Subreddit Links Drive Community Creation and User Engagement on Reddit

by   Rachel Krohn, et al.

On Reddit, individual subreddits are used to organize content and connect users. One mode of interaction is the subreddit link, which occurs when a user makes a direct reference to a subreddit in another community. Based on the ubiquity of these references, we have undertaken a study on subreddit links on Reddit, with the goal of understanding their impact on both the referenced subreddit, and on the subreddit landscape as a whole. By way of an extensive observational study along with several natural experiments using the entire history of Reddit, we were able to determine that (1) subreddit links are a significant driver of new suberddit creation; (2) subreddit links (2a) substantially drive activity in the referenced subreddit, and (2b) are frequently created in response to high levels of activity in the referenced subreddit; and (3) the graph of subreddit links has become less dense and more treelike over time. We conclude with a discussion of how these results confirm, add to, and in some cases conflict with existing theories on information-seeking behavior and self-organizing behavior in online social systems.


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