Reddit launches Upvoted (link), a standalone news site, to surface interesting news from Reddit itself. Unlike Reddit, the site will have no comments, and despite the name, no voting. A team of around ten will find stories on Reddit, verify the details, interview the original posters, and then write articles for Upvoted. At launch, the site will share around 10 to 20 stories a day, rising to 40.
Everything will have a direct tie back to Reddit. I want to find the tiny thread that connects it back to Reddit…The stuff our community creates on a daily basis blows our mind. Unfortunately, rather than telling that story, some news outlets take our users’ content and repackage it as their own. They don’t tell the backstory of our communities. We think our users’ stories need to be told, but with them at the center of it.
McAfee conducts a Reddit AMA, where he talks about society:
Here’s what I’ve learned. People will be people, you can trust no one. It’s not a bad thing/cynical. I trust people to be people, to act in their own self-interests. If you understand that, you can use that! People will be disloyal, I’ve heard there are wives that sleep around, etc. We are disloyal, but loving, kind, gracious. We are a contradiction, the negatives are not bad if you see them for what they are. You cannot trust people, big deal, you CAN trust them to be self-interested, and I use that all the f-cking time.
The most beautiful in the world. It has a barrier reef, 2nd in the world. I had 5 boats on the beach on the ocean, you try that anywhere else. It has jungles and ruins that haven’t even been explored. The problem is that it has people there, people descended from pirates. There is nothing illegal that the government there is not into. The government is smart if you just go there as an American you will not be bothered. I lived in the jungles where I was the only white person, and they were on to me. They asked me for $2M, weeks later 40+ armed men stormed my house, shot my favorite dog, and held me in the sun with my hands tied. The next day the congressman came and apologized asked for the $2M again. I should have done that rather than tell him to get the f-ck off my property.
Money corrupts. Once you have enough money, you have no friends, none, even the most dedicated friend you had cannot stop thinking about his mortgage, or new car, or new wife, and friendship ends. Second, your life becomes a nightmare. I was getting 1000/day asking for help, or asking for me to invest (the best was rocket-power roller skates, I almost invested). Money now has become information, how does Google live? They gather information on smartphones and their services. This is far worse than paper. Paper doesn’t try to get into your head, to find out who you’re f-cking, etc. We are all jealous, hopeful and ambitious, and as long as that exists we’ll all have chaos.
Reddit bans several offensive communities that focus on racist content, such as Coontown, WatchNiggersDie and CoonTownMeta. Subreddits that feature animated” child pornography are also banned. The company also introduces an updated Content Policy that prohibits any posts that are illegal, incites violence, harasses or threatens users or includes sexually explicit content taken without the person’s permission. Offensive communities that don’t necessarily break these rules but are nonetheless considered profane or “upsetting” may now be “quarantined,” meaning users have to opt in to see the content. Some may also have NSFW tag. CEO Huffman’s official statement:
Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations. I believe these policies strike the right balance.
Huffman’s later comment:
We didn’t ban them because we disagree with them. We banned them because this exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else.
In an article for The Washington Post, Pao says trolls are winning the “battle for the internet”. She says that, while at Reddit, she and several colleagues, were targeted with harassing messages, attempts to post her private information online and death threats.
I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history. And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack…Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet. But that balancing act is getting harder. The trolls are winning.
The foundations of the Internet were laid on free expression, but the founders just did not understand how effective their creation would be for the coordination and amplification of harassing behavior. Or that the users who were the biggest bullies would be rewarded with attention for their behavior. Or that young people would come to see this bullying as the norm — as something to emulate in an effort to one-up each other…
No one has figured out the best place to draw the line between bad and ugly — or whether that line can support a viable business model. So it’s left to all of us to figure it out, to call out abuse when we see it. As the trolls on Reddit grew louder and more harassing in recent weeks, another group of users became more vocal. First a few sent positive messages. Then a few more. Soon, I was receiving hundreds of messages a day, and at one point thousands. These messages were thoughtful, well-written and heartfelt…As the threats became really violent, people ended their messages with “stay safe.” Eventually, users started responding on Reddit itself, using accurate information and supportive messages to fight back against the trolls. In the battle for the Internet, the power of humanity to overcome hate gives me hope. I’m rooting for the humans over the trolls. I know we can win.
