Friday, 6 July 2012

Reddit, and my subreddit, 'RedditDayOf'.

This post is about the birth and growth of my subreddit, r/RedditDayOf.

About a year and a half ago I started to go on I'm embarrassed to say it took me quite a long time to actually understand the site, but after making an account and following some subreddits it all started to make sense.

I found memes pretty quickly got painful to see. Thankfully, you can remove the subreddits the promote the lowest common denominator humour. I subscribed to the more interesting ones, such as TrueReddit, FoodForThought and Excelsior. With the amazing articles people post, there always seems to be people in the comments that are able to add something interesting.

This lead me to thinking of a subreddit of my own. In thinking about how it is a huge community which seems to include experts and hobbyists in different areas, I decided that I could make a group and provide a different topic each day, which people could post about.

This idea hadn't been done before, and in general each subreddit kept to a specific topic. I assumed there would be many people like me, who like to have a broad knowledge of interesting things. Thus, at the end of October 2011, r/RedditDayOf was created, and on 4th of November it had it's first topic of "Norse Mythology". This was follow by topics like "North Korea", "Unsung Heroes" and "Ancient Games".

My aim was to eventually get 8,000 subscribers. It started off pretty well, getting a couple of hundred in a few days after posting to
r/NewReddits. My initial plan to spread the word was to find subreddits that relate to the daily topic, and post a message in there. This strategy was starting to work, and by 3 weeks we had 700 subscribers. I had a lot of help from 'Kleopatra', the owner of the huge subreddit, ' r/TrueReddit ', who helped me with ideas and kept my subreddit listed on her sidebar.

It was a lot of hard work on the earlier days. I had created the logo and styling myself, and each morning I was logging on to type out the new topics and descriptions. The hard work paid off on 21st November, when the subreddit was selected as "Subreddit of the day". This lead to a further traffic increase.

By the new year we had 1,500 subscribers, with about 700 views per day. This made us one of the biggest up and coming subreddits. It was still mostly a solo job, though with the help of a handful of admins to sort out spam. I had started to find it difficult to maintain updating each morning, and to post to other subreddits each day, but I wasn't ready to stop it yet.

The daily maintenance was made more difficult by my solution to keep the quality high. A general consensus with Reddit is that as a community gets popular and grows, it gets dumbed down. Easy to read articles are upvoted more as more people are likely to read them. Pictures gain even more 'karma'. I didn't want to stop people posting things, but I wanted to reward the people who kept the quality high. The decision I came to was to award "post of the day" to good articles. This would put a badge next to the user to show how many awards they've received. This works by showing my appreciation to them, but also to show people which people generally post the most interesting things.

I decided to put my programming abilities to use, and build a RedditDayOf Bot. I could give the bot the list of topics and each day it would update at the right time. I would tell the bot who gets the awards and it would handle all the uploading.

Creating the bot wasn't an easy task. I didn't even know what a bot was, and how it would work. It is something I've never thought about before, and I didn't really have any resources to read. I thought it through for a while and figured it out. It would be program that would run daily, and work with the Reddit API. The only problem is I code in C# and Reddit API is written in Python I think. I've not done something like this before, so I needed some idea on how to do it. I found a person on the internet that had converted part of the API to C#, so I downloaded his work, fixed parts, made changes, and extended it.

The bot came at a good time, as Reddit had agreed to start advertising my subreddit on the sidebar of the main website. They had even got a graphic designer to come up with a logo for it. When the advert first went live I was amazed at the rate of subscription. It had gone up to 200-300 a day, which was awesome.

The bot was completed in time for my two week wedding/honeymoon to Mexico. This was needed, as the subreddit was growing really fast. In March it had reached 6,000 subscribers, and in April it reached my goal of 8,000.

Today the subreddit is still going strongly. I am posting this because I have just reached another milestone of 15,000 subscribers (and about 2,200 views daily from 1,700 people). I get a load of nice comments from people saying how interesting they find it, and how much it teaches them... and that is almost enough to stop my bitterness from subreddits such as "SpideyMeme" and "iiiiiiiitttttttt" from having more subscribers in less time.


  1. I'm really pleased you hit your target back in April and now that has been doubled (almost)

  2. I hope you make good use of RES. I filter out subreddits, phrases and anything that irritates me like memes or posts with "nailed it", "how I feel when", "my setup" or "cakeday" in the title. Every time I try to use the site without my filters I just ragequit in minutes.

    I'm just waiting for a way to filter the comments which are becoming almost unreadable with the number of pointless, annoying gifs or meme related comments like the utterly moronic "5eva/cry evertim" nonsense.

    I'm gonna make a brilliant grouchy old man.

  3. Well done Andy - you did it xx