Friday, November 26, 2010

Help us help you help us

As we sit down for our breakfast of Thanksgiving leftovers, the reddit staff would like to take a moment to reflect on how awesome the past year has been. The community has grown significantly, you're learning about your powers and how to harness them, and the site's bottom line has improved to the point where we can afford to dump ad networks that piss off our users.

Regarding that bottom line: We want to especially thank those of you who subscribed to reddit gold. Your support has enabled us to pay for:
  • 46 new servers (giant ones)
  • Half a terabyte of RAM
  • A 770 GHz increase in CPU power
  • Over 100 terabytes of new disk storage (useful for redundancy and reliability and redundancy)
  • This guy
Just as significantly, it's helped us convince you-know-whom that reddit's a flourishing site with a bright future.

The Upright Citizens Brigade made a commercial to illustrate the gravity of the situation:

Anyway, when we first came up with the idea, we had wanted people to be able to buy subscriptions not just for themselves, but for each other as well. However, resources were limited (hence the need for the program in the first place) so we released our half-assed implementation with the intention of finishing it later.

With the holiday season coming up, we'd like to complete the ass. Our goal is to reach the point where you can just go to a user's page, click "Give this redditor some gold" and be whisked off to someplace that will take your money. This weekend, we'd like your help betatesting the non-sales-related parts of the system.

Would you like to help? Here's how:
  1. Buy a year of reddit gold the usual way (it can either be a new subscription or an extension of your existing one)
  2. Claim it at some point between now and Monday morning
  3. In addition to your own year of gold, we'll give you three bonus "creddits", each of which can be used to give someone else a month of gold
  4. To spend your creddits, just go to your favorite person's userpage and click this new link:

  5. Fill out the details:

  6. The recipient will get the gold and an orangered:

Hopefully it'll all work smoothly. Let us know if you run into any problems (though we'll probably see them in the server logs anyway).

Planned improvements:
  • A way to buy gold creddits directly
  • Anonymous gifting
  • The option of including a personalized message
Got any other ideas?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Buy a Wil Wheaton iPod Touch, help restore civil liberties

Back in 2009, when reddit's first iPhone app launched, kn0thing made a commercial featuring the underused marketing line, "More fun than LARPing with Wil Wheaton!"

photo circa 2009
Shortly thereafter, we had the motto laser-etched onto the back of a top-of-the-line 16GB iPod Touch and asked Wil to sign it (he's a avid redditor, of course.) We figured we could pick a charity and auction it off. I mean, who wouldn't want a piece of technology signed by this guy?

However, we made a small mistake. You know that protective plastic cover you have to peel off Apple mobile products before you use them? We sort of didn't notice it. In other words, our "iPod signed by Wil Wheaton" ended up being an "iPod with a piece of protective plastic signed by Wil Wheaton." For what it's worth, he also autographed the "Designed by Apple in California" card.

Because of the mistake, we've had the iPod sitting in our drawer ever since. However, it's high time we sent it off into the world to be loved and appreciated for what it is. And perhaps there's a silver lining: A signature on an iPod would quickly rub off in your pocket. But a signature on a protective piece of plastic is eternal. You can frame it. Hang it on your wall. Affix it to your bathroom mirror. The possibilities are mindless.

All proceeds are going to a good cause, by the way. We'll stick the winning bid in a lockbox and, should OperationGrabAss need funding to promote their "Fly with Dignity" message, pass it right along to them. If that doesn't pan out, we'll give it to the EFF.

Edit: Wil just contacted reddit to sweeten the pot. Whoever wins the auction will also get a signed, leather-bound, slip-cased, special-edition copy of his book!

Here's the link to the auction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A group of redditors is taking a stand against the new TSA rules.

If you've been reading reddit regularly (and who hasn't?) you've probably heard about the backscatter X-ray machines that are being deployed to airports across the United States.

As of this month, the rules have gotten stricter than ever. In a nutshell, anyone passing through a backscatter-enabled security checkpoint has a choice: Let a TSA agent see through your clothes, or let a TSA agent touch your most intimate areas. And it's not just Americans who should feel threatened; TSA policies seem to have a way of spreading around the world.

