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This is a good point, you just have to leave the mainpageish universe completely. /r/linguistics has interesting stuff. Similarly the subreddit for creating your own language is also neat, but these are niche, small reddits. The big reddits have been taken over by group think and are difficult to read and often boring.

everybody who's been on usenet for a nontrivial amount of time has experienced exactly what you describe, several times. expecting reddit to be different is like hoping for world peace. you should instead assume that degradation of quality will naturally happen as a community forum becomes more popular and either introduce moderation or fork off a smaller forum... and both of those happen, as you noticed.

this comment may be misplaced, but i've finally entered rant mode after reading the 5th or so comment saying "reddit is popular hence degrades" and misses (or stops short of) the point that all communities degrade with increase of their popularity - every now and then somebody writes that hacker news is not what it used to be.

A lot of the quality degradation stems from the mistaken idea that everyone has something of value to contribute. They don't. Discussion often involves a handful of quality posts, and then a bunch of "I agree"'s clogging it up. Posts that don't add to the discussion should be moderated, or, at the very least, targeted for downvotes.

Of course, it'd be tough to gain traction with users who believe their karma score matters. Better to hide it from them completely and indicate scores in another way.

Metafilter is an interesting counter-example to the rule that communities degrade over time: it was a total shitshow for a while in the early 2000s, and then repaired itself.

r/pics did a pretty good job of fixing itself up, as well. It used to be total crap, but now is actually mostly cool pictures.

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