Reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the Internet, announced Tuesday that it's presenting a new face to the world. Meet Upvoted, a Reddit news production staffed by journalists dedicated to highlighting content from the sprawling online community.
It's not at all uncommon to see stories at various news organizations -- including this one -- that pull from Reddit's conversations and controversies for stories. Upvoted editorial lead Vickie Chang said that the site is, in part, a response to the way that Reddit's content has been used by other news sites.
"We're hoping to tell the whole story," Chang said. "A lot of stories don’t tell you what led up to [a viral] post, or what happened after. We’re hoping to provide more details for readers."
Giving credit where credit is due is also a major part of Upvoted's philosophy, said Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who noted that every Upvoted story prominently displays the original poster and links back to the Reddit thread that inspired an article.
"We all are pretty aware that, given Reddit’s size and influences, that it surfaces or sources most of the newsworthy content of the day," he said. "The content generated there becomes content for Facebook and Twitter, and that goes all the way to your local morning news program a day later."
Upvoted, then, gives Reddit itself a better opportunity to shape how stories from its site trickle out into the world. The site expects to put out around 10-20 editorial articles per day, with an eye to doing as many as 40. The company will also be releasing one Upvoted podcast and two videos per week, including a video AMA (the Ask Me Anything question-and-answer feature that's a main draw for Reddit) and an episode of a Web series the company is developing. For its video content, Reddit's tapped well-known names such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Nate Silver.
This comes in addition to previously launched original content from Reddit, including a newsletter, podcast and subsection of the site that already bear the Upvoted name.
The benefits of creating original content, to Reddit, may be two-fold. There is the advantage of pulling in more eyeballs, by using Upvoted to package stories in a more user-friendly way. But it also gives it more control over messaging in general.
It's safe to say that the company had a tumultuous summer, including dealing with a revolt from the volunteer moderators of its site after the dismissal of a popular community relations staffer. That exposed there was a schism between Reddit's staff and its core users -- particularly around feelings toward the company's interim chief executive, Ellen Pao and her efforts to exert more control over the site.
Those initiatives, which included a harassment policy to combat some of the worst behavior on Reddit, were aimed at making the site a safer and therefore more palatable place for those outside the core base. But the way those top-down efforts were implemented -- sometimes without a lot of communication with the Reddit community -- did not sit well with its users. Pao stepped down from her post in July.
The fight against Pao, in some ways, underscored the worst of people's attitudes toward Reddit. Some of the rhetoric against her bubbled with misogyny and racism and certainly didn't help the with the perception that Reddit is populated by trolls. With Upvoted, Reddit gets a chance to highlight some of the more positive things happening on its site and control its own narrative as well.
To broaden the appeal of Upvoted -- and, by extension, Reddit -- Chang said that the new site will shy away from a lot of the insider lingo that Reddit's users use as shorthand to avoid confusion, such as referring to an original poster as "OP."
"We’re hoping appease both the hardcore Redditors and non-Redditors alike," Chang said. That said, Upvoted is taking care to engage with top users of Reddit's site in a number of ways, including giving some of the most popular users on its site the option to write their own columns for the site.