It’s all hands on deck at Reddit this week.
In the wake of Digg’s bungled redesign, its rival is enjoying a surge in traffic and a jump in ad and subscription sales. Since Monday, the site has been averaging 900,000 uniques per day— a 50% increase from Reddit’s pre-”Digg 4″ average, according to senior programmer, Chris Slowe. The six-member team does not openly celebrate the technical woes of its competitor but there is a certain giddiness in the air at Reddit’s SF headquarters (a small room, tucked in the corner of Wired’s expansive office).
The Conde Nast owned startup is having a moment, and they know it.
However, there’s no time to bask in glory, as the number of page views rises and the press rolls out headlines like, “Backlash Continues For Digg as Reddit Steps in and Reaps the Benefits,” “Report: Reddit Ready To Defeat Digg,” and “New Digg Sucks? Reddit All Over Digg FrontPage Now!” No, for the four-person engineer team, it’s time to roll-up their sleeves and crank away, to keep the site afloat (no easy task) and create the next whizz-bang features to keep Reddit’s enlarged user base happy.
On Thursday, we dropped by their offices for a pulse check. While programmer David King’s eyes were glued to his monitor— tweaking a feature that will hopefully improve the site’s scalability— senior programmer Chris Slowe was available to take our questions, video above.
-Slowe says they first noticed a spike in traffic on Sunday night, as activity increased in Australia. By the close of Monday, Reddit saw 850,000 unique visitors, that number increased on Tuesday, with 900,000. Traffic has continued to hover around this level, with roughly 13 to 14 million total page views per day.
-Self-serve ads are up 30% since Digg 4′s launch. Overall ad sales have been growing roughly 5% per month, Slowe expects monthly sales to increase 5 to 10% for the remainder of this year. Subscriptions are also up, currently Reddit has 10,000 subscribers.
-Their prayer for more resources is finally being answered. They are currently in the process of hiring one new employee, but hope to have enough cash on hand to hire two full-time employees by year’s end.
-On Digg’s fumble, Slowe says: “I think the biggest complaint from their community has been that they feel marginalized…The only advice I would really give them…they haven’t been as communicative as they could be…Our only currency really is trust and candor and so if you treat your community like adults they’ll behave like adults.”
-On that whole Proposition 19 debacle: “Once the dust settled everything was just fine nobody’s been fired, everyone is perfectly happy. The main problem was that it was all happening very fast. It went from a blog post from the Prop 19 guys to a full blown community revolt on Reddit in about an hour… One of the problems with trying to be candid at all times, is that sometimes private political arguments end up public…we could have been a little bit more graceful in the handling of that.
-On the next feature for Reddit: “Our UI is not particularly friendly…we’d like to work on some tools to make it more friendly…another thing that’s been big is that its not necessarily clear off the bat that Reddit is customizable we have a whole bunch of communities and they all have different bends and you can subscribe to different communities…I think that’s not necessarily clear from a first look.”
Launched in 2005, Reddit is a social news website that displays news based on your personal preferences and what the community likes. Your preferences are determined based on your history of voting stories up or down. The company was started by two University of Virginia grads, Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman in the Y Combinator program. Two others, Christopher Slowe and Aaron Swartz, later joined the team. Conde Nast, owner of Wired and other magazines/websites, acquired Reddit in October of 2006....