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Reddit's Main Code Is No Longer Open Source (reddit.com) 162

An anonymous reader quotes an announcement from Reddit's founding engineer: When we open sourced Reddit back in 2008, Reddit Inc was a ragtag organization and the future of the company was very uncertain. We wanted to make sure the community could keep the site alive should the company go under and making the code available was the logical thing to do. Nine years later and Reddit is a very different company and as anyone who has been paying attention will have noticed, we've been doing a bad job of keeping our open-source product repos up to date. This is for a variety of reasons, some intentional and some not so much:

Open-source makes it hard for us to develop some features "in the clear" (like our recent video launch) without leaking our plans too far in advance. As Reddit is now a larger player on the web, it is hard for us to be strategic in our planning when everyone can see what code we are committing. Because of the above, our internal development, production and "feature" branches have been moving further and further from the "canonical" state of the open source repository... We are actively moving away from the "monolithic" version of reddit that works using only the original repository... Because of these reasons, we are making the following changes to our open-source practice. We're going to archive reddit/reddit and reddit/reddit-mobile. These will still be accessible in their current state, but will no longer receive updates.

The announcement has been condensed slightly, but Reddit's founding engineer insists that "We believe in open source, and want to make sure that our contributions are both useful and meaningful. We will continue to open source tools that are of use to engineers everywhere." In addition, "Much of the core of Reddit is based on open source technologies (Postgres, python, memcached, Cassanda to name a few!) and we will continue to contribute to projects we use and modify..."

"Those who have been paying attention will realize that this isn't really a change to how we're doing anything but rather making explicit what's already been going on."
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Reddit's Main Code Is No Longer Open Source

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2017 @12:34AM (#55130949)

    Imagine that: Companies only embrace open source when they benefit from it.

    • Imagine that: Companies only embrace open source when they benefit from it.

      Companies are often poor at deciding what is in their best interest. Reddit's explanation is that going closed source will allow them to do secret stuff. But is keeping secrets really beneficial? Might it not be better to discuss changes openly, and get feedback from users, before committing development time?

      I once worked for a company that was considering going open source. There was huge internal opposition from people that feared giving away the "crown jewels" and allowing competitors to "steal" code

      • by Ramze ( 640788 )

        That's an interesting point. Just because source code is published doesn't mean it will be incorporated into other projects.

        I imagine a lot of companies could do the same and their competitors wouldn't bother to use their code -- either because they have their own code base that is tried and true or because they don't have the resources to analyze and/or run the code properly given their hardware and network architecture.

        I personally wouldn't know what to do with a sizable chunk of quality code for a comme

  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @01:20AM (#55131029) Homepage Journal

    Does anybody care? I only spent five minutes researching the subject, but from what I can find virtually nobody is using Reddit's Open Source code to run their own websites.

    Reddit's reasoning seems dickish -- they benefitted from being Open Source when it benefitted them, but as soon as it didn't, they decided to stop. I find their reasoning for making the code closed source specious -- does having video really give them some sort of competitive advantage? Video is hardly new on the web -- every major service already supports it. I doubt they're doing anything so new that nobody else can figure out how to do it on their own competing websites.

    Sorry Reddit. It's a dick move and your reason sucks, but somehow I doubt anyone really cares all that much how your code is licensed, as virtually nobody is using it anyway.

    Yaz

    • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @01:26AM (#55131037)

      It does show a huge culture shift. I remember making a snarky comment about starting a new site because they did something stupid, and the current owner/admin of the site replied to my comment with something like, "Well then you better start with our codebase then!"

      It's something about how bubbly/happy/engaged/accommodating their admin staff was, was just .. infuriating; it also somehow kept me on the site. Today is now another story, with rampant censorship, vote manipulation, and a site-wide hive-mind mentality that's enforced by the admins themselves. Their utopian hands-off philosophy love-your-enemy philosophy has morphed into some weird dystopian-esque love me or leave me world where censorship is seen as a virtue.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        censorship is seen as a virtue.

        Moderating private forums is a virtue.

        Free speech means you won't get jailed so you can criticise the government without fear of arrest etc. It doesn't mean you won't get ostracised, disinherited and thrown out of the private clubhouse.

        With all these cries of censorship no one has actually been prevented from their legal speech. Some people have fonud it tricky to find somewhere to host them but in the end there are options.

