I bet you’ve heard of Reddit, the self-styled “front page of the Internet.” And if you’ve not, that’s fine, it’s never too late to hear of Reddit. Now that you’ve heard of Reddit, maybe you would like to know how to use Reddit. Sure, you can just skim the homepage and call it a day, but if you want to get involved with the community of Reddit users (called “Redditors”) and get the most out of the site, read on. We’ll have you Reddit-ready in no time!
The most important part of Reddit is the sharing. Without users sharing links and information and stories and stuff with each other, there’d be no Reddit at all. So, the best way to acquaint yourself with the community is to throw yourself into the mix of things: leave comments, post things you find interesting/cool/horrible/strange, and “upvote” and “downvote” things. Oh, hold on, real quick–upvoting and downvoting is how Reddit democracy works. You vote an item up in the ranking or you vote it down. Pretty easy. There’s some algorithms that go with the number (the score) you see next to each item, which is apparently time travel-y, but we don’t need to get into that today. For now, just know that if you like something, upvote it, and if you don’t like something, downvote it.
Another thing you need to know if you want to get the most out of Reddit (and surely you do) is your way around the numerous “subreddits.” Subreddits are communities centered around a topic, running from rather broad (like the r/history subreddit) or super niche, like the subreddit for Minecraft players. Find a subreddit dedicated to a topic you’re interested in and dive on in. To get started, take a look at this list of subreddits with less than 5,000 subscribers. It’s amazing: there seems to be no such thing as a topic too narrow or specialized to form a subreddit around. That said, in the unlikelihood that there won’t be a subreddit about your given interest, you can create your own and become the king of your (sub)Reddit domain. Also, by subscribing and unsubscribing to various subreddits, you create your very own “front page of the Internet.”
Like most online communities, Reddit has its own language, which you’ll notice right away. Redditors tend to talk in abbreviations such as: “OP,” “TIL,” IAmA,” “AMA”…Well, “OP” just refers to the “original poster” in a thread. “TIL” means “Today I learned” and is one of the most common abbreviations you’ll see on Reddit. Many posts are simple “TIL” observations and realizations. Both “IAmA” and “AMA” refer to the arguably most popular feature of Reddit, the “Ask Me Anything” thread. In an “AMA,” a well-known person, like Barack Obama or Nick Offerman, or someone who’s had a unique life experience (or a harrowing one, such as “I was mauled by a bear, fought it off, and drove 4 miles down a mountain with my face hanging off. AMA“) submits himself or herself to the inquisitive minds of Reddit. The resulting threads are some of the most insightful, humorous, and fascinating interviews you’ll ever read.
After you’ve been posting and commenting for a while, you’ll probably notice a couple numbers in the upper right-hand corner of your user profile. Those two numbers indicate how much “Karma” you have, for posts and for comments that have been upvoted by other Redditors. When fellow Redditors like what you have to say, they’ll upvote your post or comment. These upvotes translate into Karma. Karma doesn’t get you hip Reddit swag or anything like that, but it does help to boost your standing in the Reddit community. Be proud of your Karma!
You can also help make the community better by purchasing Reddit Gold, the site’s premium membership program. For around four dollars a month or thirty dollars a year, Gold users get access to features that regular users don’t have access to, and they get to test out new features before they’re released to the wider Reddit community. Reddit Gold also gives you access to a super-secret subreddit, along with other benefits. You don’t need to buy Reddit Gold to have fun on Reddit, but it’s a great way to support the site, get some perks, and be invested in the community.
In closing, remember that Reddit is just a group of people meeting on the Internet, sharing stuff and talking to one another. That’s it. Act as you would if you were hanging out with friends and meeting new ones. If you keep that in mind, you’ll have a fun and worthwhile time on Reddit.