Goodbye Reddit

I sung the praises of “small reddits” for longer than I probably should have.

I was a very early Reddit user, and really enjoyed some of the small communities. When subreddits were new I “founded” the r/washingtondc subreddit, handing it over as it really took off and I moved away from DC in 2011. Without reddit I’m not sure I would have gotten into a few of my hobbies, as it was advice and discussion around those that drew me in.

But, with site changes and continued expansion, my usage of Reddit in recent years has dropped off. I’d unsubscribed from all but about ten subreddits, most under 10k subscribers.

Like many others, the recent drama is the final straw for me. Reddit’s refusal to take action against its worst communities always sat wrong with me. Those communities, largely built on hate speech and shock content made recommending even a healthy subreddit feel risky as more and more people grew to associate Reddit with its worst communities. Reddit’s owners have long shown a shocking lack of concern for the health of the communities they host.

Reddit admins seizing communities from those that have built them up hammers it home, communities need to own their own spaces.


I have come to care a lot about online communities. From the niche communities I was active in back in high school, to the political spaces and civic tech communities I was a part of through my career, to the open source communities I’ve been a part of. These communities that transcend geographic limitations have been a important part of shaping my life.

Like many, I think what’s happening to Twitter and Reddit is a shame, but also for our own good. We need to move on to better platforms.

I like Mastodon, I’m not sure about Lemmy. Federation for (micro)blogging makes sense to me, but forums feel like a different beast. I’m happy to see experimentation though, though stressful, this period of people trying out old PHP bulletin boards, new federated forums, and others scrambling to build something better is a good thing.

Community Apps

Even if I’m wrong and Lemmy takes off, I think there’s a missing piece. I don’t think people want to log into a dozen sites to check if there’s new content.

To me, the killer app that’d put the nail in Reddit’s coffin and let communities thrive is, well, an app.

The community admins should be free to pick whatever they prefer for maintenance purposes and ease of use: phpBB, Discourse, Lemmy, KBin, etc.

Users however are going to struggle to check a dozen sites. But if there were a single app (or site) that could pull in data from all of these, yes they’d need to log in multiple times, but once they’d done that, they could see all the new content in one place.

Most of these sites have APIs and similar enough data models that I think this is possible. To be sustainable, it’d be far better for this to be a collaboration between various open source forum software. (In some cases it should be possible to implement this as a plugin.)

MVP Community API

  • Authentication: This is a perfect use for OAuth, which many sites already support.

  • List of communities: A list of communities the user is subscribed to, with a link to the community’s site and the API endpoint for the community’s posts.

    • In traditional forum software, where there’s no concept of being “subscribed” to a community this would correspond to individual forums.
  • List of posts: A list of posts from a community, with a link to the post and the API endpoint for the post’s comments.

  • List of comments: A list of comments from a post, with a link to the comment and the API endpoint for the comment’s replies.

  • Community metadata, each community would provide the following:

    • Community name
    • Community description
    • Community icon
    • Login Link
    • Signup Link
    • API URL

This would allow reading from multiple communities in a single app. You’d still sign up for each community individually