Stanford Computer Scientists Just Figured Out How To Create The Ultimate Viral Reddit Post


According to Business Insider, a team of Stanford computer scientists have developed mathematical models explaining the various factors that go into a Reddit post’s popularity. Some of the insights are intuitive, and others are unexpectedly fascinating.

Ph.D. student Himabindu Lakkaraju, post-doc Julian McAuley, and assistant professor Jure Leskovec provided some graphs for the simplified version of their math-heavy paper, which you can read in full here. Among the team’s insights:

  • If you’re submitting to a specific subreddit — like /r/atheism — there is a direct correlation between relevance of headline and popularity. If you’re submitting to a generic community — like /r/Funny or /r/Gaming — it’s best to hit a happy medium between “unique” and generic. See the chart below:
Reddit Study

Now I know why my “10 Totally WTF Photos of Twerking Chimps!” post never caught on in /r/atheism.

  • Posts with positive words/ideas — especially in the headline — are generally more popular than negative or hate-filled headlines.
  • The /r/Gaming community on Reddit prefers nouns in their headlines; positive adjectives are preferred by /r/Funny community. See chart below:

Reddit Study

  • Shorter sentences are always better; so are headlines phrased as questions, particularly in the /r/Funny community (i.e. “Best Stools Ever?”)
  • Consistently, the highest-rated “blockbuster” posts are original content. Don’t be afraid to actually create something and submit.