The Daily Dot is the hometown newspaper for the Web’s varied communities. Starting with Reddit, we celebrate the most interesting and influential people who shape their communities.
Social news site Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet”—a phrase increasingly hard to argue against, considering the site’s unstoppable growth over the past few years. In November, Reddit staff announced that traffic had reached a stunning 1.8 billion pageviews, generated by 30 million unique visitors.
Reddit’s voting system makes it the ultimate experiment in the democratization of news and content. With a population of millions, how can an outsider possibly know who holds the most influence?
Reddit has a handy point system for quantifying contributions to the community. Called karma, it’s awarded in two categories: comments and links. Karma is gained when other redditors upvote you and lost when they downvote you. The more karma you receive, the more you’ve ostensibly contributed to the site.
But karma doesn’t represent everything on Reddit. Volunteer moderators often work in the background, ensuring the site’s tens of thousands of sections, or subreddits, run smoothly. Moderators, or mods, also make decisions about subreddit rules that can affect hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
Karma points also don’t always reflect the weight of ideas as they spread across the community—or the growing scrutiny from outsiders brought on by controversial user activity.
We took a look at who most influenced Reddit in 2011—through contributions, ideas, and moderator activity. Here’s our list of the most influential people on Reddit this year. Agree? Disagree? Weigh in below, tell me what you think on Twitter, or join the discussion on Reddit itself.
violentacrez Pimp Daddy
578,014 link karma, 87,663 comment karma
The most controversial man on Reddit is either a champion of absolute free speech or a self-promoter of sundry perversions, depending on your point of view. Reddit’s so-called “lighthouse of perversity,” violentacrez moderates about 400 subreddits (not 250 as originally reoprted), including the huge r/WTF, r/funny, and dozens of shock, gore, and smut subreddits—including, until recently, r/jailbait.
It was his role as head moderator of that subreddit that put him at the heart of a controversy that, for better or worse, largely defined Reddit in the popular imagination this year: the r/jailbait teen pic scandal.
As the section grew in size and notoriety on Reddit, it began attracting the outraged scrutiny of big names in media, including Gawker and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. That became a major headache for Reddit’s small staff of paid employees, or admins, and was the first major challenge to the site’s voluntary doctrine of absolute free speech.
When some users allegedly used r/jailbait as a launching board for swapping child porn, admins swept in and shut it down. For his part, violentacrez stayed true to his beliefs: He blamed the incident on meddlesome outsiders and fiercely defended the legality of the subreddit and his right to run it unimpeded.
syncretic The Squeaky-Clean Porn King
73,411 link karma, 21,171 comment karma
Absolute karma scores have little to do with real influence, syncretic proves. Sure, his link karma shows he’s got a knack for finding popular content, but that’s just the start of his growing influence on Reddit.
This redditor is singlehandedly redefining “porn”: Instead of the Penthouse sense of the word, in syncretic’s growing empire, “porn” is a catch-call term for any breathtaking image. He’s created repositories for gorgeous shots of everything from villages to animals to maps.
In just ten months, his safe-for-work porn empire has expanded to more than a hundred thousand subscribers, creating a model for growing and maintaining a big, high-quality content network on the site.
A moderator of more than 70 subreddits, syncretic has also played a role in significant Reddit events. He’s part of the mod team that’s made r/pics good again. And his front-page post in June helped launch r/Random_Acts_of_Pizza into the spotlight. That charitable subreddit, where redditors sign up to have pizza delivered to the needy, deserving, or lucky, caught the eye of producers at CNN and ABC. The man’s work ethic and devotion to his volunteer moderator work is second to none, and we expect he’ll have an even bigger influence on Reddit next year.
Amrosorma and the other mods of r/ShitRedditSays
The Anti-Neckbeard Warriors
“936,466 redditors banned”
Just a year old, r/ShitRedditSays (SRS) is a relatively small subreddit of about 6,000 readers. But this community doesn’t measure itself by subscribers: Instead, it keeps score by joking about how many redditors it has banned for opening their mouths and vomiting distasteful word spew.
Wishful thinking aside, how do you get on SRS’s shitlist? Mods say their purpose is to expose racist, sexist, homophobic, or just plain awful comments that have been upvoted on reddit. Detractors say it’s a politically correct downvote squad at best, a liberal circle jerk at worst.
