Wednesday, April 30, 2008

a clip from roflcon - starring xkcd!

I got the chance to moderate and speak on a panel at ROFLCon this past weekend in Cambridge, MA. In the midst of relentlessly plugging reddit, getting superstar geek signatures for my ROFLaptop and handing out LOLmagnetz, I came face to face with Internet legends (can I call them legends? To hell with it, I am). Pics of me with Tron Guy to come...

One of the highlights for me came on my panel, INCUBATING THE MINDVIRUS: MEME INFRASTRUCTURES, hosted by the moderator-extraordinaire, Anil Dash. And yes, he was rocking his infamous NYTimes-photographed Goatse shirt.

He asked the panel for some significant moments when you realized your meme (in my case, the whole reddit-thing) really took off. I didn't have a good answer for us, but there were two fantastic memes I saw at their humble beginnings on reddit -- one was even in attendance...

(Thanks to Doomeru of Resigned Gamer for the video)

And if that weren't enough, here's an excerpt from a recent IM convo we had:
5:06:03 PM xkcd-dude: I hope you aren't hurt
5:06:13 PM xkcd
-dude: but I've added a line to my hosts file
5:06:28 PM xkcd
-dude: so reddit resolves to localhost
5:06:36 PM xkcd
-dude: where this page is served:
Hurt? Randall, I'm in love.

here I am looking longingly into the eyes of Randall Munroe
pic from Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

In case you're curious, the other meme I hinted at is Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame, but I'm cooking up a separate blog entry just for him.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. Our ROFLhosts did a masterful job and I'm counting on them to repeat next year. Consider me signed up. If you didn't make it this year, the videos should be floating around. I've got nearly all the footage from the LOLspeak panel I moderated -- just need to find the right techno soundtrack to loop in the background.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

flowers for helen thomas: the reddit community pitches in to thank a journalist for, well, doing her job

This is really quite remarkable. What started with a post on reddit linking to the video of Helen Thomas hammering Dana Perino on the Bush administration's torture history, evolved into a self post on reddit where the community spontaneously decided to thank Thomas.

And within a couple days, redditors raised $4,100 for flowers and various other tokens of appreciation. They even setup a wiki to keep track of it all. Now the flowers have already started pouring in and we at team reddit are sending over a bobblehead with signed note.

Not to be outdone, the alien also wanted to send her some flowers, hence today's logo.

Monday, April 28, 2008

breaking: the first reddit marriage proposal

Karen's self-post rocketed up the front page. We're still waiting to see his response (to quote redditor, SeanLazer: "I'm dying to find out which arrow he clicked!").

Here's her splendid first comment to accompany the self-post:
On Bended Keyboard

I'm here because of one man : Eric Fullenbaum is a great guy. I love him, and he loves me. But he also has a love for the net, and that's why I'm here - because I know this is where he'll be!

The story: Eric is my boyfriend of six years, a classic nerd: a fantastic American guy who loves to build things through his MAC, who has code-happy fingers and has taught me loads about the Web, blogging and sites like, Joel on Software and how to appreciate a great Apple!

Unbeknownst to me, he would use the one liners describing the articles aggregated in to engage me in discussion but also to tease me and lure me into figuring out who sourced them! In spite of working in the digital space and thinking I am no web greenhorn, he outsmarted me at every turn till one of his friends helped me out! I have since become a fan myself and now do the same to my family and friends!!

More than a year ago, I was relocated to Amsterdam and Eric stayed in London. Being in a long distance relationship is hard and not for the faint-hearted. However, we keep at it and he uses Reddit to keep the flame alive whilst I use Digg and Kottke to fan it.

Six years on, the flames are still burning brightly and we both know that we will spend our lives together, with marriage on the cards. But Eric has thus far failed to bend his knee and play his hand, though I know it's time to lay the cards on the table. And so, using the very medium to which he turned me on, I am now going "all in".

