Over the years, Reddit has succeeded by being a place where people can anonymously discuss almost any topic imaginable.
But it looks like there might be some changes to the anonymous part pretty soon.
This week, the company announced that it will be launching an early version of a new “profile page experience” for “a few redditors”.
Posting in the subreddit “r/modnews”, user “hidehidehidden” wrote that the testers would have a new profile page design, along with the ability to make posts directly on their profile and not just subreddits.
The profile pages of the alpha users has been redesigned to feature a larger avatar, a short description of the users and their posts. Other Reddit users are able to follow these testers and comment on their posts but not write directly on their profiles. It sounds a lot like Facebook, with the ability to write on someone’s “wall” deactivated.
In the announcement post, the moderator claims that Reddit is making this change in order to help content creators find the right place to post their content. In addition, Reddit hopes that the new feature will support content creators and help them to increase their number of followers.
The three users testing the new feature are Redditor-turned-acclaimed artist u/Shitty_Watercolour, Reddit co-founder u/kn0thing and video game entertainment company Riot Games, participating under u/LeagueOfLegends.
After the alpha testing with these three users, Reddit plans to move onto beta testing in which it will roll out the feature to more users and adapt based on feedback from the community. It is assumed that the plan is to eventually have everyone using the new profiles.
If the idea of Reddit becoming more like Facebook/Twitter gives you a rash, you aren’t alone.
In a follow-up post today, many Redditors voiced their concerns about the changes.
Currently, the top-rated comment comes from u/wuman, who wrote:
I do have a few problems. What if we dont want to be followed by people?What if we dont want everyone to know we are active in certain subreddits especially NSFW ones? I personally do not like the profile page as it feels weird. Like it is a forum or Facebook profile page. I am fine chatting with other strangers without knowing where they are active in other subreddits or the choice of following them. I dont like to keep it personal as I like reddit as a more of a community based site. Also, even if we can make certain things private or make our profile private, there will be subreddits that will require you to have a public profile to participate in the sub.
Reddit’s response was that it will allow users to “opt-out” of the feature if they share these concerns. However, an overwhelming majority of users felt that having the feature as “opt in” rather than “opt out” would make more sense.
Echoing the sentiment of a string of other Redditors, u/brazilliandanny wrote:
Ya should be opt in. Personally I think its a push towards a Facebook model. I don’t like it. Digg went downhill because it gave its “power users” too much power. Reddit shouldn’t go down the same path with every account trying to make their profile stand out instead of contributing to the conversation.
Reddit is famously known for being particularly resistant to change, especially ones that the community deems “unfair”. In 2015, a Reddit employee was fired leading to moderators shutting down major subreddits in protest. The site then faced severe backlash, ultimately leading to the resignation of then-CEO Ellen Pao.
By tinkering with one of the things that makes Reddit great – anonymity – these latest changes may bring about another revolt. With just three users of the new feature it’s too early to tell, but if anything, Redditors are vocal enough to make their feelings heard.