Just a few years ago, you would never see such a disparity in votes vs comments. But these days, this is pretty much the norm. I’ve seen posts with 10K+ upvotes and no more than 80 comments.

I’d say in about 2 years, the entire place is going to be bots with AI generated content that try to mimic “real users” using their new Dynamic Product Ads tool. Not sure how that’s legal as I thought ads needed to be marked or differentiated from regular content, but here we are.

The future looks bleak and AI even bleaker. Because it’s going to be used against us to make the rich richer and not to make our lives better.

    • luciole@beehaw.org
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      2 months ago

      What is this cursed place? The clickbait has eaten everything. uBlock should make this into a blank page.

      • rwhitisissle@beehaw.org
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        What is this cursed place?

        Oh, boy, where to begin? Digg was originally a content aggregator founded in the middle of 2004 (around 7 or 8 months before Reddit), that was basically Reddit with a slightly sleeker UI. At one point it actually had a higher number of daily active users than Reddit and it was, for several years, Reddit’s chief competitor.

        The fascinating thing about Digg is that it went through enshittification long before it became the phrase to describe our current internet zeitgeist. It happened incredibly early in its life, but for reasons and in ways that would come to be emblematic of the current internet. The core reason is that the owners of the website were just looking to get out of the game with a pile of fast, easy cash ASAP. They were in talks with Google to sell Digg for $200 million in 2008, but that deal fell through.

        The beginning of the end for Digg came in August of 2010, when the site went through a major redesign, referred to as “Digg v4,” that fundamentally altered the ranking of posts on the site to heavily favor power users, as well as introducing a metric ton of bugs. It’s hard to describe the feeling of waking up one day and have your favorite website totally, completely destroyed. It was a Frankensteinian abomination; a cruel, misshapen doppelganger of an aggregator that now mainly linked to advertisements thinly disguised as “user content” and content posted by literally a handful of users who were able to manipulate post rankings to exclude any and all posts from non-power users from the front page, driving traffic exclusively to where they wanted it. As many of these power users existed on the political spectrum somewhere between Libertarian and outright Fascists, the political content on the website became especially jarring. No boiling of frogs took place here like it did on Reddit. One single code deployment and server restart later and the website was unusable.

        The complete catastrophe that was this redesign triggered a mass exodus from Digg to Reddit. Digg was never able to recover and Reddit became the de facto content aggregator site for the internet (and it’s where I spent around 8 hours of every day from September of 2010 to some time in 2023 when they finally gutted the API and I moved to Lemmy). In a grand example of historical irony, Alexis Ohanian said, in an open letter to the founder of Digg, Kevin Rose,

        this new version of digg reeks of VC meddling. It’s cobbling together features from more popular sites and departing from the core of digg, which was to “give the power back to the people.”

        Eventually, Digg was gutted for spare parts and its components and miscellaneous intellectual property sold off piecemeal for a total sum that was less than 5% of the value of the initial deal with Google. And the website Digg itself was ultimately sold in April of 2018 to BuySellAds for an undisclosed, but almost certainly pathetic, sum.

        And now, dear reader, you are aware of the sad and tragic history of Digg, whose rise and fall was an unheeded warning of the precipice towards which the internet as a whole is headed.

        • Rai@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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          2 months ago

          You and I had the same experience and the way you describe Digg’s life is nothing short of poetry.

          Also fuck MrBabyMan.

          • rwhitisissle@beehaw.org
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            2 months ago

            One thing I will never be sorry to see go is the age of pathetic power users who steal content from others and repost it ad nauseam for their own social network capital. Because those people are getting out competed by AI, who are stealing stories from those users, as well as stories posted by other AI. And thank you, writing is a small hobby of mine.

            • Rai@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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              2 months ago

              Everything is such a mess. This site has been pretty lovely, compared to basically any others.

              It shows—you certainly have a way with words.

        • teawrecks@sopuli.xyz
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          2 months ago

          Lol woah, Kevin Rose, blast from the past. He had one hit with Digg, botched it, and spent the rest of his free time spitballing useless startup ideas at anyone who would listen. I think he had to be the inspiration for the Ryan Howard character in the office.

      • Otter@lemmy.ca
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        2 months ago

        Somehow I never tried looking at Digg

        It reminds me of the original “Your doctor doesn’t want you to know these 8 tricks for belly fat” ads, only that’s the actual content?

        • Dave.@aussie.zone
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          2 months ago

          Digg was Reddit, before Reddit came along. And then they tried to monetise it all and pushed out a site layout update that “enhanced” that monetisation aspect (sound familiar?)

