Why I’m giving up reddit

The long title of this post is rather: “Why reddit, which was the last and best hope for social news is dead, and why I’m giving up reddit and all other social news sites, and why I’m going back to just blogging instead”
I had my reddit pages set to display 100 entries per page. This morning, I decided to go through both the front page and the new page to downmod (and hide) any of the following:
* Politics. Yes, I know this is election year in the U.S. No, I don’t care. I’m not American, and I don’t care which republican or demcratic candidate performs voter fraud, lies, cheats or messes with Diebold voting machines.
* Religion. I just don’t care. See politics, and add to it that I think Richard Dawkins is just as evangelical as Ted Haggard.
* Gay sex. See politics and religion.
* Drugs. Not of interest. See politics, religion and gay sex.
* Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. See politics, religion, gay sex and drugs
* Self promoters. See all of the above, since most of them are already linkjacked reposts of the categories I’ve already chosen to kill. In addition, they’re reposts of utterly unfunny youtube videos, bad financial advice and health scams. Or posted by people pretending to be programmers.
* Karma whores. See all of the above, plus their lame “ass-polls”:http://xkcd.com/c37.html.
The end-result? See “this screenshot”:http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/11/reddit-screenshot.png of the ‘hot’ page — the last entry is number 266, which means that I’m nuking almost two out of three entries that are posted to reddit.
(The irony now is of course that I’m submitting this post to reddit, as a last good-bye and thank you. Hope you’ll have more fun with social news sites than me.)

Leave a comment


  1. FWIW: If you come here from reddit to comment. I, unlike reddit, have “commenting guidelines”:http://virtuelvis.com/help/comment_posting_policy.html that are enforced. If you don’t plan on following them, I suggest you spare yourself the effort of filling in the commenting field below, because I will indeed delete your comment. I have deleted one already.

  2. munroe

     /  2006-11-04

    Well, there IS the recommended set of links. Sometimes the hot page has a bit too much on US politics, but I can’t blame the user-base. There are a lot of Americans using the site(I’m not one of them, being Canadian), and it’s election season. I’ve spent the time modding things up and down, and I purposely never touch any polictics/religion ones because of it. My recommended page is full of comics, articles about programming, articles about scientific breakthroughs, and the occasional piece on Canadian politics. It’s all relevant to me anyway.
    It’s still much better than Digg and Slashdot.

  3. By all means, this is not the fault of the users, but rather of the concept, because sites and services like this that appeal to a large number of people inevitably becomes the tyranny of the majority — or of an extremely vocal minority, or a set of disassociated minorities that together form a majority.
    During the latter half of the nineties, and the beginning of this century, I was active on Usenet, and eventually that too turned into a mudpool that just sucks time without providing any actual value.

  4. I get you point, although only 2/3 of the posts being crap is not really a bad hit ratio (compared to almost ANY news outlet).
    The reason I am giving up these sites is because in the end they don’t add all that much to my life, but I get sucked in and spend half my day reading them. … and writing follow up to posts like this. Meh.

  5. ethics

     /  2006-11-04

    Hell, I AM an American and is already tired of the bs thrown by both sides in politics, activism with science and research, and certainly all of the religion promoting/bashing.
    I am joining you.

  6. Brent

     /  2006-11-04

    Years ago I heard a good line about the game show Jeopardy: a contestant says, “I’d like ‘Questions Only I Know the Answer To’ for $400, Alex.” (I suspect this comes from someone’s stand-up comedy routine; my apologies for not giving due credit.)
    And this is what I see as the fundamental problem of social news sites like Reddit: the things that interest me are eclectic and fundamentally personal in nature. I don’t really fit the presumed user demographic of sites like reddit and digg (e.g., a 20-something male American, left-leaning in his politics, likely an atheist, possibly a programmer, intererested in science and engineering.)
    I do have some of the same interests as this demographic, but (as an older non-American) I also have many interests which will simply never appear in reddit. (Medieval literature, for example.)
    Furthermore, as sites like reddit grow in popularity, the user demographic seems to become increasingly homogenous, rather than more diverse as you might expect. And so the range of topics becomes equally homogenous.
    In the end, I’ve discovered that the “social news service” which serves my eclectic interests best is… my bookmark folder.

  7. “Whatever”, before you try to resubmit your flame, read the first comment here. This place is not reddit. To answer your question of why I submitted my link to reddit: “Because I sincerely hope Alexis, Aaron and the rest of the reddit crew (or someone entirely else, for that matter) someday will make an attempt at fixing the problem.”

  8. I kind of have to agree to this. I used to read Digg every day. More or less all the links which was promoted to the front page. These days I barely touch it and went back reading the same blogs I used to read before everyone wanted to socialize everything.
    But one question remains after your blog entry Arve. Your name sounds pretty Nordic, probably Norwegian. So where do you get your news from now? What news paper or web page gives you all the options/benefits you are seeking?

  9. Voidling

     /  2006-11-04

    Well, well I don’t believe it….wow!! I thought I had written this in my sleep as it sounded just the way I feel right now about Reddit. I am sick to death of all the above mentioned things particularly the USA-Holes and their leader. Why are there so many repeats. I now only look for the photographic, Art, and Science articles perhaps one or two other areas of unconventional thinking. But those are becoming increasingly hard to find. I’m off now too never to return as I’ve given up wasting my time…Better things to do with my valuable hours.

