For example, release the new design on new.reddit.com and let viewers migrate over to it at their own pace.
Once you have a lot of people using the new reddit instead of the old design, you can migrate the old reddit to old.reddit.com and put the new design up as the default.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T GET RID OF THE CURRENT DESIGN, until you have adoption for the new design. Period. If you simply replace the old with the new, reddit is as good as dead.
Reddit pages use a ton of RAM and CPU compared to sites like HN. Some of that is understandable considering the features they strive to support, but some of it is honestly just something that can be better engineered.
I think a better approach would be to commit to their new design, and do some sort of A/B testing to hone down the new UI until it replaces the old one.
I don't think reddit will die because of the changes they propose. This is just silly. For starters, there are Google Chrome plugins to make reddit more Facebook feed-like.
I myself like the way reddit works right now and would not like it to change much. That said, Reddit the company has to move towards what will make them money. I don't have this data, but their user base might have changed in the past years. People that really enjoy infinite feeds, for example.
I'm not sure, and Digg is obviously the cautionary tail here on the "don't tick off the user-base" side, but I'd wager that to continue to grow, they need a little more mass appeal.
Reddit as an anonymous FaceBook Feed might have some real value, as both a value prop for people, and as retargeting for Marketers. Reddit knows that you browse, say, /r/atheism as a Mormon, or /r/gonewildasian as a single guy, and those are not things FaceBook may know. There is a lot of value in anonymous, on both sides.
I can't imagine giving $200M to a group of people who publicly say they're not focused on ensuring I get it back. Is this a VC investment or a charity?
Also, have they not achieved profitability after 10+ years because they don't know how to make enough money (i.e. ad sales team is weak), costs are too high (i.e. bad code so lots of infra or too many employees), or is it just not possible to be profitable in this space?
Worked out okay for their investors.
I think the investors' motivations are non-financial, akin to how YC invested in Quora.
Reddit might not be nearly so.
Then again Facebook initially seemed like it would have that problem but they seem to have overcome it.
And while $200M doesn't fit a design change, search engines are expensive.
b) They may have a plan towards profitability over a certain period of time that they haven't shared with you or me but that was convincing enough to potentially be a good investment (or maybe other scenarios, such as selling to an even bigger company who already can monetise... such as Google)
The concept of Reddit, which is user generated content curated by users, doesn't have a lot of need for a middleman, more of just a few moderators and admins to keep everything running smoothly. The power of the website is solely in its users and their content generation.
Unfortunately these slow changes have been eroding what was Reddit's strengths of free speech and open dialogue by turning the site into "advertisement friendly". That means killing all subreddits that could sour potential buyers and altering vote-counts to favor specific messages.
Combine this with the fact that they are supplanting viral marketing disguised as user posts (One from today even! https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/6ql2tu/made_my_deli...), allowing blatant vote manipulations (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaymcgregor/2016/12/14/how-we-b...) or allowing entire takeovers (/r/politics during election cycle - hello CTR!) and you have a bloated replica of something that used to be an amazing social powered website.
Subreddits like coontown, jailbait, fatpeoplehate & a bunch of nazi subreddits really provided valuable debate and dialogue. Voat now has all that 'dialogue' and I don't think anything of value was lost.
But complaining about CTR shows your colors when both sides spend similar amounts.
Essentially this big, beautiful design driven redesign ultimately never shipped because users spent less time on it. Certain design 'improvements' like increased padding between stories reduces density and as a result tends to reduce readership, for example. The internet as perceived by Engineers and Designers is quite different from the masses (even with Reddit's demographic differences from FB taken into account).
Reddit needs to be really careful with a redesign: data should lead the rollout efforts, not design. I think they are due for some UX improvements, perhaps around a gradual UI refresh; however, I have little faith in the product leadership at Reddit to pull this off. Huffman and crew need to be willing to can the entire redesign if user research and data come back negative.
Good design must be usable; otherwise we'd call it art.
