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A Beginner’s Guide to Reddit

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By Katie Humphrey

reddit_logo(MCT)—Reddit’s that website you’ve heard of but maybe don’t quite understand. Is it a social network? A message board? Its spare design and free-for-all culture can be intimidating, but don’t underestimate its users’ collective power—for good and, sometimes, not-so-good. The site is one of the Internet’s most visited destinations, with billions of page views each month. One of Reddit’s co-founders, Alexis Ohanian, is on a speaking tour about his book, “Without Their Permission.” Ohanian shares his thoughts on Reddit and ways the Internet is “making the world suck less.”

What’s Reddit?
Reddit.com is a message board and online community. Users post links and photos, people comment, discussion (sometimes wild) ensues. Popular posts rise to the home¬page, which calls itself “the front page of the Internet.”

Within Reddit, there are thousands of subreddits, aka categories, set up and moderated by users. A category for cute pictures? That’s marked r/aww. Or maybe you’re into pens? Try r/fountainpens.

Upvoting, downvoting
Reddit’s big on democracy, allowing users to collectively elevate or bury posts. Like what you see? Click the “up” arrow. Annoyed or disgusted? Click the “down” arrow.

Founded, then sold
Ohanian and friend Steve Huffman founded Reddit in Massachusetts in 2005, then sold to Condé Nast in 2006. It’s now a subsidiary of Advance Publications, Condé Nast’s parent company.

That’s what Reddit users call themselves. Reddit got its name because the founders envisioned people saying they’d “read it” on Reddit.

At a time when social networks like Facebook push real names and authenticity, Reddit is still all about anonymity. You don’t even need an e-mail address to be a member.

Boys’ Club
Six percent of Internet users visit Reddit, according to the Pew Research Center, which also notes men are twice as likely as women to use the site.

A quiet crowd
Reddit drew more than 90 million unique visitors in November, but just 2 million were logged-in Reddit account holders. Lots of lurking going on.

Those numbers posted next to your username are a measure of Reddit community cred. Post things people like and you’ll get “link karma.” Adding valuable comments earns you “comment karma.”

Acronyms Rule
Reddit is full of these. Some, like NSFW (not safe for work) are key to avoiding photos you don’t want to see. Others, like OP (original poster) are useful for following a discussion. A few more: CMV = change my view; TIL = today I learned; ELI5 = explain it like I’m 5 years old; and tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. Reddit offers guidance through the alphabet soup on its FAQ page.

This very popular acronym attraction on Reddit stands for “I am a … Ask me anything.” This is where people, sometimes anonymous regular folk with interesting jobs, sometimes celebs, field all kinds of questions from users.

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