Reddit has just published figures showing that its page views tripled last year, from 250 million in January to 829 million in December. The site benefited from Digg's awful redesign, which sent many users looking for a new home to share and comment on the latest links. However, Reddit users also engaged in some spectacular community efforts, including the world's largest Secret Santa program. The site raised $185,356.70 for Haiti and $601,269 for DonorsChoose, which is the sort of thing that helps foster pride in belonging.
There are several social sites in this area, including Reddit, Digg, Slashdot, Metafilter and 4Chan. Each has its own niche. However, Reddit has a broader and more inclusive appeal, which should enable it to keep expanding its audience.
Quora is another social site that's attracting a lot of attention nowadays, particularly from Twitter users. It's a question-and-answer site intended to encourage longer and better answers than the current market leader, Yahoo Answers, or the more specialised Stack Exchange (based on Stack Overflow).
Quora was founded in 2009, opened a private beta in January 2010, and launched in June. It now has something short of half a million users, but the main attraction is the quality of the users answering questions on the site. Fast Company summed it up on Monday:
Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz offers his opinion of the movie The Social Network. Google Images product manager Nate Smith explains how color image search works. Foursquare's head of business development talks about what it's like to work for founder Dennis Crowley. Twitter's Pierre Legrain explains the cost-per-follow principle for Promoted Accounts. And AOL co-founder Steve Case answers how much it cost to mail everyone those CDs back in the 1990s.
Over Christmas, blogger Robert Scoble made a good case for the site when asking: Is Quora the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years?. This prompted me to sign up, and may have prompted a mini-boom.
The question for both Reddit and Quora is whether they can retain their value after they start to attract spammers, trolls and the great ignoranti. Reddit has a system of up- and down-voting and enough intelligent users to discourage or bury the sort of ranting bigotry that makes Digg, YouTube and some other sites monuments to human stupidity. Quora also lets users vote answers up and down, and flag bad ones as Not Helpful. It also has a "follower" system, like Twitter, so you can block people after they have left a few low-quality comments. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.