Lamenting The Loss of Reddit

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Lamenting The Loss of Reddit


Reddit and I go way, way back.

I was there when Alexis and Steve presented the early idea (and a working application) at one of the early Web Innovator's meetups in a small, cramped bar in Kendall Square, Cambridge.

Several months later, there was a startup meetup at MIT.  I was one of three groups presenting at a startup gathering at MIT.  The guys from Reddit spoke right after me.

When I kicked off, reddit readers were an early source of traffic and helped build the readership of the site to what it is today.  Back in the early days, the content was great and I found myself going to reddit several times a day to find useful and interesting content.  (It didn't hurt that my own articles were making it to the front page of reddit on a pretty regular basis).

Now, I'm saddened when I look at the front page of reddit and what is popular there.  It seems that the system has been overtaken by articles on the political, the weird and the arcane (and sometimes all three).  I could post some of the links on the front page here to make my point, but it's subjective.  Go see for yourself.  As a result of this deterioration of quality, I find myself going to reddit much less often than I used to. 

I'm not sure what caused the downward trend.  In fact, it may not even be a downward trend (that's subjective).  Perhaps what's popular on reddit now simply reflects what's going on within the user base.  It's just not for me.  Perhaps it was when Conde Nast bought reddit that the decline began.  Perhaps Alexis and Steve just lost interest.  Perhaps the trend was inevitable as more and more people joined reddit and became a diffuse audience instead of a clustered community of like-minded people.  I don't know.

Of course, losing me as a frequent user has almost zero impact on reddit.  The site seems like it's continuing to do well (in terms of traffic and popularity).  But, I still feel a sense of loss. 

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Fri, Aug 03, 2007


It's the same way with many websites. I used to be a big fan of Art Bell's website, but he took down and then it got replaced with Coast to Coast, which isn't nearly as good. Then I found Rense and thought it was cool, but then they changed to where they became nothing but a political watchtower and home to hundreds of ranting idiots. Very little there now, but politics. And I've seen the same changes to Digg and Reddit both. Nothing but front page BS from political lunatics. Just because the world is going to hell in a handbasket doesn't mean we want to spend every breathing minute of our lives reading stuff that's mostly politically drivel. Science and technology is my life and that's all I'm interested in, thank you!

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 12:45 PM by Budda Magoo

I too have lamented this loss. I still subscribe the reddit main page RSS feed in gmail, but I don't find much worth looking at anymore.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 12:58 PM by Shaun

Reddit has been going down hill since the Masons forced us off the gold standard. The cheap money coming out of the Federal Reserve, which we all know is privately owned by the Mormons, isn't helping. I'd say more but the RFID chip the Wal-Mart optometrist planted in my brain is giving me such a headache. Save us, Ron Paul, save us!

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 1:32 PM by Liberty1

Reddit is not merely reflecting the user base, it is reflecting reality. The real tragedy is not that reddit brings all these developments to light and puts them on the front page, it is that reporting on them in the mainstream media is shockingly absent. Where is the coverage of impeachment efforts on cnn? Of darfur on fox news?

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 2:04 PM by Thomas

Reddit is an echo chamber. It will continue to attract more and more mentally unbalanced individuals whose induced societal isolation gives them a common home on reddit. In retrospect, user-selected news sites are a stupid idea. All reddit has proven is the real value that editors perform. It's appeal is limited to 19 yr old, ideological fanatics who have no sense of aesthetics or quality. They confuse the mass regurgitation and redundancy of the stories being posted on reddit implies the profundity of their content.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 2:56 PM by _red

Reddit was one of the best resources for the latest entrepreneurial news. I was also a regular visitor to reddit, until it got acquired. But now I just visit It is a worthy replacement.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 3:02 PM by Akshat

I find the latest set complaints against reddit misguided. I never visited reddit much in the past (< 1 year ago) because the posts were too secular. My interests and the greater Reddit's community's didn't coincide at the time, but I loved the medium. It didn't replace slashdot, fark, digg, treehugger for me, now digg is almost completely off my list but reddit I check daily. I am into politics and computers and I am proud to be an active member on sites that I frequent. Reddit is not an echo chamber, every site I frequent has the minority of the users making similar complaints. I truly believe that reddit is the best medium for news democratization and it is being used appropriately. If you wish to have editors control what you see, limit the focus to only what you think is important then your complaint is with the medium. You must choose to leave reddit because you don't believe in it's built in creed, user driven content. I have never seen a clearer case of the "medium being the message" than Reddit, and I love it.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 3:53 PM by Typesmith

