How I cheat Reddit with Auto voting software…
What is Reddit
For those of you who don’t know, Reddit is a gateway for whats new and popular on the Internet. Users submit content that they find interesting (usually a link to a site or an image) and then other users vote it up or down depending on how interesting they think it is.
The thing with Reddit is that you need a little push to get a story going. No matter how interesting your picture, story or video is, if you don’t have that initial push of votes then it’s unlikely to go anywhere.
Reddit Traffic Stats
- 429 million page views
- 36 million visits
- 8 million unique visitors
The objective of these tests was to find out just how much traffic can be generated by submitting stories to Reddit and giving them a head start with shill votes. Since Reddit users are notorious for not clicking adverts, I focused more on product placement than ad clicks.
I started by creating around 100 accounts, each account on a unique IP address. The accounts were created semi-automatically – I just had to complete the captcha. For the short time it takes to type out 100 captchas, it’s not even worth trying to code in OCR.
The next step was to come up with pictures or stories that were at least a little bit interesting and submit them to Reddit. I then used the newly created accounts to automatically place votes on my stories.
I varied between upvotes and downvotes on the story. Varying the votes has two advantages – firstly it helps the votes look natural and secondly it puts the story into the ‘controversial’ area. So even if the story doesn’t have enough votes to hit the front page of the section it was submitted to, it will still get a lot of traffic due to being high up in the controversial section. Provided what’s submitted is actually a little bit interesting, it will generally get many natural upvotes from there hit the front page of the section it was submitted to.
Creating accounts and voting (Video)
The video below includes clips of the account generation and voting scripts running. I’ve only blacked out information to put off regular Reddit users. I’m aware that leaving the Story_ID, IDEN etc will most likely lead to all of these accounts being banned by Reddit admins. Luckily this is only a sample set of accounts created specifically for this blog post :p
Test 1 – Product Placement (Image submission)
My first test was to submit an image which highlighted Apples’ habit of simply swapping the dollar sign for the great British pound sign when launching new products. In this case it was the launch of the new Apple TV. I knew this image would spark some debate. Some would defend Apple and the reasoning behind the pricing and some would complain against it.
For this test I aimed at a competitive category. I submitted the image directly to the [PICS] subreddit. In the first 8 hours the image received around 40,000 views. After about 24 hours the views died down and settled on just under 45,000 views.
Test 1 – Conclusion
Although the image could be seen as slightly negative due to the debate caused over the pricing, there’s now tens of thousands of people aware that Apple just launched a new product. Success!
Test 2 – Traffic generation (Blog page)
For this test, I targeted a much smaller category, [BEER]. Instead of linking directly to the image, I linked to the blog post in order to get people to land on the blog itself and perhaps have a look around at other posts. The post in question was the beer can man I posted a few days ago. It took only a small number of automated votes to hit the “HOT” list in the [BEER] subreddit.
Test 2 – Conclusion
The test was a success, the story hit the top of the beer category very quickly and sat in the top ten for the next 24 hours. However, since it’s not that popular of a category, the traffic wasn’t huge.
This is a quick update for all the Reddit users who’ve only just now noticed this post (even though I submitted it to Reddit myself!). A lot of you don’t seem to get it. This isn’t about increasing Link Karma or making a story look popular to the advertiser. Let me break this down for you:
1) An advertiser has a product or service that they want to promote. They create something interesting related to this product/service, such as a funny image or blog post and then give it to me.
2) I submit the story to Reddit and give it a boost with fake votes.
3) The fake votes push the story up so that a lot of people see it. It will get an initial surge of traffic because people think it’s already been voted up by other genuine users. Then, provided it’s genuinely interesting, it will get genuine votes and comments from there.
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