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Reddit adds real-time conversation features, live upvote counts, and more


Enlarge / The Reddit logo on a mobile device.

Reddit is yet again making some changes and adding features to make it more modern and competitive with other social websites and apps.

For ages, comment and vote counts on Reddit posts would only update when you refreshed the page or you were the person upvoting or downvoting something. Now, a small animation will play each time someone upvotes or downvotes a post, and the number will update in real time even if you don’t refresh the page.

Similarly, a new comment dropdown pill will tell you how many new comments have been added as you view the post. “When a redditor clicks on the new comment indicator, the comments will sort by new and highlight live comments in real-time,” Reddit said in a blog post.

There will also be anonymous indicators noting how many people are currently reading a post and how many are currently typing a response to any existing comment you’re about to reply to.

This is the sort of thing we’ve seen in many other social apps already. For example, Facebook has long had a typing indicator to tell you when your friends are preparing a message or comment for you.

The new features all serve more or less the same purpose: making Reddit posts more active, with live updates that both keep users posted on what is changing in a conversation as they view it and that encourage users to engage more. (On-page engagement is a key metric that apps and websites track to judge the success of the content or platform.)

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It’s hard to overstate the influence Reddit has on the Internet at large, but the social network has struggled to monetize its users to the same degree as its competitors, and it lags behind competitors in some performance indicators, like engagement.

These changes make its increasing focus on live engagement clear, and they likely aren’t the last we’ll see pushing the platform in this particular direction.

The changes began rolling out to all iOS, Android, and web users today. The new features are only available to users who are using the new Reddit design. While you can still access old Reddit, it won’t be getting any updates—hence, “old” Reddit.

Disclosure: Advance Publications owns a majority stake in Reddit. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica.