Monday, November 30, 2009

/r/python hits 10k subscribers! (so we rolled you this revision...)

[Warning: The following blog post is for nerds only. Here is the short version.]

In honor of this occasion (or at least we thought it was a convenient segue), we just pushed out a new version of reddit to our git repository. Our codebase has been a bit of a moving target for the last few months, so rather than inundate our dev list with every little tweak (or screw up) we've made in that time, we've opted to switch to a "major release" system where we deploy changes in bulk. We also want to return to greater transparency in our code repository.

You might remember from jedberg's IAMA and post that we recently moved to amazon's EC2 to improve our ability to scale. But, to take full advantage of EC2's flexibility and to accommodate our rampant traffic growth of late, some overhauls were necessary. The most prominent change is that we've replaced our postgres-centric query queue with one that is centered around AMQP (specifically RabbitMQ), for much cleaner handling of asynchronous tasks.

Also in this release is the code for handling and handing out awards, for setting default subscriptions, for the "best" comment sort, and a simple library for generating CSS sprites.

Besides dealing with maintaining (and hopefully improving) the site, we've also added self-serve sponsored links to help (ahem) defer the cost of all of those shiny new computers in the cloud. These additions, including a python library for interacting with and our bidding/auction code, are included in this release.

tldr: Congrats to the python community! We've been spending all of our time scaling, making the site faster, and adding some ways to make money to pay for the first two.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Interrobang your wall with this new Cuil Theory poster

Licenseplate has done it again! Now there's a gorgeous poster to capture the essence and theory behind Cuil. You can get it here (bonus: it, and all of the other posters - reddit and xkcd - are on sale for a limited time).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Introducing /r/blog and /r/announcements

There's been a lot of news at reddit recently and it got us thinking about better ways of keeping the community informed about what we're up to.

The solution was kinda staring us in the face: We decided to just create a reddit for news about reddit. Actually, we made two.

/r/announcements is the low-traffic one, to be used only for important stuff, like changes to the site's functionality. Examples of what you'll see there include:/r/blog is for everything else -- behind-the-scenes photos, celebrity interviews, free beer...

From now on, everything posted to will be submitted to one of the two. If you don't like it, all you have to do is unsubscribe.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our users can be so awesome sometimes!

We've recently received a few gifts in the mail from our wonderful users, and we wanted to take a moment to thank them.

First, this is a little bit late, but we just wanted to thank the awesome Saydrah for sending Steve and Alexis such a lovely retirement gift. Here are a few pics of the unboxing:

Steve dives in:

Gift part 1:

Gift part 2:

Steve inspects the packaging:

Mike sneaks a peek while Steve smiles (an event rarely caught on film). Click to get the bigger picture and see all the super-cool items in the box (including Chapstick)!

Mike takes a closer look while Chris reads the Bill of Lading.

So thank you again to Saydrah. We admins occasionally get together for brunch, and I'm sure this gift will feature prominently at the next few events.

Next we have to thank Draynen for carrying this poor bobblehead all over the country, and then graciously sending it back to the office. He tells us that the bobblehead is more glue than whatever material it started out as.

And lastly, we have to thank the unknown redditor who forced his child to draw this touching letter. It truly made me feel good about this community, and will hold a special place of honor in our office above the light switch. If you are Casey's Dad, let us know.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ask Christopher Hitchens Anything

I have a feeling this will do well on atheism.reddit; but Christopher Hitchens has quite a legacy beyond his very public atheism advocacy. He has a well-earned contrarian reputation (and a book on the subject, too) and is guaranteed to incite with his insights. Now's your chance to ask him anything. We'll be visiting him in D.C. to ask him the top 10 questions as of November 17th at noon pacific.

We'd also like to bring him a fine bottle of scotch < $200. Please make suggestions in the comments. And as always, questions submitted in this blog entry's comments will not count. Submit questions here.

