Why are 37% of all articles Awesome?

It’s been an insane three and a half weeks since we launched for iPhone. One of the features that we are most excited about is Reactions.

Here’s how we described it: Reactions: the right type of sharing.

We wanted to find a form of expression that was at once more meaningful than a generic “Like,” but less work than a free-text comment. We also had a peculiar design challenge: how do we build for iPhone as a mobile-friendly, one-handed application?

With Reactions, we’ve done just that. Find an article hilarious or surprising? Tap “Ha!” and share it with your followers on Stumble across a beautiful picture or inspiring story? Tap “Wow” and your followers on will know about it. When you follow people on, you’ll see their Reactions in your Reactions stream, and the articles they react to in your main News stream.

Our thinking was that one of the barriers to participation in a conversation on the phone is the keyboard, so we wanted to reduce that barrier by making participation as simple as a tap of the thumb.

The challenge is that everyone has their own unique voice, and so limiting expression to a set of five words could also raise the barrier to participation. So our solution was to provide a set of words that were as ambiguous and open to interpretation as possible. 

We had some guesses about how people would use Reactions, but as is the case with most startups, we had no f*cking clue. We’re a bit geeky about tracking usage data at, so of course we tracked how people were using Reactions. Here’s what we learned:

Users can either type in their own custom Reaction, or use one of our “preset” Reactions. 62% of the time users opted for one of our one-tap preset Reactions.

Of those who selected to use one of our five preset Reactions, here’s the Reaction they chose:

"Awesome" wins with 37%, followed by "Wow" in a distant second at 23%. Sadly, 
"Sad" takes last place with a mere 10% of all Reactions posted. 

The next question is: why…?

Are people more likely to share “Awesome” articles? Or are they just more likely to describe what they share as “Awesome”? Why don’t people share “Sad” articles? Or are they just less likely to use “Sad” to describe articles that they share?

Remember that looks at the links shared by your friends on Twitter and Facebook, so you can’t React to any article that doesn’t come from one of those two sources. Is it possible that few “Sad” articles appear on Twitter and Facebook, and so there are just fewer “Sad” articles to React to on in the first place?

At the core of this line of questioning is a single quandary: why do people share?

Instead of waxing philosophical on our blog, we thought we’d open it up to our users: why do YOU share?

Answer in the comments below or send us a tweet @newsdotme, and we’ll aggregate the ideas into a follow-up post.

Looking forward to your thoughts!


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