Monday, April 4, 2016

Reddit Robin - Or How I Learned To Grow

April Fool's has become an internet tradition of sorts. Many popular sites go about making some joke or another. Reddit has been doing it for years, and so when April 1st came around, everyone expected something.

Although no one expected Robin.

Robin was rolled out without explanation. Many people were immediately reminded of The Button, but news quickly spread that this is not another wait it out meme.

Instead, you are put into a chat room with one other random reddit user. Once in the room you can vote to:
  • Abandon
  • Stay
  • Grow
Abandon makes you leave the chat and start over (not voting does the same). Stay creates a private subreddit with the users involved and ends the voting. Grow merges the chat with another chat of the same tier.

Individual users can Abandon, but a majority is needed to Stay or to Grow.

Creating a private subreddit is an interesting idea, and gives you a place you could interact with some new friends, but in my experience it leads to maybe an hour of interaction before it's completely forgotten. The real fun comes in trying to create the biggest chat.

Tier is just the word the community has come up with to describe the number of merges a chat has gone through. If a chat has merged 3 times, it's tier 3 and it can only merge with another chat that has also merged 3 times.

This leads to long periods of waiting once you've merged a few times, as it takes awhile for a chat to build up to a very large tier. Very long periods of waiting. Like over 24 hours.

There is a self-reported leader board that has emerged, making it easier to try and figure out when the next merge could be, and with which chat you will merge.

Those strange names are generated by Robin and are a random combination of users in the chat. You can see the names evolve with the history of chat names.

History of the current largest chat, KuPrlitsGo.

To help people vote even when they're away, reddit user mvartan created a now very popular userscript, robin-grow, that autovotes whenever you enter a new chat. It also provides useful spam filters and other general filters.

Chats tend to become very spammy as they grow, attracting not just twitch spam, but also a lot of botspam. Using robin-grow makes the chat more normal, or at least more manageable.

robin-grow settings

The current struggle seems to be about when exactly people should vote to Stay. Robin is set to end on April 8th, and what will happen to any currently existing chats on that date is unknown. The chat might be able to continue exist beyond that date, and it seems the majority want to try to push the chat to that limit.

The other thought is that eventually people will just leave, or there will be diminishing returns as time goes on and people stop voting or close the chat.

There may be an optimal place to Stay in order to create a large subreddit, but it's an uphill battle to convince the masses to vote for that shift.

I can say, this is the most fun I've had on a massive scale like this since the madness that was Twitch Plays Pokémon. The dumb debates about what to do and the friendships sparked over such a simple concept. I'll be sad when it's over, but it's been a wild ride.

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