I never thought this day would come. For years now, I've chuckled at the naysayers who lamented that "Reddit has gone downhill". People have been saying that for about as long as I can remember, and I've been there for over four years. Sooner or later, though, I guess we all become what we hate, because here I am.
Reddit has gone downhill.
Maybe that's not even quite the right way to put it. It's more like Reddit has hit a plateau. From my perspective, it's tough to tell if it's actually changed or if it's always been like this and I'm tired of it now. Maybe it's because I've been there so long, but there's just nothing new anymore. There's only a few basic kinds of posts. I'm talking about /r/AskReddit specifically, which has been my favorite subreddit by far since its inception. I've long since unsubscribed from /r/reddit.com and most of the larger subreddits. With a few exceptions, most of the other subreddits are only occasionally interesting. I've always been a proponent of the "If you don't like it, downvote and/or hide it" philosophy, but with 90% of the posts falling into one of a few categories that create the same predictable responses every time, I'm left with no option but to remove myself entirely. One man downvoting can only do so much, and it's become clear that my own tastes are no longer in sync with the AskReddit community. To save you some time, here's a summary of what you'll find on AskReddit, every day, for the foreseeable future.
The advice seeker. There's a few flavors of this post and few, if any, of them are worth reading. A short summary includes:
a. The person who clearly needs professional medical/legal/financial advice, but has decided to ask Reddit instead.
b. The person who has already decided what to do, but wants several hundred people to parrot the answer back to him/her.
c. The person who wants someone to type out the first result in Google for them.
d. The person who has decided to entrust a major life decision to a bunch of anonymous strangers. (often b in disguise)
This is a pretty broad category, so the questions vary widely in the amount interesting discussion the generate. As with any discussion, even a relatively boring question sometimes derails into an interesting thread. As a general rule, the more unusual the situation, the more interesting the discussion tends to be. More often than not, however, these tend to have one obvious answer that quickly gets voted to the stop, and several hundred other comments that rephrase it.
The hypothetical. This is another broad category. In fact, with the infinite possibilities hypothetical questions offer, it should be the most interesting. But usually the same few questions are endlessly repeated like "If you had three wishes what would they be?", "What would you do with (some large amount of money)?", "What super-power would you want?". Other times these can be just thinly veiled attempts to get the hivemind to reiterate its political opinions: "If you could tell every person in the world one thing, what would it be?", "Conservatives: Why are you like that???".
With a little imagination, these can sometimes be great, such as my favorite AskReddit question of all time, but the common ones tend to have predictable answers, and the political ones quickly devolve into the usual echo chamber.
Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive list. It isn't meant to be. Feel free to enumerate other types you've observed in the comments below. There are always outliers that don't fall into any category and these are often great, fitting with the spirit of "thought-provoking, interesting questions" that AskReddit is supposed to be all about. It just seems that lately these have been fewer and farther between, and the Internet is a poorer place for it.
Originally published 2011-05-06 12:01:19