reddit: not a social bookmarking site

An email last week first reminded me of it and a blog entry from the weekend prompted me to finally write this entry. The earlier email was from a startup that isn't called Kirk about how we could discuss potential opportunities to work together. The sell included an offer to match real names with reddit user profiles to show what articles they've "bookmarked." This isn't the first time the site has been thought of this way, and it's a misconception we've been working on clearing up for a while.

We've struggled with how to describe reddit ever since we started it. Paul had suggested "a front page of the Web" and it was up to us to figure out what the hell it'd look like and how it'd work. was an interesting -- albeit minor -- part of the site's functionality. You could see the most popular links being bookmarked, a byproduct of the site's purpose of storing, sharing, and discovering bookmarks.

This is social bookmarking. Delicious got it right and a bunch of other sites with similarly bizarre names emulated it.

But reddit is about new and interesting content, not reference material. True, we added the ability for users to "save" links, but it's never been an important part of the site. Instead, we wanted fresh content -- any kind of online content -- to rise and fall on the front page. News, but not News.

The words "social bookmarking" may have bumbled out of our mouths here and there, but we tried to avoid it. The New York Times likes calling sites like ours "news aggregators," but that sounds a bit too mechanized; Techmeme is a splendid news aggregator, as is GoogleNews. But we heart our users (most of the time) -- they make reddit everything it is -- so it only seems fair that it's reflected in the description.

"Social news" didn't make sense to anyone back then. I'm not sure it does now, but people sure are using it a lot more. So I guess we're a social news website.