Today Reddit is one of the largest online communities for content sharing and discovery, but have you ever wondered about how they got there?  How did they go from a brand new website with zero members to a thriving online community?  In a video lesson from Udacity, Reddit’s Steve Huffman reveals how he and fellow cofounder Alexis Ohanian grew Reddit into the popular website it is today.

Huffman reveals that, “In the beginning Alexis and I submitted all the content.”  When they submitted content they created new fake user names so that it would look like the site was populated with a large user base, while, at least in the beginning, it was just the two of them submitting the content.

Huffman explains that this did two things.  For starters, it helped set the tone of the site.  “Websites have this kind of inertia, and we submitted content that we would be interested in seeing.  That meant the content on Reddit, at least for our peer group, was good, interesting stuff.  We wanted a site with the most interesting content online, and so we did our best to find it and then we submitted it ourselves.”

Creating fake users and submitting content through them also made the site feel alive.  Huffman says, “Users like to feel a part of something.  If they showed up to the website and the front page was blank, it just looks like a ghost town.”  He says, “At the time I think we were just embarrassed to have an empty website so we submitted the content, and it worked.”  After a few months they had grown their real user base to the point that they didn’t have to submit content anymore.

Check out Huffman’s video lesson below to find out more about how Reddit used fake users to grow their site, as well as for some insight and advice on growing your own online community and launching your own website and let us know what you think!  Are you surprised to hear how Reddit got its start?

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.