Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fundraising for reddit

Hi reddit,

We'd like to announce to that reddit has just closed a $50 million round of outside funding.  Our lead investor is Sam Altman, with participation from Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital and Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz.

Sam is the President of Y Combinator, the incubator that originally helped launch reddit.  He is one of the first handful of reddit users, a member of the same YC batch that Steve and Alexis were in.  He signed up at a dinner with Steve and Alexis when they showed a beta version of reddit to get feedback.  He's a long-time fan of reddit, and is excited to help us take reddit to the next stage.  Sam will be doing an AMA today to take questions from the community.

Other investors participating in this round include Peter Thiel, Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit, Jared Leto, Jessica Livingston, Kevin and Julia Hartz, Mariam Naficy, Josh Kushner, Snoop Dogg, and Yishan Wong.

What does this financing mean for reddit?

reddit has had a long and complex history, starting as one of the first Y Combinator companies, then as a division of Conde Nast, and three years ago spun out as an independent entity. During all of this time we have operated with a shoestring budget. This made us become efficient; it also meant that we were only able to work on essential features and were always understaffed. Even with the last year's hiring (we're 60+ strong now), we've found that there are still a lot more features you've been asking for that we haven't always been able to get to as fast as we'd like.

Thus, we're planning to use this money to hire more staff for product development, expand our community management team, build out better moderation and community tools, work more closely with third party developers to expand our mobile offerings (try our new AMA app), improve our self-serve ad product, build out redditgifts marketplace, pay for our growing technical infrastructure, and all the many other things it takes to support a huge and growing global internet community.

Joshua Kushner, one of our angels, published a memorable statement about a startup he co-founded:

"There is a common misconception in the technology industry that raising capital is correlated with success. Financing is not innovation, nor should it be celebrated. On the contrary, we have a tremendous amount of work to do."

This is how we feel. An investment like this doesn't mean we're rich or successful. A couple days after we closed the financing, Sam came to our office and handed me a genuine 100 trillion dollar Zimbabwean note, as a reminder to us of the difference between money and value. Money can become worthless very quickly, value is something that is built over time through hard work.

We have been entrusted with capital by patient, long-term investors who support our views on difficult issues. We believe in free speech, self-governing communities, and the power of voting. We find that this freedom yields more good than bad, and we have chosen investors based on this belief.

But wait there's more

We've long been trying to find a way for the community to own some of reddit, because it is your contributions that help to anchor the site and give it strength.  We've actually discussed possible ways to do this for years - Alexis, Erik, I, and our backers at Advance (parent company of Conde Nast) have tried to come up with creative ways to do it, but they never worked out or ran into legal obstacles.

We think we've come up with a way. Led by Sam, the investors in this round have proposed to give 10% of their shares back to the community, in recognition of the central role the community plays in reddit's ongoing success. We're going to need to figure out a bunch of details to make it work, but we're hopeful. We'll have more specifics to share about it soon, but in the meantime we wanted to mention it here.

Thank you to everyone who's helped to make reddit what it is today.  We have a tremendous amount of work to do, and we hope you'll continue to support us.

May the reddits continue on its course to its destiny uninterrupted.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The battle for the internet is now.

The time for defending the open internet and net neutrality is now.

We are joined by a large number of companies to figuratively "slow down the Internet" to make clear that an open & neutral Internet is the only way to go. reddit itself has been working and engaging with congressional representatives and FCC officials to encourage them to support net neutrality.

Right now, people have sent over 1 million comments to the FCC. Congress and officials at the FCC have taken note and are listening.

Now is the time to contact your congressional representative and tell them to support an open and neutral internet now. Be sure to call them and then tweet them publicly to make sure your voice is counted. If you are a redditor outside the United States, you can join the action as well.

What has happened so far?
redditors have helped by
* contacting their congressional representative,
calling the FCC
filing comments into the FCC's docket
* melting the FCC's servers multiple times.
* helped contribute and even deliver reddit, Inc's official comment to Washington D.C.

fyi, here is a sample tweet you can use:

@[insert your congressional rep's Twitter username] I stand for a free and open Internet. Tell the FCC to protect #NetNeutrality

Monday, September 08, 2014

Hell, It's About Time – reddit now supports full-site HTTPS

It may have taken us 9 years, 2 months, and 16 days, but we did it. I'm happy to announce that we now support full-site HTTPS on reddit.com.