          Basically they fucked it up right there.

          I left Digg in 2010 and never went back, and now the domain and it’s remnants are owned by some advertising company.

          • abbadon420@lemm.ee
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            2 months ago

            Was there an exodus in waves? Did some people stay behind, but fewer and fewer as time passed?

      • meseek #2982@lemmy.caOP
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        2 months ago

        Digg is basically credited as being the catalyst for Reddit, giving it its initial strong launch and overall growth trajectory. Reddit was a place for nerds. As it grew and started hitting mainstream, that changed. But without the users from Digg, Reddit would have likely been as popular as Twitter at the start, a platform that has historically struggled to be relevant. At it’s inception, I think only about 10% of new account holders would remain on the platform. Maybe even lower. That’s a stark contrast from say Facebook that had something like a 90% to 95% retention rate.

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    2 months ago

    In addition to factors already mentioned by other users, I believe that there are also social/cultural reasons for that lack of engagement.

    Commenting in Reddit is like stepping on a mine field - no matter how innocuous your comments are, you’re bound to have users there assuming words into your mouth to screech at you. Plus all the “ackshyually”, one-upping, “wah TL;DR!” (i.e. “I’m entitled to an abridged version of what you said, even if you likely spent far more time writing your comment than I would reading it”).

    Eventually you say “why bother commenting? Just to get a headache?” and stop commenting altogether.

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      2 months ago

      It’s also filled with repeat comments. Most posts you read a few top comments and their threads. But then it quickly becomes other people just commenting the same exact thing.

      It’s just not worth looking at comments there.

      • meseek #2982@lemmy.caOP
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        2 months ago

        Don’t even get me started on that. I made a post that blew up (7k upvotes) and literally the entire comments section was the same responses. Out of the 100s that replied, only 10% or less were novel.

    • ALostInquirer@lemm.ee
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      2 months ago

      Does it sometimes seem like commenting in high traffic online spaces feels this way too, not just Reddit?

      • Lvxferre@mander.xyz
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        Kind of. In most high traffic spaces it feels simply pointless; as in, nobody will read it.

        In Reddit (and Twitter) however it feels like people will read it, misread it, and punish you for what you didn’t say.

        • pbjamm@beehaw.org
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          2 months ago

          Before I quit Reddit (when Bacon Reader died) I had already curtailed my commenting because of this. It seemed that any time I tried to make a thoughtful comment on a even slightly contentions subject I ended up in a pointless argument with someone who had poor reading comprehension. It was disheartening to realize that while I was agonizing over every word I put into my comment in an attempt to clearly explain my thought, the same courtesy would not be extended by the people mis-reading it. I started to think people were just scanning comments for keywords to get angry about then telling me that I was ignorant of a subject I knew a great deal about or a reactionary child when I am 50 IRL. Commenting became a burden and it lead to a decline in the quality of conversation as more and more thoughtful commenters found that burden too great.

          • TachyonTele@lemm.ee
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            2 months ago

            The same thing happens on Lemmy, unfortunately. A lot of people just want to be keyboard warriors.

          • GrindingGears@lemmy.ca
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            2 months ago

            It’s actually the mods that did it for me. If you don’t have this really weird super specific but vague world view, and you can’t follow 143 different rules (some not specified), then they start censoring you and temp banning your comments and contributions. The mods on my community sub actually permabanned me when I questioned them on it, instead of discussing it. After that I was like this is infuriating, and I don’t really want to participate here. Problem is, they mod anything related to said topic, like city, province, country, most political parties, quite a few special interest topics, etc. Its super weird behaviour.

    • The Doctor@beehaw.org
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      2 months ago

      Don’t forget folks aging bot accounts by downvoting everything they see to generate history.

    • Zworf@beehaw.org
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      2 months ago

      Yep this is one of the reasons I kept deleting my account even before the whole spez drama.

  • Chris Remington@beehaw.orgM
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    2 months ago

    We can still find engagement in small niche subs on Reddit. We’ve known, for many years, that people were going to move away from large corporate-controlled sites such as Reddit, Twitter etc…

    The Fediverse is addressing this. It isn’t a panacea. However, it is a re-imagining of what we want the Internet to be.

    There are many others, that will come along after us, to address this further.

      • ringwraithfish@startrek.website
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        Bots are already proliferating the fediverse. Kbin is constantly spammed with “buy online drugs here” links. Transparent bots (those that are tagged as bots) try to boost engagement by reposting things from Reddit, but are still perpetuating one of the worst aspects of reddit even if they’re being upfront about it. AI generated articles posted on obvious junk websites are constantly being spammed by the same accounts.

