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r/Documentaries Free Review: How can I watch for free? (Updated 2022) is a popular subreddit with a mod team that makes sure every post leads to streaming video. Most links lead to YouTube or Vimeo, but there are a few exceptions and fewer paywalls.


Nicole Sommer
Last updated: Monday, 25.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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Reddit is a website that is known for its communities. These communities are focused on interesting and obscure subjects. Reddit is also a great place to find content from all over the internet.
Redditors share their favorite documentaries on the Documentaries subreddit. This is a subreddit where people can discuss and rate documentaries. In the old days of Reddit, site administrators put together a list of default subreddits. These default subreddits were the front page for every new Reddit user. Because /r/Documentaries was one of these default subreddits, it gained a huge following.
No longer does the default subreddit system exist, but thanks to an active moderator team, it remains high-quality. With 15.6 million subscribers, it is the 34th largest subreddit. This is no small task, and is only possible due to their hard work.
The moderators enforce rules that require all posts to include a streaming link. The links are usually to YouTube or Vimeo, but there are a few exceptions like paid streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Sometimes users will post links to the official website of the documentary, but this is rare. Every link leads to its own page that hosts its own video, without any embedding or downloading.

Navigating Reddit

If you browse Reddit on your phone, you'll find that the sidebar is a helpful source of information. The desktop experience lacks it, and there are fewer topics to choose from. On the mobile app, the sidebar allows users to search by topic which is great for making a quick decision. There are also links to make requests, should you remember something from history but need help finding it.
The monthly pinned post at the top of the feed on the desktop version of the subreddit contains much of the same information as the main subreddit, but it is harder to find. Much of this information and search functionality is in the monthly pinned post, which is why searching by topic is so useful. The mobile version also has unlimited scrolling, which is why searching by topic is so useful.
One area where the desktop site outperforms 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.
Another way to find the perfect documentary is by sorting the posts by top from the drop down bar above the posts on Reddit. This sort puts posts with the most upvotes (the most popular posts) upfront. Using this sorting method also asks you to pick a time period: today, this week, this month, this year, or all time. Sorting by top and selecting all time will bring up some of the best documentaries in recent years.

Finding the Right Film

The recent films subreddit has one problem: a bias towards films from the last five years. documentaries on this site don't represent that this genre is as old as film itself. With only a few exceptions, this community tends to promote recent movies more than it digs up hidden gems. The IMDB 'Top 250' list says more about the interests of 18-29 year old American males (like me!) than it does about actual quality.
This focus on recent 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. This is somewhat unavoidable with a genre like documentary. Luckily, the moderators work hard to avoid picking ideological sides. Both left-wing anti-corporate crowds and right-wing manospherian groups have a presence here.
I found hours and hours of amazing content on /r/Documentaries. I indulged my true-crime obsession with a five-part docuseries about four murders in Michigan in 1976 called ?Child Killer.? 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.
Edited to reflect the content of the article: The 'Child Killer' subreddit is a great place to find true-crime content, as it is not on paid streaming sites. In fact, this subreddit is specifically for finding content that is not on Netflix or Hulu. 'Child Killer' held its own against any Netflix or Hulu original, such as 'The Bundy Tapes' or 'The Family.'
After watching that sordid serial killer story, I decided to watch a film with a lighter tone. Lone Star Skaters seemed to fit the bill, and this 2019 film about two strangers skateboarding across Texas runs for only 21 minutes. /r/Documentaries has 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 wasn't my cup of tea, but it's a nice palette cleanser after the grisly Child Killer. I'm more of a blood-and-guts guy than the cheerful, quirky type and viewers looking for low-stakes inspiration will love it.
After seeing these two recent documents, I decided to sort by ?top? of ?all time.? I found one documentary posted twice on the front page: "An Open Secret," a film about Hollywood child abuse. This was something that I was more interested in than some of the lighter films, though the film was well-made and eye-opening. However, 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 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 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 of all time was a documentary called ?The Panama Papers.? This post linked to Hulu, which is unusual because few posts lead to paid streaming services. I've seen this film before, so I wasn't too bothered by the paywall. Besides, don't Hulu and Netflix originals get enough social media promotion as it is?


My general impression of /r/Documentaries is that it is a very positive subreddit. The fact that most links lead to YouTube or Vimeo rather than a paid site would be enough on its own to earn two thumbs up. Whether on desktop or mobile, Reddit's neat interface simplifies your search immensely. The massive community comprising this subreddit ensures a continuous stream of content. While mods don't always enforce the rules to a T, they manage to keep the community thriving.
Although this subreddit has its ups and downs, I had a lot of difficulty finding movies older than my phone. I saw a lot of lectures and interviews, even though these were not against the rules, but the "all time" list left a lot to be desired. It wasn't even close to what it promised.
Nonetheless, the subreddit serves its intended purpose quite 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 Review: How can I watch for free? (Updated 2022). is a popular subreddit with a mod team that makes sure every post leads to streaming video. Most links lead to YouTube or Vimeo, but there are a few exceptions and fewer paywalls.

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