Over the past few years, social news website Reddit has become one of the most popular, powerful, and controversial destinations on the Web. But unlike corporate-run Internet giants, Reddit’s massive success comes from its decentralized nature, which allows any user to create his or her own community (known as a “subreddit”), with its own central topic, rules, and character. This is also what makes Reddit such an irresistible time-suck, with layer upon layer of new subreddits to explore and participate in. But there’s no reason to just lurk along the sidelines: Getting in on the Reddit moderator action is easier than you might think. Here’s everything you need to know about launching your own subreddit.
Step 1: Log in and click
If you don’t already have a Reddit account, you can easily create one by clicking the “login or register” link in the top-right corner of the homepage. (It only takes a couple seconds, and you don’t need to add an email address if you so choose.) Once you’re logged in, just click the “Create you own community” button, which appears along the right side of the website.
Step 2: Original idea
The first thing you’ll need is a name for your subreddit. It can be as long or as short as you like (though, as a Web rule of thumb, shorter is usually better). Something easy to remember and descriptive of the community’s topic of choice is recommended, but it could simply be a good name or memorable. In other words, it can be whatever you want. But the name you choose will have a large impact on whether your subreddit becomes successful.
Coming up with a good subreddit name is, by far, the most difficult part of this whole process. According to MetaReddit, there are currently 187,384 subreddits, which means your big idea may very well have already been taken. If it has, come up with another idea.
To check if your subreddit name idea is available, click here to search all subreddits. If nothing comes up under whatever name you type in, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Fill it out
Once you’ve decided upon a name for your subreddit, you’ll need to actually make the dang thing. This involves nothing more than filling out a number of fields in a Web form, checking a few boxes, and clicking “create.” But to give you confidence, here’s what you need to know.
Name: This is where that brilliant original idea you just came up with comes into play. In this field, the name should have no spaces between words. Case size does matter, however, so capitalize the letters you want to appear capitalized.
The main thing to remember, however, is that you cannot change the name – ever. So triple-check that it’s right before hitting “create.”
Title: This does not have to be the same as the name, but it can be. Unlike the name, spacing does matter for the title. And you can also feel free to add in a tag line as well, since length does not matter. The title can be edited later if you want to tweak it or change it in any way.
Description: Here, you can describe what your subreddit is all about. It’s viewable to the public, so this should also serve as a pitch to draw in other people who might be interested in subscribing.
Sidebar: The side can be used to provide subscribers with links to other subreddits or other websites. Some subreddits list the rules of the subreddit (if you choose to have particular rules), the description, and any other relevant information in the sidebar as well. And like the title and description, the sidebar can be edited at any time.
Language: From my tests, it appears as though the language setting does nothing.
Type: You have three types of subreddits you can create: Public, restricted, and private. Public lets anyone subscribe, and is the most common type of subreddit. Restricted allows you to decide who can post links and who cannot. And private is only visible to Reddit users you invite to join. Chances are, you want to make your subreddit public – but once again, this option can be changed.
Content options: You can limit the types of content to only links, or only text posts (that link to a comments page on your subreddit). But I’d recommend allowing “any” type of post, at least to start. If the community evolves, and you want to set a restriction later, you can.
Wiki: Here, you can set restrictions on who can change the subreddit’s settings. The safest option is “disabled.”
Other options: Here you can decided whether to put an over-18 age restriction on your subreddit (which you should do if you plan to make it of the NSFW variety), whether to allow it to show up as a default subreddit for users (which is a good way to help your community grow), and whether to show thumbnails of images on submitted posts (which is good to do if your subreddit is image-heavy).
And that’s it! Click the “create” button, and you’re officially a Reddit moderator of your own subreddit.
Step 4: Promote!
Once you’ve created your subreddit, you’ll need to let other redditors know it exists. One good way is to submit a link to your subredd to the /r/NewReddits community. Another way is to post links in related communities. For example, I run the /r/GermanShepherds subreddit. I got the word out there about it by mentioning it in comments on /r/dogs or /r/dogtraining, and other related communities. So, if possible, find other subreddits that mesh well with your new community, and start spreading the word.
Odds & ends
Now that you’re a moderator, you’ll have access to “mod mail,” which is usually populated with messages from users whose submissions were caught by Reddit’s spam filter. You can access mod mail by clicking the Reddit alien head icon next to your regular user mail, or though a link in the “Moderator Tools” section that appears along the right side of your subreddit page. From there, you can also check subreddit stats, view reported links, add new moderators, and other fun administrative tasks.