Reddit founders depart
October 27, 2009 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Reddit founders Kn0thing and Spez have left the building. The social media juggernaut's founders Alexis (Kn0thing) and Steve (Spez) have declined to renew their contracts, prompting much discussion and speculation on reddit itself, and the incubator that helped it start up, Ycombinator.
posted by khafra (28 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Wait. So you're saying that at some point someone was in charge of that mess?
posted by hifiparasol at 8:24 AM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is that the right link to Ycombinator? Here's their FAQ if anyone is curious.

It seems like there were only 4 employees at the time it got bought by Conde Naste, and Ycombinator only takes a small percentage of the equity in exchange for the funding. So I would guess this is a case where you essentially have rich employees working for a big corporation who just get sick of it.

Personally, I love how every one of these goodbye notes says something like "the site won't be any different after we leave". I can't help but read it as "we didn't do anything".
posted by smackfu at 8:36 AM on October 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

Fascinating. It seems likely that those two could start a new aggregator site and most of the community would follow them.
posted by chrchr at 8:37 AM on October 27, 2009

It's like if mathowie left Metafilter, only people like mathowie.
posted by Caduceus at 8:47 AM on October 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

This kind of seems like a non-story. 7 comments on Ycombinator isn't much discussion. The Reddit thread seems to be lots of "so long and thanks for all the fish".
posted by chunking express at 9:02 AM on October 27, 2009

I admit it: I don't /get/ Reddit. I find it incomprehensible.

If I see someone has linked to a thread on Reddit, I just skip it, because I have no idea where to look to see the lulz. There is no way I'm going to scan through sixteen pages of threaded bitchiness and in-jokes. If I wanted that I'd hang out on Metafilter.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:14 AM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why, I've built aggregators in Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockw -- wait, one of them is quitting to focus on an XKCD book?
posted by boo_radley at 9:18 AM on October 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

I like the IAMA section where people answer questions about themselves. Because registration is free, they get some more interesting people than other places I've seen this that are really only drawing from their membership. The negative is that there is a lot of junk, and some fakes.

The link aggregator part, I don't really bother with that.
posted by smackfu at 9:38 AM on October 27, 2009

please let us know about your next webshite!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:41 AM on October 27, 2009

chunking express:
Intrigue enters the story by way of a few-months-old comment linked to in the discussion thread indicating spez may have quit because of censorship forced by the site's corporate owner, Conde Nast.

IAmA can be completely fascinating; I found the non-integrated disassociative identity disorder post several days ago intriguing. I also like the reddit interviews--Ron Paul, Mike Rowe, Barney Frank--not exactly small potatoes.
posted by khafra at 9:50 AM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

reddit loses more by me not being a member there than by these other guys leaving.
posted by the aloha at 9:53 AM on October 27, 2009

Yeah, i left reddit a long time ago. It was decent until every other post was RON PAUL.
posted by dozo at 10:25 AM on October 27, 2009

I also stopped reading a few years back, when it became a lot busier. (I posted my tips to getting on the front page of Reddit back then. I wonder if they still work? Oh, the days before Reddit knew about Ron Paul.) The site seems like a crappier version of Slashdot. Or maybe Slashdot for kids in high school.

Thanks khafra; that comment makes the story more interesting. I was wondering where the drama was.
posted by chunking express at 10:43 AM on October 27, 2009

But Metafilter is non-threaded bitchiness and in-jokes.
posted by mubba at 10:53 AM on October 27, 2009

I've been on reddit off and on for two years. Like any free-for-all clusterfuck with a membership of that size it has a lot of predictable problems with signal-to-noise.

But to dismiss it out of hand is to be blind or contrary for no reason. Because of it's size it's been something of a force both socially and politically, more so than digg ever was. I've seen everything from suicide attempts that have been prevented to interviews with well known scientists, writers, musicians, and artists to great discussions about nearly every topic. I've discovered musicians and artists I enjoy, some of them whom I've collaborated with or exchanged ideas with and more than I could write in a few paragraphs.

When the system works it works ok. I'll never enjoy the nested threads, but those nested threads have scaled well considering we're sometimes talking about several thousands of comments in a thread. The ability for noise to be hidden through downvotes helps a lot, and the system of "subreddits" helps target your own personal interests a lot easier.

For a while and in pockets it wasn't digg, but over the last year digg users have been flooding the site and causing the signal to noise ratio to crash in depressingly predictable ways.

Spez and kn0thing can and should start another site, but they should start (relatively) small just like before.

And a not so secret secret? A whole lot of the links and posts I've made here over the last year or so have come from reddit, first. To find those links it's often like taking a drink from a geyser of shit and being able to detect edible nuggets in the crapflood, but that's what I do for you guys is filter that shit. The "Fistful of Rikers" Star Trek mashups? Found it on Reddit. Same for the main Afrika Bambaataa Planet Rock video I posted yesterday, which inspired me to dig up a bunch of old electro tracks to share. Same for the Online University link, which is still one of my most favorited posts.

Lately I've been making a game out of guessing which good links I see that I'll find posted here within a day or a week or so, and my accuracy runs about 9/10. (The Klingon propaganda video, for one recent example, was one I knew would make it.)

I've also likely turned on a few quality reddit users to Metafilter.

To scoff and dismiss reddit out of spite or a false sense of superiority is to be, frankly, quite ignorant of how the web works today, right here and now.

