This signals desperation than proper business development. Reddit should look at Snapchat: today they have a Nike filter live. This is smart monetization and gives more bucks than this affiliate hack. Besides, Reddit should have done this affiliate thing themselves and not employed Viglink. Any intermediate will not just take their cut, they take more and send lower reports in general (if a CPA deal).
They hired their first CTO in 2015 and he seems to be doing a good job. But theirs no silver bullet for a legacy infrastructure especially if you add all the pressure Reddit is receiving to monetize ASAP.
But Reddit is a company with a laundry list of PR crises, with an office in one of the most expensive cities in the world, constantly changing leadership, constantly changing leadership goals, extremely dissatisfied investors, an estranged and angry founder, AND a reputation for underpaying engineers.
Ten bucks says they file a complaint somewhere stating "their aren't enough developers in the work force".
I think your off by a couple orders of magnitude on that one.
I'm one of those investors and I'm not aware of any of my fellow investors being dissatisfied.
> an estranged and angry founder
All of the founders currently work for reddit (and are quite happy doing so as far as I know). Who are you talking about here?
Articles like this  seem to indicate tension between the board and leadership. I assume when any such tensions become public that they are larger in reality then they first appear, because normally such tensions remain private. Though in this case it may just be Wong's and Reddit's board's personality to be more open about such things.
It's pretty liberal for me to make these assumptions, granted. And I've made like a dozen comments on this thread mostly because:
A) my procrastination is terrible today and
B) I'm a rabid Reddit user and usually speak up whenever it comes up on Hacker News, I'm not be trying to gun down the company's throat I promise, just trying to engage in a critical discussion.
I would change extremely dissatisfied to dissatisfied though, but the edit option isn't appearing to me right now (time limit or "tree-weight" I guess).
I don't doubt that there's a laundry list of corporate dysfunction at Reddit HQ, but even the most seemingly universal complaints I see people post about seem more like collaborative storytelling exercises where a bunch of people are getting each other worked up into a frothy rage over stuff that just really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. The pitchforks-and-torches mob mentality I've occasionally seen on Reddit is way more damaging to those communities than anything I've ever heard of regarding the company leadership.
"Reddit board member and YC president Sam Altman announced that Yishan Wong was leaving after being unable to garner support for a proposal to move the Reddit office from San Francisco to Daly City. Wong, who thought newer employees would prefer to work in a less expensive area, stated that before the disagreement he had considered leaving due to an abundance of stress."
That quote is a little disingenuous, and you can read more about the situation in these links if you're curious. The Quora link is the ex-CEOs response which puts a good frame on things.
Edit2: It's also telling just how many people were championing Ellen Pao as the replacement. I have to think nobody really knows who'll be a good CEO until after the fact.
The contributors on the other hand get to use reddit for free. Sure, many of them could publish OC on their own websites and get hits. A lot of them, no one would care, because their content is only interesting in the context of the reddit culture and hivemind (this is especially true for comments).
Lets not forget how much traffic reddit could drive to your personal site or blog, either.
I am surprised it took reddit so long to do something so simple to generate money.
As a user, I feel that I get value from participating on Reddit (as I do here). If I didn't, I wouldn't participate. I'm not looking to get paid.
I'm actually amazed that Reddit continues to even exist given how much traffic it gets every day and how little income it must get from what (relatively) few ads it serves. I don't know what this massive cashflow is that people think they're entitled to tap into.
i suspect that they are going to have to get _significantly_ more aggressive with advertising or come up with a different business model altogether.
Only if their monetization plan is being led by someone from a news site. Snapchat being what it is, they would be smarter to sell less for more. That is, if you don't have (much) advertising and a lot of demand, the little real estate you do cede to monetization is more valuable. They don't have to do takeovers.
The problem is twofold:
1. If you're massively successful, then revenue sharing creates huge incentives for spam. Hence you often get people posting links to their content all over the place (especially on rival sites), at which point your brand gets seen as sleazy and your domain often added to a lot of blocklists. You also get a lot of low quality users signing up to post junk in the hope x amount of people click their ads or affiliate links. Digitalpoint got flooded with one liners and gibberish from people in poorer countries and ended up losing most of its more respected users in the process.
2. Revenue sharing often breaks down to a very, very limited amount of money for anyone using the site. Social networks and forums are not the best for ad clickthrough rates or affiliate links, This varies based on how exactly the users are paid (per discussion, per post, per video/image, etc), but it generally isn't enough for anyone to live on unless either got really low expenses or the site itself is ridiculously massive. That's why new sites don't do it.
