Friday, October 30, 2009

reddit Interviews Mark Cuban. Ask Him Anything

ASK HIM ANYTHING. Mark Cuban, American billionaire entrepreneur, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Chairman of HDNet, and blogger has graciously agreed to answer your questions. Ask away HERE.

At the height of the dot-com bubble Mark Cuban sold to Yahoo! for $5.9 billion in stock. In 2000 he purchased the Dallas Mavericks (an NBA basketball team) from Ross Perot, and since then has been one of the most passionate and innovative figures in pro sports. He has also continued to be an active investor, speaker, and technology entrepreneur (check out, and Catch up with some of his recent thoughts on tech, politics, and media at You can also keep up with him on twitter @mcuban.

Submit your questions here and Mark will answer the highest voted ones as of noon eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd. Any questions in the comments of this blog entry will not be eligible. NOTE: This will be a text only interview (no video).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fare Thee Well, reddit!

Steve and I both have something to tell you; we wanted you to hear it from us, in the same blog entry, with our cute avatars. Our contracts are coming to an end this Halloween and we're leaving reddit. Chris' contract is also ending, but he's staying on (along with the rest of team reddit). The most important thing we both want you to know is that the reddit you know won't be any different on November 1st (as long as Chris [keysersosa] doesn't remove our admin privileges).

The second most important thing we wanted you to know is that we're having a Halloween party in SF and you're invited!

Steve "spez" Huffman: When Alexis and I started reddit, we had no idea what we were in for. Reddit took on a life of its own early and continues to surprise me on a daily basis. I am genuinely proud to have been a part of it, and humbled by what it has become.

Reddit has been such a large part of my life for the past four years. I truly loved working on it, and it will be difficult letting go. That said, I know it's in good hands. Chris and the remaining team know what they're doing, and I'm sure they'll do a fine job keeping reddit on track for years to come.

Thank you to the users for making reddit what it is. Thank you to team-reddit for putting up with me. I know I can be difficult, but it was an honor working with you all. We did some pretty cool things, and I look forward to working with you all again in the future.

With that, I flee back to Virginia to spend time with my lovely new wife. Cheers!

Alexis "kn0thing" Ohanian: Thinking back on the Medford, MA, apartment where Steve and I started reddit, it's shocking to see how far the site has come. And that's been thanks to all of you redditors, who've not only made reddit worth visiting, but also strong-armed your friends into joining.

I'm leaving reddit to take some time to return to one of my neglected hobbies, traveling, and in the meantime, focus a bit on my present night job (breadpig). I'm also getting the chance to spend three months in Armenia as a Kiva Fellow. If you're curious, I'll be posting regularly on the Internets, the twitter, and of course, on reddit. I have total confidence in team reddit continuing the direction of the site and pursuing the vision for the ultimate time-wasting website.

Don't think of this as a "goodbye," think of it as "see you on reddit." After more than four years of thinking about reddit every day -- it's been more therapeutic than you know, actually -- there's bound to be some postpartum depression (and the only prescription, is more reddit). This is a special community that's become a bigger part of my life than I ever could have imagined; I'm grateful for the opportunity to have worked with you all (except for the spammers). Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ask Karen Armstrong Anything

Ask her anything. Karen Armstrong is a former Catholic nun and a globally recognized religious scholar. She's an authority on comparative religion and aspires to be a voice of understanding between people of different faiths.

Armstrong argues that compassion is the core, fundamental idea behind Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and she is working to help people of faith rediscover this principle.

Armstrong has given two TED talks (see her 2008 and 2009 talk), but don't miss her vast bibliography. TED is currently working with Karen Armstrong on the Charter for Compassion project (bringing together world leaders from the world's major faiths), which she will launch in two weeks. Also, check out her article in The Wall Street Journal, in which she and famed atheist Richard Dawkins answer the question "Where does evolution leave God?"

Submit your questions here and we'll ask the highest voted ones as of noon pacific on Friday, October 30th. Any questions in the comments of this blog entry will not be eligible.

I love, I love, I love my reddit Calendar Girls!

Hey everyone! Question: When was the last time you got to mount a bunch of pretty girls? On your wall? For charity? Been a while? Well, this is krispykrackers, and I'm here guest-blogging about the much anticipated "Ladies Of Reddit 2010 Calendar for Charity," which will help you do exactly that.

S2S2S2S2S2, sundogdayze, and I started this project nearly six months ago. Our idea was simple: get 12 girls, assign them to a month and a subreddit, get a cute picture in representing that subreddit, and make a calendar out of it. I don't know if you've ever tried to get a bunch of strangers on the internet together and complete a project, but it's like trying to get kittens ( \o/ ) to stand in a straight line. But finally, six months later, it's ready for pre-ordering.

