Three (and a Half) Alternatives to Reddit
For when you're ready to leave the basement
Reddit is planning on making some changes to it’s API that will basically eradicate third party apps and some other features. In protest, many large subreddits are “going dark” on Monday, and a lot of
junki- users and communities are also using this opportunity to reevaluate their relationship with the platform as a whole.
This post is for those who understand that you can never scroll to the end. Some of my regular readers are probably surprised I am not simply recommending “touch grass” but try to remember that everyone has to start somewhere! There are enough “conquer internet addiction by running a marathon instead” articles out there, AFAIK they help nobody.
I’m sick of Reddit, what are my options?
There are many! What kind of experience are you’re looking for?
Lemmy - Basically Decentralized Reddit
Lemmy (Android, iOS beta) isn’t one website, it is many sites that work together. It’s kind of like if every subreddit was it’s own thing. Lemmy is to Reddit what Mastodon is to Twitter, meaning it’s decentralized, no single company controls it (and nobody can make the sort of changes Reddit is trying to make now)
With Lemmy, you register with one “instance” (website) and use that account to comment and post on other Lemmy instances. Importantly, unlike with subreddits, instances can block other instances, which helps to keep conversations from getting derailed by those pushing outside agendas.
Structurally nearly identical to Reddit
Greater control over what content you see and don’t
No “brigading” (instance mods can block other instances entirely1)
Low incentive for toxicity (unlike for-profit social media)
No risk of corporate overlords “rug pulling” your communities away
Still very new, not nearly as popular as Reddit
Lemmy is growing rapidly, but it still needs more active users to establish critical mass. If Lemmy instances were to catch on I think it would be a great way to keep all the good parts of Reddit without the bad ones.
LibReddit and Teddit - Alternative Reddit Frontends
Alternative front-ends are really neat. A quick explanation is that they are fast, ad-free, and privacy-focused ways to view popular websites like Reddit2. I’ve talked about them twice before on this newsletter if you’d like a more general understanding:
The two most popular alternative front-ends for Reddit are: LibReddit (“redesign” style) and Teddit (“old-style” reddit). Anyone can set up and host these, so there are a lot with some minor differences. Here a few examples you can check out:
Click the first article above for more information, like how to simply and automatically redirect Reddit links to the alternative front-end of your choice.
It’s literally reskinned reddit with all of the same content
No ads/suggested content
Significantly faster loading (usually)
It’s literally reskinned reddit with all of the same toxicity and “junk food”
Sometimes your chosen frontend can go down (switching is easy but annoying)
RSS Readers - News Feeds Without Clickbait
“I don't know why I've been sleeping on RSS for so long. It's exactly what I thought Reddit was.” — u/xyrfr, Redditor
I am always surprised at how few people truly understand how wonderful RSS readers can be. It’s most of the benefits of link-aggregator style social media with none of the drama, and not sorted by “popularity”. I think the only reason they’re not more popular is that they take a few minutes to set up.
Non-algorithmic custom news feed
Tailored to your interests
Most readers actually allow you follow Reddit subreddits within them
Not as useful if you primarily visit Reddit for the “communal” elements.
Takes a bit of time to find sources you like
I did a post a while back on how I curate my RSS reader. I also have a cheap tablet that is essentially just a dedicated RSS reader device. It’s very nice for when I want to sit for a minute and read a little without committing to a book.
Bonus suggestion: Tildes.net
Tildes has been around for a few years now, and I remember first checking it out as early as 2018 (No it’s not a Lemmy instance). It’s similar to Reddit and has a small but active user base. But I have a hard time recommending Tildes. Culturally I guess it’s just not for me. I don’t mean to imply Tildes is toxic or hateful or anything in the way Reddit can be, and they also don’t do memes or other low-effort garbage. I guess the best way to describe what I don’t like is that Tildes feels like it’s all the people who left Reddit because they were tired of collecting downvotes for correcting everyone’s grammar.
If you don’t mind a high probability of every interaction getting well ackchually’d, you’ll probably enjoy Tildes just fine. And no shade if you like it, they’re not exactly striving to be the next big thing anyway, which I absolutely respect. If you ask me, the internet should have more diverse, weird, small spaces. Tildes just ain’t my thang.
In Conclusion: Growing Up and Moving On
Reddit is a tricky website to navigate healthfully, because on one hand it’s an extremely toxic hellmouth full of deeply insecure young men who’s favorite hobby appears to be “entirely missing the point”. On the other hand, there’s a reason people are adding “reddit” to their Google searches and that’s because thanks to Reddit’s bevy of human moderators it’s one of two3 “big tent” places on the internet where you can be reasonably confident the advice you’re seeing is authentic and not just trying to push you towards buying something.
When the dust settles, I hope the real lesson people take away from all of this is that we should not trust for-profit social media with our “communities” in the first place. That said, while I personally am hoping the future of Reddit-style social media lies in decentralized collective networks like Lemmy, the most useful places now are the ones with the most people contributing to them, and in that department Reddit clearly still dominates.
I think the best path forward for those seeking a healthier alternative to Reddit is to mix all three suggestions:
Sign up for the places you want to see grow.
Use alternative front-ends when visiting Reddit itself.
Don’t use use social media at all to curate your news.
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I should mention- both Teddit and Libreddit currently utilize the Reddit API, which means they may be affected by the changes, but it’s my understanding that the developers are aware and are working around the issue. Yay open source!