Ok, so the geeks got drowned out by the ideologues. From my point of view, that's sad by itself, but even sadder because these particular ideologues are too dull and monomanic to maintain a good link discovery site, a site people go to to be surprised / entertained / educated / enlightened. They think the height of browsing achievement is to have your political views confirmed by some angry dude with a website. So it's not really about politics vs geek, it's about incompetence. See Wonkette (Ken Layne++) for example of how to do this stuff right, (unfair and unbalanced, but interesting). Editors 1 - wise crowd 0.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 4:17 PM by Bjørn Stærk

I've never gotten much out of purely community powered news aggregators. The stories just seem so totally random and of such mixed quality. If there's a point to the randomness, it is beyond me.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 4:24 PM by John Kenney

Unfortunately I've found my visiting habits of Reddit are way down, and the amount I find interesting as well, although I enjoy the programming sub-reddit (despite Erlang bias). Like Dharmesh said, it is a subjective measure, so I don't "blame" anyone, but the readership seems to have changed, or just the effect of a larger community. I'm not surprised the front page has headed in the direction it has, but what has been a disappointment is that the recommendations have never been really useful. On another note - Dharmesh, I remember that presentation at MIT, and how you challenging them on their business model (at the time they had just put a few AdWords on the site). Guess it worked out okay for Steve & Alexis in the end ;-)

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 4:28 PM by Mike Champion

I understand that reddit is not up to your standards now. But it is what is popular with the readers. Our country is on the verge of communism and the national news media is doing it's best not to let the truth out. The people want truth, and reddit gives them their avenue.

I also like tech infor and articles, But i am also more worried about my childrens future. I like reading it all, and so does the rest of the world obviously.

I am not trying to be rude, just fair. And the beauty of reddit is that it is user based. People have to vote it up so that it climbs.

I am sorry you are not getting up top anymore(or as ofen, you are up top now) so maybe you need a political blog, then you can gain traffic.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 5:26 PM by jim is a bit more like the old reddit. If you stick to that and, you can avoid the drudgery of the front page.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 5:35 PM by Michael

To make reddit more fun and enjoyable, you simply must install the Greasemonkey script "Reddit Content Filter". Just add the users/titles/sites that you don't want to see to your "Blocked" lists and you'll never see those things again. Here's the link:

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 5:41 PM by bigtoga

How about how like lets you make a new blog there was a site that let you create new reddits? Then when reddit "goes bad" you can just make a new one. More on that same thought:

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 6:30 PM by Benjamin Meyer

Benjamin: We're doing something similar at

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 6:31 PM by

Your post have echoed my thoughts exactly, Dharmesh. It wasn't so long ago that I viewed Reddit as a "breath of fresh" air alternative to idiocy rampant on Digg, and stagnancy bad editor overrule on Slashdot. Reddit regularly had very interesting stuff on entrepreneurship, programming, science, personal development, etc on the front page. However, now it's gotten really bad. At my estimation, 70% of front page posts are on politics, same topics over and over again. It's especially frustrating to people like me, whose political views are almost completely opposite to that of Reddit's majority (at best - wide-eyed youthful naivette, at worst - raging fanaticism and antisemitism). I think our complaints are useless though. I'm sure today's Reddit is exactly what the people behind the site want. It's one of the most popular social networks out there, and it proved to be quite lucrative to the sites founders. And all of us old farts can do is sit here and reminisce about the good times. Or we can go somewhere else. Akshat, many thanks for the link to I will be going there as soon as I press the "Submit" button!

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 8:29 PM by Alex Kharlamov

Isn't the point of sites like reddit to filter out the content that you aren't interested in? I've always felt that reddit never really did find the content I was looking for.

posted on Friday, August 03, 2007 at 10:07 PM by carlity

That's the story of the Internet.

In the early days you had "cutting edge" type people. The content was good but often badly presented. Then came popularity and acceptance by the masses. (and eyecandy o the eyecandy!!) Now the search engines can drown you with 3 pages of complete drivel before you even find one article worth reading.

It's progress of a backward sort.

There was some analysis recently of the people who make discussion lists work. They post infrequently, their work is illuminating and to the point, they don't join in the echo chamber nonsense. Those are the type of people I want to read.

Truth is they are repelled by a lot of what they see.

Eventually we might see an effective system where we can get an intelligent pre-screening of all content. Any company that tries to advertise at you has probably failed before they start. The machine driven stuff I've seen, so far, fails badly (ever seen Amazon book recommendations?).

It would be a joy to cut out more input from those who hold zero interest. Life is just too short to waste.

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 1:34 AM by

I wasn't on reddit at the beginning so I cannot relate to what it was, but its the one site I must check everyday. The whole point is that it is obviously about the userbase. What did they start with? hacking -check YC, pop go to digg, celebrity gossip go to lipstick. The point is that it started in a small community and grew. Luckily the concept is proven and you can find your niche site.

