Friday, September 14, 2007

reddit is a special site, our users know this

And not "special" in the euphemistic way.

I've never been so happy to be bumped off a flight. Waiting in LAX with some spare time and my beloved evdo card, I hopped onto reddit and was so pleased with what I found.Earlier today, pragma submitted a self post that directed redditors to keep the link at #25 on the front (hot) page. I know of no other sites that function like reddit in this regard -- stories are alway rising and falling on our front page, most never even make it to #1, or even the top five.

Go ahead, load reddit. Ten minutes later, hit reload and watch things shuffle around; perform this vigorously throughout the day, our advertisers will love it.

I suppose Steve and I benefited from our ignorance of the competition when we started reddit. We just did what made sense. The first time Steve pointed me to the site on our dev server, he had to explain to me just how the hotness algorithm worked. It involved basic arithmetic, so all I remember is what we'd agreed upon -- stories needed to rise and fall. What we simply thought was a better user experience turned out to be pretty unique.

I guessed it helped that we didn't know about any of our competition until a month after we launched.

The model you'll find everywhere else is easy to explain: once a new link gets X votes (say, 50) it jumps to #1 on the front page and will enjoy a hearty dose of traffic. The next new story to get X votes becomes the new #1 and the old one drops down to #2. It's like any blog, only those first X users are selecting the next story.

On reddit, links have to work their way up to the #1 spot, fighting their way up against down votes and time (yes, hotness involves time - stories that aren't getting votes up are always cooling off). If as a result of this neat experiment, you've figured out our algorithm, Steve has already promised to change it. Heh.

Perhaps we (read: I) haven't done a good enough job explaining this in the past. Thanks for giving me some encouragement today, reddit.

UPDATE: I've just landed and it's still the #25 story. Hurray.

Oh, and a clever redditor (danweber) did something awesome. Hopefully it'll never happen again ;-)

CORRECTION: Apparently, JelloShotz did it first. Props to you, sir.Fry is without a doubt the hottest thing on reddit tonight. Who says you need to go out on a Fryday night to have fun?

(-25 points for me on account of that pun. I'm sorry.)