Does Reddit Suck Now? The Numbers Say: Yes

2008-03-23 15:24 - Opinion

I've been using the social media site (ick, what a phrase) Reddit for a while now. I can say for sure that it's been over two years, based on the data I'm about to show you. There's been a general feeling of decline recently however, that I've felt and that and I've seen others discuss, in comments and even whole posts (though I could only google up one of them). I'm a bit of a numbers man, so I decided to see if they backed me up.

I wrote a quick greasemonkey script to gather all my upvotes and downvotes. (Note: I'm purposely not distributing it, so as to not encourage any more hammering of Reddit's servers.) Reddit only gives you a human friendly "X Ys ago" view, i.e. "5 days ago" or "3 months ago" data about a post. So, I grouped the data by month. And ended up throwing away data over 12 months ago; the difference in grouping forced it to be horrible outliers. (And, 2006 had only the tiniest bit of data, making it a further outlier.) So here, I'm presenting the past 12 months. Both the total number of votes, and the ratio of upvotes to downvotes.

What we can see rather directly from these numbers is that Reddit has become much more popular (and/or I've become more active) in the past 12 months, and that quality has declined over the same period.

And, we can see that I was either distracted or disinterested for September and October of 2007. In the five months before that, I averaged 224 votes per month, and a 44.89% rate of upvotes. In the five months after that, the numbers became 492 and 40.47%. Distinct rise and drop. Or, the common hypothesis appears to hold: the "riff raff" has arrived, reddit has become more popular, and the old-school reddit types are being outnumbered by vapid "pics", politics outside the politics subreddit (not to mention the same stuff over and over), and all the rest of the "common denominator" set.

It's too bad. Reddit used to be a place that I could go and be rather sure of finding both interesting links, and valuable commentary on said interesting material. If I read a good article, but didn't understand something, or was curious about a particular piece, it used to be that I could reliably find answers and details in the comments. Now it's lame two-word jokes, quotes from popular media, and similarly pointless drivel. Reddit isn't worthless, it's just much less valuable than it once was.


2008-03-23 16:26 - gyardley

Although I've never been an active commenter on any social news site, it reminds me of an early Reddit in some ways.

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