Angered over Redditgate, users want a Decentralized alternative to Reddit

Reddit is in revolt to protest the termination of Victoria Taylor, the site’s director of talent who managed the popular “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions that have included President Obama and other celebrities, Wired reported a few days ago. Hundreds of subreddits have been shut down by angered moderators. In other subreddits, users demand the creation of decentralized alternatives to Reddit, governed by the crowd of users instead of a centralized authority.

Reddit’s co-founder Alexis Ohanian took “full responsibility” for the revolt and admitted that the situation was handled poorly. Ohanian promised to work closely with moderators to address their concerns. However, there is growing unease with the “front page of the Internet” being centrally controlled. In today’s Internet, Reddit is the closest equivalent to the distributed Usenet of the 80s and 90s – a role too important, many Internet activists argue, to be centralized in the hands of a company.

A New Distributed Reddit, Decentralized and Free

RedditThis thread is one of the many where Reddit users discuss the creation of distributed alternatives to Reddit that can’t be controlled by any central point. The first option discussed is Aether, a free app that allows to read, write in, and create community moderated, distributed, and anonymous forums. Aether has been described by The Verge as ” an anonymous reddit without servers.”

“Aether is a Reddit alternative,” the creator of Aether say in a recent post. “It’s a peer-to-peer network like Bittorrent. It does not have any servers, thus is impervious to outside modification and to being taken down. There are no admins, no one with ‘delete’ or ‘ban’ rights. No one controls it. It’s an open source project.” However, the post acknowledges that he development is slow.

A few months ago BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker announced a private alpha test for a P2P web browser called Project Maelstrom, based on BitTorrent technology.

Project Maelstrom, which is intended to go much beyond Reddit and build a whole new decentralized and free Internet that works like BitTorrent, started public beta testing in April and released preliminary open source development tools, but it doesn’t seem to have progressed much to date.

However, the project promises the development of an entirely new Internet infrastructure built around modern technology, much more resilient and privacy-friendly, and Maelstrom killer apps as disruptive as BitTorrent itself are likely to emerge after more development.

“It may be that there is no viable middle ground between a centrally controlled media platform and an entirely decentralized media platform,” noted venture capitalist Fred Wilson referencing the type of entity he believes Reddit is becoming versus the type of platform many of its users want it to be.

You are either going to police the site or you are going to build something that cannot be policed even if you want to.

In a post titled “The Decentral Authority,” Wilson suggests that an entirely decentralized Reddit-like media platform could, and should, be developed on the Bitcoin blockchain, and that such a platform would be the “killer app” that Bitcoin enthusiasts are waiting for. Meanwhile, former Reddit blockchain engineer Ryan X. Charles described how such a decentralized media platform could work in a Medium post titled “Fix reddit with bitcoin.”

Images from Reddit and Antonio Zugaldia/Flickr.

Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.