Tired of your online communities being hosted by seemingly incompetent management teams, or being overrun by trolls? Avoid the problem altogether: build your own alternative to Reddit, and host it on your own server.
I’m not going to get into the politics of Reddit right now, but needless to say there’s been drama. If your community would rather leave all that behind, it’s possible to host your own Reddit alternative. Today Cool Websites and Apps looks at five tools for doing just that.
Note that all of these require at least some webmaster knowledge to set up, but are completely independent from any other site once installed. Let’s get started.
Telescope: Open Source Platform For User Submission and Voting
We start with Telescope, software you can use to build your own submission-based community right now. It’s aimed at making sites similar to Product Hunt or Hacker News.
Telescope is easy to configure, once it’s installed on a server. You can tweak the look, and even set up an email mailing list with the top submissions. If you’re wondering what a site built with this looks like, WatchJudge is a decent example.
If you’re looking to host a single community on a site, this open source tool is a great starting point.
Rank It For WordPress ($90): Add Ranking to the Popular CMS
Of course, you might not want to learn an entirely new CMS – you might prefer WordPress. Whether you’ve already set up a blog with WordPress or just know you’re way around the best WordPress plugins, there are lots of reasons why you might want to stick with what you know.
Rank It is a WordPress plugin that lets users submit, vote, and comment, all from within WordPress.
This solution isn’t free: it’ll run you $90. But if you want something that’s relatively quick to set up, that runs within WordPress, it’s worth looking into.
Pligg: CMS For Creating Digg-like Websites
Remember Digg? Me neither, but Pligg does. This CMS mimics the Digg of yesteryear, complete with a default theme that’ll be downright nostalgic for some users.
But this isn’t just a clone: it’s a complete environment for user submission. Voting, comments and everything else are supported, and there’s even a variety of plugins out there for customizing your site further.
I had a hard time finding sites built with this CMS, but DesignFloat seems to be one of them.
updn: Social News Engine with BitCoin for Voting and Submitting
And now for something completely different: a Reddit alternative where voting and submitting costs money – the virtual currency BitCoin, to be exact. The idea here is that such requirements will prevent impulse voting while also providing sites with an ad-free way to monetize. For users, submitting something that turns out to be popular could end up paying actual money. To quote Aaron Lebo, who created the project:
The key is that the cost exists, but it is still small. You could submit 5 stories and give out 15 votes to people and it would only cost about $0.30; not a large amount of money, but enough to weed out junk content.
Intrigued? You’ll have to check out the code base for yourself, because I can’t find any sites currently running on this code base. If you’re brave, you could be among the first.
Reddit’s Source Code: Yep, You Can Just Use Their Code
Finally, a potential alternative to Reddit could be Reddit itself. Turns out, Reddit open sourced its code based back in 2008. The Github page where everything is hosted still gets regular updates, meaning anyone curious enough to figure out how Reddit works can just look at the code. You could even install your own instance of Reddit, if you wanted.
Reddit gets a lot of crap from its user base, but at the end of the day a small company manages a site used by millions. But for all of Reddit’s many mistakes, there are some things they do that the likes of Facebook wouldn’t dream of – this is one of them.
Unhappy? Build Your Own Site
If online communities want to be free from interference, they can’t be hosted on the servers of for-profit entities. It doesn’t matter how “cool” or “independent” the company in question seems to be: eventually, they’re going to do something you don’t like. When that happens, your community will almost always be better served by its own website.
The above tools could come in handy for any community that’s tired of being part of Reddit or other social news sites, but I want to know what you think.
Which home-built Reddit alternatives have you looked into, and what kinds of sites have you built? Let’s compile more information in the comments below.
Image Credits: hand with a pincer via Shutterstock