Voat promises to be like Reddit but with "anything legal goes"

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 16, 2015

Voat, a social news aggregation site and forum established in 2014, promises to be like Reddit but without censorship and an "anything legal goes" tagline.

It has been created by two Computer Science and Economics students of the University of Zurich.

If you have followed the news on Reddit recently you may have noticed that the site banned several groups on the site -- called subreddits -- of which the largest had more than 150k subscribers.

Registered users can subscribe to groups on Reddit to keep up with what is happening in those groups.

Voat looks and feels like Reddit when you open the site. This may not be possible right now thanks to an increase in user registrations on the site following the ban of groups on Reddit and a DDoS attack on the site according to a message on the site's official Twitter account.

Right now, it is more likely that you will receive a "this webpage is not available" notification than a working site.

The creators of the site announced that they are working on migrating to Cloudflare to add better protection against DDoS attacks in the near future and to move to a new "cloud-based" infrastructure as well.

The core difference between Voat and Reddit at the time is Voat's promise not to censor groups or ban groups on the site. That's without doubt a core reason why users from banned groups on Reddit, and users opposed to recent changes on Reddit, moved to Voat after the actions on Reddit.

It should be clear that you should not expect Reddit traffic levels on the site. If you check out the front page for instance, you will notice that votes don't reach three digits let alone four digits often on the site often.

There are slight differences apart from that. Voat calls its groups subverses instead of subreddits, and uses the /v/ directory instead of the /r/ directory in its url.

Reddit users who check Voat out or make the switch to the site completely, will be at home right away.

While there is no way currently to migrate account information such as the active subscriptions or messages, it should not take long to add subscriptions again considering that you can re-open the groups easily thanks to the similar url structure of the service.

All you have to do to a group like https://www.reddit.com/r/aww/ is to replace www.reddit.com with voat.co, and the /r/ part with /v/ to load the same group on https://voat.co/v/aww/.

Voat may look like an attractive new destination for users fed up with recent changes on Reddit right now but there are quite a few uncertainties that may keep you from switching completely.

For instance, if the site can manage to survive DDoS attacks should they continue without losing too many users in the process, how it is financed in the long run, and whether it holds true to the "anything legal goes" mantra that seemingly sets it apart from Reddit.

Now You: What's your take on Voat?

Voat promises to be like Reddit but with
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Voat promises to be like Reddit but with "anything legal goes"
Some users from the popular news aggregation site and forum Reddit migrated to Voat after recent changes on Reddit.

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  1. Isaac said on July 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Panjury does give people voice out whatever they want.
    Take a look man!


  2. B said on June 21, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    The complaints about free speech are misguided. The 1st Amendment limits only the government’s ability to restrain speech .. it does not apply to a private entity like reddit. You have no free speech rights there, as a bunch of idiots just learned the hard way.

  3. antiviruschurch said on June 17, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Freedom of speech is not negotiable. It really is that simple. The saddest thing about all this is the poor reddit employees who will likely suffer because their leadership failed them. Also,the shareholders who will lose money because their appointed leader chose to alienate and demonize some of the longest customers and site supporters. And that leader did it callously, in order to push her own short-sighted political agenda. That is just bad business.

    1. WandersFar said on June 17, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      Honest question: You really don’t think Reddit has declined in quality? How long have you been a Redditor?

      I switched over from Digg around five years ago. At first I was impressed by the number of quality posters, the interesting discussions, the entertaining and informative links.

      Now it’s mostly dank memes and dick jokes. (And it’s not limited to the front page, either. The cancer invades even smaller subs, once they reach critical mass. Most mods are useless. They either don’t care or are ineffectual at stopping the deluge of shitposting and memespam.)

      I understand limits on free speech are always problematic, but at the same time, you have to maintain the quality of your community somehow. And the reason why those subreddits were banned wasn’t actually because of all the hateful things they said and promoted, but because they incited attacks against Imgur employees. (Apparently there’s some dispute as to whether they doxxed them or not, since much of the information was publicly available, but in either case, incitement is a definite no-no.)