Blount quits after less than two months on the job as Reddit Chief Engineer, having come there from Facebook. She said her move is not directly linked to Pao’s exit, but noted that she had lost confidence in the new direction of the company, and that she could not deliver on promises being made to the community.
I feel like there are going be some big bumps on the road ahead for Reddit. Along the way, there are some very aggressive implied promises being made to the community — in comments to mods, quotes from board members — and they’re going to have some pretty big challenges in meeting those implied promises.
Blount says she believes Pao’s exit was an indirect consequence of gender discrimination, and that Pao had been placed on a “glass cliff” — a term used to describe women being set up for failure by being put in leadership roles during crises.
Victoria wasn’t on a glass cliff. But it’s hard for me to see it any other way than Ellen was. [However] I wouldn’t say my decision to leave was directly related to my gender.
Huffman participates in a Reddit AMA (link). On bringing back controversial subreddits:
Unlikely. Creating a clear content policy is another of my immediate priorities. We will make it very clear what is and is not acceptable behavior on reddit. This is still a work in progress, but our thinking is along these lines: Nothing illegal. Nothing that undermines the integrity of reddit. Nothing that causes other individuals harm or to fear for their well-being. Banning content will be a last resort…I don’t want to ever ban content. Sometimes, however, I feel we have no choice because we want to protect reddit itself.
Of course the board wants to see growth. I want to see growth, too. We’re not going to see much growth without serious product efforts, and we’re not going to get serious product efforts without more resources. Fortunately, I have the ability to get those resources, so that’s what I’ll do.
Pao resigns from Reddit (statement). She will be replaced by Huffman, but will remain as an adviser to Reddit’s board for the remainder of 2015.
It became clear that the board and I had a different view on the ability of Reddit to grow this year. Because of that, it made sense to bring someone in that shared the same view.
I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.
Reddit board member, Altman:
Ellen has done a phenomenal job, especially in the last few months.
In her first statement since she was fired from the site, Taylor thanks her supporters (full text):
I’ve had some time to think about how to respond to the extraordinary kindness and support you’ve shown me. And here it is: I’ll never forget my time at reddit. You allowed me to be a part of some of the greatest conversations of our time, and it was an honor to be your ambassador. I just want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who have reached out.
Thank you for everything you’ve given me. From your messages to your artwork, I am deeply moved and grateful beyond words, and your encouragement has meant more than you’ll ever know. I’ve been incredibly humbled and honored to serve this community, and I truly believe all voices matter. Your voices matter. You proved that this weekend. And really, this weekend wasn’t about me. It was about you. And if I know one thing about this community, it’s that you’ll continue making your voices heard. And that’s an inspiration.
Pao makes an announcement as to how she plans on fixing her mistakes on Reddit.
We screwed up. Not just on July 2, but also over the past several years. We haven’t communicated well, and we have surprised moderators and the community with big changes. We have apologized and made promises to you, the moderators and the community, over many years, but time and again, we haven’t delivered on them. When you’ve had feedback or requests, we haven’t always been responsive. The mods and the community have lost trust in me and in us, the administrators of reddit.
Today, we acknowledge this long history of mistakes. We are grateful for all you do for reddit, and the buck stops with me …
I know these are just words, and it may be hard for you to believe us. I don’t have all the answers, and it will take time for us to deliver concrete results. I mean it when I say we screwed up, and we want to have a meaningful ongoing discussion. I know we’ve drifted out of touch with the community as we’ve grown and added more people, and we want to connect more. I and the team are committed to talking more often with the community, starting now.
Thank you for listening. Please share feedback here. Our team is ready to respond to comments.
In the midst of AMA admin Victoria Taylor’s termination, reddit moderator Dacvak is fired, with Ellen Pao citing his illness as the reason. Dacvak posts an AMA about his time at reddit and his termination, but all his answers are deleted shortly after (archive).
