Spolsky: Ooh, I have a door, for the first time since doing this podcast, I have a door I can close.
Atwood: That's impressive. So, is everybody here?
Spolsky: Yeah. Today we have on the line, the founders and co-creators of reddit.com, the fabulous social networking website: Alexis Ohanian, otherwise known as -- how do you pronounce that? Kuh-naw-thing? Kuh-nuh... Kuh-zero-thing? Nothing? No thing? [it's kn0thing]
Ohanian: Sure. It's not to be uttered by humans, only read on the screens.
Spolsky: And spez, or Steve Huffman, the other co-creator. And, so how does this work? Steve does the coding, and Alexis draws the alien, right?
Ohanian: Yes. Steve does all the work...
Huffman: ...Alexis does all the play.
Spolsky: Hey, we sort of have that with StackOverflow, except I don't even draw the alien.
Ohanian: Yeah, I was going to mention something about that mascot... not impressed.
Spolsky: We don't have a mascot yet!
Ohanian: Well, the overflowing stack logo.
Spolsky: That's a pretty good logo, actually, for... But it's kind of square. It's not cool.
Ohanian: No, I don't mean to hate on the logo itself, it's just devoid of kiwi, for instance.
Spolsky: Right. Right. It has no emotional...
Spolsky: It doesn't have eyes! Maybe we could put two little googly eyes on top of it and people would like it.
Ohanian: You'd be surprised at how far you can go with some...
Atwood: That or...
Huffman: Somebody once said reddit was cute like a baby.
Spolsky: Yeah. That was me. At least. At least I said that, I'm sure lots of other people said that, because it's just obvious. People want to protect their babies. Right? Babies are bald, they have big eyes, and you're biologically programmed to care about them and to try to cherish them and protect them.
Huffman: I just had a baby. It is defenseless and malleable.
Ohanian: Although if you do have a baby that looks like our alien mascot...
Spolsky: See a doctor.
Atwood: So can I open with one or two business things before we get into the actual talk with these guys?
Spolsky: Yeah. Although, we are actually-- this is all being recorded, this is the podcast.
Atwood: Right, I know that. I'm clear... I've done a few of these before, so I know how it works...
Atwood: So I'm at the PDC, the "professional" quote unquote developer's conference in Los Angeles, and something really interesting happened to me. Well, two interesting things happened to me. First, I gave a session with Phil Haack. Phil Haack is the PM of Microsoft for ASP.NET MVC, which is the framework that we use on StackOverflow.
Spolsky: We're probably the most famous users of the ASP.NET MVC framework.
Atwood: Probably, and definitely for reasons I'll explain in about a minute. But that session went really well, I was really pleased with that. Phil did a great, outstanding job and people seemed to really respond. I showed... I remoted in to our server, showed them some of the load statistics, and showed them the source code and gave them a little walkthrough of how we do things. That went over well.
Atwood: And the other interesting thing that happened was, we had this weird little sit-down meeting with Ray Ozzie and Bob Muglia.
Spolsky: No way!
Atwood: Yeah, heh. And it was us and just, like, bloggers and stuff, and I think they were just trying to keep it real, and talk to the real people and stuff. And as we went around the room introducing ourselves, I introduced myself, "You know, of course I'm Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror and I have this venture StackOverflow with Joel Spolsky--" And Ray stops me, and interjects how impressed he is with StackOverflow. He gets really enthusiastic about it. He's visibly animated --
Spolsky: No kidding!
Atwood: "Wow, it's great, we should be building more sites like this, you should see the email I sent out to all the people internally..." So that was my little thrill of yesterday, was to hear Ray Ozzie talk about how great our site is. That was pretty exciting.
Spolsky: He's like a legend, he's beyond a legend.
Atwood: Yeah, you know, I have mixed feelings about Ray because of the whole Lotus Notes things.
Spolsky: Lotus Notes was incredible! Are you kidding me? You just have to remember that it was built in like 1985, you know? And it did all that stuff.
Atwood: True. But Ray Ozzie is truly legend. I gotta say, based on the conversations we had in that room, he's pretty engaged. He actually talked about reddit, too, guys, like he mentions, "yeah, I've seen some things on reddit," and he seemed really engaged, like he's actually looking at this stuff. He actually looked at StackOverflow, and all that stuff.
Spolsky: Bill used to do that kind of stuff, in his day. Bill Gates [unintelligible]
Atwood: Yeah, so, I guess he's carrying on the tradition. He also seemed like kind of a nice guy, from what I can tell. Of course, I'm biased because he said very flattering things about our project. Anyway, that's all the PDC talk. I want to open up the floor to the reddit guys.
Spolsky: You guys know who this is, right? Ray Ozzie?
Ohanian: Oh yeah. I want to know what his username is.
Spolsky: On StackOverflow?
Atwood: Heh, I don't know. And then the guy sitting next to me goes and opens up his browser on his MacBook Pro, he's a StackOverflow user named Doctor Pizza, and I was watching him like check his rep, and go and look at responses to his questions.
Spolsky: Did he know he was sitting next to you?
Atwood: Very surreal, it was all very surreal. He never talks to me, not even once. He opens up my site, goes into his profile, starts doing a bunch of stuff
Spolsky: I've definitely had people on the Joel on Software discussion groups while they're sitting next to me, not knowing it's me they're sitting next to. It's pretty cool.
Atwood: So, Joel, why don't you open up? You've had a relationship with these guys for a while, like, you have your own reddit, right?
Spolsky: That's true. Actually, we have a bunch of stuff to talk about. So, first I should tell the listeners... Where did I meet you guys? In Boston, probably, and some Y-combinator event. They came up to me, and were like "oh, we have this website, and it's reddit." And I'm like, "Yeah, I've heard of reddit." For whatever reason, a couple programmers at Fog Creek had started hanging out there and reading, because it had interesting articles about lisp and startups and lisp and Ron Paul...
Huffman: No, Ron Paul replaced lisp. Definitely. I don't know which one I like more.
Spolsky: I can't remember what I told you, but I'm pretty sure I said this sounds like a great idea, but you're going to get-- whatever your early adopter audience is, whatever they're interested in, that's going to be the site. It's just going to lock in to what they like, and it's going to push away people who aren't interested in that and it's never going to attract people. Somebody comes in, and doesn't have kind of an atheist, startup, lisp hacker kind of approach to life is going to rapidly find they're in the wrong place. That was my first reaction. I said you have to make it possible to have lots of different reddits for different communities.
Ohanian: Yes, you were truly visionary there, Joel. And in fact, I think that joel.reddit was one of the first spin-off custom reddits we ever made, is that right?
Huffman: Not THE first.
Spolsky: Yeah, surely the first one was that pink lipstick, um, what the heck was that thing?
Huffman: Lipstick.com. What's new in celebrity gossip.
Spolsky: Right, right. Is that still around?
Ohanian: It was the first with a custom alien avatar in the logo.
Spolsky: That's true, I had a little -- I had Joel... I didn't even know that was possible, but I was speaking to Jennifer [lastname?], who I guess is your friend, Alexis? I dunno.
Ohanian: Yeah, she's a good friend of reddit.
Spolsky: She said she got her own avatar, and then I realized this was possible so I insisted on getting mine. Like a collect them all kind of thing.
Ohanian: You see the behind the scenes shady dealings going on in Web 2.0?
Spolsky: Edit me!
Atwood: Edit me!
Huffman: Edit me!
Ohanian: Edit me!