        It’s a difficult problem to solve.

        • Otter@lemmy.ca
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          One thing I noticed the other day, while banning one such bot, is that the same network has been posting on Reddit as well.

          Turns out the Reddit ones have been posting the spam for months, while the Lemmy ones get banned within hours.

          Part of that is the lower volume of content here, but part of it is also the great people that take the time to report bad content ♥️

          • ringwraithfish@startrek.website
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            2 months ago

            I always report. However, I heard that the report only goes to the admin of your instance. Maybe future releases will support cross instance reporting and the ability for admins to “trust” bans by admins from other instances.

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              2 months ago

              I’m fuzzy on the details, but I do get reports from users on another instance as long as it’s “relevant” (ex. in one of our communities, one of our users)

              Banning a foreign user on our instance will fix the problem for our instance, but they need to be banned on the home instance too in order to stop the spam from continuing

              • ringwraithfish@startrek.website
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                2 months ago

                Does ActivityPub report back bans to the user’s home instance? I could see a moderation tool that let the admin autoban their users if enough federated instances had banned them.

        • Dymonika@beehaw.org
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          2 months ago

          Kbin is constantly spammed with “buy online drugs here” links.

          Got examples? I’ve never seen this once as a Kbin user.

        • rwhitisissle@beehaw.org
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          I would imagine IP bans would be useful. Although the issue with this is that you run into the problem other websites are having: people who are valid users that are on VPNs get caught in the filter of IP bans because botnets also use the same VPNs.

      • henfredemars@infosec.pub
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        2 months ago

        There will always be bots on the Internet. I do not believe this is a solvable problem. Instead, we focus on mitigation.

        However, Reddit has little incentive to fight the bots because it increases engagement metrics. In fact, it costs money and reduces profits to reduce bot activity. Hence, so many bots.

        Right here on Lemmy, because nobody financially benefits from turning a blind eye to the problem, I think we have a head start. This platform is created by users for users. For that reason, I think we should never have the problem quite to the same extent as they do.

        • The Doctor@beehaw.org
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          2 months ago

          There are spambots that still post on Usenet newsgroups even after organics abandoned them twenty years ago.

    • FaceDeer@fedia.io
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      The Fediverse doesn’t have any defenses against AI impersonators though, aside from irrelevance. If it gets big the same incentives will come into play.

  • Corgana@startrek.website
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    2 months ago

    Reddit has been trying hard for years to move beyond being a discussion forum to another mindless scroling app.

    The reason is because in the time people read one discussion thread they only see one ad, but scrolling memes, etc they will see many more. It makes the ads much more valuable.

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    2 months ago

    I think one has to gather more proof before concluding that the gap is due to LLMs. It can also be that the engagement was lost due to third party app drop. We don’t have stats to distinguish them.

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    2 months ago

    To be honest, it feels much more likely to see posts on the Fediverse with many upvotes, few or no comments

    • anachronist@midwest.social
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      Yeah the fediverse has lower engagement all around because the community is a lot smaller. This is especially true in “long tail” communities. However, the upside is that there are no bots, dark patterns, or manipulated feeds.

      That being said, while I appreciate the chronological feed I do wish there was some way to “weigh” less active communities so that I can see their activity in my feed without them being drowned out by the busier communities. I’ve noticed that I’ve gone to communities that I’m definitely subscribed to, and seen that there were several posts that I missed because the posts were drowned out by content in busy communities like, for instance, technology@beehaw.org

      • HeartyBeast@kbin.social
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        2 months ago

        However, the upside is that there are no bots, dark patterns, or manipulated feeds.

        There’s a huge amount of incoming spam, much of it, I suspect posted by bots. I’ve also seen account posting ‘news’ from sites that are clearly AI generated

    • meseek #2982@lemmy.caOP
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      That makes sense tho given how the FV has pretty low engagement and most of it is still good bots doing housekeeping or trying to boost exposure.

      I guess I just didn’t think Reddit would collapse sooooo fast!

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    Just wait till the advertisers find out the eyeballs they are paying for are also just AI sock puppets. Enshitification strikes again.

    • henfredemars@infosec.pub
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      I’m sure the leadership will have cashed out by then. In fact, disgusting wealth has already been generated.

    • meseek #2982@lemmy.caOP
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      I know there is software that exists that can poison art so LLM can’t use it. I am hoping we make something like that against AI bots and ads. What a brutal future we have coming man.

