As not-quite promised...

I was a reddit admin from 07/2013 until 03/2014. I mostly did engineering work to support ads, but I also was a part-time receptionist, pumpkin mover, and occasional stabee (ask /u/rram). I got to spend a lot of time with the SF crew, a decent amount with the NYC group, and even a few alums.

Ask away!


Obligatory photo

Edit 1: I keep an eye on a few of the programming and tech subreddits, so this is a job or career path you'd like to ask about, feel free.

Edit 2: Off to bed. I'll check in in the morning.

Edit 3 (8:45 PTD): Off to work. I'll check again in the evening.

Comments: 5933 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

AdrianBlake359 karma

Did you leav on good terms?

How is the snoo? Is he nice in real life?

dehrmann526 karma

Did you leave on good terms?

With a lot of my coworkers, yes, and we've kept in touch afterwards. With the company, probably not enough to get hired back, but I think now (and at the time), the feeling was mutual.

Edit: on the mutual feeling thing, one of my favorite quotes is by Heraclitus:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.

It's a perspective I really take to heart, so current-reddit, current-me, probably a mismatch, but who knows in the future.

AdrianBlake222 karma

Shat on too many desks?

dehrmann190 karma

Officially, zero, but I'm pretty sure it was one.

Here's my thing: I try to help out whenever I can, when a decision's been made, I try to get behind it, but if there's something I disagree with, I'm going to quietly raise my concerns.

dehrmann172 karma

How is the snoo? Is he nice in real life?

I've only seen the plushie and the onesie. Both soft, but the onesie depends on the admin inside. Someday, I do hope to meet a real Snoo.

WyoChuck257 karma

What do you think current Reddit employees will think of this AMA?

dehrmann217 karma

Different things. I didn't know them all as well, and I never met a lot of the new ones. I know I have a dark sense of humor, and if it comes through in this AMA, those ones who don't actually know will judge me differently for it.

corndogRobber232 karma

If you had to criticize one aspect of reddit's management, what would it be? Also, is it really true that in the IT industry, age is a curse? I heard that Zuckerberg say ppl over 30 are useless

dehrmann293 karma

If you had to criticize one aspect of reddit's management, what would it be?

How it's so two-faced about openness. A lot of community and product-related issues were solved very collaboratively, and that was awesome. Then there were occasional edicts that seemingly materialized out of nowhere; It felt like there were a lot of politics in the background.

dehrmann242 karma

Is it really true that in the IT industry, age is a curse? I heard that Zuckerberg say ppl over 30 are useless

To be fair, they say the same thing in Math and Physics.

Coming up on 30, yes-ish. People over 30 seem to build out systems better, they're less likely to reinvent the wheel, and they'll look out for all the "gotchas" that the greener developers might miss.

Remember that reinventing the wheel bit? It's amazing how many startups are similar to something that was tried 10 years ago. Take Gmail. Someone 30+ would say "My IMAP mail client works fine; why would I want to reinvent it?" Someone in their early 20's would complain about having to install a mail client, servers not supporting IMAP, bad spam filters, etc. It's becoming especially apparent with this shift from platforms--desktop, web, mobile.

7cardcha191 karma

Thanks for having a great AMA, where you're answering all the great questions. What is the thing you hate most about Reddit today?

dehrmann188 karma

The site, the community, or the company?

Edit: ok, all three, but give me a bit.

7cardcha125 karma

All three if you don't mind, otherwise the company.

dehrmann317 karma

The company:

The murky future's kinda annoying. The two obvious things you do with reddit are turn it into a non-profit (like Wikimedia) or run it somewhat for-profit, but be free from investors looking for a payout (like Craigslist). For a while, I thought reddit was finding its way between these two models, but with the new round of funding, it looks like reddit's headed for an exit in 3-5 years. Keep an eye on what comes out of reddit of the next year. The projects the massive batch of new hires work on will tell you where the company's headed. The last big release was an AMA app.

I'm sure employees are feeling the murky future, now.

MissedHerPink128 karma

So are you saying that Reddit's gonna get bought out in a few years, and be used as an advertising/sales platform?

This is all really interesting. Thanks for doing the AMA.

dehrmann132 karma

I think they're aiming for something else. Not really anything in particular, but I don't think you can just slap up bad display ads and keep reddit what it is. People have a way of moving on.

I'm waiting to see what happens with this cryptocurrency backed by reddit shares. It feels 95% crazy (actually creating a new security like this with the SEC is tricky-complicated; I know someone at Fantex, and they did just that), but there's 5% of "Huh, what if it works? Is there something here that could change the securities industry?"

dehrmann231 karma

The community:

People defending thefappening on free speech grounds. Free speech is saying what the government doesn't approve of. Free speech is saying how much you hate some class of people. Free speech is shit art. Literally, shit art.. Even Perez Hilton and Gawker (and I've got some funny Gawker stories) are at least factual and talk about events. Somehow, even jailbait and creepshots felt more like free speech.

