Reddit is mired in "shit."

In a March 16 post on the academic statistics site BadgerStats, Nathan Calverley compiled data that measured a feature of Reddit that is just as common as memes and reposts: swear words.

To perform the study, Calverley used the programming language "R" to analyze over 2.5 million words in comments gathered from the top 50 subreddits.

"Not surprisingly, /r/4chan is the most profane of the top 50 subreddits, and it’s actually not very close, as a whopping 1.1 percent of all words in the /r/4chan subreddit are swear words," Calverley wrote.

That means one out of every 100 words in /r/4chan comments is a swear word.

His data also placed default subreddits like /r/AdviceAnimals, /r/AskReddit, and /r/videos in Reddit's top 10 most profane communities.

At the other end of the scale, the amount of profanity decreased within smaller communities like /r/askscience and /r/photoshopbattles. Interestingly, the least profane community of the top 50 subreddits was /r/gentlemanboners, where only a mere .02 percent of its comments include profanity. A gentleman may get a boner, but at least he refrains from naughty language.

Next, Calverley grouped the most commonly-used swear words on Reddit and compared them to a study from Sept. 2013 that detailed the profanity of choice from Facebook users. The swear word of choice for both redditors and Facebook users appears to be "shit," with "fuck" coming in second and "damn" coming in third.

From there, Facebook swears tend to become a little less severe, with "crap" and "bitch" rounding out the top five spots. Redditors, on the other hand, are a bit raunchier, with "ass" and "bullshit" in the fourth and fifth place spots, respectively.

To test Calverley's conclusions, I performed my own study of Reddit profanity. Using Reddit's "search" feature, I was able to compile results for profanity used as part of post titles and descriptions, as opposed to comments. After spending the better part of two grueling minutes doing this, I discovered that:

  • A search for "shit" does indeed produce more results (approximately 669,000) than a search for "fuck" (approximately 596,000).

  • The default community /r/AskReddit produces the most results for both words. The smaller community /r/depression also ranks pretty high.

  • In the all-time top-rated post on /r/4chan, "Fitizen plays a prank on his friend" from August 2013, "shit" appears in the comments eight times, while "fuck" appears 18 times.

In conclusion, it looks like redditors—particularly those subscribed to /r/4chan—need to clean up their language a bit. Remember: A gentlemen only gets boners; he doesn’t swear about them.

Image via RebeccaBarray/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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