Storypost | 2023.06.21

Comic end of Digg Reddit
An old webcomic about the migration from Digg to Reddit. 1, 2, 3.
The jannicide

Last week a bunch of Reddit went dark to protest the API thing. Site administrators responded with an ultimatum to bring subreddits back online. The protesting moderators came up with a response that was as clever as it was futile - bring their subs back but list them as nsfw to diminish their visibility and advertising revenue.

Reddit blackout interestingasfuck nsfw
Some subreddits reopened with vanilla content labeled 'nsfw'.

Reddit blackout nsfw wellthatsucks
Some users didn't get the memo that the they weren't actually posting nsfw content. Since this is a family-friendly blog, I'll just post a meme about it.

When a former /r/celebrity mod posted to Hacker News about his ban, the reception was mixed. To paraphrase:
SleepingSicarii SleepingSicarii This website now may be a little misleading.

"Public" does not equal "back to normal". For example r/aww, r/art, r/pics, r/videos and maybe more are posting only John Oliver-related content.

(Fun observation: r/Documentaries has 20m subscribers, but the top post for their month only has less than 4k upvotes. Is Reddit as big as it seems?)
The front page of the internet

Before the spez drama, Reddit's default front page was a pretty decent place to get news. The posts would span current events, politics, technology, culture, and humor. It wasn't all good, the links weren't always top quality, and the editorials were sometimes terrible. But old.reddit would show 25 posts that were easy to skim and deemed interesting by peers rather than editors or advertisers.

Reddit still functions, but the content is suffering from the site's brain drain. When you factor in the replacement of moderators and official company position of sacrificing content and users for revenue, it probably time to jump ship.

WSB Reddit WallStreetBets bull bear dichotomy technicals

There are a few niches that might be worth visiting for technicals and technicals.
Where feed?

I'm not sure what's next for news feeds, but the information vacuum has given me a chance to check back on the indieweb. There were even some posts about the Reddit drama.

Gio Why? AI??

But the reason Reddit is going this direction now isn't just so it can inflate its value for its upcoming IPO by squeezing its users. In fact, I'd be willing to bet Reddit sees its users as "acceptable losses" rather than as its intended target. What Reddit is trying to cash in on here is the AI gold rush.

Generative text products like ChatGPT are based on huge corpuses of human conversational speech, and their quality directly depends on the quality of those sources. Reddit, meanwhile, is sitting on a treasure trove of real data on modern human conversations, and even metadata about what constitutes high-quality responses in the form of upvotes and downvotes.

Because of the enormous volumes of data required, text models have to use official, high-volume API endpoints in order to gather data in a reasonable manner. They can't just "scrape" the site by browsing it at a comparable pace to a user, they need vast quantities of data in bulk. That's exactly the kind of access a premium API is perfect for.

Okay first off, Giocities is an awesome name, but I don't really buy the AI thing. Data shops can absolutely scrape Reddit at scale, especially if they're focused on the high-tier discussions. All things being equal, any coder would prefer the API interface, but that's not what drove the price changes. Spez specifically said he saw third-party apps as both an infrastructure cost and an opportunity cost. Moreover, Reddit could easily license user data to AI shops and third-party apps at different rates.

Lewis Dale If the Apollo app has to shut down, much like with Twitter I'll end up spending a lot less time there. In both cases, the official apps were so bad that I happily paid annual subscriptions for well-made alternatives.

UI matters.

Lewis Dale But this just serves as a reminder of what we actually lost when sites like Reddit took over. Independent forums were a great way to find and interact with niche communities

They were, as long as you didn't mind a fairly limited group. Any forum that did grow beyond a few hundred active users suddenly became innavigable.
The old web


Last year I had a post or two about static site generators and the indieweb. Hopping around the modern blogverse you see plenty of nostalgia for the old web.

Rebecca Toh The old internet - the internet we first fell in love with - was a weird and wild and unregulated country. It was experimental, free for all, exhilarating, creative. The browsers in those days did not yet need to worry about mobile formats, so people were able to make the coolest, most interesting websites. The sky was the limit and Macromedia Flash would bring us there.

There were no algorithms, no big tech companies trying to gobble up and then sell our data, no surveillance. The oddest friendships happened, because the internet allowed people from opposite ends of the world to find each other based on their common interests (and often via their wonderfully kooky little websites).

Her photo work is pretty amazing, btw. Speaking of blogs and photos and static sites:

Rousette I've had an itch for a while to create my own photoblog site. Flickr is convenient, but it doesn't feel like your own site, and you can't style it the way you would like. I've tried other photo hosting options, but they have the same kinds of issues. Lately I've wanted to host my own stuff in my own way, using - as far as possible - simple frameworks that I understand and can maintain. I have been working on it for a while, but I've finally got my Hugo-based static photoblog setup to a presentable state, and made it public.





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