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Reddit Inc.
reddit logo
Foundation dateJune 2005 (2005-06)
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Steve Huffman
Alexis Ohanian
Key peopleYishan Wong (CEO)
Slogan(s)The front page of the internet
Alexa rankpositive decrease 86 (November 2013)[2]
Type of siteSocial news
AdvertisingBanner ads
RegistrationOptional (required to submit, comment or vote)
Available inMultilingual
Current statusActive
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Reddit Inc.
reddit logo
Foundation dateJune 2005 (2005-06)
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Steve Huffman
Alexis Ohanian
Key peopleYishan Wong (CEO)
Slogan(s)The front page of the internet
Alexa rankpositive decrease 86 (November 2013)[2]
Type of siteSocial news
AdvertisingBanner ads
RegistrationOptional (required to submit, comment or vote)
Available inMultilingual
Current statusActive

Reddit /ˈrɛdɪt/,[3] stylized as reddit,[4] is a social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the form of either a link or a text ("self") post. Other users then vote the submission "up" or "down", which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site's pages and front page. Content entries are organized by areas of interest called "subreddits".

Reddit was founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. It was acquired by Condé Nast Publications in October 2006. In September 2011, Reddit was split from Condé Nast as a subsidiary of Condé Nast's parent company, Advance Publications. In 2012, Reddit was spun off and re-incorporated and now operates as an independent entity.[5] Reddit is based in San Francisco, California.


The site is a collection of entries submitted by its registered users, essentially a bulletin board system.

Registered users, especially those who post new entries, or post comments to entries, are called "redditors", a portmanteau of "reddit editor". Reddit itself is a portmanteau of "read/edit" and of "read it", e.g., "I read it on Reddit".

As submissions post to the site, redditors can vote for or against them (upvote/downvote). Each subreddit has a front page that shows newer submissions that have been rated highly. Redditors can also post comments about the submission, and respond back and forth in a conversation tree of comments; the comments themselves can also be upvoted and downvoted.

Redditors commemorate their "cake day" once a year. This is the anniversary of the day they first joined reddit. The exact date and time of a redditor's cake day can be discovered on the user overview page by rolling over the length of time the site dates the redditor has been a member.

The home page of Reddit displays front page content from selected subreddits. There is a default set, but registered users can customize their set.

Redditors can "friend" one another, which gives a redditor quick access to posting and comments of their friend list.

Postings are typically a link to an external source, with a title provided by the redditor who posted it. Some redditors use the site as a personal bookmark collection. Others, relying on the size and activity of Reddit, and on the crowd sourced ratings of links, use it as a news aggregator.

Reddit also allows postings that do not link externally. These are called "self posts" or "text submissions". Reddit encourages links over text submissions, by allowing redditors to accumulate points ("karma") for highly rated links, but not for self-posts. Redditors also accumulate karma for highly rated comments, on posts of both kinds.

The commenting system and friend system, along with a certain "Reddit ethos" (called reddiquette on Reddit), lend Reddit aspects of a social network, though not to the extent of Facebook, Google+, and other websites aimed at social networking.

Front page rank, for both the general front page and for individual subreddits, is determined by the age of the submission, positive ("upvoted") to negative ("downvoted") feedback ratio and the total vote count.[6] Dozens of submissions cycle through these front pages daily.

Mister Splashy Pants logo used on November 27, 2007

As of June 2013, commentary on the site is particularly active, with several communities generating thousands of comments per day.[7]

The Reddit community socialize at local parks and bars around the world,[8] and there are many localized subreddits for local meetings.


Reddit entries are organized into areas of interest called "subreddits". Historically, the front page was the main subreddit, and other areas were "subreddits". There is now no main subreddit. Instead, there are multiple default subreddits dealing with topics such as books, television, and music. Any registered user may create a subreddit, although a link to do so does not appear on the user's homepage until after thirty days.[9] There are over 5,400 active subreddits to peruse,[10][11] with a default set of 20 put in place in October 2011.[12] The default subreddits were changed again in July 2013, bringing the total to 22.[13]

Users may customize what is shown on their personal front page by subscribing to individual subreddits through a page that shows all subreddits available. The site's general front page is also accessible via a link to "all" at the top of the individual user's customized front page.

IAmA and AMA

One of the most popular subreddits is IAmA ("I Am A") where a user may post "AMAs" (for "Ask Me Anything"), or similarly "AMAAs" ( for "Ask Me Almost Anything") – prompts for others to ask questions about any topic. AMAs are open to all Reddit users, and use the site's comment system for both questions and answers.