A group of redditors has decided to take a stand. They've set up a community called OperationGrabAss as their base of operations (if you're a prudish reporter, is their more mundanely-named alter-ego). We'd like to remain as hands-off as possible and let you guys figure out where this thing goes, but if you reach a consensus on how you'd like to run your campaign, we can help organize a funding initiative.

If you'd like to follow along or brainstorm, add /r/OperationGrabAss to your frontpage. And spread the word.

Awesome graphic courtesy of David Vincent Wolf, a.k.a. voyetra8. Details here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Buy Shirts, Remember the Rally, Question Colbert, and Smile

Hey, does anyone remember October?

In case you missed the 947 blog posts, there were a few rallies held on the 30th. We promised you trophies and graphs, and we've finally finished crunching the numbers.


We borrowed a computer that looks like this and mapped out all the connections you made with your QR codes.

With the use of graph theory and a few well-placed PMs, we were able to identify which cluster was DC and which were the satellite rallies. We also found a few suspicious submissions, but to the suspects' credit, every one of them openly admitted to cheating when we asked about it. Thanks for your (belated) honesty!

Okay, so we were talking about graphs... Let's start with the big one, the Washington DC rally. 1909 redditors reported in from there, establishing 12,987 connections amongst themselves! If you'll forgive our hubris, we've put ourselves at the center of the graph in red and colored everyone based on how many hops away they are from us. It's a very tight cluster, which makes it a good model of the actual rally, where we were embedded in a ten-by-ten tent surrounded on all sides by an ocean of people.

Interestingly, everyone was five or fewer degrees of separation away from us with the sole exception of RainbootedRobot (bottom of graph, in purple), whose tent number of 6 qualifies for a special trophy variant.

The graphs for the satellite rallies follow. Post a comment about which constellation / chemical / Zelda dungeon each one looks like!



San Francisco:

Los Angeles:




St. Louis:


The Twin Cities and Salt Lake City, in no particular order:

All of the rallies in one image:

The friendliest redditor was MrLister, who zapped or was zapped by 166 people!

myotheralt submitted more QR codes than anyone else — 125 in all. Whether this was a feat of furious scribbling or constant barcode scanning, it's pretty impressive either way.

Our most prolific self-promoter was moge, who somehow convinced 99 other people to record and submit his QR code. What was your trick, moge?

Other redditors with 100+ friends were: Infra-red, AndyNemmity, AlLnAtuRalX, casiopt10, phnx0221, RoboticOverlord, _Kita_, qwer777, lexabear, paxswill, drivemethru, immolation, wtfhbk, tacitblue, drrice, and of course, all the admins.

In all, 2050 redditors participated, forming 13,369 connections.

Not in stores, but they were once available at the mall

It was very nice of DonorsChoose to let us share their tent, and one of the ways we helped repay them was by attracting a lot of attention. Anyone who came by to say hello walked away with a DonorsChoose gift certificate and a special gift from reddit: a free limited-run rally t-shirt. Bright orangered, the front depicts Abe Lincoln making the reddit sign, and the back is a copy of Stephen Colbert's letter to the reddit community. (Graphic design by licenseplate, t-shirt artist extraordinaire.)

We figured that 1000 shirts ought to be enough for everyone, but demand exceeded all expectations. Every last shirt was snapped up, despite our strict enforcement of the "one shirt per person" and "you must actually know what reddit is" rules.

So, for those of you who just missed getting a shirt, and for those of you who weren't there but want to tell your grandkids you were, there's going to be a second run. Shirts are available for $25 at, and for every one we sell, we're going to give 10% to DonorsChoose.

And this time, when they're gone, they're gone!

BTW, we need some photos of the shirt in action. If you have one (or want to make one right now) please upload it and post it in the comments.

The $500,000 AMA

Oh, one more thing... Stephen Colbert said he would let reddit interview him if you could raise $500,000 before the rally, and, naturally, you totally did. (I never doubted you, reddit.)

So, without further ado, here's your AMA! Post your questions there (not in this blog post's comments), and reddit's favorite Man of the Year nominee will post his responses later this month.

Crack open a cold one, reddit. You've earned this one.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

C'mon, Mexico. Why can't you be more like Estonia?