I don't think Reddit should take advice from the company that has never been profitable (not that Reddit had been profitable, mind you).
And affiliate links are actually known to be profitable, there are countless of sites that exist solely off affiliate links.
"Nike filter", you must be kidding me. Nobody wants to put goddamn ads on their photos.
Plenty of people want to put certain kinds of ads on their photos, and are happy to do so!
So Reddit should offer a photo filter feature? This comparison is hard to comprehend since their features are so different.
Do you have any numbers on that matter?
Just look around, usually advertisers pair themselves with publishers with a similar brand awareness and quality. Eg Nike or BMW won't advertise on Reddit or Facebbok because there would be a too strong asymmetry between advertisers' and publishers' brands. Nike and BMW would rather place and position themselves to eg the next James Bond movie from Sony (=> similar brand perception).
Reddit is the typical publisher that is avoided by a lot of major advertisers. The brand and the audience is maybe too heterogenous and inconsistent. While a sub like Photshopbattles might be positive and funny many other subs like Gonewild (which is huge btw) give Reddit a mixed perception. However, doing a deal with Viglink shows that they must have tried everything before (to get deals with major brands) but finally resigned and go now the affiliate path.
There is one good thing about affiliate marketing though: ad blockers do not harm your business.
They can if you use something like Viglink. That's another reason to roll your own solution. Really don't understand why they decided to go through them just to avoid a bit of regex.
If it's a good fit they can always roll their own later. Hell, they may be rolling their own right now but wanted to start capturing the additional revenue at a lower margin immediately.
>just to avoid a bit of regex
I've never heard of Viglink and am too lazy to google, but I'd wager the real value provided by the company isn't adding affiliate codes, but rather strong analytics features allowing you to optimize revenue across different affiliates etc.
If there's enough money in it then maybe it would be justifiable to put engineering effort into it themselves. In the mean time "free money" for minimal effort.
because it's more fun
Seriously? You think that's a good criteria to judge it on?
What is that?
Affiliate links are added if none are present.
I don't think there will be much revenue to share. It's too easy to get around this. Link to your own page, and redirect to your affiliate offer. Anyone that takes affiliate marketing on Reddit seriously will be doing this, so I doubt this will generate much revenue for Reddit.
HighUpManager: "We aren't hitting our expected KPI's, we need to find ways to increase affiliate revenue. Is there any way we can increase affiliate-link exposure?"
MiddleManager: "Well, I guess I could have my team modify the ranking algorithm so that our affiliate links rise to the front-page faster and stay there longer. However..."
HighUpManager: "Great! Make it so."
Took several months to get that back, and by then it was too late - all the real content creators had moved to Reddit.
Although this is common belief, Digg was on the decline well before v4 was released. v4 was a response to the decline, not the cause of it.
They mistakenly attributed the site's decline to the rise of social media apps like Twitter, and v4's was their attempt to become the "Twitter for news".
It's true that Digg didn't do enough to foster a healthy community; threads were often toxic, and yes the top users had too much sway. What's forgotten is some of the dumb things they did to try and monetize, like that full-site ads (background image ads) that I'm pretty sure everyone hates.
It most definitely was not. reddit was already bigger than Digg long before v4 was launched. v4 did cause a bump in reddit's traffic, but it wasn't nearly as significant as people think. Most Digg users were already reddit users too. In fact, a lot of the power users were getting their stories from reddit.
That's why at the time the joke was that if you wanted to see a summary of reddit the day before, you just looked at Digg.
It's unfortunate Reddit can't leave a working formula alone - HN has barely changed in 7 years - I really respect the control that must have taken - the lack of category filters on HN means I always need some other source
I do hope this and the imgur change last week doesn't mark the start of the end but it's probably time for a new player ... CIX -> Usenet/Dejanews -> Digg -> Reddit -> ??
Having said that I think comparing Reddit to HN is a bit unfair. The HN forums are is a happy byproduct of a successful VC firm. Hacker News forums could be switched off tomorrow and Y Combinator would almost certainly continue successfully. As far as I'm aware they generate zero revenue from the forums, in fact, it's probably impossible (or at least very hard) to measure any ROI on the forums.
Working for who? They're not making money, so the service is unsustainable. It has to change.
HN maintenance cost is orders of magnitude smaller. Also it is losing money and nobody cares because this is just like a pet project for YC.
