Reddit built on flawed algorithm, programmers claim
Two separate programmers have announced that the algorithm Reddit is primarily built on is flawed. The algorithm, which the network uses to sort its posts, has a bug in a way affects new posts negatively. According to programmer Ian Greenleaf, the problem occurs when a new post gets a few negative votes before it gets any positive votes, impacting its vote score and reducing it to less than zero.
“Imagine one submission made a year ago, and another submission made just now. The year-old submission received 2 upvotes, and today’s submission received two downvotes. This is a small difference – perhaps today’s submission got off to a bad start and will rebound shortly with several upvotes. But under this implementation, today’s submission now has a negative hotness score and will rate lower than the submission from last year.”
This means that a lot of new posts get subjected to some sort of “purgatory”, where they will never be encountered by other Redditors. This is a significant typo that can impact Reddit’s role as a major distributor of traffic around the internet, which in turn affects advertising. Greenleaf’s discovery was backed up by Jonathan Rochkind, another programmer who looked into the typo in the algorithm.
Their claims have been rebutted by what appears to be a Reddit administrator, who points out that the raison d’etre for Reddit depends on a ranking of posts, so disliked posts being hidden is more or less a given. The debate continues.