        So yes the system works and no you have no legal, mor

        • by Jack9 ( 11421 )

          > So yes the system works and no you have no legal, moral or ethical right to say whatever you want where ever you want whenever you want.

          Whoa there. I would definitely say you have a moral right to say whatever you want where ever you want whenever you want, in some respect. I would even go so far as to say it's moral that you should have a way for any message to be heard.

          Truth is relative (truth is not the same as fact). Personal truth is based on experiences, biology, psychology, etc. Then maybe choos

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            Whoa there. I would definitely say you have a moral right to say whatever you want where ever you want whenever you want, in some respect. I would even go so far as to say it's moral that you should have a way for any message to be heard.

            No absolutely not.

            Your right to free speech does not in any way trump the right of others to not listen.

            Truth is relative (truth is not the same as fact).

            I disagree. That's partly true, partly not. Some people believe lies, that does not make those lies the truth.

            Then mayb

            • by Jack9 ( 11421 )

              > That's stifling speech in some form and it is absolutely not immoral.

              This is the core of what you object to, as far as I can tell. I think you missed the important element of your own example. They said it, you heard it.

              The consequence is obvious and practical. That's fundamentally separate from your own allowance that they might vocalize something to you. As social creatures, all humans accept that human vocalizations are both expected and worth interpreting as part of a subcortical network like in

            • A huge part in learning and discovery is to see what is wrong. We learn by trial and error from birth. When we want attention, we make lots of noise. When we want a different type of attention, we smile. We learn that if nobody is looking, they can't see the smile so we learn to make vocal sounds to get their attention and then smile. We learn that 2 apples and 2 pears is not 89 pieces of fruit, it's 4. And no matter what types of fruits we count, addition always works. Seeing right and wrong, or cor

              • You seem to have a pre-conceived idea what I said and have bent your entire reply around that. As a result, it makes little sense.

                Has a couple thousand years of Religious doctrine and wars not shown you that silencing dissenting opinions is not just a bad idea, but a hopeless endeavor?

                What's that got to do with what I said? You having free speech (something I believe in) doesn't mean you can say whatever you want whereever you want with no social consequences.

                The fastest way to kill off bad ideas is by expo

                • by s.petry ( 762400 )

                  My reading is just fine, perhaps your writing and ideas are the issue. Example: Your claim that the right is anti-science. This is exactly why we need debate and a free exchange of ideas, because the left eat least just as guilty. If you don't know it, then you are living in a bubble devoid of facts that harm your beliefs. If you do know it and still want to stifle debate, you are an authoritarian who believes that you should be able to control what people think.

                  You then go off into the weeds bringing u

                  • My reading is just fine, perhaps your writing and ideas are the issue.

                    Oh yes, this will be fun.

                    Example: Your claim that the right is anti-science. This is exactly why we need debate and a free exchange of ideas, because the left eat least just as guilty.

                    Right, perhaps it's his writing and ideas which are the issue. Dolt.

                    If you don't know it, then you are living in a bubble devoid of facts that harm your beliefs.

                    [citation needed]

                    You're going to have a long, long way to go to show that leftists have harmed education in this nation even noticeably compared to what the religious reich has done. I look forward to seeing your bullshit excuses for why you won't provide any backup for your bullshit claims.

                    You then go off into the weeds bringing up points about teaching which have nothing to do with my post. Can't use your noggin? Mkay..

                    You are the one who brought up "a generation of kids all f&$ked up in schools". If you didn't want to talk about education,

                  • You're clearly intent on misrepresenting what I said by transposing religious right with all of the right. There's little point I arguing with you because you are clearly both dishonest and impervious to reason. This bit is special though:

                    You then go off into the weeds bringing up points about teaching which have nothing to do with my post.

                    Off in the weeds about teaching, eh? I guess I hallucinated you saying:

                    Do you see why we are regressing instead of progressing in education?

                    Anywho thanks for giving me

              • Has a couple thousand years of Religious doctrine and wars not shown you that silencing dissenting opinions is not just a bad idea, but a hopeless endeavor

                Yes, it has, but the religious still won't fuck off, because they haven't learned that message.

                • by s.petry ( 762400 )
                  You mean like the zealots on the left who believe that anyone that disagrees with them is a nazi, homophobe, xenophobe, Islamophobe, racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic misogynist right? That is what I was thinking too! Those people have an ideological belief which is rather dangerous. They should be exposed!
                  • You mean like the zealots on the left who believe that anyone that disagrees with them is a nazi, homophobe, xenophobe, Islamophobe, racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic misogynist right?

