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Reddit: Poking the Bear

Reddit: the front page of the Internet: where social news, information, entertainment, and literally anything anyone can dream of has a subreddit dedicated to it. There’s r/avocadosgonewild (SFW) to r/todayilearned and everything in between. It’s a community that is always growing and updating. It’s a place where great controversies are sparked and debated. It’s a haven where threats are meaningless and sarcasm has no limits. Is this Sparta? No. This is Reddit.

But what are the trends, statements, and controversies that keep us so entertained as readers and redditors? What is the secret behind Reddit’s great pull?


Reddit 101

Reddit is made up of more than 5,400 subreddits which cover every topic you can think of, ranging from the serious to the delusional. Every subreddit has different rules and there are moderators to help enforce those rules. When exploring the comments section you’ll soon discover that redditors have a language of their own. Here are some basic acronyms you’ll need to know:

  • TIL – Today I Learned
  • FTFY – Fixed That For You
  • AMA – Ask Me Anything
  • SFW/ NSFW – Safe for work/Not safe for work
  • DAE – Does Anyone Else…?
  • ELI5 – Explain Like I’m Five
  • ITT – In This Thread/Topic
  • TL;DR – Too Long; Didn’t Read (This summarizes a long comment, paragraph or story.)
  • OP – Original Poster (This is pertaining to the original person that posted the content, comment, or thread)

The currency of Reddit is called “karma” which consists of how many upvotes one user gets. This is actually upvotes for a link or a comment they posted that was heavily popular. Usually there is a healthy balance of upvotes and downvotes for everything, but if a comment or link sticks out it will make its way to the top of the thread or subreddit. If you’re lucky enough you may even make it to the front page – just remember to keep it interesting and original.

Now that you know about subreddits, acronyms, and karma, you should know enough get started in joining the Reddit community.

Starting the Fire

As great as some make Reddit out to be, it’s not without its faults. Occasionally someone will incorrectly quote something or someone famous and then be corrected, which is followed by “reinforced correction” in the form of public ridicule and sarcasm. It reminds you of your elementary school days when a student would say something wrong and the whole class made fun of him or her. This class is Reddit, and it’s a very large and anonymous class with little remorse.

However, never underestimate the power of an intentional typo. If you misspell something on purpose and the content has something to do with it, you’ll probably get some upvotes. For example, if you post “I’ve made a huge misteak” with something funny related to a really big steak, then redditors will reward you with upvotes and karma.


People will upvote someone based on their cleverness, wit, or how they turn something around. A witty comment can put you back on top after a terrible error.

Avoiding the Burn

Here are some things you need to know when you post to Reddit and try your hand at earning the imaginary worthless internet points known as “karma.”

1. There are often hot trends that are considered running jokes on Reddit, which can usually be found on the front page of the site. These will usually only be popular for the day or week depending on what topics are in the news. Taking advantage of these hot trends is your best bet for upvotes.

Andrew22. There are notes and guidelines for every sub-reddit on the right hand side. That’s always a good place to start. If you’re asking a question in a particular sub-reddit, check the side to see if it has already been answered. R/travel is a perfect example of this.

3. Originality is a huge thing. If you think you are being original because you saw something interesting or funny somewhere else, it’s more than likely already made the rounds through the Reddit community. Look at the questions in r/travel again, they give advice on which hostels are best in different cities so redditors don’t keep asking the same question.

andrew34. Reposting anything is usually widely frowned upon. Even if you think you have breaking news, visiting the “new” section in any subreddit could prove you wrong.

5. There will always be a handful of those who will praise and disapprove of your content and comments. You can’t please everyone.

Then again, you can’t learn to swim if you don’t get in the water, so give it a go or forever be a lurker.

Marketers on Reddit

Buying a sponsored post to grace the top of the front page is an option, but marketing organically on Reddit is a whole different scenario. Chances are that if you’re trying to sell something or put a link out there to promote a company, your content will just get lost, downvoted, or deleted.

Redditors are usually interested if someone presents something they made or have news that appeals to a certain subreddit. If the content is interesting, redditors will appreciate a link to their site or store.

For example, a chocolatier who hand decorated chocolates for Halloween could share it in r/Food Porn (also SFW) or r/Halloween as art or a cool idea.

Andrew5A lot of sites offer a “link to/post this on Reddit” button right next to the Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons. Before you click it, remember: Reddit isn’t social networking, it’s more social sharing.

An Addictive Substance

For some, Reddit has become a resource of daily news and an outlet to any questions, concerns, or desires they may have. It can definitely evolve into an addiction where before you know it, it’s not only your homepage, but the only website you ever visit.

While the Reddit community does have its “always-right, hypocritical, contradicting, misinformed, and willfully ignorant members,” there are always those who are the opposite and make the community a great tool when looking for help. Look into /r/relationships, /r/travel, or /r/askreddit to find both advice and one-liners to keep you laughing along the way. It’s easy to get lost or cast aside among everything there is to talk about on Reddit. Your opinion will not always be respected, nor will it even be acknowledged at times, but if there is one sound piece of advice for anyone who has the guts to comment or post:

Andrew1And always be prepared to take everything with a grain of salt.

About the author

Andrew Turner