The Reddit Experiment


I recently had a friend’s post reach the #2 spot on Reddit’s front page. It was, (perhaps predictably) an “aww” picture of him holding his dog with a derpy expression on his (the dog’s that is) face, with the title “Some people think [the dog] is weird but I think he’s cute..” or something like that.  I, of course, was both impressed and jealous- as a “no time poster, long time lurker” I have never felt the glow of self-affirmation that a front-page post brings. Perhaps so as a way to minimize missing out on this feat, I have always contended that it is not that hard to reach the front page if one is willing to “sell-out” and pander to Reddit’s basest instincts. No more conjecture. I am going to try to attempt it, and will report back the results for your reading pleasure.

This idea comes from my own frustration with things getting upvoted on Reddit which have no inherent value/insight/comedic quality, but which strike some level of salaciousness / self-congratulation / human interest which makes people want to up vote them. See the examples below if you do not yet know what I mean.

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER- some of the posts may appear insensitive or that I am making light of certain challenging life situations or great achievements. I hope it is clear that this is all pure satire and not meant to be taken seriously. This is more a commentary on the Reddit community as a whole.

The Experiment:

To make this a fair experiment, I am going to list beforehand on this blog the content which I plan to submit to Reddit, so that you know a) that it is actually me posting it and b) you know I am not simply “playing the numbers” and submitting a huge number of posts. I already have a short list of posts which I intend to submit, noted below. It might take time to make some of them, so let’s just say I will get 10 reddit posts out in the next month.

Current Post Submissions: 

I should state up front that all of the posts will come from different usernames because they will include enough “lies” that they would be obviously contradictory if they came from a single user. I also plan to use the “long time lurker, first time poster, please be kind” bait pretty heavily, so obviously you can only do that once for a given user name. In no particular order the “high likelihood” posts I can think of (I will literally will think of these on the spot):

1) Picture of a very average painting I made, but will attribute it to a illness-stricken (perhaps depressed) friend or SO, and say something along the lines of “SO doesn’t think it is very good,  but I know painting has helped him/her through some tough times, and thought Reddit had to see this”

2) Picture of someone achieving something very mundane but backstory that someone else “said it could never be done.” For example “My HS counselor said ‘engineering progams are especially tough for girls’ and that I should focus on liberal arts schools. I guess MIT thought otherwise”  and then insert a photo of a girl receiving an MIT diploma.

3) Some stupid, obviously fake, obscene “TIFU” story, which is made successful by a comic juxtaposition between the title and actual events which occurred. For example “TIFU by serving urine to my fourth-grader’s class” and the actual story will be about putting a urine sample for a doctor into the fridge, and my young son thinking it was lemonade for the school bake sale.

4) B&W photo of someone looking cool, and then attributing it to my WWII veteran grandfather [self explanatory]

5) Simpson’s or Futurama screen cap submission which says something like “Absolutely the best line from the Simpson’s” or “I love Bender”. Same thing also works for anything Nick Swanson says from Parks and Recreation or Michael Scott from The Office.

6) Fake an awesomely snarky or sarcastic letter which I ostensibly gave to / received from my neighbors regarding either a) being able to hear/see people having sex b) a dog pooping in the hallway of the apartment

7) Submit a “TIL” about a cool fact about the Mongols or WWI from Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast (I have seen at least 5 of these on the front page in the last few months). I will be sure to take it out of context and overly dramatize it.

8) Submit an “Ask Reddit” asking people in the food/service industry something self-congratulatory, or giving folks a chance to whine. E.g., “Waiters of Reddit, what one little thing can I do to make your life easier?” or “Waiters or Reddit, what is your worst ‘customer from hell’ story?”

9) Submit a “LifeProTip” of something incredibly stupid you can do which in theory would increase the efficiency of your everyday life. For example “LifeProTip: Count out the direction/number of paces to exit your home and office. That way in the event of an emergency, you can do this in the dark”

10)  Submit a picture of a beautiful sunrise at any US national park.

What “Success” Looks Like:

I contend that “full success” will be if any of the posts make it to the front page at any point following their submission. “Half success” will be if any of them crack the top 100, and “failure” if not a single one achieves the top 100.

This might be the most cynical thing I have ever attempted, I am pretty excited.


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