digg vs reddit vs slashdot vs stumbleupon – who’s the daddy?

traffic spike from digg reddit stumbleupon and slashdotSocial news and bookmarking sites, such as reddit.com, digg.com, slashdot.org and stumbleupon.com, use voting by users or selection by editors to rank interesting stories. Much to my surprise, I recently had an article from this blog featured prominently on all four of these popular sites. This generated a large amount of traffic and gave me an interesting opportunity to turn the tables, by using my hit statistics to rank these sites.

On the 16th August I published an article about a little experiment I did to prove that many software download sites hand out awards automatically, without reviewing the software. Most developers who have submitted software to such sites probably suspected this already. But the experiment proved it conclusively by garnering awards for software that didn’t even run.

I wrote the article because I wanted to shine some light on this unsavoury practise. I wanted it to be as widely read as possible, so I posted a link to it on a few software developer and entrepreneur forums that I frequent. Later in the day I posted it to reddit.com. I also added my vote to the people who had already posted it to digg.com and programming.reddit.com. I expected a few hundred people would read the article, mostly regular readers of my blog. But it got voted up and made its way on to the home page of reddit.com. Traffic started to flood in.

My recollections of the next few days are a bit hazy as it all happened rather quickly. From the front page of reddit.com the article made its way across the front pages of digg.com, and then slashdot.org, like a electronic Mexican wave. The article also appeared on the home page of WordPress.com and received traffic from social bookmarking sites stumbleupon.com and del.icio.us. Large numbers of blogs and forums also linked to the article. Hits on my blog peaked on the 17th at 53,422 hits for the day.

total blog hits per day

blog hits from reddit, digg, slashdot and stumbleupon

A few observations from the data:

  • The social news sites have the attention span of a one year old on amphetamines. The hits from digg.com went from 15,161 on Friday to just 648 on Saturday.
  • The article was linked to from 375 blogs (according to technorati.com) and an unknown number of forums and other sites. The top 4, 10 and 20 sites account for 52%, 61% and 65% of the total traffic, respectively. A long tail of less popular sites makes up the rest.
  • Things really took off once the article reached the front page of reddit.com. I visualise the links spreading across the Internet analogous to a sub-atomic chain reaction. Just as energetic particles decompose into cascades of ever smaller particles, bigger sites propogate their links to ever larger numbers of smaller and smaller sites.
  • The onslaught was wide, but not deep. A relatively low percentage of readers followed links in the article or read other articles on my blog. While that still made quite an impact on the number of visitors to the home page of my seating planner software PerfectTablePlan, there were few additional downloads and (according to my cookie tracking) 0 additional sales. This is not too surprising when you think how untargetted the traffic is. Experience has shown me that small volumes of targetted traffic make more sales than large volumes of untargetted traffic. But still, one of you must know someone who is getting married? ;0)


Totalling all the visitors to the blog over the 5 days I give you the successfulsoftware.net official ranking for social news and bookmarking sites.

stumbleupon, digg, reddit and slashdot

Here is the full top 20:

top 20 referrer sites

The article has generated a lot of comments. I particularly enjoyed the reviews here (I hope they haven’t been deleted). Interestingly the order of the number of comments/reviews for the 4 top sites is very different to the number of hits.

comments and reviews on stumbleupon. digg, reddit and slashdot

Please don’t take my ranking too seriously. The story reached similar positions on the reddit, digg and slashdot home pages[1], but my methodology here is far from rigorous. A different type of story on a different day might have resulted in a quite different ranking. Amongst other issues:

  • The WordPress stats only show the top 40 referrers for each day.
  • The article made the front page of different sites at different times.
  • Just because someone clicked through, doesn’t mean they actually read the article.
  • My article might simply have been more interesting to the type of people who read one site than the type of people who read another.
  • I have no way of knowing whether any of the visitors were bots.

But social news sites aren’t exactly rigorous in their ranking either.

Please note that I created this blog to write about what it takes to successfully create and market commercial software. I don’t intend to become another blogger blogging about blogging. It’s bad for your eyesight (see point #10 here). Normal service will be resumed shortly.

[1] To the best of my knowledge the article reached a highwater mark of positions 1,2 and 2 on slashdot.org, reddit.com and digg.com respectively and was featured in one of the ‘popular’ pages on stumbleupon.

32 thoughts on “digg vs reddit vs slashdot vs stumbleupon – who’s the daddy?

  1. Scott Carpenter

    That’s really useful stats, thanks for publishing the details. Personally I’ve found Stumbleupon traffic to be the least targeted in the past in regards to the number of customer inquiries and conversions.

    Oh and sorry for dobbing you in to Digg ;)

  2. Renaud Martinon

    Congratulations, you are now number 1 result on Google for “one year old on amphetamines”. That should bring you some visits. :)

  3. Stephane Grenier

    Hi Andy,

    Firstly, congratulations on the success of your article. Even though it might not have increased sales for PerfectTablePlan, getting 53,422 hits in one day is no laughing matter. And by hits I assume you mean unique visitors? The exposure will probably lead to other opportunities and further exposure. Although not directly, you never know where it may lead…

    Also, have you noticed if your RSS subscriptions have gone up since? I find that whenever I write an article that gets more attention, my feed subscriptions go up by a bit. It’s never close to the immediate web traffic (I don’t think I’ve ever hit that scale for a single day), but the traffic bursts generally have a tendency to pick more RSS subscribers. I assume this happened to you but to a greater degree. If you don’t know or don’t wish to share, I can completely appreciate that.

