Recently, I did my monthly browse of the top threads in AskReddit and came across this thread:
Redditors who have been here since the start, how has Reddit changed for the better/worse?
Some of the top comments had something interesting to say, but two comments caught my attention in particular:
The first time I visited the site (2009), I remember a thread with the title:
"Are there any other people who want to comment on reddit but are afraid to because of how smart everybody is?"
Can anyone imagine someone saying that on a "default" subreddit today? There were probably 100 comments from people agreeing that they were intimidated by the intelligence of other commenters, and so never commented themselves. Every time someone says the site hasn't changed that much, I think back to that thread and take stock of the fact that it is a completely different (and far, far worse) experience.
I don't make comments unless it's a topic that I'm well informed about. This used to be the unwritten policy of most users. I could spend hours reading threads, and more often than not I would end up more informed on a given topic. Now virtually every comment thread is just a graveyard of ignorance.
As pretentious as it sounds, with its increasing popularity, the userbase regressed toward the mean in terms of representing the general population. And now, because most people can't exercise the self restraint to not comment when they don't know what they're talking about, the prevailing opinions (even highly popular ones) are just ignorant and worthless.
Reddit used to be a place where I'd learn things. Many commenters were professionals in their fields. Comments were generally more fact- and knowledge-oriented rather than opinion-oriented. Correct language - spelling, grammar etc - was predominant. Stupidity was downvoted.
As the site has become more popular the average quality has gone down. You can still see remnants of Reddit's past in the now erroneus reputation of Reddit being an intellectual site. It used to be. Now Reddit is a place for the lowest common denominator to play.
I think that our community, as it stands, has this type of quality mentality integrated throughout the comments and submissions, at least somewhat. One of my fears about Voat, though, is the potential that the perfectly-spiced cinnamon toast community here will lead up to this type of water-saturated soggy bread.
My question is, "How can we, as a community, protect these values of reservation/self restraint to keep quality throughout Voat?"