use of a golden cohort that is never opted into experiments. Unsurprisingly, I could not get this work prioritized on the roadmap.

We also worked with growth consultants (read: Bay Area B2C product leads) in scoping out some of these ideas. We accrued what I call "product debt" where we launch the MVP but never followed up to polish the feature[0] as they don't improve KPIs.

I assume this is the same with Growth teams everywhere but am happy to be corrected.

Regarding long term impact, we measured this through various dimensions in marketing, recruiting, and user research. The outcomes are largely positive.

______

0: One feature I argued for was an opt out of the mobile app interstitial. It makes sense to show it once or twice, but users aren't going to download the app just because they saw it 50x.


Yeah, golden cohorts can work, but they are really hard to pull off, especially for logged out traffic (which is where you'd use most of these patterns anyway). Good luck tracking me over 6-24 months across different devices and locations. And cross-contamination is hard to prevent (for instance, the golden cohort might suffer from global effects like worse content due to loss of power users or even from stumbling across brand-damaging threads like this). It also just adds a lot of product complexity to keep behavior around that long.

That said, they can work. Twitter famously did something like that for their time-based vs algorithmic feed and I think YouTube does it pretty regularly.

The biggest issue, though, is that by the time you get results from any long-term experiments, most of the decision-makers (PMs, EMs, etc) have probably moved on away having taken credit for the short-term wins they delivered.


The person who created Twitter's experimentation platform is also at Reddit, and heavily influenced Reddit's experiment design and review process.

But yes, a revolving door of product leaders and decisions is going to bias towards short term optimization.


It’s shocking to me how people sell out like this. You have to know deep down that all these hostile short term juicers destroy the brand, each malfeasance creating more room for a competitor. I mean you guys replaced Digg, cmon.

The audacity to claim “it works”, in italics no less.

The real shame of the current tech companies is they have no principles, no long term vision. They all feel like they follow the same curve, a bunch of managers hitting KPIs during their 2-5 year stint before trading up, ending in some PE firm diving in at the end for the final squeeze.

They’re lemons being juiced dry, when they should be a garden of lemon trees.

“But we got 20% more juice than last year!!”

Yea, you did.


It is not shocking when you realize it is about self-interest. You get your bonus and salary in the short term who really gives a shit what happens 7 years from now?


Not shocking for the managers, just sad. Shocking that executives don’t get it so consistently.


> Regarding long term impact, we measured this through various dimensions in marketing, recruiting, and user research. The outcomes are largely positive.

You almost make it sound like this is something the users like and want.

As a long time Reddit user I can say that if they force the new site on to me along with their mobile app, I'm gone. It's not worth it.


> I wrote the original Disrespectful Design post he links

Following the links from your blog, it looks like you worked at Quora. Outside of news websites, Quora and Reddit are probably the two worst offenders of pushing dark patterns onto the Internet. I still don't understand why Google hasn't deranked Quora for cloaking its pages, a dark pattern that would get any other website banned from the SERPs.

I like your point about recruiting. I can't imagine many engineers would choose a job offer from Quora or Reddit over one from any other company. You're basically selecting for candidates who can only attract one offer.


Honestly, yes, Quora and Reddit both have some bad patterns around their signup flows (esp mobile). I won't defend those.

That said, they are far from the worst offenders. Facebook has done some really shady things around inviting your contacts, recommending people you may know, sharing/exposing your data to other apps, etc. LinkedIn has done some lawsuit-worthy shady things in that area too (e.g. [1]). News sites (and others) are paid to put tracking pixels on their sites so data can be harvested via data brokers and sold back into the ad/tracking ecosystem.

All around, Quora had some of the smartest, most passionate engineers / PMs / managers I've ever worked with (some of which have gone on to start very successful companies themselves). I'd be lying if I said I didn't think some product decisions affected recruiting at all, but it's a far cry from "candidates who only attract one offer".

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/3051906/after-lawsuit-settlement...


As a consumer of posts who wants to occasionally read Quora on my phone's DDG browser, I just no longer bother to click the link. Ditto with Reddit unless I feel like fighting their popups. Logging in or downloading the apps? You've gotta be kidding. Nothing would be a bigger waste of time or storage on my phone. FB is obnoxious in that they only let you view one page w/o logging in, but I never had a FB account so I just ignore any links to them. I suspect a lot of other people as consumers - not privacy advocates or engineers - find these login/download walls annoying enough to drop engagement. Quora is particularly obnoxious and I've never had an account with them, but removing a few invisible divs in the dom editor usually lets me read what I need to.


