1. What is Reddit?
Reddit, founded in 2005, is a large-scale collection of forums and is currently the most popular news community in the United States (Gilbert, 2013). Reddit focuses on topics and interests, rather than human-centred social media like Facebook and Twitter (Singer et al., 2014). People can freely share news and content on Reddit, or comment on others’ posts (Widman, 2021).
Reddit users, known as Redditors, share news, pictures, memos, interesting online content, and initiate discussions around areas of interest to them. Redditors’ influence comes not from the number of followers they have, but from Karma (a kind of Reddit score). The more Redditors add to the discussion through comments or posts, the more Karma they collect. This encourages Redditors to produce serious, interesting content because a negative attitude can lead to negative reviews. Also, the more votes a post or comment gets, or positive Karma, the more obvious its location becomes. Posts that get a lot of support are likely to become front pages, or R /popular. The comments from those posts that get the most Karma will also be moved to the top of the post, which also gets more views.
The majority of Reddit’s content is sourced from its audience, rather than being produced by official media, which has helped Reddit earn a huge amount of traffic. Reddit’s sub-community is known as subreddits. The audience posts corresponding content on different subreddits, and then people with the same interest gather on certain subreddits, creating a sense of belonging and forming a unique community culture. For example, AskReddit is one of the hottest ‘Ask’ subreddits with 31.6 million members (Jenkins, 2019). On this subreddit, people can ask questions, express their opinions on a topic and even spark a large-scale discussion.
2. How does Reddit build user loyalty?
As a content aggregator, Unlike other sites that rely on data mining to move content directly, Reddit’s content aggregators rely entirely on human labour. Registered users post content and links, and other users vote, leave comments, and rate content with high scores that can be placed on the front page of the site or section.
Users directly determine everything on Reddit. They produce content, sift through hot news and meet people on 50 interest subboards under the site. Highly recognized posts will have very high popularity on Reddit to encourage more people to engage in discussions. Also, the collision between different opinions can create a positive social atmosphere and attract more new users to join Reddit.
There is much high-quality and innovative content on Reddit, and it is a platform that helps users freely share ideas and creations. Users can create and manage their communities on Reddit, which helps increase user stickiness and loyalty. Also, Reddit users can attract more people through social media and advertising, thereby increasing the visibility of Reddit.
3. Broken Windows: The negative impact of user involvement in content creation
Low-quality content on online platforms is likely to cause Cognitive fatigue among users. The threshold of the news industry requires the quality of content producers. A study by the University of Notre Dame in the US found that Reddit has caused cognitive fatigue in its users. The uneven quality of the information has made Reddit increasingly a title reader. 75% of posts forwarded and voted by users are not read or even clicked on by them (Glenski, Pennycuff & Weninger, 2017).
In addition, since most readers have not received professional journalism education, they are prone to be influenced by personal opinions in writing, which affects the professionalism of reporting. The “Broken Windows” theory, proposed by political scientist Wilson and criminologist Kelling, holds that if a building has broken windows, and these windows are not repaired, this may stimulate people to break more windows. In other words, if a terrible or harmful environment exists for a long time, it will breed more dangerous and illegal behaviours. In user autonomous communities such as Reddit, the broken window effect is more obvious, and a temporary loss of order may lead to large-scale chaos (De Choudhury & De, 2014). Sunil Tripathi, a missing student in the 2013 Boston bombings, was wrongly identified by Reddit users as a suspect in the bombing. Angry Reddit users launched a human flesh search for him and flooded his and his family’s Facebook pages with curses. Erik Martin, General manager of Reddit, was later forced to apologize and criticize users for “dangerous speculation” on Reddit (Funaro, 2013).
In November 2017, Reddit shut down a group called Incel. This is a sexist place. At first, the members were mostly whining bachelors who accused women of being “shallow” and failing to recognize their strengths. But the rhetoric became more extreme, with some members advocating “rape is justified” and seeing women’s refusal to have sex with them as a “violation of their human rights”; The members then start researching how to commit rape and get away with it (Hathaway, 2021). Reddit eventually decided to shut down the group, but the members felt they were the victims — they had lost the only forum where such topics could be openly discussed.
4. How does Reddit make money?
Reddit generated $140 million in revenue in 2020, mostly from advertising. There are two types of advertising on Reddit. One of these advertising models is called “top buy”, which gives customers 24 hours of exposure to the most valuable brands on the front page of a website or community with high traffic. When the audience enters the community, the guest brand will also appear in the top banner and the advertising space at the top of the sidebar. Another advertising model is “tiered targeting”, which is a more nuanced way of integrating content from sponsors into forums. Specifically, companies publish topics in relevant subdirectories (or subcategories) so that advertisers can reach the most targeted audience. The audience can also choose whether or not to join the discussion community based on their own interests. This is actually to give autonomy to the audience and avoid the audience’s aversion to advertisers. After that, the platform will expand the sponsor’s post to other relevant sub-content based on the dissemination effect, so that more ads will be displayed more widely on the site.
Reddit currently generates more than $100 million in AD revenue. While it’s not on par with Twitter, Google, and Facebook, which are worth billions of dollars, Reddit’s long days and audience engagement have made it a hit with businesses. In addition, Reddit introduced its most popular “AMA” activities to business owners and set up a dedicated “brand safety” section to help companies defend their brands (Anderson, 2015). For example, Reddit has dedicated teams to follow up on suspicious content or offensive language posted by its audience. Currently, Reddit is in the midst of rapid growth and needs to balance commercial interests with audience experience, without alienating audiences, while minimizing restrictions on advertisers’ content in order to increase profitability.
While Reddit has grown rapidly, it has managed audience production through tight coordination and alerting mechanisms. Due to the continuous upgrading and optimization of Reddit’s content, openness, supervision and advertising, the platform is more in line with the audience’s Posting habits and aesthetics and has become another well-known and favourite content aggregation platform after Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon.
Reddit: An online news community platform by Yuefeng Wang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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De Choudhury, M., & De, S. (2014). Mental health discourse on reddit: Self-disclosure, social support, and anonymity. In Eighth international AAAI conference on weblogs and social media.
Funaro, K. (2013). Reddit apologizes for falsely accusing student of bombings. In Salon. Retrieved from https://www.salon.com/2013/04/23/reddit_apologizes_for_falsely_accusing_student_of_bombings_partner/
Gilbert, E. (2013). Widespread underprovision on Reddit. Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 803–808. ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2441776.2441866
Glenski, M., Pennycuff, C., & Weninger, T. (2017). Consumers and Curators: Browsing and Voting Patterns on Reddit. IEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems, 4(4), 196–206. https://doi.org/10.1109/TCSS.2017.2742242
Hathaway, J. (2021). Why Reddit finally banned one of its most misogynistic forums. In Daily dot. Retrieved from https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/reddit-incels-ban/
Jenkins, B. (2019). Here Are The 20 Best Boredom-Busting Subreddits to Follow. In Dotdash. Retrieved from https://www.liveabout.com/subreddits-you-should-be-following-4152157
Singer, P., Flöck, F., Meinhart, C., Zeitfogel, E., & Strohmaier, M. (2014). Evolution of reddit: from the front page of the internet to a self-referential community? Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on World Wide Web, 517–522. ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2567948.2576943
Widman, J. (2021). What is Reddit?. In Digital Trends . Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/web/what-is-reddit/