Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Everything went better than expected

We had some interesting traffic yesterday. Usually that would mean it's time for a technobabbly post-mortem about which part of our infrastructure failed and caused the site to go down for three hours. However, something strange happened this time: the site didn't go down (knock on wood). So I guess we're going to have to set aside tradition and instead make a, um.. "postpartem" blog post about how things bent but did not break.

First off, thanks again to all our reddit gold subscribers. Your money paid for the extra servers that kept reddit running. [shameless self-serving plug]

To understand the storm we weathered, take a look at our impressions-served-per-hour over the past week:

It the past, we were always operating just around peak capacity, and never could have survived an unexpected surge like that. Still, it was quite a ride — it actually jammed up our internal traffic tracker for a while (sorry if the per-community traffic totals are a bit laggy for the next few days).

Google Analytics confirms our numbers, which is always nice:

We're happy to see that despite all these newcomers (one out of every four visitors yesterday), our overall time-on-site-per-visitor averaged out to a very respectable 11 minutes, 42 seconds. You guys didn't just take a quick peek and leave; you stuck around for a bit and took the tour. And a bunch of you must have liked what you saw, because a ton of you went ahead and created accounts:

Hi, baby redditors! Welcome to the community. Orientation party is over here.

This of course leads to discussions of, well, where did the traffic come from?

To put it another way, completely taking over Digg's front page for an entire day generates about 250,000 visits, or a little under one-seventh of our traffic yesterday. (Told ya we were a big deal.)

If you've been thinking about getting a sponsored link, keep in mind that all of the above translates into a significant improvement in our effective CPM. In other words, reddit ads have better bang-for-the-buck than ever now — buy one today!

Oh, one more thing: Since we don't want redditors to think of the ad box as "The Box of Hate Which I Never, Ever Look At", we've been occasionally sticking little games in there, and as of today, pictures of cute little animals. If you're running AdBlock and sad about all the fun you're missing, here's how to make an exception for reddit.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Welcome Alex and Lia!

It's proving to be an exciting summer for the site, and, in a sign of our ongoing progress, we're excited to (retroactively) announce two new members of team reddit.

Starting earlier this month, we've had an intern working out of our New York office. Her name is Alex (a.k.a. cupcake1713), and she's a junior at Wesleyan University double majoring in Japanese and Science in Society. Like our much-overworked and awesome community manager Erik, she's way into photography and videography, and the two of them have been working on a secret project that might help us raise our hiring budget.

Speaking of income streams, it's about time we introduced reddit's first dedicated sales rep, Lia (aka pixelinaa). Though more of a lurker, she reads reddit all the time and has been spending the last few months patiently explaining to advertisers that it's kind of a big deal.

It's a bit of an uphill climb convincing timid companies to try out a new form of media, so let's kick off this comment thread by filling up Lia's to-call list: Who would you like to see advertise on reddit? As much as we like the unintentional comedy that Google AdSense has provided, and though I, for one, sleep better now that my computer has had a fresh registry cleaning, we know we can do a lot better now that we have a shark to chase down leads.

As long as we're asking for feedback, we've also created a page where you can check out some of our sales materials that Lia's been presenting to advertisers. These follow a similar format to sales materials used by Wired and Ars Technica and are written with ad agencies in mind. So, keeping in mind that this isn't intended for your eyes but rather as fodder for ad agencies, what do you think?

Finally, since it seems to have worked well for soap and beef jerky, we're wondering what other products might be of interest to the reddit community. If you work for or know anyone who would benefit from advertising on the site, please provide an introduction so we can both drive up our sales numbers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

reddit gold now takes google checkout

We've been told that it's not nice to badmouth one's business partners, so reddit officially has no comment as to whether or not our experience with PayPal has been one long nightmarish frustrating bureaucratic pain in the nuts.

That aside, we're pleased to announce that you can now subscribe to reddit gold via Google Checkout! In fact, as of today we're declaring it to be our preferred method of payment.

There are two caveats:
  1. Google Checkout only officially supports non-recurring payments. In other words, you'll have to manually re-pay every time your subscription runs out. They'll be removing this limitation in the coming months, but for now it's still in beta, and we're reluctant to mix "monetary transaction" with "possibly buggy."

  2. There's a stupid "I agree to let reddit send me spam" checkbox that Google will show you right before you complete the transaction, and the default is "Yes!" There doesn't appear to be a way for us to change this, but we will as soon as we can and we promise not to send you any spam, even if you forget to uncheck the box.
As always, the details and signup links are at /help/gold.
Thanks for supporting reddit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

reddit is hiring!

