Reddit launches Live, a real-time update tool

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 24, 2014

I'm spending quite some time on Reddit. During the Football World Cup, I monitored match threads and discussions closely for example, and one thing that became apparent quickly was that Reddit's current feature set was less than ideal for real-time updates.

Game threads would blow up to thousands comments with no option to distinguish between good ones that informed you about something happening, a gif of a foul or goal for instance, and comments that would express opinions or were used to discuss certain aspects of a game.

The thread starter on the other hand had to edit the information each time something happened, and that too was less than ideal as you had to refresh the page ever so often to make sure you did not miss out on anything.

Reddit Live changes that. It is adding a new option to Reddit that is not taking anything away from the site. There are differences however to regular threads on Reddit.

Creating a  new Reddit Live thread

reddit live
Live Thread creation on Reddit

To create a new live thread on Reddit do the following:

  1. Visit
  2. Enter a title and description and click on create.

Posting to a Live thread

reddit live interface
The update interface

Instead of being taken back to the subreddit the thread was created in, you are taken to a new interface that you can use to post updates to the thread.

A connecting message may be displayed for some time, and while you can start to write right away, you need to wait until you are connected to the live thread before you hit the make update button as the update may be lost otherwise.

It is possible to give privileges to other Reddit users. The current list of permissions includes:

  • Full Permissions.
  • Close Live Thread.
  • Edit.
  • Manage Contributors.
  • Settings.
  • Update.

Full Permission rights provide users with all rights including closing the thread or managing contributors, while the remaining rights offer only a subset such as posting to the thread.


Live threads are different in several ways to regular Reddit threads. Only select users can post to them, and no comment thread exists right on the same page. While it is possible to create a new discussion about a live thread, it means having to switch between two different Reddit pages at all time if you want to stay up to date and post comments as well.

With that said, it is clear that live threads are not meant to replace threads on Reddit but to complement them. They should work well under certain circumstances, for instance when a group of users has access to information that they post using a live thread.

With regular threads, only the thread starter is able to modify the main "description" while updates from other contributors are posted as comments instead.

It remains to be seen if live threads will be embraced by the community as it takes one essential part of Reddit out of the equation: user interaction.

As a Reddit user, I'd have preferred if comments would be allowed on Live threads directly as it feels more natural this way.

Reddit launches Live, a real-time update tool
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Reddit launches Live, a real-time update tool
All you need to know about Reddit Live, a new live-thread feature of the popular Internet site Reddit.

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  1. kktkkr said on July 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    The World Cup threads on r/worldcup have been linking to, which is a surprisingly good way to view comments in a (normal) thread in chronological order as they appear in real time. It doesn’t have all of Reddit’s functionality, but it’s good for getting a gist of current events and opinions.

    I do agree that it might be helpful to have separate comment streams for “official sources” such as OP and mods and for the general reddit public. However, the requirement for something like this only appears to arise very rarely, and it clutters up the tried-and-tested threading system which is so intuitive for new users to learn.

    @F99: Amazingly, the Twitch Plays Pokemon community and subreddit have gone through quite a few live threads and they’re still going. Readers of those live threads are probably very familiar with the pros and cons of the system. For instance, the infinite scrolling system means that updates for significant events get lost among updates for very minor events (at a rate of 500 a day!), and require lots of scrolling and loading to reach.

  2. F99 said on July 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I have seen a Reddit live thread before, about the then-current progress in Twitch Plays Pokemon.

    The “launch” of Reddit Live is for all users, and this means that this feature has been taken out of the testing phase.

  3. said on July 24, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Which subreddit you are active at?

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