In a response to the earlier removal of Taylor, over 2/5s of the default subreddits that comprise the bulk of user page views make themselves private. Several hundred normal subreddits also take themselves down in protest. Some smaller subreddits and Reddit’s competition, Voat, have seen a boost in traffic as a result. A moderator from /r/pics:
Most people are saying that Victoria leaving was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Reddit’s failing at communication with moderators (and users) goes so far back, even to when I wasn’t on this site.
Ohanian makes an announcement in regards to Taylor’s removal.
We don’t talk about specific employees, but I do want you to know that I’m here to triage AMA requests in the interim. All AMA inquiries go to [email protected] where we have a team in place…I posted this on [a mod sub] but I’m reposting here:
We get that losing Victoria has a significant impact on the way you manage your community. I’d really like to understand how we can help solve these problems, because I know r/IAMA thrived before her and will thrive after…We’re prepared to help coordinate and schedule AMAs. I’ve got the inbound coming through my inbox right now and many of the people who come on to do AMAs are excited to do them without assistance (most recently, the noteworthy Channing Tatum AMA).
This is met with harsh criticism and has a total comment score of under -2500.
The site celebrates its 10th birthday in a blog post that contains statistics about the site’s growth over the years.
Wow. Here we are, ten years later.
- 190,227,552 posts
- 1,715,454,785 comments
- 16,063,942,290 upvotes
- 36,136,190 user accounts
Together we’ve donated over $1.8 million to Extra Life, Haiti, teachers, and Nepal. We donated another $827,659.49—10% of our 2014 ad revenue—to the top 10 charities of your choice. You’ve also donated a huge amount that we can’t begin to track through individual subreddit campaigns and spontaneous events like this.
You guys really are amazing. Thank you for making the last 10 years of Reddit amazing too. Here’s to the next 10 years.
Pao enrages the users of Reddit by deleting /r/fatpeoplehate, a major subreddit with over one hundred and fifty thousand users, as well as four smaller subreddits. Pao says the act is to stop harassment:
We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment…It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward. We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.
Users accuse Pao for censorship, even those that don’t like the subreddit.
The Button has had one million different people press it in the two month and two days since its origin, which represents a little over one tenth of the total population of all Reddit accounts.
In an attempt to reduce the possibility of a wage gap existing within Reddit, Interim CEO Pao removes the ability of employees to negotiate for their wages at reddit. Instead employees are offered a salary on a take it or leave it basis. This is due to findings that men are better at negotiating their salaries and as such usually end up with a slightly better salary than their female counterparts. Pao urges other companies to do the same, claiming that it is an important step in gender equality.
When somebody comes in we figure out what role they’re applying for, what band they’re in and we give them what we think is a fair salary in that band. It takes a lot of tension out of the process, we’ve had people apply to Reddit just because of that policy.
Reddit adds a countdown button as an April Fool’s joke.
The timer will count down from 60 seconds. If the button is pressed the timer will reset to 60 seconds and continue counting down. Only users logged into accounts created before 2015-04-01 can press the button. You may only press the button once. We can’t tell you what to do from here on out. The choice is yours.
The timer will count down from 60 seconds, but every time someone presses the button before it hits zero, it resets back to 60 and starts the countdown all over again. When the button is pressed, users get a badge, known as “flair,” that they can add to their profile. The flair’s color depends on how long the person waits to press the button. Those who have not pressed the button have gray flair. Those who press from 60-52 seconds get purple flair, and so on, down to red flair for those who wait longest. As of April 16, 751,354 people have pressed the button.
Altman leads Reddit’s $50 million Series B round with Andreesen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, as well as individual investors including Leto, Dogg, Kushner, Livingston, Kevin and Julia Hartz, Mariam Naficy, and Reddit CEO Yishan Wong. Valuation is $500 million. Altman:
I’m willing to be very patient. I don’t have any particular timeframe in mind. I believe that the community is very valuable and that the value will continue to increase. Up to the company if they want to share cashflow details, but they run the company efficiently.