Eric Fullenbaum - will you take a nerd widow and make her your wife.

Translation: Will you marry me?

Friday, April 25, 2008

one roflaptop per child

ROFLCON has been going well thus far. I'm feeling a bit starstruck after having met both Leeroy Jenkins and Tron Guy within the first thirty minutes.

I'm wearing two hats here at the conference (not literally) and I'm also working on a new breadpig project called One ROFLaptop Per Child. It basically involves me conning my fellow speakers into signing my XO laptop to auction on eBay and give the proceeds right back to OLPC. The next picture you see of this laptop will have a lot of geek celebrity signatures on it (including the Firefox!)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

how can a website with only 5 employees (reddit) have leaks?

I have no idea how those new reddit UI screenshots surfaced on Brent Csutoras' blog...

Bonus! Even Valleywag thought the redesign was newsworthy.

Given that there are only five of us, you'd think it wouldn't be too hard to figure out, but we've been too busy working on the redesign (read: rehearsing our video-reply to the below video).

As you can tell from this carefully orchestrated company-wide lip sync, digg has a metric shit ton of employees. I don't know how you do it, Jay. If I were wearing a hat right now, I'd tip it.

I can spin around in my chair and see everyone I work with.

In fact, it lets me cheat off their screens when we play StarCraft*.

*That's not true. I don't need to cheat. Unless I'm playing David. But he'd still win anyway. Moral of this story? Early base expansion is crucial to victory.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

friday afternoon high jinx at the reddit offices

Thanks to the good doctor, Chris Slowe, for taking these photos.

We'd always pass this innocuous set of signs on the way up to our floor and one day the reddit alien just couldn't resist any longer...

I think I'd better bring over a new sign and an alien bobblehead to the good folks at Cake Financial. It's a really great name.

Friday, April 18, 2008

updated the adium reddit alien dock icon

Whoops, I spoke too soon. I'd uploaded a slighty-out-of-date version of the dock icon. The new one is pending approval, so don't go updating your Adium quite yet. Sorry about that. (This be old news...)

A recent email from HunterTV prompted me to update the reddit alien dock icon I'd made a while back for Adium -- the greatest IM client in the world, ever.

There aren't any major changes, but the IM notification animation is more dramatic (look how excited the alien is!) and there's now a jolly speech bubble behind the alien when it's just chillin'.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

the alien turns 3

Whoops, I almost forgot. The alien turned three today. I need to add some more candles to that cake.

Its biographicon entry is still a work in progress -- you should help, since Wikipedia doesn't want the alien's bio.

If you need another online friend, here's the reddit alien facebook account (it says it's me, but that's only because Mark Sugarmountain made me change it from "reddit mascot"), LinkedIn account, and facebook brand page. That last one made me shudder a little bit.

Oh, and if you want to relive all the past reddit logo doodles -- check out

reddit hiring explosion! we're up to 5

The ketralnis alien is born. This was really overdue; sorry it took so long, David. He's actually been here kicking our ass at the office, kicking our asses in StarCraft, for a while now.

Folks are often quite surprised when I tell them that reddit only has five people working on it. I'm not quite sure how to take it ("Have we become that mammoth and soulless or do we just tend to assume that large websites must necessarily have a large staff?")

Craiglist is the perfect example of a dynamite employee-to-user ratio. Someone has already calculated it, I'm sure, but I'm going to guess that it's something like 1 employee for every 1 trillion users. There, you can quote me on that. That's what we're aspiring to.

We're still nowhere near that ratio, but hopefully this will help people understand why we haven't implemented tagging yet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

why nerds are unpopular (and that's ok) -- explained by south park

Paul Graham has a great essay on the subject (the pictures alone make it worth the read). It was probably the only thing I'd read of his before applying to Y Combinator (Steve was the true PG fan) and I'd always been meaning to write something of an addendum to this essay.