A number of notable individuals have participated in the IAmA subreddit, including President Barack Obama[14][15] (while campaigning for the 2012 election), Madonna,[16] Chris Hadfield[17] (who answered questions from the International Space Station), Bill Gates,[18] Ron Paul,[19] Stephen Colbert,[20] Psy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Maddow, Morgan Freeman, Louis C.K., Roger Federer, Larry King, Philip Zimbardo, Stan Lee, John Mather, David Copperfield, Paul Krugman, Danny Boyle, Al Gore, Roger Ebert, Michael Bolton, Gary Johnson, Lawrence Krauss, Jill Stein, Kevin Rudd, Amanda Palmer,[21] and Tim Ferriss.[22] As of October 2013, Barack Obama's AMA is the highest rated on the site.[23] On August 29, 2012, when the AMA occurred, the increased traffic brought down many parts of the website.[24]

Celebrities participating in IAmAs have seen both positive and negative responses. Woody Harrelson's[25] AMA was criticized after Harrelson declined to answer questions that were unrelated to the movie "Rampart" he was promoting.[26] In contrast, rapper Snoop Lion attracted 1.6 million page views[27] after conducting an AMA that provided several candid responses to the community's questions.[28]


In June 2005,[29] Reddit was founded in Medford, Massachusetts by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, both 22-year-old graduates of the University of Virginia.[30] It received its initial funding from Y Combinator. The team expanded to include Christopher Slowe in November 2005. Between November 2005 and January 2006 Reddit merged with Aaron Swartz's company Infogami, and Swartz became an equal owner of the resulting parent company, Not A Bug.[31][32] Condé Nast Publications, owner of Wired, acquired Reddit on October 31, 2006, and the team moved to San Francisco.[33] In January 2007, Swartz was fired.[34]

On June 18, 2008, Reddit became an open source project.[35] With the exception of the anti-spam/cheating portions, all of the code and libraries written for Reddit became freely available on Github.[36]

By the end of 2008, the team had grown to include Erik Martin, Jeremy Edberg,[37] David King,[38] and Mike Schiraldi.[39] In 2009, Huffman and Ohanian moved on to form Hipmunk, recruiting Slowe[40] and King[41] shortly thereafter.

In July 2010, after explosive traffic growth, Reddit introduced Reddit Gold, offering new features for a price of $3.99/month or $29.99/year.[42] The revenue and attention got them approval to buy more servers and employ more people.[citation needed] Reddit Gold adds a number of features to the interface, including the ability to display more comments on a page, access to the private subreddit /r/lounge, and notifications whenever one's username is mentioned in a comment.[43]

On September 6, 2011, Reddit became operationally independent of Condé Nast, now operating as a separate subsidiary of its parent company, Advance Publications.[44]

On January 11, 2012, Reddit announced that it would be participating in a 12-hour sitewide blackout in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act.[45] The blackout occurred on January 18 and coincided with the blackouts of Wikipedia and several other Internet properties. In May 2012, Reddit joined the Internet Defense League, a group formed to organize future protests.[46]

On February 14, 2013, Reddit began accepting the digital currency bitcoin for its Reddit Gold subscription service through a partnership with bitcoin payment processor Coinbase.[47]


Reddit was originally written in Common Lisp but was rewritten in Python in December 2005.[48] The reasons given for the switch were wider access to code libraries and greater development flexibility. The Python web framework that former Reddit employee Aaron Swartz developed to run the site,, is now available as an open-source project.[49]

As of 10 November 2009 (2009-11-10), Reddit uses Pylons as its web framework.[50]

As of 10 November 2009 (2009-11-10), Reddit has decommissioned their physical servers and migrated to Amazon Web Services.[51]

Reddit uses PostgreSQL as their primary datastore and is slowly moving to Apache Cassandra, a column oriented datastore. It uses RabbitMQ for offline processing, HAProxy for load balancing and memcached for caching.

In early 2009, Reddit started using jQuery.[52]

On June 7, 2010, Reddit staff launched a revamped mobile interface featuring rewritten CSS, a new color scheme, and a multitude of improvements.[53]

On July 21, 2010, Reddit outsourced the Reddit search engine to Flaptor, who used its search product IndexTank.[54]

As of 12 July 2012 (2012-07-12), Reddit uses Amazon CloudSearch.[55]

There are several unofficial applications that use the Reddit API on the Android Market, including Reddit is Fun,[56] Andreddit,[57] F5, BaconReader,[58] and an Android tablet specific application called Reddita.[59] There are also several Windows 8 apps on the Store used to access Reddit, including unofficial Reddit apps such as Reddit on ReddHub[60] and Reddit To Go!.[61] An unofficial desktop application Reditr[62] exists that is compatible with Windows, OS X, Linux and ChromeOS.