Reddit hires Morrissey after acquiring his Alien Blue app. Reddit:
We are pleased to announce that the most popular iOS client for Reddit, Alien Blue, is now an official Reddit app. We’re also happy to say that its lead developer, Jase Morrissey, has joined us as our first Aussie. We have been working closely with Jase for the past several years, and are thrilled to officially welcome him to our team.
Altman announces in an AMA that he and other investors in the latest round are giving part of their shares to users of the site:
We’re working on a way to give 10% of our shares from this round to the reddit community. I hope we can increase community ownership over time–I’ve always thought communities like reddit should mostly own themselves, and that it’s time for some innovation around corporate structure here. I’m giving the company a voting proxy on my shares.
Reddit administrators ban the page where many hacked photos of naked celebrities landed when they flooded the internet almost a week earlier. Reddit managers were continuously trying to keep the stolen pictures off of that page, but users kept re-posting them.
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. But it became obvious that we were either going to have to watch these subreddits constantly, or shut them down. We chose the latter.
Bill Gates does an AMA on Reddit, where he discusses vaccines, climate change, And Steve Jobs.
Original thread here. A summary of Gates’ answers can be found here.
Rep. Lofgren (D-Calif.) posts a revised and expanded “Aaron’s Law” — her proposal to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in honor of Aaron Swartz to Reddit. The new draft addresses some of the concerns that were raised when the first proposal was made public. The bill de-criminalizes terms of service violations and defines what “access without authorization” actually means, the main concern of a number of legal experts such as Lawrence Lessig or the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Marcia Hoffmann, who were concerned about the clarity Lofgren’s original proposal. The new bill also ensures that changing one’s IP or MAC address is not a violation of either the CFAA or the Wire Fraud act.
Swartz body is found by his girlfriend at his home in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn at around 9.30am. He was 26. Swartz’ attorney confirms in an email to The Tech blog.
The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true
He left no suicide note. Swartz’s mother writes on Hacker News:
Aaron has been depressed about his case/upcoming trial, but we had no idea what he was going through was this painful. Aaron was a terrific young man. He contributed a lot to the world in his short life and I regret the loss of all the things he had yet to accomplish. As you can imagine, we all miss him dearly. The grief is unfathomable.
TechCrunch hears a rumor that Reddit is planning a funding round that values it around twice 2011 levels.
As a result of the Gawker story, Brutsch is fired from his job. Brutsch said that he had warned his boss of the article before receiving a call Saturday telling him to not return to the office. Brutsch:
All my remote access has been disabled, my health insurance and FSA were cancelled immediately (so they had to drag someone in over the weekend to do that). At this point, if any of the dozens of death threats I’ve gotten were to make good on their promises, at least my wife would have the insurance.
Brutsch’s supporters on Reddit launch a campaign to donate money to the newly unemployed Brutsch and he released his email address on Reddit so supporters could donate money to his PayPal account.
Gawker outs Brutsch, a 49-year-old computer programmer from Texas, as the the real-life identity of “Violentacrez”, a Reddit moderator, who had set up more than a hundred sub-forums (called sub-reddits) where users could share links and images of underage girls, rape fantasy and upskirt photos. Brutsch shuts down his Violentacrez username after Gawker reporter Adrian Chen tells him he knows his identity. He returns to the site with the new handle “mbrutsch”. In response to the exposé of Violentacres’ identity, a number of Reddit moderators ban Gawker links from their subreddits.
Forbes reports that the company has updated its incorporation papers in Delaware. Advance has recapitalized Reddit, taking it out of the Conde Nast division, and allowing Reddit employees to own a sizable minority of newly issued stock. Advance bought $20 million in stock as part of the recapitalization and put in provisions saying that if the company is sold for less than $240 million, the conversion terms will change and Advance will get a bigger piece. It says this implies Reddit is on track to be worth at least $240 million.
