If you’re reading this you’re probably not a Reddit user – unless you’re an American male between 18 and 29 (Reddit’s #1 target demographic), like me. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a Redditor! Since you probably have no idea what Reddit is, how it works, or what it’s good for, let me give you a brief overview:
So what’s with those whole “Front Page of the Internet” thing? Well, Reddit is no longer just a single page of content, and there is no ‘main’ Reddit page. ‘Subreddits’ are the many rooms or subdivisions of Reddit, each with a specific focus on their respective content (e.g. the ‘Aww’ subreddit is all about cute photos).
When you load Reddit for the first time, or if you load it without logging in, you will see content generated by the ‘default’ subreddits. The defaults are constantly changing, and are generally based on the number of subscribers for each subreddit. As described on redditblog:
As a reminder, the default subreddits are what people without an account see when they visit reddit.com, and the “starter set” of subscriptions when someone creates a new account. Most of the old default set was selected based on user activity and interest from years ago. reddit has grown and changed so much over the years that it’s only fair to increase the number of subreddits so we can showcase newer subreddits that reflect the interests of the current userbase. This is sort of an experiment… we plan on changing the defaults more often, and we are always looking for great subreddits to potentially add to the list. So once again, without further ado, here are our new defaults!
By creating an account, you are able to control which subreddits you are subscribed to, and therefore which content you do and do not see. This enables you to cater the content on The Front Page of the Internet to your interests, and that’s what makes Reddit awesome! Even if you’re not an 18-29 American male, you can still find interesting content. In fact, although that may be the largest group, it still only makes up 15% of all visitors!
Subreddits are vast, with a range of focus and breadth. While some popular ones, like /r/funny (short for reddit.com/r/funny) focus on all things funny, there are plenty of smaller communities that focus on more specific funny content, like /r/AnimalsBeingJerks/ and /r/facepalm. Take any of the popular main subreddits, and you’ll likely find a series of smaller ones with a similar, but highly focused, topic. You can see the list of top subreddits at redditlist.com
You’re probably wondering at this point: “So there’s a lot of subreddits, but how do I find the ones that will interest me most?”. There’s a lot of ways to do that actually, but the one I find most effective is browsing metareddit.com:
Metareddit is all about reddit.com and its many subreddits. You can explore the reddits, similar ones can be grouped using tags. Once you register, you can add tags too, and vote them up or down, depending on whether they fit the reddit. See the help page for more information on the features.
If, for example, you know you want to find funny content, but you don’t want to stick to the mainstream /r/funny subreddit, you can go to metareddit.com/r/funny/ to see related content, a description of the subreddits, a list of the latest posts, and the rules of the subreddit.
But why are there so many subreddits? Back in 2008, a new feature enabled anyone with an account to create their own subreddit. It was a risky move that completely changed what Reddit was, and how it worked. For a full history, check out Randal Olson’s post on “Retracing the evolution of Reddit through post data“. There, you can see exactly how Reddit’s history played out:
…and Reddit moderators embrace the explosion of subreddits. As more people join and find common interests, more subreddits are born, which in turn, results in more people finding their interests on reddit.