[Note: the following post is presented for archival purposes; the programmer in question has been hired.]

Big news today in the reddit world: we've just been given official approval to hire our first new developer in nearly two years!

First off, a deep, heartfelt thank you to the 10,000+ people who subscribed to reddit gold. This would absolutely not be happening today without your support.

Now, on to the position. It's in San Francisco, and the official list of responsibilities is as follows:

In other words, a reddit engineer does pretty much whatever the site needs right this instant. That's not to say it's a constant state of emergency; it's just that with a team of our size, there's a lot of freedom to choose your next project from our immediate todo list, and to influence what that list looks like. It's one of the reasons that reddit still feels a lot like a startup. That said, we should probably be a little more specific about what we're looking for, so...

Here are the essentials:
  • Be a huge fan of reddit: Although we're flexible about the precise time you stroll into (and out of) the office, you're going to be logging in from home most evenings just to check up on things (and troll around in the comments), and once in a while, you're going to be woken up in the middle of the night by an emergency. So dedication to the cause is the most important trait we're looking for.
  • Superstar programming skills: You don't have to know Python (in fact, if you do, you'd be the first person ever to come to reddit already knowing the language), but you've got to be a great programmer in *some* language and be willing and able to become one in Python.
  • Know the web top-to-bottom: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, and Ajax should all be second nature to you.
  • Comfortable on a Unix system — though many of us use Mac desktops, our servers all run Linux. You'll spend a great deal of your day typing things into a terminal.
Additional nice-to-haves:
  • Actual Python experience
  • Experience with other languages — a few bits of our code are in C, Java, Erlang, and Perl, and anyway, it's always nice to have another perspective.
  • Significant Unix administration experience — jedberg's honeymoon is in December, so he could really use an understudy. (In his role as sysadmin, that is; you're not invited to the honeymoon.)
  • Database administration skills (especially Postgres)
  • Knowledge of Cassandra and / or distributed databases
  • Ability to recall the appropriate Simpsons or Futurama quote for any occasion.
The fine print

At this time, we're approved to take on a freelancer, so your compensation will lean towards cold hard cash, in lieu of benefits. (When we get approval to hire an employee with benefits, you'll almost certainly get first crack at shifting into that position.)

You'll need to commute to our offices in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood for something in the ballpark of "normal business hours".

If you're interested, please send us a resume. Bonus points if you:
  1. ...submit your resume in plain text, as part of the main message body
  2. ...explain why you specifically want to work at reddit
  3. ...tell us a brief story about something cool you once made, or a problem you solved in a clever way
  4. ...prove or disprove that P = NP
  5. ...compose us a piece of customized wordhacking, e.g.:


Applications must be sent to S@reddit.com, where:
  • S is a three-character string which, when given a null terminator and encoded in hex, is equivalent to the eight-digit hexadecimal number H.

  • H is the hexadecimal representation of the decimal number N.

  • N = A * B * C * D

  • A is the number of 1 bits in the current serial number on the SOA record for reddit.com.
  • B is the number of seconds in a day.
  • C is the ASCII value of the character that appears 5304 times in *.html files in a fresh checkout of the reddit repository. (It's also the EBCDIC representation of the \a character.)
  • D is the port that you typically connect to when you need to get an encrypted shell on some remote machine.
Note: The solution to this puzzle is now available.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Feature out, feature in

Subscribers to reddit gold get a new feature today, and everyone else gets a feature that used to be gold-only:

Logo tooltips

When we run a special logo on the front page, you can now hover your mouse over it for an explanation of what it's for.

Special thanks to our gold users, who tested this change over the past week. In case you weren't one of them, here are the logos along with their explanations:

Civil engineer Thomas Telford was born in Scotland on this day in 1757
The Crown Prince of Brunei received that title on this day in 1998. He's pictured here holding his trademark pool cue.
Bombshell actress Hedy Lamarr co-invented frequency hopping, the basis of modern WiFi. (It's quite a story; you should read it.) The patent was issued on this day in 1942.
The so-called "Glorious Twelfth", when grouse-hunting season opens in the United Kingdom.
This one actually didn't mean anything. We changed the mouseover text throughout the day so that goldmembers would be just as confused as everyone else.

