86 percent of Reddit is “lo-fi content”

A new study found that the vast majority of content posted to the social news site is easily digestible and disposable. 


Fidel Martinez

Internet Culture

Published Apr 9, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 7:00 pm CDT

Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet,” but it might more accurately be categorized as the comics section.

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New data released by Chad Birch, Reddit’s recently hired social media viral cloud synergy analyst, shows that the social news site is largely a forum for images, videos, and audio.

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Birch published a graph Monday night detailing the top 100 external domains submitted to the site as of March 27, 2013. Imgur, the popular image-hosting site, accounted for over 21 percent of all external links submitted to Reddit. Of the 41,122,525 total links, 4,907,577 came from imgur.com, with another 4,013,285 coming from imgur.com.

Coming at a distant second is YouTube, which provided 3,646,276 links to Reddit.

What’s perhaps most interesting about Birch’s numbers is how many submissions come from sites that host easily digestible content (photos, videos, macros, and audio). In fact, and as user hsmith711 pointed out, “86 [percent] of Reddit is ‘low-fi’ content.”

You’d have to move down all the way to the ninth and tenth spots—Wikipedia (178,003) and the New York Times (159,780), respectively—to find an external domain that provides anything resembling substantial content.

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Birch also posted a table ranking of subreddits with the highest numbers of self-posts. Of the 12,435,395 self-posts, 1,498,915 came from r/AskReddit (a subcategory where redditors can ask others just about anything), 293,059 from r/circlejerk (a haven for those looking to poke fun of Reddit’s absurdities), and 275,895 from r/trees (for marijuana enthusiasts).

The site’s dependence on images and video isn’t particularly surprising. In August 2012, following President Obama’s “Ask Me Anything” question and answer session, the Daily Dot dubbed Reddit as “the world’s largest image forum, where famous people occasionally come to promote themselves.”  

That claim was later backed up by a March 2013 series of graphs made by Michigan State University graduate research assistant Randy Olson—with the assistance of the aforementioned Birch—that showed where the bulk of submissions to Reddit were coming from. The top three subreddits were r/funny, r/AdviceAnimals ( apopular hot spot for memes), and r/pics.

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Photo via homard.net/Flickr

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*First Published: Apr 9, 2013, 5:33 pm CDT