31 votes

Reddit raises $300 million at $3 billion valuation - interview with Steve Huffman

28 comments

  1. [14]
    Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    This is confirmation of last week's news, which was still somewhat rumor-level, with the specific details like funding amount not known yet. Edit: some thoughts on the interview, now that I've had...

    This is confirmation of last week's news, which was still somewhat rumor-level, with the specific details like funding amount not known yet.

    Edit: some thoughts on the interview, now that I've had some time to read it and think:

    Not only is Reddit blocked in China, but the platform is known as a bastion for free, unedited speech.

    This was funny wording to use, since reddit is probably one of the only platforms that's ever actually had "edited speech" on it. I can't think of any other significant platform that's ever secretly edited users' comments (even if it was only in an unimportant way in /r/The_Donald).

    Tencent is an investor in some of the video game companies that drive conversations on Reddit. Tencent owns 40 percent of "Fortnite" creator Epic Games.

    A bit strange that they chose to focus only on Epic Games, but maybe that's just because Fortnite is such a household name right now. Tencent has significant stakes in a lot of other major game companies, including 100% ownership of Riot (League of Legends) and 84% of Supercell (Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, etc.)

    "When we think about internationalization, obviously that's our largest opportunity for user growth," Huffman said. "We still want to get the fundamentals of Reddit working perfectly in the U.S., where we understand the language and the culture, and I still think we have opportunities to do better there."

    It sounds like they're leaning on internationalization as a source of growth now, which is an unusual choice for a few reasons. I was the person in charge of the internationalization/translations at Reddit for a few years, and the company almost totally ignored it the entire time. If I hadn't cared about it personally, I don't think anyone would have done it at all. After I left, I don't think the translations continued to be updated or maintained. I used to get messages occasionally from people trying to figure out how to contribute to the translations, because they couldn't get a response from anyone else and found my name somewhere associated with it.

    I'm not sure if this has changed, but it was also my understanding that the redesign doesn't have any internationalization support yet, and isn't even using all the existing translations from the old site.

    Relying on international growth is also just strange from a business perspective. International users are worth much, much less to advertisers. This chart is a little outdated now (from Q2 2018), but Facebook values users from US & Canada at almost 5x users from anywhere else - $25.91 per US/Canada user per quarter vs. $5.97. So to increase your revenue equivalently, you need to cause about 5x as much growth in international users as if you can attract more US/Canadian ones.

    Huffman said Reddit's growth is predicated on eliminating the kind of abuse that can alienate users and brands.

    This makes it sound like they're intending to start cracking down even more on abuse/harassment/etc. They haven't really been doing that much yet outside of cases where the media pressures them into it, but if they decide that it's preventing companies from advertising I wouldn't be surprised to start seeing a lot more subreddit quarantines and bans.

    40 votes
    1. [10]
      dubteedub
      Link Parent
      Yeah, I thought that was an interesting choice of description for Reddit given many more recent statements / actions pushing back on that, notably they actually have ramped up their banning /...

      Not only is Reddit blocked in China, but the platform is known as a bastion for free, unedited speech.

      Yeah, I thought that was an interesting choice of description for Reddit given many more recent statements / actions pushing back on that, notably they actually have ramped up their banning / quarantining of subreddits in the last couple years. I think they still have way more to do, but there are definitely areas that Reddit is adamantly not pro-free speech. Heck, they even shut down the whole beer swap sub for whatever reason.

      Tencent is an investor in some of the video game companies that drive conversations on Reddit. Tencent owns 40 percent of "Fortnite" creator Epic Games.

      I think they really should have focused on Tencent's messaging app WeChat. It started out as essentially a clone of WhatsApp, and now has the majority of the Chinese market. I would not be surprised if this investment by Tencent is followed by a Chinese Reddit clone from them in the near-term.

      11 votes
      1. [5]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/863xcj/new_addition_to_sitewide_rules_regarding_the_use/dw25lhs/?context=1 It's kind of hard for people to know the reason when the post and comment...

        Heck, they even shut down the whole beer swap sub for whatever reason.

        https://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/863xcj/new_addition_to_sitewide_rules_regarding_the_use/dw25lhs/?context=1

        Reddit-Policy -4319 points 10 months ago

        The update does encompass these subs. We considered this a lot, and this change is not due to any bad actions by these particular communities. However, due to the controlled nature of alcohol, Reddit is not built to ensure that the sales are happening legally, and so we can no longer continue to host communities solely dedicated to trading of alcohol or other controlled substances. However, communities dedicated to discussion of craft beer remain fully within the rules.

