Reddit Digs for ‘Gold’ in Premium Subscriptions

By Devon Glenn 

Rising server costs and surging traffic have led the reddit team to resurrect an existing, but long-neglected premium feature of the link-sharing site called reddit gold.

“We have a choice to make,” reddit CEO Yishan Wong in a blog post. “We can start running a bunch more ads, or we can give you, the community, more reasons to support the site with your own money through reddit gold.” In other words, reddit is trying to monetize, and it’s trying not to screw it up.

The gold comes in the form of monthly and annual subscriptions, as well as “creddits” to save for later or give to others. The premium service will be both a testing ground for new features and an opportunity for reddit’s die-hard fans to get more out of the site, which looks wildly out of date considering how popular it is with those who use it.

In a job listing for a generalist engineer, the company tells applicants, “you should have a solid understanding of what criteria/boundaries might separate a ‘permanent gold feature’ from a ‘feature preview for gold users but eventually should be available to all.’ We’re not looking to take features hostage just for the sake of making money. Think Amazon Prime, not WSJ paywall.”

To the users, reddit has already promised the following:

  • An oft-requested feature: comment saving and filtering saves by subreddit
  • Ability to give gold to other peoples’ comments you really like (we call it “gilding”)
  • Some upgrades and fun stuff in the members-only lounge that may or may not exist
  • We might add a remote-controlled office robot you can drive. Under construction.

Even with 46 million unique visitors who racked up 3.8 billion page views in October alone, reddit is still a tight community.

Most redditors are liberal, 20-something, college-educated men with a sharp sense of humor. They populate numerous subreddits, both public and private, where the community members explore niche topics.

They also control the site’s hierarchy with a simple button for voting content — and other people’s comments — up or down on the page.

As we saw with Michael Brutsch, the troll who was outed for posting sexually explicit photos of women without their permission, reddit’s administrators censor the users only in extreme cases involving minors.

A frustrated user named Gail Gardner complained on Quora, “Redditors are extremely hard on newbies, voting down whatever you submit and sometimes even whatever comments you make without providing the least hint of why. Are there just a lot of people there who enjoy that behavior or do you have to have a really thick skin or is that just not the kind of site for me?”

One can only imagine what redditors would do to an advertiser.