Propeller: Knock knock knockin’ on Reddit’s Door

RedditPropellerCompete.com’s and Alexa.com’s numbers are far from gospel, but they do offer an excellent comparative indicator for traffic. Looking at the traffic estimates and trends for Reddit and Propeller, it’s very conceivable that Propeller will overtake Reddit for the #2/#3 (depending on whether you consider StumbleUpon a social news website) position behind Digg amongst the social news powerhouse websites.

For a long time, Netscape was technically #2 in traffic, but most acknowledge that this was misleading. Many people typed in Netscape, not realizing it had become a social media website. Other sources sent traffic to Netscape, but only a small percentage used it for it’s news-based purpose. When the move to the new Propeller.com URL was announced, many believed that it spelled doom for the once-proud alternative to the Yahoo! and MSN homepages.

Propeller Reddit and StumbleUpon of Compete.com

(I apologize for the poor screenshot, but if you click on the image, it will take you to the current comparison between Propeller, Reddit, and StumbleUpon)

Propeller has been a success. Whether it has been a financial success will be determined by AOL’s accountants and analysts, but it has exceeded expectations in traffic. On the other end, Netscape has seen a significant drop, but not as sharp as projected. Netscape has been losing readers since December, 2006, so the Propeller move was seen by many to be a desperate last-ditch attempt to offer the homepage that many expected from Netscape and still keep the social media traffic through Propeller.

While Reddit still maintains possibly the strongest social media platform in terms of sheer user loyalty, its growth, which was constant from inception, has started to show signs of leveling off since Propeller was launched. Are these trends related? We think so. Is Reddit doomed? Of course not. The loyalty of the members is still tremendous. A “cleaning up” of the homepage may be in order, but there is a huge catch-22 with that.


One of Propeller’s biggest advantages over Reddit is that it is “pretty”. The layout is more appealing to newcomers, offering an easy-to-understand interface and a professional newstype appearance. Those who love Reddit are, for the most part, perfectly happy with it’s straightfoward style. “Here’s the headlines. Read them, then vote.” No pictures, no spotlight sections or detailed descriptions. Eight categories from which to choose. Simplicity.

If Reddit were to change to appeal to newcomers, would they lose their base support? Most would probably say yes. I say no. Deep down, the users of Reddit love the algorithm, whether they know it or not. They appreciate it for the way it moves stories up or down based solely on the up-mods and down-mods of the users. Judging by the changes (or lack thereof) in the recent Reddit updates and overhauls, I would venture a guess that they don’t subscribe to this opinion.


Reddit will rebound. It will grow. The question is, will it grow faster than Propeller?

CenterNetworks has a piece on this very topic. You can read it here.

JD Rucker

+JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

12 thoughts on “Propeller: Knock knock knockin’ on Reddit’s Door

  1. Propeller is such a great social website that it needs to overtake everyone. The site is so good at the social aspect thats its actually fun to be on and visit. thats just my take but its worth allot because i’m smart.

  2. call me an idiot, but I simply can’t figure Reddit out. A list of links? Is there some organization to that mess? Are these the “good articles?” who knows!

    Digg makes sense to me. Reddit? baah

  3. “One of Propeller’s biggest advantages over Reddit is that it is “pretty”. The layout is more appealing to newcomers, offering an easy-to-understand interface and a professional newstype appearance.”

    You have to be kidding right? That site is dog vomit fugly. Too much advertising (top, bottom, side AND google ads between stories). Too little content and difficult to use (scroll, scroll, scroll).

    Look at the number of comments per story. 3, 11, 18, 4, 3. Pretty lame comments at that. Do they even have a community? Or is this just another big money attempt to cash in on Web 2.0 social news?

  4. @M. Sanders – Socially, Propeller is more polite than Reddit, but I don’t think it is more interactive. There are more heated debates over the issues on Reddit, but I still like Propeller’s style as well. It just depends on your mood.

    @Travis – I’m an idiot. Sorry. I did put a link to the compete.com numbers at least!

    @Alex – Reddit’s appeal is its algorithm. Even though it looks like a list, the fact that stories move up and down the frontpage instead of just starting at the top and moving down chronologically is one of the things that keep redditters redditting (are those words?)

    @Tyler – Luckily for you, the voting system is much easier on Propeller and requires less time to be active than on Digg. Submitting is a pain sometimes with the inputing of keywords and the dropdown categories versus radio buttons, but otherwise, it’s a quick interface.

    cdresden – The Propeller/Netscape split was AOL’s last ditch to make it (the netscape acquisition) as profitable as expected.

    @Owen – Not kidding, but I see your point. I should have noted that for newcomers wanting to get into social media, it’s easier and “prettier”. I wouldn’t call it attractive (what is attractive about Web 2.0?) but it is more appealing to those who are just getting started. Reddit is almost too simple to a fault with its interface, which is why it garners fewer newcomers to social media.

    @john – I take it you didn’t like the article?

  5. The customer service at Propeller sucks. I haven’t tested Reddit’s. But Propeller has flagged one particular website as spam. No matter what I bookmark on that site, it’s spam; and it’s one of the most read news websites online. Totally impractical.

    Then, if you by any chance violate the rules of service – even if unintentionally or unknowingly – then they simply close your account and don’t even correspond with you to tell you why you’ve been closed. And there’s not Contact Us link that is easy to find so that you can inquire about such matters. Oh, and try to sign up under the same nickname or e-mail address that was “shut down” and you get a message that “a user is currently using that nickname (or signature).” No they’re not. You closed their account.

    Suffice it to say, Propeller is good new bookmarkers because it does have an initial appearance of user-friendliness. But some of its policies are too provincial.

  6. Propeller looks neat and fine to me, although I must agree that most threaded comments are superficial and, sometimes, its ranking pages don’t make much sense to me. But surely they are doing better than Digg, whose #1 arrogance is going to ask its price soon enough.

  7. @allen – I haven’t had issues with them like that, so I cannot verify (without getting banned myself) but if it’s true (and I see no reason why it wouldn’t be true) then you have a very valid point.

    @Alexis – You’re wholeheartedly right!

    Thanks for the comments.

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