  4. john_rik said on June 17, 2015 at 11:12 am

    No, thanks. Reddit comments are already racist, sexist and f**ked up. Only bunch of a**holes comment on reddit. Its like youtube comment but worse!

  5. WandersFar said on June 17, 2015 at 3:39 am

    I used to actively participate on Reddit all the time. But as it’s increased in popularity, the quality of discussion has gone downhill. I went from commenting regularly to just lurking occasionally and finally now, when I visit maybe a couple times a month? If that.

    The userbase has grown progressively younger and more crass. I fear voat, by attracting the people who were so insufferable their subreddits were finally banned, will be swamped by the worst of the worst from the outset. No thank you.

    1. Jeff said on June 18, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      Your experience on reddit mirrors mine, except that I just quit going to the site altogether. You are spot on, I think, in the user base growing younger and more crass – you put it in a much nicer way than I did.

  6. Brian said on June 17, 2015 at 1:06 am

    Reddit has decided to end giving hate groups a home that is all. No one needs the mean spirited cyber bulling that takes place in those subreddits. And I haven’t seen much complaining about it. But then again I don’t look for groups like that because they suck the fun out of Reddit.

    1. Joe said on June 17, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      It isn’t about agreeing with the message, it is about the right to free speech. Have you never heard the term “I disagree with what you say, but would defend to the death your right to say it?”

      You don’t have to probe far to find vitriolic scum in even the most affable subreddits. The main moderator of /r/redditgets drawn, itwillbemine or something like that, is such an over the top SJW caricature it is painful. I keep thinking it has to be an act, but that doesn’t seem to be the case because he never drops that facade.

      The user base hate him, but since he founded the subreddit there is nothing they can do but put up with him and be nice to each other around him to continue enjoying an otherwise pleasant community, or the parts he hasn’t flown into a rage and banned from it anyway. By Voat’s rules they could complain and have leadership transferred to someone more in line with the communities outlook who actually contributes. I’m highly in favor of that.

      1. Tom Hawack said on June 18, 2015 at 6:37 pm

        “I disagree with what you say, but would defend to the death your right to say it” — But elsewhere than in my place. Reddit didn’t forbid free speech, they just kicked the trouble-makers out of their place. Like a bar moves scum down to the street where next opponent will be law if they yell too loudly or start kicking people. Let them open their own blog, or write a book, get involved politically but… on the other side of the street.

    2. Bryan said on June 17, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      You know when a sub is banned its users don’t just magically disappear, nor do their views change. One sub that was banned, FatPeopleHate, had 1.7 million unique visitors in May 2015. That figure was consistently growing by around 200k per month. You could get the figures at http://www.reddit.com/r/FatPeopleHate/about/traffic/

      Surely a couple hundred thousand of them will move onto Voat or Tumblr or whatever, but most are going to continue along on Reddit. If you thought they were sucking the fun out of Reddit when tucked away in their little corner, well imagine the site now that you just set them loose.

    3. James said on June 17, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Reddit did not ban any subreddits that were pro-racism, pro-domestic-violence or pro-rape. They also did not ban any subreddits that actively seek to harass users at their jobs or other real-life activities for the things they’ve said online. For God’s sake, you can still browse a whole forum full of pictures of dead girls. “Fun” is not exactly what Reddit is about.

      What basically happened here is that one community that was lashing out against fat acceptance became wildly popular (150,000+ users). This revealed that Reddit was not what its administrators believed it was – a monolithic user base that had a massive potential for viral marketing. It was a userbase with seriously divergent worldviews, and that isn’t easily packaged for sale. So to address this problem, the administrators decided that a smaller userbase was better than a divided one, and simply amputated a limb and moved on.

      1. Jeff said on June 18, 2015 at 9:17 pm

        Brilliant post, because i think you hit the nail squarely on the head. Reddit’s move in this instance was one born out of marketing, not “doing the right thing”.

