Reddit Goes Open Source: What Does That Really Mean?

My new favorite crowd voting / social bookmarking site Reddit made the announcement today that it’s “open source.” This means the code for the site has been made publicly available, which could lead to crowd sourced improvements to the site as well as new sites developed using the Reddit “engine.”

Apparently, Reddit has a fairly large programmer crowd among its 4.5 million monthly visitors. So these programmers can take ideas for the site and actively participate in implementing them. And this is all done under something called the Common Public Attribution License (what Mozilla uses), which means that changes to the code must be made available publicly and any site using the code needs to make this fact obvious.

In a nutshell, Reddit used to be “improved” by five programmers but now might be improved by anyone. This is the part that gets me, the non-programmer, confused about the context of open source in this case. While I think it’s cool that anyone can create their own Reddit-like site using this code, I’m much more interested in the how new features might be implemented to the original site Reddit.

Maybe it’s just assumed that the original five person team behind Reddit will sift through any submissions and decide what’s cool and what’s not. But perhaps applying the same Reddit crowd sourcing / voting model for code submissions could be useful here?

While an open source Reddit seems like a great idea, I just wonder how exactly it will work. Or, to put it another way, how can non-programmers with ideas get involved? If anyone knows, feel free to leave a comment.