Being on Reddit for over seven years, I’ve made some observations. Early on, Reddit was technology oriented — for instance, one of the primary sub-reddits was r/programming. And this tech focus is what drew me to the site after my previous hangout, slashdot, was waning.
As time went on, more people discovered Reddit and it started to develop a less tech-oriented culture. I visited the site to read the relevant news of the day and its associated discussions, not fraternize. But the new folks had other ideas, particular people started getting popular, and the new culture seemed dorky instead of techie, there was too much talk of narwals and bacon.
Then the refugees of Digg arrived. Digg was the biggest site of its kind on the Internet, it was populist not tech, but it imploded. There is no question that such an influx of newcomers changed the culture of Reddit. Out went technology and in came the era of “Advice Animals”.
I didn’t hate the change because I didn’t appreciate the previous culture that had been developing — the influx brought in a lot of new blood. I suppose it’s like being in a small town where certain customs develop — and if you don’t like it, you’re stuck unless you move to the big city. Although in Reddit’s case, the city moved to them (in the form of Digg users).
When an organization starts getting too insular, when it’s too full of in-jokes, and when an immovable hierarchy develops, then it runs the risk of getting stale. Reddit went from stale to vibrant. Of course the noise increased, but like in any big city you can apply your filters and get something meaningful from it.