Please only vote if you are really active on both.
Generally speaking, for a positive experience, after you create your account, you want to unsubscribe from all of the 'default' subreddits.
I've hired a person who approached me based on my comments on reddit, and he turned out to be pretty good.
Only once they start getting annoyed at what they once used to love, then unsubscribe from the defaults and branch out into smaller niche subreddits. Sure, they might become a more bitter Interneter by the end, but really, isn't it the journey that counts?
The front page of reddit isn't even close to "Internet culture at its trashiest." It's more like "Internet culture at it's averageiest"
The programming sections (Python, Scala etc.) are basically Hacker News but without the "OMG we're going to become Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and make meeeelions of dollars" stuff which I couldn't care less about.
And there's lots of subreddits which contain links that are of specific interest from different countries and specific interesting communities. This is useful for finding story ideas and to try and ensure that my filter bubble is less Western and less mainstream.
I comment a bit and submit a few things.
An interesting thing about Hacker News is that here you can read and talk to people who have become Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and made millions of dollars.
I posted an article about C++ to reddit a few weeks ago and Andrei Alexandrescu commented in the discussion (multiple times). That was extremely exciting for me, and likewise I imagine many HNers get as (or more) excited when PG comments on something they submit here...but please don't assume that's why everybody is here.
More than that: I like being a programmer and don't want to be an entrepreneur. Compilers lie to me less regularly than humans do.
The absolute best email I ever got, and one I will treasure is from a guy who read something I'd written on Reddit's LGBT section, clicked through and saw that I also am a programmer and big old nerdy nerd and was encouraged to come out to his parents. He told me that all the advice he'd seen online didn't speak to him precisely because it didn't come from people who were like him.
After a while, I noticed Reddit was less and less productive for me. I had figured out which news sources the top quality submissions came from, and I followed them directly. I didn't need Reddit to teach me about the things I really wanted to learn about, I could find them myself. One day I said "fuck this" and quit cold turkey. Went from spending 1-2h a day on Reddit (or linked sites) to never going on it again. That was about 2 years ago, still haven't been back.
Then I got a software engineering internship and I was introduced to Hacker News. I had the same feeling I had when I started on Reddit. I was learning a TON and it was definitely making me a better programmer. I was being introduced to dozens of new technologies, frameworks, startups, etc. Now I'm starting to get that feeling that it's not so productive anymore. Partially because I know a lot more, and partially because an increasing percentage of the content is now opinion rather than reference. I still come on the site because it's a great way to keep tabs on the tech industry, but I can see an exit in the distance.
So there, that's my way-too-long answer to your question.
Picking your subreddits is a neverending task, I'm couple of years in and still keep finding new and old interesting subreddits.
Also, I guarantee if there's something you're interested in, there's a subreddit for it. Search for it here: http://www.reddit.com/reddits
I'm currently working on downloading all of Reddit's link submissions for data analyses (one such analysis is published here: http://minimaxir.com/2013/09/reddit-imgur-youtube/). So far, I have about 20M links downloaded...and that's not even a year's worth of data.
One interesting divergence - a month or two ago we offered this to the HN community:
... and then at some point we offered something similar to a decent chunk of reddit ...
We get a very, very big response - lots of people took us up on it from HN, but almost nothing from reddit.
Well, that and I think that per-capita, hacker news buys a lot more "cloud services" than reddit does. A lot more. This is the upside to the heavy business slant to hacker news. Most people here have or will at some point try to use a website to make money directly, whereas most of r/sysadmin works for other people. I'd expect you'd pay a lot more per impression here vs. reddit if hacker news supported reddit style ads.
As an aside, hacker news is also much more open to advertising-like posts by members of the community than most technically-oriented communities... which I find kind of weird.
(and yes, he comes back later recommending linode instead, and I'm sure he would make a different recommendation today, if he re-ran his tests.)
Also, I haven't taken advantage of it yet, because what am I going to do with 50 gigs? I only need like 5 :)
To this day I'm convinced that was their way of covertly stacking the deck in whatever direction they saw fit.
Of course, we probably shouldn't ignore the priming :).
Since HN doesn't have anything like sub-reddits, this doesn't happen here (or at least not as overtly). While having something like Reddit is great, I think the fact that HN doesn't do this is good for HN as a site.
I think that this adds constant tension between the people who want to discuss mainstream news / moral panics / mainstream politics and those of us who don't. I... think that this inability to allow "those people" (And I recognize that to certain other folks, I am "those people") to sandbox themselves off means that hacker news needs way above par leadership to avoid turning into slashdot.
I mean, hacker news has that way above par leadership, at least for now, but... as far as the social dynamics go, reddit is much more sustainable.
