Lessons learned from a bruising experience posting to Reddit

If not prepared, Reddit could be quite brutal (or people commenting on it), but it is partly due to my own mistakes. This is a summary of my bruising experience posting to Reddit and things I have learned along the way!

To explain how it started, after finishing my IronViz Refugees work, I decided to post it to Reddit dataisbeautiful to get feedback, engage and generate some discussion around this important topic. ie refugees and kids detained and companies making profit.

Reddit for beginners like me can be quite confusing. The post was rejected 3 times for various reasons: use of a short URL, not posting on a Thursday (day for politics posts) or wrong title (title too controversial!). I submitted my 4th post and waiting to hear what’s happening. (link to the post if not deleted)

When I posted the first version, I forgot about a very simple rule I heard about data viz work: get someone else to review your work before going live. Tableau is a hobby and not real work for me, so I don’t really want to bother anyone for a review BUT as I will explain below, it could have saved me some unwanted stress!

First knock: Spell check
20 seconds after posting, a user commented that I misspelled Iraq (I added a K). The K spelling is used in French, my mother tongue – he called me a 12 yrs old to spell like this, and even only my mum and I would spell like this…weird to drag my mum in the discussion!. He apologised later, saying he got carried away and was supporting people raising the issues with kids in detention.

Second knock was spell check again, misspelling refugees, plain typo, my bad! – I wish Tableau had a build in spell check, it would have saved an other abuse. But that was my fault and should not rely on spell checkers. After that second nasty comment, I re-checked the text 10 times to make sure – I was lucky they had missed the third typo in the sub-banner! (banner blindness anyone?)

In Reddit, quoting sources is super important. I was just lazy to only provide the AP front page link, clearly not enough for some. Shot again! The full sources are in the Tableau dashboard, but in Reddit, it looks like users only go by the screen shot provided in the post! point taken, don’t assume!

Taking shortcuts with titles and date ranges
Two of the charts I used side by side and had different date ranges. One was a year, the other one was total overtime. But the titles I used for both didn’t reflect that and was confusing to users. A user quickly highlighted the issues a bit more nicely than the other. Good feedback.

Consistency with colors
I had completely forgotten to apply the color gradient for a couple of the bar charts. After working on the same dashboard for hours you must become blind! Peer-review again, where are you?

Soften your words
I used “vast” to explain that the “vast” majority of people were not criminals in  chart. But data shows that not criminal are majority but by not that much! So vast was not really appropriate! Don’t get carried away with big words.

I had the same issue with the original title I used that got the first post rejected. The original title was: “Children are being locked in detention centres, and big companies are making huge profits”. Clearly it is best to avoid using words that would lead users to a particular conclusion, and sensational words like huge, vast, big…

So it is worth submitting to Reddit?

Yes sort of but do lots of home work before and be ready to get slammed for your mistake.

I really felt a few users where ready to bounce on small mistakes rather than the content but it is was an excuse to forget to be get your work per reviewed or leave typos.

A few lessons…

My IronViz post

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