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The top 4 alternatives to Reddit

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Screenshot of lemmy.world's front page

Many people haven’t forgiven Reddit for killing the thriving ecosystem of third-party apps by outpricing developers with high API usage prices. Many of the best Reddit clients had to be sunset, and there was a public fight between the developer of the popular iOS client, Apollo, and the CEO of Reddit. That’s why people are leaving Reddit behind and turning to alternative social networks. We list the most promising contenders in this roundup.

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1 Lemmy

The closest Reddit alternative

Lemmy is a federated network consisting of dozens of instances and servers. In that regard, it’s similar to X (formerly Twitter) alternative Mastodon, which is also a federated network. This makes it harder to wrap your head around Lemmy.

Lemmy is a collection of servers that integrate with each other (called federating). Each offers slightly different moderation practices and default sets of communities. Think of it as another organization level that is above the level of subreddits, with different communities existing within different servers. When you sign up for a server, you can join communities from other servers and interact with people on Fediverse projects like Mastodon.

You should feel at home after wrapping your head around this different concept, selecting your favorite instance, and creating an account. The server lemmy.world has an interface that resembles a mix of old.reddit.com and the new Reddit style, without advertisements. Posts consist of links, memes, images, and other media that others can comment on. There isn’t a karma-based system that determines an account’s perceived value.

During the Reddit blackouts, many people joined the platform, leading to stability and performance issues due to the unexpected number of new users. The network started in 2019 and had about 21,000 monthly active users. The sudden influx after the Reddit API change increased the number to 71,000. The most popular instances are lemmy.world and lemmy.ml, with the latter being criticized for its moderation practices on human rights. The former had about 11k active users a month at press time, down from 25k after the Reddit fallout.

As for funding, the servers are supported on a donation basis, with no big corporations behind them. This leads to a problem concerning user data and privacy, as there isn’t a single accountable entity behind the network.

The familiar Boost for Reddit experience is coming to Lemmy.

Some of the best third-party Reddit clients, like Sync and Boost, offer new versions of their products that work with Lemmy. This could give the social network another boost and make it easier to use, as people wanting to switch from Reddit might be familiar with their preferred Reddit clients on Android and iOS.

2 Squabblr

Twitter and Reddit in one

If you find Lemmy and the Fediverse too complicated in their current state, Squabblr, initially called Squabbles, might be a more interesting alternative. It offers a different interface than Reddit, though it retains the idea of a front page and communities that people can join and comment on. The service also added an optional, more familiar layout option you can turn on in the upper-right corner.

Squabblr’s default two-column view shows you a post on the left side and the most prolific comment on it on the right, with the option to tap an expand button to show more if you want to dive deeper. This makes it easier to see what people are talking about while scrolling through the feed without entering the comment section. This also has the side effect that you keep the posts that are talked about in view on the left, which are encouraged to be kept brief. That way, the platform is often described as a hybrid of Twitter and Reddit, with the website also describing itself that way.

Squabblr is a new platform and is still in its infancy. The developer behind it listens to community feedback and actively adds new features. Recently, it added the option to embed media. It also introduced a system that prevents individuals from creating and moderating too many communities. The platform currently finances itself through a Patreon account and plans to add a premium subscription with nice-to-have features.

The mobile view is condensed into a single column, with the top comments visible underneath the post. Some third-party mobile apps are also available, like Tiff, with those services looking more like Reddit than the website. Tiff hasn’t been updated since July 2023, so it might be stagnating more than Squabblr.

3 Hacker News

Tech only

Screenshot of Hacker News home page

Y Combinator’s Hacker News could be a good choice if you use Reddit for tech news and discussions. The social media site looks unchanged since its introduction in 2007, offering an old reddit.com-style text-based interface that only lets you look at titles before diving into discussions.

The community focuses on technology and related topics. It can be compared to a single tech-focused subreddit rather than all of Reddit. If that’s what you’re looking for, it might be for you.

Some delightful third-party apps for Hacker News, including Hack and Harmonic, are available on Android. The latter supports Material You theming and a transparent navigation bar.

4 Discord

A more secluded place

Screenshot of the Discord Nothing server on the web

Many Reddit communities have Discord servers set up where members can hang out and chat more casually than on the board-style Reddit interface. This may be a good replacement for some people. Discord is still a Slack-like chat app, so discussions can become chaotic and hard to follow. Be prepared to devote more time to it, or be okay with missing out on stuff.

Discord was created in 2015 and has been and still mostly caters to gamers. The service allows people to start their own “servers” and join those created by others, where they can hang out, create rooms for different topics, share files and videos, and more. You can have a server for hanging out with friends, organizing work, or recreating Reddit communities you might miss.

Discord is also undergoing changes, with the company recently forcing almost everyone to change their username, removing the familiar four-digit ending and adding an @ symbol. This is meant to clarify who is who and prevent people from using identical usernames.

A disadvantage of Discord is that it’s hard to search for knowledge, as communities and servers are locked behind logins. On Reddit, it’s easy to find answers to pressing questions and be directed to the correct subreddit and discussion via Google Search. You need to know which servers to check out on Discord to find what you’re looking for.

Discord is available on the web and desktops, with mobile apps on Android and iOS.

No alternative is as central and big as Reddit

There are more alternatives to Reddit, but like the others listed here, they are small and haven’t gained traction with the wider internet audience. It doesn’t look like these alternatives are anywhere near taking Reddit’s place on the internet. The advantage with many of them is that they might be a more pleasant experience with less noise drowning out everyone’s voices. Many aren’t controlled by a corporation and are fully community-funded. Reddit is likely to live on in the near future, but you know where to go when you’re ready to turn your back.

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