Then a few months back I saw this South Park episode and it said everything I wanted to, but with Abraham Lincoln -- one of our homely-est Presidents and arguably our greatest.

jimmy wales now my [facebook] friend

What, this doesn't merit a blog entry?

Last week I wrote about a shoutout in a Valleywag (yes, Owen poked back). In it, I recounted bumping into Jimmy Wales at a party a little while back. And pinned him! (with a reddit pin)

Apparently he remembered, too, and I wasn't just having another bad trip. Say what you want about Jimmy, he's a great facebook-friender.

This should be very encouraging news to startups with their logo on 1" buttons. Those who have yet to jump on the pin bandwagon are already way behind every emo band and all the startups who want to be successful.

That VC funding isn't going to spend itself. OnceInchRound is the preferred button supplier of reddit and breadpig. I was not paid to type that, but I kinda wish I were...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 traffic takes down

That's a bald-faced lie. But hopefully they'll get the site back online and you can read that stirring interview I promised. If you just can't wait, Here's the GoogleCache of it.

Then you should buy one of their t-shirts so they can afford some new servers.

mental floss asks the questions you've always wanted me to answer

David over at Mental Floss interviewed me via email last week and the results are on the Creatively Speaking blog ahead of schedule. I knew all those bribes would finally pay off.

Take a 5 minute vacation and find out my answers to these questions and more!

I guess i should lead with the absolute most important question–the one on every reader’s mind: what’s the deal with the little reddit cartoon character? Is there a story behind him/her/it? A name? A history worth sharing?
If you could have lunch with any dead person from history, who would it be and why? And it better not be the alien dude.
Oh, and I even got the chance to plug breadpig. Hurray. If you like breadpig tees (or even if you hate them), you'll love the tees over at Mental Floss. Don't miss the Lady Macbeth hand soap tee -- just don't wear it to bed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

part of a campaign to get reddit alien bobbleheads on every desk in the world

It took a bit of magic (and grayscaling) to get this animated .gif under the 30K limit, but here's my newest ad for reddit bobbleheads.

Someone already reddit-ed it with the headline "What the? This is a weird add." I can only suspect TH322 meant "ad" and that reddit isn't exhibiting some bizarre adding behavior.

So what's the verdict -- have I really lost it?

reddit karma as whuffie?

Thanks to some prompt emails from Jeremy and Tony (of RescueTime) alerting me to this ripe hunk of reddit-love, I effortlessly composed this entry. In the recent announcement of the Business of Software 2008 (it's September 3-4 in Boston).

Here's the best part of the lineup announcement:

Joel Spolsky, aka, "me," noted DJ, has over 600 karma points on the social news site "Reddit."
That's right, of all his accomplishments, Joel has decided to highlight his reddit karma score in his bio.

Frankly, I'd like to see this indicator beside the name of every panelist at these conferences. How do I make this happen?

While I figure this out, you'd better go register for BoS 08.

Oh, and you're going to StartupSchool @ Stanford this weekend, right? I just did some last-minute design work for them...

a chance to see the olympic torch, a right to protest it

I'm sorry I was out of town for this. Fortunately, the intrepid reddit Information Cowboy, Jeremy Edberg, was taking his normal commute into the office and reported on the commuter chaos.

Recently, there's been an undeniable shift in the perspective of these Olympic Games and of China. It's a bit curious considering nothing in the country has changed that dramatically, only the extent of global (or perhaps just American) awareness.

There's little talk of the air quality or modernizing facilities these days, just photos of bloodied monks and the reminder of how unfree a country China still is, despite the welcome embrace of free market wealth.

I'm still convinced we'll all be speaking in Mandarin one day (not just cursing, Firefly) -- let's just all do it in a world with civil liberties, mkay?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

valleywag teaches me a new word and proclaims our friendship all in the same article

I know you're here for the new word, which is apotheosis.

ideal: model of excellence or perfection of a kind; one having no equal

As in, Facebook's "People You May Know" feature a geek apotheosis, the headline of a recent Owen Thomas piece. Even though Y Combinator's HackerNews is banning Valleywag, I've got no beef. And when they do stuff like this, making me feel like the prettiest belle at the ball, it's hard to dislike them.

