Funny story about that. When we were owned by Conde, the accounting was a little different (they took on some of the charges, like Akamai), and so we were actually told we were slightly profitable.
When that blog post went up I was as surprised as you to see it wasn't profitable when I was there.
Firstly, as with Wikipedia, if Reddit were forced to close because of money issues, Reddit could simply post a 'donate now or reddit shuts down' post and they would likely be rolling in millions of dollars.
Second, simply because reddit itself is not profitable does not mean people are not making a lot of money off reddit. The moderator system lends itself very well to a kind of 'corporate capture' of communities where moderators can be (and are) bought off for very tidy sums.
From what I remember, this is kind of why they started Reddit Gold.
I'd rather not be hassled as a user.
I would also click on adverts, and buy things if they're useful to me, but I don't think I'd ever donate to a website.
Hi, welcome to your first day on the Internet. Since you're new, let me tell you how things work around here.
There are probably dozens of web sites similar to Wikipedia. But Wikipedia is on the first page of search engine results for just about anything you search for. Why is that? Because people have learned that they can trust them over the last 12.5 years.
When you go to Wikipedia, you know that when you're looking for information on the Battle of Hastings that you aren't going to see ads for anatomy enlargement pills. You won't see any advertising at all in fact. You know that the community at large does a decent job at removing biased information. You know that a company can't buy their way into hiding negative information or promoting positive information.
This level of trust is what causes people to link to Wikipedia thousands of times per day.
So let's say Wikipedia takes your advice. They put a small unobtrusive text advert on each page. Suddenly you're searching for information on acne and an ad for "Acbegone" pops up that promises to cure your problem for 3 easy payments of $19.95. Acbegone ends up becoming a huge advertiser with Wikipedia - spending $1 million per month on advertising. Suddenly Wikipedia gets The Phone Call. "Hi, this is Acbegone. We'd love to continue advertising on your site but your article on acne mentions 10 other products. Get rid of those and we'll double our ad spend with you. Don't get rid of them and we'll be forced to stop advertising." Wikipedia can't make do without the income they've become accustomed to so they make editorial decisions to not mention any product - but still there's that ad from Acbegone. Suddenly Wikipedia seems like one huge cheesey ad. People stop trusting it. People stop linking to it. It stops coming up in search engine results.
For a real world excample, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg#Digg_v4
Look at that - a link to Wikipedia.
Everyone goes to Google.com to search for things. You know that when you do a search, you're going to see helpful related adverts.
That level of conflict of interests and possible abuse, privacy concerns etc, means that the entire world uses google as their search engine.
Oh and they make billions in profit.
Your hypothesis about an advertiser asking wikipedia to alter content surely applies to google search results.
Google indexes other people's content. All Google has to say is, "Sorry, we're not in control of the content others make, our automated systems follow an algorithm we're unable to make one-off tweaks to." It could conceivably cost Google $1MM to make a one-off tweak to their algorithm in terms of programming and testing time.
Wikipedia on the other hand is all content. They have no plausible response other than, "Yeah, it would take 5 minutes to update that but we won't do that for you." Hell, all they'd really have to do is let the advertiser update it as they want and then instruct editors to do nothing.
It really is just different for this and a number of other reasons.
>and then instruct editors to do nothing.
Yeah good luck with getting wikipedia editors to comply with that request!
A site like wikipedia would likely have thousands upon thousands of advertisers. They wouldn't be dependent on a few big advertisers. If an advertiser came to wikipedia and asked them to change a page, wikipedia would just say "no", publish the details to make the advertiser look like a douche (cue internet witch hunt, boycot naming shaming etc), and not care about the 0.000% temporary drop in revenue.
I don't think grandparent should be downvoted, he raises a good point. Tons and tons of people use Reddit, but Reddit has a hard time making a living.
Maybe they enjoy it? Maybe it makes them happy?
Not everything is about money.
Checkup alladvantage - they paid people to surf. Had millions of users, but ultimately failed because their "business model" was idiotic.
Getting millions of users is pretty easy if you pay them to be a user. Someday though, it's only worthwhile if you can build a sustainable business which at least doesn't lose money hand over fist.
If Reddit hadn't got bought and supported by other profitable businesses, I doubt it would have survived.
Was it fraud if you got a dog to play with the mouse, and never looked at the screen? The dog might have still been looking at the adverts!
I can make millions of dollars selling condom wrappers, but just because I have made millions of dollars does not mean that I have done something important. I may catch quite a bit of hate for this, but a large portion of HN's content is on things that make money, but are not truly important.
1. Make money doing whatever it takes. eg come up with some crappy website, sell it to google, then shut it down.
2. The money problem is solved!
3. Spend money solving world hunger, diseases, philanthropy.
Which IMHO is pretentious BS.
Reddit succeeded largely because the company that bought them is making money elsewhere.
Such a nonsense makes me angry. Surely you've heard about companies called Google, Facebook, Linkedin, that succeeded without being bought and for a long time not making a profit.
Yep, the site is still in the red. We are trying to finish the year at break-even (or slightly above, to have a margin of error) though. 
Someday, the money will run out, and they'll have to try and turn a profit.
Their business model is fundamentally bad.
We operate a dozen of our own colos, with a virtual colo on AWS for insta-scalable multi-region redundancy, and an Amazon "colo" costs the same as about eight of our own when spun up and serving at least a gigabit of traffic.
However, the difference is less if you're going from zero sys admins to 24/7 says admins. I'd SWAG the crossover is once your AWS budget exceeds 4 full time sys admins willing to do shift work.
Being a forum where low wage/students/anti-corporate/anti-advertising types go and share memes is the elephant in the room problem.
For example, I wouldn't be surprised if the Internet's largest right-wing community turned out to be one of the subreddits.
Reddit is an incredibly valuable service. Maybe a lot of people on Hacker News don't see this, but reddit has basically become the Geocities of online discussion communities. The subreddit system has eliminated the "eternal september" problem, since all non-casual users will trickle into the communities that match their interests. Even if reddit loses 90% of its users, it will still be a highly relevant online community. I am certain that they can turn a (modest) profit if they really try.
Reddit will probably never become a massive money machine. But regardless, it is a very influential community. Even community is arguably an understatement at this point, it is really closer to infrastructure. As I have said here before, I would be willing to bet that it is still around in 10 years, with a significant (millions) amount of users.
I can - sort of - confirm they are not trying hard. Last time I tried to advertise on Reddit, I failed because they could not accept CC payments from mainland Europe ... Just think of all the ad revenue they are losing.
If you advertise on Reddit, you're advertising to a violently anti-corporate anti-advertising audience, who may love you, but very well may hate you. You could be subject to a witch hunt at the drop of a hat.
I very much doubt advertisers would be lining up to advertise to that crowd. They're hardly big spenders either.