A Reddit supernova

Media & PR Nov 25, 2013 A Reddit supernova

Assistant Director Pam Frost Gorder, in Media/PR, notices a trend in viral Research News stories: Reddit.

As much as we’d love for every news release about Ohio State research to go viral on the Internet, we obviously can’t control when it happens. Some stories just seem to connect deeply with people’s interests in that moment.

Recently, we noticed a common denominator among our stories that have gone viral: they all appeared on Reddit.

Recently, we noticed a common denominator among our stories that have gone viral: they all appeared on Reddit, the Internet news behemoth that boasts something like a million readers per day.

That’s what happened in October, when we wrote about the odds of our being able to see a supernova from Earth. Our news tracking service counted 44.5 million potential story views on websites worldwide. Over a three-day period, 36,000 people clicked through from the Reddit blurb to the news release on our site.

For comparison, our next biggest story of 2013 in terms of web traffic was this one on clean coal technology, which received about half as many visits (around 17,000), most from Reddit.

Our biggest story on the Web in 2012 was this one that concerned how people can “lose themselves” in their favorite fictional characters. That story received more than 170,000 views, most of them from… you guessed it: Reddit.

So, what do “Redditors” want to read, when it comes to research? If we graphed their interest in the three aforementioned stories, and tried to imagine what they were thinking as they clicked the link to read more, we might be able to get some highly unreliable yet entertaining answers.


*The smart-aleck chart labeling is due to the fact that the first two stories are in engineering and physical science (my news “beat”) and the other, much more wildly popular story is in the social science beat (written by my boss, Jeff Grabmeier), which always manages to get more media attention than physical sciences or engineering. I’m clearly bitter.

About the author

Pam Frost Gorder - gorder.1@osu.edu
Assistant Director, Research communications
Pam Frost Gorder

Pam writes about research in the mathematical and physical sciences and engineering.

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