Here's the fun part: We chose the girls, now you get to choose the charity. And don't forget, Christmas is coming, and Santa is watching to see if you've been a good boy or girl. Donating to charity is good for your karma, and this is your chance to be naughty and nice! So we boiled it down to six different ones, and with every calendar you buy, 50% of the profits go to the charity of your choosing. As for the other 50%, I'm sure most of that will go back in to making reddit awesome, but let's not object to them using a little bit on beer money for the big Halloween blowout in San Fransisco, or for kn0thing's narwhal costume.

The charities to choose from are:

1.) Women For Women International

* Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We're changing the world one woman at a time.

2.) Partners For Care

* Partners for Care exists to provide hope and health for people in developing nations by working through the local church to empower and equip indigenous people to provide services which include; skilled nursing, social work, care for orphans and vulnerable children, HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, and a broad range of community health initiatives (including sanitation and prevention of TB, malaria, and illness from unclean drinking water).

3.) Amnesty International

* Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all.

4.) ACLU (foundation)

* The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

5.) Electronic Frontier Foundation

* EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world.

6.) Habitat for Humanity

* Habitat for Humanity provides decent, affordable houses to families in need. Habitat homeowners gain self-respect as they work alongside volunteers to construct their homes.

Buying a Ladies of Reddit calendar has lots of advantages! Not only will it make you a good person, but it will also help you keep track of how much time you waste on reddit, remind you and yer mateys how FARRRRRGGHH away Pirate Day be, and it is so yummy it will make you wonder what the heck is so great about bacon, anyway?! Because, believe it or not, there are girls on reddit, and we've found at least 12 great reasons to celebrate all year long.

Hope you all enjoy our little project. It was tons of fun, and big thanks to all of my girls (and S2) who participated. They are the best, and about as reddit-ific as they come. So that's that! Bye everyone, I'll catch you all on reddit later (and maybe on your cubicle wall next November!).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Congressman Barney Frank Answers Your Questions

Congressman Barney Frank answers your top ten questions. Watch the videos below or on YouTube HERE:

Thank you to Congressman Frank for taking time out of an extremely busy schedule to answer these questions in great detail. If you don't have time to watch the full 40 min interview, do yourself a favor and watch Barney Frank's thought provoking answer to question #10:

Congressman Frank, earlier this week you remarked that the National Equality March in Washington D.C. was, "a waste of time at best". You went on to state that, "the only thing they're going to be putting pressure on is the grass." Could you elaborate on your rationale for these statements further? Were you arguing that the LGBT community is pursuing the wrong avenues for change? In light of the battering the First Amendment has taken over this last decade, is it prudent to criticize such protests? - mknight44

His passionate response is a must see for anyone interested in influencing politics, no matter your political affiliation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Join reddit for All Hallows' Eve in San Francisco (drinks are on us!)

Update! We're having a redditor band called DubiousRanger rocking for the first part of the event, followed by DJ Snackfight who will be setting up a playlist that needs your help! If you've got an iPhone/iPod touch, get a free copy of the Remote app and you can vote on the night's playlist!

Mark your calendars and start picking a costume; we're having a Halloween party in SF - with an open bar - and you're invited.

From 9pm to 1:30am, Connecticut Yankee (100 Connecticut St.) will be overrun with redditors (we hope) in costume (required). We’ll have a bevy of Tru Blood cocktails – the real deal – that will be freely pouring from start to finish.

Just remember to tell the bouncer/bartender your password: "I read it on reddit"

(Seriously, this will be the phrase to utter all night long if you want to keep the party going. It's also the thing I hoped people would say to one another when we named the site 'reddit.' That never quite panned out. Until this Halloween!)

Here's the facebook event page, RSVP not necessary, but it'd be nice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

reddit's new comment sorting system

Hey! This is Randall from xkcd guest-blogging to explain reddit's new comment sorting system, which I pushed for pretty hard.

Usually I illustrate blog posts with little drawings. Unfortunately, this one didn't lend itself to illustration, so I'm sorry if the drawings don't really relate to the material.

reddit has a new comment sorting algorithm, the "Best" ranking (joining "Top", "Hot", "New", "Controversial", and "Old"). It affects only comments, not stories. davean (the xkcd sysadmin) wrote the patch, the system has been in trial for a week or so, and as of this morning has become the default way comments are sorted.

