posted year-end numbers this afternoon including January and December page view stats that climbed from 250 million pageviews to more than 3X that number, 829 million.Social news site Reddit
Former ReadWriteWeb writer Frederic Lardinois wrote up the numbers on his personal blog Newsgrange (we miss you, Frederic!) and said he did not believe that Digg's troubles this year were the cause of Reddit's growth. But I think it's hard to believe that wasn't a major factor. Digg has long been the much bigger social news site but has slowed to a crawl after users grew unsatisfied with changes made by management seeking to make the site more democratic, more personalized and more mainstream. The resulting exodus couldn't help but have contributed at least some growth to Reddit, a site that's very similar in function if very different in tone. Either way, the moral of the story may be that social news, voted on by users in aggregate, is not dead.
The tension between the two sites has been intense all year. In late August, a redesign of Digg faltered and was widely criticized. On August 30th, Digg users angry about changes to Digg voted every Reddit story to the front page and filled Digg.com entirely with Reddit-imported content. On the next day, it was reported that Digg CEO Kevin Rose would step down from the company's helm and be replaced by Amazon.com's Matt Williams.
Meanwhile, things at Reddit tend to have a very different tone and that was evident in the year-end round up. Reddit users pride themselves in their generosity towards the rest of the world. The site raised almost a million dollars for Haiti and other global crises this year. It also began a new program wherein users can donate their activity data on the site to independent researchers, something which thousands chose to do and which we wrote about enthusiastically in October as a potential model for all other social sites.
While comparisons with Digg are hard to avoid (Digg was bigger, is far more juvenile, into cults of personality, swamped with spam-for-hire sleaze-bags, antagonistic towards women, unsuccessful in building niche communities and without an attractive mobile site) it's only fair to acknowledge that building sites like these is much harder than it might appear. Yahoo's Digg copy-cat site Buzz, for example, was heralded as the game-ending giant entry into this market when it was launched two and a half years ago but the December announcement of its pending closure warranted less than a sniffle compared to the uproar about Yahoo saying it was closing social bookmarking service Delicious.
For reference, the 800 million monthly pageviews Reddit saw in December is the same number that Netscape.com was seeing in 2006 when AOL decided to turn it into a social news Digg-competitor. That effort angered Netscape news portal users, who revolted until the social news effort was moved to Propeller.com, itself just a memory now.
Meanwhile, Reddit keeps getting better and much, much bigger. Or, if this was as they say on Reddit too long didn't read, here's how the team summarizes the news: "2010 was a great year for reddit, and 2011's gonna be so awesome it'll make 2010 look like 2009."