The Fickle Folks at Reddit

I like Reddit.

On average the signal to noise ratio is great, and a scanthrough the hot list is usually a very worthwhile venture. The widerange of topics makes it more entertaining and informative thanmany tech-only sites, but it still has enough tech-related info tofeel pertinent to the software development profession.

I’ve also received a substantial number of hits fromReddit over the past couple of months, with no less than 5entries hitting the front page for periods of time, with each ofthem yielded 6000+ inbound visitors. Though these are ofno profit to me, it is satisfying that many of thesevisitors left great comments and sent interesting emails, andfound the entries informative or educational. After each onslaughtthe number of RSS subscribers jumps by a hefty amount.

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Early on I admittingly submitted a couple of my longer, morethought-out posts to Reddit, thinking it would help exposure abit, but became a bit discouraged by the whole exercise afterseeing them instantly start descending into the negative range.Pure speculation, but my guess is that some rather unsportsmanlikesubmitters are automatically “voting down” everything in proximityof their addition, hoping to make their own submission stand out inrelation (it’s the only rational explanation for the almost instantvote downs). I would also guess that many users skip overlow-ranked new items, so it basically becomes a race to get thefirst couple of up votes before it’s voted into oblivion, and thena continued series of up votes to offset the continualdownvotes.

This came to mind as I was just “testing out” the quicklinks thatI just added on posts. I discovered a case of a single entrythat had been submitted to Reddit three different times fromdifferent areas of the blog (which is a “benefit” of users whosubscribe to and read the different areas). I’ve put these inorder, determined by the obvious sequential ID that Reddit adds.I’m not sure of the specific times of each of them.

http://reddit.com/info?id=14ev -This was added from the home page version. It earned a forgettablescore of 1.

http://reddit.com/info?id=14lu -This was apparently added referencing the static version locatedhere. It earned a healthy -4 score. Perhapsbecause it was a duplicate of the prior one.

http://reddit.com/info?id=14sm -This was added from the Software Development version. It earned avery respectable score of 204, and I knew aboutthis one because of a substantial impact on the visits over a twoday period.

The exact same content, in different forms, yielded a1, a –4, and a front-page for twodays 204. Whether it was because of titles, timeof day, or simply luck of the draw (that the last one got momentumbefore the haters started downvoting), it is a fascinatingdemonstration that these sorts of web democracies aren’t always ameritocrasy.

Just thought that was a little fascinating.