After 12 years using Reddit, I’ve deleted my data*. I’ll give it a few days to check that my comments and posts have been completely wiped and then I’ll permanently delete my account. Like many other long-term user of Reddit, this is in response to the greed of Reddit’s management and their despicable treatment of Christian Selig, developer of the Apollo app. There’s been a lot of coverage about this recently and the right thing to do is to leave Reddit. I’ve used Apollo for many years and it has been the primary way that I accessed Reddit. I doubt I would have used Reddit very much without Apollo.
Reddit was a mechanism I’ve used for making contact with others with whom I had shared, somewhat niche interests. I’m sure I wouldn’t have encountered contemporary writers like Laird Barron, John Langhan or Caitlin R. Kiernan without belonging to one of the subreddits that have celebrated their work. Or learned about apps like Obsidian. Or got support with tech hardware. Or simply shared enjoyment of music, comics, tv series or movies. “Reddit” was a search term I added whenever I needed information or help online.
It feels like there’s something bigger happening at the moment in terms of online communities. In the early days of the net, many of us used Usenet and blogs. Facebook and Twitter more or less centralised everything and made accessing communities online very easy so – combined with the smartphone – these platforms became ubiquitous. (Google and Microsoft were less successful in this.) My impression is that Reddit enabled people to replace their various accounts on various forums scattered across the internet with one location and one sign-on. Reddit seemed to be the final end of Usenet as a place to discuss anything. This centralisation also concentrated power in the hands of companies who, as we know, monetised user data and now require subscriptions.
It feels that the movement towards decentralisation – away from big tech’s control over platforms – seems to be gathering momentum. I don’t believe we’ll see a return of forums, Usenet or other social media platforms of yesteryear. It does look like social media federation is, though. Simply, the idea is to build a federated network of platforms which no one company controls. Mastodon – essentially a Twitter alternative – is the largest of these federated platforms at the moment but there are many others.
I’ve been on Mastodon since 2018.
In terms of a Reddit alternative, I’ve moved to Lemmy. It’s pretty early days there and – like Mastodon – takes a little time getting used to how to subscribe to communities (the term for subreddits) on different instances. There are lots of communities being set up that seem empty – but I’m sure that they’ll fill up.
What seems to me like an important development in the adoption of Lemmy is wefwef.app, a browser-based app that has a similar interface to Apollo.
* I have to thank Power Delete Suite which made export and deletion of my Reddit data effortless.