Fifteen days of Digg and Reddit activity (in chart form)

Ever wondered what the velocity of links is like on the front pages of social news sites Digg and Reddit? One company has tracked both for the past two weeks.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read
Reddit and Digg logos

Social news sites Digg and Reddit arguably have the same core objective: providing a never-ending stream of interesting links from around the Web. But there's long been grumbling among users on both sites about which site has a larger influence, and where each one gets its source material.

To answer these questions, and a few others, personal finance site Rate Rush watched both sites for two weeks and tracked who was submitting stories, which domains were getting featured on the front page, the most popular topics and words used in titles, and the velocity of links by hour and day.

The findings pointed to Digg featuring a faster flow of stories from a larger grouping of sites. During the two weeks it was under watch, it had a far greater number of links that hit the front page, averaging around 303 a day. This played out the same by the hour, with Digg outpacing Reddit on the number of front page links every hour of the day with no exceptions.

Beyond story velocity, the two most interesting things to come out of the findings were the breakdown of domains that were featured on each site's home page, and the number of same stories that would show up on one site before the other.

The most popular domains featured on Digg during that two week period were YouTube, Telegraph.co.uk, and Break.com, while over at Reddit it was image host Imgur (which was created by a Redditor), followed by Reddit.com itself, then YouTube. Between the two domain breakdowns, Digg had what could be considered a healthier distribution of links, with the fourth through tenth spots on the Top 10 list taking up about the same amount of space. Reddit, however had the a much more consolidated group of sites fighting for a smaller share of front page links.

A breakdown of front page links by the hour for Reddit and Digg (click to enlarge). Rate Rush

Rate Rush's study did find out one thing that will likely make Reddit users happy. The number of links from Reddit that showed on Digg was higher than the number of links going in the other direction. This means that despite Reddit having a smaller output of front page links than Digg (which posts more than twice as many stories), it arguably had the edge on posting those specific stories first.

There are a few things not mentioned in Rate Rush's infographic that should make you take the report with a grain of salt. The first one being that the two social sites have slightly different means of promoting content to the front page. On Reddit, submitted links are farmed out to various subtopics (called sub-Reddits), and the popular ones make it to a mixed front page. Once there, they can move up or down the "what's hot" page depending on how popular they are, meaning there might be less room for new links if the old ones stay on top for several hours. By comparison, items that hit the front page of Digg slowly move down the page as others get promoted.

The study also did not take into account the new version of Digg, which replaces the traditional front page with one that's custom tailored to show only news from people or sources you follow. Once this version is launched, it could dramatically change the types of stories that get promoted by the general Digg populace, as well as how fast they make it to the front page.

You can see the whole chart over at Rate Rush.

Related: A scientific formula for popularity on Digg, YouTube