Using PRAW and PSAW to gather data about Reddit reposts and automate complaining about them

Posted on Tue 03 May 2022 in Projects

The Idea

If you are like me, you occasionally browse Reddit's /r/videos and come across a video that you swear you have seen posted on the subreddit dozens of times. You may then ask yourself, why would you post this? Well, I can't answer that. We can, however, determine how many times it has been posted and inform the user about their egregious error.

The Tools

For this project, I used the following tools: - pandas, to interact with the data - python reddit api wrapper, to monitor submissions in real time and post replies - api wrapper, to pull historical data about subreddit submissions from - regex, to isolate the youtube video id from the submission url (many of these were god awful abominations)

The Code

Start with my imports and connecting to the API. Set search criteria. For this, I set the karma limit to 50 in order to limit the amount of data, bad posts, spam, etc. Realistically, a decent amount of reposts probably do have under 50 karma, but for now I will keep the limit. The final line here takes quite a while and returned over 170k results.

import pandas as pd
from psaw import PushshiftAPI

api = PushshiftAPI()
api_request_generator = api.search_submissions(subreddit='videos', score = ">50")
submissions = pd.DataFrame([submission.d_ for submission in api_request_generator])

The vast majority of posts to the subreddit are youtube links, so for now I am just focusing on those and ignoring all other urls. Youtube video urls are supposed to be simple. For a variety of reasons, the url text that the average redditor ends up copy and pasting into the link field on a reddit submission has tons of garbage in it. Because I am looking for reposts, these differences could potentially cause fewer reposts to appear in the results. If I can filter out all unwanted parts of the url, I will be left with the id. Regex is a great tool for this. I was able to find a semi complete solution for this on Stack Overflow, but it did require a few tweaks to support all of the potential variants that I encountered in the data. I used to verify that all of my urls were being processed correctly.

regex = r'^(?:https?:)?(?:\/\/)?(?:youtu\.be\/|(?:www\.|m\.)?youtube\.com\/(?:watch|v|embed)(?:\.php)?(?:\?.*v=|\/))([a-zA-Z0-9\_-]{7,15})(?:[\?&][a-zA-Z0-9\_-]+=[a-zA-Z0-9\_-]+)*(?:[&\/\#].*)?$'

repl = lambda m:
submissions['youtube_id'] = submissions['url'].str.replace(regex, repl)

The Reddit API has a ton of fields that I am not interested in, so I selected only the useful data.

data = submissions[['title','author','full_link','url','youtube_id','created_utc','num_comments','num_crossposts']]

Finally, I added a column for the number of times each youtube id is found in the data and convert the unix timestamp to a more readable format. That is all I needed for now, so I saved it to a csv.

data['num_reposts'] = data['youtube_id'].map(data['youtube_id'].value_counts().to_dict())
data['created_date'] = pd.to_datetime(data['created_utc'], utc=True, unit='s')

Now that I have the historical data, I can reference it whenever someone submits something to the subreddit and determine if it is a repost. This is pretty simple in PRAW. Start with the imports and starting PRAW and pointing it to the correct subreddit.

import praw
import pandas as pd
import re
import csv

reddit = praw.Reddit(

subreddit = reddit.subreddit('videos')

I want to be sure that I don't enable replies until I am ready so that I don't accidentally post a bunch of spam comments and get banned. Next I want to load a csv that contains all of the post ids that the bot has already processed. This is another spam prevention method. Next, I read the data from the previous step into a dataframe and define the same regex.

replies_enabled = False

with open('processed.csv') as f:
    reader = csv.reader(f)
    processed = []
    for row in reader:
        for item in row:

df = pd.read_csv('data.csv')
regex = r'^(?:https?:)?(?:\/\/)?(?:youtu\.be\/|(?:www\.|m\.)?youtube\.com\/(?:watch|v|embed)(?:\.php)?(?:\?.*v=|\/))([a-zA-Z0-9\_-]{7,15})(?:[\?&][a-zA-Z0-9\_-]+=[a-zA-Z0-9\_-]+)*(?:[&\/\#].*)?$'

This is the main part of the bot. Praw will iterate through current submissions and monitor for future submissions. If the submission has not already been processed, I apply the regex to the submitted url to get the youtube_id. Then I look up the youtube_id in the original dataset, returning only the value of num_reposts. Regardless of that result, the post id is added to the csv. If the number of reposts is greater than 2, I print a small summary of the post and post a reply to the submission.

for submission in
    if not in processed:
        submission_youtube_id = re.sub(regex, r'\1',submission.url)
            num_reposts = df['num_reposts'].loc[df['new_url'].str.contains(submission_youtube_id)].iloc[0]
            num_reposts = 0
        with open('processed.csv','a') as fd:
        if num_reposts > 2:
            print('repost alert',, submission.title, submission.url, submission_youtube_id, submission.permalink, num_reposts)
            if replies_enabled:
                submission.reply('Seen this video before? This video has been submitted to /r/videos at least '+str(num_reposts)+' times.')

The Outcome

I spun up an ubuntu VM on my home server and deployed the bot. Honestly, I fully expect it to get banned from the subreddit after a few comments. This was a small/quick/fun project that gave me a chance to check out the basic features of PRAW/PSAW. They were both extremely easy to get started with. I will definitely be returning to these tools in future projects. I am also really happy with how well the regex worked on such a large dataset. The amount of data that the reddit API gives you opens up a lot of possibilites for these types of bots. You could easily adapt this bot into a karma farming repost bot. I think there are also quite a few ways that I could reduce the likelihood that my account gets banned, but it wouldn't be worth it at this point.