And people knew it was wrong. At least during the Boston Bombing witch hunt, people had good intentions.

dehrmann141 karma

The site: I'm not a fan of subreddit stylesheets, but I disabled those on my account. There are clunky bits to the interface. /u/chromakode feels very strongly that reddit has owngrown the submit form, and I agree. There needs to be a real solution for np. In terms of software and software architecture, I don't like the way bots interact. Or RES, for that matter; they both work on things the admins didn't really have time to get to. Modmail and the message system are awkward. There are bits of the user agreement users should be weary of, mostly around re-licensing.

Sorry, nothing I truly hate, but definitely some complaints.

pewpewpewgg137 karma

What are you up to now? Thanks for this AMA.

If anyone is interested here is a relevant blog

dehrmann364 karma

I'm at Spotify!

pewpewpewgg126 karma

congrats! seems like a great company and I use it all the time :)

dehrmann200 karma

Thanks, it is, and thank you!

The technology they've got backing it is kinda impressive, but they also have a really strong business team for working with labels and building partnerships.

coniform117 karma


dehrmann193 karma

Stackoverflow! Subscribe to the languages you know, then see which frameworks people seem to be having problems with. Those are the new ones that are popular. For languages, there are tags for things like regex, OO design, and concurrency. See which languages pop up.

But more than anything, have solid fundamentals. In an interview, you can forgive someone for not knowing about the latest JS framework. It's when they're lousy at algorithms or data structures that people start to worry.

DoomWilds104 karma

Did your boss care if you used Reddit all day?

dehrmann158 karma

I'm pretty sure my boss encouraged me to use reddit.

The catch is that a lot of the time, it's fun, but a chunk, you're either dealing with modmail (and this, thankfully, wasn't something I had to do often) or representing the company in some way. As exciting as the Gold Rush was, I probably spent six hours reading through threads and clearing up misconceptions or pointing people to our ad offerings when they asked.

BLOKDAK83 karma

Would you please explain why you were instructed by the fatcats and the bigwigs to make the worst search engine possible for any website ever?

Also, how often did you rub one out while at work? Ever get any help with that from your colleagues? I heard that reddit is the kind of place where folks don't wear pants, after all...

That's just Conde NASTY, dude...

dehrmann158 karma

There was a running joke that it was every new hire's job to fix the search engine.

ImNotJesus83 karma

The rules of reddit haven't really changed since its inception when the website was very different due to the size, age and how regular the users were.

Do you think it's time for Reddit to make some changes in how they manage users and content?

Do you personally agree with an "anything goes" style or do you think there is benefit in demanding standards from users and moderators? For example, do you think that some of the more vile subreddits are beneficial to reddit?

dehrmann78 karma

I want to answer this, but I have to think on it.

Tainted-Archer74 karma

How much red is in reddit?

dehrmann147 karma

50% by character count, 78% by color, depending on your favorite orangered.

Sugnoid71 karma

What behind the scenes at Reddit were you least happy about, that you would be ok telling us about?

dehrmann117 karma

A few months ago, I was told this changed, but when I started, the SF office had a very jaded feel to it. Maybe it was the lack of new blood, maybe it was the infrequent game nights, but too often, it didn't feel happy. Or even sad. Just...meh.

Visiting the New York office was awesome, though, enough that I started to think about moving.

heywatsup1170 karma

What's the weirdest thing you've seen in the bathrooms in the reddit office?

dehrmann97 karma

You'll be disappointed to learn that in my time there, we shared a bathroom with Wired, and a bathroom with ~8 other small companies. No reddit bathroom--sorry to disappoint. Someone did put up a sign to remind people that the Wired shower is shared, and that's about it.

Now, back at a previous job, there was the imprint of a razor blade on a stainless steel shelf.

Athousandnopes61 karma

How much did they pay you?

dehrmann166 karma

Enough to live in SF, but less-than-market.

Small, but high-profile tech companies get to do that because they can find people who are a good match for the jobs, but will make a sacrifice to work there. And then they throw in stock options to sweeten the deal.

And reddit gold.

Tainted-Archer60 karma

I asked a question, serious one now... What does a redditrator possibly do in his Spare time?

dehrmann92 karma

Try to play the guitar, cook, go to the gym, and sleep. In a way, I actually got redditted-out. After six months, I think I was happy spending maybe 30 minutes on the site. Probably the strangest way to break an addiction.

TooManyCthulhus55 karma

Why are most moderators pricks? And are their subreddits ever taken away from them?

dehrmann154 karma

They're unpaid and deal with more shit than you can imagine. Moderator fatigue is a bit of a problem.

Occasionally. I think the mods on /r/adviceanimals who used their influence to promote Quickmeme were taken off.

the_dinks45 karma

What are, in your opinion, reddit's biggest problems?

dehrmann94 karma

There's corporate stuff I've gone over already, but the big site thing I haven't mentioned yet is the front page. 25 subreddits is leading to duplicates, but too few consolidates too much power among a few people. There's no real weighting to each subreddit, so the links are very diverse. There's a similar issue when you subscribe to subreddits on your own; your interests aren't really weighted. And you can't just apply a recommender system to this without getting an echo chamber.