Sure, I thought Facebook was a little off when it hinted I might be friends with Jimmy Wales, but the service is barely out of beta. Other suggestions, like Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, who I met casually once at a bar, is a perfectly suited addition to my list of Facebook "friends." Thus my faith in Mark Zuckerberg's ever-improving software remains unshaken.
There you go, proof that an open bar and Mark Sugarmountain can connect people like never before.

I happened to meet Jimmy Wales briefly at a party, too -- I even gave him a reddit pin, which he wore (note to scrappy startups: begging/blackmailing Internet celebrities into wearing your schwag is perfectly acceptable. In another century, they called it "gumption"). But facebook doesn't think we should be friends. Hmpf.

BTW, Owen, I just poked you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

techzulu interview: l.a. style, in a nightclub (or the cabin of a virgin america flight -- you decide)

Really bored and have 15 minutes to kill? Here's the other footage from the Community Next conference of a couple weeks ago. That's right, I was one of the last people to sit on a panel with Veronica Belmont of Mahalo Daily. She's now Veronica Belmont of Tekzilla. I knew we should have started a redditTV show...

My voice sounds funny and the lighting cuts out half-way into it, but the TechZulu guys are good people. They're proving once and for all that there are geeks in L.A. and they like startups just as much as those NoCal kids.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

veronica belmont's cats hate reddit (or at least the alien, or bobbleheads?)

I was deeply saddened to hear this news, as we've got a strong LOLCats community on reddit. But I'm not going to use this entry to curry favor with the cat lobby. Instead of pandering, I'll issue this decree: Bring it on.

Veronica, I'd be happy to send you a new bobblehead. This one won't be stuffed with catnip.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

digg punked me for trademark infringement

Back when that whole "Twitter" thing started taking off, I promptly registered the usernames "reddit" and "digg." Both accounts were idle for quite some time because I frankly didn't think Twitter was worth using (I still don't quite get it, despite all of Scoble's declarations to the contrary).

A couple weeks ago, I was directed to twitterfeed, a nifty site that seamlessly plugs an RSS feed into Twitter. So I did what any reasonable person who owned those 2 twitter accounts would do, I plugged the reddit rss feed into "reddit" and the digg rss feed into "digg."

Quite a few friends emailed me about why I, a co-founder of reddit, would do a such a thing. I didn't see the problem. If people want to use reddit, they will. If they want to use digg, they will. Google and Yahoo still co-exist.

So my digg Twitter account was happily twittering along until this morning. Here's the email I received:

Hi There,

We've received a note from Digg regarding your Twitter account. It has come to our attention that your Twitter account:

is in violation of our Terms of Service, specifically article 6 of the General Conditions, which mentions trademark infringement:

6. We reserve the right to reclaim usernames on behalf of businesses or individuals that hold legal claim or trademark on those usernames.

To settle this issue we've changed the user name to "Digg_News" in the full name and user name fields in order to eliminate confusion. You can change your user name to something else if you'd like, but please honor the Terms of Service accordingly:

1. Visit

2. Edit the Full Name and Username fields

3. Click "Save"

We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

I guess this is the part of the blog where I'm supposed to rail against "the man," but I just don't care enough.

I'll just keep my decidedly-not-nefarious digg feed running on this new "digg_news" account and hope no one has a problem with me still using the digg logo.

it's about time. threat level earns a spot in the time top blogs index

The actual article isn't worth reading, let alone digging through all those pages to find, as they wasted the space to digress about Kevin Poulsen's hacker background.