We did some Google Analytics mining. Here are the number of visits to reddit in the last 30 days from a certain selection of countries:


What do these places all have in common? Not a single one of their citizens has ever sent us a postcard. Shame on you, Ηράκλειον. Cat got your tongue, Дзержи́нск? Did you break your arm, Hafnarfjörður?

Meanwhile, we have gotten postcards from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Dominica, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of China (a.k.a. Taiwan), Romania, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United States, Vietnam, and Wales.

Here's what that looks like on a map (click to embiggen).

If the place you live isn't marked in orange, send us a postcard! (Scroll to the bottom of the reddit gold help page for details.) You'll honor your country, get a month of reddit gold, and we'll give your postcard prime placement on our wall of fame.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Welcome Neil Williams (a.k.a. spladug)!

Neil is the newest member of team reddit, having joined us just one week ago! We were able to hire him primarily because of your gold subscriptions, so thank you! (Wanna see how many more we can get? Sign up for reddit gold right here.)

In his first week, Neil's already knocked three items off of my personal todo list. :) In the future he will be helping us in multiple ways, writing features and working on our continued scaling. If you have an idea for what title we should give him, let us know in the comments. If you have an idea of what he should work on, don't worry, we've got a long enough todo list for him already!

Previous to reddit, Neil worked for some government contractor doing boring work with top secret things, so really, we saved him from a life of tedium (no offense to those of you working for government contractors).

In case you are wondering what that is on his avatar's shirt, I have no idea. Just looks kinda cool to me. The answer to why he is walking a banana slug is left as an exercise to the reader. I'm told his name is Sammy.

So please, welcome Neil, and don't forget, if you want to be the next one on the welcome wagon, we are still hiring. If you already applied, we'll get back to you soon!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Nast, may we have another?

Reddit will soon be announcing a new employee, and in the meantime, we get to hire another one! The job description is very similar to last time (go read it; we'll wait) with the following changes:
  • This time, it's for a regular full-time employee position.
  • This position comes with benefits.
  • You don't have to be a superstar programmer, if you make up for it by being a superstar Unix admin, systems architect, or distributed databases expert.
Other than that, though, all the other stuff from last time still applies, in particular:

To apply, you'll need to solve a puzzle. We're only accepting resumes sent in via, where...
  • X = A * B * C * D

  • A is the first byte of the ICMP section of the packet that a router will send back when it sees a ping which has hopped too many times
  • B is the integer nearest to how much an Olympic-sized swimming pool of the minimum depth would weigh, in gigagrams, if it were filled completely with solid gold
  • C is the four-digit year in which the company whose data-link layer addresses look like 08:00:09:??:??:?? registered its primary domain name
  • D is the decimal HTML entity for the Unicode character "ℜ" (which is not the same as the ASCII letter "R")
If you're smart enough to solve the puzzle, please don't show off. This whole plan will only work if everyone can bite their tongue, so we're just going to ask you to please, as a special favor to reddit, keep the secret a secret. Thanks!

Here are the answers from the previous puzzle:
  • A = 2010031103, at the time of posting.
  • B = 86400
  • C = 47
  • D = 22
Multiply them all together, and you get 0x7a793900, which is the null-terminated string "zy9". It's just that simple!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thanks, hackers! (in both senses of the word)

Since reddit is a great big open source project, we get code contributions every now and then. We really like when this happens, and in fact, have an award for it. Here are the latest recipients:
  • Preston4tw sent in a patch that lets you see recent comments on a particular reddit by going to /r/(something)/comments.
  • reseph sent in a patch that makes the name of a reddit into a clickable link in the sidebar.
  • shortkud sent in a patch that fixed a bug in our RSS feeds.
  • cookiecaper sent in a patch that fixed a bug in reddit-powered sites other than
  • Markus Gaisbauer sent in a patch that lets reddit developers test their site by generating lots of gibberish comments. (Insert joke here.)

We also have an award for people who responsibly report a security issue in reddit — in other words, they quietly and privately message the reddit staff, without telling anyone else. Two recent winners:
  • boraca realized that it was sometimes possible to see things you shouldn't be able to by combining reddits, like /r/foo+bar.
  • bballbackus told us about an XSS vulnerability we had.
I want to reiterate: the white hats are for discreetly telling us about security problems, not for finding them in the first place. You get no hat if you brag about it before we get a chance to fix it.