Reddit is garbage

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Reddit is garbage

Reddit has always been a garbage platform that’s harbored everything from cyberbullies and doxxers to sexual predators and child porn apologists. it was a place where trolls could post and do whatever they wanted without getting banned—gore porn, NeoNazi propaganda, cyber bullying, rape porn apologia, etc. It was basically the stomping ground for trolls, with the more “normal” subreddits acting as a cover.

Now new management has decided to clean it up a bit making it more like TikTok but for text and puns. Just cheap, low-effort, dumbed-down, noncontroversial pun threads. Comments are short, either out of laziness or for the sake of minimizing attack vectors upon which one’s comment could be discredited. The least controversial and most boring comments somehow get upvoted to the top, while the most in-depth, critical, and interesting sink to the bottom.

When downvoting is used as a knee-jerk “disagree” or “doesn’t conform to the hivemind narrative” button rather than being used to penalize low-quality and off-topic comments, dissenting opinion gets buried to the bottom and auto-hidden, the effective equivalent of censorship. This further polarizes the community and reinforces the hivemind in a dangerous feedback loop

Those with a non-hivemind opinion frustrated at the inability to express their viewpoints have no choice but to seek alternative subreddit communities, which then leads to the polarization problem in reverse. Now their new community polarizes in the opposite direction, driven by the anger of being censored in the mainstream, often feeding on itself to become more and more extreme. Sometimes these subreddits get so extreme that Reddit quarantines (/r/TheRedPill).or even bans it (/r/the_donald).

All travel subreddits predominantly consist of questions. If memory serves me correctly, I believe in the past there were more links to blog articles like “my experience traveling to X”. But with fatigue towards marketing blogspam and the general decline in blogging, it seems that that sort of content is not as much in vogue. People will occasionally write posts on these travel subreddits about their travel experiences, but on Reddit it’s not possible to embed images in posts, which does reduce the quality for the topic of travel that is visual in nature.

Crypto subreddits are among the most circle jerk of the non-political subreddits out there. The communities of most tokens generally consist mostly of bagholders asking “wen moon?” and re-assuring each other that their tokens will go to the moon. People will post price meme threads and posts like “just bought $500 of XYZ token, let’s take this rocket ship to the moon!”

There little incentive to write an in-depth post in a self post on Reddit because there’s really no sense of community on Reddit. Everyone is a forgettable anonymous username. There’s a follow button, but nobody does so and what value would that provide anyways. As a 90s kid I grew up on traditional forums. Traditional forums naturally have a stronger sense of community because the communities are smaller, and users can have avatars and signatures so that you can more easily recognize other users.

Reddit on the other hand completely lacks any sense of community. There are no avatars (unless you click into one’s profile), and usernames are not prominently visible, and nobody pays attention to them. Even if these features did exist, the large number of users might make it impossible to recognize others either way. This lack of community is what makes these “look at my dog” posts so cringy. This is not Facebook; nobody knows you or cares about your dog (unless it is a subreddit for dogs or wherever that’s appropriate).

Old school forums were definitely much better in feeling like a real community where you recognized other users. But part of this is due to the smaller size of these communities relative to subreddits with millions of subscribers.

The Phases of Reddit

I’d characterize the eras of Reddit roughly as follows:

2008-09 Okay quality discussion

2009-2014 Memes, cat/dog photos, and pun threads. Political polarization

2014-2019 Hivemind / Circle-jerk with sarcastic one-liner comments. Marketer blogspam

2019-present Hivemind / Circle-jerk with sarcastic one-liners. Marketer blogspam replaced by Instagram photos captioned only by their simple titles, questions and low-effort self-posts

How to improve Reddit?

Reddit could enable the ability to show avatars next to usernames. This could help foster a sense of community by making users more recognizable, similar to old-school forums. Or maybe Reddit communities are too large for this to work. Either way, it’s definitely worth testing. Some communities enable users to supplement their username with a flair (usually just some pre-approved labels or custom text), which I have noticed makes users more recognizable. But nothing beats a picture.

Substack Model

One of the main problems with Reddit is that there’s little incentive to write quality, in-depth self-posts or comments because you don’t really get rewarded for it. People can upvote your post, but you’re just another anonymous Redditor that they’ll never see again.

In order to greater encourage quality writing, Reddit could enable users to create their own blog on Reddit that doubles as a Newsletter, Substack style. Then at least quality contributes can get rewarded with followers, and ideally an email newsletter so that the creator isn’t tied to the Reddit platform.

I realize there’s already a “follow” button to follow a user, but honestly I have no idea how that works.


I advise people to simply stop using Reddit, both lurking and participating. It won’t get better, it won’t be fixed. Back to private/semi-private spaces we go, I suppose, and probably for the best anyway. Generally, social media is for dumb people seeking validation in one way, shape, or form, no matter how much they deny it.

I’d even go so far as to say that Reddit is likely poorly designed on purpose. The primary goal of an advertisement-driven social media business is time spent on app/site and not quality of content.

Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, etc., optimize for time-on-app to increase engagement, data collection, and advertisement exposure rather than time-well-spent-on-app. So it’s unlikely that Reddit will improve the UX, either. Making it harder to downvote would likely create unwanted friction, reduce engagement and time spent on it thereby reducing ad spends.

It’s a well-known fact these large tech companies employ psychologists that have studied the academic aspects of behavioral addiction (i.e., gambling). Probably literally using UNLV studies on gambling behavior to employ on their services. After all, it is “only unethical” but, more importantly, it’s not illegal because there are no regulations on so-called “dark pattern” designs in the United States. The tech companies pay lobbyists to keep it that way.

Make the notification number red, create bottomless scrolling all for dopamine spikes when you get a comment, upvote, or like. This is the social validation slot machine model. No wonder people have the attention span of a goldfish these days.

Like the rest of media such mainstream news, they most feed on our fight-or-flight behavior: fear and anger to drive traffic and engagement. Much of Reddit is a news feed and hence a waste of time. Not only is 99%+ of the news irrelevant to our lives, it just ends up being useless noise none of us can do anything about anyway.

As someone with addictive tendencies, what I’ve learned is to just give up many things I haven’t grown tired of: most of social media and following news and politics. I’ve tried out most services except TikTok, wanting to see what the UI looked like and what the fuss was about, but I’ve dipped out and barely used them.

Long story short, TLDR: social media sites are not trying to help you or make the world a better place, only to increase revenue and profits.

Don’t expect Reddit to improve the quality of the service for end users. Furthermore, the bigger the forums, the lower the quality of the average user is. It’s like the opposite of Metcalfe’s law for massive-user internet forums.

Besides, I wouldn’t expect Reddit to improve due to the fact that they employ free labor to moderate most of the service. Reddit pays in moderator power, not cash, to basically run the entire site sans development and hosting.