(Yes, I'm briefly coming out of retirement for this interview)

Now for as little as $20, you can buy sponsored links on reddit: advertising by redditors, for redditors

Today we're announcing the start of our invite-only beta for self-serve sponsored links on reddit. If you're already looking frantically for the sign-up, email with your reddit username to get on the list. (EDIT: we're open for business! no need to email.)

We've come a long way from creating the sponsored link back in January. Since then, it's gotten a lot of attention, especially from advertisers who you may have noticed in this prime real estate. Overall, we've been quite pleased to find a ridiculously successful (2% CTR to upwards of 10% CTR) means of advertising that doesn't diminish the user experience. But we've always wanted a system that gave anyone the chance to advertise in front of the reddit audience (you're over a 1/2 million unique visitors a day, after all).

Why sponsored links rock:
  • They're in-line with the content just like any other submitted link on reddit. Now someone can pay for visibility instead of trying to spam links to their pet projects. Got a nifty iPhone app? New website? Soap business you're trying to rescue? Use a sponsored link on reddit!
  • Good content gets rewarded because more upvotes mean more chances it'll be seen, because it's a link in the reddit system submitted like any other (just denoted as a 'sponsored headline')
We aim to roll this out among beta testers in the coming weeks before opening it up to anyone with a credit card. Even if your budget is only $20 a day, you can get in on the action. Here's how: we'll allow you to submit a sponsored link (set the title, upload an image), and set the start date and duration. Then, you can bid on how much you want to spend on that link (we've set a minimum of $20 per link per day). This bid is exactly how much you'll pay for the link once it starts running.

On each day, we tally up the total number of bids, and use the total to figure out how large a piece of the pie each sponsored link gets. For example, if you were to bid $20, and the total for the day is $200, you'll get 10% of sponsored link impressions for the day. This way, everyone pays only what they're comfortable spending, and, since they're ads by redditors for redditors, we're hoping to be able to support ourselves with better (read: "non %^&@ing auto-playing flash") ads.

In this beta (and in the first version) we won't have any ability to target specific reddits (mostly out of a hope to keep it simple on something new and experimental), but we have such an ability in mind for version 2.

[For those of you who are interested in the gory details, have a look here.]

Example traffic charts for your promoted link:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

reddit Interviews Congressman Dennis Kucinich

Ask Dennis Kucinich anything. Ask questions HERE.

United States House Representative for Ohio's 10th congressional district Dennis Kucinich will be sharing some of his very busy schedule to answer your top 10 questions. In his work as a congressman and as a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008, Dennis Kucinich has been the subject of no fewer than 20 #1 stories on reddit.

More on Dennis Kucinich
- "Dennis Kucinich" on reddit
- Congressional Site:
- Campaign Site:
- Wikipedia:

Congressman Kucinich will answer your top 10 questions as of Monday November 16th at 5pm ET. Video interview will post on Thursday November 19th. Subscribe to the blog or reddit's youtube channel so you don't miss it.


- Questions in the comments here will NOT be considered.
- Please don't ask long multi-part questions. Be as concise as possible. If you have two questions submit them separately.

Bring on the Y-wings

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Moving to the cloud

Last week saw the departure of our two founders, but that wasn't the only big change that happened.

Last week we also decommissioned the last of our physical servers. We are now operating our entire website "in the cloud" as the kids would say. Specifically, we are using Amazon Web Services. If all went well, you didn't notice a thing. If you want to, you can Ask me Anything about the move or our servers.

Our history with AWS goes back many years. We were one of the early adopters of S3. We liked S3 because it was fast, cheap, and allowed kn0thing to upload logos without our logs looking like this:

svn log

When it came time to add the oft-requested thumbnails feature, we decided to expand our usage of S3, using it to host all of our thumbnails.

In November 2008, we had come to a crossroads. Do we get another cabinet full of servers, or do something else? We decided to do something else, and moved some of our batch processing over to EC2 and thereby freed up more machines to be application servers.

That system worked so well that we decided to move our entire website over to EC2 in May of 2009 (you may remember the 10 hours of downtime, but probably not, since it was Friday night through Saturday morning).

