Reddit has become the comments section to every corner of pop culture. It reaches millions of people every day because it houses something for everyone. Whether it’s sports, video games, literature, or just really dumb stuff, you can find a subreddit that feels tailor-made for you.
The biggest downside to Reddit, however, is that it’s not exactly welcoming. Reddit’s front page looks only slightly better than the original Space Jam website, and phrases and acronyms are thrown around that sound borrowed from a different language. What’s important to remember about Reddit is that every member of the community — aka, “Redditors” — also had to ask “what is Reddit” at some point or another. Thankfully, our guide to the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet” will get you Reddit-ready in no time.
Terms, subreddits, and Reddit Gold
The most important part of Reddit is its sharing aspect. If users didn’t share links, photos, stories, and other info with each other, there wouldn’t be a Reddit to begin with. The best way to acquaint yourself with the community is to throw yourself into the mix: Leave comments, post things you find interesting/cool/horrible/strange, and “upvote” and “downvote” various posts. 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 along with the number you see next to each item, which is apparently time travel-y, but we don’t need to get into that. Just know that if you like something, upvote it, and if you don’t like something, downvote it.
If you want to get the most out of Reddit, you’ll also want to know how to navigate the numerous subreddits. Subreddits are communities centered around a particular topic, and they run from rather broad (like the r/history subreddit) to super niche, like the subreddit for Minecraft players. Find a subreddit dedicated to a topic you’re interested in and dive in — there is no such thing as a topic too narrow or specialized to form a subreddit around. That said, in the unlikelihood that there isn’t be a subreddit about your given passion, you can create your own and become the king of your subreddit domain. Also, by subscribing and unsubscribing to various subreddits, you can create your own “front page of the internet.”
Like most online communities, Reddit has its own language. Redditors tend to talk in abbreviations such as OP, TIL, IAmA, and AMA. “OP” just refers to the “original poster” in a thread, while “TIL” means “Today I learned” and is one of the most common abbreviations you’ll see. Many posts are simple “TIL” observations and realizations. Both “IAmA” and “AMA” refer to what might very well be Reddit’s most popular feature: 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 the woman who was mauled by a bear, fought it off, and drove four miles down a mountain with her face hanging off — 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.
Hey, everyone: I'll be taking your questions online today. Ask yours here: http://t.co/pcwZHo3O -bo
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 29, 2012
After you’ve been posting and commenting for a while, you’ll probably notice a couple numbers in the upper-right corner of your user profile. These two numbers indicate how much “Karma” you have. 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 by purchasing Reddit Gold, the site’s premium membership program. For $4 a month or $30 a year, Gold users have access to features that regular users don’t get, and they 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.
Just remember, Reddit is 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 old friends or new ones. Reddit’s become a popular hub for many topics, both good and bad, and it’s recently taken steps to making the site more inclusive by eliminating explicit content from its public homepage.
If Reddit sounds like your kind of place, then sign up by visiting the login page and securing your username, password, and email before verifying that you’re not a robot. Once you’re signed in, Reddit will give you suggestions on how to find popular boards you might be interested in. If you already know what communities you want to be a part of, then just type it in the search bar in the upper-right corner. After a while, the site will become second nature to you, and you’ll be using Reddit to your own benefit.
Update: Added the brief guide on how to sign up for Reddit.
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