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Hey New York Times - Steve Huffman and I founded reddit.com in June 2005 - we acquired Aaron Swartz's company Infogami 6 months later.

edit: This post has been updated -- thanks so much, everyone! And if you needed any more evidence than my word, here's the first article ever written about Y Combinator (and reddit) by +Ryan Singel in which Steve & I are correctly identified as reddit founders and Aaron is correctly described as founder of his startup, infogami.com: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2005/09/68710
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when you got out of y comb, was he already with you? i thought he negotiated the co-founder title with you guys & paul.
 
The author (Nick Bilton) responded on Twitter that he'd pass this on to his editor.
 
looks like an AP article that they're pulling from....
 
Was the title 'co-founder' not part of the terms of the acquisition?
 
Pretty cool to see that the NYT already changed it and linked to this post. Aside: I have a pet peeve with people who negotiate for the title co-founder when they come in post-funding or post-revenue.
 
+Alexis Ohanian We updated the post accordingly and linked to this discussion on the NYT. FYI, Aaron claims that he was a co-founder of Reddit, noting on his personal Web site: "He also cofounded the online news site Reddit,"
 
+Nick Bilton Thank you, Nick. I updated my G+ post, too. I can assure you Steve & I were the only two people at reddit when the site went online from our Medford, MA apartment. And for many months after that.
 
This is why I hate the term "founder", even though it's useful in some contexts. Real life is complicated (I've seen "co-founders" who joined a company a year after its start date), and the focus on founding ignores the reality that creation doesn't happen from one person or at one point in time.
 
+David Gallagher Yes, as a result of reddit's acquisition of infogami, he had equal equity and voting rights as reddit's original founders: Steve & me. It'd be like calling one of the Time Warner execs a founder of AOL after AOL-TimeWarner merged. I understand the original headline made a point of opening with "reddit cofounder" (great pageviews!) -- the vast majority of people reading that would assume it was Steve or me, since we are the creators of reddit.
 
Well, they updated their headline, but the url/slug is still misleading.
 
I can vouch for the fact that when Alexis and Steve first presented Reddit to the Berkman blog group back in November of 2005, it was just the two of them http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/bloggroup/11102005-meeting-notes/. I think the terms "founder" and "co-founder" get used very loosely. I remember when Aaron joined up. It was still early days in many ways, ie pre-purchase by Conde Nast. So in terms of who the buyers bought, it was the 3 of them and their initial investors, and I can see how to many people this would count as being a cofounder. But in terms of who had the original idea for Reddit and got it off the ground, it's Alexis & Steve.
 
If you made him a cofounder I think he oughta be able to call himself a cofounder, whether or not it results in headlines that might alarm your mother. But whatever.
 
+David Gallagher There's nothing in the legal (acquisition) documents naming him as one (just 'director') and aside from that post you've found, I've never publicly named anyone other than Steve as a founding member of reddit, because only Steve and I were. I've accidentally once publicly called a tomato a vegetable, but I'm pretty sure it's actually a fruit.

Please justify your claim that "you made him a cofounder."

Also - my mother isn't around to see the headline (wouldn't have expected you to know that) but she also knew only Steve and I were cofounders of reddit. http://alexisohanian.com/keep-calm-carry-on-what-you-didnt-know-about
 
+Erica George Incidentally, +Christopher Slowe started working with us before Aaron, but part-time since he was finishing a PhD. He's also a big part of what Conde Nast bought with the acquisition.
 
Sorry Alexis - I never did know Christopher so I hadn't known to include him. My main point's about having first "met" Reddit as you and Steve. Well, and the cute alien. Do mascots count as cofounders?
 
+Bob Pasker Yep, that's my take too, if you didn't get founder stock you're not a founder. That's where saying you are employee #x is a much cleaner way of identifying how early you were. When we started CyberSource/software.net/Beyond.com there were two of us above a barbers shop in downtown Menlo Park, everybody else is an 'early employee'.
 
Sorry for the snark. Just to clarify: At some point did Aaron come to some agreement with you whereby he was entitled to call himself a cofounder (not creator or founding member or original founder) of Reddit?
 
I'm confused. I think he posted at reddit he would stop calling himself "cofounder" if you asked him to, but that that hasn't happened. He also stated he got the title as part of a deal you signed with him. I have no personal preferences on this matter, I'm just confused.
 
