I visit Reddit all the time. And I visited Digg before that. In fact I was hooked to this mode of operation since Digg. Suffice to say, something about link aggregation tickles my ADHD brain just right.
However with the recent blackout of a big part of reddit, I decided to start my own Lemmy instance and use Lemmy primarily instead through it. Since I’ve started this experiment, I feel any urge to visit Reddit for my “fix” less and less. I have some thoughts about that.
In Twitter Vs Mastodon AKA “micro-blogging”, The value was in the specific people one followed which made it way harder to switch services because one was help back by other people. I.e. the people kept each other locked-in. Similar to how Facebook keeps everyone locked-in their walled garden because it’s the only social media their parents and grandparents managed to learn to use.
In Reddit however, the value is all about the specific forums, or “subreddits”, in lingo. The specific people one was talking to, never really mattered. What was important was the overall engagement general sense of shared-interest. This has always been the core strength of Reddit, and its early pioneers like Aaron Schwartz understood that.
This is why the minimalist reddit of old, managed to dethrone Digg when the latter decided that its core principles wasn’t user-curated content, but linkspam. The people who migrated into Reddit made what it is today, by creating and nurturing their communities over years.
Any beneficial actions by reddit itself have been either following what the community was already doing (such as adding CSS options or on-boarding the automoderator bot), or forced by bad optics, such as when they were forced to finally ban /r/coontown, /r/fatpeoplehate, /r/jailbait (which their current CEO moderated btw) etc.
The community and the people who run the subreddits have always had to make the minimalist options allowed to them work. They had to develop their own tools and enhancements, such as RES, and Moderator Toolbox, while Reddit couldn’t even provide much requested functionality to counter the known abuses of cross-subreddit raiding.
Instead, Reddit focused on adding useless features nobody asked for like NFT. On the usability, the new look was their push to take the site more towards generic social media network, with friends, follows, awards and avatars, and instead of focusing on their core product: Link aggregation and discussions.
In fact, any action they took, was laser focused on social-media lock-in and extracting wealth and adding features which people didn’t care for, which is why most third party apps simply ignored all that stuff.
Through all this, their valuable communities kept fighting against reddit management’s pushes so that they could do what was right, even if some lost that fight, like /r/AMA which became but a shadow of its former self when the cowardly owners fired their low-level employee leading its success, and scapegoated their then female CEO for it.
Eventually though something had to give, and reddit seems to have realized that their users are too stubborn to simply accept the new paradigm they designed for them where they watch more ads, buy more reddit gold and get addicted to NFTs. And 3rd party apps enabled users to use the valuable part of reddit and skip the enshittification all too easily.
So they had to go. And here we are.
Unfortunately for reddit, since the core value of reddit has always been the links, and the discussions around said links, instead of specific people and a social network around them, it is stunningly easy to jump ship. It doesn’t take a lot to keep a community going on Lemmy instead of Reddit. All it needs is a handful of dedicated people to keep finding and posting links, and the discussions and memes will easily follow.
I don’t need to know that I know the links are coming from Gallowboob, in fact, I never cared who posted the links or started the discussions. Reddit has had the “friends” feature for close to a decade now, and I have “friended” less than a handful of people. There’s literally nothing holding me and most people back except our existing routines.
There is of course still a lot of momentum in reddit communities, and a lot of mods who really don’t want to lose their status. Nevertheless, I’m finding I’m not actually missing much by staying exclusively on lemmy atm and I see a lot of people are realizing the same thing increasingly fast. The finality of the loss of major apps like Apollo, RIF and Sync has already been the final nail for a lot of people.
This exodus might already be unstoppable unless reddit completely capitulates and goes back on their API plans. But I don’t hold my breath on this.
Feel free to come and hang out at the Divisions by zero lemmy instance btw. We’ll do fun things!