President Obama participates in a surprise open question-and-answer session on the Web community Reddit, as the subject of one of the site’s regular “Ask Me Anything” threads. Reddit’s site experienced some outages immediately following the announcement, due to increased traffic.
Ohanian publishes an Ebook which includes his thoughts on the growth of Reddit and Hipmunk:
And this marvelous community of communities owes its existence to a massive advertising budget of…$500. To date that is the sum total of money that has been spent advertising reddit. Five hundred dollars, and every dollar of it spent on stickers. Yes, stickers: the soundest investment I ever made. I used to travel around the country a lot (thank you, Chinatown bus), and everywhere I went I took stickers with me. I put them on signs, poles, and even other advertisements.
In a video for Udacity, Huffman and Ohanian reveal that they used fake accounts to populate the site in its earliest days. Huffman:
You would go to Reddit in the early days, the first couple of months and there’d be tons of… fake users
Through those fake accounts, Huffman and Ohanian submitted high-quality content — the type of articles they wanted to read. This “set the tone” for the site as whole, Huffman says and, at the same time, made it look populated.
Ohanian tells the magazine about his conversation with Graham after Y Combinator rejected his initial pitch:
The next morning, on the train back to Virginia, hung over, somewhere in the middle of Connecticut, I get a call from Paul. He says, “I’m sorry, we made a mistake. We don’t like your idea, but we like you guys.” We got off the train, and I was able to sweet-talk the Amtrak lady into not charging us to turn around. In our conversation, Paul said, “You guys need to build the front page of the Internet.” That was all Paul, and that became Reddit. We built Reddit in three weeks.
The buyout also happened partly by chance:
The acquisition by Condé Nast basically started with a Halloween party, where we met a reporter who introduced me to a freelancer for Wired who told her boss about us. That editor’s husband was the biz-dev guy at Condé Nast. He worked on a licensing deal with us, and everything worked great. So we started talking money. Founders are supposed to be not at all interested in selling. But there is a price at which a founder can’t help being interested.
Reddit splits from Condé Nast, and now operates as a subsidiary of Condé Nast’s parent company, Advance Publications. Ohanian return to the board. At this time the site serves 1.5 billion page views per month.
For the first time Alexa shows Digg’s reach being eclipsed by Reddit. According to the online ranking service, Reddit is now the 117th most popular site on the web, while Digg has fallen to 138th.
According to Peter Kafka of All Things D, Condé Nast wants to spin-off Reddit for $200 million. The theory is that taking Reddit outside of Condé Nast’s corporate structure would make the site that much more valuable, and would give it a better chance to compete for capital, managers and employees alongside the likes of startups like Quora, StackExchange, and others.
After investigators at MIT began to suspect that someone is illegally downloading material from the JSTOR archive they trace the leak to a basement wiring closet where they find a laptop and external hard drive hooked up directly to a network. The laptop and the hard drive are hidden from view by a cardboard box. Secret Service Agent Michael places a surveillance camera in the closet. The surveillance images show Swartz entering the closet three days in a row. Using his white bicylce helmet as a mask, Swartz attempts to cover his face from the cameras as he tries to retrieve the computer equipment that he left their weeks before. On January 6th an officer sees Swartz attempt to leave MIT property with the laptop and hard drive. At 2:11 p.m. Swartz is ID’d on a bicycle on Massachusetts Avenue by an MIT police officer, according to his own report. That report states that when he encounters Captain Albert Pierce of the MIT Police Department, Swartz jumps off his bike and runs down Lee Street. He runs approximately 400 feet before being handcuffed and charged with breaking and entering.
Members of the Christianity subreddit hold a fundraiser for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Members of the atheism subreddit decide to hold an alternative fundraiser for World Vision’s Clean Water Fund. Later, the Islam subreddit joins, raising money for Islamic Relief. In less than a week, $200,000 is raised, mostly by the atheism subreddit, though the Christianity subreddit has a higher donation amount per subscriber.
Huffman leaves Reddit to start Hipmunk with Goldstein. Hipmunk is a travel search site that helps people book flights easily by presenting flight results in a visual timeline that allows people to select the best flight for them at a glance. The site is funded by Y Combinator.
