Twitter has made a big push to make itself a primary source for live events and a “second screen” companion for TV fans. But Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, speaking on the centre stage at Web Summit in Lisbon today, took that effort apart in a single sentence.
“Hashtags are one of the greatest farces ever foisted upon us. No one follows them during a live event unless you want to see thousands of people shouting ‘goal!’ at the same time,” Ohanian said. “The second screen really is happening on Reddit.”
He was arguing that Reddit, not Twitter, is the better second-screen source for sports and TV fans.
The difference between them is that on Reddit, fans congregate in subreddits dedicated to their favourite teams and shows. Reddit’s open-source algorithms look at “hotness” as well as recency and how many upvotes a comment or post has received. This ranks the content roughly in the order of the things that are most interesting right now, not the things that are most recently published.
Twitter, however, presents its content as a constant stream of the newest tweets, which can feel chaotic and difficult to follow. Even if you follow a hashtag on Twitter, it will mostly sort incoming tweets only by chronology.
Reddit’s rankings improve the likelihood that someone will see the best content right now, he said. “The signal to noise ratio is so good” because upvotes rather than chronology control much of what you see, he said.
There is no upvote on Twitter but you can “favourite” a tweet. Doing that, however, doesn’t move it to greater prominence in someone else’s stream.
“We’re not going to take too many lessons from Twitter,” he said.
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