What is Reddit? The Ultimate Quickstart Guide for 2023

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What is Reddit?

Well, it has more than 50 million daily active users and is the 10 most-visited site in the U.S. – which means more people visit it than you'd expect.

But what is Reddit?!

Why is Reddit so hard to define? I mean, even if you don’t use LinkedIn, you probably know what it is.

Reddit is confusing because it’s in a niche of its own.

The platform is a melting pot of trends, media, micro-communities, micro-cultures, and inside jokes – and that’s what makes it awesome.

Once you learn the basics, you’ll find a whole new world of possibilities.

So, what is Reddit and why does it refer to itself as “the front page of the internet”? This article will teach you everything you need to know to get started.

What is Reddit?

Reddit combines web content, social news, a forum, and a social network into one giant beast of a platform. Registered members can contribute to the site with content such as images, text, videos, and links. All content on the site can be voted up or down by other members.

This meritocratic system ensures that interesting content rises to the top and uninteresting content falls into an abyss. As a result, Reddit is the birthplace of most internet memes and viral sensations.

Reddit truly is another world.

That’s why Reddit’s iconic alien, “Snoo,” is such a perfect mascot for this oddball community-based platform.

What is a Subreddit?

As mentioned, Reddit works a bit like a forum.

A subreddit is a micro-community within Reddit and is based on a certain topic – and there’s a subreddit for everything.Sure, you’ve got your usual topics covered with subreddits like:

But it doesn’t stop there.

Whatever you can think of, there will be a subreddit about it. I’m dead serious.

Don’t believe me? Well, check this out…

There’s a dedicated subreddit for people to share Photoshopped images featuring birds with human arms: /r/birdswitharms/There’s another subreddit where people share, quite literally, pointless stories: /r/pointlessstories

Or ow about the subreddit r/CatsStandingUp? It’s an entire community of people posting pictures and videos of – you guessed it – cats standing up.

These niche communities each have their own rules, etiquette, subscribers, and posts.

You can view the subreddit’s rules in the right-hand sidebar:

At the top of each subreddit feed, you can use the drop-down menu to sort posts by:

  • Hot: Posts that are popular right now
  • New: Recently shared posts
  • Controversial: Posts that are receiving a relatively equal amount of upvotes and downvotes
  • Top: The most popular posts in a subreddit
  • Rising: Posts that are currently receiving a lot of upvotes

Niche communities, content voting, and the ability to filter posts by Hot, New, Controversial, Top, and Rising are central to the Reddit experience. These features allow interesting posts to gain massive traction quickly.

Although it’s extremely unlikely, if there’s a subreddit that doesn’t exist, you can always create your own subreddit.

Is Reddit Social Media?

A social media website is commonly defined as a network platform that people use to share and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities.

Reddit meets these criteria.

But is Reddit social media? Really?

On most social media platforms, users have profiles, personal feeds, and predominantly use the website to grow relationships with other people.

Reddit doesn’t exactly fit this description.

Instead, Reddit is more like a forum where aggregated content takes center stage and uses are generally anonymous.

Ph.D. Researcher Tim Squirrel sums up the site beautifully: “If Facebook is people you know sharing things you don’t care about, Reddit is things you care about shared by people you don’t know.”

Okay, but is Reddit social media?!

In short, yes. However, it’s certainly different from most social networking platforms.

The core difference lies in Reddit’s community values.Reddit values contribution to the community and experience of others over individuals. The aim is to create value as part of a community that exists in a subreddit.

In other words: On Reddit, it isn’t about you. It’s about the collective.

As a result, unlike most social media platforms, Reddit isn’t big on user-generated content.

For example, it’s okay to post a shameless selfie or a picture of your breakfast on Instagram. However, if you do this on Reddit, you should expect a tidal wave of mean comments and downvotes.

Some might say that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who don’t use or understand Reddit, and Redditors – the diehard fans of the website.

So, how can you become a Redditor?How to Use Reddit

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is Reddit?” let’s dive in.

First things first: Reddit thrives on anonymity.

Most users don’t use their real names or birth year in their usernames, and it’s strongly discouraged.

What’s more, it’s common for users to have a couple of “main” accounts and several “throwaway accounts” they use for specific situations or subreddits.For example, check out the usernames used by the moderators of the subreddit /r/backpacking:

This creates a peculiar phenomenon.