                    No, I mean the religious people who think they should get special tax exemptions for believing that their neighbors are going to burn in hell, and of course, actual Nazis and anyone who enables them. For example, the slavery supporters who marched next to the Nazis in Charlottesville and didn't complain about their Nazi flags. They're just less-brave Nazis.

                    • By the numbers, there are less than 100,000 people belonging to any group listed as a "White Supremacist" group in the US. Or less than .03% of the population. Many of those are not "actual Nazis", but even assuming they are it's not a very big or dangerous group and has not grown by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, they have a Constitutional right to voice their opinions and people believing that we all have Constitutional rights is correct and legal, not incorrect.

                      Conversely, there are approximatel

                    • By the numbers, there are less than 100,000 people belonging to any group listed as a "White Supremacist" group in the US.

                      hahahaha

                      Conversely, there are approximately 500,000-1,000,000 members of antifa and blm

                      BAHAHAHAHAHA

                    • by s.petry ( 762400 )
                      Let me see your citations mister "hahaha", because you obviously have different information than is available to us normal people. Or perhaps you have no such information, but need to maintain your delusional belief that Nazis are running rampant across the US despite any actual facts.
                    • by s.petry ( 762400 )
                      Lets also note that you completely ignore my point and claim, "less-brave" marxist.
                    • If the Nazis won, there would be genocide. If Black Lives Matter won, police officers who killed people without good reason would be punished severely. If Antifa won, it would be more complicated, but nobody would be killed or deported. BLM and Antifa are reactions to problems. Nazis are a problem.

                    • If the Nazis won, there would be genocide. If Black Lives Matter won, police officers would be killed and lawlessness would prevail. BLM and Antifa are staged marxist movements, and a very big problem. Nazis are a problem, but there are very few of them.

                      My position is based on facts, see the dozens of innocent police officers shot and killed (some execution style) by people believing the blm/antifa rhetoric. See the attacks against police dogs, horses, families, homes, etc... if innocent police officers. I can't fix your delusions, only point them out.

                    • OK, how about some cites? I haven't heard of widespread violence.

                      In any large movement, there are going to be some assholes out to find something to break or hurt or kill. Modern Nazis are basically all assholes by design.

          • Whoa there. I would definitely say you have a moral right to say whatever you want where ever you want whenever you want, in some respect.

            Absolutely not. Your right to free speech ends where my face begins. You don't have a right to force me to listen to you. That's why we have a thing called harassment.

            I would even go so far as to say it's moral that you should have a way for any message to be heard.

            You do! You find a receptive audience.

            Remember, even if you talk right to someone, they won't necessarily hear you. Talking is about you, you have a right to talk. Hearing is about someone else, you don't have a right to make someone else hear you. That is violence.

            Truth is relative (truth is not the same as fact). Personal truth is based on experiences, biology, psychology, etc.

            Your "truth" can go fuck itself if it doesn't agree with facts, and no one shou

            • by Jack9 ( 11421 )

              > That's not what you said at first, though. You don't even know what you believe.

              I'm very sure I do.

              > You said that people should be able to force other people to listen to them

              No, I did not. - "a way for any message to be heard" is not the same as "anyone should have to listen". One is an available channel, the other is a forced acceptance of content (or something?). I really don't understand how that interpretation can make sense conceptually. My ongoing responses to serviscope_minor may clarify th

              • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday September 03, 2017 @08:46AM (#55131843) Homepage Journal

                No, I did not. - "a way for any message to be heard" is not the same as "anyone should have to listen".

                Yes, yes it is.

                One is an available channel, the other is a forced acceptance of content (or something?).

                No, you're missing it; that's my point. What you have a right to is the right to share your message with anyone who wants it; you have the right to speech, and not the right to be heard. It's like the difference between implication and inference. The speaker implies; the listener infers. The speaker speaks; the listener hears. You have the right to speak. You do not have the right to force others to hear. And that is why you don't have the right to force any particular communications channel to carry your message, and you don't have the right to scream in people's faces. There's really no meaningful difference.

          • by Whibla ( 210729 )

            What a day to have no mod points.

            +1 Insightful

          • Whoa there. I would definitely say you have a moral right to say whatever you want where ever you want whenever you want, in some respect. I would even go so far as to say it's moral that you should have a way for any message to be heard.

