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r/Documentaries Free: Everything you need to know (Updated 2022) is one of the oldest and most consistent communities on Reddit. An active moderator team ensures that every post leads to a streaming video. Most posts link to YouTube or Vimeo, with few exceptions and fewer paywalls.


Nicole Sommer
Last updated: Wednesday, 27.September 2023
Author Biography
Hello. My name is Nicole Sommer. I am a big soccer enthusiast and do a lot of reserach around the easiest way to watch soccer on TV and online across the whole globe.
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The website Reddit was founded in 2005 and has since lived up to its self-proclaimed title of "the front page of the internet." Communities on Reddit focus on absurd and obscure subjects, and is a one-stop-shop for content found online. Subreddits are also forums and social networks, but above all, they are content aggregators where users can share whatever they find elsewhere on the internet.
/r/Documentaries is a subreddit where Redditors share their favorite documentaries.
The default subreddit system no longer exists, but thanks to the work of an active moderator team, the subreddit remains high-quality. It has 15.6 million subscribers, making it the 34th largest subreddit. This is no small task.
The moderators enforce rules designed to ensure that all posts link to streaming videos. The vast majority of these links point to YouTube or Vimeo, with a few exceptions restricted to paid streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Occasionally, users post links to official websites of documentaries instead. Regardless of the web address, each link leads viewers directly to a page containing its own video stream - no embedding or downloading is necessary.

Navigating Reddit

Overall, the mobile app is more user-friendly and efficient. Depending on how you browse Reddit, your experience will vary. I found that the mobile app "Reddit is fun?" offered several advantages that the desktop experience lacked. The desktop version is missing the sidebar, a vital source of information. On the mobile app, the sidebar allows users to search by topic - perfect for making a quick decision. Topics include ?arts,? ?history,? ?science (hard),? ?science (social),? ?war,? and more. The sidebar also has links to make requests, in case there's a documentary you remember but need help finding. Overall, the mobile app is more user-friendly and efficient.
The desktop version of the subreddit has much of the same information as the monthly pinned post at the top of the feed, but it is harder to find. Much of this information and search functionality is in the monthly pinned post at the top of the feed on the mobile version as well. Both versions allow for unlimited scrolling, which is why searching by topic is so useful.
One area where the desktop site excels over the mobile app is video embedding. All YouTube and Vimeo links ? again, the majority of the films linked ? play in Reddit without redirecting. If you'd prefer to view the videos on the hosting site, you can easily click a link to get there. I much prefer to stay on a single page, which /r/Documentaries and the Reddit platform enable me to do.
Reddit's top sorting method is by upvotes, so sorting by top puts popular posts front and center. You can choose a time range to see the best documentaries released over the past year or all time. selecting all-time will bring up some of the best films in recent years.

Finding the Right Film

Recent films are predominately favored on this subreddit, which can lead to a bias in what is featured. While documentaries do make an appearance, there are few older titles that might be more representative of the genre as a whole. Additionally, this community tends to promote recent films over older, hidden gems. The "Top 250" list on IMDB reflects the interests of 18-29 year olds in the United States, rather than being representative of quality across all film genres.
This recent focus on films might be a result of another issue with the site - namely, the political agendas behind many of the posts. Many post titles are opinions about the topic, rather than statements about the film. Unfortunately, this is somewhat unavoidable with a genre like documentary. Luckily, moderators work hard to avoid picking ideological sides. Both left-wing anti-corporate crowd and right-wing manosphere have a presence here.
Even with the two issues, I found hours of amazing content on /r/Documentaries. I indulged my true-crime obsession with ?Child Killer,? a five-part docuseries about four murders in Michigan in 1976. Although only parts one and four are on YouTube, a link in the video description led me to all five parts. This is a common trend for this subreddit - documentaries are often posted in parts, which take work to seek out.
The true-crime genre has been very popular lately, and finding content on paid streaming sites is not always easy. However, the Child Killer subreddit was well-suited for this purpose because it offers content that is not available on paid streaming sites. The Child Killer subreddit held its own against any Netflix or Hulu original, such as ?The Bundy Tapes? or ?The Family.?
After reading that sordid serial killer story, I sought out a lighter film to watch. Lone Star Skaters seemed like a perfect fit for my needs. This 2019 film about two strangers skateboarding across Texas is only 21 minutes long. /r/Documentaries features many films of this runtime length, drawn from half-hour TV slots. This diversity makes the subreddit ideal for casual or hardcore viewers alike.
?Lone Star Skaters? is a nice palate cleanser after the grisly Child Killer. Much less my cup of tea, though. I'm more of a blood-and-guts guy than the cheerful, quirky type. Viewers seeking some low-stakes inspiration will love it, though.
After these recent posts, I sorted by "top" of "all time" to find one documentary posted twice on the front page: "An Open Secret," a film on Hollywood child abuse. Once again, this was more up my alley than some of the lighter films. Though the film was well-made and eye-opening, I found it strange that it appears twice on the front page. Moderators could do a better job of filtering for reposts.
Many other documentaries are frequently reposted on /r/Documentaries with some regularity. A documentary about social media and another about assisted suicide both showed up twice. This, plus some lectures on the front page, suggests a leniency by the moderators for posts with many upvotes. I don't see this as a bad thing, but I can see why some might object - especially if they disapprove of the subject matter.
Another top post on the site was a documentary called "The Panama Papers." This post linked to Hulu, which is unusual because posts that lead to paid streaming services usually deal with important issues of the day. While I had seen this film before and didn't care about the paywall, I can imagine someone else feeling differently. Besides, Hulu and Netflix originals don't get enough social media promotion as it is.


I have found that r/Documentaries is a very positive subreddit with many good links leading to YouTube or Vimeo. The interface is neat and simple on Reddit, which makes searching for content easier. The community is large and active, ensuring a constant stream of content. However, the mods don't always enforce the rules to the letter, but they manage to keep the community thriving.
There are some downsides to this subreddit. I had a hard time finding movies older than my phone. I saw a lot of lectures and interviews even though they're against the rules. The top of the all time list left a lot to be desired, not even coming close to what it promises.
Nonetheless, this subreddit serves its intended purpose very well. /r/Documentaries is an incredible resource for someone with an itch for the genre but no way to scratch it. This subreddit is my new go-to tool for finding content when I'm in a documentary mood.
Nicole Sommer
Nicole Sommer is a true soccer fan and loyal supporter of FC Arsenal and 1.FC Köln. She plays actively her self as central forward in the women's aquad of TuS Köln in Germany. In her spare time she spends a lot of time online including researching the soccer streaming space. Her research has been published in several online soccer magazines.
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r/Documentaries Free: Everything you need to know (Updated 2022). is one of the oldest and most consistent communities on Reddit. An active moderator team ensures that every post leads to a streaming video. Most posts link to YouTube or Vimeo, with few exceptions and fewer paywalls.

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