The widespread anonymity actually provides a foundation for openness – in other words, pretty much anything goes on Reddit. You can share and interact freely.Plus, this anonymity is kept in check by transparency.

All users can see each other’s entire posting and commenting history. This makes it easy for subreddit communities and moderators to police themselves and learn how authentic a person is based on their previous posts and “Reddit karma.”So, when creating an account, consider using an anonymous username.

It’s easy to create an account. You just need an email address, a username that isn’t already in use, and a password.

When you first sign up, Reddit will suggest popular subreddits to subscribe to. Then, you can head to reddit.com/subreddits to search for more subreddits.

Here, you can also use the tabs at the top of the page to navigate subreddits.

Next up?

What is Reddit Karma?

Due to the anonymity, Reddit uses “karma” to establish the credibility of users. Every user’s profile shows the number of karma points they’ve accrued.

As your karma increases, so does your influence on the site. The more karma you have, the more seriously other users will take you.

However, there are two kinds of karma:

  • Post karma is earned from upvotes on the posts you share in subreddits.
  • Comment karma is earned from upvotes on comments you leave on posts.

You can also lose karma if other users downvote your posts and comments enough that the score falls below zero.So, how can you grow your karma on Reddit?

First, make sure to subscribe to subreddits that you feel you’re able to actively participate in and contribute to. What are your interests and hobbies? Do you have specialist knowledge, experience, or skills?Then, become an active participant in your chosen subreddits.

Ideally, you should share top quality posts and comment on other people’s posts regularly. It also helps to reply to comments on your own posts.

You could also head to r/askreddit and ask or answer questions.

Building up karma on Reddit takes time and dedication, so aim to contribute positively and often.

Start Posting and Commenting on Reddit

Reddit really is all about interaction.

Individual contributions to subreddits, posts, and discussions are the lifeblood of the site. Posting and commenting on Reddit is also how you get upvotes which increase your karma.

To share a new post, just head to a subreddit and click, “Create Post” under the subreddit title and description.

There are three main types of posts that you can share on Reddit:

  • Post: Write something and perhaps add some media to go along with it.
  • Image & Video: Share media files with a simple title.
  • Link: Share a link with a simple title to take visitors to another webpage or piece of content.

It’s worth noting that subreddits will sometimes limit you to just one of these three types of posts.

Search Before You Share on Reddit

Before you share something, make sure you use the Reddit search feature to check that you’re not reposting something that’s already been shared – Redditors frown upon this.

You can use shortcodes to search more accurately. For example, if you want to search for the word “cats” in post titles, search “title:cats”.

Here is a list of some of Reddit’s search queries that you can use:

  • Author: The user who submitted the post.
    For example, author:PresidentObama
  • NSFW: NSFW posts.
    Set to yes for NSFW submissions; otherwise, set to no. 1 and 0 are also supported.
    For example, nsfw:no or nsfw:0
  • Selftext: For self-posts, the body of the post.
    For example, selftext:cats
  • Site: The domain of the submitted URL.
    For example, site:example.com
  • Subreddit: The submission’s subreddit.
    For example, subreddit:cats
  • Title: The submission title.
    For example, title:cats
  • URL: The submission’s URL (the website’s address).
    For example, url:cats

You can also search multiple fields at once, such as, “cats subreddit:pics site:imgur.com”.

Lastly, try to make sure that whatever you share contributes something new and interesting to the subreddit…

… unless you’re posting in /r/pointlessstories that is.

Understanding Reddit’s Language and Jargon

After spending some time browsing Reddit posts and reading comments, you’ll notice that Redditors have developed their own jargon.

There are tons of abbreviations and special words used to communicate.

When starting out, it helps to get the basics under your belt. So, here’s a glossary of common Reddit terms to help you immerse yourself in this new world.

A Glossary of Reddit Terms

AMA: “Ask Me Anything.” An invitation for Redditors to ask any questions with the promise that they’ll answer. It often starts with “I Am A [something interesting about yourself], Ask Me Anything.” Check out r/AMA for examples.

AMAA: “Ask Me Almost Anything.”

IAMA: “I Am A.” The start of a post in which notable people are interviewed by the Reddit community. It’s featured guests like President Obama, Snoop Dogg, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Also a subreddit – /r/IAMA.

Brave or So Brave: Used to sarcastically dismiss a comment or to patronize someone going along with popular opinion.

