Dealing with Reddit Weirdness: Getting Your Submission Recognized

Reddit is a great website, definitely one of my favorites. For content creators, Reddit can drive massive amounts of traffic if you hit the front page, even if it’s only a minor subreddit.

Unfortunately, Reddit is somewhat opaque in how new submissions work, and the algorithms it uses. Getting your submission recognized is not as easy as it seems. Most people probably don’t know this, but Reddit automatically filters out a percentage of new submissions from each subreddit, depending on how popular the subreddit is. If you look at your profile, you will see that it was submitted, but it will never appear in the “New” tab of the subreddit, and will never be publicly displayed.

The filter is much stronger on popular subreddits. If you try to make a submission to r/programming, Reddit filters out around 1/15 posts (my estimate). r/technology, r/funny, r/pics, and other popular subreddits are similar. Unpopular subreddits (the vast majority) have no filtering at all, but you typically don’t want to post there if you want massive traffic. The only solution I have found for this is to resubmit. Submit your post, check the “New” tab of the subreddit, and if it doesn’t appear immediately, then you have to delete your post and try again. There is no need to change the title, just resubmit it exactly as it was. Eventually it will go through.

Why does Reddit do this? I have soem theories, but no concrete answers. I’ve asked moderators with no adequate explanation. One told me I must be banned (not true) or set as ‘anonymous’ (also not true). I think it’s because Reddit gets monster amounts of submissions, and because they want submissions to last in the “New” tab for at least a few minutes, they just drop a certain percentage of posts. If a news event is worthy enough, so many posts will make it through that the lost ones won’t matter. The biggest problem is that many interesting submissions will never get any traction, and users may get discouraged when something they spent a long time creating (like a blog post or a video) never gets any response, positive or negative, and they don’t know why.

The second problem is that during the first few minutes of a new post (one that actually makes it onto the “New” tab), it only takes one or two down votes to ruin its chances of rising. It will disappear fast, and few people will ever see it. This is most noticeable on popular subreddits.

This might be gaming the system a tad, but having a few friends give some early upvotes drastically increases the chances of it rising to the front page. People in marketing, take note- if you are going to post something to Reddit, keep resubmitting it until it appears on the “New” tab, and then blast the link to your coworkers to provide upvotes. I have succeeded with this tactic several times.

Is this wrong? I don’t think so. If you want to get your information in front of the Reddit audience, these are the barriers Reddit puts in your way. Also, friends with legitimate accounts (not bots) are no different than putting an ‘upvote’ shortcut button on your own website.

With these two techniques, you will drastically increase your chances of success on Reddit, and drive traffic to your content.

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