Reddit's 'Robin' is a brilliant social experiment that pits millions of internet users against each other

Last year, Reddit’s “The Button” made everybody’s April Fools’ Day a lot more stressful.

Now, Reddit is following it up with Robin, a very mysterious week-long social experiment that once again challenges the link-sharing community’s 36 million users to work together.

Reddit hasn’t shared much information about this game, or its goal. But unlike last time with “The Button,” it looks like Robin will have some clear winners and a lot of losers.

Here’s how it works, according to the best information we have.

First, go to Reddit.com/robin/join, where it once again begins with a button:

Click it once, and it reveals a second button labelled “Participate.” Push that one, and you’re put into a chatroom with one other stranger:

If you and the other person both vote to “Grow,” via the button the right, you and your new friend are placed into another chatroom with another two additional people.

From there, the apparent goal is to get your group to grow as large as possible. If a majority of the chatroom votes “Grow,” it seems that it will match you up with another group of the same size — meaning that every successful “Grow” vote doubles your group’s size, from 2 people to 4 to 8 to 16 to 32 and exponentially larger from there.

People are getting really into it:

But it’s not quite as easy as it looks. Robin only keeps the polls open for a few minutes at a time. And if not everybody votes, it’s automatically counted as an “Abandon” vote, and everybody starts back at their group of two, no matter how big they had gotten.

It means that players have to keep an eye on their web browser if they want to win. Robin offers an option to receive desktop notifications in the Chrome browser to remind you when it’s time to vote.

And, of course, trolls can easily ruin any good Robin streak by voting to Stay or Abandon, which either stalls or demolishes all progress through the game. On the other hand, clicking “Stay” also generates a new “subreddit” for you to permanently interact with your new friends.

Reddit robin reactsMatt Weinberger/Business InsiderReddit reacts to Robin

It’s led to a weird competitive social dynamic on Reddit: Just in my short time playing Robin, I’ve seen players who were late to voting be subjected to weird vindictive scorn in revenge, including going through and “downvoting” all of their Reddit posts.

The game will end on April 8th, Reddit says. And while the official win conditions haven’t yet been announced, it seems fair to assume that the largest successful group will win.

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