  10. Øyvind: My feeds contain a number of news sources which can notify me on imporant events, and important topics relevant to my line of work.
    If there is anything there that I’m missing and _should_ read, my personal and professional social networks notify me of the rest.

  11. aju

     /  2006-11-04

    I am a republican evangelical Christian. I agree with you. I want my daily fix of news, but I am tired of all of the politics and religion on reddit. This is not a good year for me in either subject, I am 51 years old, and for the first time in my adult life, I am not going to vote in an election. Is there an alternative to reddit?

  12. Dave

     /  2006-11-04

    Well, I must look at it differently than you Arve.
    I don’t expect to like 100% or even 50% of what’s on there — seriously, how could I????? I am happy if I like 33% of the sites posted. That’s the point! It’s social, and there are great variances in societies, from American to Canadian to European. Even WITHIN those societies there is great variance.
    So I understand your point, but from where I stand, you miss the point. I would be HAPPY if I liked 33% of the things posted. In general, I think that good stories move up, and crap moves down…

  13. Dave: To be more clear – I only upvoted 3 of 266 articles, that means I actually only liked about 1% of what was posted, I disliked 62,5% and was indifferent towards the rest.

  14. I think what you’re trying to say Arve is that you’d like an european/scandinavian or tech-only version of digg/reddit.
    Good idea, let’s create one! 🙂

  15. grumpY!

     /  2006-11-04

    i like to supplement social sites with a source like yahoo news (which is mostly reuters). then i will be seeing news i should see not just news i choose to see. beyond that i do find that digg/reddit etc do fulfill a purpose – they have helped me kill off a large number of rss feeds. i have noticed over time that any topic of interest i see in a feed shows up in one of the social aggregators anyway. to me it is rss that is facing the die-off – very few single sources offer a reason to subscribe over the long term, and offsetting this by subscribing to a large number of feeds is likewise a time killer.

  16. Hey man, don’t go around predicting the death of social web sites just yet, I refuse to bury my ideas! 🙂
    I do see the problem, though, and have made a note about it for my thesis, as I also might write something about socially driven websites. My first reaction is that these social sites seem to have a problem with catering to niches when the masses start using it. Mainstream gets the spotlight and finding stuff that’s of interest to you becomes difficult.
    Dunno about solutions yet, though.

  17. I never got into using Digg and Reddit in the first place… I have search feeds on Digg and Technorati for a few things that interest me – little need to spend time on the actual sites. Feeds from The Register, BBC News and BoingBoing are enough to get lots of useful and weird news in my feed reader.
    I’ve never found a place online where I could have a *normal* conversation on politics or religion, except maybe on IRC with people I already know 🙂

  18. I’m sorry, I can’t really say how anyone can be surprised by this.
    To expect an open social news site to deliver more than 1-5% of significantly interesting stories is unreasonable.
    It is, however, possible to expect a somewhat closed user group – based on a shared set of interests, perhaps – to deliver higher results, as it makes the available pool of information smaller and more targeted. But that only works if the members are alike enough. Otherwise you end up with something like Digg and Slashdot, where inexperienced people confuse beliefs with facts and the signal to noise ratio deteriorates significantly.
    When Brent says “…the user demographic seems to become increasingly homogenous, rather than more diverse as you might expect” the expectation is wrong. Statistics have shown us that the larger the set the more normalized the curve becomes.
    Perhaps the problem is that we’re not normal.

  19. Hey, I hate to be really arrogant and point out that the US elections are important on the global scale. The US will have to really lead if the world is to combat global warming before its too late. These elections literally have an impact on every living thing on the planet.
    Second, I wouldn’t be so quick to bash the programming posts in reddit. True, there are a lot of idiotic things like “raytracer written in ruby running on top of ruby intrepretor running on HASKELL” but there are quite a few informative, passionate posts regarding the process of developing software. At the very least, there’s more quality content found on reddit than there is on this blog (I checked your achives).

  20. mlgoss

     /  2006-11-04

    You ought to try using just my.reddit.com and only include the programming and science subreddits. I’ve done this the past couple days and enjoyed reddit much more.

  21. It’s even simpler than all that you wrote – groupthink. Social news sites are creating armies of sheep and propoganda machines for certain companies, beliefs and political parties.

  22. Christopher: If there was more ‘quality content’ on this blog than on reddit, I wouldn’t only be worried about reddit, I’d be seriously worried that mankind was heading for total destruction before the end of year. But then again, this post is about reddit and social news sites, and not the content of my blog.
    The point most people have blissfully ignored, or simply not understood is that reddit and all other social news sites that reach a critical mass of users automatically become uninteresting because content filtering algorithms that hide what you’re not interested in are virtually nonexistent.

  23. Slappy

     /  2006-11-05

    Never under-estimate the stupidity of the human race?

  24. As a person fairly new to reddit, would you let me know what it was like that used to make it so much better? What did you find there in the ‘good old days’?
    I speak as someone who may be one of the people who ruined it for you and who only ever saw it as a news-gathering or news-posting site (sorry).