When using HTTPS on reddit, your connection will be fully encrypted. Anyone watching your connection (such as WiFi hotspot providers) will be unable to see the plain-text contents of what your browser is communicating with reddit. This helps ensure that your communications with reddit, including your authentication credentials and cookies, will not be viewable through the use of man-in-the-middle attacks.

HTTPS is being served via our new CDN, CloudFlare. The server's preferred cipher suites make use of ECDHE, meaning that HTTPS connections to reddit will have Forward Secrecy for browsers which support those cipher suites.

You can adjust your account to connect to reddit exclusively through HTTPS using our new security tab in the preferences panel. This setting will cause reddit to send your browser an HSTS policy which will force it to interact with reddit only via HTTPS. It will also cause reddit to redirect any non-HTTPS requests containing your credentials to HTTPS. Please note that we cannot force API clients, such as mobile apps or bots, or certain older browsers, to respect this setting, and as such they may still connect to reddit through non-encrypted HTTP.

Happy secure browsing!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Every Man Is Responsible For His Own Soul


This blog post is not an explanation for why /r/TheFappening was banned. It is an explanation for why we will not ban questionable subreddits, of which /r/TheFappening is one of them. What happened is that we wrote the blog post, and at approximately the same time, activity in that subreddit starting violating other rules we have which do trigger a ban, so we banned it. 

Those two events occurring together have created great confusion. That is: we put up a blog post explaining why we don't ban things for reason X (which some people want us to, but we will not), but at the same time behavior in a subreddit started violating reason Y (a pre-existing and valid rule for which we do ban things) and we banned it, resulting in much confusion.

For a detailed explanation, go here.


Last weekend, reddit was used as one of the primary centers of distribution of private and unlawfully obtained images of celebrities.

In accordance with our legal obligations, we expeditiously removed content hosted on our servers as soon as we received DMCA requests from the lawful owners of that content, and in cases where the images were not hosted on our servers, we promptly directed them to the hosts of those services. 

While current US law does not prohibit linking to stolen materials, we deplore the theft of these images and we do not condone their widespread distribution.

Nevertheless, reddit’s platform is structurally based on the ability for people to distribute, promote, and highlight textual materials as well as links to images and other media. We understand the harm that misusing our site does to the victims of this theft, and we deeply sympathize.

Having said that, we are unlikely to make changes to our existing site content policies in response to this specific event.

The reason is because we consider ourselves not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community. The role and responsibility of a government differs from that of a private corporation, in that it exercises restraint in the usage of its powers.

While we may believe that users should behave in a certain way, the methods we use to influence that behavior fall into two different classes:

1. Actions which cause or are likely to cause imminent physical danger (e.g. suicides, instructions for self-harm, or specific threats) or which damage the integrity and ability of the site to function (e.g. spam, brigading, vote-cheating) are prohibited or enforced by “hard” policy, such as bans and rules. 

2. Actions which are morally objectionable or otherwise inappropriate we choose to influence by exhortation, emphasizing positive examples, or by selectively highlighting good content and good actions. For example, this includes our selection of subreddits which populate on our default front page, subreddits we highlight in blog posts, and subreddits we promote via other media channels.

The philosophy behind this stems from the idea that each individual is responsible for his or her moral actions.

We uphold the ideal of free speech on reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to, but because we believe that you - the user - has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and that it is your responsibility to do so. When you know something is right, you should choose to do it. But as much as possible, we will not force you to do it.

You choose what to post. You choose what to read. You choose what kind of subreddit to create and what kind of rules you will enforce. We will try not to interfere - not because we don’t care, but because we care that you make your choices between right and wrong.

Virtuous behavior is only virtuous if it is not arrived at by compulsion. This is a central idea of the community we are trying to create.