According to Google Ad Planner's estimate, as of May 2013, the median Reddit user is male (59%), 25–34 years of age, and is connecting from the United States (68%).[63] has stated that 6% of all adult internet users use Reddit.[64]

Community and culture

The website is known for its open nature and diverse user community that generate its content. Its demographics allows for wide-ranging subject areas, or main subreddits, that receive much attention, as well as the ability for smaller subreddits to serve more niche purposes. The unique possibilities that subreddits provide create new opportunities for raising attention and fostering discussion across many areas. In gaining popularity in terms of unique users per day, Reddit has been a platform for many to raise publicity for a number of causes. And with that increased ability to garner attention and a large audience, users can use one of the largest communities on the Internet for new, revolutionary, and influential purposes.[65]

Its popularity has enabled users to take unprecedented advantage of such a large community. Its innovative socially ranked rating and sorting system drives a method that is useful for fulfilling certain goals of viewership or simply finding answers to interesting questions. User sentiments about the website's function and structure include feelings about the breadth and depth of the discussions on Reddit and how the site makes it easy to discover new and interesting items. Almost all of the user reviews on, which rates Reddit's monthly unique traffic rating 125th in the United States, mention Reddit's "good content" as a likable quality. However, others raise the negative aspects of the potential for Reddit's communities to possess a "hive mind" of sorts,[66] embodying some negative aspects of group interaction theories like crowd psychology and collective consciousness.

Philanthropic efforts

In recent history, Reddit has been known as the instigator of several charity projects, some short and others long-term, in order to benefit others. A selection of major events are outlined below:

The Reddit Effect

Also known as the "SlashDot effect", the Reddit effect is when a smaller website has a high influx of traffic due to Reddit.[87] Because Reddit is such a large site, the traffic is immense and can easily crash smaller sites. In the comment sections, members commonly make fun of the situation. In order for users to see crashed websites, several reddit bots have been created that take a snapshot of the website before large amounts of traffic flood the affected website.

"Restoring Truthiness" campaign

As a response to Glenn Beck's August 28, 2010, Restoring Honor rally (heavily promoted by him in his Fox News broadcasts during the summer), in September 2010 Reddit users started a movement to persuade Stephen Colbert to have a counter-rally in Washington, D.C.[88] The movement was started by user mrsammercer, in a post where he describes waking up from a dream in which Stephen Colbert holds a satirical rally in D.C.[89]

He writes, "This would be the high water mark of American satire. Half a million people pretending to suspend all rational thought in unison. Perfect harmony. It'll feel like San Francisco in the late 60s, only we won't be able to get any acid."

The idea resonated with the Reddit community, which launched a campaign to bring the event to life. Over $600,000[90] was raised for charity to gain the attention of Colbert. The campaign was mentioned on-air several times, and when the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was held in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2010, thousands of redditors made the journey.[91]

During a post-rally press conference, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian asked, "What role did the Internet campaign play in convincing you to hold this rally?" Jon Stewart responded by saying that, though it was a very nice gesture, the two had already thought of the idea prior and the deposit on using the National Mall was already paid during the summer, so it acted mostly as a "validation of what we were thinking about attempting".[92] In a message to the Reddit community, Colbert later added, "I have no doubt that your efforts to organize and the joy you clearly brought to your part of the story contributed greatly to the turnout and success."[93]

Controversies involving Reddit

The website has a strong culture of free speech and very few rules about the types of content that may be posted.[94] This has led to the creation of several communities that have been perceived as offensive, including forums dedicated to jailbait (since banned) and pictures of dead bodies; several such subreddits were the focus of an edition of Anderson Cooper 360 in September 2011.[95] However, "Suggestive or sexual content featuring minors" was not explicitly banned until February 2012, after members of the forum Something Awful planned to send correspondence to "Parent Teacher Associations, politicians, churches, news outlets and the FBI" about such subreddits.[96]

In October 2012, a Gawker article published the real-life identity of "Violentacrez", a Reddit moderator prominently involved with a string of controversial subreddits devoted to explicit material.[97][98] As a result of the story, the user, revealed to be a middle-aged computer programmer from Texas, was fired from his job.[98] In response to the exposé, a number of Reddit moderators banned Gawker links from their subreddits.[97]

Following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Reddit faced criticism after users wrongly identified a number of people as suspects.[99] Notable among misidentified bombing suspects was Sunil Tripathi, a student reported missing before the bombings took place. A body reported to be Sunil's was found in Rhode Island's Providence River on April 25, 2013 as reported by the Rhode Island Health Department. The cause of death is under investigation.[100] Reddit general manager Erik Martin later issued an apology for this behavior, criticizing the "online witch hunts and dangerous speculation" that took place on the website.[101]

In late October 2013, the moderators of the /r/politics subreddit banned a large group of websites. Many were left leaning news websites, such as Mother Jones, The Huffington Post, Salon, Alternet, Rawstory, The Daily Kos, Truthout, Media Matters, and ThinkProgress as well as some popular progressive blog sites, such as Democratic Underground and Crooks and Liars. They also banned a number of right wing sites—Drudge Report, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, Dailypaul, Little Green Footballs, Power Line, and Reason. Salon reported that "the section's moderators explained in a post on Tuesday, the goal is 'to reduce the number of blogspam submissions and sensationalist titles. The purge, the moderators explained, is also aimed at sites that provide lots of "bad journalism."'"[102]


In May 2010, Reddit was named in Lead411's "2010 Hottest San Francisco Companies" list.[103]

See also

Notes and references

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External links