Interview With Reddit.com Founder Alexis Ohanian

A site that I find myself spending more time on for news these days is reddit.com. It’s a social news site that lives in the same world as del.iciol.us/popular, Digg, and Slashdot. It’s a bit different in a few unique ways, and I had the opportunity to ask some questions with reddit.com co-founder Alexis Ohanian. It’s a great story of a site on the rise currently run by two young guys in an apartment.

Where did the idea for reddit come from? What’s the background of how it started?

AO: We were actually inspired by del.icio.us/popular, it’s a great
indicator of what people are busy bookmarking, but we were interested
in the more ephemeral links that are popular because they are
interesting and new — not just good reference material.

What types of features are you planning on adding to the site?

AO: We’re busy improving the collaborative filtering that currently
recommends users links based on their past votes. Our current
development is focused on giving our current users personally relevant
links while also improving the accessibility of the site to new users.

What’s your personal favorite feature of reddit?

AO: Even though it’s not really a main feature of the site, I’ve recently
spent way too much time on our reddit.com/comments page, which tracks all the chatter going on around the site. I’d also have to give the reddit.com/recommended page a nod, since it’s got me figured out pretty well (which may just be an indicator of how predictable I am).

How do you feel reddit compares to other notable social news sites likeslashdot, digg, and delicious popular?

AO: delicious/popular was our inspiration, as I said earlier, and Joshua
should be able to add lots of value to Yahoo’s MyWeb 2.0.

Steve and I grew up with Slashdot — it’s an institution. Digg has a
great following, and it’s a shame to see it so adamant about “burying
Slashdot.” The comparison to reddit, especially since they announced
an expansion into non-tech categories, certainly comes up. We both
share the belief in social news, but our guess is that training a
filter will ultimately yield the best quality front page, something
that we think sites like Digg will eventually realize and copy.

Are you using web analytics for reddit? Which package and why?

AO: We wrote our own, nothing else had just what we were looking for.

Can you give us any indication of numbers or growth statistics?

AO: We get around 13,000 unique hits a day now, a number which has been growing pretty rapidly in the last weeks. We’ve been quite pleased,
especially since we’ve only been doing this since mid-July and haven’t
spent a penny on advertising. We’ve just been trying to build the
best site that we can.

What’s the long term plan for reddit? Any plan to add any revenue streams?

AO: We’ve got ideas, but we’re going to hold off for as long as we can.
Despite not having accepted VC investment, we can keep up our spartan
lifestyle until summer with the angel funding we received.

What are your thoughts on the new types of apps being built for the social web/web2.0?

AO: There are lots of great apps being built for the social web, which
isn’t surprising given what a great time it is to be a developer.
Hopefully, this will mean some great innovations for users — we’re
just trying to do our part as best as we can.

Thanks to Alexis for the interview, and good luck to reddit.com.

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