As always, we welcome ideas on how better to achieve these aims, and we will continually evolve both our policies and actions.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Announcing the official reddit AMA app

It's been a long time coming, but we’ve finally launched an official reddit mobile app, and we built it ourselves this time. We’re pleased to announce the reddit AMA app on iOS. Edit: and Android.
AMAs started when redditors came up with questions for people that we would ask and videotape answers to, and the first person to collect questions was Jessica Livingstone for an interview of Caterina Fake in April 2006. The first AMA we recorded ourselves was of Adam Savage. Then AMAs started taking off on /r/askreddit, expanded into /r/iama and can now be found in various communities all over reddit.[1]

AMAs get a lot of attention outside of reddit, and often you’ll see “Top 10 answers or moments to [insert name of celebrity or person]’s AMA.” While those recaps may be good for those who cannot follow AMAs as they happen live, there is so much more to AMAs that those brief excerpts cannot convey. One of the best parts of AMAs is experiencing the complete spectrum of questions and answers with full context.

With this app, we want to share more about what reddit is all about, so people can find and enjoy a wider variety of AMAs as they are happening.

Some of our favorite AMAs are by people who have had amazing experiences, like winning Jeopardy, rescuing Raju the elephant and driving solo across North America in a Tesla or living in a rainforest without electricity, running water or internet for seven years. We’ve had people do AMAs from outer space (astronaut Chris Hadfield) and in exile from the Ecuadorian Embassy (Julian Assange).

Some of the most popular AMAs on reddit are by people who are doing everyday jobs and want to share their stories, like the flight attendant for a top airline, and the vacuum cleaner repair technician who even followed up. And we love curveballs like the guy who kicks people out of Alamo Drafthouse movie theaters for texting or talking.

Some of the most enlightening AMAs are by people who have had traumatic experiences. Where else can you anonymously ask questions to someone mauled by a bear or someone wrongly jailed for 18 years? Or hear firsthand from a twin who was part of Mengele’s experiments during the Holocaust or someone who was on a hijacked flight?

Sometimes your questions are better than the answers (sorry, Jose Canseco). Famous redditors like to ask questions, too, like Snoop challenging Madonna. Sometimes the answers are really unexpected, like the medical answers in a surprising NSFW AMA that challenged people’s conceptions.

And you also feel reddit’s community spirit in AMAs. When a teen with leukemia fell asleep at the start of his AMA, others answered questions for him. People show their reddit gold love in AMAs; the AMA with the most gildings was Patrick J. Carney’s with 264 months of gold given. That’s even more than Bill Gates (170 gildings across two AMAs), though he has personally received the most gold from AMAs (65 in his first AMA, 13 in his second).

We have noticed that many redditors like a tl;dr version of AMAs, and we’ve taken that to heart in our new app. A few good examples of redditor-created AMA tl;drs can be seen in /u/biinaryy’s summary of President Obama’s AMA and /r/tabled, a subreddit of summaries. It even has a collection of answers to the most popular AMA question.

We appreciate all the guests who stop by to visit our community; some of our favorite celebrity AMAs include ones by Bill Murray, three-timer Gillian Anderson, Emmy Rossum, Monty Python, Uzo Aduba, four-timer Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Lil Jon. And we’ll never forget the late, great Robin Williams.
Did we mention that this (and more!) is all in a mobile app? There are lots of other apps out there, and we want to encourage developers to build their own apps. We’re making it easier to work with reddit and have built out our OAuth API; some developers are already using it successfully.

Ultimately we want people to have different ways to reddit. Ideally, when people learn about reddit, they should have an understanding of what it is, not just what others portray reddit to be. So we created this introductory app for people to enjoy some of the best of reddit. We beta-tested it and our Android app with our gold users and /r/IAMA mods, who gave really helpful feedback (and lots of love for the ability to find AMAs by categories--check it out).
We’re working hard to release the Android version that’s in beta as soon as possible. Edit: We are now available on Android.

In the iOS version, you’ll see that due to Apple guidelines, we hide NSFW content by default in the iPhone app, but don’t worry! If you log in and check “allow adult content” you can see all AMAs uncensored, including NSFW ones. We know we still have a lot of work to do, so please share your feedback, and we’ll keep trying.

We’re also interested in what your friends think. If you have friends or family that aren’t on reddit, please ask them to check out the app and share their feedback. We’re listening.

[1] For more background, here’s a good article on AMAs.