Meanwhile, subreddits are often their own communities with their own rules, but this doesn't align with the front page vision.

DornishWhine35 karma

On which subreddit would you say you've wasted the most time?

dehrmann221 karma

/r/politics. The key word there was "wasted." Not sure where I've spent the most time, though.

bigmac10933 karma

In general, how did you feel working for reddit? was it a good experience? would you recommend it to others?

dehrmann103 karma

how did you feel working for reddit?

Parts were fun. Some of the meetups we had with other companies in the area were cool (the Wikimedia offices are really nice), game nights were fun (unless we played Ricochet Robot), and hanging out with coworkers was generally awesome. I've covered some of the actual work elsewhere, but it was mixed. More than anything, how long it took to get things done made it frustrating.

was it a good experience?


would you recommend it to others?

After that relocation ordeal, definitely not, especially when they were only given two weeks to decide. It wasn't the first time I saw a lack of respect for people from the company, so it's not somewhere I'd want to work.

Now, as I said elsewhere, that could change. And oddly enough, I wouldn't go back in time and tell myself not to join. I guess I'll say it's an experience I'm glad I had.

Hariku31 karma

How do you feel your experience with Reddit is going to help you in future positions? As in, what is the take away from your experience working at Reddit and how do you think you can apply it to future positions in other companies?

dehrmann52 karma

It definitely made me better with Python (and I still use it, today), and it helped with some infrastructure stuff. It also gave me a lot of respect for community management and more awareness for just how important it is to maintain a good community.

But a lot of it is the people you work with and the connections you make with them. A lot of new jobs (and companies) happen that way, and with how quickly skills age out of tech, the people you've worked with are far more important than the technological flavor of the week.

hofnbricl18 karma

So what does reddit use python for? I'm learning it now, so I haven't done much outside messing with strings and stuff

dehrmann39 karma

Pretty much everything. Take a look.

helpimnotdying7 karma

Did you get your soul back?

dehrmann41 karma

Who said I had a soul to begin with?

TCBloo4 karma

Should I buy a top hat or a sombrero?

dehrmann13 karma

I'm in the Bay Area, right now. It's crazy-hot, and I don't have an AC. Sombrero-up.

GodDamnHacker2 karma

What did you think of getting rid of the up- and down- vote counts in comments?

dehrmann2 karma

I didn't have a strong opinion either way...which is funny when I'm more of a commenter than a submitter.

oldguynewname1 karma

Reddit seems like a bit of a crazy place to work for.. everyone claims it dont make money yet you have people doing deals and celebrities throwing money at it.


I dont ever see rich people getting into something that will foolishly lose them money. It isnt how they got rich.

The entire own a part of reddit is a ploy to make other think they have something tangible. Lets be real for a second.

We have all seen that bitcoin bot dropping a dollar here or 50 bucks there. Now I am betting admin was watching that like a hawk and seeing how users upvoted the hell outta that.

They thought hmmmm how can we make this generate for us. Well this is how.

Be honest with me man (op) lets say they give you an option to buy extra shares. Of reddit do you think that they will ever have a share holders meeting where they will listen to users feedback. Lol

They ban without reason most the time and when you ask they ignore you. This site gets 3 million unique visitors a day or something and they have 4 community managers but 50 others doing development and sales for ad space. Come on.

Almost every celebrity ama is a promotion for a new movie or book and very rarely do they answer questions.

Reddit is a money making monster it has to be otherwise these people wouldn't invest money into it.

I realize somethings you can and somethings you cant talk about that is cool. We as users are what generates the money for reddit. Wish they would just be straight with us.

dehrmann4 karma

I dont ever see rich people getting into something that will foolishly lose them money.

Give this a watch: Someone I know who's looked closely at big-name athletes' finances said one was invested in something Madoff-esque.

pigpotjr1 karma

Any advice for a 16 year old?

dehrmann13 karma

I'll try to come up with more, but the biggest, and it's not mine: wear sunscreen.

Trust_in_Hymn1 karma

Favorite hymn?

dehrmann13 karma

Amazing Grace. Because bagpipes. Cue The Wrath of Khan.

picflute0 karma

A lot of big companies have had their software engineers recently commit suicide with the obvious rumor of understaff and constant overtime. As a teleworker for reddit have you ever been pushed to the brink before?

dehrmann13 karma

I worked out of the SF office, so I didn't telework.

Suicide?! No, but stress was definitely a problem. I had a few on-and-off minor symptoms for stress, and it was enough that I probably would have found another job in six months, or so. There are places that are definitely bad when it comes to work-life balance, and that's not reddit.

That said, there was a bit of a Aaron Swartz "ghost" that I couldn't get out of my mind. Somehow his suicide felt more real once I walked through the reddit doors.

TheMiraculousCosmos-1 karma

I'll cut to the chase. One horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

dehrmann9 karma

Duck-sized horses. Duck-sized ducks are viscous fuckers.