New comment highlighting

As one reddit gold feature rolls out, another rolls in: Gold subscribers can now see which comments were added since their last visit to a particular thread. It looks like this:

Plus, you can take it with you from computer to computer — if you encounter a good thread while you're at work, you can pull out your phone on the train ride home and check what's new. Then, when you're sitting in bed with your laptop later that night, you can see what you missed when you were washing the dishes.

Note: To make this feature work, our servers will remember (for 48 hours) which threads you've been reading. If you'd rather we not do this, you can disable the feature on your prefs.

Wanna check it out?

If you'd like to try these new improvements, plus all the other membership features, you can sign up for reddit gold here. All proceeds go towards improving the site and helping our team grow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Radio Reddit, earworm of the hive mind (they're still working on the metaphor).

With all of the recent discussions of uptime and new features, we wanted to take the time to shine a spotlight on a reddit community project that deserves your attention: radio reddit.(*)

Radio Reddit is an eclectic independent music streaming radio station whose programming is controlled by redditors’ up and down votes. The music is 100% original, non-RIAA evilness affiliated, broadcast royalty free, and best of all, created by the musicians of reddit. Radio Reddit has a catalog of over 2000 tracks by over 600 Redditors.

Like submissions on reddit, Radio Reddit does not have a program/music director. reddit artists and bands simply upload their music. The site automatically checks that music uploaded is from a redditor, and songs are put into rotation via scripts that compile the play lists based on genre, the schedule, and the songs’ reddit scores. You will never, ever, hear a repeat with an hour of play or within a genre’s block of time (if Metal is scheduled for three hours - those three hours are repeat free). Tracks with high reddit scores are given priority and songs with extremely negative reddit scores are weeded out and excluded from airplay.

While listening from the website you can submit the currently playing track to /r/radioreddit, up/down vote and discuss the track if it has been previously submitted, download the song if approved by the artist, or listen to the song on demand at any point. Each hour of Radio Reddit broadcast is also immediately available as a podcast for download (or for on-demand listening) from the site broken up by show title/genre and also available as RSS feeds.

Radio Reddit also does live broadcasts, where reddit artists and bands are invited to connect to the stream to broadcast their live shows and events.

“What does all of this mean‽”. It means free quality music (as determined by you and your peers) to listen to and a chance for the unheard artists and bands of reddit to get like minded individuals listening to their hard work.

Now in the spirit of reddit, we would also like to mention the Radio Reddit Gold Program....just kidding! But seriously, Radio Reddit is 100% donation based and they need your help to handle the growth. There are currently two options to help fund the Radio Reddit operation. Direct donations can be made via the Donation Page or you can help by buying the awesome Radio Reddit soap made by Soapier, which comes in three delicious flavors. Coming soon will be Radio Reddit swag, including t-shirts. So stay tuned.

If you like Radio Reddit or have a question or comment, don’t blame thank us, the Radio Reddit admins harrymuffin and octatone are always available to answer your questions. Be sure to join in at /r/radioreddit to get involved.

(*)When we say community project, we really mean it. We (the admins) had nothing to do with the development, and we think it is awesome to see reddit used as a platform like this. About the use of the alien: we've set them up with a non-commercial license. To enquire about getting one, email licensing at reddit.com.

Monday, August 09, 2010

New features to start your week

Good news, everyone!

We're turning on a handful of new features today.

If you've already upgraded your account to reddit gold, you're familiar with the existing membership rewards:
  • A trophy on your userpage
  • The ability to turn off sidebar ads, sponsored links, both, or neither
  • Friends with Benefits™ — notes you can add to your list of friends to help you keep track of them all
  • Access to a super-secret members-only community that may or may not exist
  • A thank-you note
Today we have some new things to add to that list. But first...

You get a sort! And you get a sort! Everybody gets a sort!

Remember that feature, where only reddit gold accounts were able to sort their userpages? Now everyone can do it. Special thanks to our subscribers for serving as guinea pigs, and for paying for the machine time that makes it all possible. Here are a couple of ways we'd like to say thanks:

Moar comments

More reddit servers are devoted to generating comments pages than any other task. That's why you only get 500 comments when you first load the page. However, if you sign up for gold, you can now see twice as many without having to hunt for "load more comments" links. As usual, the special features are indicated by golden blingblong:

We can do this because, by the time there are enough gold accounts to have a noticeable impact on our comments servers, the subscription funds will have paid for another cluster.