And I thought I was the only one ignoring Quora links.


> I can't imagine many engineers would choose a job offer from Quora or Reddit over one from any other company.

Considering these dark patterns translate to growth (and thus more money), I don't know why they wouldn't. Lots of people are still working for the tobacco industry.


You say power users complain but the casual user does not (as a result of these features) - this sort of position ruins reddit's community as it suggests that reddit doesn't really care about the members who have contributed all kinds of content over the years and instead favors trying to get new members who are just marginally interested, or worse, just like endlessly scrolling through a timeline. This thread has mentions of several users that don't use reddit anymore (me included) and as reddit continues shoving monetization down the user's throat you'll see that those members will continue leaving until the platform is indistinguishable from the likes of Facebook, Digg, etc.


> and instead favors trying to get new members who are just marginally interested, or worse, just like endlessly scrolling through a timeline

You can literally see communities go to shit because of this. Actual content is pushed away as low effort content, easy-to-view-in-a-timeline content, claims the frontpage, because of what you said. It infuriates me to no end when communities I've frequented for years literally get supplanted by faceless non-contributing vagrants who never contribute, comment, or post. They just see funny picture, blow air out their nose, and upvote, not knowing that they're incentivizing behaviour that's killing the community that built the space in the first place.


I thought I was overthinking it when I saw all this happening. I SO miss the reddit of 8 yrs ago.


I liked the proposal that I saw here a while back, that members only see votes of members who joined before they did. So when you join a community, the voting behavior gets "frozen in time".


The purpose of reddit at this point is to keep as many naive and docile users as possible, and keep them clicking. Anything that could cause cognitive dissonance is bannable, while advertising and astroturfing are essentially encouraged. Any interesting comment or opinion that's actually worth reading will be hidden near the bottom or middle of any popular thread. If you try to engage in any potentially controversial conversation, you are at risk of getting banned, or having several comments in the convo deleted. The only thing left worth anything in on reddit are relatively small, niche subreddits.


I think reddit did a rather clever thing in keeping around old.reddit.com. So power users got mad but they had a fallback, meanwhile the default experience is SPA dark pattern hell


For desktop, sure. I've tried a few mobile apps but the UI was worse than the mobile site in my opinion. I can deal with the UI of their mobile site, but all of the UX issues that OP mentioned keeps me away from it, so I never browse reddit on mobile devices.

I just noticed a few users below mentioning that i.reddit.com exists, which seems to be a similar UI to old.reddit, but for mobile. From the couple minutes I've spent browsing it seems to be a massive upgrade from the current mobile site.


If you're on iOS, try https://apolloapp.io/. Using it on an iPad has become my main way of accessing reddit. Super customizable, has keyboard shortcuts and supports pretty much all reddit features. The developer is also very active and quick to respond to bugs.

(I know this is starting to sound like an advertisement which was not my intention, I just really enjoy using that app).


I tried appollo a while back and I was not a fan. My biggest gripe with the UI of appolo and post-redesigned reddit is that it feels like instagram or a facebook. I don't like endlessly scrolling through pictures and auto-playing videos since most of them are of no interest to me. If I want to view a picture/video I'll click on it. It clutters up the page with content I don't care about. Mobile browsing (for me at least) is already a slower and more tedious process because less items can be displayed on the screen at once than a full desktop version, and typing/navigating is considerably faster with a physical keyboard and mouse.


You can completely customize Apollo. I have it setup like so with a compact layout where images and gifs and videos play only when I tap on the thumbnails. Otherwise, they stay out of my way and I can focus on the title more. (Also autoplay is customizable even if you use the large layout).

That being said, I still use the desktop reddit with RES, old reddit redirect and VIM-like keyboard shortcuts. The day they gimp the third party app apis and push people to their redesign is the day I stop using reddit.


This was exactly my problem as well, and after trying a bunch of mobile apps, I've finally settled on https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.andrewshu..... The UI is compact and keeps me from going insane while browsing.



I mean, you're suggesting an app for a different platform.


I just put my phone browser on Desktop Mode and use old.reddit.com anyways. Then I pinch and zoom like a mad man.


It's basically the biggest reason I stick with Opera on Android. It handles text wrapping on zoom so well, that I can use old desktop Reddit on a really tight phone without issue.


The power users were always desktop users anyway. I've only used reddit a couple times from mobile.


