Home

What is the relationship between pronouns and Reddit karma?

In a 2015 paper, my colleagues and I analyzed how language usage can predict how people will respond to a Reddit comment. One of the features we used was the pronouns in the comment.

Comments using 3rd person singular pronouns tend to receive more than the average number of upvotes. Those using 1st person pronouns are more likely to be ignored. Presumably, when one is talking about a 3rd person then that person has done something that is worth talking about. Readers are less interested in seeing what commentors have to say about themselves.

The worst thing to do is to use 2nd person or 3rd person plural pronouns. These frequently appear in arguments where one person is attacking another. These comments have the highest probability of receiving downvotes.

The above figure shows hows the pronouns cluster into three distinct groups. The x-axis is the probability of a comment containing that word to have more upvotes than downvotes. The y-axis is the probabilitity that the comment has more downvotes than upvotes, i.e. negative karma.