Understanding Community Resilience: Quantifying the Effects of Sudden Popularity via Algorithmic Curation


  • Jackie Chan University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Charlotte Lambert University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Frederick Choi University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Stevie Chancellor University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Eshwar Chandrasekharan University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign




The sudden popularity communities gain via algorithmically-curated "trending'" or "hot" social media feeds can be beneficial or disruptive. On one hand, increased attention often brings new users and promotes community growth. On the other hand, the unexpected influx of newcomers can burden already overworked moderation teams. To examine the impact of sudden popularity, we studied 6,306 posts that reached Reddit's front page---a feed called r/popular that millions of users browse daily---and the effects of sudden popularity within 1,320 subreddits. We find that on average, r/popular posts have 45 times the comments, 42 times the removed comments, and 70 times the number of newcomers compared to posts from the same community that did not reach r/popular. Additionally, r/popular posts led to a peak 85% median increase in the subreddit's comment rate, and these effects lingered for about 12 hours. Our regression analysis shows that stricter moderation and previous r/popular appearances were associated with shorter and less intense effects on the community. By quantifying the differential effects of sudden popularity, we provide recommendations for moderators to promote stability and community resilience in the face of unexpected disruptions.




How to Cite

Chan, J., Lambert, C., Choi, F., Chancellor, S., & Chandrasekharan, E. (2024). Understanding Community Resilience: Quantifying the Effects of Sudden Popularity via Algorithmic Curation. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 18(1), 227-240. https://doi.org/10.1609/icwsm.v18i1.31310