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Social Status: Reddit top user 'qgyh2' sits on the hot seat

January 29, 2009 | 12:50 pm

Last summer, our Web Scout blog profiled a Reddit user who goes by the name 'qgyh2.' He's the top user on the social news website, which gives him a lot of power over what appears there. Now the mysterious Midland, Mich., maven, who scours the Web for interesting news bits, is finding himself the subject of news on his hangout and on its rival, Digg.

The Digg post "You think Digg has a Power User problem?" hit the site's front page a few days ago, amassing more than 3,200 votes. The post highlights a screen shot showing that qgyh2 had submitted 10 of the top 18 links in the "environment" category.

Redditqgyh2Qgyh2 is the author of the "environment" category (also known as a sub-reddit). That grants him the ability to moderate submissions. Some users, like the ones in this thread, are upset with the way he monitors for spam. But qgyh2 said in an e-mail that much of the junk is now filtered automatically.

The "environment" sub-reddit doesn't get much traffic, which could explain why one user has such dominance over its top submissions. Also, it's one of qgyh2's favorite haunts. "It is one of a handful of reddits I typically submit to," he said.

Reddit user Illah says dominance by individuals isn't much of a problem on the website. " 'Environment' is a niche reddit with a limited audience," he wrote in the thread. "Most stories have single-digit vote counts."

But all the attention given to Reddit's top-user "problem" doesn't seem to have taken the pressure off Digg's top dog.

Andrew Sorcini, a 40-year-old film editor from Los Angeles who goes by the alias MrBabyMan on Digg, gets plenty of flack for his widespread influence on the website. Users accuse him of duplicating their story submissions (an act they equate with stealing); his more popular reputation lets him elevate stories to the front page, leaving the submissions of less-powerful Diggers to languish even if they discovered an interesting item first.

"I think it's a natural artifact of being successful," Sorcini wrote in an instant message. "The best advice I've been given is to consider flamers [a nickname for excitable people on the Net] as Web terrorists. To address their abuse is to legitimize them, so the best course of action is to ignore them."

In the end, these top users don't seem to be gaining anything besides Internet celebrity. They haven't yet found a way to cash in on their successes.

"I'm just submitting stuff I like," Sorcini wrote. "My wife, on the other hand, wishes there was some way to monetize my ability!"

-- Mark Milian

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