Use Your Allusion

When there's a special logo on the front page, it's not always clear what it's alluding to. So now we're going to add some titletext — just hover your mouse over the logo and you'll get an explanation.

We expect to roll this out to everyone soon, but for now it's going to be a gold-only feature. Still, it's not like non-gold users are going to have any trouble at all figuring out this week's logos. >;)

Redundancy and duplication and redundancy

One of our database machines has been flaking out over the past week (including this morning). In the past, we'd just have to learn to live with it — timing the flakes, planning around them, working to lessen their size and severity, pouring milk on them... anyway, now, we can solve these problems properly; in this case, by adding a backup database machine that can take over when the main one isn't available. While there may be some initial issues while we bring it up to speed, we should have it thoroughly debugged by the end of the week. And, of course, everyone will benefit from the new infrastructure, gold and otherwise.

If you'd like to try out the new features, support reddit, and help prove to the world that this website has a bright future, you can sign up for reddit gold here.

Friday, August 06, 2010

It turns out there are ads that reddit actually likes -- let's recognize them!

It's long overdue, but we're going to start thanking our valued sponsors on the blog. We'd love to link to everyone that bought a sponsored headline but we're getting around 200 different advertisers a week, so that'd get a bit unwieldy. We'll be highlighting the 20 highest scoring sponsored headlines each week, along with some of our other advertisers and partners. This is the first time we're doing this, so we look forward to improving this weekly sponsor roundup based upon your insightful suggestions, advice, criticism, rants, and MS Paint drawings.

Of course, we'd love to see some more big brands step up and sponsor reddit, but looking at this top 20 list, we're especially appreciative that so many smaller outstanding companies (many of which are run by actual redditors) have chosen to support this community. Here are your top 20 sponsored headlines for August 6, 2010.
  1. Be part of ĀµTorrent's Future: Enter our App Developer Challenge
    127 points submitted by jmdugan
  2. MakerBot - An affordable open source 3D printer! It's a factory on your desktop!
    93 points submitted by brepettis
  3. WhiteyBoard - THE Instant $30 Stick-On Whiteboard (we're not racist but we are giving FREE shipping to Redditors today)
    60 points submitted by jasonwilk
  4. Hey code monkey: bored of C#, Java, and PHP? Learn electronics and bring your programs to the real world with NerdKits microcontroller kits.
    50 points submitted by nerdkits
  5. Jessica Sanders turned a family tradition into award winning filmmaking.
    45 points submitted by sharethrough
  6. Ditch the notebook - Manage your tabletop campaign online.
    38 points submitted by MicahWedemeyer
  7. Step out of the box! Program for the "real world" with NerdKits microcontroller kits. It's electronics education for a digital generation.
    36 points submitted by nerdkits
  8. Firsthand account of a road-side bomb in Afghanistan. (not PG)
    27 points submitted by istanczyk
  9. ← These glasses have a hidden video camera built in!
    26 points submitted by superamit
  10. A neat app for finding and visualizing duplicate code (now supports Python, Ruby, Java and more)
    24 points submitted by nitriq
  11. thatgamecompany turned innovative thinking into award-winning PlayStation games
    22 points submitted by sharethrough
  12. 90% of voters think Alcohol is more dangerous than Marijuana
    23 points submitted by livecitizen
  13. Web Crawling as a Service: 80legs
    20 points submitted by shiondev
  14. Thrust::VPS - Cranking it to 11 - UK + US VPS - Linux/FreeBSD/Windows - From $5.95/mo
    17 points submitted by rusfoster
  15. Near Miss Compilation
    20 points submitted by breakmedia
  16. Dudes cry. No biggie. Right?
    19 points submitted by istanczyk
  17. 4-bit binary watch on sale for $99
    14 points submitted by CadenceWatch
  18. 9 of the Wealthiest Criminals in History
    13 points submitted by Dellio
  19. FileVo - filesharing evolved. Sign up with promo code "reddit" for a month of torrent seedboxing, and rapidshare premium leeching.
    15 points submitted by NickPapa
  20. TinyArrows private tiny URL services ☁ Weird unicode characters welcome. ➨ ➡ ➯ ➔ ➞ ➽ ➹ ✩ ✿ ❥ › ⌘ ‽
    12 points submitted by thorax
Our sponsor Funimation deserves a special shout out not only for advertising on reddit, but also for helping to save mankind from the dreaded Millennium Earl. Thanks again to all of reddit's sponsors and supporters (well, almost all).