    4. Jeff said on June 17, 2015 at 2:20 am

      Hate & vitriol permeate reddit throughout, not just in those 5 subreddits. There are many other ones like those, that were not banned. Really you can find plenty of racism, misogyny, and fat-shaming comments in all the default reddits, like /r/videos, /r/pics, etc.

  7. Brian said on June 16, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Martin, one of the contributing factors to vote count not being as high is that Voat.co limits upvotes and disallows downvotes for new accounts. You can to contribute to unlock these. (of course the biggest difference in votes is the huge initial userbase disparity, I’m not trying to claim otherwise)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 17, 2015 at 8:09 am

      Interesting, thanks for letting me know. That’s actually a good feature I guess, considering that it eliminates many fake votes and marketing votes.

  8. webfork said on June 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    If only it were so simple. If I was looking for instant success, I might make a “more free” Reddit clone as well but I think ‘anything legal’ is going to be very hard to define, enforce, or manage. Let’s wait and see them deal with a few things that verge on the grossly immoral but not *necessarily* illegal. The last big test on this I can recall was a few years back in the form of a violent Columbine video game, but we can expect more things in this vein just to provoke attention. Plus, there’s been more than one Internet witch hunt that went after the wrong person and ruined lives. How many of those are going to happen before they stretch their policy?

    Also, what an odd name. I don’t know where they got the idea, but “Voat 5” was a meme I loved back on YTMND back in the day, essentially making fun of people who actively asked for 5 star votes by making an intentionally terrible video and saying “voat 5”. Some of them were genius and my favorite posts on the site.

  9. Jeff said on June 16, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    No thanks, I’ll pass. Reddit (comments) are already a near intolerable cesspool of hate, vitriol, racism, and people just being assholes. Anonymity and a lack of moderation have proven to be a bad mix, and those sites seem to attract self loathing jerks who try to feel better about themselves by belittling and dehumanizing others.

    1. Maelish said on June 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Are you talking about Reddit or the internet in general? Think about that for a moment.

  10. Tom Hawack said on June 16, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    The five subreddits in question […] cover controversial attitudes towards race, gender and weight.” mentions ReadWrite’s article linked above.
    I’m not at all into these community sites, but if Voat is bound to allow “controversial attitudes towards race, gender and weight” then I don’t imagine what the advantage is unless one considers that liberty of speech has no limit. I dislike policing but aggression on the basis of intolerance as well. I guess it’s matter of balance between liberty and respect, but we all know that excess of order leads to ossification and excess of disorder to chaos. The winds, if not of war, of haste and intolerance are increasing. At least a minimum of policing, adequately, seems inevitable, increasingly inevitable I’m afraid.

  11. inderjeet said on June 16, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Reddit is a widely growing site. Millions of people vists reddit everyday. They should have some right reason that why they ban those groups. Lets see what voat will do ? i think its just a parmotion trick nothing else

    1. Nelson Kerr said on June 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Reddit had a reason to bann those c groupd, they are a business trying to be more mainstream and the pond-scum they banned drive away both investors and customers that don’t live in their mother basements. What part of Reddit being a commercial business do people have such a hard time understanding

      1. Anonymous said on June 17, 2015 at 7:50 pm

        Then why wouldn’t they ban coontown, which has been in the front page for days?

      2. Darraign said on June 17, 2015 at 6:10 pm

        >What part of Reddit being a commercial business do people have such a hard time understanding

        The part where reddit has changed it’s business model as of recent.


        “When reddit first started, people posted links and voted on them. There was no categories, there was no comments, and it evolved as people started creating subreddits, people started making things like rage comics – ***everything on reddit is curated by up and downvotes from users*** – so all of these novel and amazing things have come from our community.”

        > everything on reddit is curated by up and downvotes from users

        This is no longer the case. Now, reddit is curated by up/downvotes – and the will of the admin staff as to what they determine to be politically correct enough to post on reddit. At a point within the last year or so, they decided that they would take an active role in sanitizing the content that gets posted on their site, which means that reddit is not the same open community as it once was.

        I may not like some content on reddit either, but I would not have anyone banned for expressing unpopular opinions. That’s what is happening now.

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