Besides, all affiliate networks are (by definition) third party. In many cases, it's just not worthwhile for the merchant/advertiser to setup a custom tracking and billing solution.
Oh wait, they instead decide to tunnel all clicks through their own infrastructure? At massive cost and complexity? I wonder why they decided on this implementation, huh.
So many big brands are running multiple tags taking down more client info than Google Analytics - and then asking why pages are taking 5s+ to render
1) Maybe Viglink offered a deal to get exposure. I never heard of them until today.
2) They claim to cover 30k merchants. Maybe there is a lot of money for reddit in the 29,999 other sellers too.
Potentially this also opens for other use cases such as substituting the product name with a link to buy, maybe useful in some specific subreddits.
I personally dislike affiliate links just like most others but unlike ads they don't ruin my browsing experience and are generally very transparent.
The real issue here in my opinion is how this was announced, as a "we're doing this, FYI". I'd instead open up a discussion with mods of large communities to get feedback and once they understand the goal get them to show support.
And if they had gone the route of involving large communities they could have also done a tiny rev share, similar to how YouTube compensates content creators.
The largest valid reason people dislike affiliate links is because it changes the motivation for posting. When you see someone recommend a product behind an affiliate link, you can be certain that they are motivated in part by money. That may not be the whole reason; they could very well be recommending the product because they actually believe in it, but you only know for sure that they intend to make money off the recommendation.
A secondary reason people don't like affiliate links is because people don't like the idea of someone "making money off of" them. In my opinion, this is kind of irrational. It doesn't cost the user anything extra.
Interestingly, Reddit's plan is pure in this regard. They are simply making money off recommendations people are already making. Their not posting the affiliate links, they're simply seizing the opportunity presented when someone else honestly and organically links to a product.
Lastly, you mention a revenue share. Ironically, this proposal would do what you are actually concerned about: incentivize users to post something inauthentic which they normally wouldn't. I think your proposed solution would actually turn this non-issue into the very issue you're trying to prevent in the first place!
In the interest of full disclosure, I run websites which profit from affiliate links. I suspect my opinion would be the same if I didn't, however.
I agree that when used by the direct posters, affiliate links cause a misalignment of incentive because the poster isn't necessarily adding value to the community but rather to their affiliate account. This can be done very naively or be abused. Users suffer both ways.
This however isn't the case here IMO because if Reddit is auto tagging all links the posters are pretty much in the same boat that they were of Reddit hadn't tagged those links.
You could say that because this is a revenue channel for Reddit they'd optimize tagged posts over non tagged ones when promoting content. That however mostly gets resolved by the same logic as above, plus we all know how stuff gets to the top of Reddit...
Lastly, communities making some revenue is, again, not a misalignment. Using the same logic as above, all auto tagged links are again just links. Hence, a community that generates good content would get some revenue. It's pretty straight forward in my opinion.
Lastly, most affiliates pay commission on sales and not impressions (and if they do it's really tiny). So the context and the targeting are the most important pieces.
They rarely ruin it enough that is just close the tab and not use the site, but that doesn't really mean anything. If we can do without them I think we should.
In Reddit's case, it means they have an incentive to silently promote posts and comments that have affiliate links because it makes them money.
If a review of a product has affiliate links then I'll immediately distrust the review because it's not possible for me to know whether they actually like the product or because they get paid if they convince people to like it.
In this case however, since the posters aren't putting them in there's no incentive.
MercadoLibre, one of the biggest ecommerce platform in latam, had an affiliate program, but they cut it when they were "big enough".
My best answer is that right now, they realize it's best not to ruin a great thing. They're on top of the world, things are going well, why rock the boat?
I guess it might make sense to view this as some sort of avoided opportunity cost: reddit could potentially redirect existing product links (say, to a CPU at Newegg) to a different shop.
My guess is that they kind of have to because they have an agreement with the 3rd party that's handling this.
However, I have a feeling that some of the users will simply start rewriting links to not look like links.
EDIT: Here's what the FTC says: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftc...
> I’m an affiliate marketer with links to an online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn a commission from the retailer. What do I have to disclose? Where should the disclosure be?
> If you disclose your relationship to the retailer clearly and conspicuously on your site, readers can decide how much weight to give your endorsement.
> In some instances – like when the affiliate link is embedded in your product review – a single disclosure may be adequate. When the review has a clear and conspicuous disclosure of your relationship and the reader can see both the review containing that disclosure and the link at the same time, readers have the information they need. You could say something like, “I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.” But if the product review containing the disclosure and the link are separated, readers may lose the connection.
