Redditors who have been around for 10+ years: How has Reddit changed over the past decade?

Redditors who have been around for 10+ years: How has Reddit changed over the past decade?

What do you think?

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  1. Everyone was a Ron Paul Libertarian frantically registering Republican so they could vote for him in the primary, then vote for him over Barack Obama.

  2. Honestly? In 10 years it hasn’t much, apart from the UI.

    Content-wise it’s still the town pot dealer: you know them and use their services, but there’s no way in hell you’d be seen in public with them or acknowledge your association.

  3. When I started Reddit homepage was just a big white page covered in links.

    You clicked on what you wanted and spicy porn occasionally made it to the front page!

    I really enjoyed the additional ability to use an app when it was added instead of desktop/safari looks.

  4. This account is almost 12 years old now, so I feel like I’m qualified to answer this. I’ll try my best to do so in a neutral, impartial way.

    First of all, back then, Reddit had a different demographic makeup. It was *much* more heavily weighted towards young, white programmers with libertarian sympathies. Over the past decade, this has shifted considerably toward a more metropolitan, progressive demographic.

    A lot of people forget that Reddit was wildly in favor of Ron Paul before it became wildly in favor of Bernie. That alone should show you how the demographics have shifted over time.

    Second, it is my impression that silos and echo chambers have become significantly worse. One thing about nerdy white libertarians, regardless of any other traits good or bad, is that they tend to believe that censorship, bans, and blocking should be avoided except in the most extreme cases – you can still see this in r/libertarian, where it’s a shitshow of voices ranging from hardcore prepper weirdos who think the Fed is the illuminati, to suburban NIMBYs who only pay lip service to libertarian ideals, to progressives telling the libertarians that they’re numbskull idiots. It’s chaos, but everybody also gets their say, and nobody is silenced.

    But the vast majority of Reddit has moved away from this mindset, and towards a mindset that each subreddit should be actively pruned to remove contrary opinions.

    And the thing about these echo chambers is that they become a “race to the bottom” away from nuance. Since contrary opinions are viewed as the enemy to be rooted out and removed from the community, people bend over backwards to compete over who is the most “pure.” Extremism is fine, even encouraged, so long as it’s extreme in the right direction.

    And this isn’t just about politics. It’s everything.

    Even communities as mundane as, say, r/antiMLM – which is a subreddit against pyramid schemes like Young Living essential oils. I’ve been there a long time, and the community discussion has morphed from “god, these pyramid scheme people are awful, if you want smelly oils just buy them from Target!” to “you’re an idiot and should have your children and pets taken away from you if you ever buy smelly oils, they will literally kill your family.”

    Most subreddits are experiencing this vortex of extremism. In the case of smelly oils, it’s just frustrating, but on the political side, it’s genuinely feeding dangerous radicalization.

    Third (and this is what makes the second change deadly serious), is that Reddit has gone from being a weird little nerdy web forum to being a global media juggernaut. A significant portion of the world’s English-speaking Millenials and Zoomers get their news and form their opinions here.

    It’s incredibly worrying to me how Reddit’s administrators don’t seem to get this, and seem to act as if they’re still running a niche webforum.

    Recently, in the past year or so, the Reddit administrators introduced new “safety” features which changed the way blocking people works. Now, when you block somebody, they are unable to respond to any comment within any of your comment chains – even comments left by other users. This doesn’t just stop a troll from harassing you – this now gives you the affirmative *power* to effectively gag another user and remove them from the discussion entirely. And other users will never know. It looks like the blocked person just gave up and left the discussion.

    As you can imagine, this can be, and routinely is, abused. Bad actors will “fish” with test posts for fact checkers who will call them out on their misinformation, and then block those community fact checkers. Then, once they’ve blocked most of the active fact checkers in a subreddit, they become free to post misinformation as often as they like without being challenged. The fact checkers are completely unable to post or warn other readers.

    This has magnified extremism and the echo chamber effect tenfold.

    I’m afraid that Reddit is at least as dangerous, if not moreso, than Facebook from a social cohesion perspective.

    The administrators may not have asked to be running a global opinion-machine, but they are. And they need to take responsibility for it.

    They are actively contributing to a large portion of today’s political extremism.

  5. Comment chains were more common, and you could start one in almost any thread by posting “SOMEBODY” or “MAMAAAAAA” or “I did Nazi that coming.”

    Advice Animals and Rage Faces were the primary means of meme delivery.

    Reddit went through a phase where everyone fuckin’ loved Freddy Mercury and Mitch Hedberg.

    ShitRedditSays was real big. Reddit’s politics were heavily right/libertarian (RON PAUL RON PAUL RON PAUL) and SRS was the super-woke counter-culture. They would regularly brigade subreddits and/or doxx people they accused of “shitlording.” Reddit admins allowed this, for whatever reason.

  6. It used to be a lot more open and underground but admins started trying to profit from the site and it’s been a lot more politically lopsided. Like, heavily. Porn was better back then too. It’s just overly moderated and influenced now.

  7. * Diversity. Both in terms of people and opinions. There used to be these “Hey reddit! Post a picture of yourself!” threads and they were 100% white men between the ages of 20 and 30.
    * More subreddit focused. Everything used to be centered around /r/reddit.com with subreddits only getting a percentage of the traffic. Now everything is much more spread out.
    * NSFW wasn’t censored and the mods relied on users to just add it to their title.
    * Despite the fact that most of reddit seems to slip into this big hive mind of ideas and opinions, it’s actually strangely better now than it was then. Minority opinions, no matter how well sourced and written, were ignored and downvoted from *every* subreddit. Random janky unsourced videos sometimes made it to the front page if it agreed that Obama good/religion bad/Carl Sagan good/Israel bad or whatever.
    * On that note, opinions greatly differ in most subreddits. Then, because things were so much more centralized, there were no dissenters.
    * There was no “new” reddit. Everything was https://old.reddit.com which is so much better.
    * Reddit didn’t host pictures or videos. Imgur had just come out and that was the default place to post. Before then, pictures were usually from Photobucket or some other garbage site.
    * Much smaller site, much smaller user base. You got to know usernames and some were minor celebrities (/u/karmanaut and /u/Pdub come to mind). It was easier to get everyone together to do something cool.
    * This is a funny one, but sports. Reddit used to be so geek-centered that professional sports weren’t that popular. You were more likely to see big arguments over Lego Star Wars than a discussion over playoff results.

  8. There used to often be big surges of outrage against a scummy company/person. The whole site would go wild with memes and posts targeting that subject of outrage. This would last for about a week, then the mob would move on to another target. It was sometimes pretty justified, but after a while it was pretty stupid subjects, like asshole reality-show stars.

    I know this is pretty common on social media, but I suspect the admins did something to make sure these outrage mobs wouldn’t take over the site anymore.

  9. It’s gotten considerably worse. Reddit used to be all about freedom of speech: if you disagreed with someone you’d just downvote and move on. Now they’ve been increasingly heavy handed with censorship designed to push a particularly regressive and unpopular political ideology on everyone and censor or ban anyone who disagrees. It’s significantly worse than it was when I started.

  10. It’s not like Reddit is a bastion of racial equity or feminism, despite the insistence of incels with a persecution complex, but it used to be almost ALL MRA/anti-woke edgelords. It’s getting better but still not great. But in 2012 revealing that you’re a woman would invariably result in massive amounts of harassment and being a minority and/or disabled was similar tho not quite as bad. AskReddit used to be a bit more original too. It was like 70% frequent reposts instead of 90% being the same dozen reposts several times a day. And we used to be able to write details in body text.

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