Lewis Menelaws

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Reddit has changed. Why I miss the old Reddit.

Lewis Menelaws
November 3rd, 2019 · 3 min read

I’m a white geeky programmer who has been very tech savvy since I was a young child. When people come up to me and ask me if I use Reddit, I look at them and think… bro. Reddit was made for me.

I joined in August of 2011 for an account but I am pretty sure I was a lurker since before then too. Social Media networks looked fairly old at the time, but Reddit took the cake for having an archaic design philosophy. Almost all black and white with some pictures.

Reddit in August of 2011.

Despite it’s very minimalist look, it was very functional. Having over 10 different links available at me in just my viewport while I can get more from just scrolling was amazing. I am that type of guy who has my gmail in “Compact” mode where I can see more emails on my screen rather than more details.

All of the simple web standards. Such as, links going purple when you’ve already clicked on them, going to different pages instead of modals (more on that later) and very limited JavaScript. I sound like a snob but I get really nostalgic over the old Reddit design. Reddit never was something that was great by the design or interface but what the value it gave to everyone.

The Redesign

Reddit in 2019

If you go over to r/beta, you will basically just see a flood of people complaining about anything that the new Reddit offers. I don’t think the new design is bad at all. In fact, I think they did a good job in terms of design. I get it. Reddit needs to make money, but I felt like they didn’t get rid of much in terms of the visual layout.

That being said, the implementation of that design is a different story. Reddit in 2019 is extremely slow.

redditspeed

Doing a Firefox performance test, I averaged 21fps. I use a Macbook Air 2013 model that has 12 GB of RAM and it’s just an abysmal speed. In the test, I refreshed the page, clicked on a link and tried scrolling. It’s very frustrating with a site like Reddit where you are constantly looking at the next item fast.

Banning of r/reddit

Banned yourself?

r/reddit was a subreddit you were subscribed to by default and would cover lots of general topics that were happening today. Instead of images though, it would link to articles or other newspapers explaining the opinion or the live situation. I liked this subreddit because it encouraged conversation and young me at the time (16 years old) was able to learn different viewpoints this way. Arguably, it’s why I am so stubborn with finding sources nowadays.

This was why I loved Reddit. I loved reading the comments and getting different views on things despite the ones I truly believe I had. It was always great to learn things this way. In fact, you can tell Reddit was created for this. Sadly, it kind of grew into something different but kind of inevitable.

Switch to a media focused consumption platform

imgur

This is not really so much a gripe with Reddit but more with how humans naturally float to these types of platforms. Images, videos, memes, GIF’s, the works. When I was on Reddit there were lots of images and memes but enough other less brain numbing content to balance it out.

Now if you go on the frontpage, it’s completely memes and images. To post on Reddit before, you would have to go to an image sharing website (imgur was the one at the time and still is the most popular external one) and then copy the link to the image to crosspost it over to Reddit. The funny thing is too is that a lot people were having the conversation on Reddit while others were doing it on imgur.

Reddit switched over to hosting these assets themselves since the popularity was huge. You can tell they changed their architecture because they go down a lot less and they seem to manage all the content themselves.

I know, I am rolling my eyes at myself too because this is such a cliche thing to mention. Reddit has simply become too popular. Reddit has always had the luxury where I feel like the website is thousands of mini social medias in one area.

Now, small subreddits aren’t active as they should be and large subreddits drown out the quality content for content that is easier to consume. This is probably by design as it brings in more users this way.

Final Notes

I still use Reddit on a daily basis. I just find that my experiences with it are slowly getting worse and worse as the days go by. Sadly, there is no better alternative.

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