  4. Andy Brice Post author

    >Personally I’ve found Stumbleupon traffic to be the least targeted in the past in regards to the number of customer inquiries and conversions.

    I think you are right. I have tried advertising with stumbleupon in the past and the conversion rate was dismal.

    >Oh and sorry for dobbing you in to Digg

    Thanks. I think! ;0)

  5. Andy Brice Post author

    >And by hits I assume you mean unique visitors?

    No, page impressions. I contacted wordpress, but they weren’t able to give me more detailed stats. I thought I noticed some Google Analytics code in the WordPress template though, so maybe it is possible to get detailed stats. It would be interesting (in a nerdy way) to see the stats hour by hour from the main sites.

    >The exposure will probably lead to other opportunities and further exposure. Although not directly, you never know where it may lead…

    I’ve had a few interesting and unusal emails already…

  6. Stephane Grenier

    Hi Andy,

    That’s very interesting on the page impressions. Based on the type of traffic the page impressions is probably very close to the number of unique visitors… Either way a good success!

    And it’s great to hear you’ve already had some interesting and unusual emails (assuming they’re the good kind). If you do any follow-ups, to the article please don’t think twice about posting it on your blog. I’m sure everyone would be very interested.

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  9. kenekaplan

    Great stuff! Very interesting to think how you stepped back and tried connecting the dots on your posts’ journey. Was there a bump in subscriptions to your blog? Thank you. Cheers!

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  11. Nick Hebb

    > The article has generated a lot of comments. I particularly
    > enjoyed the reviews here
    > (http://www.topshareware.com/reviews/53438-2/awardmestars.htm)

    My pseudonym was Slacker. Hope you enjoyed that one. :-)

    On a more serious note, it made me realize that I never post reviews of software that I really do like. I’ve added “post software reviews” to my to-do list for all the unheralded tools that have made my life easier lately.

  12. internetexplorer

    Hmm. Either the color is off on my monitor or else your chart shows “other” as number one and Stumbleupon.com as number four. This is referring to the chart titled “Hits per Day by Source.” Some confusion in reading the chart could be caused by the closeness of the colors selected to represent them, but surely not by the person who put the data together for the article? I guess what I am saying is can you explain to me the difference between what your chart shows and the conclusion reached in the text. Thank you.

  13. Andy Brice Post author

    ‘other’ is the long tail of other sources apart from the big 4, comprising hundreds of blogs, forums and websites.

    Stumbleupon gave the greatest number of hits in total, but not the greatest number on the peak day.

    I agree the colours aren’t great. Blame Excel.

  14. internetexplorer

    Thanks, Andy; that makes perfect sense now that you’ve explained it. By the way, I also want to compliment you on your comments I just finished reading in some of your other articles. Do any of your comments get published on dead trees? If not, they should be.

  15. Matthew Sherborne

    Interesting conclusions from your amazing article publicity. I’ve had my doubts about the quality of traffic from the top social bookmarking sites for quite a while.

    I started a forum a few months back and added a lot of quality content. I then proceeded to use StumbleUpon to drive traffic to those pages. While my stats show thousands of visitors over a short period of time there have been very little sign ups to the forum itself. Even though a valuable section is out of bounds without sign up.

    I’m still experimenting with sites like Digg, Reddit and Twitter. Although from your conclusions it looks like the value of the visitors are much the same.

  16. Liam Delahunty

    Keep monitoring your traffic for a few weeks, you’ll probably find that Stumbleupon will continue to send visitors at a fairly steady rate, whilst the other social sites tend to completely dry up.

  17. Andy Brice Post author


    That has been exactly my experience. Hits on the ‘software awards scam’ article today:
    stumbleupon: 1854
    digg: 57
    slashdot: 6
    reddit: 0

  18. Matt Jones

    Interesting info. You really did no promotion for these posts to get them on page1? They just got voted to the top on all those sites by themselves. wow.

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  24. jimmy s

    personally i use the service ://URLFAN and their Buzz Radar which to me is more transparent in regards to whats going on the blogosphere


    urlfan crunches all the data from over a couple million rss feeds and tracks what’s moving in the blogosphere. there’s no human intervention so it’s able to float top stories faster than the standard vote up/down digg and reddit use. according to alexa, urlfan is about to overtake reddit in terms of reach and rank so they must be doing something right.

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  26. g6

    According to compete.com, Digg is the king (although compete is not entirely accurate, the gap between Digg and the others is substantial).

  27. randomBLOG

    thank you, very nice blog post, though with sites like digg and stumbleupon, you have to have ‘fans’ and ‘followers’ to get hits from them, with out having an established fan base, they are pretty much useless, sites like reddit, anyone can have huge hits in one day, fade away really fast, but also with multiple posts to a site like reddit, your site will fall into the spam filter and never be seen again.

    thank you though, lots of good information

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