And as of last week, we finally decommissioned the last legacy system we had in our datacenter. It should be noted that up until that point, we were still using the servers paid for by YCombinator's initial investment to run part of the site (thanks Paul!).

And now it is picture time!

Here is what the cabinet looked like before we started:
Full Cabinet

Here is what it looked like when were done:
Empty cabinet

Here they are back at the office:
Sad servers

Here is me draining the internet tubes that went to the cabinet (they locked me in till I was done):
Draining the tubes

Here is me shutting off the rest of the datacenter, because I can (sorry Twitter!):
Bad Jeremy

So that's the story! Again, if you want to Ask me Anything, feel free!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mark Cuban Answers Your Questions

Mark Cuban answers your top 10 questions. Big thanks to Mark for making time to answer reddit's burning questions! You can follow Mark Cuban on his blog and @mcuban.

1. from little_evil6
What'd you think of the recent excerpts from Tim Donaghy book? Did it confirm or change your perspective on the NBA refs? Also how much will you be fined by the NBA if you criticize the refs on reddit?

Mark Cuban: Hasn't changed my perspective at all. That's about all I can say without buying about 20 years of donuts for the NBA.

2. from beentheretoo
Scenario: All your wealth is suddenly wiped out. Credit, cash, property, everything. What are the first things you do to re establish yourself?

MC: Same thing I did the first few times I was broke. Get a job bartending at night, probably another job selling during the day, and then look for unique opportunities from there.

3. from brianstorms
Mark, you own the Landmark Theatres chain. Movie theatres, compared to say, the tech industry, innovate at a snail's pace. Movie theatres, Landmark included, continue to be extremely overpriced fast-food restaurants where patrons sit in darkened auditoriums to eat instead of a table-and-chair setting. As a voracious film-goer (over 100 movies a year, and 50 of those screenings are at local Landmark Theatres outlets), I can't stand the fast-food business model and the increasingly obsolescent, old-skool presentation experience of films, but I tolerate it because I like movies. What are your plans to push Landmark to innovate some? The United States (and probably most countries) could really use some innovation in the cinema space, and what better scrappy outfit to lead the way than Landmark? It sure ain't gonna happen with, say, the bozos at AMC. Maybe what's needed is a new cinema startup that embraces the Internet and redefines how movies are experienced, including art films -- I'm not just talking about making things bigger, louder, stupider like 3D IMAX. Would you fund such a startup?

MC: No. We like the film going experience. We have auditoriums that have couches. Auditoriums that have traditional seating. We are looking at opening "sky boxes" where the patrons can customize their own experience. We release movies to VOD 3 weeks before their theatrical release so people who cant make it to the movie theaters can enjoy the movie. We offer live events via our digital projectors. The internet is the least relevant aspect of the movie business. Other than for marketing, promotion and purchases, the net is pretty worthless for the movie going experience.

4. from imawakeimawake
Before this past NBA season, one of your better known players, Josh Howard, admitted he likes to smoke marijuana in the offseason. What are your feelings about marijuana use and the recent publicity that marijuana legalization has had?

MC: I'm against our players using it. NBA players have to be in amazing physical shape. Smoking cigarettes is bad, pot is worse for lung capacity. I'm certainly not against decriminalization. Better the criminals in DC deal with it then the criminals on the street.

5. from courthead
What do you think of companies like Facebook and Twitter whose first priority is the acquisition of users, rather than making money? Is this is a viable business model going into the future?

MC: Its a zero sum and very risky game. Either you are on track for ubiquity, or you fail miserably. For every Twitter and FB, there are thousands of companies who wanted to do the same thing and are long gone.

6. from Rohok
When you got Yahoo´s offer for did you shit yourself?

MC: No, I but I had a diaper on just in case.

7. from theycallmemorty
Name one smart change each of the major four sports leagues could implement

MC: Lower ticket prices and a collective bargaining agreement to support the price reduction.

