“Signal-to-noise” is a phrase you’ll likely have seen used in recent years, referring to the nature of activity on some of the world’s most popular websites. “Noise” is low-effort or low-quality, while “signal” is something to be preserved and encouraged. Reddit’s explosive growth in popularity means it’s an ideal candidate for signal-to-noise analysis. If you’ve spent any time on Reddit, you’ll have seen “[deleted]” in the comments.
Ordinarily, [deleted] would mean the content has been rendered invisible forever, but thanks to Reddit’s API and creative developers, it is possible to recover some of these deleted comments on Reddit.
Within Reddit’s enormous web of niche communities, there exists a sizable community of people who attest to heavy-handed moderation and abuses of power, with entire subreddits dedicated to this type of discussion. Given how many niches are catered to on Reddit, it is true that some sub-reddits are more rigorously controlled than others. As a result, quality responses to trolling posts can sometimes be lost as a result of the parent comment’s removal.
On other occasions you might want to revisit comedic moments in Reddit history like the infamous “AMA” with actor Tom Hardy.
Ceddit gets a nod for a witty name, but it’s also the most powerful tool we’re looking at, allowing you to browse as though you were on Reddit. You can navigate as though you were on Reddit, making it ideal for finding deleted contributions.
Should you try using Ceddit in this way, there are a few caveats you should be aware of: no sub-reddit CSS is loaded, meaning every sub-reddit uses Ceddit’s dark UI, you cannot log into an account, and it is slower than using Reddit directly.
If you can get around these limitations, Ceddit works magnificently. We were quite surprised when browsing through deleted comments that Reddit seems able to identify the source of comment deletion.
In the above example Ceddit was able to tell us a deletion was likely handled by Automod, a popular bot employed on larger sub-reddits to police new entries.
Simplicity is one thing Unreddit definitely has going for it. There’s no real interface: the domain itself is a basic landing page for how to use the service. Simply append “un” to any “reddit” link, and it’ll begin to recover deleted comments for you.
Once you’ve altered the URL, you’ll see an overlay stating “Recovering Deleted Comments.” Depending on how many comments were deleted, it can take a little longer to complete recovery.
Comments which were deleted will appear with a red highlight, and you can switch back to the original comments via the link at the top of the page.
Resavr takes a different view of what comments ought to be saved. Rather than recovering everything that has been deleted, Resavr instead recovers comments over 1000 characters in length.
It’s an interesting balance: in theory you’d expect longer comments to be more useful, but sometimes you just want to recover a side-splitting one-liner or anecdote.
You’ll also note Resavr’s UI is radically different from the other websites; rather than altering a URL to reach deleted comments, the site itself seems to monitor Reddit for deleted comments, offering insight into how long it took for a post to be deleted.
Resavr lacks the ability to filter the sub-reddits, meaning you could bring up NSFW content at an inopportune moment. Keep this in mind if you’re going to try and recover content!
Going for Good
While we’ve just demonstrated the ease of recovering Reddit comments, there are occasions where a comment is better rendered invisible. In brief, this means editing an existing comment and saving the changes before deleting it. This will totally obscure the original comment’s content. Remember, after deleting a comment you will not be able to edit it, meaning what is last visible is what will be recovered.
Should you wish to scrub your Reddit account of its posting history entirely, there are scripts to automate that process. The original Userscripts website is down (and has been since 2014), so you will need to use an alternative like Greasy Fork or the Userscripts mirror.
Begin by installing the script manager for your browser. Chrome users will need Tampermonkey, while Firefox users will likely want Greasemonkey.
Navigate to one of the named sites above and download a script. Exercise caution when doing so – choose one that already has a sizable number of downloads or a high rating, as malicious scripts can be a security risk.
Run the script and it will begin to work its way through your posting history, likely replacing the original comments with filler text linking to the script before deleting this revised comment.
Once this is done, you can delete the account entirely, and its posts should be irrecoverable, at least for sites like these. Naturally, we cannot guarantee they will be utterly impossible to retrieve, but they’re far beyond the reach of a regular reader.
With Reddit’s API allowing anyone to create a service like those we have showcased, there is no way to guarantee one will remain the definitive solution forever. A new service could spring up, eclipsing all others in its functionality.
Until that happens, though, we’re fond of Ceddit. Resavr takes a completely different approach that may be of interest if you’re looking for longer posts, and Unreddit is the quickest option thanks to its simple URL tweak, but Ceddit works as a standalone Reddit browser.
For the vast majority of people, Reddit’s own site is perfectly serviceable, and Reddit Enhancement Suite supercharges it, but Ceddit provides a darker theme devoid of custom CSS without need for extensions.
Image credit: reddit sticker