Reddit is a living, breathing thing – what with the speed, community, and virality associated with the site. Digging into this data can be difficult: Reddit doesn’t provide any sort of analytics feature. To be fair, Reddit’s heart isn’t focused on being a pageview-driving hub, that’s just what it so happens to be. Reddit’s heart is in its community, its Subreddits, and Karma (or, interactions).
But that doesn’t mean third party developers can’t dig into the available data and take a stab at understanding the Internet’s Wild West. That’s exactly what a group of Reddit-loving developers did, in a mere two weeks creating Reddit Insight.
Patrick Stapleton, Alex Gaputin, Elle Beal, Kevin Smith, and Bill Shelton (all part of the San Francisco coding academy, Hack Reactor) whipped together their Reddit analytics platform. The application exclusively tracks the conversations within more than 200,000 Subreddits that the team has downloaded – and the results are pretty amazing.
The team has briefly tapped into an unexplored goldmine and learned much about the behind-the-scenes stats on Subreddits – a privilege usually exclusive to mods and Reddit staffers.
Upon his findings, Patrick Stapleton describes Reddit as a “living organism.” Since Reddit Insight is limited by Reddit’s public API and only offers access to Karma data, Stapleton points out that Karma within Reddit posts even going as far back as one year ago are continuing to fluctuate since each post is technically indexed by search engines and public links to each post available (if you search for it). To conduct my own test, I plugged in the URL for President Barack Obama’s AMA from August 2012 into Reddit Insight’s “Track Posts” feature. Sure enough Insight tracks and displays the post’s Karma in real-time, with which you can watch the graph jump up and down as the post’s Karma fluctuate every single second – as though the post has a life of its own.
Surprisingly (or maybe it’s not…), the majority of Reddit Karma (40.5 percent) is concentrated in just five Subreddits: /r/Funny, /r/Pics, /r/AdviceAnimals, /r/Aww, and /r/Gaming. These Subreddits largely consist of images, memes, humor, cute animal pictures, and of course gaming, so it makes all too much sense that Redditors are upvoting there rigorously.
One of the most interesting pieces of information the Insight team researched was how controversy affects Reddit posts. The “Controversy vs Interaction vs Karma” graph shown above plots how intense scrutiny can affect Karma – and to no one’s surprise, the more controversial something is, the more Karma it earns. While the fact that divisive content creates conversation, what’s more interesting is that /r/funny, /r/pics, and /r/IAMA top the list of most controversial Subreddits. You may have expected to see /r/WTF up there, however that Subreddit comes in seventh most controversial. A few more insights about the relationship between Karma and controversy: Every 10 upvotes on a controversial post will also earned eight downvotes, but the engagement level of top controversial Subreddits like /r/funny and /r/pics garner as many as 14 votes per day per visitor.
Reddit Insight get more specific yet. The application allows you to graph a specific user’s Karma, insights on comments per post, the most popular nouns per Subreddit, popular topics within select Subreddits, and popular words within select Subreddits.
It’s worth mentioning that by far the most commented-on Subreddit (per post) is /r/AskReddit, while the highest average total Karma per post is found on /r/Technology with 2,027 Karma. (Which perhaps is why the team decided to submit a link to their site to /r/Technology.)
The look inside Reddit is certainly an interesting one: We all know content can get a huge boost from the site, but have the powers to actually plot and see what’s happening inside the forum is another story. And there’s likely interest from the marketing industry on being able to utilize such a service. From regular celebrity AMAs to /r/movies’ corporate sponsorship, there’s plenty of reason for brands and advertisers to hit up Reddit. If executed correctly (*ahem* Woody Harrelson) short bursts of viral press oftentimes spills over into other facets of the Web like blog posts, with the potential to skyrocket client’s social media persona. But marketers are typically far more comfortable if they’re able to gauge their performance.
However in demand analytics for Reddit might be, the platform itself hasn’t offered anything up. The developer project that is Reddit Insight definitely could fill this demand. But Reddit Insight is just a two week project, a minimum viable product hacked together (beautifully I might add in the limited time given) using Reddit’s public API, which imposes limits on its API to one call every two seconds, and 100 posts per call and more 200,000 downloaded Subreddits. So publishers and marketing types, don’t get too excited yet – for now, it’s mostly an analytical appreciation of Reddit. A few other interesting insights:
The most popular nouns on Reddit
The NSFW Subreddit word cloud
The current state of Reddit’s World News topic cluster
One thing the team wishes it could have built before launching? A Karma predictor feature – the implications of which are sort of frightening. Just remember, Reddit Insight: With great power comes great responsibility.