This happens with any social media. The great Digg exodus happened, and Reddit boomed. Reddit’s content and community grew healthily, then Reddit blew up exponentially, and now the content and community have grown sure, but very unhealthily.

Actually, unhealthily for what Reddit used to be (long form content and discussion), healthily for what it’s becoming (social media a la infinite scroll, chat, and notifications galore).

The point I’m trying to make is I don’t think this sort of effect is preventable - any community which encounters growth will see an influx of shitty content, unless you keep the community exclusive purposefully. Reddit just decided to roll with the punches so they could make some stacks on a nice IPO I imagine in the future.


> notifications galore

This is so annoying. The bell has a number on it and you think "Oh, somebody answered me or sent a DM" ... but no. Some post is trending on XY sub.

I think Reddit doesn't realize how much they lose in the longterm from hollow 'engagement'.


ditto from Twitter. and then they ignore your "do not notify me about anything ever" setting. Now I never use Twitter anymore. The short-term boost is not worth the long-term loss of trust.


Yeah or “your comment got 5 upvotes”


I wonder if the next successor to reddit could possibly become successful by limiting its user base. Once it reaches a certain size, you can only join when someone else leaves. Or be put on a waiting list while you scroll and lurk.


They recently rolled out chat and I have already received messages from some obvious bots with fake female avatars. No real chat though


And apart from being a user, you (and others on this thread) could be a potential person Reddit could try to hire in the future... But with these patterns, I'm assuming they don't stand a chance.


> These practices are done because it works.

It works for metrics. It works for making more money than you know what to do with. It absolutely doesn't work for keeping your user base loyal. The moment you implement the dark patterns, the users immediately start looking for alternatives to your platform that respect them.

That said, I still use reddit. Except I use the old design and RES. And a third-party app on my phone.


> That said, I still use reddit. Except I use the old design and RES. And a third-party app on my phone.

Same. And should that no longer be an option I'm fairly confident I'd stop using reddit.


I haven't been using old.reddit.com for years because I'm resistant to change. I've been using it because the new reddit design has sucked for as long as it's existed.


Likewise. I’ll probably end up writing an aggregation tool, a Bayesian filter, and a summary-bot, and just skip caring about what the chattering mobs say about the news of the day. Except for a very few tightly-moderated groups, most threads are nasty muck and rarely a pearl. I’ll be better off without reading them.


I just use tiktok now for "front page of the internet" some random sub reddits still otherwise. If I'm going to be subjected to tracking and ads I might as well go with the superior option. Half of the front page is tiktok videos anyway.


“I made it worse for users but it is making me rich” is peak Silicon Valley.


"dark patterns work" surprised pikachu face

Did they think people use dark patterns for the fun of it...?


Yeah, it's a business, not a charity.

People don't start businesses because it's cute and fun. Reddit needs to turn a profit or demonstrate ridiculous growth, and it seems to be working.


I was actually mocking the GP, who claims they worked at reddit and their justification for using dark patterns is that "they worked".

Of course they do, that's the whole point, dark patterns trick users into increasing your metrics. Doesn't mean it's a good idea to use them. That's like saying not allowing users to unsubscribe really decreases the unsubscription rate. No shit.


Straw man.


You've created value for shareholders, at the detriment of society. "Congrats".


Douglas Rushkoff calls this "extracting wealth by destroying value".

Apt.


> power users complain—and still continue using the site—but the casual user does not.

This was the exact situation digg just before the mass migration to reddit happened.


They've been fairly clever having their cake and eating it too with old/new reddit UI. They're basically cultivating a whole new userbase that only knows the new UI, while still keeping the old userbase around. I can imagine that once the new one because large enough to be self-sustainable, they'll kill the old interface and the mass exodus won't fully kill reddit since they still have the other half who won't care.


It's a dangerous game they're playing. They don't create original content, so if someone clones or creates a site with the old user-friendly interface then the switch might flip on them as abruptly as it did for digg.


I hope so, I’ve come to seriously hate Reddit. I never used Facebook or Twitter as a replacement for the forums of the 2000s internet so it didn’t bother me as much that they were gamified and had low quality content. Reddit pivoting to a social media site breaks my heart and the fact that people who work there come to HN and say, “we don’t care what you or power users think because we have record engagement,” just infuriates me.

