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TinEye for the Alien Guy

Posted by geeknews at 10:02 AM on August 3, 2011

A long time fan of Geek News Central has given me an exclusive first scoop on his brand new offering for the Reddit masses, a reverse image search engine specifically for them.

Reddit.com, which has a cartoon alien for its logo, is one of the most popular social link aggregators on the Internet. Like its competitors such as Digg.com, people post links and others vote them up or down, as well as leave comments. In fact, while Digg’s market share has been declining recently, Reddit’s has been growing.

As expected, many of the most popular links submitted on Reddit.com are images, and with such a large community, duplicate submissions are frequent. Such “reposts” are controversial, because users cherish fresh new content. While Reddit website will detect and warn of duplicate URLs, it has no way of detecting duplicate images when the URLs are different.

A friend of GNC that goes by the name of “metabeing” on Reddit has solved this problem by creating KarmaDecay.com. Anyone can submit an image to Karma Decay and find out if that image, or ones very similar to it, have already been posted on Reddit. The search results includes details such as the score that image acquired on Reddit, the number of comments, how long ago it was submitted, and a link to its page on Reddit.

There are several websites that offer reverse image search. TinEye.com was probably the most well known until Google recently added its own reverse image search. While these search engines are far more sophisticated than Karma Decay, they are not usable for discovering reposts on Reddit. Karma Decay is not in any way a competitor to these more powerful sites and in fact it provides links to both of them for any submitted image.

We predict that Karma Decay is going to be a smash hit with many people on Reddit and it will be interesting to see how the community reacts to the new ease of detecting image reposts. One desirable affect might be a decrease of repost noise in the new submissions queue, which might increase the number of fresh quality submissions that get the recognition they deserve.

Karma Decay is currently in beta. It indexes only the most popular subreddits and so far it covers only the past several months of Reddit, plus a couple thousand of the highest rated posts of all time. Other than displaying a list of recently reposted images, the site is very plain and simple. It just focusses on doing its job. There are plans to offer more features, though, such as fun and interesting information on the reposting behavior of users. Some information will include categories like “Give up, its just not funny”, and “It’s not fair, we know”.

Even with its current shortcomings, the site can be extremely useful, even to non-Reddit users. Even if you have no intention of posting an image, Karma Decay can be a great way to get information about that image. The Reddit community is wonderful at providing useful information about an image. Their comments can be a gold mind, regardless of how long ago the image was posted. For example, links to the original video sources behind popular animated GIF images can often be found in Reddit comments.

So, by the way, where did the strange name “Karma Decay” come from anyway? Metabeing explains that he got the idea when he read a fellow Redditor’s comment: “In other news, at least 5 high school bands named themselves ‘karma decay’ today.”  Primarily, metabeing just though that name was cool, but also noted that it related to one of the reasons that he created his website. He had previously noticed that posts often get voted down (a loss of karma) because the image was a repost. In these situations the original poster (OP) very often doesn’t know why his or her post is being rejected. Reddit users are often hesitant to point out to each other that something is a repost because, somewhat ironically, such comments themselves often get voted down.