Reddit advertises itself as the front page of the internet, and honestly, it’s not hard to see why. With more than 70 billion pageviews, Reddit is big business, and has been a major source of good will (they operate the world’s largest secret Santa program) and controversy (for example, the site’s general hands-off approach to policing subreddits has made the site a haven for racists, misogynists, and other unsavory sorts.)
As probably the biggest content aggregator online, Reddit is a sort of massive forum divided into thousands of smaller subforums — colloquially called “subreddits” — where people can share links and have discussions. Warts and all, Reddit (with multiple dedicated mobile apps on top of the website) is still a great place to kill time and even have some enlightening conversation. New users might feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of subreddits, though. Below are some of the better ones spanning a breadth of topics, off the beaten path.
Looking to broaden your horizons? IWantToLearn is the place for you. Users are encouraged to seek advice on a new hobby or skill they’re looking to acquire, and a community of more than 165,000 subscribed members are there to help. Whether you’ve never played the piano before or if you’re simply looking for tips and tricks to improve your musical dexterity, Reddit is here to help. Submissions are tagged and color-coded by category (academic, art-music, sports, etc.) to help you find the appropriate thread to mach your needs.
Probably the most famous subreddit, r/IAmA is a place for people from all walks of life to do informal Q&A sessions. AMAs — short for “ask me anything” — attract all sorts of characters, and are great way to get firsthand knowledge about what it’s like to be a firefighter, a corporate whistleblower, a NASA scientists, etc. In recent years, the subreddit has become famous for celebrity AMAs (shorthand for “ask me anything”). If you want to hear Jeff Bridges’ advice on how to make a marriage last, or for some reason want to ask Patrick Stewart whether he’d prefer to fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses, those are opportunities you’ll find on r/IAmA.
Like history, science can be a difficult subject to study on your own. As such, why not seek the wisdom of experts? Answers on /r/AskScience are backed up by peer-reviewed sources, ensuring they will be trustworthy, and the rules stifle any attempts to take things off-topic or spread misinformation. Whether you have questions on physics, biology, or any other aspect of the natural world, there is likely someone on this subreddit willing to provide an informed answer. A knowledgeable community and strict rules also help keep AskScience one of the most informative, civil forums on Reddit.
Plenty of cool advances in tech happen every day, but why care about the present when you can obsess over the future? Futurology is the study of what could happen in the future, looking at current trends and developments in science, engineering, and politics. This eponymous subreddit is a great place to read articles about the latest advances in technology and what they could mean for the future of humanity. Sources are graded based on trustworthiness, so it’s unlikely you’ll be led astray by shoddy reporting. If cutting-edge projects such as NASA’s EmDrive or the wondrous material graphene interest you, /r/Futurology is a great hub for the latest discussions.
Visualization is a big part of conveying statistics to an audience of laymen. Data sets can be difficult to parse if one is not trained in statistical analysis, but a pie chart or line graph can communicate information about trends quickly and easily. For people who are enthusiastic about statistics — those few, those happy few — or those who like to be able to grasp information at a glance, /r/DataIsBeautiful is a subreddit to subscribe to. Charts and graphs are usually high quality, both aesthetically and methodologically. The subreddit rules also require that visualizations must link to data sources, so it’s easy to scrutinize the methodology behind the stats. The subject matter covers a wide array of interests, including everything from charts of climate trends to statistical breakdowns of the latest television shows.
History can be a daunting subject. Not only is the body of knowledge vast, but history seems more prone to misinformation and political agendas than most subjects. Thankfully, AskHistorians enforces rigorous standards to ensure that any discussions are civil and intellectual. Many of their frequent contributors are verified historians from a wide range of backgrounds, so whether you want to know how the trade routes of the Silk Road were organized or read about the origins of Roman muscle armor, someone on r/AskHistorians will have a solid answer.