So if all my trumpeting of Threat Level wasn't enough to convince you to add it to your RSS reader, maybe you'll take Time's word for it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

i always gnu graphjam was on to something once i saw it on reddit

Now you can find reddit on GraphJam. The indefatigable Cheez let me update his reddit button to better reflect the essence of reddit. A color-coordinated Microsoft Office logo just wouldn't cut it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

i can has... can has reddit

After working with "Cheez" to give the Internets a chance to propose and vote on questions for his upcoming ROFLCon interview, we noticed a nice change to I Can Has Cheezburger.

Take a look, not only is our button now on there, but it's also adorned with a hamster.

Cheez, you sir, are a great man.

Friday, April 04, 2008

alien bobblehead vs. mr. blonde video rockets to digg frontpage... really?

This was surprising. The digg community had no reservations digging the Reservoir Dogs ripoff to number one on the digg frontpage. The fervor continues in the comments:

Clearly this was a scientologist trying to ruin the reputation of Anonymous. (+30 diggs)
too bad i was not part of the action, let me know when the next hunt is so i can join you guys... (-7 diggs)
kind of overworked like a SNL skit. it goes on and on, you wait for it to get funny, then its done.

dugg down for 15 year old humor and lack of anything original. if you dugg this up, you are just exhibiting a conditioned response. you are a laugh track on a 'Dharma and Greg' episode. (+17 diggs)
Congrats on the submission, Burento...

submit and vote on questionable questions for questionable content

reposted from my official reddit blog entry:

You may remember last week's Q&A session with "Cheez" (not his real name) of I Can Has Cheezburger?. The result was a pretty diverse set of questions (it's not too late to vote & submit).

This week, we've got Jeph Jaques of the insanely popular webcomic, Questionable Content. Submit a question using the novel reddit "self" post and put the question in the title field. Jeph will be answering the best questions during ROFLCon this April in Cambridge, MA.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

reddit gets a wsj journal shoutout, the triumph of a project that started as a gawker shirt slogan generator

Next week, the Dillard's Web site will start using technology from Reddit, a social news site acquired by Condé Nast in 2006.

The latest example involves Condé Nast, which designed a shopping and social-networking promotion for the retailer Dillard's. The promotion, to kick off next week, uses tools from news-aggregation site Reddit, which Condé Nast bought in 2006. It lets visitors to Dillard's Web site vote on merchandise that later will be featured in online ads.

I remember when I first got pitched the idea of using a stripped down reddit to let Gawker readers submit and vote on t-shirt slogans. It wasn't a stretch for us technologically and I'd been able to work out a pretty good deal for the work. If you'd asked me then whether it had the potential to drive as much revenue as it does now, I probably have laughed and made a joke about dot-coms and "generating revenue."

But after working with our lovely partners at Gawker, we updated the product and built the tools to reduce our workload as much as possible. The end result got overhauled by Jeremy not long after he joined us at Condé Nast and the self-serve tool has been a hit ever since.

I spent a good chunk of my time in New York giving presentations on the tool and doing more general proselytizing reddit and explaining just what the hell we were doing there :)

The response was remarkably positive and I began handing out administrator accounts throughout the company with some lightweight documentation (Jeremy, a veteran of eBay/Paypal had baked most of it right into the app -- making both of our lives immeasurably easier). Next time, Jeremy, we'll make sure you get a quote and stipple portrait. You've earned it.

I'm quite pleased with all the creative projects teams around the company have built with our core software. Some of the designs have been quite innovative; it's a great example of just how little you know about your software until you let someone else create something with it. And best of all, it's been fairly seamless -- reddit polls get launched daily without much fuss and the pageviews roll in.

You can never assume you wholly know your own software -- you'll be surprised to find out what hidden products may lie within, just be flexible enough to try some out. You're a startup, after all, just buy an extra case of redbull and get it online.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

the alien is gone!

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the alien should please contact me. I've caved and joined the Twitter ranks. I hear it's helpful for this sort of thing.

Consider this an online "Amber Alert." Thanks.