I'm not one of them, but I'm assuming redditors were enraged at this....
 
@Brenton no, "we as a society" can't do that because "not all of us" are in your "we as a society" who thinks piracy isn't stealing when in fact it is. You think taking copies because originals are left (duh!) is somehow not diminishing value and the ability of an organization to sell their content, but it is stealing value and paid content is okay and normal for most of the world outside your "we as a society".

What Ashwan said.

Wired talked him up as co-founder. But what none of you seem to be getting past is that this entire issue became such a point of neuralgia because Aaron was evidently a flake and blew off his job and didn't come to work, so they let him go. It isn't even because he was a would-be felon, or because he is now arraigned on a felony and they want distance. That isn't it, it's merely about geek pride.

Aaron went off to found a moveon.org clone, exactly like all those other mindless stealth-socialist cadre organizations that feed pre-digested pablum to all the mindless clickers who don't care to even debate these issues. This "progressive" campaign site isn't "social media' because you can't even click "like" let alone talk back in a comment.

Now, could we also analyze the "RSS 1.0" thing? I thought Dave Winer invented the RSS feed. Explain, please.
Bob Cat
 
The "victim" said they suffered no harm, but Aaron is still facing 35 years in prison for doing academic research.

Even though Paul Graham himself said Aaron was a "founder" [whatever that means], the hivemind is still bitching about this minor point.

You're not helping.
 
Oh, stop it. He isn't facing any 35 years in jail, that's ridiculous, and you know it. It's just blatant drama-mongering and incitement of sympathy to this script kiddie arraigned on a felony. Paul Graham, the VC, naturally has a vested interest in trying to backdate his bad judgements about people and validate them. There's the legal side of all this, and the moral and political side. And my bet is that Harvard is not going to side with EFF extremists and the "progressive" brigade on this, and are going to side with JSTOR, which has been harmed. And indeed the victim did say it was harmed and aggressively pursued this. Just because there are originals left when thiefs take copies doesn't mean VALUE is lost. You can't have a paid content operation if thieves can steal copies, end of story.
Bob Cat
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Catherine Fitzpatrick - " We secured from Mr. Swartz the content that was taken, and received confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed. "

So no harm. Then they point out it's the feds behind this, not them. And yes, he will get 35 years unless he pleads guilty because that is what they do. They will make an example of him.

You must not know anything about programming if you call Aaron a script kiddie - why don't you take a look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Swartz

For penance, I assign you to disable all the RSS feeds you watch. Google reader too!
 
An observation made by another elsewhere: "Apparently Jstor itself did not want to press charges, and has been subpoena'd by the attorney's office. Possibly they are worried about the potential for a major eruption of the controversy about whether more than a century of the world's scientific heritage ought to be open access anyway, given how articulate a martyr Swartz could be."

So, who are the real thieves?
 
"Bob Cat" and D.T. Cochrane: you don't seem to grasp the obvious point because you're too busy Fisking. Just because the owner of content retains the original, and retrieves a copy from the thief doesn't mean damage was not done. Poilce catch thieves in possession of stolen property that they return all the time. We can't know that other copies in fact might not be forwarded or stored. Your notion that breaching of systems by force isn't damage is absurd. You would be arrested for breaking and entering a house even if you didn't steal anything. Truly, you have a hard time just admitting the obvious, common-sense things about the Internet that are not "special" and run exactly as real life does in terms of ethics -- ethic that you and other tekkies don't appear to have. Who says scientific heritage "has" to be open? It's not as if it is expensive and it's not as if in fact college students don't get access anyway. Costs have to be met. Not everyone believes in living in the collectivist sandbox as you do. Somebody always pays. I guess you want to make sure it's not you, eh? The real thieves are the hackers, not stewards of works in an online service that has costs to meet and gets them paid with paid content.

The notion that JSTOR has no complaint is absurd; there is a criminal case precisely because they called the authorities. Honestly, I can't believe how you deny the obvious in the interest of your cult beliefs. And I will indeed go on calling Aaron a script kiddie, because that's what he is, never matured emotionally beyond the age of 14 when he first became a wunderkind. No thanks to the adults of Silicon Valley who corrupted him. Um, again, I thought we were supposed to bow down and worship Dave Winer for RSS feeds, not this kid! What's the story there!

