Something has changed with Reddit in the last few days.

The popular bookmark filtering site seems to have taken a small step away from the very brutally fair democratic system that has made them so popular of late.

Brian Kim talks about how wonderful Reddit is for generating blog traffic in his recent post How to Get 105,934 Unique Visitors to Your New Blog Along With 2 Million Page Views in 45 Days.

I’ve seen some far more modest traffic from Reddit on my blogs for several months. Of course I generally don’t post about things that are particularlly popular with the core Reddit audience: religion bashing, Bush bashing, Google bashing, Israel bashing, Celebrity gossip (and bashing), or cutsie photos.

I’m pretty much not into bashing in general. As a result my postings to Reddit normally get down modded fairly quickly. That’s fair. If you don’t give the people what they want, on Reddit the Democracy takes over and you drift off into oblivion.

From my perspective it has been a good system just the same. If I write something worthwhile, it gets a few hits, and when I don’t it doesn’t. The most traffic I got went to a post over on my personal blog that was basically an off topic rant about the most recent version update of McAfee’s anti virus software. For Reddit the rule seems to be: Go negative & get traffic. Go figure.

Then a couple of days ago something changed. My traffic from Reddit dropped of to zero. zip. zilch. nada. Not one single hit.

Now I know my generally positive upbeat stuff isn’t popular with the Reddit crowd. But zero hits? Hmmm..

I did some poking around.

One of the features that makes the service so attractive is it’s New postings page. Folks can quickly scan through new links that have been posted and vote them up or down. The newest postings are listed at the top. If they get up votes, they stay on the page longer. Down votes push them off them down the ranks rapidly. It has long been a great way to keep up with what’s new on the web.

It appears the folks at Reddit have changed the default settings for that New list. Now when you go to the new page over on the right side of the page are two links that determine the “style” of the list. One setting will show “all” the new links. And the other only shows those that are “rising”.

The New list now defaults to “rising”. Having that as the default setting seems to take from the very web 2.0 democratic let the people decide concept that has made Reddit so very popular to this point.

I guess now that Reddit is growing, they’ve reached the point where they feel they have a better idea what links are best for their users to see. No point in letting them decide for themselves.

Reddit should pay attention to one of the lessons that Blink learned the hard way. Defaults matter.

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