Reddit killed the old Internet forums but was a good replacement for them to an extent, and now they’ve destroyed and stopped trying to be that replacement leaving the internet with a serious lack of niche communities for discussion. I’ve tried putting together ideas for something that could fill that niche and not be susceptible to becoming overran with low quality meme content but I don’t really have the time to work on such a thing with the attention it deserves right now; and it isn’t a trivial problem to solve.


I always think that by building products that treat the consumer like an enemy to be conquered will eventually result in someone building a better product and stealing the market. It never happens though.

I wonder if some of the tech like Cloudflare Workers will eventually allow someone to build competing products that crush the existing platforms. IMO it’s dangerous (business wise) to get addicted to revenue that comes from treating your users very badly. I think we’ll eventually see companies like Facebook and Reddit get conquered. At least I hope so.


How are cloudflare workers relevant? The tech of reddit has always been pretty simple to replicate. I think the code was open sourced at some point? I remember creating a reddit-clone for France a long time ago but bringing users in didn’t work. It was not a tech problem.


This is an important point. It isn't the tech that makes reddit successful, it is the user base.


> How are cloudflare workers relevant?

$5 / month gets me the same scaling capabilities as someone paying $50000 / month. I can build stuff with a low cost of operating since most stuff is never going to get massively popular, but if I get lucky and win the popularity lotto I can scale with a credit card instead of an architectural change.

AWS, Azure, etc. are similar, but they get expensive really fast. The traditional cloud platforms have a "hump" in the pricing where you're too small to get discounts, but too big to afford it.

So basically what I'm saying is that as compute / scaling improve to the point where you don't have to sell your soul to venture capitalists to pay for everything, we might see a lot more "fair value" minded entrepreneurs start to succeed.


> It never happens though.

I think it frequently happens. Reddit built a better Digg for instance. It's just that once the new companies supplant the existing ones they seem to start doing the same things.


> it works.

That's the thing. I don't doubt that it does. But certainly there are _other_ things that work as well that may or may not be as profitable but are certainly more ethical.

And that's basically what bugs me.

They don't seem to be in earnest trying to do anything else that might provide much more value.

> power users complain—and still continue using the site—but the casual user does not.

And that's what makes it worse. That's effectively exploiting the fact that most users are not well informed about privacy.

At the risk of sounding too hyperbolic, a similar but more nefarious example is that power users didn't fill in Cambridge Analytica's quizzes, but casual users did.


I'm /u/zjz on wallstreetbets. That google sign-in flow thing has caused us a good bit of hassle because people became convinced that usernames fitting the Word-Word-#### scheme are all bots.

It doesn't help that the kind of person who lets a google sign-in type flow suggest a username for them is probably a lazy commenter.

Perhaps an announcement in the future when a user-facing identifier is auto-generated would be wise.


For those trying follow along, from Andrew Chen's site: DAU/MAU is a popular metric for user engagement – it’s the ratio of your daily active users over your monthly active users, expressed as a percentage. Usually apps over 20% are said to be good, and 50%+ is world class.

How did this metric come into use? DAU/MAU has been a popular metric because of Facebook, which popularized the metric. As a result, as they began to talk about it, other consumer apps came to often be judged by the same KPIs. I first encountered DAU/MAU as a ratio during the Facebook Platform days, when it was used to evaluate apps on their platform.


> These practices are done because it works.

Which practices, though? A number of the practices you note (e.g. streamlined signup flow) are not user hostile at all, and others are a mixed bag. (E.g. one could argue that AMP + a properly featured mobile site and 'official' app were necessary steps with a subpar implementation). But when looking specifically at the dark patterns that power users are most likely to complain about, it's unclear that they would help DAU/MAU much, if at all. Casual users might not complain overtly all that much, but they're almost certainly discouraged by many such practices.


> streamlined signup flow

It was more streamlined before. You literally only had to input a username and any password, no policies, email or anything else you had to adhere to/provide.

I stopped using reddit back then after using it several hours daily for years, so not every power user ignored these changes


Sign up flows serve more purposes than just a funnel for new users (which IMO is part of a problem with how we build websites in general, but I digress).

Anti-scam/fraud account identification can rely heavily on inputs up front. I'm honestly surprised reddit went so long without requiring other inputs, despite their rising popularity.


And account recovery.

People get real sad when you have to tell them that if they forgot a password, their account is simply gone. Email fixes that.


> But when looking specifically at the dark patterns that power users are most likely to complain about, it's unclear that they would help DAU/MAU much, if at all. Casual users might not complain overtly all that much, but they're almost certainly discouraged by many such practices.