Cake Day: The date a user joined Reddit – like a birthday. Cake days are displayed on user profiles.

DAE: “Does Anyone Else.” An appeal to a common feeling or situation. Also a subreddit – /r/DAE.

EDIT: An indication that someone has changed their comment after first posting it.

ETA: “Edited To Add” something.

ELI5: “Explain Like I’m 5 (Years Old).” A request to explain something in very simple terms.  Also a subreddit – /r/explainlikeimfive.

FTFY: “Fixed That For You.” When a user makes a small edit of a previous comment that changes the meaning in a helpful or humorous way.

IIRC: “If I Recall Correctly.”

MIC: “More In Comments.”

Novelty Account: An account specifically used for humorous purposes. Often used to share jokes related to the account’s username.

OP: “Original Poster.” The person who first submitted the post that’s being commented on.

Power User: A Reddit user with a high karma score who is well-known to many people on Reddit.

RTFA: “Read the F***ing Article.”

THIS: An indication that you agree wholeheartedly with a comment and want to draw attention to it. These comments are often downvoted.TIL: “Today I Learned.” Something a user just learned and wants to share. Also a subreddit – r/TodayILearned.

TL;DR: “Too Long; Didn’t Read.” A short description of a longer piece of text. It can be shared by the original commenter or another user.

Whoooosh: Used to indicate that a joke has “gone over someone’s head” and that they didn’t understand it.

X-Post: “Cross Post.” An indication that something has already been posted in another subreddit.

These are just some of the more common ones – if you’re in need of more Reddit lingo help, check out the full lossary here.How to Use Reddit for Business

How to Use Reddit for Business

Redditors are quick to shoot down anyone who engages in self-promotion, marketing, URL shorteners, and anything else that makes it seem like you’re using Reddit as a place to sell something.

Remember, this platform is all about community.

So, while you might be tempted to try to sneak your products into a subreddit like r/shutupandtakemymoney, there’s always the chance it might backfire and damage your business’ brand.How can you use Reddit for business?

Well, the safest way to use Reddit for business is to use Reddit ads.

These ads are tolerated because advertisers are being upfront about their intention to promote their business. Plus, they’re using a dedicated space for promotions instead of clogging up subreddit feeds with self-serving content.

Reddit ads allow you to target people based on the subreddits they subscribe to. This means you can promote your marketing messages directly to specific, passionate, and engaged niches.

Reddiquette: Stick to the Rules or Face the Consequences

“Reddiquette” is the name given to Reddit’s particular rules and etiquette – which you’ve probably realized by now is vast.

You can read Reddit’s full reddiquette guide here.

It’s extremely important to stick to reddiquette to avoid being “shadowbanned.”

Because of anonymity and the widespread use of multiple accounts, Reddit created “shadowbanning.”

This is the term used to describe the act of banning a user from all of Reddit if they break the rules – without the user being notified.

The shadowbanned user’s posts and comments will continue to show up for them, but other people won’t see them.

This prevents users who abuse the rules from simply setting up another account to continue their misbehavior.

However, a shadowbanned users profile will display an error page.

Plus, you can log out and check your profile if you think you’ve been shadowbanned. And if you feel you’ve been unfairly shadowbanned, you can follow these guidelines.

So, how can you avoid being shadowbanned?

Well, bullying, insults, personal attacks, illegal activities, trolling, and posting someone’s personal information on Reddit will all get you shadowbanned.

In other words, just play nice.

Whenever you engage on the site, always consider other people and the community first. Aim to contribute and add value.Also, remember to check and follow each subreddit’s individual guidelines.


Reddit is a rare breed of social network.

It values community and contribution more than the individual. And it’s the place to discover new trends, memes, and viral sensations before the rest of the world hears about them.


  • Reddit thrives on anonymity, and it’s a place where pretty much anything goes.
  • There’s a thriving niche community for seemingly every interest or topic.
  • The best way to use Reddit is to find ways to contribute to subreddits and comment threads.
  • It can take time to accrue karma points, but as you do, your influence will grow.
  • There’s a strict code of ethics, and reddiquette is taken very seriously.
  • The safest way to use Reddit for business is to use Reddit ads.
  • Be sure not to abuse the community for self-serving purposes.

Have you found any great subreddits to check out?

Want to Learn More?