The decline and decline of Reddit
A while back there was a big wave of users that moved from Reddit to Voat, essentially a reddit clone that wants to promote real free speech. This was mostly in response to Reddit's growing censorship.
Reddit used to be a place that respected free speech, with all the trimming they've been doing it's more like they only defend tolerated speech these days. Reddit failed. So I too decided to check out Voat, just to see.
At first I couldn't post as much as others; New accounts have limited speech. This is supposed to limit abuse, bots, etc. The main issue I had was figuring this out, indeed, the error messages I got weren't explicit. I would often see this: You are doing that too fast. Please wait 30 seconds before trying again. In reality this meant I had reached my comment quota for the day.
There are (other) bugs too, which I guess is normal and need to be reported and fixed and so on. But as a new user, some can be confusing and even surprising. At some point I kept getting the same error as above, however my comments were actually posted, I just didn't see them at first... Long story short, there are bugs.
The most disturbing issue, and it's not a bug, is that downvotes are reserved to accounts with opinions approved by the community. Before you get the right to downvote others, you must get 100 upvotes from others ("Comment Contribution Points" or CCPs).
This means that while you might have free speech, you don't have equal speech. If your voice goes against the circlejerk you are likely to get downvoted while you can't do that to others, even to the shitiest comments. This is a incentive to go with the trend.
The Australia of the Interweb
Voat's userbase was boosted during the Reddit lockdown. When Reddit cleaned up on the anti fat people and some racist subs. Voat's userbase has grown mostly from the motivation to replace Reddit with a safe space, safe from overly politically correct censorship.
Voat is naturally full of Reddit haters, expressing that is one of their favourite topics too. What's much worse is that too many of Voat's participants are xenophobic, misogynous, bigots incapable of nuance and discussion who believe that the real victims in this world are white Christian males.
Many speak of a conspiracy theory in which the Jews want to take over the world using mass immigration of Muslims to Europe to destroy "white culture". The insanity goes further. And sometimes people will even use Youtube videos of some guy in his living room as "proof" to their arguments... It can be messed up.
Be the change you want to see, they say. If you want to see Voat change, you could join and "have your say". But be prepared, you can always try to express your thoughts and opinions while being polite and constructive, but you might be easily discouraged by the shitty replies.
A couple of guys actually believe I'm paid by some Jewish Zionist organisation to promote Judiasm on social media !
Many times the replies I get have little to do with what I even wrote. Engaging in a discussion with an average Voat user today is like talking to an angry teenager, they think they know everything and don't listen to others unless it supports what they already believe. Then they say "free speech", as if it implies a need to be as offensive and vulgar as possible, it's actually a waste of it.
Maybe Voat needs a bit more time, more users, and so on. I still think that for a social network to be open while being difficult to control and censor, it needs to be decentralised. I'm predicting Voat will be like every other similar project so, it will have it's highs, lows, controversies and then it will become a platform controlled purely by monetary incentives.