Social site founders admit they faked accounts to make the website feel more populated.
Sometimes to achieve success, one must do something they never did to have something they never had. In Reddit’s case, it was users.
In an educational video for Udacity, co-founder Steve Huffman admitted that to make Reddit more attractive initially, he and the other co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, created fake accounts to make the social website feel lively and populated. There was a simple way to achieve that: there was no requirement to register. Huffman and Ohanian would simply enter the URL, the title, and a custom username and submit it on the website. Reddit would then automatically register that username, allowing them to use that user account again if needed.
This also allowed them to set tone of the website with the kind of content they wanted. Huffman and Ohanian would scrounge the Interwebs for the best content and then simply put it up on the website. This lead people to believe that the website was active, had loads of great content, and a had buzzing community, which ultimately drove legit users to post their own content. Huffman describes the first day when he or Ohanian did not have to post content on their own as “magical”. That’s when they knew the website was picking up.
Another interesting bit Huffman revealed was that Reddit did not have a comments system when it first started. It sounds a bit ridiculous now because comments is such an integral part of the website but it is true. Also, the website never had categorization (sub-reddits) so as to make posting content as simple as possible. But thankfully, the founders understood the power of an active community and added those features in soon after.
It’s an interesting video and gives a fascinating look into how Reddit started and functions. Check it out below: