Reddit, Your Site is Terrible, Please Make it Worse
Posted November 15, 2018. 785 words.
Reddit, the 18th largest site worldwide is a fantastic site full of fun user-created content, amazing photos from around the world, and crazy far-right conspiracy theories. The web experience is great too. On desktop you can see several posts at a time amidst a sea of extraneous white-space. On mobile the site fills your browser until it is time to nag you, at least twice, to install their app. And then touch-events are registered 1cm up the page for no good reason. Or images refuse to load no matter what you do. You get the picture.
And I find myself going back.
Other social-networks simply don’t grab me the same way that Reddit does. Reddit is a never-ending fire-hose of content, you can keep scrolling, and keep scrolling, and keep scrolling, and keep scrolling, and I do. Facebook is a useful tool, but I never find myself scrolling through the news feed. Twitter is an endless feed of announcements, politics, and small things taken out of context. LinkedIn is a professional waste of time. Twitch is background noise, I listen to it, I don’t watch it, and I don’t feel that I waste the little time I spend there. YouTube, well I spend a fair amount of time on YouTube. There are great videos published near daily, but my subscription-feed is curated, and the front-page is limited.
Reddit just keeps going.
I only have finite time in a day, in a year, in a life, and I don’t think Reddit is a good way to spend any of it. I set perpetual Cold Turkey blocks on Reddit and other distractions on my computers. I do not have a Reddit app installed on my phone, but I do have a web-browser. I try to not use Reddit on my phone, I do it anyway. I clear my history from time to time to clear Reddit from my suggestions, it comes back. I definitely need to try harder.
I think I would block Reddit entirely if I could.
As far as I know, there is no perfect method to block Reddit on a non-rooted Android phone (I like Google Pay and similar applications) like there is on a regular computer. Cold Turkey has an Android app, but it blocks the phone instead of Reddit. It is still a useful app but it’s not what I am looking for. You can use an app to setup an Accessibility, VPN, or DNS blocker but doing so is finicky. Either it needs a persistent notification, drains what little battery life my old phone has left, or needs to be configured for every single WiFi network you connect to. I recently found BlockSite which seems promising, but I am a little concerned about how easy it would be to uninstall.
This isn’t great, but there is a solution.
Reddit, you keep making your site worse on a near weekly basis. Mobile used to be fantastic, fast, and worked well. First adverts and sponsored content were added which is fair, a site needs to earn money to survive. Cookie banners came next, but they are commonly thought to be required by law (I am not a lawyer). Then the site started to nag you to install the app, which is annoying but only seemed to appear once per tab. The touch-events bug came after, stopping browsing sessions in their tracks. Next Reddit added the blue pill at the bottom of every page, it’s really annoying to close. And now, Reddit has added yet another prompt to install their app. On every page you now need to confirm that yes, you want to continue using Google Chrome. If you make a mistake, or the touch-events bug strikes you will be whisked away from your dark Reddit experience into the stark white Play store.
So thank you Reddit, and please keep up the good work.
This post was inspired by a recent vlogbrothers video where John Green stated that his internet wasn’t working. And it left me wondering, is my internet working? Thinking about it, lead me to this post and the conclusion that while it isn’t broken, it certainly could be better. Working in tech, I spend a significant amount of time in front of screens. For my mental and physical health, I need to be efficient and limiting with my time in front of them.
And thank you, the reader, for reading this post. If you have any comment or suggestions why not send me an email to let me know.