I've used reddit for like 7 years. Gleamed helpful info from it. Even won a contest off that site (still got that postcard of all the admin's autographs). Yet my continuing theme with that site was their social experiments. Some of them were one time events, like the Reddit Jet Blue Travels or naming a whale Mr. Splashy Pants or the Rally For Sanity (okay, we technically tagged along for that event, but I was the ones drawn to that pilgrimage). Most of them were short lived, like Soapier or The redditor zine. However, there were successful experiments like IAMA (we finally got the President in the end after making joke IAMA requests), Secret Santa, and shit, we even got Snoop Dogg as an honorary mod of /r/trees.
That was the thing with reddit, it was this general forum that various people showed up on who wanted to try new things or learn something new. Sometimes they took it too far and sometimes they had real life effects. Whatever redditors tried, it was something that broke the regular order of things. Hidden away in the subreddits, I can still see these attempts at trying something new. Try Paleo, donate a pizza, ask a scientist or historian for detailed answers, try not to jack off, meetup with like-minded people, try to be more productive with GTD, try to have this obscure politician win an election, or watch these obscure movies on netflix.
Now the site has gotten so big, so many stuff has been done on there, I'm likely just skimming the surface here.
Anyways, Jedberg, Raldi, if you're still on this thread, thanks for your early contributions to that site. It has brought me fond memories and even a few friends...who I can assure you are not the steretypical reddit weirdos. For reals!
Like so many mega-scale communities before it, Reddit is a case study in what happens if you let your user base grow faster than your cultural core can assimilate it.
To get the good content you need to dig deeper and deeper now, hide yourself away from the deluge of garbage that is the top-level groups. /r/programming remains fairly lively, but it's still a weak substitute for what it could be given proper community oversight.
The defaults are garbage, of course, but so would be literally any other community that size, so I don't really think it should reflect significantly on the nature of Reddit. They really need to start onboarding with "What are 5 things you're interested in?" instead of the defaults, though, or else the average first-time user will have no idea that this variety in community quality exists.
I think this is the key - Eternal September doesn't generally impact Reddit as a whole (except for the default or frontpage), but rather it impacts each individual subreddit. However, each subreddit this happens to then goes and makes a new, separate subreddit to essentially start again.
There was definitely a period where the average quality of a comment seemed higher. But those times also coincided with the rise of novelty accounts, power user personalities, often with foul sounding names and awful subreddits. Drama over subreddit bannings is nothing new, either.
Honestly, I'm enjoying the website more today now than I was a few years ago.
Which, I suppose, is the same thing the people say about The Simpsons.
Personally I'm pretty happy there's less of the narwhalbacon joke stuff that used to be rampant in the comments years ago. I think the noise:signal ratio is about the same as I can ever remember it being, but at least I can now stand the noise.
To this day I still don't tell people I visit reddit because I don't want to be associated with or labeled as a "redditor" despite the fact that I find the site to be a valuable source of content. There's a strong faction of the core user base that I just can't relate to.
You certainly do need to hide away from the top level stuff and find the sub-reddits which you can tolerate. For example, the sports reddits are awesome forums for me to visit, but the design and web design ones rarely grab my attention.
With a community of any size that can grow infinitely it is going to be tough to maintain quality. With that being said I created a site that tries something a bit different where you can only follow 150 people and the content you see are the links and posts those 150 people comment on.
This doesn't limit the amount of content you can see because the 150 people in your network will be following their own set of people and so forth so the good content should spread naturally throughout the site. In essence I guess you could think of it as a mix between HN and Twitter where you get to curate the content based on who you follow.
It's called Dunbargo if anyone is interested in checking it out: https://dunbargo.com
There are two restrictions that might not sit well with the HN crowd, but things I put in place to manage quality:
1. You have to connect to LinkedIn just so the site can get your real name.
2. The people you invite you are stuck with forever. This means you can't just toss around your invites without any thought, but instead have to consider if the person you are going to invite will actively do a good job contributing to your stream.
These guidelines make it so the site isn't for everybody, but then again I'm not trying to create a place for everybody.
What happens when people stop using the site? You're stuck without content... and then you leave the site?
PG had vetoed their initial idea to create a food-delivery app and then called them back and asked them to come up with something new.
I also really enjoyed this post from Alexis re: their journey --particularly this excerpt:
"I talk about this a lot in my book, but it was PG who invited us to apply to the first ever round of Y Combinator and ultimately Jessica Livingston who banged on the table to accept us into the program after PG and the other partners rejected us.