            The right to free speech does not mean a mandate to listen, or to provide a podium. You want to say something, you grab a soapbox or get your own website or something like that. Taking your words literally, you are saying that someone should be able to come into my hous

    • by mikkig ( 5072653 )
      i cant even figure out how to post to reddit to where my posts ever get bumped......whats the secret?
    • Nobody uses Reddit's code because Reddit's code is terrible. It's a jumble of Python that relies on some very specific (and long-deprecated) Python packages, which means that you can only run it on one specific version of Python on Ubuntu 14.04. Trying to run it anywhere else (even Ubuntu 14.10) will typically end in failure.

      We're in full agreement about them dropping open source sucking, though.
    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      It's not just about using it, but about reading it. Reddit has become big enough that rankings on it can make or break a project, so understanding how its algorithm works under the hood is important.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      Does anybody care? I only spent five minutes researching the subject, but from what I can find virtually nobody is using Reddit's Open Source code to run their own websites.

      There are people complaining that their pull requests have been left to die on the vine-- they were trying to add features and fixes to reddit itself.

      There are multiple attempts at reddit-alternatives out there, and I would be very surprised if at least some of them weren't using an older version of reddit code as a base. (If you c

      • (Every other day I wonder why everyone gave up on usenet. Something or other about spammers is what they usually say, but compared to other crap we've got to deal with, there had to be some hack that could cover for that problem...)

        I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you there. Sure there were heavily spammed and toxic USENET communities (comp.os.os2.advocacy, I'm looking at you here...), but a decentralized discussion system that allowed you to use any client, and for which you could get offline capabilities is something I too frequently miss. For every really bad USENET group, there were a number of amazing communities, and if you wanted to ensure you got as far away as possible from the junk, you could always find a .moderated grou

  • Why bother? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @01:22AM (#55131035) Homepage

    Why use Open Reddit when Slashdot code is easily available [slashcode.com]?

    • Re: Why bother? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2017 @01:57AM (#55131069)

      Slashdot's code is NOT easily available. In fact, it's not available at all. The code that you can download is from 2009. No additional updates have been released to the public. For all intents and purposes, Slashdot's code is closed source.

      There is a fork called SoylentNews, which has modernized Slash. However, that code has substantial differences from what you see on Slashdot. That's as close as you're going to get to a modern version of Slash.

      The management could very easily make Slashdot's code open source again. It was hosted on Sourceforge. It would be a meaningful gesture toward restoring trust in Sourceforge if Slashdot released its code there. This is actually one of the easiest ways for Slashdot management to regain trust with users, but it hasn't happened.

      I strongly advise against using the 2009 code on Slashcode. It probably won't work very well on a modern Linux system, plus there may well be vulnerabilities and other bugs in the 2009 code that you don't want on a website. If you want a Slashdot-like site, please use the SoylentNews code instead.

    • by dougmc ( 70836 )

      In addition to the other answers you've received, Slashdot is very *different* from Reddit.

      I haven't looked at any of the code of either, but looking at the sites -- Slashdot is a fairly typical news site that lets you comment on things, and reddit is basically a web based evolution of Usenet. There's plenty of overlap between these things, but the differences are still huge.

      There's lots of CMSs out there that can do approximately what Slashdot's code seems to do for it. (That said, again ... I haven't ac

  • Meh (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Reddit jumped the shark.
    Now it's just a propaganda outlet for leftist bullshit.

    Wrongthink will be punished.

    • by bn-7bc ( 909819 )
      Hmm, the ftont psge maby, but I frequent several sub reddits /r/ipv6 , /r/postgresql, /r/irc, /r/blackmagicdesign, and I might have missed it but I’ve not seen any leftist propaganda , nor any evidence of a reddit hive mind mentioned earler in the comments. Well I tend to miss things, or are thise sub reddits I mentioned not thst politicsl / borg like? Input apreciated have a nice day
      • and I might have missed it but I've not seen any leftist propaganda , nor any evidence of a reddit hive mind mentioned earler in the comments.

        What me means is he got kicked off for being a dickhead and he wants t ofind someone to blame.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Because non-leftist viewpoints equate to bring a dickhead?

          You are part of the problem.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      But what is the alternative? Voat isn't very popular, quickly devolved into a cesspit and bans any wrongthink left leaning boards.

      Same with PewTube. The number one video on that site was about communism, and was quickly banned along with all left leaning channels.