        It's kind of hard for people to know the reason when the post and comment explaining it gets downvoted to oblivion. :/

        9 votes
        1. [4]
          dubteedub
          Link Parent
          It still seems like a pretty arbitrary distinction considering that Reddit still hosts a whole suite of subreddits covering illegal activities including drugs and torrents / piracy. It is well...

          It still seems like a pretty arbitrary distinction considering that Reddit still hosts a whole suite of subreddits covering illegal activities including drugs and torrents / piracy. It is well known that the many drug subreddits are used to connect users to one another to make purchases and such. There are even subs like /r/illegaltorrents3 that is explictly for illegal torrent sharing.

          14 votes
          1. [3]
            cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Sure... but none of them explicitly admit as such, whereas the alcohol and tobacco swap subreddits did. And I'm sure the last thing reddit wants is the ATF taking notice and getting involved... or...

            It is well known that the many drug subreddits are used to connect users to one another to make purchases and such.

            Sure... but none of them explicitly admit as such, whereas the alcohol and tobacco swap subreddits did. And I'm sure the last thing reddit wants is the ATF taking notice and getting involved... or perhaps they already did and that's why reddit made the policy change and shut them all down. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            7 votes
            1. [2]
              SunSpotter
              Link Parent
              Not completely outside of reason, considering the removal of Reddits warrant canary in recent years.

              Not completely outside of reason, considering the removal of Reddits warrant canary in recent years.

              5 votes
              1. cfabbro
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Honestly, that's the biggest problem with warrant canaries, IMO; by design (and legal necessity) you can never know why they were removed, making them practically useless and only leading to pure...

                Honestly, that's the biggest problem with warrant canaries, IMO; by design (and legal necessity) you can never know why they were removed, making them practically useless and only leading to pure speculation when they are. And TBH, given Reddit Inc's behavior in the last few years, (i.e. making sweeping policy changes designed to mitigate risk so they can better sell advertising and entice investors), I would actually bet on the canary simply being removed because their lawyers warned of their dubious legality, and not because the conditions of the canary were actually triggered in any way.

                7 votes
      2. [4]
        CrazyOtter
        Link Parent
        Quite a bit of reddit is open source though right? I know recent additions to the codebase have been closed source but much of the structure is still available to use. Why would Tencent need to...

        I would not be surprised if this investment by Tencent is followed by a Chinese Reddit clone from them in the near-term.

        Quite a bit of reddit is open source though right? I know recent additions to the codebase have been closed source but much of the structure is still available to use. Why would Tencent need to spend $150 million when they could just build the reddit clone immediately.

        2 votes
        1. DigitalCrazy
          Link Parent
          But let's be honest, they don't really need the code to make a clone. They have money and hundreds/thousands of employees, it's just a matter of calling a meeting and start developing. Hell, they...

          But let's be honest, they don't really need the code to make a clone. They have money and hundreds/thousands of employees, it's just a matter of calling a meeting and start developing.

          Hell, they might be already doing it, who knows? Didn't they released a clone of PUBG not long after porting it to mobile?

          8 votes
        2. [2]
          knocklessmonster
          Link Parent
          Reddit has a github, but AFAIK the current platform is closed source

          Reddit has a github, but AFAIK the current platform is closed source

          6 votes
          1. CrazyOtter
            Link Parent
            The github repo was archived in Oct 2017 from the looks of it so any new additions will be missing. It could still be used as a jumping off point at least.

            The github repo was archived in Oct 2017 from the looks of it so any new additions will be missing. It could still be used as a jumping off point at least.

            5 votes
    2. [4]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [2]
        Greg
        Link Parent
        My understanding is that there very much is a centralised list, albeit one that's continually having sites added and removed. While the subject is (almost by definition) short on primary sources,...

        As far as I know there is no central list of blocked sites; for the most part different ISPs block things arbitrarily.

        My understanding is that there very much is a centralised list, albeit one that's continually having sites added and removed.

        While the subject is (almost by definition) short on primary sources, there's substantial research into the methods and techniques used, all of which suggests a centralised authority. It may well also be the case that there is variation between ISPs, but the suggestion that it's not centralised at all (or that something this complex and robust is "some poorly maintained automated system") doesn't mesh with everything I've read on the subject previously.

        All that said, I'm not an expert on the subject and I'm definitely interested to read any analysis that suggests the opposite!

        9 votes
        1. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. Greg
            Link Parent
            That's reasonable, and it's pushed me to dig a little deeper for some more robust data. The overall conclusion I can see is that the system does indeed vary by both location and time in a manner...

