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Reddit is letting users tip real money — to one guy in one subreddit

Reddit is letting users tip real money — to one guy in one subreddit

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Reddit is testing out a new tipping feature where users can give each other real money. So far, you can only pay one guy in one subreddit, which made me immediately wonder: who is this lucky fella?

The chosen user is u/shittymorph who tends to leave well-written comments all over Reddit that seem truly insightful and make you realize what a great site you’re browsing, until they frustratingly end in the same copypasta everytime — an obscure piece of wrestling trivia.

As for why Reddit decided shittymorph deserved some free cash, an admin explained that they were a longtime fan of his work. Reddit confirmed to The Verge in a statement that it was an official test: “We are always running experiments to test potential features that support and empower our users, and the tipping feature in r/shittymorph is one of them. Only a small percent of experiments get implemented.”

“I’m really proud that we get to be involved with beta testing something new and cutting edge here on Reddit,“ shittymorph responded on the post, which could have easily been read as “thanks for the free money, everyone.” (And in true shittymorph-style, it wasn’t the only thing he had to say, of course.)

The option to tip shittymorph appears on the very far right underneath each of his comments in his subreddit. There’s a green number beside the username displaying how much he’s earned. Only users who have opted into the redesigned version of Reddit can tip, which could be annoying for those who prefer old Reddit.

Reddit already allows users to gild comments by gifting another user with a premium membership that comes with perks like hiding ads, highlighting new comments, and creating a custom Reddit mascot avatar. But tipping would allow users to exchange real money directly.

Still, Reddit is taking a pretty significant cut of the tips, making it probably not the best way to transfer money without running into fees. Three percent of the tip goes to the payment processor Stripe, while Reddit pockets about 18.5 percent of each tip, and about 78.5 percent goes to the user. So far, shittymorph has earned $81 from the experiment, but his take home pay will end up being about $64.

We’ve seen Facebook and YouTube experiment with tipping before. But they tend to run into the same conundrum Reddit is facing: why should users tip each other if they know the platform is just going to take a large cut of the profits? Other payment platforms like Venmo and PayPal are successful because they keep their transaction fees low, making you feel like you’re not losing a ton of cash with every payment. It’s something that Reddit might have to figure out if it wants to implement tipping as a permanent feature and not just nineteen ninety eight when the undertaker threw mankind off hell in a cell, and plummeted sixteen feet through an announcer’s table.