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 1:52 AM by mike sabat

are you bitter because your articles don't make front page anymore?

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 3:22 AM by dracu

Noone cares about your articles so they don't get upmodded. Go hideaway in your cubby with a carebear and cry. Why should i feel sorry for you?.. start writing something meaningful, that enlightens, that makes a difference. A lot of people are focused on politics and the environment, because that shit actually matters, unlike you. Stand, grow up, it's not all about you.

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 4:29 AM by xiiao

Xiiao Whilst I think your post is offensive in its tone, I do agree that the quality of posting on is probably why it gets nowhere on Reddit. Dharmesh, whilst I found your initial posts to be of interest, more and more they look like you are scratching around to find something to write. Your initial 'idea' came with some initial ideas for content and my personal feeling is once this initial well of insight dried up that you have not replaced it with anything meaningful. Before posting this I did go over all the latest posts, and definitely think this is the case Relating to Reddit itself, I agree that it appears to have been taken over slighly with postings of the political or postings of the funny/weird in terms of photos. The mistake, I feel, they made was in not providing channels or filtering so that people could make their own mind up what they wanted to read about Ade

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 4:58 AM by Ade

I agree. I think the problem with social news sites is that they are flooded with newbie users, and the people who made the community what it was get diluted by the flood of new users. I'd think it would be pretty easy to fix in your rankings: give early users more weight in voting. Noobs get a 1+ on votes, users that have been around for 1 year--votes are 2+, two years--3+, etc... That would skew the site to early adopters and give them more control and influence.

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 11:41 AM by Jonathan

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I had not expected this article to strike such a chord. It was a simple opinion piece. A few quick points: 1. Some good ideas here as to how social communities work and ways to possibly tweak the model, for those that are inclined to experiment. I'll try that with (some of which we are already doing) 2. I am guilty of having an ego (much like many other bloggers), but this particular article was not really motivated by the lack of my own articles doing well on reddit. I haven't been writing that much anyways. It's just that articles I've submitted recently (from other good sources) have also not done particularly well. 3. I will confess that the quality of articles here is not what it used to be. Now that I have a new startup that I'm working on, there's not as much time as there used to be when I was a grad student. The good news is there's lots of new material for articles as a result of this new startup. In any case, thanks again to all those that took the time to express their views (including my critics). -Dharmesh

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 11:56 AM by

Hey Dharmesh, I've got fond memories of those days back in Cambridge. You were indeed quite popular on reddit those days. Believe me, we (Steve & I and Chris & Jeremy) all remember those 'glory days.' We're doing what we can to satisfy those of us who are longing for 'pre-sharkjump-reddit' while also not alienating all of our newer userbase. A lot of the political submissions/discussions on reddit these days are important, but they have begun to dominate the site. This may have to do with the fundamental difference in reddit's front page, which actually has 'hot' links floating higher on the page for longer throughout the day. The typical approach on other social news sites means it only takes X votes and - bam- a story is #1, then another gets voted up to take its place as the old one drops down a slot. But as far as we're concerned, this is one of the differences of reddit that makes it great. You probably remember how adamant Steve is about not aping competitors ;-) We're not sure how it's going to turn out, but this is something we've been thinking (and worrying) about for a long time. On the one hand, I suppose it's a good problem to have, but it's a problem nonetheless. Hopefully we can bring ya back to your old reddit-reading habits. -alexis

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 4:05 PM by alexis ohanian

Alexis: Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm honored. I will (of course), continue to be a reddit user and fan. It's not the site that bothers me, it's those darned users. :) Wish you folks continued success.

posted on Saturday, August 04, 2007 at 4:12 PM by

I am surprised you are surprised. In his one year review of blogging, Guy Kawasaki says that more people in the blogosphere prefer news and gossip to essays.. Link: Further I think it should be encouraging that politics is gaining ground. I imagine that is how it will remain for 2 years now. It is better than the apathy that undiluted comfort creates! It is also interesting you club politics, weird and arcane as the top 3 kinds of things you find now on reddit. In reality probably that is how life is. Politics touches more lives more directly than tech startups appear to. Even technology raises political issues. There are people who bridge both and write on technology policy. I do and so do many others. Would that be the overlap area - politics, weird and arcane - you were talking about? :-)

posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 at 10:15 AM by Shefaly

The content on Reddit is, in my opinion, far superior than what you find on Digg. The latter has degenerated into a link list of trivia. Another good site I frequent is I reckon, once the "masses" hit a site, the content evolves into "mass" content.

posted on Monday, September 03, 2007 at 2:32 AM by Eddie Naki

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