Hidden Wonders

Privacy·Technology

On Reddit


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Table of Contents

Introduction[#]


UPDATE: This article is out of date due to Reddit API changes, which have unfortuantely killed many of the FOSS projects I discuss in this article. The last section holds true more than ever: just don't use Reddit.

I browse Reddit a fair amount, but I always find the default site lacking. The compact layout isn’t the default, and the main site requires a lot of analytics stuff enabled. Privacy stuff aside, I can’t help but feel that the default website looks really ugly. See for yourself (if you dare):

oldreddit.webp

screenshot of reddit.com frontpage, 2023

There’s so much unused space on the side (on a full sized desktop monitor especially), as well as these awkward gray side areas that make the site look like it should be a mobile site. Additionally, many of the side bars won’t even load without enabling a ton of JavaScript. Even usernames on the site won’t load properly without enabling JavaScript. I’m not saying Reddit should look as minimal as this site does, but it should be better. How can a website as simple as Reddit——designed to share text and images——become so bloated? Luckily, there are some solutions.

Simple Solution: Use old.reddit.com[#]


If you still want to comment and login to a Reddit account, the only real alternative is old.reddit.com, which is how the site looked before the redesign.

oldreddit.webp

screenshot of old.reddit.com frontpage, 2023

Right away I notice that there’s more room for the comments, posts aren’t automatically expanded and taking up precious screen real estate, and all of the usernames and subreddit rules load without additional tinkering with any privacy addons I have installed.

Unfortunately, the site still sucks. The greatest usability problem is that user-posted links to other parts of the site will still redirect to new Reddit unless you want to fiddle with browser extensions. And, of course, Reddit can just close down the old version of the site whenever they want. However, I think they’re avoiding the negative backlash that might occur from that move. I quote one user’s comment:

I will not use the tornado of manipulative visual chaos that is new Reddit.

This is all without talking about privacy, of course: the site is much better than modern Reddit, but Reddit is still getting your data and doing pretty much whatever it wants with it. The privacy situation is better, and may be good enough for most users, but it’s not solved either.

From Tor, I notice that comments cannot be minimized with the [-] button, and all that stuff about logging into the site is not going to be possible without enable cookies and JavaScript, and even if it is Reddit might block Tor (I don’t have an account so I can’t test it). Regardless, it does load without JavaScript, which is more than can be said for many modern websites.

This is the only option you have if you want to post on Reddit; however, if you just lurk like me there are a number of pretty decent alternatives.

Objective Best Overall: Libreddit[#]


Initially, my opinions of Libreddit were awful when I first visited the official instance, libredd.it libreddit.spike.codes. This site has settings, but by default it ships with the horrible, expansive card layout I was trying to escape (see their github page screenshot for what I mean). However, I recently tried a different instance (libreddit.nl) and found out some instances ship with the compact layout by default, which makes the site a lot nicer.

When it comes to images, Libreddit loads them faster than any other Reddit privacy frontend. The comments do take up a lot of space, however, but that’s my only criticism. Minimizing comments works great, sorting is perfect, and the site can run perfectly without JavaScript. Search results load quickly and are informative, listing matching subreddits at the top of the query before listing individual posts.

There are a number of Tor instances available as well. For a complete list of instances, see this link to their Github.

Altogether, I’m impressed with this option. However, I still prefer the compactness of Teddit’s UI.

Personal Favorite: Teddit[#]


Teddit is an awesome alternative Reddit site. There’s no JavaScript or anything on the page, just pure images, CSS, and HTML. This is the ideal Reddit alternative if you’re just a lurker like me, who desires the information density of old.reddit.com. It looks great as well; it respects your operating system’s light/dark mode setting, is a slightly more modern looking version of old.reddit.com, and works just as well as the main site in every capacity (other than logins, of course).

Tor works perfectly on the site; comment hiding works even without JavaScript——I don’t even think there’s any JavaScript on the site even if you wanted to enable it——and everything whether it be usernames or images loads fine without JavaScript. There are also several Tor and I2P instances (see their README for the complete list of available instances).

Some instances are a bit slow though (the main instance reliably loads content, but is slow), especially when it comes to images/videos, while a fair number of instances will just never load or break while using the site. I’ve been using teddit.pussthecat.org quite frequently and it loads acceptably fast.

This is the best looking and most usable Reddit alternative, but the load speeds of videos and images lags significantly behind Libreddit.

A Third Alternative: kddit[#]


kddit is another option: here is an onion link to the site, and here is a clearweb link. The source code is available here.

I don’t like it as much though; comments can’t be hidden and it uses a card-like non-compact layout by default. kddit does have very compact comments however, but the inability to minimize them is a deal breaker for me.

For mobile: use Infinity[#]


No contest for mobile, if you want an app to browse Reddit use Infinity, available on Play Store or on F-Droid here. You can login to your account I believe, but you can also subscribe to subreddits without an account. A friend of mine dislikes the interface compared to the official app, but I love the interface, so try it and see.

Conclusion: Don’t Post on Reddit[#]


I like Reddit for certain niche interests or technical information and that’s it. Becoming invested in the game of upvotes on Reddit is a dehumanizing experience best avoided——same goes for any social media platform with an emphasis on receiving some sort of approval from other users. Lurk, enjoy a few memes, get the answers to your problems, and then close the site. This will prevent the site from becoming a toxic presence in your life and allow you to enjoy the real world as well as sites like this one.

I also greatly agree with this article on Medium, aptly titled “The Fall of Reddit”, which I encourage you to read. It baffles me when I click on a politically charged post on Reddit and see half the comments deleted. Actually, you click on any popular Reddit post and all of the interesting posts are banned. You can often tell by the replies that the mods have banned any descenting opinions, leaving only an echo chamber behind. It’s not always political, but it is conformity of thought according to what the mods are in favor of that gets left behind. How can Reddit be considered a platform for user interaction and discussion when half the opinions are shut down?

The downvote system contributes to this problem: I like to browse by controversial purely because it’s the only way to see real opinions on Reddit as opposed to the typical “I support current thing” posts that get upvoted like crazy. Of course, browsing by controversial usually means most of the posts have been deleted by mods.

I reiterate: use Reddit exclusively for niche interests and technical information, then get off of the site as soon as possible.


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