This is a very, very good thing. Most of the time, you won't notice that there's anything obviously different (it doesn't affect threading or anything -- don't worry!), but it should improve the quality of the top comments immensely.

The algorithm is detailed here, in an article by Evan Miller (which I found last year on reddit). The article explains why each of the common systems for ranking things based on votes is flawed in a different way, and if you go there you'll see an explanation of the algorithm plus some examples of flawed voting systems. If you want to jump to the example of the new system working, scroll to the screenshots at the bottom. But if you're interested in the nerdy details, here's an outline of reddit-specific problems this fixes:

reddit is heavily biased toward comments posted early. When a mediocre joke gets posted in the first hour a story is up, it will become the top comment if it's even slightly funny. (I know this particularly well because I have dozens of reddit fake identities and with them have posted hundreds of mediocre jokes.) The reason for this bias is that once a comment gets a few early upvotes, it's moved to the top. The higher something is listed, the more likely it is to be read (and voted on), and the more votes the comment gets. It's a feedback loop that cements the comment's position, and a comment posted an hour later has little chance of overtaking it -- even if people reading it are upvoting it at a much higher rate.

There are periodically big threads with subjects like "what's your favorite joke/best advice/worst secret/weirdest habit?" A few weeks ago, I took one of these stories when it was 8 hours old and did a count of the top (root) comments. Of the top 10 comments, ALL were posted either "7 hours ago" or "8 hours ago" -- that is, in the first hour or two the story had been up. The "top" list was simply a list of the best jokes from within the first hour. Not a single joke from the last six hours (when most of the comments had been posted) made it near the top. And they never got a chance to; the story fell off the frontpage and they all stopped accumulating votes. They may have been getting upvotes from everyone who saw them, but that didn't let them catch up to the older comments at the top. One effect of this bias, which you may have seen, is posts saying "sorry to hijack your top comment, but I need to post some important information that refutes the main article." They know that no matter how good their comment is, it won't make it to the top.

The admins tried to fix this with a pretty bad hack -- the 'hot' ordering. As you may have noticed, it doesn't work very well.T [Edit: spez tells me this is not the intention of 'hot'. Apologies for my flippant criticism; 'hot' really isn't intended as a solution to this particular problem at all.] The idea was that it would make comments lose position after a certain time, but this led to even good comments dropping down to the bottom, and if you returned to the post in a day or two the ordering was completely nonsensical.

There's a solution, and it's the new 'Best' ranking. When a few people have voted on a comment, you get a rough idea of its quality. The more people who vote on it, the better an idea you get of where it 'should' ultimately end up. With this algorithm, you quantify exactly how much you can tell about a comment from a limited number of votes.

If everyone got a chance to see a comment and vote on it, it would get some proportion of upvotes to downvotes. This algorithm treats the vote count as a statistical sampling of a hypothetical full vote by everyone, much as in an opinion poll. It uses this to calculate the 95% confidence score for the comment. That is, it gives the comment a provisional ranking that it is 95% sure it will get to. The more votes, the closer the 95% confidence score gets to the actual score.

If a comment has one upvote and zero downvotes, it has a 100% upvote rate, but since there's not very much data, the system will keep it near the bottom. But if it has 10 upvotes and only 1 downvote, the system might have enough confidence to place it above something with 40 upvotes and 20 downvotes -- figuring that by the time it's also gotten 40 upvotes, it's almost certain it will have fewer than 20 downvotes. And the best part is that if it's wrong (which it is 5% of the time), it will quickly get more data, since the comment with less data is near the top -- and when it gets that data, it will quickly correct the comment's position. The bottom line is that this system means good comments will jump quickly to the top and stay there, and bad comments will hover near the bottom. (Picky readers might observe that some comments probably get a higher rate of votes, up or down, than others, which this system doesn't explicitly model. However, any bias which that introduces is tiny in comparison to the time bias which the system removes, and comments which get fewer overall votes will stay a bit lower anyway due to lower confidence.)

In practice, this system works splendidly. Here's an example from just today (when I wrote this). A redditor, in search of someone from a bar, posted this:

Now, it took a little while for the photographer to find this thread. People posted jokes, and it was only some hours later that the picture was found and the question was answered. Under the old system, her post (which was being furiously upvoted) never made it to the top:

Even if you collapse the top comment and its children, there is another below. The girl's post, after eight hours, was stuck in third place -- despite being linked to heavily.

Now, here's the same comment thread ordered with the 'Best' system:

It's hard to make a better argument for the new system than that.

