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Tech Thursday, June 21st 2012 at 11:35 am

Reddit Was Built On Legions of Fake Accounts

Reddit has never been a place where you could necessarily connect one user with one account. Parody accounts are commonplace — to a fault if you ask some — and there have been more than one fiasco involving users who pretend to be different people with different accounts; it’s crazy. It’s also extremely fitting. Why? Because when Reddit was first started, it was populated almost entirely with content submitted by fake users.

In a video for online educator Udacity, Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman explains both the method, and the reasoning behind it. Essentially, Huffman set up a submission interface through which they could pick not only the URL and the title, but also the user’s name. Upon submission, the name would be registered, and make it look like Reddit had more users than it actually did.

The plan was a very “fake it ’til you make it” sort of thing; by submitting the kind of content they wanted to see under the guise of being other people, Reddit’s founders were able to attract exactly the kind of people they were pretending to be. The overall effect was that, over time, all of these fake users basically were replaced by real people who, for all intents and purposes, said, did, liked, and submitted the same things the fake ones (Huffman and fellow cofounder Alexis Ohanian) did. It jump-started the site.

Now, of course, the majority of Reddit users are real, unless there’s a secret underground complex of hundreds, maybe thousands of sweatshop web-surfers, playing the role of the millions of users that post to Reddit every day. Whether or not you feel like starting the website with a bunch of fake accounts is cheating, you have to admit it went over like gangbusters. What wildy successful Internet community can you say you created by initially populating it almost exclusively with yourself?

(via Daily Dot)

Now the Reddit community does cool stuff like:

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Dan Abrams, Founder