Stanford trio explore success formula for Reddit posts

September 3, 2013 by Nancy Owano, weblog
Submissions of the same image (a bear riding Abraham Lincoln, top right) to Reddit, with different titles. The top plot shows how successful each submission is, along with our community model’s prediction of its popularity without knowing the title. Our community model accounts for factors such as the number of previous submissions of the same content, the community (i.e., ‘subreddit’) the image is submitted to, and the time of day of the submission. Credit: Himabindu Lakkaraju, Julian McAuley, Jure Leskovec

( —Marketers and other new media workers hoping for traffic payoffs will want to study a paper by three Stanford University scientists who have pulled apart the nature of Reddit posts to determine what, beyond quality of content, constitutes success. "What's in a name? Understanding the Interplay between Titles, Content, and Communities in Social Media," shows what a clever use of mathematics can do in getting to the secret sauce of a successful post. The study by Himabindu Lakkaraju, Julian McAuley, and Jure Leskovec found that important factors include where you post on Reddit, when you post on Reddit, and last but not least what title you give the post on Reddit. "Creating, placing, and presenting social media content is a difficult problem. In addition to the quality of the content itself, several factors such as the way the content is presented (the title), the community it is posted to, whether it has been seen before, and the time it is posted determine its success."

Reddit is a news and entertainment website where registered users submit in the form of a link or text post. Others vote up or down on the submission, and a rank and position on the site emerge. Content is organized by areas of interest, or "subreddits." The site averaged more than 3 billion monthly page views per month during 2012.

The authors explained how they went about their investigation. "We proposed a novel of images posted to .com, each of which has been submitted multiple times, with multiple titles. We developed community models to account for effects other than the title, such as the choice of community the image is submitted to and the number of times it has been submitted. We also developed language models that account for how the success of each submission was in?uenced by its title, and how well that title was targeted to the community. These models allowed us to study features of good title, and to understand when, where, and how a submission should be targeted."

Beyond content, said the authors, one of the key factors that make or break posting success is how the user fashions the post's title. "How should we phrase the title of our submission? Should the title be long or short, speci?c or generic, unique or derivative, ?owery or plain?" wrote the authors, stating this was part of the challenge of coming up with a successful post on Reddit. They further noted that the length of a title does not signi?cantly impact the popularity of a submission's success, unless the title is either extremely long or extremely short.

Also, they found that "'positive' sentiment contributes to a title's popularity in certain communities." Even parts of speech played a role. "Certain communities may favor highly descriptive, adjective laden titles, while others may prefer simpler titles consisting of a few nouns."

Overall, the takeaway from their investigation is presented: "Indeed, we con?rm our intuition that good content 'speaks for itself', and can achieve popularity regardless of what title is used. Choosing a good title has a secondary—though still important—effect. We ?nd that features such as length, descriptiveness, and even sentence structure can be predictive of whether a title will be successful. We ?nd that the choice of community also plays a major role."

The value in their research focused on Reddit may have lessons that can be carried over to other types of submissions as well. It is not always easy to assess what may drive the success of various media submissions—is it really the content alone or the title, or timing, or smart targeting to the right community. "We have developed models that disentangle the interplay between these factors."

Explore further: Title V coverage varies across states for diabetes

More information: What's in a name? Understanding the Interplay between Titles, Content, and Communities in Social Media, PDF,

Creating, placing, and presenting social media content is a dif?cult problem. In addition to the quality of the content itself, several factors such as the way the content is presented (the title), the community it is posted to, whether it has been seen before, and the time it is posted determine its success. There are also interesting interactions between these factors. For example, the language of the title should be targeted to the community where the content is submitted, yet it should also highlight the distinctive nature of the content. In this paper, we examine how these factors interact to determine the popularity of social media content. We do so by studying resubmissions, i.e., content that has been submitted multiple times, with multiple titles, to multiple different communities. Such data allows us to 'tease apart' the extent to which each factor in?uences the success of that content. The models we develop help us understand how to better target social media content: by using the right title, for the right community, at the right time.

via BusinessInsider

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1 / 5 (10) Sep 03, 2013
A successful post on Reddit is driven by its content more than anything else. If the post presents a liberal view, it is likely to be successful. If the post presents a conservative view, it is almost certain to be unsuccessful. The basic nature of Reddit controls the success/failure of posts. Therefore, Reddit cannot serve as a model for other types of social media submissions.
2.6 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2013
Oh sweet lord...downvoting dense mind theory or cold fusion has nothing to do with 'liberal' or 'conservative'. It's has everything to do with downvoting BS.

And BS of that calibre is easily spotted by liberal and conservative alike.
1 / 5 (10) Sep 03, 2013
The title with a curse word went the furthest into the negative digits is worth mentioning.
3.3 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2013
Of course not,

Look. You're posting on Reddit to get your 'science' heard.
On Reddit.

Notice anything insane about this idea? For god's sake the top story on Reddit is: "Look at this puppy"!
Now ask yourself: If you're already so blind as to intellectually low-level websites - isn't it the least bit possible that you don't really have a clue as to what science (which requires quite a bit of a mind) is?

Just a hint...

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