I often think about what would have happened if she hadn't demanded that we be part of the program. There'd be no reddit, that's for sure."
This doesn't get repeated quite often enough as it should, but jl is probably one of the kindest, most intelligent, and most perceptive partners at YC, and probably in the entire venture capital industry.
This is totally incorrect, BTW. Our traffic was already double Digg's at that point. Their v4 failure caused a noticeable but small bump in traffic.
Fortunately you had just turned up a bunch of new servers just days before.
We call that "capacity planning". ;)
In fact, that was a main reason cited be people at the time as to why they liked reddit over other options -- because we didn't artificially inflate page views by forcing reloads.
And when it comes to uniques, my memory's pretty foggy, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Digg actually had more than we did at that point.
That said, you're absolutely correct that we were far from struggling, except in terms of getting approval from Conde Nast to buy more AWS power, or to hire, or to get any support whatsoever from their ad sales team.
My recollection was that when we visited them shortly after, we were shocked to learn just how much bigger we were. But we might both be right. It was a while ago.
What I remember Digg being shocked about when they invited us over for lunch was that they filled two huge floors and we filled... my Toyota Yaris.
I had first heard about reddit in the summer of 2005 while holding my first ever job as a programmer doing python work, which I would consider as a "tech circle". I remember that I was a little bummed when the front page first got rid of technical-related content and forced me to go to programming.reddit.com instead. That and the fact that people like Paul Graham were still being judged based on their programming merit not on any crazy start-upy valuations certainly made reddit a very techie community in the beginning, at least from my point of view. And I almost forgot, many people were actually pretty upset when reddit switched from Lisp to Python (in December 2005, I even wrote on my blog about it), because python felt "less pure". Funny times.
It could be that Digg "power users" moving to Reddit helped it gain even more traction.
I know that isn't entirely true, but yes, for the most part reddit's popularity in the press exploded afterwards because the press needed something new to write about.
Personally, I don't buy too deep into v4 causing Digg's death. It certainly helped, but stuff like seeing "mrbabyman" and a dozen other power users controlling all the content became tiresome well before v4. Reddit was a little refreshing as I could post in a subreddit and have my content get a fair shake at being seen. That's still true today. My blog and my old webcomic have both been at the top of /r/comics and /r/android. The traffic and exposure was very nice and I think the upvote process is mostly fair. With sites like Digg or Slashdot there's zero chance my stuff would have gotten any exposure.
What do you think made people stick in those early days without much happening on the site?
The first announcement was by Paul Graham to comp.lang.lisp. AFAICT on that first visit, the only active users were the two founders (spez and kn0thing), PG, and spez's girlfriend, along with their sockpuppets. It was pretty boring while it was voting-only, but they kept at it, and once they added comments they got a small but fairly active userbase. The initial users were very technical, usually early-adopter programmers, and it drew heavily out of the Lisp/PL-theory crowd. I think that Reddit's YC batchmates also brought along some users, eg. there were a bunch of Semantic Web folks that presumably knew Aaron Schwartz.
Mostly word of mouth.
> Was it just google traffic?
Google was a good source of traffic, but I seem to recall it being only 10-20% of new users.
> What do you think made people stick in those early days without much happening on the site?
The community and content. Which is hopefully what gets them to stay now. :)
Digg v4 forced me to take a deeper look at reddit and since then my life has gone downhill :)
Not sure this makes sense in context. They fucked up I concur but I don't think snafu fits the situation.
Why is /r/TwoXChromosomes the only default subreddit to allow political advocacy?
Not a single default would have accepted kn0thing's first post in todays reddit.
Reddit as a political soapbox died around the time of Occupy Wall Street. It's as neutered as Facebook now.
And so you get a front page full of angry crap nobody wants to read but everyone thinks everyone else needs to see.
It doesn't make for a pleasant user experience.
Parent comment is very much right, Reddit got disappointingly neutered.
This too can drive growth. If the community gets the impression that they don't drive the content then reddit loses all the magic.
The truth is, the users haven't driven the content of the front-page since the fall of /r/reddit.com following Occupy Wall Street.
Also what makes /r/TwoXChromosomes any different?
Can't you see how that seems a bit unfair to long term politically oriented users of reddit when kn0thing is making statements like this:
And ekjp is out doing interviews with avowed feminists and talking about safe spaces?
If reddit doesn't want to be a platform for political advocacy and activism just make that clear and be fair and even handed about it. Right now some groups are allowed to coordinate email campaigns while others are not and this favoritism has existed at high levels of reddit (whether due to mod cliques or admin influence) ever since the Ron Paul campaign.
The truth is that everyone posting to reddit is posting it with some measure of "YOU need to read this" and the state of default moderation leads to a torment for users who actually want to contribute in ways that powermods (and now admins) disagree with.
The new safe space rule is "Systematic and/or continued actions to torment or demean someone in a way that would make a reasonable person (1) conclude that reddit is not a safe platform to express their ideas or participate in the conversation, or (2) fear for their safety or the safety of those around them."
The way this is written implies that safety is not the only factor in harassment, but that continued actions to torment and demean users in a way that makes reasonable people conclude that reddit is not a platform to express their ideas or participate in the conversation.
But the community team seems to only be using it to "ban behavior not ideas" by banning fresh subreddits that share any similarity with previously objectionable subs that were banned for harassing activity without warning, and without submitting any evidence to the community of the behavior so contemptible that it was worthy of disbanding a relatively large community without warning or any recourse whatsoever.
But to be clear, the banning of FPH did not trigger my outrage, I was stunned and appalled at Pao's statements wrt to Free Speech recently it's just a massive departure from the historical nature of the site and it's disingenuous to not acknowledge that to the community from whence you draw all power and profit.
moot (of 4chan) said a while back that Cloudflare is one of the main reasons 4chan is still around these days.
Maybe that changes for a few K a month?
As a practical example, you might have an image on your webserver. When it goes viral on reddit, the request for the image hits the CDN first, not your servers (that's why they call it reverse proxying), they see that they don't have a cached version of the file, or their cached version has expired, so the CDN sends a request to your server, copies the file, and then proceeds to serve that file from their cache for the next million user requests or until the cache is set to expire (usually 24 or so hours, more than long enough for the traffic hitting your image url to die down).
Basically, the CDN made it so your actual servers (and thus your host bandwidth bill) served one request. Not 1 million requests.
Now typically you will foot the bandwidth bill for the CDN as well, but Cloudflare has a tiered pricing structure that is well below the rest of the competition. See moot (owner of 4chan) talk about cost savings here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6682324
Just saying that when I contacted them, they were clear that we shouldn't use them for images or media, and their general ToS agrees.
Their enterprise pricing starts cheap so if they throw in "unlimited bandwidth for everything" then it'd be quite a good deal.
Media is the primary purpose for CDNs. The performance boost comes from a global network caching the media files so when requests are made for the resources, the end user downloads the media from the nearest CDN node instead of your server that is potentially on the other side of the world. It doesn't matter quite so much to have non-media (such as the page html) served locally because the size of an html page is generally significantly smaller than the media embedded in the page.
From the small amount of research I've done on the Cloudflare service just now, it doesn't seem very transparent how exactly it works. I've found information on 4chan and imgur using them to serve billions of CDN requests, but others saying don't rely on their CDN. So who knows, maybe it's on a case by case basis.
...Additionally, the purpose of CloudFlare's Service is to proxy web content, not store data. Using an account primarily as an online storage space, including the storage or caching of a disproportionate percentage of pictures, movies, audio files, or other non-HTML content, is prohibited...
CloudFlare is not free, nowhere near it, if you're Imgur or 4chan. moot has emphasised this before. It's expensive.
Source where moot says cloudflare's low cost keeps 4chan running https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6682324.
There used to be a domain for imgur like imgur.voxcdn.com to help people get around WebSense.
They have a lot of direct traffic to compensate for the cheap hotlinking.
I recently saw a front page post that was just a Taco Bell sign that was 20 years old. A fluff bullshit post with little discernable value. Now I don't suggest that the user paid to post it, that sort of stuff would be found out quickly, but it was up voted enough to get it into the hot\rising queue and by virtue of appearing there it made it to the front page.
We know that in the early days the admins/founders used fake accounts to simulate activity on the site and I not imagine that has changed. So they use these accounts to boost up votes and almost guarantee a front page position.
They are also happy to remove front page posts that advertisers don't like e.g sears
Of course they've must have cached thumbnails before but this seems like a giant expansion that must consume rather much resources... or maybe they did this before and just didn't expose the functionality, but it seems tied to their new mobile webpage
Contrary to popular belief Reddit is not some grass-roots operations.
Sure, they are off-leash now, and have been for years. And that may even be the long-term intent. But if someone owns you, they can always change the status quo.
Tell that to Myspace. A property as expensive as reddit has to have a clear road to profitability or it's going to get the axe. Conde Nast isn't running a charity.