Thursday, July 21, 2011

The next generation of reddit mobile

A little over a year ago, we launched a mobile version of reddit. The original version was designed for webkit only devices, mainly Android and the iPhone. Since then, the mobile space has expanded dramatically. New browsers, such as Firefox Mobile and Opera, have appeared, and phones have gotten bigger.

So, without further ado, I present to you reddit mobile: the next generation.

With this version, we aimed to improve the overall experience. There were some flaws that made the experience less than optimal. You’ve voiced your concern over several comment threads, and we listened.

New features

With the old version, the options button opened to a small dropdown, with difficult to touch buttons. With the new one, we’ve tried to make one of the most used UI elements much friendlier. Now, when you click the options button (which has transformed into a gear), a large, horizontal bar appears, presenting the options and some icons. We think you will find the new bar much easier to use.

We’ve also redesigned the top part of the mobile interface, to feature subreddit logos. Now, when you browse reddit on your mobile device, you get logos, same as on the big site.

Moderators have also gotten some love, as the modmail icon now appears on the mobile interface.

Finally, we've made an effort to improve speed. We’ve cut the number of elements using processor-intensive CSS3 features, so now pages render faster.

Check it out now by going to, on your phone or desktop. And feel free to leave feedback, at any time, in /r/compact.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ask Comic-Con Celebrities Anything

Thanks to our friends at Bing, reddit will be hanging out at the WIRED Cafe for Comic-Con this year. We'll be there to ask celebrities questions on your behalf.

Go here to submit questions we can ask celebrities at Comic-Con — TV and movie stars, comic book authors, and all-around Geek Gods. We are shooting for three good questions, and we'll do our best to have celebrities answer as many of the top questions as we can.

Filming will occur Thursday through Saturday, and we will be publishing them on a rolling basis there afterward. For celebrities that we can snag and confirm with enough advance notice, we'll post in IAmA for customized questions. Stay tuned!

For those of you in San Diego (and I mean all of you), there are the regular weekend San Diego events but also a Comic-Con event in the works. I'll be bopping around so lookout for me and Karmen Sandiego, as we may come with some reddit schwag.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nerd talk: The tale of the life of a link on reddit, told in graph porn

reddit has a lot of fresh content being submitted all of the time, so how do we pick what makes the front page? After the tank of manatees has their pick, I mean.

Since I love some good ol' fashioned data mining, I "asked" the guys to let me break into the database machines and put together some graph porn for you. When alienth wasn't looking, I pulled a three-day slice of link votes (a total of 6,064,281 votes) from reddit's votes database and built some Python scripts to generate graphs with matplotlib.

The theoretical trail of karma from submission to the front page is:
  1. Find picture of cat
  2. Add caption
  3. Submit link to reddit
  4. The link goes to the new page, accumulating as many votes as it can from these Knights of /new before it is pushed off.
  5. At this point it can still be shown to readers of the rising page and to users of the "new and upcoming" box on the front page. This box does try to maximise the number of opportunities a link has to receive votes but doesn't want to have a lot of spammy links in it so there are some trade-offs made to try to optimise for both.
  6. If it is able to grow here it will be promoted to the Hot page of its community and potentially to the front page (which is essentially the aggregate Hot page for the whole site).
  7. Because the default Hot page cuts off after 25 links, once a link is promoted from #26 to #25 all of the real karmic action happens. The number of votes per minute shoots way up, as do the number of comments. At this point, your link has "made it".
  8. To maximise turn-over, reddit doesn't include links on the front page after 24 hours (although this doesn't apply to hot pages for individual communities). If a link survives on the front page this long, its score will flatten out but can still receive votes from people that still have the tab open, that community's front-page, etc.

Let's see this in action. First, over 80% of votes on reddit are upvotes:

(the small number of "nones" are where someone has voted but rescinded their vote; reddit continues to store that vote but no longer uses it for score or hotness calculations)

Most of reddit's traffic comes in while people are arriving to work in the US, and you can see it in the voting patterns:

(if you look closely you'll see that on this random weekday, reddit received over 300,000 votes per hour at peak, or about 83 votes per second)

Not every link will be a winner though. Most have one or two votes and are never promoted from the new page:

(note that the X axis there is log2)

Now for the good stuff to really see that lifecycle. Here are some popular links that made the front page and their scores over time:

You can see that to become as popular as they were, they had a lot of growth very early on. Compare those lifecycles to these entirely random links (which by the above histograms we know are mostly failures). Here again we can see that the ones that are going to differentiate themselves do so extremely early on in their life:

Here are some timeline snapshots of the front page and a picture of the movement of ranks along it:

If you can make it out among all of the crazy wavy lines you'll see that individual links follow an arc of growth and then decay even after they hit the front page.

Warning: giant nerd talk follows

Successful links grow so fast because they have to, or they die. To understand this, let's take a look at how scoring and "hotness" work. Most people that write over-a-weekend reddit clones (do it! it's a fun exercise) sort their front pages using the somewhat obvious method of an hourly batch job that scores all links in the database and decays that number by the timestamp of the link (maybe boosting for some other values like number of comments or clicks). reddit used to work this way millions of years ago, but that quickly became untenable. You see, reddit's working set of active links is pretty small (maybe ten thousand these days), but this method requires calculating against all of the old links from previous days too, which adds up pretty quickly. reddit now uses system that is updated in real time on every vote by calculating a "hotness" value for that link (the code). Amir Salihefendic does a good job of explaining it in English:

Here is a visualization of the score for a story that has same amount of up and downvotes, but different submission time:

In effect, as a link ages its score needs to grow by orders of magnitude just to have the same hotness as a link that was just submitted and has 1 point. So if they don't continually grow by orders of magnitude very early on they die off, and of course those that do have so many votes that they skyrocket in score.

