This Equation Can Tell You How Successful a Reddit Post Will Be

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Scientists love developing equations that can accurately predict real-life events—so when researchers from Stanford looked at Reddit, they naturally wondered if they could predict how successful posts would be. This equation is the result of their work.


By analyzing the success of over 16,700 pictures posted on Reddit, the team worked out how content, title, timing and subreddit string affected their success on the site. Cleverly, each picture was submitted an average of 7.9 times, which allowed the researchers to isolate the factors for each image, and also see how reposting affected success too.

The results are rolled into the equation above—which is reproduced below with each of the terms explained. There are some interesting general takes homes, though:

  • Alignment with subreddit content is important. In some forums, like r/gifs or r/pics, posts did better when they were somewhat similar to other posts, but different enough to stand out. Whereas in r/atheism and r/gaming, better performance was seen in posts that more closely mirrored existing content.
  • Timing is crucial. Submissions at around 8AM or 12 noon UTC are most successful, while those posted around 4AM UTC perform worst.
  • Reposts suck. Perhaps unsurprisingly, content becomes less popular each time it was it's submitted—though the greater the time delay between reposts, the less severe the penalty.
  • But good content speaks for itself. A great picture is a great picture, and will perform fairly well regardless of title, submission time or anything else.

Of course, this is all interesting to the everyday Redditor—but it's probably most interesting to the marketeers of this world. Right here is an equation that formalizes some of the more wooly notions of what makes a Reddit post successful. That's a powerful thing; hopefully it will be used with the respect it deserves. [Stanford via Business Insider via Verge]

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Did they include the circle-jerk factor, where posts by clique-ish members get upvoted and posts by nobodies are relegated to nothingness? Because without that, the formula is incomplete. And speaking of the circle-jerk factor, I'd like to see how much influence that has on sites like Deadspin. :-)