The Reddit Experiment (Results)

Fret not dear readers! In the last several weeks I would understand if many thought I had simply bailed on my Reddit Experiment, but I have, in fact, been busy at work. I ultimately submitted 7/10 of the original posts I posed in the original blog post. Given a busy work schedule, I am just going to call it a day.

The results…well I failed. I did not achieve my original goal of having any posts crack the top 100. That said, I did garner some unwarranted karma (as well as a little bit of controversy), and have a theory as to why things did not go as planned. But without further ado, the results (refer to original post to see what I said I would be posting to Reddit):

1) Shitty painting with sad back story (did not end up posting)

2) A “how to you like ‘dem apples” story about fighting everyday sexism. This was actually my most successful post. I will not link it here because it caused a little bit of controversy and I don’t want it becoming a thing. The post was a pic of a nice looking girl with her parents at MIT graduation with the comment saying something along the lines of “my HS counselor told me I would never make it as an engineer, guess HE was wrong.” The crazy part is that the girl in the photo then somehow saw my post and rightfully went “WTF is someone doing posting this as if they are me.” I then got downvoted to hell with people accusing me of being a total karma whore creep, which I guess is pretty accurate.  RESULT: ~700 link karma, ~400 Upvotes

3) Really stupid TIFU story about my son drinking my urine sample thinking it was JELLO. RESULT :17 Upvotes

4) Picture of WWII grandparent. I found a good photo but never got around to posting it.

5) Futurama screenshot post. RESULT: 2 Upvotes

6) Snarky letter from neighbors (did not end up posting)

7) WWI factoid from Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast. RESULT: 23 Upvotes

8) Really stupid, pandering “Ask Reddit” post. RESULT: 2 Upvotes

9) Really stupid, impractical LifeProTip. RESULT: 1 Upvote

10) Scenic landscape picture. RESULT: 41 Upvotes


So after all that work I think one very simple way to look at this is that I was wrong and apparently it is not that easy to make it to the front page. I accept I was wrong but had a bit of a revelation about the front page. I realize that I was thinking about this all wrong – I thought that just because I can create posts of equivalent value to what I see on the front page, they should get to the front page themselves. What I have come to realize, however, is that that line of thinking totally ignores that getting to the front page has a lot to do with luck and momentum, and I am just seeing the survivors. It would be similar to looking through a fashion magazine and thinking all it takes to become a model is to be thin, tall,  and have symmetrical facial features. The reality of the situation is that you require those qualities to become a model, but having those qualities only increases your chances from 1:10,000 to 1:1,000.  I realized this applied to Reddit when even during the period I was posting, I saw other posts that were almost exactly the same as my own reach the top 100 while my own posts languished.

To illustrate this further, I am going to look at the top 100 Reddit posts right now (5/3/15 6:15 PM PT) and see how many mirror posts I had made:

In all, I am pretty pleased with putting this experiment together, though not nearly as pleased as if I could gloat about “hacking reddit” and manipulating all the mental midgets within it. Turns out I am only smart enough to know why I failed, but not yet smart enough to succeed. I’ll take it.


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