Sunday, November 11, 2012

Something to learn from reddit

What happens when the web site you are operating starts getting a phenomenal increase in user traffic? Of course, the costs to operate the site increase since now you are serving out more bits resulting in increased bandwidth usage.

How do you increase the revenue to balance this rise in costs? An easier approach seems to be to load up on the ads and start showing more of these. But that is not what the folks at Reddit did.

Seems counterintuitive? Not really.  To understand check out this comment of the CEO of which i have reproduced a small portion below

See, the problem is that if your site is funded primarily with advertising, then you are beholden to your advertisers. If your users choose to post something politically or culturally controversial, you come under editorial pressure from advertisers to remove or modify it, because advertisers like bland, well-lit spaces. This eventually results in a watering down of the true, authentic content on the site (remember Sears?). It's one of the reasons Digg failed. And personally, I feel that's not the best way to serve the community. It's not the right thing to do for the users who have faithfully contributed to reddit all these years.

Of course to fix this, the CEO wants the readers to become subscribers of their service. This will enable them to preserve the user experience. Seems fair.

So this is what I call a Systems approach to solving the problem as opposed to throwing in the band aid. So in the systems approach you got to understand how the complete system behaves and then figure out a solution keeping the entire system in mind as opposed to focusing on just a few components of the system.