            That's reasonable, and it's pushed me to dig a little deeper for some more robust data. The overall conclusion I can see is that the system does indeed vary by both location and time in a manner that appears to be deliberate, as well as having detectable failures that are evenly distributed and do not appear to be intentional. The implementation happens across ISPs, however there is evidence suggesting that there is central control above and beyond that. Basically, it looks like there is some truth in both of our assumptions.

            To quote the sources directly:

            Regional variation in Chinese internet filtering - [PDF]

            "Our analysis of these results has revealed a number of trends in this filtering, most notably the prevalence of misleading responses for domains over claims that domains do not exist. Further, although the extent of filtering varies geographically, we have identified correlations in the misleading IP addresses returned in response to requests for blocked domains by different servers, implying some level of top-down involvement in the behaviour of servers."

            Analyzing the Great Firewall of China Over Space and Time - [PDF]

            "Most work discussed so far treated the firewall as a monolithic entity. Wright showed in 2012 that there are regional variations in DNS poisoning, thus suggesting that censorship should be investigated on a more finegrained level with attention to geographical diversity in measurements [47]. In addition to DNS and HTTP, the GFW is known to block the Tor anonymity network. Using a VPS in China, Winter and Lindskog [46] investigated how the firewall’s active probing infrastructure is used to dynamically block Tor bridges."

            Internet Censorship in China: Where Does the Filtering Occur? - [PDF]

            "...the most significant discovery is that unlike commonly believed, the censorship system in China is like a panopticon, where filtering does not occur strictly at border routers, but rather more centralized at AS level. "

            7 votes
      2. talklittle
        Link Parent
        AFAIK the most recent period of blockage has been since Aug 2018. A friend in Shanghai checked today and couldn't load reddit.com, their browser errors out....

        AFAIK the most recent period of blockage has been since Aug 2018. A friend in Shanghai checked today and couldn't load reddit.com, their browser errors out.

        https://www.comparitech.com/privacy-security-tools/blockedinchina/reddit/ also says reddit.com is "Not Working in China" currently. It checks several cities and none of them can connect. (However the writeup below that is inconsistent with those results and says "No, Reddit is not blocked in China." Probably outdated writeup.)

        So while it may not be 100% of all ISPs and Internet connections in China, it's not wrong to say it's blocked in China today.

        8 votes
  2. [14]
    dubteedub
    Link
    I think it has been funny is that it seems like there have been just as many articles about the investment today as there are those talking about Reddit's userbase protesting the investment and...
    12 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      It wasn't quite go1dfish that kicked it off, this post was the first major one, but got removed after being near the top of the site. That triggered the /r/undelete post, which is almost certainly...

      It wasn't quite go1dfish that kicked it off, this post was the first major one, but got removed after being near the top of the site. That triggered the /r/undelete post, which is almost certainly what got go1dfish's attention, and then he knew how to take advantage of that.

      /r/pics was completely covered in that kind of stuff all day, and it leaked out into /r/videos, /r/documentaries, /r/outoftheloop, and a ton of other subreddits throughout the day as well.

      13 votes
      1. dubteedub
        Link Parent
        Ah, yeah that would make more sense. It does look like Goldie got into a back and forth with an /r/pics mod explaining that the original post was against /r/pics rules. From our DM mod chat, it...

        Ah, yeah that would make more sense. It does look like Goldie got into a back and forth with an /r/pics mod explaining that the original post was against /r/pics rules. From our DM mod chat, it looks like most mods are weary of taking action on any of these posts because of fear of the anti-mod / censorship witchhunt that would inevitably ensue.

        2 votes
    2. [11]
      mom
      Link Parent
      Who is @go1dfish exactly?

      Who is @go1dfish exactly?

      9 votes
      1. [4]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        He is an infamous Reddit gadfly that is obsessed with "free speech" on the internet and hating basically any moderation that is not strictly illegal. He is involved with the usual anti-moderator...

        He is an infamous Reddit gadfly that is obsessed with "free speech" on the internet and hating basically any moderation that is not strictly illegal. He is involved with the usual anti-moderator anti-"censorship" spaces on Reddit like /r/subredditcancer, /r/undelete, etc.

        He was around Tildes up through August when @deimos removed a post of his (I believe it was defending "race realism" from what I remember), Goldie then went off on a number of long-winded rants about censorship to the point where he was banned from the site.

        27 votes
        1. [3]
          Amarok
          Link Parent
          Also worth mentioning that he did create notabug.io as a strictly free-speech wide-open impossible-to-censor reddit clone. At least he's willing to back up his rhetoric with action which is a plus...