That Facebook redesign for example, while very aesthetically pleasing it looks horrible or confusing to use:
* Search box doesn't look like an input control
* Low contrast for top right nav (how do I change to any other page?)
* Where did my groups and apps go?
* Large pictures, great for mock ups, but it just means more scrolling when 80% of
content I don't care or want to see;
I really don't want to have a picture of a high school friend's baby take up the whole screen
I think that this is a positive, morally and ethically. It's too bad.
On Reddit, however, there’s a huge amount of great content I’m unlikely to stumble upon unless I’m seeking. This makes behavior based recommendations difficult. I think a combination of curated views (software eng front, political junkie, counter culture, etc) and machine based recommendation like YouTube could do great things for reddit.
> An early version of the new design, which we saw during our interview, looks similar to Facebook’s News Feed or Twitter’s Timeline:
So they will look like Facebook. Because nothing says cool and trendy like the social site your parents and aunts and uncles use. Now nothing wrong with aunts and uncles using the site, it's just that "fresh" and "cool" aren't exactly the first things that come to mind there.
> The company has about 230 employees, up from around 140 at the beginning of the year. Huffman would like to end 2017 with around 300 full-time staff.
That sounds odd too me as well, maybe I am not versed in startup culture. Having a goal of going from 230 to 300 people seems like a pointless metric (and wasteful). It's like saying "I want to write 1000 lines of code today".
I haven't seen much mentioned about moderation and admins and how they censor and manipulate content and talk about fostering better communities and so on.
> Eventually, though, Altman and Reddit’s other investors will want their money back and then some. Huffman says there are lots of ways for Reddit to exit, none of which he’s focused on at the moment.
Well there is the answer. They are trying to sell it. "Hey, Psst! Wanna buy this cool site for $2B. It looks fresh like Facebook, and we just grew by 30% (230 to 300 employees) in the last few months. Close your eyes and imagine that hockey stick graph going up, and the value you'd be getting out of it".
On the other hand, a VC funded company I worked for (Hampton Creek) seemed like a ponzi scheme. When I quit the options strike price was so expensive I couldn't afford to pay for the options nor the taxes to "gain", the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in value it was "worth". What a joke. I think in the end we will see a lot of these companies are loaded with red ink and offer very little value.
I venture to say a majority of these unicorns are pump-and-dump schemes.
Your intuition seems right. I remember a time when companies used their developers to update their site without having to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
1) Be rich/famous enough for people to pay attention to what you do
2) Pump a bunch of resources into something (company, stocks, whatever)
3) Everyone concludes there must be value, because you're investing your own cash
4) Others start investing, increasing the value further
5) You sell (dump) your stake at the new price before everyone realises they've invested in something worthless.
Say you invest $1 million in $1 shares and the extra investment/interest from others raises the share price to $1.20, you sell everything and get $200k profit for no work. Everyone else is left holding shares which turn out to be worthless.
VENTURE CAPITAL IS A "LIQUIDITY PONZI SCHEME," SAYS STEVE BLANK
And I say this as a heavy user of the site who knows exactly what kind of content formats work best on it.
You have to make something they want, and you have to engage with them in the comments section as a redditor. If they feel pandered to, it's going to backfire. I see a lot of ads on there that seem like try-hard pandering.
It's certainly more difficult to use well than most ad platforms, especially for bigger companies.
I think this is going to be a big issue. Large advertisers want reach, not hyper-targeting a tiny sub with 3,000 subscribers.
While you can certainly make something that would appeal to, say, /r/edmproduction, would a large advertiser like P&G be able to create something for default subs (that have huge reach)?
That said, our ads weren't targeted at a sub, and they worked well.
Big companies are so entrenched in their over-engineered ways that they develop very low expectations about productivity.
I mean, if you look at Facebook; does anything actually change? No, it looks pretty much the same as last year - 5000 Facebook engineers working on it full time for a year and there is no noticeable, meaningful improvement.
I don't know if these big tech companies are hiring all these unnecessary software developers out of duty, for competitive advantage (just draining the talent pool) or what else but it definitely looks like a bubble.
