UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN living under a virtual rock while on your internet travels, you’ll be at least vaguely familiar with Reddit.
And if you’re not, you will be soon.
Strap yourself in, kids, we’re going on a Reddit beginner’s crash course.
1. The bare bone basic facts
Reddit is a social news and entertainment site, and calls itself “the front page of the internet”. One look around will give you an inkling why. For one thing, they boast traffic of over 90 million people per month and often acts as the springboard for viral content around t’internet.
2. First things first
Interestingly, Reddit doesn’t create any original content, per se – users (called “redditors” funnily enough) submit text, images, video, which is then up- or down-voted by their peers across lots of small topic-specific forums (called “subreddits”).
If your post makes it big in your subreddit, it’ll get onto Reddit’s front page, where it’ll be seen by millions. That’s when the magic happens.
Anyone can browse Reddit, of course, but you have to create a user account to post and vote on other people’s post.
3. Why you need to know
Why should you, dearest reader, care about Reddit? Well, for lots of reasons ACTUALLY.
For a start, Reddit has a role in the news we consume. On the day of the Boston marathon bombings in 2013, users speculated on members of the crowd in photographs, identifying some and wrongly accusing them of perpetrating the act. Though the crowdsourcing mistakenly implicated innocent people, the witch-hunt’s escalation and impact are testament to Reddit’s influence and power.
Reddit also does plenty of good. It has the largest Secret Santa programme in the world and users regularly organise mass donatations for direct relief after natural disasters. But perhaps most endearingly of all was the story of the pizza party Reddit organised for a children’s hospital in Los Angeles.
A picture from the fourth floor of the hospital got up-voted on Reddit, showing the window of the room of cancer patient, two-year-old Hazel. Pizzas soon began flooding in – over 20 pizzas were eventually delivered.
As well as both hard news and the warm fuzzies, Reddit also routinely sets the viral agenda. It acts as an incubator of sorts for memes – including the widely-loved Doge.
4. Navigating subreddits
There are thousands of subreddits out there, but there are also big hitter, default subreddits that you need to know about. Think of these as the mainstream, all-star subreddits. They’re broken down into educational, discussion, humour, entertainment and meta. Examples include:
/r/ireland - For all things Irish.
/r/todayilearned - Used to be called “TIL”. Based off the old saying that we learn something new every day, this subreddit is a place to post interesting and specific facts that you just found out. Always unearths a gem.
/r/IAmA – Ask Me Anything. Celebrities, people of note and people with unusual life experiences here accept questions from Reddit at large. Check out the timetable on the right of the subreddit to see who’s coming up soon.
/r/AskReddit – Exactly what it says on the tin – users ask Reddit as a community for advice, nazel-gazing, philosophical questions or for their best anecdotes.
Click here to see a consistently updated list of top subreddits by subscribers, recent activity and growth in the last 24 hours.
5. Speaking the lingo
This is the killer. An important part of the Reddit community is the lingo – the abbreviations, the running jokes, the little quirks that are almost too numerous to list. Some originate on boards like 4chan, and many have leaked out into the internet mainstream.
Lurking for a while will give you an indication of how communication goes down, but in the mean-time, here’s a brief glossary:
TL;DR – Too long; didn’t read. If you have a really wordy post, usually you’ll sum it up at the bottom for those too lazy to scan it. It’s also used as an expression of mild contempt for someone who has left an over-long post. The Wikipedia page is a good, ironic example of tl;dr in action.
IIRC – If I recall correctly. Occasionally indicates that someone might be spoofing.
FTFY – Fixed that for you. Mostly used for humorous “did you mean this?” Freudian-style jokes.
OP – Original poster.
ITT - In this thread.
6. Going underground
“I knew all of this before!” I hear some of you mewling. “You can’t teach me anything! I AM JUST SO SMART!”
Well, newsflash, there’s always something new to learn about Reddit. It’s is a place of infinite wonders – you name it, there’s a subreddit for it. Got a niche interest? There’s a place for it. Here’s our top picks of the more unusual subreddits you need to check out.
/r/robscuremedia - Little-seen old TV, films and media from bygone eras. Click to filter by decade to find everything from silent films to forgotten exploitation movies.
/r/perfectLoops - Seamless GIFs that blend together into a perfect loop of motion. Hypnotic and addictive. They never end! Here’s a quick example.
/r/menonunstableladders – A great example of just how niche subreddits can get – this one is dedicated solely to men on unstable ladders.
A few more: /r/examplesofgood for warm fuzzies, /r/skyporn for photos of the sky, /r/contagiouslaughter for videos and audio of people laughing infectiously, /r/fiftyfifty if you’re into coin tosses… And, of course, there’s /r/HotelCalifornia – for this:
Are you a redditor? Give us your own tips and tricks in the comments below.