          Also worth mentioning that he did create notabug.io as a strictly free-speech wide-open impossible-to-censor reddit clone. At least he's willing to back up his rhetoric with action which is a plus in my book, even if I do think he's a bit on the crazy side.

          He's the young idealistic type who thinks unmoderated communities can function, despite every online forum (and really, all of human history) providing incontrovertible proof to the contrary. He's determined to learn that lesson in the hardest way there is.

          If he's lucky he might discover some form of minimum-necessary-moderation principle. :D

          23 votes
          1. elcuello
            Link Parent
            There's something about this sentence that describes him perfectly. The tenacity is somewhat endearing and hopeless at the same time.

            He's determined to learn that lesson in the hardest way there is.

            There's something about this sentence that describes him perfectly. The tenacity is somewhat endearing and hopeless at the same time.

            9 votes
          2. MetArtScroll
            Link Parent
            Actually, the front page of notabug.io has been moderated according to this principle since a month or two ago. Also, https://notabug.io/help/contentpolicy However, this indeed seems minimum...

            If he's lucky he might discover some form of minimum-necessary-moderation principle. :D

            Actually, the front page of notabug.io has been moderated according to this principle since a month or two ago. Also, https://notabug.io/help/contentpolicy

            However, this indeed seems minimum necessary moderation, not what one can observe on Reddit or in some other places I do not want to explicitly mention here.

            2 votes
      2. deing
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Also known as /u/freespeechwarrior, go1dfish is a living meme moderately known reddit user with strong opinions against censorship of any kind. They were here for a while until they got banned,...

        Also known as /u/freespeechwarrior, go1dfish is a living meme moderately known reddit user with strong opinions against censorship of any kind. They were here for a while until they got banned, they also created notabug.io, which is supposed to be a censorship-free reddit replacement? I didn't really look into it to be fair.

        edit: @dubteedub's comment goes into a more detail why he was banned. I didn't remember the details, so I left it out of mine.

        20 votes
      3. [5]
        shiruken
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        He's the guy spamming "what about public modlogs?" in every single admin post. He also runs https://ceddit.com/, which does nothing but fuel attacks against moderators from shitty commentators...

        He's the guy spamming "what about public modlogs?" in every single admin post. He also runs https://ceddit.com/, which does nothing but fuel attacks against moderators from shitty commentators under the guise of free speech.

        13 votes
        1. [3]
          edward
          Link Parent
          Honestly, why shouldn't modlogs be public? I'm ok with moderation and "censorship", but it would be nice to have transparency. Similarly, AutoMod scripts should be public.

          Honestly, why shouldn't modlogs be public? I'm ok with moderation and "censorship", but it would be nice to have transparency.

          Similarly, AutoMod scripts should be public.

          14 votes
          1. emdash
            Link Parent
            Used to moderate r/SpaceX. The number of ITAR-violating & SpaceX-proprietary posts we'd get is a really great reason to not allow for public moderator logs. If you see "[moderator] removed [post...

            Used to moderate r/SpaceX. The number of ITAR-violating & SpaceX-proprietary posts we'd get is a really great reason to not allow for public moderator logs. If you see "[moderator] removed [post title]" and post title itself contains sensitive information, how would that work?

            9 votes
          2. Amarok
            Link Parent
            Public mod logs and user report cards - that sword cuts both ways. The trick is, who gets access? Give it to everyone and it's witch-hunt central. The plan here is to give that sort of access out...

            Public mod logs and user report cards - that sword cuts both ways.

            The trick is, who gets access? Give it to everyone and it's witch-hunt central.

            The plan here is to give that sort of access out on a per-group basis - so the groups where you participate are the groups where you gain visibility of that stuff and the ability to give some kind of feedback on it. If you're good at that stuff the site will probably auto-draft you into being a moderator yourself. That should keep it locked to the people that are actually affected by it, and stop the brigades from being able to use it for troublemaking.

            There'll probably be some kind of hierarchy-level stuff as well. I imagine once the hierarchies get big and busy there will have to be some kind of go-between group of users that can tackle issues that affect entire hierarchies, talk to all the mod teams involved, curate the space somehow. It should be fun times figuring out how all of that is going to work.

            7 votes
        2. Halfloaf
          Link Parent
          I've found ceddit to be interesting and useful! I mostly use it out of curiosity, but it's refreshing to have something like that available.

          I've found ceddit to be interesting and useful! I mostly use it out of curiosity, but it's refreshing to have something like that available.

          10 votes