Reddit, often referred to as "the homepage of the Internet", is a unique social media site where users can keep up to date with the latest news, information and topics of their choice. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Reddit is a bit trickier for new users.
This article will help you get started with Reddit while giving you useful information about different aspects of the site.
What is Reddit?
Reddit is the front page of the internet, where everything surfaces. This funny video that goes around Twitter? It was probably on Reddit 48 hours ago.
It's probably not a hugely helpful description, but it does help explain some of the appeal. It's one of the biggest communities on the internet, but it's not like a normal social media site because the content – links and text messages – is constantly voted on by the community. Good things make headlines; bad things are ignored.
The site is divided into different thematic boards, called “subreddits”. Each is thematic around a different interest or idea. Reddit itself realizes how complex the site can seem at first glance and has a dedicated subreddit to answer your questions. It's called r/NoStupidQuestions,
The home page is a digest of the most popular content from each of the subreddits the site has automatically enabled you for. Click on each one and you'll see plenty more stuff that didn't quite make the big leagues. First-page access and resulting traffic is known to lead to ill-prepared websites as they struggle under pressure.
Enjoying Reddit Casually
With that in mind, it's entirely possible to passively enjoy Reddit. If you're not logged in or haven't changed the settings, visiting Reddit.com will bring you the most popular and upvoted content on the site. This tends to be limited to certain popular subtitles, which everyone automatically subscribes to. The includes the likes of /r/movies, /r/ShowerThoughts, /r/Jokes, etc.
In order to fully customize and enjoy the Reddit experience, you must create an account to browse Reddit with. This allows you to subscribe (or unsubscribe) to any subreddit on the website, as well as upvote and downvote posts, message other users, and more. Creating an account is very easy, just follow these steps:
- Click "Register" in the upper right corner of the page.
- Choose to sign in using your Google, Facebook, or email credentials.
- Choose a username (this is different from your login credentials and will be what other users will see in your profile name) and a password.
And that's basically it! Now you have an account and can use all the features reddit has to offer. Read on to learn more about these features.
Choose your subtitles
Reddit will auto-subscribe you to certain subs, but auto-subs only apply to the most popular subs, but that only scratches the surface. At the time of writing, there are 1 subreddits, according to RedditMetrics. And it goes up all the time.
All this will not be interesting, of course, but many will be. Basically, if you can think of a topic, there will be a subtitle for it, no matter how obscure. Finding them is the tricky part. Searching for your interests is one way to do this, using the handy search bar at the top of the site, but it's actually not a bad idea to just scroll back to the most popular, by hitting the subscribe button on whatever looks appealing to you – unsubscribing is just as easy if you find it doesn't work for you.
Here are some examples of subtitles that might be interesting, whatever your interests: /r/dataisbeautiful is full of statistics, charts and other wonders. /r/explainlikeimfive takes complex ideas and explains them in a way a five-year-old could understand (in theory).
Reddit: upvote and downvote
Next to each item is an up arrow and a down arrow. If an article gets enough upvotes – usually around the thousands mark – an article will be published on the front page, even if it is not on the default subscription list. Naturally, however, plays have a much better chance of reaching the first page if they are in the default list, as there are more people to vote for them.
Every down vote takes away one up vote, so it's a good old-fashioned popularity contest. The same goes for comments on articles. Voted comments will be displayed immediately after the article and ignored comments are relegated to the bottom.
Certain types of content on Reddit are specifically made for commenting, rather than as an external link. “Ask Me Anything” – AMAs – are opportunities for the community to ask questions of celebrities and notable personalities. Some of them made the news of the day, while others went horribly wrong, but in theory you can ask anything you want: "would you rather fight a duck the size of a horse or 100 horses the size of a duck” is a popular question that even Barack Obama answered.
Since most subreddits are themed around certain topics, such as /r/elderscrolls or /r/IASIP, these subreddits will almost exclusively be threads that discuss opinions, thoughts, and ideas, with no links to external content.
Reddit is one of the most popular sites on the internet and as such has a lot to offer. This article is meant to serve as a starting point for those who are completely new to Reddit. Obviously, the platform has a lot more to offer than what is mentioned in this introductory text. Do you have any tips, tricks, or questions about getting started on Reddit? Do you have any suggestions for new users who want to explore the site? Please share in the comment section below!
Images: Eva Bleu, Eva Bleu, Torley used under Creative Commons