Edit: Make sure you decide for yourself on what to believe. I don’t want to be spreading Fake News. That’s for CNN.
Being incredibly active on The_Donald subreddit, I watch everything. I watch the front page, I stare at the new tab twenty three hours a day, and I keep an eye on the subscriber count.
For the past few days, I’ve noticed something interesting. The subscriber count is just wrong. It’s completely wrong.
I first noticed a few days ago when we were running up to 370,000 subscribers. I watched it tick over, and over the next day it didn’t look right. It didn’t look like we were gaining as many subscribers as our graph shows. The graph I am referencing is from the OFFICIAL statistic page for the subreddit. Every subreddit has one.
First of all, I’d like to clear this up:
Subscriber counts on the sidebar absolutely do update instantly – they don’t seem to be cached for any more than at most a few seconds, because /r/redacted and other subreddits update whenever I refresh the page. As far as I can tell, subscriber counts don’t update instantly on /r/the_donald – you can check that for yourself by refreshing the page after a few seconds (it should probably only take 10 seconds or so) and seeing the change. Check a bigger subreddit – it’ll update every single refresh.
I took to Wayback Machine to figure out what exactly was wrong with the subscriber count on The_Donald, because I just had a feeling it was wrong – but I didn’t have any concrete proof.
Thankfully the subreddit is archived on Wayback Machine many, many times a day. This made is easy to find (what is, in my opinion) evidence for our subscriber count being interfered with.
I just refreshed /r/redacted again as I typed this, 5 minutes after I last refreshed, and they went up another 7 subscribers.
Before I show “evidence”, I’d like to mention a possible cause for this, and also a reason for why the possible cause isn’t likely.
The Reddit traffic stats page does not count unsubscriptions. It could be that the subreddit is losing many subscribers, but it’s unlikely. Very, very unlikely. The subreddit was never a default, which means that everyone who subscribed clicked the sub button themselves, and nor is the subreddit running out of steam. There’s just no reason to unsubscribe on a mass scale.
Additionally, if we were actually losing subscribers, the amount of subscribers we lose on any given day would not be in any way correlative to the amount we gain. For example, why would we lose more subs on a day where we also gain more? We’d lose the same amount every day, and considering the net gain is so small on some days (160 gained net on December 29th) there’d surely be a day where we overall lose subs. I didn’t find any days like that.
Our subscriber count is being adjusted.
It’s hard to specifically pinpoint definite errors between counts since Reddit’s graph timezone and Wayback Machine’s timezones are different.
I’ll give you data according to Wayback Machine for a 24 hour period on some dates which are also on Reddit’s graph. This is the only responsible method I can come up with.
- December 29th – 326,624 to 326,784, change of 160
- December 30th – 326,802 to 327,096, change of 294
- December 31st – 327,096 to 327,373, change of 277
- January 1st – 327,381 to 327,615, change of 234
- January 2nd – 327,613 to 327,893, change of 280
You can see the data from Reddit’s official graph which suggests completely different numbers for these days.
We should have been gaining about a thousand a day but we were gaining about 200? You can also see this here.
Skip ahead to the start of February and take some dates from Wayback Machine.
- February 1st – 356,411 to 357,250, change of 839
- February 2nd – 357,250 to 359,016, change of 1766
- February 3rd – 359,016 to 359,782, change of 766
- February 4th – 359,782 to 360,737, change of 955
Again, we can see that we’re meant to be gaining many more than my research suggests.
Finally, let’s skip to the 14th February.
- February 14th – 365,411 to 366,065, change of 654
- February 15th – 366,065 to 366,669, change of 604
- February 16th – 366,669 to 369,754, change of 3085
- February 17th – 369,754 to 370,544, change of 790
Even the day with 3085 gained is wrong. We were meant to have gained 4,750!
I’ll end up with two links to Wayback Machine.
Between the dates of December 29th and January 2nd, we were meant to gain 5019 subscribers according to The_Donald’s stat graph.
We can see on these two Wayback Machine links, click and see for yourself:
We only gained a whopping 1,269.
Assuming the algorithm was put in place once the subreddit started gaining steam, and for every subscriber 4 subscribers we gain, it only shows 1 new subscriber, we could be at around 1 million subscribers at this point. Considering by page views we’re one of the top 3 subreddits on the entire site, this is 100% realistic.