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Reddit. Reddit. Who are studying it, how do they do it, and what are they studying?

Nicholas Proferes, myself, Sarah Gilbert, Casey Fiesler, and Michael Zimmer analyised 727 pieces of research from 2010 to 2020 to find out the above. Key highlights included:

  • We found that computer science and the medicial sciences studied Reddit the Almost
  • The majority of studies focused on 1-2 subreddits
  • r/politics, r/worldnews, and r/AskReddit were the most studied subreddits
  • Studied typically used large datasets comprising of 100K+ comments or 1m+ posts,
  • The Reddit API and Pushshift API were the two most common data collection methods
  • Computational methods encompassing machine learning with the most popular way of analyising Reddit data
  • Ethics were rarely mentioned in the majoirty of research

In addition we answered to what extent researchers are studying Reddit itself, or using Reddit data to study something else. The answer we came to, was both. The latter has two potential problems in that Reddit’s online structure, norms and platform affordance and unrepresentative demographics may effect the generalisability of findings. Lasty, we found that around 30% of the research analyised provided incomplete or ambigious details on data collection and used inconsistent terminology when refering to posts or comements.

You can read the open access article here.