Reddit's mobile website is well-made and fast, but for ages, the platform has been pushing anyone who visited that site to the official app instead, complete with an obnoxious banner that shows up every time you open a Reddit link in your phone's browser. The corporation behind the network apparently still isn't happy with the conversion rates, as some Redditors report that they can't use the mobile site without logging in or downloading the app anymore.
The subreddit dedicated to the mobile web version of Reddit is currently flooded with posts complaining about the requirement. For some, it looks like the prompt to install the app is also broken, as you can see in the screenshot below that reads, "To view posts in r/mobileweb, you must ... or log in." Many believe that this change is being tested with revenue in mind, as the company could improve sponsored content targeting and convert more "lurkers" who don't actively participate in communities to proper members. A Reddit employee, mjmayank, claims the latter is the case:
By encouraging more users to log in to participate in communities we believe that it will make those communities stronger and result in more discussion about interests, rather than just being a site where people lurk for meme-y content.
Regardless of the intentions, the test seems like a poor, shortsighted strategy, as explained on Hacker News. While a few more people might indeed sign up for Reddit initially, many more could stop visiting the site altogether, which would reduce its ad revenue and lower its rank in Google search, potentially wreaking havoc in the long term. Pinterest failed with a similar approach a few years back and is currently allowing people without accounts to view content on the platform again.
This also isn't the first time Reddit is testing this change: About two months ago, a few Redditors complained about a similar experiment that cut off comment threads on the mobile website unless users logged in.
If you're affected by the experiment this time around and still want to avoid logging in, you could look into third-party applications for the network (like Sync or Slide). You can make many of these the default Reddit link handlers, which will make Reddit links open in the apps, skipping the mobile website altogether. If you don't mind seeing an older interface, you can also try adding .compact to the end of a URL you want to access, like so: reddit.com/r/mobileweb.compact.
Hopefully, the company reverses its course and will let us choose our preferred Reddit browsing experience freely, but with the action it has taken, I wouldn't be surprised if it axes third-party apps next instead.