Reddit has announced its move into news publishing (along with everyone else) with the launch of standalone site, Upvoted.
The new site intends to capitalise on the popular content posted to Reddit, which is often picked up by other online media organisations.
Upvoted will be headed by former MySpace editorial director Vickie Chang, in charge of a team of around 10. Initially, the site hopes to produce around 20 stories a day, increasing to 40 later.
Despite its name, Upvoted will also not permit the rating of content (up or down-voting) – a cornerstone of how the native community operates and how posts reach a wider audience, with the holy grail to land on Reddit’s front page (self-styled “the front page of the internet”).
Nor will Upvoted allow comments. Reddit, as we know, is all about comments, and the community has often been in trouble for a certain element of hostile and abusive contributions to threads.
Reddit is hoping that by aggregating the most popular user-generated content into stories on its own site it can wrestle back control from traditional media organisations, which frequently lift from Reddit boards for quick stories – sometimes without credit or sourcing. The content lifted often brings in a lot of traffic – and advertising revenue - to other organisations.
Speaking to WIRED.com, which is owned by Condé Nast, whose parent company Atlantic Publications has majority shares in Reddit, Chang said Upvoted would publish written pieces, stories, videos, infographics, podcasts and illustrations, covering “news, sports, animals and lifestyle issues”.
All stories will link back to Reddit, crediting the original source of the material. A dedicated subreddit, r/upvoted, will be established to house the content chosen for Upvoted and allows users to comment on Reddit itself.
“Everything will have a direct tie back to Reddit,” Chang said. A statement from Reddit to WIRED also addressed the issue of other news organisations profiting from Reddit’s content:
“The stuff our community creates on a daily basis blows our mind. Unfortunately, rather than telling that story, some news outlets take our users’ content and repackage it as their own.
“They don’t tell the backstory of our communities. We think our users’ stories need to be told, but with them at the centre of it.”
It’s hoped that Upvoted might prove a source of profit for Reddit, whose reputation for controversial and sometimes distasteful content dissuades advertisers and has even lead to splits within the company.
Moderators revolted after the firing of AMA (ask me anything) head Victoria Taylor. Soon after, interim chief executive Ellen Pao resigned, after calling out the “ugly” content which made her “doubt humanity” on some Reddit threads and facing misogynistic and racist abuse.
Upvoted will not host banner adverts but will run sponsored content, or so-called native advertising approved by brands.
“They’re going to be just as interesting as actual content,” Chang said of the branded content. “It could be a piece on Tesla, a piece on how Wifi works, no matter what it’ll be good content – and it’ll just happened to be sponsored.”
Upvoted.com is slated to launch later on Tuesday, (the site is not yet live with the domain directing to a Wordpress holding page) – but the Guardian was told by one contributor that the project has been kept heavily under wraps. The Guardian has contacted Reddit for comment.
This article was written by Hannah Jane Parkinson, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 6th October 2015 13.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010