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How to use Reddit: Guide for beginners

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Photo Credit: Wrangler/Adobe Stock

By Rhonda Martinez

Reddit is a very popular website. However, if you see it for the first time, you may not understand what it is, why people love it so much, and how to use it. Simply put, Reddit is sort of a social media website where Redditors (users) share articles, photos, videos, and virtually anything else with others. The platform consists of dozens of smaller communities — subreddits. When you join a community, you can create your topics, comment on someone else’s topics, and upvote or downvote posts.

Reddit is different from other social media platforms so you may not know what to do with it at first. This quick guide will help you understand what this platform is about, how to use it, and what you can find here.

What Reddit Is

For people who’ve found Reddit accidentally just by googling something or clicking a link, this website and its content may look somewhat weird. The thing is that Redditors remain anonymous, they have tons of inside jokes and memes, and never miss out on an opportunity to demonstrate their sarcasm. It’s a place where lots of viral content originated, and this website has nothing in common with Twitter, Facebook or any other mainstream social media platform. It has about 430 million monthly active users, being one of the most popular websites on the internet.

“There are people who don’t vote or comment on the posts, just reading the content, they are called lurkers. You may start using Reddit as a lurker and create an account after you figure out how everything works. Make sure to check out reddiquette that contains important rules,” adds Adam Simon, a student, active redditor, moderator of r/college and contributor to LegitWritingServices education blog.

Once you’ve created an account, you can join various subreddits, upvote or downvote posts, and leave your comments. The platform encourages its users to stay anonymous, which is a smart thing to do because other Redditors can see your entire history of commenting and posting.

Reddit Terms

When you start to use Reddit, you might notice that Redditors speak their own language. Here are some common words and abbreviations that will help you understand what other people are talking about.

  • AMA (Ask Me Anything): A user promises to answer any questions from other Redditors. Check out r/AMA to see how it works.
  • Downvote: A negative vote used when a post doesn’t provide any value for the community, as well as when it’s promotional or irrelevant.
  • Flair: A part of your display name with a certain subreddit. Some subreddits allow you to create your own flair, while others give you flair defined by the moderator. Some subreddits require users to use flair to indicate specific types of posters.
  • FTFY (Fixed That For You): Comments made to correct an error or just as tongue-in-cheek remarks.
  • IRL (In Real Life): The offline world, events, and experiences that are not related to your Reddit identity.
  • Karma: You have post karma and comment karma. Karma is a system of points based on the upvotes and downvotes that you get. It reflects your experience and legitimacy as a Redditor. Posts with low or negative karma go to the bottom, while posts with the most upvotes can be seen at the top.
    Although karma is the basis of the Reddit algorithm, it doesn’t actually give you any privilege. Users who have more karma than others don’t get any additional abilities, and there are just a few subreddits that require you to have a lot of karma to join. To learn more about karma and posting, check out r/AskReddit
  • Lurking: Consuming content without contributing to it. Many people on Reddit are lurkers.
  • Mod: A moderator. The account that makes sure that the necessary rules are followed by Redditors within a particular subreddit. Mods also give various permissions, ban users, and remove or edit content.
  • NSFW (Not Safe For Work): A warning that means that you probably shouldn’t open the link in a public place. It’s often used for inappropriate or explicit content.
  • OC (Original Content): Content that has been created by a particular Redditor and wasn’t reposted from elsewhere.
  • OP (Original Poster): A Redditor who started a post.
  • Reddit Gold: Premium membership that can either be bought or awarded to active contributors.
  • Repost: Posting content that has been already posted in the same subreddit. To avoid reposting, make sure to check out what has already been shared in the subreddit.
  • Shadow Banning: Given that people banned from Reddit can simply create another account, shadow banning is used as a form of special punishment when users don’t know that they are banned. Their account remains active but new posts and comments remain invisible for others.
  • Throwaway account: A temporary account that was created for a specific occasion and isn’t the user’s main account.
  • TIL (Today I Learned): Something a Redditor learned thanks to the internet. Check out r/TodayILearned for examples.
  • TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): A brief summary of a lengthy text.
  • Upvote: A positive vote used when a comment or post contributes value to the discussion or subreddit.
  • X-post (Cross Post): A post shared from another subreddit using the original URL. Such posts are usually titled “X-post from [the original subreddit].” If you want to share some content across subreddits, you should create an X-post.

Improving Your Reddit Experience

Reddit’s interface is designed to be as simple as possible. However, it can also be quite confusing for a newbie. You may need some time to figure out this website’s functionality. To simplify your experience, you can install an add-on called Reddit Enhancement Suite (RES). It’s compatible with all the popular browsers and it adds some useful tools for commenting. It also allows you to scroll posts without clicking to the next page and to view images without clicking links. Most Redditors agree that using RES is a must. In fact, you get many Reddit Gold features with no need to pay for them.

To monitor the comments and karma of your posts, you can use Reddit Insight. It will enable you to see the status of your post in real-time. You can also schedule your posts for a specific subreddit, setting a specific day and time to make sure that more Redditors will see them.

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