Power users of sites like Reddit are already hooked. They’re already logged in, already have an app installed, and they don’t see all of the nags and pop-ups that appear to users who aren’t logged in.

It’s the unregistered users and those who aren’t logged in who have to suffer the nags and pop-ups and limitations. And as the site constantly reminds them, they can fix the problem by downloading the app and joining the ranks of trackable users.

When a website makes their money from advertising, user metrics are king. The more app installs, DAUs, and unique registered users you can show, the more money you can collect from advertisers. Advertisers would rather show their ad once to 1000 people than 100 times to 10 people. They want to use unique user counts, not just guesses based on volatile IP address, to support that.

As a result, it’s more beneficial for a company to alienate 1 user who won’t register (and therefore won’t contribute to metrics) in exchange for gaining 1 other user who will register. If I had to guess, I suspect Reddit is gaining more like 10 or more users for every 1 user who is alienated.

The unfortunate reality is that when it comes to free sites and services, power users (who generally install ad blockers or have been trained to ignore ads) can cost more than they bring in revenue. It’s the casual users who don’t have ad blockers and don’t have any aversion to ads that ultimately bring the revenue.


> It’s the unregistered users and those who aren’t logged in who have to suffer the nags and pop-ups and limitations.

The problem with this strategy is that it's easy to add so many nags that many more users will bounce away from the site than will install the app, or otherwise engage at all. Given what we know about user behavior on the Internet, Reddit is almost certainly on the downward slope of this weird Laffer curve, well beyond the point of "optimally effective" nagging. Add even more, and you become just another Experts-Exchange that no one cares about all that much.


> Given what we know about user behavior on the Internet, Reddit is almost certainly on the downward slope of this weird Laffer curve, well beyond the point of "optimally effective" nagging.

If your internet bubble is largely composed of power users who have such a deep disdain for pop-ups that they will refuse to engage with this sites, you might think that.

But looking at Reddit's growth numbers lately, it appears their gamble has clearly paid off.

The key to understanding this is this: Mass-market, advertising-supported websites don't cater to picky power users. They cater to whoever they can get to sign up. If someone refuses to use a site because they refuse to sign up or install the app, then that's a positive, not a negative, for their numbers. They only want the users who will accept the conditions of the website.


True

Except it's the power users are the ones that "make Reddit". They share the links and add comments

I think even the lurker/commenter ratio is something like 10x (can't remember where I saw this so I can be wrong)

But sure, the number of users go up. Until it doesn't.


Features are only launched after running a successful experiment.

We try to appeal to power users when possible. For example with the current signup flow has optional emails, though intentionally non-obvious.

This means new users sign up with an email which means we can reduce churn through digests and also reset passwords / prevent account takeovers, a large burden for Reddit's anti spam teams.


Yep. People, even power users, are generally surprised when I say you don’t need an email after making a comment like “reddit went downhill when they started requiring an email address.”


Non obvious? It’s deliberately hidden. Its utterly dishonest. Thanks for mentioning it I’m just annoyed by user interfaces copying human choice and manipulating people. It goes way beyond “disrespectful” and should be illegal


Sorry but I have to side with reddit here. He said it's aimed at power users for whom it doesn't matter that it's hidden because they know how to use this feature.

It's advantageous for Reddit to have accounts with emails, why shouldn't they incentivise users to supply them during the registration process? It's their website nonetheless.


yeah that particular one seems a bit weird to complain about when basically every other website has mandatory emails


There is an artificial delay on mobile page loads to steer you into using the app. You are bombarded with deceptive popups to install the app. They supposedly run a website. They should focus on that and stop acting like it's 2010.


It's about pumping up engagement metrics, pure and simple, regardless of the quality of the user experience.

Any and all social media is poison.


"power users complain—and still continue using the site—but the casual user does not..."

this summarizes the way i feel about every single application out there.


> They changed it so I would report to the product lead, which is odd for an EM to report into a product chain and the only instance within the company ever.

This screams of power play. Good on you for moving your neck before the axe came down.

The fact your engineering higher-ups didn’t push back or failed to push back is really scary.


> I am responsible for ... AMP pages

Why does Reddit use AMP pages and a mobile site that look exactly the same? For speed/SEO benefits? Disabling AMP would still look mostly the same for normal Reddit users but would make "old." users much happier.


> For speed/SEO benefits

Almost definitely SEO.


There's a sucker born every minute.