8. from scoobydoobdoob
Do you ever drunk-dial other billionaires?

MC: I don't know any female billionaires (not that I would DD them, I'm married). but there is no chance in hell I'm drunk dialing or texting some dude. No matter how much money they do or don't have.

9. from iamthemuffinman
How do you see HDnet evolving in the next 5 years, and are you worried about a backlash if you expand HDnet movie content?

MC: For HDNet, we are focused on the men 18-45 demo. Our primary distinction is Mixed Martial Arts. We have more live events, (all free), then all the other networks combined. We have Inside MMA, which is the Sports Center for MMA. Everyone in the industry or a fan of the sport watches on air or follows on line. We will continue to increase our focus on MMA domestically and internationally. We also have a lot of fun shows on Thursday, our guys night in night. Honestly, its a lot of cheesy programming with drunks and girls getting topless or talking about it. Its pretty much mindless fun, but it works. The only exception is Tuesday nights where we have great news programs from Dan Rather Reports and World Report. Those are my guilty pleasures. Its what news shows used to be. All News.

HDNet Movies focuses on great movies, with no commercials, shown in full HD resolution and Original Aspect Ratio. Many of our movies are in HD for the very first time. Plus, we are the only network on the planet to premiere what we call Sneak Previews. Movies that we air the Wednesday before it premieres in theaters. You can go to and for more scoop.

10. from khafra
Does the SEC go after celebrities like you and Martha Stewart to draw attention away from the people who really do harm to the markets, or is there some other reason?

MC: Sorry, cant touch that one. Wish I could.

Monday, November 02, 2009

No stars for the early

We'll no longer be showing the "edited" star for comments edited in the first minute of their lifetime, as long as they don't garner any votes in that time. That means that you can quickly fix your typos without worrying about incurring the Edited Star of Doom(tm).

There's a Death Star joke in there somewhere.

redditor, TV Host, & Engineer of Destruction MIKE SENESE. Ask Him Anything


Mike Senese, co-host of Science Channel's Catch It Keep It and longtime redditor (user gtj on reddit) will be answering your questions while he hosts the 24th Annual Punkin Chukin World Championships for Science Channel. Ask him anything HERE.

You might remember Mike from the recent post and impromptu AMA by wang-banger:

What the hell is wrong with you, reddit? Our fellow redditor gtj, AKA Mike Senese, has a TV show on the science Channel but you wouldn't know that looking at the front page.

Since Mike is a longtime redditor and since he already kinda did an AMA, we wanted to do something special for the video interview. So, Mike will be answering your top ten questions from the Super Bowl of the projectile squash world, the Punkin Chukin World Championships. He'll be giving reddit a behind the scenes tour of all the vegetable firing air cannons, trebuchets, torsion machines, catapults, centrifuge machines, and the crazed engineering teams that built them. Who knows, we might even see how far a trebuchet can fling a reddit bobblehead. No promises, but feel free to suggest any other projectiles. You could even brush up on how to calculate the trajectory with this demo from Mike on Catch It Keep It.

Here's a bit of Mike's background in his own words from the recent AMA-lite:

"My story: I grew up building, my dad was a builder and a 1950's science fair style hacker, so he showed me the ropes at an early age and let me run loose.

In college I studied engineering until the strict course schedule forced me to rebel and change majors (you know how college kids are). But that didn't stop me from always being hands-on with designing and building like crazy.

Eventually, I worked at Wired magazine and Readymade magazine, from where I got hired to host a rock/science show on fuse, "Rock and Roll Acid Test" (think Mythbusters for hard rock kids). That's what led me to do Catch It Keep It."

Mike is also the co-founder of the record label and blog Sneakmove. You can check out his personal DIY blog here, and keep up with him on twitter @msenese.

Mike will answer the top 10 questions as of Friday, Nov 6th. We are shooting the interview on Nov. 7th, but the interview won't be posted until right before Thanksgiving. Ask and vote on questions HERE. Questions in the blog comments will not be considered.