> As for where to place a disclosure, the guiding principle is that it has to be clear and conspicuous. The closer it is to your recommendation, the better. Putting disclosures in obscure places – for example, buried on an ABOUT US or GENERAL INFO page, behind a poorly labeled hyperlink or in a “terms of service” agreement – isn’t good enough. Neither is placing it below your review or below the link to the online retailer so readers would have to keep scrolling after they finish reading. Consumers should be able to notice the disclosure easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.
> Is “affiliate link” by itself an adequate disclosure? What about a “buy now” button?
> Consumers might not understand that “affiliate link” means that the person placing the link is getting paid for purchases through the link. Similarly, a “buy now” button would not be adequate.
Unfortunately, neither the FTC nor their equivalents elsewhere seem to be particularly good at enforcing these rules, so a lot of unscrupulous sites (and as in this case, many large ones) just ignore them altogether.
Seem impossible to enforce and frankly a little overbearing.
When a social media (always in the media) site that's well known starts tracking user links and proving that to any third parties - the argument from reddit will be that it's A) Anonymous and B) Secure - both of which are hot topics which are quickly starting starting to be disassembled by the general public - undoubtedly reddit will either be wrapped up in it which could be financially costly or publicisd and will likely turn off users.
Seems like a very odd time to be making a move like this.
This seems very underhanded. I really don't think I'll support this. I think I may need to write a Chrome/Firefox extension that grabs all of those links and rewrites them to be affiliate links to a charity.
I've tried Voat, but it's literally just Reddit.
The world needs a p2p, anonymity-first, censorship resistant link-sharing and discussion site/app/thing.
If anyone could point in some such direction, I sure would appreciate it.
You're on it. You're using it right now. This is it.
I've been an active user and contributor to (in order) local BBS, Fidonet, Usenet, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, digg/reddit, HN, and in my opinion, HN is the best, most interesting and functional discussion board that has ever existed.
Enjoy it! It won't last forever.
Simple stuff like collapsing long comment threads would be a Very Nice Plus, f'rex.
I've been on nearly all the platforms you've mentioned. The early ones (BBSes, Usenet) were tiny in comparison. Slashdot always kinda sucked for moderation, though its editorial curation was more useful than people today appreciate. Kuro5hin had some good ideas but ultimately never gained traction. I actually skipped digg. I use reddit, and like it for some elements, but it also frustrates me.
My interests are more toward a bloggy-oriented discussion platform, and the mix of capabilities, community, and hosting (free is unfortunately where I'm at for now), is hard to find.
I'm actually warming back on blogs, with self-hosted static-site systems being particularly attractive.
But that makes reddit and HN an apples to oranges comparison. They aren't even trying to be the same thing.
My personal concern, is that there is no reddit replacement that has a broad focus. All of the alternatives seem to be racist shit-holes, or fluffy, clearly manufactured facebook-feed alternatives.
Sigh...alright, I'll bite. Can you give a concrete example of HN censoring in effect?
Also, I must mention that dang has been significantly more fair the past year or so. It's been a long while since I've really noticed any of the issues I'm about to list.
From least to most concerning:
1. A couple of years ago, dang would regularly wade into gender arguments. And he'd apologize publicly and profusely to women who had unspecific complaints about Hacker News making them feel "unsafe", assuring those women that he felt their pain and would fix the problem.
2. Rules about tone were enforced unevenly. (Again, to be clear, they're now enforced far more fairly.)
Cruel, over-the-top, mean-spirited, Shanley-style  derogatory posts from feminist activists would routinely be allowed to stand. People would respond asking why this tone was being allowed on HN, and others would respond with "it's oppressive to tone-police women in tech". Despite all the attention drawn to these posts, they would not be moderated.
At the same time, the slightest acerbic replies against feminist activism were either "deaded" or publicly admonished by dang.
3. This last point is the most difficult to prove, but regular lurkers will know exactly what I'm talking about. Flags were enforced unevenly—they were used as an excuse to minimize community exposure to posts that disagreed with dang's politics.
When a controversial submission that ran counter to the feminist narrative quickly disappeared off the front page despite hundreds of comments, people would complain in the thread (because where else would they complain?). He'd respond, "Hey, this submission received a lot of flags. This wasn't my decision. I'm not closing this thread, so you can continue discussion. But I'm listening to the community by taking it off the front page."