This new reddit should be smarter and better. I especially look forward to the new iterations of the 'post your best <X>' threads, when most people are using this system and seeing a better sample on which to vote. I hope you enjoy it! See you there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Evgeny Morozov responds to your questions - read the reddit interview

Evgeny Morozov researches all the ways authoritarian governments use the Internet as a tool of repression, so we're grateful he found reddit to be an acceptable means for democratizing interviews. The reddit community submitted and voted on questions for him a couple weeks ago.

Read the full interview, as published at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Awards are back!

After a brief* hiatus, the daily reddit awards have returned! Once a day, at the stroke of midnight (reddit standard time), we'll scour the previous 24 hours' worth of activity and post the list of honorees here. Special thanks to licenseplate (who also designed the reddit crest) for creating the award logos.

Long-time redditors will remember we once had a simple leaderboard showing the highest-karma users. The site's grown a lot since then, and we wanted a new system that shows our appreciation of all good users, even the relative n00bs.

Bringing back awards is just one way we plan on doing this in the coming months...

Congratulations to the inaugural class of honorees!

*geologically speaking

Monday, October 12, 2009

reddit Interviews Congressman Barney Frank

Ask Barney Frank anything. Ask questions HERE.

United States House Representative for Massachusetts's 4th congressional district Barney Frank will be sharing some of his very busy schedule to answer your top 10 questions. Democrat Barney Frank has been in the House Of Representatives since 1982, serves as the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and is "widely considered to be one of the most powerful members of Congress".

More on Barney Frank
- "Barney Frank" on reddit
- Congressional Site:
- Campaign Site:
- Wikipedia:

Congressman Frank will answer your top 10 questions as of Thursday October 15th at 12pm ET. Video interview will post on Monday October 19th. Subscribe to the blog or reddit's youtube channel so you don't miss it.

ASK AND VOTE ON QUESTIONS HERE. Questions in the comments below will not be considered.

reddit interviews the boy who harnessed the wind, William Kamkwamba

Before he was being interviewed on the Daily Show, William Kamkwamba was interviewed by all of you here on reddit. We received the footage (shot in Malawi) of his answers and just got it all edited and uploaded today.

His remarkable story is recounted in his newly released book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. As someone who built a windmill at 14 from scrap metal based on a few foreign language textbooks he found; William is an inspiration. According to the interview with Jon Stewart, he's now preparing to apply for colleges and he's looking to come to the U.S.A.

I think this is all going to make for quite the application essay...

And thanks to our friends at TED for arranging this interview (our first recorded from the southern hemisphere!).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mike Rowe Answers Your Questions, Discusses Karma, and Belts Out Some Puccini

Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe answers your top ten questions: (you can also find the video playlist HERE).

To say that Mike went above and beyond in answering these questions would be an understatement. Oodles of fun anecdotes, commentary, and yes opera singin'. Also, his answer to "Is there any chance you'll stop having sex with my wife in her dreams? It's getting pretty old, Mike" is so elegant, it would have made Archimedes jealous. Check out the interview and also check out the season premiere of Dirty Jobs tonight at 9pm ET on Discovery Channel. Big thanks to Mike Rowe for his time.

9-27: Never Forget. One redditor didn't. And he wrote an anthem so you wont forget either

Paz - Have You Forgotten (9-27 Reddit Tribute Song) by pazpaz

Whoispaz? He's the redditor who wants you to remember 9-27 every time you listen to your iPod, Toby Keith-style.

Here are the lyrics:

Paz – Have You Forgotten (9-27 Reddit Tribute Song)

I hear people say
nine-27 wasnt so bad
well i’d take a narwhal stabbing
over that

2 little bugs
a war shouldnt start
but they shot over 9 thousaaaand comments
through my heart

well i say our bacon
is worth standing up to fight
cause i saw the look of disapproval
a million times that night

have u forgotten?
how it felt that day
with reddit under fire,
and her users blown away
have u forgotten?
when the markdowns fell
there were users on the site
going through a living hell
and they tell us MD5 was never rotten
have u forgotten?

was minding my own business
writin puns and moddin up
thats when the comment bombs
started blowin up

there were lolcats crying
ron paul bled to death
3 wolves jumped right from my shirt
and off a cliff

babbys were getting formed, pedobear took a hit
yo dawg they dropped a script inside
so they could script while they scripted

have u forgotten?
how it felt that day
with reddit under fire,
and her users blown away
have u forgotten?
when the markdowns fell
there were users on the site
going through a living hell
And he said “I accidentally .. the whole comment”
have u forgotten?

this is madness… no this is REDDIT
and if I find the dude who did it
I’ll rickroll him till he shits

have u forgotten? … (boom goes the dynamite)
orange envelopes
i couldnt clean this feeling off
with a ton of reddit soap
have u forgotten?
all the hitler vids
they are just who we thought they were
a bunch of scriptin kids
and they brag about the karma that they’ve gotten
have u forgotten?