There is absolutely no danger of this darling of the tech world with wealth friends every doing anything remotely like 35 years. More like 35 days of community service, if that.
Bob Cat
 
"Catherine Fitzpatrick" - if you think he does not deserve to be charged with felonies that can get him 35 years in PMITA prison, perhaps you should step up and say that. All I see is possibly trespassing and borrowing too many books. Why don't they charge him with a misdemeanor?

We've seen plenty of nonviolent techies charged with multiple felonies and sentenced to prison for nothing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randal_L._Schwartz
http://www.2600.com/law/bernie.html
 
No, "Bob Cat," I think he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He is charged with a crime that is serious and real and involves theft and harm to a non-profit scholarly organization and a university. What I'm pointing out is that there is no way he will be looking at 35 years and it's fake and pretentious to keep agitating people with this supposed prison sentence to try to manipulate sentiment and gain sympathy. That's just an exaggeration based on speculation by "internet lawyers" about what charges he might face and what the maximum terms are for those crimes if all compounded. But we don't know what kind of deal the DA will make with his likely very skillful and very highly-compensated and connected lawyers who will be acquired for him if not by EFF then by various other powers in Silicon Valley. To be sure, he is a second-time offender at the least, having been sentenced in the past for, um, "taking out books from the library too fast" regarding courthouse documents. So that could affect his sentencing, I don't know. A misdemeanor? Oh, I don't trivialize deliberate guerilla warfare, which is exactly what this is. It's not some kid needing to do his term paper who was sticking in a script without any background on a one-off affair. It's a seasoned and repeatedly-offending revolutionary cadre deliberately assaulting these institutions to make a extremist political point.

Er, non-violent tekkies? What an amoral position, to imagine that if it happens online in digital form, it isn't real and has no consequences. Baloney. There's no legal concept that says non-violent crimes are somehow "less" than violent crimes in their effects, even if there are different charging guidelines. That is, if you steal a million dollars online, it's not as if it is "less" than holding up a back and stealing it in paper form.

I'm for having due process, an independent judiciary, an adversarial defense, and humane treatment. But I'm for prosecuting hackers, most definitely. They assault institutions and take away people's assets and livelihoods. They commit real crimes and they should face the consequences.

I'm also hoping Harvard will do an ethics and morality review here on their own policies and not getting into any weirdness about trying to backdate from this gross encroachment to legitimizing hacking.

BTW, you seem to be ethics-free.
Bob Cat
 
"But we don't know what kind of deal the DA will make"

Yes, I am familiar with these deals. Plead guilty to something you did not do or face a jury of people who not smart enough to avoid jury duty.

Anyway, you seem to think he AT MOST is guilty of a misdemeanor - so why are you infavor of the felony charges?
Bob Cat
 
"o be sure, he is a second offender at the least, having been sentenced in the past for, um, "taking out books from the library too fast" regarding court documents. "

Ah, you seem to be a liar. Sorry I missed this fiction of yours. Go fuck yourself.
 
Do you always make a habit of deliberately misrepresenting what people have written that is already on the public record, Mr. Anonymous? Again, I haven't said he is guilty of a misdemeanor. I believe he has committed a serious crime -- yes, a felony, that yes, involves the crimes of breaking and entry, theft, possession of stolen property, and so on. Do you always try to bully and railroad people into saying something they don't really believe or trap them into saying something that you want them to say?! Der, we get it that people are innocent until proven guilty. In this case, however, he's victory-danced about his crimes, as have his supporters and he doesn't deny them, but has a whole geeky theology to go with the offenses about how "information wants to be free".

This is an interesting statement, confronting Lessig about his influence on Swartz:
http://mediafreedom.org/2011/07/statement-%E2%80%9Cfree%E2%80%9D-guru-larry-lessig-should-condemn-the-alleged-actions-of-aaron-swartz/

As for this bit about how I "seem to be a liar," what sort of ridiculous tripe is that?! Aaron Swartz is indeed a repeat offender:

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/10/swartz-fbi/

With the typically mendacious cockyness we're used to from your lot, he brags about it, using that "library" analogies being wheeled out now, back in 2009:

“I think its pretty silly they go after people who use the library to try to get access to public court documents,” Swartz said. “It is pretty silly that instead of calling me up, they sent an FBI agent to my house.”