However, controversial submissions that promoted the feminist narrative would often stay up for hours. Those posts undoubtably received tons of flags, too. When people would complain, dang would explain that he would disregard flags for controversial posts if they generated important conversations.
It's funny how this creates an echo chamber where nobody in real life is racist, or where you believe yourself that something remotely racist is wrong.
But as to the rest of it, yeah, the HN hivemind is insane in exactly the same way Startup Culture is a sick, greedy mess.
Every single time that's been tried it tanked because either pathological arseholes overwhelmed everyone else, or no-one wanted to use it.
But since you ask for an example that you can use: The "free" hierarchy of Usenet. It was set up to have no rules.
Absolutely. I once ran a community that grew from 5 to 50 to 300+ people, and had this utopian vision that moderation wouldn't be necessary, we were intelligent, enlightened people who would have healthy discussions and hash out our disagreements in civil ways.
That said, moderation and moderation tools - especially on reddit, are evolving. To the point that many issues which I thought were fatal, are now manageable (such as permanent noise to signal ratio attenuation).
Unfortunately what keeps me up at night, is that the tools we are developing are straight up censorship bots and their proliferation on various subreddits, and eventually to all social platforms is beyond worrisome.
Theres big brother, and then theres the more agile and nimble little brother.
Let users decide: "I never want to see anything from that guy ever again" (unless, say, 50 people I've upvoted upvote one of his comments).
I can see why people would want to avoid such solution, with all the "filter bubble" rhetoric, but I can't see why it wouldn't be a viable option?
In fact, I'm pretty sure there's a huge opportunity in that space, for whoever nails the mechanics correctly.
I just some nostalgia for /. from this comment. People who friended or foed you were "fans" and "freaks", respectively.
There is a lot of space between reddit's "everything the mods let you see" (whether you want it or not) and facebook's "only what your friends (or Zuck) want you to see", and the two extremes cause a lot of friction. Something much better is certainly possible.
As with Usenet, you'd end up having to buy a bigger hard drive just to keep your killfile up to date.
Even if you managed that and then managed somehow to get funding to grow and scale for a system with no obvious revenue opportunities history shows us you are still likely to fail.
How about a system like this.
Something like HN or reddit, but make it read only via online. And the only way to post into it should be by sending a hand written mail, to the admins. These will not be filtered, and will be posted exactly as they are written.
People will be able to see the discussions online. The original note can be optionally delivered/forwarded to the recipient (let us snail mail that too)...
There will be upvotes and downvotes. But nothing will be sorted or hidden based on that.
In other words, take the "instant gratification" out of the discussions, and make them more personal.
We can see this today in the case of TOR. The network is censorship-resistant from within, but it's still vulnerable externally - if governments put its users into jail, that's effectively censoring the whole network instead of some specific content.
I am also interested by Yours (https://www.yours.network), which is built using Bitcoin.
And you can see a list of other related projects here: https://github.com/yoursnetwork/yours-core/blob/master/docs/...
Reddit had the advantage that the subreddit is a natural partition point so it's not quite as hard a problem as something more granular, but still: p2p social network is hard.
I'm not sure what you're saying here. Are you suggesting moderation of online discussion is coercion, and therefor criminal? I think the entire legal system (US specifically) would disagree. Or are you suggestion that a user that is using coercion is criminal, and something you would put a stop to?
> Should I stoop to the level of a common racist by FORCING him/her to speak a certain way?
That's a judgement call to make, depending the context of the site. Yes, you can make the argument that censorship of hate speech is as unethical as the speech itself. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree, and it's a bit of a rabbit hole. Or you could make the argument that your site is for particular discussion of certain topics, and if it's well known what the rules are, there's great benefit to the community by enforcing them: eg /b/ vs Hacker News.
> I've no right to tell people what they can and can not say
You absolutely do, if they are using a site which you own or are in some way in charge of. The same way you have the right to tell someone to get off your lawn.
> nor will I hold myself responsible for their thoughts and actions. It's their burden to bear.
You don't have to hold yourself responsible, but your users might. And shrugging that responsibility might result in a bad experience for many users, depending on how the culture and discussion of a site develops.
You are not a Forum. On the other hand, your comment implies you try to convince someone to act (not) a certain way. The difference between the force and conviction might make all the difference, but conviction is one kind of force, isn't it?
This is possible with INN. Everything you ask for, I think, is possible with INN.
As for alternatives, what about The Pirate Bay? Links, comments, anonymity.
An existing example is Freenet, which has a decentralized messaging system.