Play me off keyboard cat…

Monday, October 05, 2009

You asked, Randall Munroe answered - watch the video from the SF xkcd book event

Just before the release of xkcd: volume 0, reddit interviewed active community member (and webcomic creator) Randall Munroe. We asked the top 10 questions based on your votes at the EFF fundraiser book event in San Francisco. If you couldn't make it, we had a live broadcast thanks to our pals at

They've got recordings as well, but the audio gets a bit painful at times. Fortunately, io9 was also on the scene and got video of their own (thanks!) which we've pasted below with their corresponding questions.

Thanks to all of you who came out to support EFF and get a chance to high-5 Randall. Breadpig thanks you, too!

submitted by Walls
Does the need to produce comics three times a week ever lead you to draw something you really didn't like? Any comics of yours you don't like? And any comics out there you really, really hate?

submitted by kylegetsspam
Are you ever going to get over this Megan chick?

submitted by agewiz
Is there anything you won't draw, talk about, or otherwise deal with in xkcd, and why?

submitted by Pro-Mole
Why have "Romance" -- such as in "Romance, Sarcasm, Math and Language" -- degenerated into "Sex"?

submitted by fernandotakai
Of all things on the internet that you influenced, which one that you're most proud of?

submitted by moddestmouse
What is it like having to tell non-geek people you're famous?

submitted by xxv
Mr. Munroe:
You have a ball pit (and we are all jealous). These colorful spheres are made of plastic, which - while fantastic throw people into - seems to be pretty good at collecting all sorts of dirt and such by way of static electricity.
How do you keep your balls clean?

submitted by rodbegbie
Who is the most surprising person that has revealed to you that they're a fan of xkcd?

submitted by theinvisiblenovel
Are you aware that you have a very apparent need to tell people you're getting laid?

submitted by varzan
Let's assume you and your girlfriend want to go someplace together. For a day and only a day. And you're a zero-income student in Romania. You're living in Bucharest and, after analyzing your preferences, you've decided that you want to go to the seaside, somewhere around Neptun or Mangalia. You don't have a car nor do you have a driver's license, so you'll do it by train and you'll use the subway to get to the train station. Your dad could take you to the train station, but he's working his butt off and you don't want to bother him. Her dad would be willing to take you both to the station. And you're interested in get a pretty cheap train ride. 35 lei is OK for both trips, 50 not so much. And you have a 60 lei road (with a detour) that solves your little subway problem or a 35 lei one problematic on the subway side.

Also, several people have told both of you that you're crazy because you're only doing this for a day and that really, money's not that big of an issue if you go for two or three days. You're kind of stubborn. There's an air of spontaneity about the whole one day thing. Compactness, tightness. But you want to do it properly. Your 35 lei route only gives you about 4 hours of walking on the beach before you hop on back on the train. You could go via Constanța and take a minibus submitted by there. But then you hit the money issue.

You seriously start reconsidering the whole thing. You're going to leave a few more weeks to pass so you 2 can talk it out, find alternative destinations etc. etc. You start looking at potential other places. Piatra Neamț. Timișoara. Arad. A bit far. Târgu Jiu. Târgoviște. Brașov. Been there. Done that. Cluj is especially nice, as it's somewhere none of you has been to and the train ride's cheaper than the Neptun-via-Constanța thing. But you'd maybe want to make it two days anyways. And that's another small logistics nightmare, because you don't really now how cheap the accomodation can get or how many options you have (it's a bit of a tourist city, but also a bit of an industrial one and a city with a big University). Plus the sea is what she wanted and you'd feel a bit awkward about changing the destination, although she doesn't appear very bothered. And you're not sure how many days your parents are comfortable with, financially.

What do you do?

You are allowed use this site for information on trains and you're allowed to learn Romanian. To learn more about Romanian tourism, you can start on Wikipedia and there's plenty of info about the country on the net.

For bonus points: generalize the problem (n people, a list of destinations, you get a function that describes each person's preference towards a certain city and a graph or road information). What is the problem's complexity class? Propose an algorithm. Compare the problem to traveling salesman.

Good luck, Mr. Munroe. Good luck.

(thanks to Jared H for getting a good recording of this epic q&a)

And lastly... submitted by MercurialMadnessMan
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