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Posted January 21, 2022

Introducing the MTTRP: Mean Time to Reddit Post


For those not familiar with the acronym MTTR, ‘Mean Time to Recovery’, is the average time your organization takes to bounce back from a product or system failure. All DevOps stakeholders want this number to be low, as it is a good proxy for your organization’s ability to understand and improve its overall processes. Also, low MTTR scores are strongly correlated with customer satisfaction ratings!

But we aren’t talking about DevOps metrics today. No, we’re talking about angry (and loud) user input. In today's digital first economy, it's time to introduce a new, hyper-relevant, metric: MTTRP, or "Mean Time to Reddit Post".

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to 2016. It was a simpler time. Barack Obama was still in the White House, fans had yet to sour on Game of Thrones, and the only folks wearing masks were surgeons and trick-or-treaters. Independent game developer Hello Games was working on a massively anticipated open world title named “No Man’s Sky” and the internet was abuzz. The release finally came on August 9, 2016, and was an unmitigated disaster. Crashes, server outages, long queue times, forced many players to declare the game “unplayable”. The response on Reddit and Twitter was swift. Within hours players were demanding full refunds and within a matter of days in an unprecedented move, platforms like Steam and Sony relented and offered refunds, regardless of play time.

To their credit, the developers were eventually able to patch these errors and make the game a much better experience, but the damage was done. Ask people about No Man’s Sky today and some will defend it, but most people only remember the scandal of its release.

Fast forward to December 2020: many of us are still locked indoors, what could curb our boredom more than a highly touted game from the makers of The Witcher franchise? CD Projekt Red’s title Cyberpunk 2077 was the most anticipated game of the year. Keanu Reeves even made the commercials! But on release day, again fans were met with disappointment. The Guardian said the game was released ‘in shambles.’ CDPR’s stock dropped nearly 10% and within a matter of weeks, the developer was facing a class-action lawsuit. Why? In large part because of the outcry on Reddit!

The gaming industry is far from the only one affected by angry folks on the internet. Fire up your Twitter feed right now and it will only be a matter of time before you will find someone yelling at an airline for losing their bags. Just today a lawyer posted an angry thread about her negative experience with Hertz over the holidays. As of this writing it has been liked 50,000 times and retweeted another 10,000. Hertz stock dropped 3 percent within hours.

Talk to your PR team and they will tell you that all of these negative customer interactions have an immediate and real cost. If we include major retailers (or credit agencies!) that have a breach, these issues end up costing millions of dollars and have a immediate and direct impact on brand reputation. But back to Reddit. We tend to complain only when things don’t work, not when they’re great. On Reddit, on Twitter, on Discord forums… we complain to anyone who will listen. When you’ve been wronged, there is catharsis in firing off an angry post and warning a few thousand strangers what they’re getting into.

In more recent history, you likely remember the day that Facebook crashed, and with it Instagram and Messenger. For your wild card relative, this may have been a slight annoyance as they were temporarily unable to post their latest political hot takes. For small business owners, however, this was a far more intrusive situation as entire business profiles (as well as sales and support) that live on the platform were inaccessible for nearly a day. Both individuals and business owners flocked to Reddit to say various unkind things about Facebook in both words and memes. Several months later, Reddit still contains thousands of posts about the event–and millions of upvotes, awards, and other engagement.

If your business is impacted by some sort of negative event, how long before the entire internet hears about it? The MTTRP is the average amount of time it takes someone to fire off a negative review into the social ether. ~Several minutes is about right. But that’s just for the first negative review – then we’re looking at a few short hours for it to gain steam and go viral. As we all know, “bad news sells papers.” These are real money buyers who prevent other real money buyers from buying, en masse, as a direct result of spending a few minutes on a forum post.

This means that once an error is detected in our product, it’s too late to correct in time for the MTTRP. It’s as if the Angry Reddit Post has become part of the post-release process! The user experience needs to be valued above all, and the way to protect the UX is through continuous testing, detecting errors before release, and delivering consistent quality every time. Digital confidence is the result. Solutions like Sauce Labs help you deliver an excellent product to your customers consistently. While it may have taken the internet around an hour to catch word of a disastrous gaming release, monitoring errors in your production release through Backtrace would detect these errors in a matter of seconds. Strangely enough, it takes an engineer less time to write a unit test than it takes for a gamer to write a Reddit post.

It may seem unfair that a single bug can topple a digital empire, but this is the reality we live in. Your brand may survive, but so too will thousands of negative stories that temporarily turned your company into the butt of a bad meme.

There is an old sports term that says ‘the best offense is defense’ and in terms of your brand reputation most PR managers would agree that the best crisis plan is never having a crisis at all. With Sauce Labs, we give you the digital confidence that you will stay off the front page of Reddit until you have the positive story you are ready to share with the entire world.

Marcus Merrell on a blue background
VP, Technology Strategy at Sauce Labs
Jan 21, 2022
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