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The Reddit sleuths who brought down the QuickMeme empire - The Daily Dot

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Fernardo Alfonso has the whole story:

Image macros are the bread and butter of r/AdviceAnimals, a community that would soon grow to more than 2.5 million users and dominate a certain part of Web culture, proliferating memes that bled into mainstream culture, from Ridiculously Photogenic Guy to Grumpy Cat.

And all along, gtw08 sat on the moderator rolls, holding immense power over which links survived and died in the subreddit.

This is the story how three redditors eventually brought him down, along with the biggest image macro site in the world.

Mother of God:

By the summer of 2012, Quickmeme was seeing 70 million unique visitors and a half-billion pageviews, according to Wayne Miltz.

They had only launched in July 2010!

Also amazing:

In April of this year, Quickmeme was the third-most submitted domain on Reddit, with more than 1 million posts. Only the photo-sharing site Imgur and YouTube had more posts, with 8.9 million and 3.6 million, respectively. The second-most popular meme-related domain, Memegenerator had only been submitted 10 percent as many times as Quickmeme.
Quickmeme was now netting the brothers around $1.6 million a month, according to independent analytics site Worth Of Web. The traffic came largely thanks to referral traffic from Reddit's homepage—the self proclaimed "front page" of the Internet, which collects more than 71 million monthly visitors. Quickmeme was a fundamental part of the Reddit ecosystem.

Redditors are all about transparency:

"You brought this upon yourself," ManWithoutModem said about Miltz. "You already had a popular website, but you were just afraid of having some actual competition. So you did all you could in your power to stomp it out."

You have to be really careful to treat Reddit with respect:

While the players and methods of manipulation may be different, this isn’t the first voting scandal to hit Reddit. As one of the top 50 most visited sites in the world, Reddit’s front page directs a millions of readers and, as a result, serious advertising money to any site luckily enough to reach it.

And as with any pot of gold, the search for front-page traffic has led people do some crazy tactics—including buying upvotes, paying off powerful moderators, and even tasking employees with embedding themselves within Reddit.

In April 2012, the Daily Dot, working off tips from redditors,revealed that Jared Keller, then the associate editor and social media editor at the Atlantic, had been spamming Reddit daily to drive huge amounts of traffic to the site. Keller was so proficient at gaming Reddit's algorithm that he collected 176,000 link karma and, at one time, ranked in the top 30 among all users on the site. Keller's account was banned. The entire Atlanticdomain also received a temporary ban.

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