However there is always backend work that needs to be done: security updates, bug fixes, updating frameworks to work with newer tech, automation / pipelining improvements (since they are working on such a large scale), etc. And that's not even mentioning the business side of things like ads, moderation, etc.
I think a more natural move would be to IPO. Since Steve Huffman stated that monetization is not a top priority, it won't be happening anytime soon.
Fun fact : they sold reddit in it's infancy and then later regained control. That sale didn't end well. Even if they do find a more savvy buyer like FB/Google , reduced founder control in a community driven website can't be a good thing. Having spent billions to acquire reddit, the new owner will likely begin to turn it into an advertising machine which has the potential to alienate the core userbase. On reddit, the core userbase is everything.
An IPO would end up like snapchat. Without solid $$$ growth, wall street will eat reddit for lunch. Much better to do sell it to Google / Facebook or the media companies.
There is absolutely no way whatsapp would been able to fetch it's valuation if it went IPO.
This one of those largely company things where bosses assert their authority and power in the organization based on the head count under them. So in many companies people hire extensively even if they absolutely don't have to.
The more people you have under you, the more you are considered powerful.
Every manager is encouraged to increase the number of people they manage. Managers in turn get disproportionate rewards compared to developers (such as offices -- not even the most senior ranking developers get offices, but the lowest ranking managers do), so developers are encouraged to go into management. Before long, the company is bloated with highly paid managers managing managers, top-skill developers no longer developing, and the supposed dual technical track is hardly anything except a bullet point on some other manager's resume.
> That sounds odd too me as well, maybe I am not versed in startup culture. Having a goal of going from 230 to 300 people seems like a pointless metric (and wasteful). It's like saying "I want to write 1000 lines of code today".
I understand this criticism but I think the intent behind their statement is different from the intent you're reading into it.
It sounds like you think they're using it as some kind of empire building management metric (I might be wrong). ie. 300 people and well be a great company! As you say that'd be pretty stupid and so I doubt that. Here's my guess: the headcount number is by product of a broader growth plan. ie. We need to get to X revenues, or scale to X users, or build Y products in Z months which means we need to hire X engineers, Y marketers, Z salespeople in a certain time frame.. add all that up and that means we need 300 people by the end of 2017.
The reason it gets boiled down to 300 is two-fold: 1) It's just hard to get a journalist to be interested in that kind of considered detail & much easier for journalists to remember that one number 2) It's actually still a good signal in an ultra-competitive hiring market. ("you bet we're hiring!, we have lot's of jobs openings! didn't you here we're looking for 100's of people, come and help build that site that you already spend half day on")
300 as a management metric = no sense;
300 as by product of growth plan, headline grabbing takeaway, beacon to potential talent = better.
Its the ol model I see time and time again. Site pulls in users by being generally awesome and doing things like not advertising, not censoring, etc. Then the site grows. Businesses start astroturfing because they can't advertise. Then the company slowly starts walking back on everything that made it special, for example, advertising, all while rapidly expanding the personell while hardly doing anything to improve the site for users. Aaaand right when advertising dollars are the best, try to capitalize or take public, followed by a big sale/buyout, and finally within finite time users feel betrayed and it withers and dies, but not until a competitor starts where they did, and usually follows the same path.
I stopped participating in reddit about the time sockpuppetry really started killing my favorite sub's, and personally I think the first and most greiveous mistake was moving away from text only.
The problem as it stands is none of the competitors stand out. I think hn is best, but scope is limited, /. does something's interesting but failed and lost its user base. Voat is too much of a reddit clone, and I just don't get the appeal of steemit etc.
Personally, we need to sit down and figure a better way to measure user worth. Right now I am leaning to a Slashdot style moderation/tagging system, along with a limited input per user at varying thresholds. Something that really interests be is automating logical maps of comments too.
this sounds risky for a couple reasons. I hope this is a bit hyperbolic and they are only referring to the frontend. But anyway: rewriting everything from scratch is a monumental undertaking and can delay other important enhancements. Rewriting everything partially contributed to Netscape falling behind its competitors and eventually to its irrelevance. The other reason it is risky is that maybe the site's simple and functional design is what made them so successful in the first place?