      Seems to be like you can have Reddit which allows 99.9% of material including some very extreme stuff like the "incel" boards and far right politics, or you can have a right wing echo chamber that bans anything contrary to the approved narrative.

      • by doom ( 14564 )

        But what is the alternative?

        That's a pretty good question. Let me try some answers.

        You could suck-it-up and simply admit to yourself that user moderation on a mass scale is inevitably going to gravitate toward a middle-of-the-road lowest-common-denominator, and minority opinons, even sizeable minorities like Trumpsters or Chomskities or what not, are likely to be dismissed.

        You could just suck-it-up and presume you're creating a place for like-minded people and write that into the ground rules. Let's c

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          You could suck-it-up and simply admit to yourself that user moderation on a mass scale is inevitably going to gravitate toward a middle-of-the-road lowest-common-denominator, and minority opinons, even sizeable minorities like Trumpsters or Chomskities or what not, are likely to be dismissed.

          Slashdot proves that isn't the case. Reddit does too, but in a different way - it has ghettos for those people to create their little echo chambers in, with sympathetic moderators.

          You could rely entire on hired, vetted moderators who are instructed on how to enforce a certain standard of intellectual integrity (and yes, probably "politeness", much as that crap drives me up the wall).

          That would likely exclude a lot of of the "rationals" and especially the alt-right. The rationals tend to just google stuff that supports their established view and fall for obvious fake news and memes. The alt-right generates a lot of that fake news and memes. Any kind of intellectual integrity standard would have to set the bar

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Really? Reddit has been the base of white nationalists, red-pill incel douche bags, and the_retard supports for years. The general rise of racist shit bags has me staying off reddit entirely.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I just started using Reddit when IMDB canned the forums. It's a poor second for that particular use case, but I find it reminds me a lot of USENET 15-20 years ago. Lots of trash, but lots of pretty interesting and dedicated subreddits with no identifiable political content.

      If anything, I see lots of complaints about left-wing proselytizing but not much in the way of actual evidence of left-wing anything. I figure how left-biased can it be if you see a lot of complaints about left-wing bias? Wouldn't tha

      • by doom ( 14564 )

        The people complaining do appear to be pretty far right, and tend to see left-wing bias under the bed.

        But then, it's pretty easy to have a post modded down into oblivion (I think the threshold is something like two blackballs), particularly if you're someone like myself with an obnoxious sense of humor. (Can you believe the people at /r/firefox didn't like my suggestion that the new dark blue fox icon should be named "the death spiral"?).

        If you look at a place like /r/politics, the bias isn't so much

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I avoid most political anything online (except maybe historical) because 99% of people are willing to start fights over anything seen as deviating from their accepted norm, right AND left.

          There is a sub for my city and there was a local scandal with a hipster nightclub whose owner apparently gave money to a David Duke campaign at one point. There was a subscriber who basically defended hounding the nightclub employees as complicit in white supremacy over it, and if they lost their jobs due to the boycott i

  • Imagine the 'strategic disaster' of the broader Internet and reddit competitors finding out they were working on the innovative new feature of 'video'.

  • by JustOK ( 667959 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @06:47AM (#55131523) Journal
    Rumors abound that Digg is going to buy reddit and call it rediggit
  • The only real reason Reddit is no longer Open Source, is because they don't want the world to see their algorithms used to censor voices they don't like. To be very specific, their rewrite their algorithms to ensure that r/the_donald doesn't hit the front page. They have also implemented these modifications on individual posts within threads to make a particular viewpoint not seem popular; posts that would have 1500 up votes are reduced to just under 20. If a post that Reddit hates, proves to be too popu

  • Nine years later and Reddit is a very different company and as anyone who has been paying attention will have noticed

    That means: We now are ruled by investors and we are part of the problem now.

  • it is hard for us to be strategic in our planning when everyone can see what code we are committing

    What?

    Also, since when did reddit do any meaningful work on their code? Have they added a feature at some point in the last few years? Did I miss something?

  • by sad_ ( 7868 ) on Monday September 04, 2017 @07:14AM (#55135989) Homepage

    they could easily develop their secret features behind closed doors and release it OSS once it's ready. there is nothing in the OSS license that prevents them from doing this.

  • Why do they make such a big deal about being able to hide the fact that they're working on video? Who cares? Is that really a big trade secret that their competitors are going to act on? Develop it in the clear! Let people know it's what you're working on!

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