When I was 10 I bought Pokemon cards, which looking back on, was a huge waste of money, but at least it wasn't all that much money in the end. I was a newbie to the scene, and I got taken advantage of. Lesson learned.

10 years later when phones were just coming into everyone's pockets, a whole new wave of gamers emerged. Game companies could either develop for the previous wave, by building games like Starcraft II, or they could build for the current wave, and build games like Candy Crush.

Gamers who prefer games like Starcraft want to pay once for a game that lasts years and expect perfection. Candy Crush, like the Pokemon cards before it, expected nothing and were willing to spend a bunch of money for ultimately nothing. The business should clearly move to making Candy Crushes. The ROI is insane.

But the more you bleed the users, the more they get fleeced, the more they start to learn, the more they regret. Yesterday's Pokemon cards buyers were todays Starcraft gamers, and today's Candy Crush players are tomorrows expert gamers. You want to build your platform to grow with them. Build a Candy Crush, then build it slightly more complex. In 10 years, they will be ready for Starcraft.

You can continue to seek the bottom of the skill zone, but we had that one wave where adults of all ages were getting new phones and experiencing things that they had never done before. We had that one time where kids were able to ask their parents and their parents were not skilled and did not regret so they did not say no. Using a peak oil metaphor, we've reach peak sucker. We'll never have this opportunity again.

So cutting back to Reddit - Reddit, like Digg and Slashdot and Usenet before it, released to the Starcraft level of the social commentors. They are hard to deal with, they expect everything for nothing, but the quality of their content brought along with it the slightly less expert commentators. Eventually that filtered down and the entire internet was on Reddit. The entire internet was incredible for their ROI.

Digg was ruined because they abandoned the Starcraft commentors. When they left, everyone left with them. Reddit has been smart in this regard, as the old features and the old API still exists, the power users can use power user tools and keep the same experience. But understand, that if given the opportunity to move elsewhere, even somewhere that has less features like say... Hacker News, they will do so. They have done so. If Reddit keeps chasing the bottom of the market, when someone does show up with actual innovations like what Reddit had over Digg, you need to be afraid because just like Digg the site will be dead over-night.

When you should be looking at bringing those casual users into moderate users, you keep trying the dark patterns. But each time you go back to the dark patterns they get weaker and weaker. That strong dark pattern that used to get you millions of dollars now only get you hundreds of thousands. Next week it will be tens of thousands. Your users are developing dark pattern tolerance. You don't yet have a valid competitor, this is exactly when you should be experimenting to disrupt yourself.


Most newbies want to progress just enough to not be completely frustrated by the experience and no further.

In your terms, a huge chunk of the population want to be suckers for life.

Plus not everyone is competitive and wants to excel at a game.


Pokemon cards were pretty awesome. What are you talking about.


> nostalgia is pretty awesome.


I said “were”. Everybody loved them when I was a kid and it was fun. Probably couldn’t get into it now, but who cares?


Meh Reddit brings me a lot of value still. I enjoy it a lot. On the other hand I've never bothered with mobile games and have never paid for a microtransaction.


It was an analogy. You don't need to have played mobile games to see the connection OP is trying to make between "junk food" mobile games and "junk food" social media.


Obviously, I just don't agree with it. There are many quality subreddits.


"Yes, power users complain—and still continue using the site" I wonder what would happen after you removed old.reddit.com and api access for reddit apps. For icing on the cake, use creative class names to f*ck with RES and ad blockers. My guess, if you do all of this, reddit's gonna crash on the ground pretty quickly.


True,but you know what else grows at ridiculous rates?

Cancer.

Growth, especially at all costs, leads to a cancerous organization that cannabilizes itself.

But hey,the shareholders!


So some of his ideas were dark patterns that you protested, and others were dark patterns that you supported, and in retrospect are happy that you implemented, due to revenue growth? Did you receive any pushback from engineers, and if so, how did you handle that?


True. And reddit is now a much worse place than most people remember. I remember r/atheism being in the defaults and not a FP full of pictures and brainless memes :(


I don't think it's accurate that "lay-users" prefer the new UI. Perhaps the metrics have improved, but in my experience I have heard nothing but frustration from my non-technical peers when it comes to the new dark patterns which Reddit has been implementing.


Edit: "reined in" and not "reigned in".

I apologize for the Freudian slip as my edit window has passed.


makes sense.

Also if anyone doesnt like the new mobile redesign they should probably try using "i.reddit.com"

(which is a light mobile client)


I simply quit using it on my phone. No big loss IMO.




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