basement blog

how to measure a forum's worth (or why Reddit isn't as amazing as people think)

reddit dot com is a social media site that's grown into something completely different than what it originally was. when reddit started, it was really no different than any other forum online. you had boards to discuss topics, users created threads, and other users commented on threads with their opinions/answers. simple.

there were others like something awful, fark, and 4chan (i'm not linking to this) doing the exact same thing, but reddit's whole difference is that they kept improving upon and adding new features to cast a wider net, and today you could probably pick a random person off the street and they'd confirm they know about reddit.

but i don't think reddit is necessarily the best forum out there. structurally it's awful - just looking at their site performance metrics, you can tell they're doing worse than plenty of DIY forums out there:

reddit lighthouse scores

pretty mediocre site performance

reddit downloads

almost 9 seconds to download 12MB worth of content. RIP to your phone battery

so what makes reddit so good? it's not the community. there's so many people on the site that there is no chance you're going to recognize the same usernames popping up and you're probably not going to interact with someone more than once. compare that to a site like something awful where you see the same avatars and usernames again and again in any given sub-forum. is that better? well, that's debatable 🤷‍♀️.

really what makes reddit amazing is the amount of content. people (myself included) are now using the site as a search engine to get help with video games, travel recommendations, health issues, etc. it's a general-purpose forum with so much content that makes it impossible to avoid.

but i think what makes a good forum is the community. it's nice to interact with like-minded people again and again, and create a culture around a niche. to be honest, basement community doesn't really have a niche yet, but it's what i'd like the site to move towards because it's why i started posting on forums in the first place. and i think people will agree that these niches helped make the early-internet what it was, for better or for worse. sites like the yesterweb want to get back to the early internet - personally, i think it's naive because the early web was full of angsty, immature losers who would jump down your throat the first chance they got, but i think creating little niche communities with modern technology is the goalpost, now that today's social media has taken a dip in popularity for some. i think the goal isn't to cast the widest net, but create something that you enjoy and hope other people want to join in.

the point of this post wasn't really about criticizing reddit, but more about promoting the idea that there are healthier places to spend your time online. i think most folks don't realize there's an alternative to timeline-based social media sites, and instead default to the popular platforms. But i think if someone was to venture into a smaller community, they might find discussions there more enjoyable.

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