What do you consider success for fresh out of college 20-somethings, if having a few million bucks in the bank, and having built one of the biggest sites on the Internet, isn't success?
The accounts they used weren't fake, they were just the two guys building a site with a lot of test accounts.
Uh, yeah, they were. They intentionally created _false_ accounts of people with different names to give the impression that a lot of people were already submitting content to the site.
The accounts were real enough. They were people (Steve and Alexis) posting interesting stories to their own site. They just happened to give the illusion of lots of people doing it...which is kinda mandatory for a new site, if you want to kickstart it.
I enjoyed the really high quality links they posted; that was the only "contract" I felt like I had with reddit at that point. There was no discussion in the beginning, so the links were all there was, and they were high quality (i.e. I enjoyed reading the linked stories). Faking a community would be much harder, so it's lucky they didn't have to. By the time comments were a part of the experience at reddit, there were enough actual users to make it happen.
I love Reddit, but I find their story depressing. Everyone has fun personal projects that they make, but a lucky few will have them become wildly popular without much planning for reasons they can't foresee. I don't feel like I can learn anything from that, and it makes me feel very unlucky and that fate is largely out of my control.
No one denies that luck plays a big part in how successful any given startup will turn out to be.
But everyone can do things to make their chances of success higher, and the magnitude of that success greater, through the way they conduct themselves and the decisions they make about what they do.
Luck was a big factor in Reddit's early success. But luck wouldn't have helped them if they didn't have a good idea ans put in the work.
And luck, as they say, is something you can make, by spending enough time operating with determination, conviction and sincerity, and by learning enough about the world to pick projects that will have a higher chance of success.
But from your comments in this thread, you seem like a pretty cynical, defeatist person, which could be a pretty big handicap in your quest for success - if indeed that is something you really want.