Kyle Vanhemert has an article at Wired about the massive Reddit universe and how two researchers from Michigan State University came to map it with an interactive map they call Redditviz. What it does is to tap in to user post patterns that will illustrate the sub-Reddits. They give this as an example:
In other words—[this is] your guide to the vast Reddit universe. Type in “Star Wars” and you’ll see other flourishing subreddits of a similar stripe: Batman, comic books, LEGO, Star Trek, cosplay. If you like “engineering porn,” you might also like “Artisan videos,” “Ask Engineers,” “CNC,” “Machine porn,” and “metalworking.”
Here’s how it all came about:
The project was born out of a common Reddit frustration: the impenetrable home page. Instead of serving as a portal to the site’s many subcategories, it spits out an aggregated list of the site’s most popular—and often most asinine—content. Olson had just finished researching the site’s evolution when he zeroed in on the problem. “I concluded that one of the major design flaws in Reddit is that it does not easily facilitate new users finding the smaller, more specific subreddits that are better suited to their interests than the generic, default subreddits.”
He and Dr. Neal developed algorithms to map that complex subreddit network. They spent 8 months gathering data from Reddit about where users post and how often they posted there. When they saw significant numbers of users posting in two different subreddits, they plotted a link on their map. “For example, if the same 1,000 people regularly post to /r/beer and /r/fantasyfootball, we would take that as a hint that the two subreddits are highly related and create a link between them,” Olson says.
The resulting map proves that Reddit isn’t a “single, homogenous entity like the news articles often portray it,” Olson says. Rather, it’s “composed of an enormous and diverse group of people that are brought together by thousands of seemingly-unrelated interests.” In other words, there are plenty of communities that aren’t overrun by porn-obsessives and the internet vigilantes who were trying to find the Boston marathon bombers.
Full story here: Wired and actual map is here: Redditviz.
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Photo credit: Screenshot from rhiever.github.io/redditviz/
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