A Beginner’s Guide to Reddit

Reddit, often referred to as “the front page of the internet” is a unique social media site where users can stay up-to-date on the latest news, information, and topics of their choice. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Reddit is a little more complicated for new users.

A Beginner’s Guide to Reddit

This article will help you get more familiar with Reddit while also giving you some helpful insights into different aspects of the site.

What is Reddit?

Reddit is the front page of the internet, where everything surfaces. That funny video that’s doing the rounds on Twitter? It was probably on Reddit 48 hours ago.

That’s probably not a hugely helpful description, but it helps explain some of the appeal. It’s one of the biggest communities on the internet, but it’s not like a normal social media site because the content – links and text posts – are constantly voted upon by the community. The good stuff rises to the front page; the bad stuff gets ignored.

The site is divided into different topic boards, called “subreddits.” Each is themed around a different interest or idea. Reddit itself realizes how complex the site can feel at first glance and has a subreddit dedicated to answering your questions. It’s called r/NoStupidQuestions,

The front page is a digest of the most popular content from each of the subreddits the site automatically opts you in for. Click through to each one, and you’ll see a lot more stuff that didn’t quite make the big leagues. Getting to the front page and the resulting traffic that generates has been known to take down ill-prepared websites as they struggle under the strain.reddit_logo_how_to_use_reddit

Enjoying Reddit Casually

With that in mind, it’s quite possible to enjoy Reddit passively. If you’re not logged in, or you haven’t tinkered with the settings, visiting Reddit.com will present you with the most popular, upvoted content on the site. This tends to be limited to certain popular subreddits, which everyone is subscribed to automatically. The includes the likes of /r/movies, /r/ShowerThoughts, /r/Jokes, etc.

Creating an Account

In order to fully customize and enjoy the Reddit experience, you should create an account to browse Reddit with. This allow you to subscribe (or unsubscribe) to any subreddit on the website, as well as up-vote and down-vote posts, send messages to other users, etc. Signing up for an account is very easy, simply follow these steps:

  1. Click “Sign Up” in the top right corner of the page.

  2. Choose to sign in using either your Google, Facebook, or email credentials.

  3. Choose a username (this is different than your log-in credentials, and will be what other users see your profile name as) and password.

And that’s basically it! Now you have an account and can utilize all of the features that reddit has to offer. Read on to find out more about those features.

Picking Your Subreddits

Reddit will automatically subscribe you to some subreddits, but automatic subscriptions only apply to the most popular subreddits around, but that’s scratching the surface. At the time of writing, there are 1,209,754 subreddits, according to RedditMetrics. And it’s rising all the time.

Not all of these will be of interest, of course, but plenty will. Basically, if you can think of a topic, there will be a subreddit for it, no matter how obscure. Finding them is the tricky bit. Searching for your interests is one way to do it, using the handy search bar at the top of the site, but it’s actually not a bad idea just to scroll backward through the most popular subreddits, hitting the subscribe button on any which sounds appealing – unsubscribing is just as easy should you find it’s not to your tastes.

Here’s a couple of examples of subreddits that might be interesting no matter what your interests are: /r/nottheonion picks out crazy-sounding news stories that are actually true. /r/dataisbeautiful is packed with stats, graphs, and other wonders. /r/explainlikeimfive takes complex ideas and explains them in a way a five-year-old could understand (in theory).

Reddit: Upvoting and Downvoting

Next to every article is an up arrow and a down arrow. If an article gets enough upvotes – usually around the thousands mark – a piece will hit the front page, even if it’s not in the default subscription list. Naturally, though, pieces stand a far better chance of reaching the front page if they are in the default list, as there are more people to vote for them.

Each downvote takes away an upvote, so it’s a good, old-fashioned popularity contest. The same goes for comments on articles. Upvoted comments will be displayed immediately after the article, and ignored comments are relegated to the bottom.

Some types of content on Reddit are specifically designed for the comments, rather than as an external link. ‘Ask Me Anything’ – AMAs – are opportunities for the community to ask questions to celebrities and notable figures. Some of them set the news of the day, while others go horribly, but in theory, you have the option of asking anything you like: “would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses” is a popular one that even Barack Obama has answered.


Since most of the subreddits are themed on certain topics, such as /r/elderscrolls or /r/IASIP, these subreddits will almost exclusively be threads that discuss opinions, thoughts, and ideas, without links to external content.

Wrapping Up

Reddit is one of the most popular sites on the internet, and as such, has a lot to offer. This articles is meant to serve as a jumping off point for those that are completely new to Reddit. Obviously, the platform has a lot more to offer than what is mentioned in this introductory blurb. Do you have any tips, tricks, or questions related to getting started on Reddit? Have any suggestions for new users wanting to explore the site? Please share in the comment section below!

Images: Eva Blue, Eva Blue, Torley used under Creative Commons 

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