But when shit hits the fan on Reddit, it’s often SRS who launched it in the air. Take r/jailbait, for instance. When people started requesting child porn there, SRS was the first on the scene and can legitimately take credit for helping get the subreddit banned.
andrewsmith1986 Patron Saint of Commenters
13,793 link karma, 325,768 comment karma
We’re pretty sure andrewsmith1986 never logs off Reddit. The guy is a serial commenter, racking up more than 300,000 comment karma over three years. We’d even go so far as to say his brain is hardwired to the site, if we believed in Reddit sci-fi conspiracies.
While some criticize him for his profligate style, andrewsmith1986 has a much bigger role on the site than his constant comment-dropping implies. He’s taken on some heavy moderator duties, including at r/AskReddit and r/IAmA, the site’s popular group-interview series. At r/pics, he’s part of a moderator team that’s helped turn one of Reddit’s most unbearable subreddits into one of the biggest and best. He was also one of two redditors responsible for helping save the jewel in reddit’s crown, r/IAmA, when that subreddit’s creator abruptly shut it down in August.
maxwellhill The Million-Karma Man
1,045,682 link karma, 5,785 comment karma
You can’t argue with a million karma points. Redditor maxwellhill, in fact, is the first (and only) person) to ever hit that milestone. He’s also the moderator of a few dozen subreddits, including r/worldnews, r/politics, and r/technology. Gizmodo proclaimed him the most viral person of the year, beating out well-known non-Reddit personalities like Xeni Jardin and Leo Laporte. We’d temper Gizmodo’s enthusiasm with the sober realization that karma isn’t everything on Reddit. But maxwellhill has a knack for finding stories redditors care about, and framing them with catchy headlines. Click on enough Reddit links, and you can’t miss maxwellhill’s work.
#6 and 7
honestbleeps and solidwhetstone The Enhancers
You can influence reddit with more than just moderation duties and karma. Honestbleeps and solidwhetstone are the folks behind the Reddit Enhancement Suite, a third-party Reddit browser plugin that is a must-have for hardcore redditors and newbies alike. The suite’s robust set of features—endless scroll, comment notifications, better image display, and more—radically alter the Reddit user experience, and it’s been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. If that’s not influence, what is?
blackstar9000 Professor Reddit
64,841 link karma, 43,603 comment karma
If you frequent Reddit’s sparsely populated intellectual suburbs, you’re likely to have come across the name blackstar9000. The erudite mod has created some of the best sections for quality discussions on the site, including the nearly 30,000-member strong r/DepthHub, a place that collates the most edifying conversations on Reddit.
He’s also the sole creator and moderator of r/TheoryOfReddit, which exploded in popularity this year after shout-outs from Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and general manager Erik Martin. Since then, r/TheoryOfReddit has turned into the site’s go-to hub for all discussions of Reddit’s culture and mores, be they in-depth analyses of user-compiled Reddit data or (more common) complaints about Reddit’s supposed downhill slide. In that way, blackstar9000 has created the most influential public space on Reddit for shaping the attitudes of the supposedly democratic site’s elite.
Poromenos Sultan of Rage
4,776 link karma, 144,561 comment karma
Reddit’s nearly 300,000-member strong rage-comics section, r/F7U12, is an engine for meme creation. Or, perhaps more accurately, an engine for meme perpetuation. And it all began with Poromenos, who created F7U12 two years ago as a kind of dumping ground for rage comics, those crudely drawn, repetitive cartoons which had begun taking over other sections of the site.
This year, F7U12 has continued to expand at a rapid pace, spinning off a half-dozen new sections (r/ragenovels, r/ragetoons, and r/EFLComics, to name a few). Rage comics and their characters have become a kind of Internet language and a mainstay of Web culture.
Meanwhile, Poromenos has hardly slunk back into the moderator shadows. He’s been involved in two much-talked-about moderator vs. user controversies in the section, and remains one of the top honchos in Reddit’s kingdom of rage.
ProbablyHittingOnYou King Gabberer
14,025 link karma, 540,330 comment karma
ProbablyHittingOnYou is everywhere. So much, so, in fact, that he’s even earned his own acronym: PHOY. You’re more likely to have run into a comment by PHOY than any other redditor on the site, except (maybe) andrewsmith1986. In just a year on the site, he set a record for comment karma with a half-million points, giving hope to newcomers everywhere. PHOY is an omnipresent force on the site and helps moderate some of Reddit’s biggest subreddits, including r/AskReddit and r/IAmA. Oh, and he’s got his own subreddit for discussion of all things PHOY.