I would also suggest using Privacy Badger from EFF.
> DNT is a nice idea, but without buy-in from the entire ecosystem, its impact is limited. In place of DNT, we're adding in new, more granular privacy controls that give you control over how Reddit uses any data we collect about you.
What does it hurt to keep supporting it? It's actually pretty ironic: "DNT doesn't have total support across ecosystems, so we stopped supporting it".
 http://preferences-mgr.truste.com/ (one of many such opt-outs)
It will be a real shame if they start gunking it up with trackers - many news sites are basically unusable without ad blocking.
Will they be opt-out? You betcha! Still, at least they exist...
1. People may forget, but Reddit was a (the?) major winner in the Digg exodus.
2. I don't think Digg every got the subreddit style discussion boards down. I think the reddit "homepage experience" vs. the typical subreddit experience to be very different. Should be interesting to see which way they slide for the redesign.
3. The influx of new capital and the focus on the redesign sort of telegraphs that they want to grow reddit, which is a very large but idiosyncratic community.
If they do it right, the change will be very transparent and very incremental, ala the ebay background color change .
Should be an interesting thing to watch!
I.e., Reddit was doing something right, and Digg was shrinking. The Digg redesign fiasco accelerated both trends.
> It’s going on a hiring spree
> redesigning its website
For no reason other than giving the unnecessary people from the hiring spree something to do.
> Huffman would like to end 2017 with around 300 full-time staff
The current number of 230 employees is already about ten times too many. What the hell do they need the additional staff for?
> The company is also not profitable.
Doesn't need to be because it could be run by ten people living off of donations.
Sure, could they do it? Absolutely. But I'd bet a large sum on money that they'd do so poorly.
Also it's important to note that whether you like it or not Reddit is and always has been a business. Being profitable isn't the most important thing right now for reasons, but somehow i doubt investors would be ok with them just punting on the issue forever. They rightly expect a return.
I don't need Secret Santa and no support. What kind of trust do you mean?
... basic web site with a hundred thousand communities, gigabytes of images uploaded daily, millions of votes a day, 1.5 billion pageviews a month...
Also, reddit is a business, not just a website. They don't only hire engineers.
Thats kinda simplistic. Setting aside the fact that reddit is much more complicated than it appears at first glance...
I don't care how simple the site is, being the number 5 most visited site in the US, kinda comes with some SRE and infrastructure challenges.
Reddit is not a basic web site though. It doesn't have static content. Almost every page is dynamically generated for each logged in user, of which there are hundreds of millions. That is the total opposite of 'basic'.
Reddit used to be a place I could go to see topics re: Science, Tech, the Internet, and gadgets. It was the network where my friends weren't - and that felt cool like I was a part of an exclusive club. Things like the April fools pranks: Place/Chat/Button - those are what make Reddit special.
Now all my friends are on Reddit and we send each other links - which is also nice. But I miss the exclusivity and with the loss of it comes a dilution of content to meet the lowest common denominator of entertainment transmissions.
Reddit was a lot more authentic before it started functioning as a community group (ie: "redditors").
What Alexa top ten site have you run off a crew barely large enough to field a softball game?
> Doesn't need to be because it could be run by ten people living off of donations.
really? really?? how so?
The "reddit hug of death" is a term that was coined because of how much traffic a front page hit could deliver - to the point where it crashed the server or over-exceeded bandwidth capacity for sites.
The issue is that I don't see a lot of potential where investing money into Reddit that helps the users, only the advertisers, which makes their announcements seem extremely patronizing as they try to convince Reddit users why it is better for them.
Isn't that what reddit gold is?
Not sure why this UX concept needs to be applied to every kind of interface nowadays.
I think Reddit's current interface could be updated visually without changing its simplicity.
The reasons I left Digg for Reddit were the information density and the ease of rapid browsing. Eliminating those in favor of "cards" is incredibly short-sighted.
