As of last month, reddit had 39,747,323 unique visitors viewing a total of 3,193,247,068 pages. That's a whole lot of visitors for a social network that a lot of people have never heard of. When you go to the website, it essentially looks like a basic, cluttered list with no real template or design. To the untrained eye, reddit can seem overwhelming, random and even primal. But with a bit of insight into what the service offers, and what it aims to do, you can be reading and contributing to the site in no time.
The site, which first went live in 2005, essentially is an open source, crowdsourcing social news network. With a tagline of "the front page of the internet," it allows users to post links or text, comment on these stories or add information, context and humor. Users can write about anything, and anyone can create or join a community, called "subreddits," which focus on specific topics, such as music or science, and are independent and moderated by volunteers. And the entire site is open source, meaning members can contribute features, fix bugs and translate. It's citizen journalism of the 21st century.
The site defines itself as both a noun and a verb. Users can join reddit, "a type of online community where users vote on content" or users can reddit or "take part in a reddit community." An algorithm determines who gains a premier spot on the home page or top of a page, using a combination of vote count, comment number and time since the post was first created. Redditors can vote on which discussions or stories they deem most important and watch their favorite stories gain prime real estate.
Still confused as to what kind of content you'll find on reddit? We suggest you make your own account and explore for yourself. Here's how to get started.
How to join reddit
Anyone can join reddit after filling out a basic form. Click the Register button in the upper right corner of the home page, and a pop-up window will prompt you to fill in a username, your email address (which is optional) and a password. You then just verify that you're not a robot and click Create Account. It couldn't be any simpler. Note: Choose your username wisely, though, because you can't change it once it's created.
How to explore reddit
Once your account is made, you're ready to start exploring the reddit site. Navigating to www.reddit.com will show you the highest-voted, hottest links. They can range from memes to blog-like posts to links to other sites, such as a news site. If you like a post and want to vote for it so it gains a higher listing, click the arrow up button to the left of the post. If you don't like a post and want it to decrease in the rankings, click the arrow down button to the left of it.
On the top navigation bar, there are categories for "hot," "new," "controversial," "top" and "saved" links, so you can filter out the content you're not interested in. On top of that, there are subreddits such as Gaming, Pics, Worldnews and TodayILearned. If you have a specific category of content you want to check out, such as Technology, you can click on that subcategory to refine your search.
On the right of each subreddit home page, there's a brief explanation of the purpose of that subreddit and rules and guidelines to follow. Each subreddit has different rules and guidelines, so be sure to read each, because something that may be acceptable on one subreddit could get you banned from another.
Subscribing to subreddits
After creating your reddit account, you're automatically subscribed to several subreddits such as Politics, WorldNews and Videos. To subscribe to additional subreddits, type a term you're looking for into the search bar. In addition to posts on that topic, there will be a list of subreddits in a gray box at the top of the results page. That way, you can view a complete list of subreddits that you may be interested in from that search term.
Click on which subreddit you want to subscribe to, and once directed to that page, click the green Subscribe button in the middle right of the screen. Now, when you click My Reddits in the top left of your screen, that subreddit will be added so you can easily navigate to that page whenever you like.
To comment on a post, click the Comments link under the headline with the number of current comments next to it. You'll then be directed to a page where you can read former user comments and add your own two cents. Click within the Comments box, write your thought and click Save. After that, your comment is added to the conversation of previous comments.
There's also a Preferences tab next to your account name in the upper right corner which allows you to customize your reddit experience. Within this tab you can choose which content languages you want to view and whether you'd like to see thumbnails next to links. That way, you can have a unique interface that works cohesively with how you like to view content.
How to create a post
To share a link on reddit, click the Submit A Link button in the top right corner, under Preferences. You'll then be taken to a screen where you can create a catchy title (make sure you love the title, because after you submit that post you can't go back and edit it), paste the URL and choose a subreddit. We were posting something on Olympian Gabby Douglas, so we chose the Olympics subreddit. We then clicked Submit, and our link went live.
The more posts you create that other users like and vote for, the more "karma" you'll accumulate. Karma basically indicates how much good a user has done for the reddit community. Although the user with the most karma doesn't win anything, it's fun to see how you can rack up points and a way to encourage healthy competition and solid posts.
How to abide by the reddit rules
As with any community, reddit has certain terms of etiquette one is expected to abide by, known as reddiquette. If users have multiple accounts, they can't use them to ghost vote for their own submissions. You can't post spam - there's even a cap on how often you can post to prevent spamming. And you can't cheat - don't use multiple accounts to gain more votes on your posts or form a voting clique.
And remember to read each subreddit's rules and guidelines. It'd be a shame to get banned for posting something that's against the rules in one subreddit because you thought you were in another subreddit where it was acceptable.