Besides, they have an edit button and it's actually useful.
posted by loquacious at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2009 [13 favorites]

Reddit: Decent links, terrible discussion.
posted by ignignokt at 11:39 AM on October 27, 2009

Just want to second loquacious' comments. I've been a lurker on mefi practically since it's inception, but reddit has lots of things going for it. What you need to understand is that after joining, you tend to only subscribe to a limited number of subreddits which ends up making it a lot more useful. Having been a member there for over a year, I find it interesting and timely and although there can be a lot of useless comments, it's fairly easy to collapse them and you end up scanning through them for the upvoted ones. I find the discussion much more lively than metafilter, where it tends to be the same people over and over again. It has its problems, but it's an active, intelligent community.
posted by antihostile at 11:45 AM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Lively" comes to my mind as well. It's a dynamic place. I actually enjoy the discussions there quite a bit.

The fact there is an entire beginner's programming subreddit from a guy who "just wants to teach programming", and is followed by anybody who wants to learn, is an incredible use of the site.

I hope the departure of the founders don't impact the site too negatively.
posted by thisperon at 12:04 PM on October 27, 2009

Just coming in to say I agree with Loq. Like them or hate them, but those guys built something that had a following that was bigger than the now-defunct Geocities (all of Geocities, according to Alexa site stats). Except Geocities cost $3.9 billion dollars.

I never much cared for the discussions, but for pure random-awesome-link aggregation, they're tops. Only a handful of other sites can make that claim.

So to Kn0thing and Spez, I say thanks and kudos. Thanks for your efforts, and kudos for actually creating something so big, unlike the fucking sea of do-nothings that will undoubtedly begrudge you your accomplishments. Fuck them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

The number one trick to getting the most out of reddit is to make an account (free and fast, accepts fake emails) and just select the sub-reddits you want displayed on the front page. Get rid of funny, wtf, pictures, politics, etc... and add programming, music, science, bicycles and IAMA and you get a pretty decent site.

You know how we love to pat ourselves on the back when we uncover some internet scam or help a mefite in trouble? That happens in reddit all the time. The mefi detective squad has nothing on them.

IAMA is specially interesting. You know the type of insider comments that make it to the sidebar here all the time? The "I worked in the LHC, let me show you how it works" or "I was in such and such war, let me tell you how it was?". IAMA is a subreddit full of these, where the OP clarifies and answers questions for everyone.

It is just the front page LULZ and spam and the 4chan like threads that give them a bad rep (95% of reddit gives the other 5% a bad reputation kind of situation).

So yeah, thanks to Kn0thing and Spez. Also otters.

I really want to read what they have to say about censorship and intervention by CondeNast. Lately there have been several cases of disappearing posts and posts accruing incredible amounts of karma in a few minutes. I'm hoping for something more interesting than the conspiracy theories floating around the site.
posted by dirty lies at 12:49 PM on October 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

I haven't checked reddit much lately; one feature I wished for was to be able to browse one user's comments, but filtered by subreddit, so that I could read someone's interesting take on programming without having to wade through his poorly thought-out political opinions.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:00 PM on October 27, 2009

Font size six hundred: If you don't like something, and someone else does, it is pretty likely that you are wrong.
posted by krilli at 6:37 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another sekrit Reddit member here. loquacious and dirty lies both nailed the reasons why I like redddit so much, especially on days when MetaFilter is feeling especially stuffy and dull. Some days I truly welcome the avalanche of links, especially during breaking political news, and often I don't bother with the discussion. I agree, though, that the IAMA stuff has taken off.

Get rid of funny, wtf, pictures, politics, etc... and add programming, music, science, bicycles

I had to laugh, dirty lies, because it is the complete opposite for me; I love politics, WTF, pictures and funny, but don't want the programming, music, or biking. Depending on my mood, I sometimes take a look at the science and atheism sub-reddits.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:29 PM on October 27, 2009

I'm kind of surprised that so many people here bash on reddit, considering the amount of links I have seen posted there that show up here days or weeks later.
posted by sophist at 1:10 PM on October 30, 2009

It is just the front page LULZ and spam and the 4chan like threads that give them a bad rep (95% of reddit gives the other 5% a bad reputation kind of situation).

If 5% of your product is good and the other 95% is shitty, it is not a good product.

I'm kind of surprised that so many people here bash on reddit, considering the amount of links I have seen posted there that show up here days or weeks later.

The internet is a pretty big place, right? I've seen plenty of links in places other than reddit that show up on Metafilter a few days later. And I've seen plenty of links that show up in many places at many times. Just because a link appeared on reddit, then appeared on Metafilter, it doesn't stand to reason that the poster got it from reddit, or even that reddit was part of the process that brought it to Metafilter. (e.g., posted to reddit, seen by Blogger 1, posted to Random Blog 1, seen by Blogger 2, posted to Random Blog 2, seen by Meefer on Randomb Blog 2, posted to Metafilter).
posted by hifiparasol at 1:47 PM on October 30, 2009

Exactly. I'm sure there is something great about Reddit, enough people seem to enjoy using it, but it certainly seems like more work than it's worth. I used to read the site all the time, because the links were great, but at some point there was more crap than good links.
posted by chunking express at 2:31 PM on October 30, 2009

For redditors here, I am loving this IAMA.
posted by thisperon at 1:23 AM on October 31, 2009

95% of reddit gives the other 5% a bad reputation kind of situation

In my experience, it's the other way 'round. There's a vocal troll population on reddit (much like...pretty much every where else on the Internet) that seems larger than they actually are. Kind of like how you might go to a party, have a nice time, but the next day, all you can remember is that douche who kept talking about how awesome Dane Cook is. I'm sure that there's a name for this phenomenon. If there isn't, there should be.

I've been on similar websites with more a restricted user base (one in particular rhymes with "guilefile"), and there are just as many jerks, if not more.
posted by zerodark at 12:54 PM on November 1, 2009

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