Reddit Opens Up the Source
Social news site Reddit, which on many fronts competes directly with Digg, has opened up the source code of its service and licensed it under the Common Public Attribution License. The license stipulates that any changes to the code must be made public if they are used on a public site and that any site running the code must make this clear for its users.
The only parts Reddit isn’t going to open up are the anti-spam and anti-cheating portions of their code. I can understand why they are holding these back, but it would have been nice to see them go all the way and release the complete code base.
As the reddit founders point out in their own blog post about this, the fact that the reddit audience is highly tech-savvy makes opening up the code is a natural fit:
Reddit is unique in the social news scene in that we have a huge community of developers. It seems only natural that we give you all in that community a chance to contribute back to reddit and make it a better place for everyone. We know reddit’s success has less to do with our technology than it does with you, our community, and now we want to let our community improve our technology.
This move towards openness, as MG Siegler also writes, has to be at least partly inspired by the accusations against Digg for having secret and shady algorithms (or employees) that bury certain stories by default.
Reddit is built by a team of only five developers – having its users help in the development process is a smart business move. The team itself has released a number of new features over the last few months, including a UI re-design and the addition of user created sub-reddits (like our l33t reddit).
I am not sure how much this is going to help reddit in gaining ground against Digg, but with the right set of new or enhanced features, as well as its passionate user base, there is really no way of telling where they might take reddit next.