Reddit, the social news website and Digg competitor, occupies a very specific and important niche in the blogosphere. The site works generally like a souped-up message board, where a very involved community can not only respond to posts, but vote every reply up or down, lending validity to more worthy submissions. Recently, nerd blog Geekosystem argued that Reddit actually “controls the Internet news cycle” by jumping on viral photos, videos, and niche news extremely early. In short, it has become a well that larger blogs (ahem) dip into to find quirky, potentially popular stories. And Reddit, while known mostly to a tech-savvy bunch, does very well for itself, claiming a loyal following and a lot of website traffic. But it’s owned by a media corporation, Condé Nast, and we all know what giant media companies do: They mess things up.
The site, claiming about 280 million pageviews per month, runs with four engineers and minimal financial resources, as they explain on their official blog in a post titled “reddit needs help.” As a result, the site often crashes. It is far from optimized and Conde seems unwilling to help, because the property is not very profitable. About that, the men behind the project are honest:
The bottom line is, we need more resources.
Whenever this topic comes up on the site, someone always posts a comment about how Reddit is owned by Condé Nast, a billion-dollar corporation like Time Warner or Cobra, and how, if they wanted to, they could hire a thousand engineers and purchase a million dollars’ worth of heavy iron. But here’s the thing: Corporations aren’t run like charities. They keep separate budgets for each business line, and usually allocate resources proportionate to revenue. And Reddit’s revenue isn’t great.
And so they’re asking for money from their users, as much as they’re willing to give, for a premium membership including “better incentives in the coming months.” The post is vague, but the message is clear: No matter how important a site seems to those in the know, when it is owned by an international corporation, as most successful sites will inevitably be, the bottom line is the bottom line. And no amount of rainbows are going to change that.
Making ends meet [Reddit Blog]