Reddit Admins are planning to remove custom CSS from subreddits. That’s stupid.

Ah, good old CSS. Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is beautiful. It can do so much stuff. It’s what makes the internet a beautiful place. CSS allows the customization of pretty much any site, works mostly the same on the majority of browsers (and almost always has workarounds for backwards bastard browsers like Internet Explorer) and that’s all it does. CSS makes things pretty. CSS is the language of style. Unlike HTML, Javascript or anything else, 99% of the time CSS keeps its coding claws out of actual content and focuses solely on looks.

CSS allows me to make the Night and Broken Ordis sub-themes for the Daily SPUF. It allows me to change the colour of whatever I want on this website. If I had my own subreddit, I could theoretically turn it into something completely different, like what r/redditscripting have done. Look at that. Lovely.

Look at this beautiful subreddit.
Look at this beautiful subreddit, r/rocketleague

And the admins of Reddit want to remove custom CSS from subreddits. They want to replace the flexibility of CSS (combined with things like Javascript and other tools/languages, such as automated bots) with a ready-built system of tools controlled by Reddit themselves. Why?

  • It’s web-only. Increasing users are viewing Reddit on mobile (over 50%), where CSS is not supported. We’d love for you to be able to bring your spice to phones as well.
  • CSS is a pain in the ass: it’s difficult to learn; it’s error-prone; and it’s time consuming.
  • Some changes cause confusion (such as changing the subscription numbers).
  • CSS causes us to move slow. We’d like to make changes more quickly. You’ve asked us to improve things, and one of the things that slows us down is the risk of breaking subreddit CSS (and third-party mod tools).

Firstly, the second one is utter bollocks. I’m a fucking retard and I can use CSS. It’s got very basic rules, a consistent syntax and a billion generators that will generate CSS for you. The third one isn’t that good either because Reddit’s layout has always been confusing. The third one, well, as long as you give people prior warning, they will be able to fix subreddit CSS. The great thing about CSS is that it’s only error-prone if you are inconsistent with your code, and that if it does break (normally because of a missing bracket or semi-colon that any basic editor will point out to you!), on a place like Reddit, your theme will just fall back on the default Reddit CSS most of the time.

If you want to make your site this bad, you have to actively code your CSS this way. It doesn't happen by accident.
If you want to make your site this bad, you have to actively code your CSS this way. It doesn’t happen by accident.

Beautiful subreddits are made by communities. They put in tons of hard work to make their communities stand out, to make themselves individuals, to make banners, announcements, custom flair systems, spoiler systems, to create useful tools for other users… the list goes on and on and on. While the Reddit admins may have good intentions at heart, they probably won’t be able to create a toolbox that gives every subreddit what they want and need.

r/warframe isn't that special, but it's a nice-looking subreddit with both a night theme and a day theme.
r/warframe isn’t that special, but it’s a nice-looking subreddit with both a night theme and a day theme.

Really, it’s a shame. It feels like, because half of users don’t see these changes, they should be taken away from the other half of people who DO see these changes. Especially when the mobile app is mediocre and the mobile website as seen from mobile web browsers is slow and laggy. If anything, adding a bunch of ready-made widgets to the mobile versions of Reddit will make it even slower.

And the changes people can do are amazing. Just look at the pictures I’ve posted here. These are all unique sites, built to meet their communities’ needs. Why should all of that fall aside because people on mobile can’t see it?

Diablo's subreddit is lovely, matching the style of its core subject.
Diablo’s subreddit is lovely, matching the style of its core subject.

On top of all of this, it’s not like you can’t have both. It’s a sad day when I have to say that Tumblr is doing better than Reddit in this regard – Tumblr not only has ‘widgets’ but it also has full stylesheets one can change, a nice combination of what both sides want. Even if Tumblr fucks up in other ways.

All in all, why would anyone want to stifle creativity and replace it with ready-made things? Reddit admins, stop being stupid. Stop being dumb and allow users to have both custom CSS and ready-made widgets. Is it really that hard?

Otherwise I fear every subreddit will look like this boring thing.
Otherwise I fear every subreddit will look like this boring thing.

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