      Can you imagine once we move to androids and other synthetic like machines? Or brain implants? Your bff that’s telling you to eat more eggs because they read they were really good for might literally be saying that because of chicken farmers or some vested third party who makes bank on eggs. Just wild that we are going to be attacked from all sides by corporate greed.

  • streetfestival@lemmy.ca
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    I’d say in about 2 years, the entire place is going to be bots with AI generated content that try to mimic “real users” using their new Dynamic Product Ads tool

    Yeah, it’s just partially like that now lol. A few weeks ago there was a side-by-side reddit screenshot post on Lemmy. It showed the exact same reddit post, with the exact same tens of comments (all word for word, some in response to each other iirc), from different accounts less than a year apart. 100% fabrication. I’d never seen such extensive bot-masquerading as people behaviour; it was a realization moment for me

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    2 months ago

    Reddit is so useless. I write occasionally, and whenever I hit a wall researching a character’s background, everyone tells me, “ask on Reddit!”

    I stopped asking on Reddit five years ago, because I can’t get any feedback besides a handful teenagers making wild guesses. Thank you for trying, kids. I guess.

    • exanime@lemmy.today
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      2 months ago

      Same, I lurked around a lot and thought it would be useful one day of I had a question … I’m just an avid DIYer and out of maybe 10 times I decided to ask, I got 1 solid answer… Everything else were wild guesses or just trolls

    • meseek #2982@lemmy.caOP
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      2 months ago

      Been mostly the same for me. If I ask a basic question like how to turn on Find My, I most likely will get a slew of downvotes and then one good samaritan post up the answer. If you ask a more technical question, like why is Find My iPhone using location services indefinitely, literally the entire website is like 🤷‍♂️

  • /home/pineapplelover@lemm.ee
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    2 months ago

    Damn I didn’t realize how artificial it is now. I remember before the protests I can feel the entire platform reposting stuff over and over with the same content. Pretty much the only good subs are the small niche subs, but those large ones are atrocious.

    • meseek #2982@lemmy.caOP
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      Reddit also released a new ad system that imbeds products in a “real life way” so you can get bots replying to users asking question that look 100% genuine but are run by say McDs. So if someone asks hey what do you eat in a given day, the bot can come in, totally organically, and say “oh i usually start my day with eggs and toast then for lunch I get a mcwrap because they’re on special for the month of march”. They “learnt” that people don’t write McWrap so they are trying to plug products basically how we do.

      Which makes recommendations suss af! I feel almost paranoid going there these days like are half the posts and comments I reply to real??

  • Stepos Venzny@beehaw.org
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    I think this disparity in votes and comments is also hugely affected by how the UI has been changing over the years as well as the destruction of third party apps. The site is now designed in a way where active participation is less encouraged than ever before unless you’re running old reddit on a traditional computer with an ad blocker.

  • Kichae@lemmy.ca
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    I saw some engagement graphs a few weeks ago for a few niche subreddits. Not necessarily niche in the “small” way, but in the “focused interest” way.

    Posts and comments per day completely collapsed during the 3rd party app-pocolypse, and never recovered. Community membership didn’t even show a blip, but actual discussions fell off a cliff.

    The Reddit app is really bad, and the website is worse. The mobile website is somehow the worst of the lot. Doing anything but voting and scrolling is painful. Reddit has successfully ended its usefulness as a community space. Most people there don’t aeem to have noticed this sea change, yet.

    Or at least, they’ve found no compelling reason to go elsewhere yet.

    • meseek #2982@lemmy.caOP
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      I can echo the last part. I refuse to use the app so I use the both the website and mobile version. Both are almost unusable. Comments often fail to load, just showing the Reddit logo animation. It takes 8 reloads to sometimes load a reply to one of my comments. Half the time it never loads just stalls at 30% loading. The post options to attach images or media to a comment doesn’t work on mobile; tapping the buttons literally do nothing. It works on desktop.

  • mondoman712@lemmy.ml
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    2 months ago

    IIRC they changed the way they calculate the scores a few years ago, which generally increased the numbers you saw.

    • RBG
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      Yes, exactly. The upvotes did not reflect actual real engagement for a long time. I don’t remember anymore where I read about it, but allegedly there is also some artificial correction applied. Maybe to combat brigading of upvotes but can of course be used for manipulation.

      • mondoman712@lemmy.ml
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        Yeah way before. I had a bit of a look through some announcements and couldn’t find it so I can’t say exactly when.