Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reddit Does Not Care For Wilson Phillips: Inside The Cutthroat World Of A Social News Website

It's unequivocally clear in today's social media driven age, especially among the Millennial generation, that people can pick and choose the stories they want to see. No longer is it necessary to sift through a newspaper to find an article of interest or watch an hour long newscast just to find out what the big teaser was at the beginning of the show. Everything's only a click away, and this now includes the way people can judge what will be the top stories on the Internet.

So marks the intrigue behind social news websites, where an online community of members can upload their own content, whether original or shared, and rank it's position within the site. Good posts tend to get some positive feedback, great posts typically invite a lot of overall feedback, and bad posts are either ignored or given negative votes to bury it's lack of originality. Many times, the big "stories" of the day are either funny, outrageous, random, thought-provoking, or a combination thereof.

Several such websites exist, such as Digg, Slashdot, and Newsvine, but my focus today is on Reddit. For you noobs, Reddit (pronounced read-it) is known for it's slogan of being "the front page of the internet." Registered users are called redditors (with the average age surprisingly between 35-44), and different categories are known as subreddits. As a redditor myself, I primarily use Reddit to invite more traffic for my blog, though I have recently become more active by uploading other links of interest and commenting on others' posts.

Well, once upon a time, I uploaded a link through todayilearned, a subreddit where users can share interesting tidbits of information they recently found out. Long story, I was on the Wikipedia page for actor William Baldwin when I found out he married one of the singers from Wilson Phillips in the mid-1990s. That, believe it or not, was the first time I thought of Wilson Phillips as someone other than a male country singer. When I clicked on the corresponding page, lo and behold, I discovered Wilson Phillips was actually an American, all-female singing trio. And after listening to a snippet of their Billboard #1 hit single "Hold On", I decided to share my latest bit of newfound knowledge to the Reddit community.

And how did they respond? One person commented, "Ok. And what?," while another said, "Who did you think it was all this time?" Apparently, they must've had to endure Wilson Phillips on the radio to near-death in the early 1990s and are trying to keep them in the repressed memories category of their conscience. (Don't even think about looking, I've since deleted the link in all of it's notoriety.)

But the Wilson Phillips flop is but one of many daily examples of posts that flounder shortly after uploading. It's almost impossible to say what will make the front page of Reddit on any given day. The only hope of making it to the top is several hundred to a few thousand people liking what the original poster liked.

And that's another problem. I know when I upload something most of the time, it's either going to be read once at best or ignored altogether at worst because I don't think like most redditors out there. Ergo, the odds are stacked even more against me in my quest to deliver front page material. This is not to say it's an impossible task, but I think the Chicago Cubs have a better chance of winning the World Series over the next one hundred years than I ever will making the front page on Reddit in that same time. Microscopic odds, indeed.

Now, don't get me wrong. I also happen to think Reddit is the number one resource to stay current on news-worthy information today and for the future. And without it, I wouldn't have had a fraction of the page views to my blog already. So for what Reddit is worth, it's a double edged sword that can cut either way in the hopes of influencing a global audience with the next Internet sensation.

Just make sure to keep Wilson Phillips out of the conversation.

TL;DR - Uploading top-rated content on social news websites takes more luck than skill.

Original album cover courtesy of AllMusic.com
Reddit logo courtesy of Techi.com

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