Livingston interviews Ohanian about the early days of Reddit. Livingston asks about the “Chicken and egg” problem of building a community with no initial users:
This is one that I have no hesitation in saying, but it always stirs up a lot of controversy. Steve [Huffman] built a really simple system for admins, that is Steve and me, so that when we submitted a link also let us type in a user name. It let us easily and efficiently create lots of fake users. And we were able to browbeat a few of our friends to build up comments. But the rest of our friends and family could not be begged or bribed enough to do it really consistently. The only option we had to resort to was to fake it. But we didn’t have to do it for too long because Paul [Graham] did us a big favor by [profiling us] us in an early essay.
It was at some point about three or four weeks into it that neither Steve or I had to submit or vote on anything, and the site just worked…We could spend the day just lurking on Reddit, that is just using it like the vast majority of people do and not actually generate content. That was huge. That was when we realized, maybe we haven’t wasted this summer and we had a legitimate community.
Ohanian talks about how Y Combinator helped shape the idea for Reddit in the early stages:
We approached Y Combinator … with an idea that would transform the way you order food, specifically using a cell phone to do so. They didn’t really like the idea. They liked us, but they hated the idea.
They still didn’t have a firm idea, but sat down with Graham and talked about a site that would filter the most interesting web content.
…it was in that conversation with Paul where we developed this idea for creating a way to find out what’s new online.
The idea morphed into the final product:
All the actual mechanics of how that would work, basically happened in the next few weeks, while Steve [Huffman] and I were in a crap apartment, in Bedford, Massachusetts, playing a lot of Warcraft.
Reddit user MrGrim creates Imgur, an image hosting service. The user describes it as his gift to Reddit:
I got fed up with all the other image hosts out there so I made my own. It doesn’t force you to compress your images, and it has neat things like crop, resize, rotate, and compression from 10-100. It’s my gift to you. Let’s not see anymore imageshack/photobucket around here 😉 I’ll be listening if anyone has some suggestions.
Reddit becomes an open source project. All of of the code, except for its anti-spam and cheating code, becomes freely available on Github.
Ohanian keeps the exact amount a secret, but appears to confirm the price range.
People ask how much it was for, but I haven’t even told my girlfriend. I tell her, ‘You can Google it, and you’ll find it was between $10 million and $20 million.’
Condé Nast Publications acquires Reddit for a reported $20 million. All four Reddit employees relocate from Boston to Wired’s San Francisco office and become part of Wired Digital, which the company bought three months previously. Conde Naste:
Our goal will be to build Reddit as an independent company by collaborating with Wired through the integration of its core technology, and by offering partnerships to allow other companies to do the same.
At this time the site has 70,000 daily unique visitors and approximately 700,000 or so page views.
Aaron Swartz merges Infogami with Reddit where he joins Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. The four Reddit staff work out of a small 3-bedroom apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Reddit is founded by Huffman and Ohanian both 22-year-old graduates of the University of Virginia. In first year they had rooms across the hall from each other, and became friends through video games.
Huffman wanted to make a phone system to order subs while he was pumping gas at a local gas stand. Ohanian calls a lawyer and they formed a company called RedBrick Solutions, because Charlottesville is full of red brick buildings. In the spring of their senior year they go to Boston to see a presentation by Graham at Harvard called “How to start a start-up”. They were able to get Graham to meet them for drinks at a local bar where they pitched their phone idea. A few days later, Graham tells them to apply for his new investment fund, Y Combinator. The students travel to Boston to pitch, but are rejected. On the way back to Charlottesville Graham calls them to say he wants them to come up with another idea — a web app. They decide to match the mechanism of Delicious with the content of Slashdot to build “the front page to the web”.
Y Combinator gives them $12,000 and they move to Boston in early June, 2005. After a few weeks the site is not ready when Graham links to it from an essay, giving it site 1000 hits. Reddit was the first Y Combinator launch, taking a total of $100,000. To make the site appear popular they populate it with fake posts.