As L_Rahman also mentioned in the comments here, customizing your subreddits is key to enhancing your experience. Some cool non-default subreddits I've subbed to are bitcoin, explainlikeimfive, bayarea and cringe. I will say, however, that the default front page experience has been significantly better since politics and atheism were removed.
Personally reddit has since become a convenient means for some quick entertainment and to learn about major news events. I don't watch TV, I've stopped going to news sites and HN tends to be a bit narrowly focused so reddit is a good supplement for keeping abreast of 'normal people news'.
I'm the same way. I have "reddit enhancement suite" installed, and "view images" on /r/pics is something I check out every day.
The sfwporn subreddits are really beautiful too. This was a thing I made a couple of years ago: http://thingist.com/labs/ipad.shtml
(I was trying to think of something to do with an old iPad)
Do I view reddit? Yes. Do I participate in reddit? I used to, until I realized that participating lowered my perceived value of the entertainment.
These days I never see the front page and rarely comment, only browsing the subreddits.
I made a new account that I don't comment on and _maybe_ look at the site once a week. HN has almost all of the content that I wanted from there anyway.
Through time, I've pretty much kept my participation focused on one particular subreddit at a time. At first it was askreddit, then gaming, then minecraft, then buildapc then tf2. From there I dropped off, using it less and less as I've gotten more and more busy. Now I might visit it once a day, but I'm on HN much more.
It's really jarring to look at /r/all these days. I've never been a fan of image macros, so it's very disconcerting to see that pretty much all top content takes the form of image macros (though somehow the word "meme" has come to be synonymous with "image macro"). However, most of my favourite communities (/r/mechanicalkeyboards!!!) have only gotten more awesome with age.
For example, Youtube won't even let people post links. That is ridiculous. Why not just give people an option called "Hide comments from me that contain links". Why try to censor the entire world? While I'm ranting about Youtube censorship... when people disable commenting, shouldn't there be a defaco to known site people can go to and comment on each video. Somebody needs to create "youtube-uncensored.com", and have a parallel commenting system, and links to videos. Then disabling comments would not allow someone to shutdown all communications about the video.
I'm sure somebody is working on a modern web-ish version. You'd want to properly hack it for popular sites to parse URL parameters so that it would create rooms at the correct granularity.
I moved from slashdot to digg to reddit and now hacker news. If it were not for subreddits, reddit would have gone the way of digg and slashdot for me. Thankfully hacker news has not devolved into cat pictures and memes.
There are really are thought provoking people on the Internet, they are just impossible to collect all in one place consistently.
For example, people on /r/bicycling are often very elitist and critical. It reminds me of HN sometimes. People on /r/pics are more friendly.
Yes and No. As a helpful person, I try to always leave comments on Reddit that add to the discussion and I feel like I get upvoted more on HN than on Reddit. The downvotes on Reddit, across subreddits, for helpful comments never cease to surprise me. I should mention that I comment on Reddit way more than on HN.
The noise-to-signal ratio is just too high for making me want to contribute, or even read a lot of comments. There are good contributions on small/specific subreddits (for example r/netsec), but once you leave those...
Then again, I'm not really active here too (but it's different, I find the bar really high here, so I don't post anything unless I'm totally sure it will be at least a decent post. I consume HN every day, several times a day).
A friend had a really good experience with a side project that made it to one of the programming subreddit front page and it brought thousands of visits that day.
I think HN still offers more quality, but some subreddit are close.
Just my 2c :)
My current obsession is skydiving and r/skydiving is a pretty good discussion forum and link aggregator for the topic.
My previous obsession was starcraft 2 and r/starcraft was very interesting to me.
I've juggled for years and occasionally swing by r/juggling and tend to find interesting tid bits.
On the opposite end the communities for serious subreddits are very helpful but you have to be in the right groups to be able to get the right answers you require.
It's frustratingly similar to Usenet, but without the great bits.
I also use Imgur, and might spend more time making content for the Imgurians.
I was here before I found reddit 2 years ago I just never made an account until I wanted to promote my project
I've tried posting links there and it's mediocre. Might get you links if it's a hit, but you basically have to act like a spammer to get anywhere.
The last thing I got Redditdotted was this http://rocknerd.co.uk/2013/09/13/culture-is-not-about-aesthe... - 80,000 hits on a blog with no advertising or anything that usually gets 20-30 hits a day. (Buy a T-shirt! https://arkadiandreams.spreadshirt.com/shop/designs We're all supposed to live off T-shirts now, right?) But that got on Slashdot first, which is where I think the Reddit posters got it from.
Mind you, BuzzFeed makes Reddit look like bloody LessWrong. If Reddit is BBC1, BuzzFeed is ITV2. Or Dave. Or the deepest most braindamaged high hundreds channels on Sky.