It sounds like they're rewriting the whole front end. Why would they want to spend time and effort doing that and then, in addition to continually tweaking/adding to it, also maintaining a legacy interface?
Customization can help prevent a short-term backlash from the most engaged users, but whatever they choose as the default is what they will live or die by.
Breaking the API will take away essential functionality from a very wide range of communities, moderators and users alike. Can they do a complete front- and back-end rewrite and still maintain a backwards-compatible API? If not, I am out, because a rewrite is simply way too much work.
As founder run sites with income to sustain the site it works but the moment founders become 'distant' and obsessed with commercial objectives the site sort of loses its focus and there is a slow decline.
Reddit only took off because it as seen an low key non-commercial alternative to the 'over commercial' Digg. Now it doesn't have that feel anymore and this can only end badly.
Even HN is not a profit making site, but delivers value to ycombinator outside of that.
> You chose to grow with venture capital and you’ve no doubt (I hope) taken some money off the table in your Series C round. I say this because this new version of digg reeks of VC meddling. It’s cobbling together features from more popular sites and departing from the core of digg, which was to “give the power back to the people.”
These sorts of massive Internet community-curated stores of information would in an ideal world be community supported as well, like Wikipedia. And they also wouldn't (in an ideal world) be under threat of changing radically or disappearing entirely at any moment.
Maybe we need something like the UK's television tax. An Internet tax that pays for public service sites with no advertising and no corporate interest. Add that to the TODO list after world peace.
Reddit has a lot of users but it's hard to build user profiles for targeted advertising as there's a lot of anonymity and shot posting.
Teen snapshot sites are worth more because because its real people, posting real things. That data is valuable.
I feel that if someone were to target ads to me based on the subreddits that I subscribe to, they'd be far more relevant to my interests than Facebook ads. Facebook shows me clickbait spam that my friends liked; I almost never see any interesting ads there. Reddit certainly has more advertiser friendly information than Snap does. On Snapchat, you share photos with your friends and Snap knows nothing about you other than your location. Reddit on the other hand has confirmed interests.
What is their average time-on-site statistic I wonder, i'd expect it to be much higher than most other websites.
Although I agree, Reddit desperately needs a rewrite of its backend.
I would like to point out the twitter/facebook feed style as described is difficult to replicate, because with reddit, seeing the title of the post helps contextualize it so much. Without the title, many posts become meaningless because you can't guess the subreddit that the post is from - and a meme/gif in one subreddit can mean something much different than a meme in another.
I won't be surprised at all when they alienate their userbase with a pointless redesign that adds nothing of substance.
The kinds of people that are working at Reddit now are the kinds of people who are not creative and incapable of creating something original. They are the kinds of people who join a tech company solely to ride off the coat tails of those who came before them with original ideas and substance.
Naturally, since they don't understand the original desire and intent they are not able to contribute anything new or original. So how they contribute is instead by a route redesign of something that already exists.
Redesigns are generally not about improving upon something that was there before. They are a political process for who can get control over something popular that someone already made.
However, at the same time (after thinking about it), I can see it as a necessary step.
Without a redesign it'll be hard for them to implement a way to make money. I assume, that is also how they increased the valuation; by promising increased profits.
I find Reddit one of the most valuable web sites I use, covering news and tech interests. I wish them well on the infrastructure refresh.
So they are doing same mistakes as Digg. Interesting.
Good to know they are "literally" re-writing code instead of "figuratively". Why is the adverb "literally" overused so often?
Personally, other than FB I can't think of a site I visit more often than reddit. Whether at home, on the bus or just sitting on the couch, it's the site I know I can open and find some useful content.
With the amount of engagement they have, they should be making more money.
start your engines, reddit will do what so many user-driven content sites have done - light themselves on fire. slashdot, digg, they never learn.
yes, the network effect is a huge moat. but then you actively alienate your users and then it goes FAST.
good luck to the aspiring entrepreneurs going after this opportunity.
don't even need a strong business plan, not like you can make any real money - but you'll get funding for years to come :)