Few would argue that the news business hasn’t changed dramatically over the years. No longer does our nation wait for the evening news to learn the events of the day or the emerging trends that will change tomorrow. In fact, today many of us are learning about the day’s news – from breaking big stories to the bizarre – on social news sites like Reddit and Digg.
Social news sites have had a remarkable impact over the past decade as we try to keep up with the mushrooming amount of content being produced online. Reddit, in particular, has made a big impact on social news; the site had more than 55 million unique visitors in February of this year.
Take me to your redditor
Known for its cute alien mascot, Reddit has made big waves in its eight years of existence with its own take on crowdsourcing. The social news network went live back in 2005 and has since expanded into communities of fans in more than 175 countries.
Here’s how it works: “Redditors” vote on the stories and discussions that interest them; their votes serve as a steady stream of signals as to which content is hot – and which is not. Any user is able to create an independent community known as a “subreddit” on topics that interest them. Today there are literally tens of thousands of subreddits for people to peruse.
Reddit was acquired by Condé Nast Publications in October 2006, and later split from Condé Nast to operate as a subsidiary of its parent company. The network became an open source project in 2008 with most of the code available on GitHub.
Reddit introduced Reddit Gold in 2010, which offered new features for a modest amount of money (about $30/year). Last month, Reddit began accepting Bitcoin and credit card payments in addition to PayPal and Google Wallet.
But Reddit is about more than just social news; there’s also Radio Reddit, which allows you to listen to live radio streams, vote on music, discover new music being promoted by redditors and upload your music to be heard by others.
The year behind (and ahead)
Taking a look at the year 2012 gives us an idea of the scope of Reddit’s influence among its millions of enthusiasts. The network’s top posts of the year included everything from President Obama to Korean rapper Psy.
One staple of Reddit in recent years has been “Ask Me Anything” interviews involving entertainers, athletes, journalists, politicians and other popular personalities – everyone from Michael Bolton to Bill Gates.
So similar to networks like Twitter, Reddit runs the gamut in terms of the subjects discussed. And there appears to be plenty of interest from outside investors. TechCrunch reported in January that Reddit was rumored to be raising money at a $400 million valuation.
We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds for a network with such high traffic (some 37 billion page views in 2012, according to TechCrunch). Will Reddit continue to rise in popularity, or will it suffer the fate of numerous once-hot social networks? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Reddit or social news sites in general.