Giant nerd talk over, returning to normal nerd levels

This has been a nerdy guest post by ketralnis, former reddit admin (you can take the admin away from reddit, but you can never take the reddit out of the admin). If you got this far please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this and/or have other ideas for similar ones!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Announcing reddit companion for Chrome

I'm pleased to announce the release of reddit companion, an official reddit extension for Chrome. Like Socialite, when you click on a link from reddit, companion provides a contextual info bar that makes it easy to vote on, comment on, or save the reddit submission.

Also, if you receive new messages, reddit companion will display an unobtrusive notification:

Open SorcererJust like reddit, reddit companion is an open source project (please fork our GitHub repo!). In fact, it wouldn't have been possible without awesome contributions from the reddit community:

We've made our first release of this project as simple as possible to get it to you promptly. If there's something missing that you desire, please let us know in the comments (or even better, fork our code and start hacking on GitHub!). If you find a bug, please file an issue in our GitHub issue tracker. Finally, head over to /r/companion for updates and general discussion. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who in the world is reddit?

When we saw the response that burgess_meredith_jr's reddit demographic survey received, we were intrigued by how diverse reddit's community is. We had a general idea about who the average redditor was, but we got a much more detailed description than we had ever seen before. Around the same time, r/fitness released an in-depth analysis of the fittit community. While a brief analysis of both surveys indicated that the average redditor is a 20-something American male, we know that there are lots of diverse redditors among us and that has led us to a new project, "Who in the world is reddit?"

The two surveys opened our eyes, and we are curious about who we are as a whole and what makes each sub-reddit unique. That's why we are launching our first of many demographic surveys — these surveys should only take 5 minutes to complete with 12 multiple choice questions and one free form country question (please spell out country, e.g. United Kingdom over U.K.). Please note that all information collected is anonymous and not linked to your reddit account.

Click here to take the survey.

After a week of collecting data, we will provide you with our initial thoughts and analysis of the data, and then make the results public for all you data wizards out there to play with.

We invite sub-reddits to write their own demographic surveys and submit that list of questions (we recommend multiple choice) to r/pimpmyreddit. Cupcake1713 will take the questions you provide, possibly add a few more, and then create a survey for your sub-reddit and share the results.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Helping the Economy, One [Hiring] Campaign at a Time!

About 3 weeks ago, reddit decided to utilize our Self-Serve advertising platform to take over companies from the inside help the economy and the reddit community by offering FREE advertising to anyone looking to hire an awesome redditor for a nifty job.

It worked out beautifully! We had about 150 responses from employers looking to hire from the community and had fabulous outcomes.

In total, we gave out more than $16,000 worth of free advertising! The average number of impressions for each of the 3 day, $100 bid ads in the campaign was 122,561 and the average click-through rate was a whopping 0.34% (~3x industry average).

We had people looking for employees in markets from programming, engineering, managing, teaching- even nursing. People were hiring from all over the US, and even as far away as China, Switzerland, and New Zealand!

Working with clients even gave me the opportunity to explore local businesses, such as's datacenter in Central Florida:

During the campaign, we worked closely with prospective employers to ensure that they were well taken care of and we received a lot of positive feedback like this:

Milan, from Novia Scotia wrote:
"We spent month and a half looking for a new developer to join our team at TitanFile. We found a lot of candidates with suitable technical knowledge but unfortunately no candidates suited our corporate culture. We knew that redditors would have a much greater chance of fitting our corporate culture so we took advantage of the reddit self-serve advertising and it worked perfectly. We where able to find a candidate that matched both, technical skills and our corporate culture, within 48h. He arrived to Nova Scotia last week and he had his first day at work yesterday."
Jon from the Hullabaloo Store wrote:
"Their customer service is second to none. Kristine in the self-serve department went above and beyond! I will be using this service again."

And they even made a post!
So to sum up, our campaign was a success and hopefully you all remember the codeword for when we want to start sinister phase 2 we gave a lot of exposure to you, the awesome community that you are, to explore all sorts of different employment opportunities in these hard economic times.

Look forward to another ad campaign soon. We want to promote some indie games/books/movies etc. and will be running another promotion to encourage support of them!

Thanks again reddit, you guys kick ass.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

it's time for us to pack up and move on to bigger and better things.

So, I was visiting the reddit headquarters at a very bittersweet time for the team last week. It was a little painful to do, but I helped the guys pack up their stuff and move out of the old office for good.

And reddit, none of this would have been possible without you. You are the website, we just maintain it. So we'd like to take this opportunity to say goodbye...

spladug looking at a post-it notealienth and kemitche packing their bags
chromakode packing

... to our old office! We've been upgraded to a new, bigger, more badass office just down the hall!

a view of the office
chromakode hanging out

So now we'll have more room to breathe, stretch, and wrangle servers so the site will continue to stay up and you can continue being the most awesome community that you are!

Here is a sexy 3D comparison of our offices done in Google SketchUp by spladug. (click the image to get the SketchUp file to play around with!)

And here is a "Don't know if Parkinson's or [7]" drawing of the new space by hueypriest.

hueypriest's special play time drawing

Why should you care about any of this? Because, roughly one year ago we had to post that "reddit needs help". And now, thanks to the awesome community and thanks to hard work by all of the admins past and present reddit has more people, a new office, and room to grow. Thank you!