Your memory serves incorrectly. I am old head, this account's email is the only one I remembered after a 3 year hiatus.
I don't recall reddit's founding to be a response to anything done here on /. - I believe they were trying to do what digg and StumbleUpon were going for, just effectively and dynamically, with enough in the front-end that you can see response in real time. They succeeded, obviously.
Although the firehose was a relatively new form of moderation, /. has always had editors deciding what hits the front page, based on user response, and thus your RSS feed, with the result being the time-to-publish being subtantially higher or more delayed [than other aggregating sites that don't need a mod's stamp-of-approval] as a result. It's an aggregating news site with mods deciding what hits the front page - /. does not (historically, although the powers that be try to do something like the /.TV thing going on now, every now and then) provide much Original Content. This is not a bad thing, IMO - but means you wait an extra ~24-72 hours over a multitude of other sites. It's relatively longer, now that CmdrTaco no longer runs the show, but still effectively the same.
**Seeing your response to yourself now. I believe that to be true.