To be sure, In my above post, I mistakenly wrote that he was "sentenced" when in fact he was only investigated and the case was closed. I simply didn't recall the information correctly, it isn't that I somehow deliberately "lied" -- and it would be pretty silly to "lie" about something that is easily discovered on the Internet -- duh. I said he was a repeat offender; he's a repeat offender, and doesn't deny it himself. Why do you?

Back then, following the EFF party line, he cooked up his fake excuse that it wasn't really wrong; but that's not why the case was closed. The FBI rightly described what happened as "exfiltration". It's not just borrowing a library book. It's screwing the court system out of 8 cents a page. Do you have any idea what enormous costs court systems face?! Just because the Justice Dept. decided not to pursue a case then doesn't mean that what he admitted doing then was right or lawful; it wasn't.

You know, this arrogant notion that you have (and he obviously has) that you hackers can just keep lying and misleading and distracting and dodging and acting in bad faith is ultimately unfounded. Perhaps he can lead the FBI around by the nose once. Perhaps he can get the Justice Department to close a case once. But then next time, he can't. Or maybe his big friends in Silicon Valley will get him off this time, too. But then, maybe not the next time, or the next hacker in his posse. Ultimately, the FBI just doesn't appreciate the trolling, and they get their man:

http://blogs.forbes.com/andygreenberg/2011/01/18/fbis-lesson-to-alleged-ipad-hackers-dont-be-a-troll/#comments

To which I can only say: good! Because hackers don't just harm companies by destroying their business and propertly, temporarily or permanently, they harm society by their incessant bad faith and lying about their own motives and actions. Eventually, the truth catches up.
Bob Cat
 
"Catherine Fitzpatrick", [if that is your real, but really common, name] I am hardly anonymous. Do you want to see my ID?

As to your claim [lie] that he was convicted of something previously "The investigation was closed on April 20." according to your own link.

No charges. No anything.
 
Doth the Lady protest too much? Say, are you comprehension challenged? This is the Internet, you can go read the information easily. He was investigated, as I just said, not sentenced. But if the investigation was closed, SO WHAT? He ADMITTED he committed these acts. THEY WERE INDEED WRONG. Subverting and circumventing a system set up to charge 8 cents a page to cover costs is immoral and illegal. It's theft of services. The metro has bars you can jump, too. Try jumping them, and eventually an officer of the law will arrest you.

I didn't "lie" about something that was merely not remembered correctly. He was indeed a repeat offender because he committed the same offense at least twice and admits it. And whether or not he was charged or sentenced is immaterial. It's also easy to see the correct record, so pouncing and playing gotcha only makes you look infantile.

Not surprising that you sanction unethical and illegal behaviour and justify your tribe.
Bob Cat
 
I should read Cat Fitz comments more thoroughly, from her last link:

“Since at least in or about April 2001, Auernheimer has been known to the FBI as a computer hacker and self-proclaimed ‘troll,’” Schorle writes. “A troll is a person who intentionally, and without authorization, disrupts services and content on the Internet.”

Did anyone give you permission to make false statements +CF? You haz disurpted mah content!
 
Incredible how Google+ makes New York Times articles better. ^^
 
"Bob Cat," what is your point? Aaron Swartz is a person who intentionally, without authorization, disrupts services and content. Most definitely. Whether you call that "hacker" or "troll" is immaterial. He doesn't deny that this is his purpose.
 
Just reading this post now (Guardian linked to the post) due to the sad death of Aaron, and it is interesting to know the truth of how Reddit was founded, so it seems Aaron was an earlier developer who joined Reddit 6 months after the founding, due to infogami.com being acquired, and he was fired when he didn't show up for work. It also seems Aaron was incorrectly under the impression the merger gave him the right to be called a co-founder (http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/1octb/reddit_cofounder_aaron_swartz_discusses_how_he/c1oewi). Thanks for the clarifications +Alexis Ohanian.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21001452
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/us-news-blog/2013/jan/12/reddit-users-remember-aaron-swartz
 
The argument over Reddit's founding credit reminds me of the arguments that occur when several writers make contributions to a particular film. If it was such a big deal, then it should have been arbitrated or legally settled a long time ago. That said,  I wonder what Reddit or the Internet would be like today had Aaron Schwartz not made his contributions?   That's the real question.  Aaron was human and had failings, but credit should be given where credit is due. 
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